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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


How to Master the Youth Ministry Numbers Game

As youth pastors, we don’t like to talk about numbers. If we do, it’s with wailing and gnashing of teeth, as we imagine the elders shaking their heads in frustration at the job we’re doing to reach the students in the community.

Or we laugh at the image of the same elders shaking their heads with concern because the numbers are up but the students you’re reaching are causing problems—serious problems—like an occasional swear word and wearing earbuds on church property.

Here’s the truth: Numbers matter.

Try as we might to help leadership see the student ministry discipleship process as more than a head count, it remains one of the universally accepted currencies of “health” in youth ministry. Here are a few numbers to keep an eye on: read more


3 Common Youth Ministry Pitfalls

I had a chance to get away with some of our youth ministry leadership team recently to process some of the common pitfalls that youth pastors face as they navigate ministry. My mind has hovered around three particular ones that I’ve personally witnessed in my recent experience in youth ministry:

1. Overspending or misuse of church funds

2. Inappropriate relationships

3. Compromising staff/church policies read more


What to Do With Your Summer

Even though school has not let out here in Maryland, we are already in summer mode. That doesn’t mean we shut things down or fill our days up with summer camps and events; we simply alter our schedule.

We tone down programming, keep things simple and maintain our pace. The goal in summer is to prepare for the fall while staying in touch with the teens.

Your summers are so important. How you approach them will determine your readiness for the fall. There is a tendency by many youth ministers to either overload their schedule or completely check out. If you are going to do youth ministry for the long haul, you need to treat the summer with the same focus and attention that you do every other season. If you take advantage of this, you’ll find yourself: read more


How to Equip Students to Preach

When I was 16 years old, I had my first opportunity to preach in a church service. I was nervous as could be. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.

For some strange reason, my youth pastor felt it was worthwhile to put me in front of an auditorium full of people and be the main speaker for Youth Sunday. The rest, as they say, is history.

Equipping our students to become preachers of the Word not only impacts their future in ministry, but also can be a great encouragement to their peers, the youth group and the church as a whole. Most of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers. He believed they could do the work of ministry, and so should we.

How do we go about equipping our students to do this facet of the work of ministry? read more

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