Fantastic video from Rhett and Link called “Get Off Your Phone” – perfect to open up your next parent meeting!
Fantastic video from Rhett and Link called “Get Off Your Phone” – perfect to open up your next parent meeting!
Weekend Teaching Series: Baptism Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: Baptism is a beautiful symbol of being welcomed into God’s family!
Service Length: 55 minutes
Understandable Message: The weekend in youth group I tried to tell the Christmas story and weave in the teachings about baptism for a special 1-off before our 1st annual Christmas play. I talked about how the story of Jesus coming to earth at Christmas wasn’t just about Him being welcomed into Mary and Joseph’s family, but that it was about a larger narrative of everyone being welcomed into God’s family through salvation in Him. It was great fun to share the Gospel with our students and also have baptisms at the end of the service, too!
Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We did an “announcement” like we haven’t done in a while: we called it Storytime with Justin where he read a fake Children’s story that had lots of info about our upcoming Winter Retreat in it. Kinda hard to explain but a fun creative way to do announcements. Made everyone laugh, especially seeing Justin in front of a LED screen fireplace and in an adult onesie. We also played a fun round of Sit Down If and students were involved in every part of the service, greeting, promoting the Christmas Toy Drive and more!
Music Playlist: Carol of the Bells (a cappella), Go/Joy to the World Medley, We Are the Free, O Come All Ye Faithful
Favorite Moment: Baptisms are my absolute favorite part of ministry! Fun even doing them out in the cold, and hearing everyone cheer as the students came up out of the water. Never get tired of it!
Up next: Christmas in Space (1-off, 1st annual HSM Christmas production)
Have you ever been in an argument where you noticed that you weren’t really listening to the other side because you were too busy thinking of your rebuttal? Or have you ever had a girl corner you in the youth room…she is crying and you can’t understand a word she is saying, which leaves you thinking of way to make it stop. I know I have. I have also noticed in several of my conversations I am busy forming a solid reason for why a student should do “something”, that I don’t always even hear what they really are saying. You know…solving their situation so we can move on to the next task.
But, I have found, especially with girls, that you have to really hear what they are saying to understand them. (I mean that in both a literal and figural way)
Generally in youth ministry we need to start by…
1. Make room for LISTENING. Maybe this is just me but if I am not ready to really listen than it won’t matter what technic I use to hear. For example, if I am in the youth room and there are other students around I can’t hear anything but words. I am ADHD in the youth room especially if it is before a program or service. I see people sitting alone or notice someone who hasn’t been in awhile…I am easily distracted. One Christmas party, a student walked into the room right to me and was crying. SHE WAS CRYING AND TALKING at me…and in all honesty all I could think was we are suppose to start the santa relay game right now. Luckily, she said something about her parents that triggered my attention back to her. I asked another volunteer to run the game and took the student out of the room to talk. Finding a quiet place with no people is huge for me when it comes to really listening. Included in finding a good location is forgetting about the other locations and focusing just on this one student in this moment. I need to make room for listening.
Now, more specifically when it comes to listening to girls…
2. Notice the “feeling” statments. Try to get pass the details of the situation and listen for statements that indicate their feelings. Girls (myself included) can get lost in the details of a story- because we assume that if you know the details you will understand the feelings but that just isn’t the case. Don’t be afraid to stop a story and ask the girl what she is feeling. “How do you feel about that?” It might sound funny coming out of your mouth but it helps them focus away from ALL the details to the heart of the issue.
3. Listen for your role. Excuse my overgeneralized gender statements…but sometimes girls just need to vent and they don’t nessecary need a game plan for dealing with the situation. And sometimes guys just need to come up with a game plan instead of listening to all the details! They may need more from you than a safe place to vent BUT listen first to see if they already know the help they need. All they may need from you is a confirmation of a decision or intervention for a friend. Likely, they have come to you because they need you…but don’t assume you know exactly what they need without really hearing them speak.
I am still trying to learn to be a better listener, I have a long way to go… What tips do you use when listening to students, especially girls?
I used to hate meeting with parents because it meant another night away from home dealing with people I didn’t understand. When I became a parent I saw the importance; but the annoyance was still there. That’s because my experience of parent meetings were miserable. They were filled with lecturing, and were highly disorganized. Then I realized parent meetings didn’t need to stink. They can be engaging and should be approached as a big opportunity.
Communicating with parents is essential to what you do. There will be times when you need to connect with one and then other times with all of them. Instead of reluctantly gathering parents together on a weeknight when no one wants to be there, turn it into one of your greatest features as a youth ministry. The topic might not matter, all you need to do is make it a worth while experience. Which means you need to:
If you can create effective and engaging parent meetings then you will build community with parents. If you value the relationship you have with parents they’ll trust you with their child that much more. Do not waste the opportunity of a meeting, embrace it and be intentional.
How do you make parent meetings worth your while and theirs?
Our friends over at MarriedPeople.org gave us a great freebie for spouses to use as inspiration to better their marriages this Christmas. They’re 12 really simple ideas or reminders to make your marriage better. Enjoy!
We’re in the thick of processing applications for our summer intern program and it made me wonder who else out there offers youth ministry internships. Vote now either way, and be sure to check out this DYM resource for starting an internship program, too!
Now you can be a part of a team, be running a team or you can be thinking of your volunteers that you have in your ministry. Having vision is not enough to keep a team. I have heard “People don’t leave a team, they leave the leader.” As people in charge of a ministry we are over people to make sure everything gets done, but as the leader you are responsible for the people under you. Here are 10 things to do to make sure you run your team down:
It seems like just yesterday I was starting out in youth ministry and that was over ten years ago now. Looking back at the last 10+ years I realized I am someone who embraces the new, yet still holds on to things that are old and hold value.
So this got me thinking…. What are some of the things in youth ministry that we push forward on, and what should we also look back to? I am not talking about things like flannel graph, clip art, or the famous YS Hot Seat game that nobody should ever play again. What I am talking about are things with lasting value.
Here are a few I thought of….
So what are some “old” principles of youth ministry that still hold value today?
Kevin Klas has been in youth ministry for 10 years. He is currently the director of student ministries at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, WA.
I have been a children’s church volunteer for a little over 2 years now. The first year was booming! I had a great friend helping me lead, who was my accountability partner, we bounced ideas off of each other and made it happen. This past year though, has been a year without my buddy and I’m telling you, since I lost my accountability partner, the one I would bounce ideas back and forth with, and prepare with, I have been struggling. My delivery has been off, and the time back there with the kids is rushed. But I believe even through this time of struggling, God has a plan and He will use these struggles to lead us where we need to be. So I want to share a few things with you God has revealed to me about rising above these two particular struggles.
When I had my buddy, we would get together each week, read a devotional, pray over the kids and our church, prepare the lesson, and discuss it. Now, I read over the lesson and deliver it. I want to add that it is curriculum that we are working with BUT I also want to add that just because it is curriculum, that does not mean it will speak for itself. You still need to prepare. I still need to prepare. I have lost sight of what I am discussing, of what I am teaching my kids, because I have only read over it. What God has revealed to me is so simple but oh so powerful. He’s shown me that in order to deliver more efficiently and gain a better understanding of what I’m teaching, I should spend time digging deeper into the message as if I am preparing the message and not the curriculum preparing the message for me. There are several options for digging in: Youtube sermons on the topic, read blogs on the topic, study the scriptures on the topic and read commentary on it as well. Then videotape myself delivering in my living room!!
After watching the video, it’ll be easier to see which area needs improvement such as where time can be saved. Time seems to fly by for us and we don’t have any time to really get to know the kids and pour into their lives. Even though the message doesn’t take up all of our time, this ties back into preparing for delivery because as delivery improves, and a better understanding of the message is gained, more quality is poured into the time spent with my/your kids. You can then tie the message into whatever conversation is brought up and give your children a better understanding of the message themselves so they can apply it in their daily walk.
God’s got a plan even through the struggles, He will help you rise above and guide you on your next move. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
What has God revealed to you about rising above your struggle?
Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.
Recently the youth ministry I am a part of took on a large project; moving our entire database to a new program. This process has been painful in a lot of ways. Researching and evaluating different programs, deciding which features were must haves and what wasn’t, and then the many tedious hours of migrating information, checking accuracy, and data entry. I am so thankful for those on the team that took on much of this responsibility.
There was one part of this process that was all mine, and it was possibly…no definitely WAS painful for me. I was given a print out of our entire student list in the old program and had to decide which students should be included in the new list and which ones shouldn’t. As I read through the names, there were a few that reminded me of huge ministry “wins”, but there were a whole lot more that represented failures. Right there, in black and white, staring back at me were students that had fallen away or fallen through the cracks.
As I wrestled with who to cross out and who to leave, there were a few scriptures that popped into my mind. First was the parable that Jesus taught in Luke 15 about a lost sheep:
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. (Luke 15:4-5, NLT)
The other concept was when Jesus instructions were to basically cut your losses and move on.
If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. (Matthew 10:14 NLT)
We see Paul and Barnabas live this out in Acts:
So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:51-52 NLT)
So the question at hand is this: how do I know which ones are sheep and which ones are dust?
The long answer is—I don’t.
So now what?
Do my very best
Whether any student will be sheep or dust is not my choice, it is theirs. The only way I am going to know what they choose is to try to reach them, pray for them, and pursue them as much as is appropriate.
Help those that want to be helped
If their attitudes and actions reveal they don’t want to be helped or ministered to, then I need to shake off the dust and move on to someone that does. Jesus knew it, and so do we; life change and transformation will only happen if they want it to and then allow God to work. Looking at that list I realized how much of my time and effort has been spent chasing after sheep that weren’t really sheep at all.
The students that I realized had not been pursued were left on the list, so we can do our part. The students on the list I knew had been pursued and pushed us away were crossed off. I still have hope that they will someday be sheep, but as for now I am not going to let the dust build up and hold us back.
Brian Seidel is the Lead Youth Worker at Cloverdale Church of God in Boise, ID. You can check out his resources on DYM here.
On Wednesday, I saw two of the women from my congregation who my students recently visited during my youth ministry’s interviews with the saints (for more on these interviews, check out this previous article). Both spoke enthusiastically about how much they enjoyed their conversation with our young people. Perhaps more remarkably, in the days since then, I’ve heard from our teens just how much they, too, enjoyed these conversations and learned from them.
One reason why these interviews were so meaningful is because students asked our saints great questions, written by our student leaders. Here they are:
1. Tell us about your childhood. What was your family like? What did you enjoy doing?
2. What were the pivotal national & world events that influenced your childhood and adolescence? (Ex: Wars, JFK’s death, etc.)
3. As a child, did you go to church? If so, what was your church like?
4. Did you participate in a youth group? Why or why not?
5. How, if at all, did your youth group experience impact your faith journey?
6. How, if at all, did your parents influence your faith?
7. Tell us about your family now.
8. Are / were you married? If so, for how long?
9. How did you meet your spouse?
10. What characteristics / qualities made you fall in love with your spouse?
11. What role, if any, did your faith play in your marriage?
12. What advice would you give us about marriage? Why?
13. Did you go to college? If so, where? What did you study? Why did you decide to study that?
14. Where did you work?
15. How did you end up in your profession?
16. How, if at all, did your parents influence your career choice?
17. How, if at all, did your faith influence your career choice or daily work?
18. If you had it to do all over again, what would you have done differently? Why?
19. As you reflect back on your life, how’s it different than you imagined it would be?
20. What words or phrases would you use to describe your faith?
21. Describe a powerful experience you’ve had with God.
22. Tell us about a time when you struggled in your relationship with God. What helped you overcome that struggle?
23. What questions or doubts do you currently have about your faith?
24. How long have you attended our church?
25. Why did you make our church your church home?
26. Which of our church’s ministries have most impacted you? Why?
27. How have you seen our church change?
28. How has your personal faith grown through your involvement at our church?
29. What do you value about our congregation and why?
30. What do you hope for the future of our church?
Jen Bradbury has been in youth ministry for 11 years. She’s the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her writing has appeared in YouthWorker Journal, The Christian Century, and Immerse. She blogs at ymjen.com
Recently, we started doing something that we didn’t put a ton of effort into in the past: taking care of our former students. Our team has all been through college and we know that your first few months can be really tough. There is a brand new community, new expectations, and new stresses that can be really overwhelming. We knew that there is no harder time than finals season, so we thought that it would be the perfect time to send them some love. So we sent them a fun, delicious, and (hopefully) helpful care package. This surprisingly cheap project has made a huge impact with our students and I thought I’d share it with you!
In our care packages we sent:
-Various Candy (Chocolate, Candy Cane, Sour Patch, etc.)
-A Coloring Book (with Crayons)
-Scantrons and Blue Books
-Reusable Water Bottle
-5 Student Written Cards
-1 Card from the HSM Staff
Surprisingly, we were able to buy all of this stuff (besides scantrons and blue books) from the 99 Cent Store. If you don’t do anything else, at least send the cards. We didn’t just send a card from our team, we had 5 students write to each graduated senior about the impact that they made in each of their lives, reminding them of their continuing legacy at our ministry.
Caring for your graduated students is incredibly important. It allows us to support them in a time when they might feel alone. It allows us to encourage them in a time when they feel overwhelmed. And it allows us to love them when they need it most!
What are you doing to care for your former students?
I love food. If you saw my waistline you would definitely assume this about me. I am not a huge guy, but I have a few extra pounds like lug around with me. This is all to say that I think food is important. Sure it keeps you alive, but food gives you something to experience with other people.
Keeping hydrated is also something I love, I hate being thirsty because well it just sucks. So I love to put beverages out for people to drink.
Welcoming people is so much fun! Nothing is better than when a friendly face asks you about how your week was and chats with you about something the two of you love to talk about.
A clean room, this one I am not so good at providing… but I love to provide a clutter free space. So each week I put away everything that isn’t going to get used. I love that a place feels clear, because it leaves me clear to think.
A well stocked bathroom… ever been in a not well stocked bathroom. I once called my brother to go into another stall and grab me toilet paper! It might seem silly but it is something to make sure you have. Nobody wants an embarrassing moment of having to call out for something they need.
Special perks! I love when something gets pulled out special just for me. Even if it was kept in stock to be used strategically, it feels nice to get something that I don’t really deserve.
All of these things are good to think about when putting on an event or even just hanging out. By providing hospitality, you give a sense of worth. If someone is willing to make a special effort for you, or provide you with something above and beyond it forms a connection. It creates a trust and comfort.
What are you doing to be hospitable in your ministry setting? If you are asking someone to be your guest, what are you doing to stand out above the rest?
Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years and blogs exclusively here on LoveGodLoveStudents.com. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. Hit him up on Twitter @CorbinKyle
Throughout the years, I’ve conducted monthly volunteer meetings many different ways: in person, online, using GoToMeeting, and even at a once-a-month cookout we called the Steak Out. Although you can connect with and train leaders in a variety of ways, there’s something about having everyone together that makes it my favorite method by far.
No matter how or how often you meet with volunteers, remember these core values:
1 Maintain a consistent time. Consistency is key to getting people to commit to attending and participating. Meet regularly so you can keep tabs on how your leaders are doing and on what God is accomplishing through them.
2 Keep meetings short and sweet. Volunteers give up a lot of time as it is, so when you ask them to come to an extra meeting, you’d better be prepared. Beforehand, send out an agenda with targeted questions so anyone who misses a meeting can still provide feedback.
3 End a little early. No one has ever complained about a short church function. Volunteers have families, chores, and homework waiting. Value their time, taking only what you need to have an effective meeting.
So what should you actually do during the precious time you’re assembled as a team?
1. Eat together. Breaking bread and enjoying a meal with your team is truly awesome. Providing food conveys appreciation for their service. So grill up some steaks* with your volunteers.
2. Learn together. Whether you watch a training video, present a short lesson, or listen to a guest speaker, having the whole team together is an ideal opportunity to learn and grow. Set aside time for discussion, using the group’s collective experience to address issues that teenagers face.
3. Pray together. Also reserve time to pray for one another and for young people, seeking God’s guidance and protection.
4. Distribute calendars and resources. Make sure volunteers leave every meeting with all the tools they’ll need during the coming weeks. Also, provide information about what’s coming down the pike so they aren’t caught off guard by an event or change. Don’t waste time covering those things verbally.
I can just picture a youth pastor in Michigan, deciding to hold a volunteer barbecue at church in the middle of December. How cool would that be?
* Or tofu, if you’d prefer.
Steak Escape by Josh Griffin originally appeared in the November/December issue of Group Magazine where he is a regular contributor for his “In the Trenches” column.
For every believer there should be a special place in your heart and in your faith for communion. Not only does the eucharist represent what Jesus has done for us on the cross but it’s the fact that Jesus said to remember Him by doing these specific actions. They are holy and meaningful. The other night I had my small group of high school seniors partake in communion. It was amazing. I wrote some thoughts on why I think it is so important for at some point of your group’s time, they should do communion together.
You get to fully explain it: I think explaining what communion is during services (whether you do it every week or just once in a while) is great, but all students might not be fully engaged and could miss something. Because communion and it’s symbolism is so meaningful, I want to make sure my boys know what it means. So being able to have their attention and go through the Scripture and being able to explain it and have then ask questions is huge a huge win.
It is more intimate: I don’t want to discredit any camp experiences, because I love camp, but it’s a crowd and there are tons of people around. I think there was such a difference when it was out group, in a quiet home, with no one else around. It felt even more intimate than it did in a camp setting. It was so great. We spent a few minutes praying to God for thanks and then spent a few minutes in prayer for each other and then we passed out the bread and the juice and we prayed as group and took the elements. The guys loved it and all of them commented about how they never have experienced something like that before and we were able to debrief it a little bit after. It was incredible.
We are showing students the importance: Students follow us as leaders. If we show them how to stop and reflect on Christ and what He has done for us on the cross, then they will see how important it is for them to do the same. Our students are so busy now, some have busier schedules than I do. But when we are able to stop the craziness of life and stop and reflect we can really look back in our lives and reflect on how God has already moved in such a huge way. Teaching our students to do this and to show them the meaning of communion is a great teaching, reflecting, and growing moment you can have with your group.
How often do you do communion? Every week? Once in a while? Just at camp?