5imagesI had the privilege of hanging out with some our volunteers and doing some training recently. As we were talking and just hanging and swapping stories about students, it really got me thinking about how important our volunteers are to our ministry. We are definitely a million times better with them! Hanging with them got my mind going and I started to think about 5 things I never want to forget concerning them. I want to continue to do these things better and better and better.

Empower - I’ve learned that the more you empower and train your volunteers, the more you can give certain responsibilities of the ministry away. You actually create the capacity to grow healthier when your volunteers are trained and empowered.

Teach to communicate - If your ministry leans heavy on small groups, then your volunteers need to know how to best communicate to students. Your life group leaders will spend way more time with students then you, so equip them to teach well. Now, by no means am I saying that you have to turn them into world renown speakers, but they do need to know what you value when it comes to what’s being taught. Giving them curriculum is not enough. It’s like giving a gun to someone who’s never shot one before, and telling them to shoot a soda can off a roof. They need training and guidance on how to communicate God’s word.

Involve – One of the worst things I believe you can do to a volunteer is under utilize them. I learned that I have to stop thinking of volunteers as hired help and think of them as a part of my team. You will be surprised of the skills your volunteers have and are ready to use, if you acquired about them and used them. I’ve learned that when you are all in with your volunteers in terms of involving them as a team, they will be all in with using their skills, talents and resources to move the ministry forward.

Value – Volunteers stay where they are valued (not just appreciated). The best way to show a volunteer that he/she is valued is not by just simply showering them with gift cards and thank you notes (which by the way are super important and shouldn’t be under valued at all), but you show how much you value them by how much you invest in them. Here are some examples of investing in volunteers:

  • Grabbing coffee
  • Bringing them along to a conference
  • Asking them to share with younger volunteers
  • Training them
  • Letting them run a portion of the meeting
  • Caring about their personal life
  • Caring and knowing their families
  • etc…

The truth is, we invest our time in the things we value. So I’ve learned that if I invest in my volunteers, I’ll see more stick around longer.

Appreciate – While volunteers don’t do what they do to be appreciated, it’s a must that you show your appreciation to them. Your appreciation to your volunteers communicates 3 things:

  • It communicates that they are important to the ministry.
  • It communicates that they are making a difference.
  • It confirms their call to serving where they are.

It’s our job to appreciate our volunteers. Make it a rule of thumb that however you decide to show them appreciation take it up another level.

Now, I know there are definitely more then five so what I’m I missing or what would you add to the list?

hope it helps

ac

epic_fail_new_years_resolution_post_cards-rb0055f24b83b4a4c93c79fca74d2918c_vgbaq_8byvr_324I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions because it seems like they only produce guilt. Everyone that I know who sets a new plan for the new year starts strong and then fades off into the abyss of nothingness. They end up never fulfilling the goals for the new year and it all fades because they never set themselves up to win in the first place. So I thought I’d share a few things I do at the beginning of the year. I can honestly say that this has helped me a lot over the years.

Spend time seeking God.Now, this is not bible study or quite time. This is laying your wants, desires and needs out before God in grave detail in four areas of your life.

 

  1. As a Man/Woman
  2. As a Husband/Wife
  3. As a Father/Mother
  4. As a Youth Pastor/Volunteer/Youth Worker

I know how easy it is to forget that even though we are in ministry, we are still growing. And no matter how many times we preach, teach, encourage and be used miraculously by God we need to remember that we haven’t arrived yet. We need to be pursuing a Christ centered life just as much as those we minister to.

Start new habits. – Here’s a question to ask yourself: What are somethings you think would enhance your life if it became a habit? There a three things that should shape the habits you start.

  • Should be realistic. - The habit should be something doable to some degree. It should also stretch your world in some way. My wife and I started praying for one another before we left the house. We would just take a few seconds and recognize God as the protector of our family and ask for his traveling mercies. We started this a long time ago and now even if my wife or I forget one of my kids will come and pray for us. Even my 18-month-old will pray and the only word she can say is amen. My kids will even remind and/or initiate the prayer. So it was a stretch because it was something we had to start but it was also doable and it has become beneficial in more ways than one.
  • Should challenge you. – In order for the new year to be better than the year before you must step your game up. Especially when it comes to personal life and ministry life. When Paul talks about qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 he talks about qualifications for an overseer, but as you can see they are pretty intense. I definitely think it should be the type of life anyone in ministry should exemplify. So you should ask yourself, how can you challenge yourself to grow in light of scripture, also, just life in general.
  • Find accountability. - Take the power to anonymously quit away by telling someone. And let that person hold you accountable to change.

Switch up a routine or two. Force yourself to think different in the new year. In order for that to happen you will have to stimulate the brain differently then you did last year. I believe our creative muscle must be worked just like our regular muscles. If you keep doing the same workout your muscles will become immune to it. If you switch it up you burn more fat and build new muscle. If you continue to work your creative muscle the same way, you will get the same results. Switch it up.

  • Instead of it just being you coming up with ideas, grab some volunteers or students and let them throw some ideas out there.
  • Meet at a different place that could possibly get your creative juices following.
  • Maybe you need to be more strategic in how you brainstorm.
  • Instead of working in the office, maybe work from Starbucks or find a way to work from the park for a day.
  • On Fridays, let each family member pick a restaurant. Write it on a piece of paper and then draw from a hat the winning restaurant.
  • Start family movie and popcorn night in stead of just watching TV. Make it an event.
  • If you are a runner, run a different route.
  • etc…

I hope this encourages someone who struggles with new years resolution like I have in the past. Now, I just follow this formula and it has helped me tremendously. I don’t see it as a new years resolution anymore, but more of a new years new perspective. I hope it helps you the same. So how do you handle New Year resolutions?

hope it helps

ac



4 RESPONSES TO #SEXTING

 —  December 19, 2013 — 1 Comment

Countdown-4Think back when you were a Jr. High or High School student. What would’ve been the equivalent to sexting?

I’m guessing it would probably be flashing. The only difference between the two (besides the obvious) is that a quick flash would only be talked about after it has happened. Sexting pics are forever, therefore, people have visuals to add to the conversations for years to come.

If you think sexting is about students just getting a quick fix of sexual gratification you are mistaken. There is a lot more going on. Guardchild.com did a very detailed survey on sexting, and the results were interesting.

  • One in five teens have engaged in sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text messages. And over a third knows someone who has either sent or received messages like this.
  • 38% of teens confessed to someone sharing with them what was sent to them.
  • 34% of the girls that have participated in sexting say they did it to feel sexy.
  • 23% of girls and 24% of boys say they were pressured by a friend to send the inappropriate pictures.
  • Most participants say they engage in sexting because their boyfriend/girlfriend ask them to or to have fun.
  • 52% of girls said they did it as a present.
  • 29% of teens believe those exchanging sexually suggestive content are “expected” to hookup or date.

These statistics say a few things that we in youth ministry need to pay attention to.

  • These statistics change the face of the person who’s sexting. It’s like when you think of a flasher you think of an old pervert who walks around in a trenchcoat all day. Well, when you think of sexting you may think of an older, porn-exposed student who’s been a trouble maker for most of their life. These statistics suggest that’s not the case. These statistics normalizes the profile of a sexter to look a lot more like your everyday teen in Jr. High or High School, who may or may have not viewed porn before.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming normalized within boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming more normal and culturally acceptable in the world of teens.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is a gateway to getting into more sexual activity.
  • These statistics suggest that it’s impossible to shield your child from sexting.
  • These statistics suggest that there is a deceptive identity/power piece that sexting gives to girls and guys.

So what should be our response?

Sexting is a complete lie embedded in the mind set that it’s innocent or that it’s not worse than me having sex. Here are 4 ways I feel we should respond:

  1. Prayer - We should be interceding for our students and for the students at our local schools. Prayer in our ministries need to be proactive not reactive. Keep your ministry connected to the power source.
  2. Educate parents on trends and technology -About 2 out of every 5 teens say their parents have no idea what they are doing online. So we must take the initiative and help parents become more knowledgeable with trends and technology. Let’s be the support they don’t know they need.
  3. Talk about it in youth group – I wrote a post on this (click here). Add Sexting to the list because it’s becoming the norm. And right now students don’t get a choice whether they are exposed to it or not.
  4. Challenge your students – I think sometimes we may feel like a good talk is enough, but actually talk is only half the battle. You need to challenge your students to take action, and stand against cultural norms that are slowly destroying their generation. Give them action steps that will give them confidence in the stance they take. Teach them how to move in righteous anger. Be creative in what you give them the opportunity to do. I would grab a few students and let them help you shape the challenge. I love getting students involved in stuff like this, because it gives them ownership.

I would love for the #ymnation to weigh in. What are some other ways we should respond to sexting?

hope it helps

ac

237_many_hatsI had the opportunity to give a few thoughts on discipleship to our small group leaders. So I thought I’d share them with you all.

I’m a firm believer that small groups are messy and not as clear cut as some may make them out to be. Therefore, discipleship within small groups is not as clear cut either. I believe the many hats a small group leader has to wear shows the messiness of small groups, and also presents a reason as to why small groups are messy.

Small Group Leader Hats

  1. Counselor
  2. Teacher
  3. Mediator
  4. Friend
  5. Disciplinarian
  6. Role Model
  7. Support System
  8. Advocate
  9. Many More

Wearing this many hats makes a checklist discipleship system impossible. I’ve worn many hat’s being a small group leader and many of them at the same time. What has helped me the most are the principles Jesus used discipling his disciples. When I look at how Jesus discipled, I see a more patterns of principles than methods or structure. Principles deal with the important intangibles that effect areas of our life long term.

We must understand that every time you interact with your students you are discipling them. Whether you know it or not you are discipling with your life and with the choices you make. How you live and the choices you make effect your students for the better or worst. And that’s why I believe Jesus discipled based on principles. Discipling through these principles has been encouraging and literally life changing for me and my small group. So here are the three principles I feel like Jesus used with his disciples:

 

  1. Disciple Through Relationships – Grow and Build Relationships With Your Students – Jesus was always sharing with them who He was and what what He was here to do. He was growing them closer together but also closer to himself. For the sole purpose of building trust. Jesus knew that there would come a day that they would need to trust him and each other. I can tell you from experience that there will come a day that your life group students will need to trust the wisdom you give and know that it’s out of love and not judgement. They will also need the support and confidence of their group.
  2. Disciple IntentionallyBe Intentional With What You Teach and Do – Jesus was intentional about what He taught and also how He challenged the disciples. When Jesus taught the sermon on the mount He intentionally used verbiage that the people already knew so that His words would resonate with them. He intentionally used those words to relate to them so they would hear him and follow. Think about the ways you can be intentional with what you teach. Don’t just teach, speak intentionally to the hearts of your students. How can you challenge them intentionally? You don’t want to just throw ideas at that wall and hope one stick. Have some intentional conversations with God and also with them so you can challenge them in areas that would benefit them for sure.
  3. Disciple the Potential – I feel super strong about seeing the potential in students, I may do a whole post on this topic alone. I see it as a non-negotiable in youth ministry. Jesus chose the disciples based on what he saw in them. He saw three fisherman and a tax collector as world changers preaching the gospel way before the did any of that. He saw a christian killing machine like Paul as someone who would change the world way before he did any planting of churches or writing of the scriptures. Disciple the potential of your students and don’t allow their present circumstance to sway what you see in them.

I got the chance to let our small group leaders know that how you disciple is super important. And again,  I’m not talking about method or structure, I’m talking about in principle. There are a million methods out there and they are all great in their own right, but Jesus gave us some principles that can be used no matter what the method or the structure looks like.

Would love for the youth ministry nation to weigh-in. What  are some other principles Jesus Christ displayed that we can use to disciple our students?

hope it helps

ac



movie-reel-popcorn

I saw a movie last night. A really good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way.

Somehow it made me think about the “movie” of junior highers. It’s a good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way. Here are a bunch of random thoughts that raced through my head as I drove home last night:

- I wonder if the whole “entitled generation” thing is mostly overblown? Sure, the upper middle class teenagers in our culture have had a lot of stuff handed to them, and feel entitled in lots of ways and to lots of things. But a huge percentage of our population consists of people, junior highers among them, who are hard working, tough minded folks simply trying to figure out how to make their way.

- There’s almost always a story behind the “story”. There’s a reason a student is acting out. There’s a story behind her defensive posture. There’s something below the surface that manifests in his poor grades and distant attitude.

- Family is a big part of the story. For good and for bad, families carry the majority of the influence in the lives of the junior highers in our ministries. I wonder if we sometimes, while pushing the “good” families to have more and more impact, if we forget the fact that some of our students are being impacted in devastating ways by those who should love them the most.

- Life is a journey. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. And nobody has a more “up and down” record of getting things right, then wrong, then right, then wrong again than junior highers! We can help them learn how to make wise choices, but the realities of life and their immature brains often lead them to make choices they shouldn’t.

- We can’t fix every problem; even when we know how! This one is tough. But the reality is that there will be students, families and scenarios that are simply beyond your ability to fix. You may know what’s wrong, and how to help…but sometimes it won’t matter. Some students aren’t ready for help, don’t really want it, feel like they are beyond it or simply don’t know what to do with the lifeline we toss their way.

- I’m a wimp. Okay, this one has nothing to do with junior high ministry but it’s the first thought that popped into my mind as the credits began to roll, and it’s the first thing I admitted to my buddies: “Guys, one thing this movie taught me is that I’m a sissy…no matter how I act, I’m really just a wimp!” My life was a little bit of a struggle growing up, but not really. And any “toughness” I once had has been diminished by my upper middle class, Starbucks drinking, SUV driving, Orange County living, beach bumming, gym membership lifestyle. Compared to so many, my life is a picnic…all day, every day.

What’s the movie? I’m not gonna tell you because then you’ll go see it and walk away thinking, “Man, that movie had NOTHING to do with junior high ministry!” And you’d be right.

But the first person…other than my buddies or people who already know what movie I’m talking about….to correctly guess the title in the comments below will win a 5-pack of the great new book, 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers!

blue-three-300x299I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance offs with students. haha Another element that I love is having one on one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. I think for a lot of youth workers this is an area that they may struggle with or not be as comfortable with as they want to be. I wrote a post a while ago that deals with the importance of why these three things matter to me. Go here to check it out!!! So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that has helped me in one on one situations.

1. Take Control - Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk which is great and sometimes the only thing needed, but sometimes you want to guide the conversation to an area they may need to get some guidance or prayer. I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows, when I show genuine concern for the good and the bad in their life. Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how’s life, I’ll say let’s have a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You will be surprised with the response you get. If they don’t have time I’ll say “great, let’s get together this week or I’ll say “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” I’ll leave a message with specific questions for them to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response. Just a caution: when communicating over social media always think about context. My rule of thumb is “communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

 

2. Use Discernment - Every time you get the opportunity to talk one on one with a student consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push them and when to let it go. Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come to Jesus moment. Like I said, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed and you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when they need to hear the truth of God’s word.

 

3. Pray With Them – I know this sounds like a no brainer but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about them performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all. We need to model that to them. So look in all areas in which you can pray for them. I always hear people say God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than my little situation. I always wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.

 

I could’ve listed more but I really wanted to zero in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students but I also know that they need more than just fun. They need Jesus and that’s the primary assignment God has given me being in youth ministry. So what has helped you connect with students better?

 

hope it helps

ac 

@aaroncrumbeyAC



I surprised Kurt this week with a rapid fire Q&A. I wanted him to tap into his 20 plus years of experience. Here’s the list of questions. 1.Balance ministry and life? 2.Ask for more budget or a budget? 3.New position, new church what do I do first? 4.Staff dating each other? 5.Regain trust after a moral failure? 6.Stress of ministry? 7.Disruptive volunteer/parent/student?

Leave questions or topics you would love to hear us discuss in the comment section or email us at talkaboutym@gmail.com.

hope it helps

ac & kurt

lets talkWe’ve all had conversations that we wish we didn’t have to have. The reason tough conversations are so tough is because they are awkward, unpredictable and we want to be liked by all and happy. So Kurt and I give two tips each on how to navigate these types of conversations.

I know there are more so I would love for you to leave a tip, and help the simply youth ministry nation become better at tough conversations.

Also, can someone teach Kurt how to do a proper drum roll. I don’t think a drum roll makes that sound. ha

hope it helps

AC & KURT