Youth Ministry Models

The youth pastor at University Reformed Church has written a post on Kevin DeYoung’s blog giving some advice for youth ministers. It’s worth a read and some comment.

His four points are as follows and are all very good and straightforward:

  1. Relationships matter much more than coolness.
  2. Gaining the trust of the parents is one of the most important parts of the job.
  3. Center your ministry on the Word of God
  4. Give more thought and attention to the above things than to your youth ministry model.

All these points are good points. They should be points that every youth pastor can affirm. Coolness only lasts about 5 minutes and then everyone sees who you really are. Gaining the trust of parents in this role is essential and a high priority in the relationship building of the youth pastor. The Word is to play a central part of it all, guiding, directing, and correcting the young people, the youth pastor, and the church.

It is, however, point four that I find most interesting. While yes, it is important to give thought and attention to the three points above, it’s actually the three points that outline the model for ministry. Focussing on relationships, parents, and the Bible is a model for youth ministry. They are to be priorities and in the course of being priorities they become a model. In giving thought and attention to them you’re therefore giving thought and attention to your youth ministry model.

What’s your youth ministry model? One that focuses on the Word and relationships or one that puts it’s focus elsewhere?

Top 3 Books For Youth Ministry

Late last night I was texted asking for what my top 3 book recommendations were on the topic of Youth Ministry. I thought I’d share them here for interest sake:

  1. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
  2. Fruit That Will Last by Tim Hawkins
  3. Leaders That Will Last by Tim Hawkins

I’ve also added a fourth in my response as years ago Al Stewart put out a little primer on youth ministry called No Guts, No Glory worth reading.

I’d recommend these books to anyone beginning in youth ministry or a good refresher for those who’ve been in it for a while.

What are your favourites? What would you recommend if you were asked for your top 3?

Youth Influencers

By: MxonerSkittleDip
By: MxonerSkittleDip

The term “youth leader” is regularly used in all works regarding youth ministry. It describes a person who has been set apart for a special ministry within a church toward young people. A youth leader’s role is wide and can incorporate a variety of things. Most likely this term’s used to describe a person who’s in some form or another looking after young people within the context of a church program or event.

I use this term, “Youth Leader”, and in many ways it makes a lot of sense to continue to use it. Yet, I also find it difficult to determine who’s a youth leader and who’s not within my context. Some young adults, who are not “official” youth leaders work more with young people than the youth leaders themselves. For example, I wouldn’t call our worship leaders “youth leaders”, yet they find themselves dealing with the young people of our church more than the actual youth leaders themselves.

I think this can cause an issue. A mindset can set in where people who don’t think of themselves as youth leaders, or aren’t given the official title, are classed as secondary helpers in the area of youth ministry. In many respects there becomes a two-tiered ministry – on one level there is the official youth group nights and small groups while on another level (quite often seen to be below the first) are the areas of the church community where young people themselves contribute to and interact with other members of the church (who aren’t “official” youth leaders).

In thinking about this, and also having to get my head around it while I’ve been writing some Electronic Communication Guidelines, I think a better term for all people who interact with young people in the church would be “Youth Influencers”. This term captures those who aren’t deemed to be “official” youth leaders, who don’t turn up to the youth ministry events per se, but, it includes those who deal with young people week to week. It also recognises that many people within the church can shape and mould young people, whether they are classed as leaders or not.

If youth ministries were to expand their terminology I think there could be a greater involvement and take up by people to be involved in the lives of young people. Some people don’t like to be thought of as leaders, or, they don’t have the time commitment to be active “youth ministry” leaders. Yet, this would be an opportunity to recognise those who have influence over young people in our churches and establish a culture of people investing in people.

Integrating Youth Ministry Into The Church

How is the youth ministry at your church viewed?

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St Peters Youth Ministry

Quite often young ministry is considered a must but it is also seen as the baby to a lot of the other ministries within the church. Sometimes i get the feeling that as long as there is some sort of youth group happening and there are some people we can call youth leaders then the church can promote itself as looking out for the needs of young people.

This, however, doesn’t capture how youth ministry fits into the whole church. Ideally, a good youth ministry should be able to be integrated into other ministries, where it would be acceptable for young people to participate, help out, and even lead. For example, it should be quite easy for young people to not only attend youth group on a Friday night, but also feel comfortable enough to be attending a service, or a small group or even a whole church event.

Finding and working this culture of integration between ages is hard, yet, it seems to be an ideal way for maturity to occur throughout the age groups of a church.

7 Evernote Tips For Youth Pastors

Evernote is one of the most used apps on my phone and computer.

Here’s seven tips on why Youth Pastors should be using it.

7-evernote-tips-for-youth-pastors

1. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Organise Events

Anything from camps to small group socials to the stock standard youth night. Evernote helps you keep organised and plan an event coming up.

Writing lists, storing information about what needs to purchased, and delegating which leader is responsible for what. All these things can be stored in various notes.

The helpful tagging option allows you to bring up all the notes about “Awesome Camp”, which can then include details about registration, budget, what to buy, and the contact details for the campsite itself. There are a number of ways to put together a particular youth event but having them all in one central place is helpful.

Once the event is done and it’s time to debrief this is where notes can be kept and help you improve the next time it comes around.

2. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor In Designing The Youth Ministry Programme

Young people and youth leaders are full of ideas about youth events. Nearly every week there will be one person that comes up to me and says, “We should do […insert event here…] next term.”

Evernote enables you to store information about future youth ministry activities. This can include details of what it is, contact information, and the links to the websites. When coming to organise the next term’s programme this will make the process a lot easier. Pull your phone out, have a look at what’s there, think about whether it achieves what you’re after and put in on the planner. Easy.

A local roller-skating rink posts me information every now and then with their information for youth groups. All I do is take a picture of it, store it in Evernote, and boom. It’s sorted and searchable for when I need it.

3. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Remember A Good Game

Games + Youth Ministry = Fun times.

How many times do you find yourself, perhaps at the end of a night, where there is 15 minutes to spare and you’ve run out of games?

No Youth Pastor should be without a few games up their sleeve. They’re the bread and butter of many traditional youth groups and youth ministries. Evernote allows you to store heaps and heap and heaps of games on your phone and computer, easily accessed in seconds.

Storing games you’ve come up with yourself, finding a few gems on the net, and even taking a few notes from games some of your leaders come up, can all be stored in Evernote. Tagging them into what kind of games, i.e. Adventure, Messy, Group, Ice-Breaker and the like becomes extremely helpful too.

4. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Remember Conversations With Young People, Parents And Leaders

Last year I held a Parent Afternoon Tea and jotted down some of the feedback given. There were a few new ideas floating around and also some encouraging things being said about the youth ministry. At the end of our time together I took a photo of the discussion notes, uploaded them to Evernote, and they became searchable using their technology. This has helped me remember what we talked about and we we could implement in the future.

After a conversation with a Youth Leader I type out some brief bullet point notes in Evernote so that I remember what was said and the action points decided upon. This helps me to know where my Youth Leaders are at with a variety of matters and also helps me in following up the next time we catch up.

This is so much more useful than some form of text file stored on the computer. Here I have them all in note form and in my hand.

5. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Store Contact Details Of Other Youth Pastors, Young People, Leaders, And Churches

The amount of ‘networking’ events for those in Christian ministry is quite extraordinary. Every week there are multiple emails promoting different organisations, churches, and leadership events. It gets confusing and tiring.

Anyway, Evernote helps me to store the contact details of those I actually want to stay in touch with. Sometimes it might be the dreaded business card (Does anyone actually use these anymore?) , take a pic, snap, upload, sorted. Sometimes it is simply me entering the information of the person right in front of them, or even handing the phone over and asking them to enter it themselves.

Having knowledge and contact details of those in my area, those I wish to continue a working relationship with, and organisations who could be helpful for our youth ministry is handy to have. you never know when you might be of support to someone or they to you. Having their details on hand and in an easy to find place is awesome.

This could easily apply to people in the youth ministry, church, and others.

6. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor With All That Ridiculous Administration

Every job has administration, the Youth Pastor can’t avoid it either. However, Evernote provides a great solution in storing what’s important and also the not so important.

I get sent a fair few things via snail mail and these things can easily be scanned and uploaded to Evernote directly. It was only the other week where I read an article in one of the Christian papers and then took a picture of it for Evernote and future use.

But there is other stuff too. Receipts and invoices, important emails you want to keep in one place, and even those rare thank you notes you receive from people. These can all g into Evernote, be made searchable, and like that you’ve cut down on paper, reduced the need for a filing cabinet and stored them forever.

7. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Write Talks For Youth Ministry

Every youth ministry should have some form of talk that is Bible-based and aimed at encouraging, equipping, or evangelising youth people. I regularly do them, as do my Youth Leaders.

With Evernote I can write up that talk in plain text then take my phone with me to the front of the group and go bang. Granted, I do prefer paper for that purpose but if I was to ever lose or have my talk stolen by one of our members then I can easily retrieve it on me device.

Evernote provides heaps of editing options to helps highlight important things to say and remember for delivery. Using the search and tagging function also provides good reference for the future. For example, when speaking on the Rich Young Ruler from Luke 18:1-18 I can have my notes in Evernote and tag them, “Youth Talk”, “Jesus”, “Wealth”, “Gospel”, “Cost”, “Works” etc.

In sum, Evernote is a great app for Youth Pastors to use and enables them to be better organised, which I think produces a better Youth Pastor. It helps in ‘doing’ ministry, and we all know we need help sometimes. There are plenty of other things I’m sure we could come up with. But hey, seven is a godly number. Let’s leave it there.

Are you a youth pastor that uses Evernote? How does it help you?

The Sadness Of Ministry Closure

When things come to a close it can be a sad time.

When we come back from overseas after a wonderful holiday, when we say good-bye after a lovely dinner with friends, when the inspiring movie could have gone on much longer but had to come to an end. There is often the feeling of sadness.

So it is with youth ministries and programs that come to a close.

The Sadness Of Ministry Closure

At a recent ministry meeting a team of us decided to close a ministry that has been going on in our church for the last three years. For the past 18 months many of the main leaders in this program have left and moved onto other things. Others have simply stopped participating and helping out, not making it a priority. And some, sadly, have left the church and the faith altogether.

The feeling of the team was that it is best to lay the program down for a season or two.

And, it is sad.

It is sad because it is something many have put their hearts and souls into.

It is sad because it is a ministry that was loved by parents, students, and the wider church.

It is sad because relationships were strained because of the program and the stress involved.

It is sad because the investment of money, time, and effort into something like this brings with it an emotional connection.

But my pastor, who chaired the meeting, reminded us all of John 12:24,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” 

Our ministries, and church programs, including our precious youth group or camp or event, are like the grain. Sometimes they must fall to earth and die in order for more fruit to be produced.

Looking at this verse in closer context we see that some Greeks have come to see Jesus. From Andrew to Peter the message of these visitors is passed on to Jesus. Jesus responds by telling these visitors that his time to be glorified is close, very close.

What the…?

We find shortly after that Jesus is actually referring to his death. Through his death the disciples and the believers will bear much fruit.

But as Jesus continues to speak he says the following in v25-26:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.”

What a challenge!

It seems we are to look to do the things of God, look to do the work of Jesus, which is to die and be a sacrifice to the world.

How then does this relate to ministries and programs dying? 

Well, maybe it is the case of having to let them die so that more fruit can come from the wider ministries of the church. And maybe, just maybe, it is the case that we are to adjust our focus to Christ and look closely at how we serve him, realigning our ministries with his.

Leaders Who Will Last by Tim Hawkins

leaders who will lastTim Hawkins has been involved in youth ministry  here in Australia for many years. ‘Leaders Who Will Last‘ is his second book on the topic of youth ministry. His first, ‘Fruit That Will Last‘, was written in the late 1990s and is a foundational text for youth ministry practitioners, particularly here in Australia. Before reading Leaders Who Will Last I’d highly recommend reading his first. 

Leaders Who Will Last, published in 2002, is, as you can imagine, all about youth ministry leadership. I have just finished my first reading of it and would recommend it to anyone in the youth ministry field. However, this book is not only for those in youth ministry on a paid basis, but for anyone involved in a voluntary capacity–parent, youth leader, small group leader etc. 

Leaders Who Will Last is grounded in scripture and gives good advice for youth leaders. There are three main sections of the book; one on vision, one on character, and one on skills.

It is under vision that the main biblical foundations are set. The issues of calling, shepherding, and servanthood are rightly portrayed as important. The main characteristics of a leader are to be faithful, reliable, and a follower of those in higher authority, such as the senior pastor, youth pastor, or lead leader.

In terms of skills, the emphasis is on teaching the bible, whether at the main youth gathering or through a bible study. This I find is a bit light, I think there are more things a youth leader should also be across, not just being able to teach the bible. In fact, I think some leaders may not even be able to do that, but there are other skills that they may bring to the overall health of a youth ministry.

Hawkins also describes, in 16 points, the various aspects to youth work and the type of person a youth leader can be, i.e. a pray-er, an organiser, a counsellor etc.

Overall I thought the book was good. An area of improvement would be a deeper theological basis for youth leadership and youth ministry in general. While a biblical theology of youth ministry is not what this book is about I continue to search for such a work. They’re hard to find, even among all the youth ministry books at the theological college I attend. 

Much of what was written applies directly to me, particularly the issue of getting right with God and staying right. I must set my heart on his ways and his agenda. This book pushes me to pray more, I don’t pray nearly enough for my leaders, my peers, my kids, or my church.

And finally, it is a book that I will recommend to fellow youth leaders. There is so much information in this book that is helpful to any leadership position, but specifically to those in youth ministry.