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How to Mobilize Youth to Serve

Two years ago, I sat in on a breakout session led by Joy Bowen at Orange Conference 2011. Within the first five minutes she used the word ‘copious.’

I was hooked.

Joy’s topic focused on mobilizing kids and youth to lead in the context of the weekend worship services. And her first point of business was to ask:

What’s the difference between a student leader & a student helper? read more


How Youth Ministers Should Treat and Respect Parents

This is a topic that freaked me out my first year in youth ministry. As a young parent myself, it’s not easy telling grown ups how to deal with their children.

So, it took me a while to really get to a place where I was comfortable with talking to parents. I’m sure I’m not alone in this area. I thought I’d list some principles that I’m learning along the way that has helped me navigate dealing with parents.

Know your role to parents. We are support to parents first and foremost. Let them take the lead. My value is in being another voice for the student to hear the same message that their parents give. It may sound different and even be presented differently, but it should be the same message—unless, of course, the message is contrary to God’s word. read more


5 Ways to View and Relate to Youth as Jesus Did

I’ve learned that relating to students is more about what you do than who you are. I wrote a post a while ago called “The Bs to Being a Great Youth Leader,” and it was about clearing up the misconceptions of what a youth leader has to be in order to relate to students. I believe the misconceptions of who a youth leader has to be cheapens youth ministry in general.

I believe the focus of a youth minister should be on what they do and not on who they are. Because I believe youth ministry is mostly about relationships, the fact that God created us to be in relationship with Him plays a huge part in that idea. Jesus was a walking relational powerhouse. read more


Seek Out the Beauty of Youth, Not the Mess

Alisha’s life was a mess. Her family was dysfunctional and broken. Her past was littered with poor choices, shattered promises, substances and illicit relationships.

She hated her parents, despised authority and was angry with God ... that is, until she met some people who saw beyond her exterior and realized the beauty that lay deep inside.

When she arrived on the campus of an international boarding school in the Caribbean, she was greeted by people who refused to evaluate her by what they saw. They did not judge her by her beauty, her height, her build or her features.   read more


7 Questions to Ask During Youth Group Event and Program Planning

As summer is quickly coming to an end and fall is quickly approaching, I like to think about how the events or programs I oversee can be better. I also like to brainstorm new ones.

My goal is to learn from my failures with summer events so I don’t repeat them in the fall. Through failure, I’ve grown to love the planning process a lot more.

Here are seven questions I ask myself based off events and programs I didn’t think all the way through: read more

Pastor and kids

Senior Pastor Perspective: Pastor’s Kids and Youth Group

Laura Ortberg Turner, daughter of John and Nancy Ortberg, has some great thoughts on what it means to be (but not really be) known as a “pastor’s kid.” One takeaway is the framework she felt her parents placed her and her siblings into. Turner writes:

“Had we not gotten freedom from our parents to be the people we were—to grow and learn for ourselves and even occasionally embarrass our parents, as good children do (a famed family incident at a church in Southern California that involves my then-5-year-old brother lying on his back, thrusting his pelvis to a children’s worship song called ‘Jumping Bean,’ comes to mind)—we would likely have ended up feeling like our only two possibilities in life were becoming the mantle-bearer or the rebel.” read more


3 Worship-Leading Skills for Kids’ Ministry

After the past few years of observing the worship element of our kids’ experiences, I’ve discovered three key skills that distinguish a worship leader from a worship singer. The former leads kids to engage in a worship song while the latter holds a microphone and sings. There’s a big difference between the two.

Skill No. 1: The Art of Prompting

Storytelling and worship leading share this tool in common. Yet it’s assumed in storytelling and taken for granted in worship leading. Providing prompts seems intuitive when teaching kids. read more


Measuring Church Health: How Many Students Should Attend?

Last week I launched a series of articles on measuring church health. We began by looking at average children’s ministry attendance. This week, we’ll focus on students.

For the churches we’ve worked with through the years, the average number of students is 10 percent of the overall church attendance. In other words, for every 9 adults and kids in attendance, there’s typically one student between sixth and twelfth grade.

Again, the factors driving student engagement are similar to those I noted with children’s ministry. Though the capacity of your youth pastor may certainly impact the health of your student ministry, there are a number of other factors to consider. Those include the demographics of your region, the church’s overall commitment and vision for student ministry and the programming in your worship services. read more


4 Ways for Youth Ministers to Stay in Touch With Their Students

“Does it work?” one of my children asked.

“Yes. It’s plugged into the phone jack. Of course it will work,” their grandmother responded.

“How do I use it?” They sat wide-eyed.  

“Well, you put your finger in the hole of the first number you want to dial and pull it down until it stops, do that with every number until the call goes through,” she explained.

“Can I try it?” they wanted to know. read more


They Cut Because They Hurt

Her name was Randy. She was working in a fast food restaurant in her mid-teens when I met her.

Apart from her nametag, she blended in with the rest of the people she worked with. Same uniform, average height, normal build. But when she turned to reach for the Choco Taco I had just ordered, my attention rested on her arms.

They were scarred.

And not just once, but each arm had dozens—probably 50 or more between the two. read more

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