At the moment I am prepping for our new summer mid-week here at IGNITION (Daybreak Church’s Jr. High Ministry) and a few youth ministry related ideas are bouncing around in my head. Here they are in no particular order!
-YOUTH MINISTRY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT. We are going to be playing around with this idea beginning this week. We have opened up an INSTAGRAM account for our youth ministry and we are going to begin taking photos and letting our students submit photos as well.
-STICKY FAITH WITH VOLUNTEERS. This summer our volunteers are going to be studying through my friend Kara Powell’s book “Sticky Faith: Developing Faith That Lasts In Teenagers”. We will be reading a chapter every week and discussing it together to find ways to create a multi generational model of youth ministry at our church.
-NEW STRATEGIES TO STOP STUDENTS FROM SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS. We are going to be implementing some new assimilation techniques this summer to make sure that every student in our ministry is known by name by a caring adult in our ministry. This summer will be the summer of relational youth ministry.
-SYMT TOOLS. This summer we are going to really dig deep and learn as much as we can about utilizing our SYM Tools software. Check it out today! It’s the best out there.
Yesterday on episode #2 of the “YOUTH MINISTRY HANGOUT” Dennis, Nikkie, Peter and I discussed the most important aspects of building a youth ministry program. Specifically we were asking the question, “how do I plan my youth program?” whether that is a midweek service, weekend service or even small groups. Here are the BIG THREE IDEAS we came up with during the show:
1) KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE! Are you a small youth ministry or a large youth ministry? Do you have very few volunteers or do you have a ton of adult volunteers? What is your youth ministries’ budget? What resources do you have available? These are very important questions to ask if you are the lead youth worker because they will determine your plan & strategy in your process of developing what your program looks like. For example, if you are starting out with just a handful of students, your role as the lead youth worker will have to be that of an evangelist and recruiter. If you are starting out with a ton of students your role may be more as a shepherd and manager right off the bat. What you have will determine what you need to do next.
2) BUILD PROGRAMS THAT BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Right now summertime is upon us. Use this time as a tool to bring students and leaders closer together. Plan some fun days, beach outings or theme park trips. Build relationships into your programs. On a midweek or weekend program this could be as simple as adding 10 minutes into your program where students can check in about their week and get to know their leaders and peers. We can’t compete with video games and theme parks as far as fun is concerned, but your youth ministry should be known for being the place where real authentic friendships occur.
3) DONT DESIGN YOUR PROGRAMS ALONE…GET A TEAM! I talked about this earlier this week, but I can’t stress enough the importance of building a team to plan your programs with. Don’t be a solo act! Resist the urge to build your programs alone. We are better together! As you are planning your summer calendar, grab some volunteers and or student leaders and let them plan the events. Trust me, it’s worth it!
For most youth workers, promotion weekend is upon us (or has just passed) where brand new 6th graders & brand new 9th graders join our youth ministries. At IGNITION (Daybreak Church’s Jr. High Ministry), this upcoming weekend is our PROMOTION SUNDAY for incoming 6th graders. Here is a copy of the email that I just sent out to our youth leaders regarding their roles this weekend. Hopefully this content will be useful to you in your youth ministry setting!
EMAIL I SENT:
So here are the 3 big things to be thinking about as we approach Sunday morning:
1) THIS WEEKEND IS ALL ABOUT THE NEW 6TH GRADERS! This weekend I want you hanging out with 6th graders. Your priority is to find a new 6th grader/graders and stick with them the entire service. If you are a guy, make a beeline for new 6th grade guys. If you are a girl, make a beeline for new 6th grade girls. Go out of your way to get to know all about them. There will be special seating this Sunday roped off just for our 6th graders. SIT WITH STUDENTS DURING THE SERVICE. No one should be standing/sitting anywhere else during program Sunday morning except for sitting with 6th grade students. (the only exception is for those who are running tech in the back).
2) THIS WEEKEND IS ALL ABOUT BUILDING NEW RELATIONSHIPS. Get to know students this weekend. When you meet a new kid, grab some coke’s (found in a bucket by the tech booth) and sit at connection central or the couches with students. Ask them about their hobbies, likes, dislikes, favorite movies, favorite foods, bands, etc. Our goal at IGNITION is that every student is known by name by one of our leaders.
3) MODEL AUTHENTIC WORSHIP AND FUN FOR THE NEW 6TH GRADERS. When worship is going on this Sunday, sing with all your might! When a joke comes from the stage, laugh even if it’s not that funny! When the message is being taught, model to your students by taking notes yourself and following along. If you see students acting up, let them know (nicely) to pay attention. They will look up to you as models of what they should/shouldn’t be doing. This weekend will be as fun for them as you make it! :D
This past Sunday at SSM (Saddleback Student Ministries) I shared with my team about the next phase we will be focusing on in our student ministry, which is RELATIONAL YOUTH MINISTRY. Our hope is to not only build GREAT programs for the students who come through our doors but to invest deeply in the lives of our students. Even though most youth workers agree that relational youth ministry is essential, the truth is that we can easily get caught up in the business of prepping messages, planning programs, programing camps/retreats, databases, etc….that we can miss the most important part of student ministry, which is, RELATIONSHIPS.
So what are we going to start spending a large amount of our time/focus doing differently? Here are just a few quick tips & ideas:
1) KNOW EVERY STUDENT BY NAME. This may sound easy enough, but as your group grows it gets easier and easier for some students to slip through the cracks. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Which is why small group ministry is so important in student ministry. Here at SSM we will be plugging all of our students into a group of students and a few caring adults where they will be known by name, and hopefully do life together.
2) TRACKING OUR STUDENTS. We are using a new software called “youthtracker.net” and so far it is super powerful/useful. It tracks when students miss a weekend of your program, allows you to send & receive texts with students. For more information on “youthtracker” just click here for all the details!
3) FACEBOOK…FACEBOOK…FACEBOOK! Our team is going to make it a point to really invest in the lives of students and that includes on FaceBook! Our students are ALWAYS on Facebook and to miss out on connecting with students in this way is crazy. We use Facebook to chat with students, send them discipleship tools, invite them to events and more. Clearly it is much better to hang out with our students face to face, but in between, Facebook can be a very powerful tool.
What about your ministry? How are you building deeper relationships with your students? Share some of your ideas below by leaving a comment.
This week I’ve been getting a bunch of emails from youth workers all over the country asking for me to explain the idea behind what we at WILDSIDE (Saddleback’s jr. High ministry) call “Grade Groups”.
The idea is simple: we want every jr. Higher who passes through our doors on the weekend to be known by a caring adult in our ministry. We want our team to know the name of every student that comes to one of our weekend services.
Our weekend services at WILDSIDE are our “crowd” program, where we encourage teenagers to bring their friends for the first time. The crowd can get quit large, so learning all of the new students names can be challenging. So what is the answer to our problem? Two words: GRADE GROUPS.
So what are grade groups and how do we use them in our services? Grade groups are small groups separated by grade/gender that meet during a portion of our weekend service. These grade groups are led by a volunteer and do everything from discuss questions based off that weekends message, play “get-to-know-you” games, pray for each other…really anything at all so that our leaders can get to know students on a name by name basis.
The funny thing is that we started grade groups as an experiment, just to see how it would work. Now when we skip a week for any reason we have students immediately ask us “we’re not getting rid of grade groups are we?!”.
The best kind of youth ministry is always relational youth ministry. Grade groups have been a great way for relationships to develop during our weekend programming. What kind of things do you do in your programs to spark relational youth ministry?