Here is a great book that I am in the middle of reading right now called “SERVANTHOOD AS WORSHIP”. There are a ton of books out there about leadership, but this book focuses on serving in ministry not to get ahead or to gain leadership roles, but simply to serve as an act of worship to Jesus. This could be a great resource for your students and/or your adult volunteers. Check it out and let me know what you think!
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.
A few weeks ago now we had “promotion Sunday” at our church. Promotion Sunday is the time when our 8th graders graduate up into high school and we receive a fresh batch of brand new 6th graders into our ministry.
Here is a quick question that came to my mind this week: what are we doing for the students who have graduated out of our ministry? Once our students leave our youth programs, does that mean the end of our connection with them? For those of you who lead high school students, what is your strategy to reach out to your graduated seniors?
This week on the blog/podcast we’ve been talking a lot about setting students up for success so that when they graduate from our ministries, they won’t graduate from their faith.
What does it say to a student who never hears from us again after they leave? I believe it says a few things:
1) YOU ARE ONLY IMPORTANT TO US WHEN YOU ARE AT OUR PROGRAMS. When we drop all lines of communication when students leave/graduate/move/etc. I think our silence says a lot to students, especially when they leave for college. Since the stats show that nearly 50% of youth group attending teenagers fall away from the faith in college, think of what a difference it would make if we occasionally reached out and checked in with our graduated seniors to see how they are doing and offer some help & prayer.
2) GOD’S LOVE IS CONDITIONAL. If we only care for the students who are currently in our programs and drop all lines of communication with our graduated students, teenagers could view our friendship with them as conditional. And since our students look to their youth workers as examples of godly men & woman, they could begin to view God’s relationship as conditional as well. Students could adopt the notion that God only likes them when they attend church, or that God only wants to speak to them when they are involved in ministry. This could lead to teenagers who don’t don’t understand the gospel, but who have adopted the “gospel of sin management” as Dallas Willard puts it.
So what kind of things can we do as youth workers to stay connected with our graduated students without using any more of the time that we already don’t have? Here a some easy ideas:
-Send them a postcard letting you know that your thinking of them and praying for them.
-Post a video to their Facebook page of you are your current students saying hi.
-Cancel one of your normal youth ministry programs one day and have your current students bake cookies or brownies and then send them in the mail to your graduated seniors.
-Create a Facebook page for your graduated students and post a quick devotional every week as an encouragement for them.
What about your youth ministry? What do you do to stay connected with the students who have graduated out of your programs? Share your ideas in the comments section below!
Today I sat in on part two of Kara Powell’s Sticky Faith seminar based on her book “Sticky Faith: Practical Ideas To Nurture Long-Term Faith In Teenagers" and it got me thinking about my own youth ministry experience as a student growing up. When I was in jr. High and high school my experience of youth ministry was very different from what most youth ministries look like around the country today. Here is a snapshot of my experience of youth ministry as a teenager:
YOUTH MINISTRY OCCURRED ORGANICALLY EVEN BEFORE A FORMAL PROGRAM WAS INTRODUCED. Growing up, my church was not a large church. My church growing up wasn’t even a medium sized church. My church growing up was small! In fact, on our biggest day I think we tapped out at about 150 people. What I remember most about my old church was that it was one big family. We knew everyone in our church. Our friends were all from church. Our families all hung out and took trips together. And I remember learning about Jesus from a variety of different adults in our congregation from all walks of life. Even though we had no formal “youth ministry program” at first, our church welcomed teenagers as a real part of their community. We would go to the adult services with our parents and attend all-church BBQ’s together as one big community. Relational youth ministry naturally occurred because the adults in our congregation knew that it was their responsibility to care for, mentor and disciple the teenagers in the congregation.
YOUTH MINISTRY PROGRAMS NEVER BECAME A SUBSTITUTE FOR BEING ACTIVE IN THE LARGER CHRCH COMMUNITY. Eventually we had a youth program at the church, but these programs (midweeks, bible studies, etc) never became a “para-church within a church”. Teenagers didn’t have separate mission trips from that of the larger church, we just came with the adults on church wide trips. We didn’t have a bunch of separate fellowship events apart from the adults, but instead joined with the larger church to experience everything as one big church family.
In the Sticky Faith study, Kara and her team discovered that about 40-50% of youth group attending teenagers end up walking away from the faith after they graduate high school (click here for more information). At Sticky Faith, they postulate that perhaps one reason students leave the church after high school is because they were never really apart of the larger church, but instead have been segregated from the rest of the church by creating youth ministry programs that separate teenagers from the rest of the congregation. So what does this mean for our current youth ministry programs? Does this mean that we need to abandon current youth ministry models/programs or stop doing youth ministry all together? I don’t think so at all…BUT…I do think that as youth workers we need to find ways to build an intergenerational model into our church’s DNA. Here are some practice ideas:
1) Have an adult men’s small group at your church invite the 6th grade guys over for a BBQ one night.
2) Ask your women’s ministry leader to sponsor a “Girl’s Night Out” event where they invite the high school girls to join them for a fun activity with the other adult woman at your church.
3) Grab a few students from the youth ministry and have them help lead worship on a Sunday morning
4) Create a family event at your church where teenagers and adults can have fun and fellowship together as one big community.
5) At your church’s next men’s retreat, have the adults invite the jr. High or high school guys to come with them and learn/grow together.
What about your church? What simple things could you do to build an intergenerational model into your current youth ministry DNA? Share your ideas in the comments section below!
Series: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Title: 8th Grade Weekend
Sermon In A Sentence: As your world gets BIGGER, don’t let Jesus slip into the BACKGROUND!
MESSAGE SUMMARY: This weekend we said goodbye to our 8th grade students and commissioned them on to high school. It was a super fun weekend. The entire weekend was Dr. Seuss themed…we even had a Cat In The Hat mascot! My message was focused on the graduating 8th graders and we looked at Matthew 28:19-20 (the great commission) and Matthew 26:36-40 (the great commandment) talking about the two things that we want our 8th graders to remember as they leave jr. high: to LOVE GOD & LOVE OTHERS.
WORSHIP PLAYLIST: ”God Is Able”, “Hosanna”, “Mighty To Save”, “Take It All”
Hey youth workers! Mark your calendars and shout out to all your youth ministry friends because you won’t want to miss out on the brand new heartyouthministry.com ! July 5th is the official launch of a HUGE redesign/reboot of iheartyouthministry. What’s in store for iheartyouthministry? Glad you asked. Check out some of the new features that are coming your way:
-YOUTH MINISTRY HANGOUTS: Are you looking for other youth workers to connect with? Do you have youth ministry questions that you need answered? Are you looking for free youth ministry training? Is there nothing else good on tv? Then YOUTH MINISTRY HANGOUTS are just what the doctor ordered! Every Thursday at 12PM (PST) iheartyouthministry.com will be hosting YOUTH MINISTRY HANGOUTS. You can log in and video chat with Rob and some of his youth ministry buddies live via GOOGLE+ . Or, if you don’t feel like being in the video chat..no worries! Just grab some grub, kick back and view the YOUTH MINISTRY HANGOUT live streaming from iheartyouthministry.com .
-IHYM RESOURCES: IHYM RESOURCES is going to be a page on our site where churches will be able to access, download and use awesome youth ministry creative content for FREE. It includes youth ministry graphics/series/messages/bumper videos/etc. that the youth ministry staff at DAYBREAK CHURCH has done and will be updated with new content every month.
-IHYM LESSON BUILDER: Looking for quality youth ministry small group studies? Is it coming down to the wire and you need a quick youth ministry lesson ASAP? The IHYM lesson builder will be a FREE resource for youth workers to browse & download youth small group curriculum and use it in their ministries! Did we mention that it’s FREE???!!!
So get ready for the new iheartyouthministry.com coming July 5th! And to celebrate, we will be giving away FREE youth ministry resources all day on July 5th! For more information on how you can win free youth ministry resources, stay tuned by “liking” the new iheartyouthministry.com facebook page by clicking here. See you on the 5th!
A few weeks ago our students were at camp and they had a good bit of time to kill. Some of them caught a nap, some played cards and quite a few students were just hanging out and talking. However, one student caught my eye.
She was reading.
Now the act of reading didn’t catch my eye, rather it was WHAT she was reading grabbed my attention: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Wow! That’s a very weighty work to read in one’s free time at camp. I started to think about when I read that book and the conviction that it brought about in my own life.
As I thought about that book and discipleship in general, I realized how the 21st century church is moving away from pursuing discipleship. Some churches have classes on Sunday or Wednesday night called “discipleship”, but they barely scratch the surface as to what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We desire a relationship with Christ that is easy to pursue and that can be molded to our schedule. We want all the benefits of being a child of God but none of the difficulties. We take God’s grace and Christ’s work on the cross and cheapen it. Bonhoeffer says it this way:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
As a church we want the true blessings of the discipleship that come in pursuing Christ: spiritual growth, brotherly/sisterly love, community, an overarching purpose in life, unstoppable joy and a peace that passes all understanding. Yet, as a disciple of Christ we are promised persecution, trials of our faith, personal shortcomings, unmet expectations and backstabbing by those we trusted the most. Just like Peter, we want to pursue Christ as we walked on the water…
…but sometimes we sink. We fail. We are let down by our spiritual mentors. That expectation of sinking steers us away from getting out of the boat, but our pursuit of Christ isn’t about our expectations and needs. Jesus says: ” Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
That is tough to swallow. Jesus says, “I want you to follow Me, but you have to be ready to die to be My follower.” We don’t want to have to let go of everything in our lives. We like a lot of things and people, but count the blessings that come to us in Christ. He becomes our purpose, hope, strength, love, passion, foundation, guiding force, wisdom, trust, truth, healer and salvation. That’s not a bad list of blessings.
So when I count the cost of discipleship….I should also count its blessings.
(this guest post was submitted by COLLIDE STUDENT MINISTRIES . Check them out!)