Saturday, September 25, 2010

Better Together

The other day I had the opportunity to host a little luncheon at my church with 70 youth workers from around our city. It was actually a lunch hosted by my good friends Mark Matlock and Adam Mclain with Youth Specialties. They did an incredible job explaining the exciting things going on with Youth Specialties and Planet Wisdom.

Sure, I took away a lot of information from Mark and Adam but it's been a while since I've been around youth workers in that kind of setting. Here's a few thoughts I have about youth leaders in general and together.

Youth Ministry is Growing Up

There are a bunch of sharp, experienced, passionate youth leaders around. Over the last years God has blessed student ministry with great leaders who love students. Gone (well, almost) is the day when youth ministry is reserved for the person fresh out of seminary on their way to a "real job". In fact, there were a few people in the room that were as old as me or older, that's exciting. (and rare)

Youth Workers are Fun

You can imagine the buzz in the room. There's something about working with students that keeps us light hearted and young. (if it doesn't, you should probably do something else} Sure, student ministry is more than fun but aren't you glad it's fun most the time?

Youth Workers Enjoy Being Together

It seemed in our little room there was a genuine sense that we wanted to know each other. During the after meeting meetings there were great exchanges and questions about "what do you do about this" and "how do ya'll pull this off". Of course we can be arrogant about our ministries, but many times we as youth workers know we need the sharing of ideas to make us better. Reaching the next generation can't be done by one person or one ministry.

We Need Each Other

No one understands youth workers like youth workers. Our Kingdom work is greatly enhanced when we make spending a little time together a priority, yes a priority. If it's not a priority it will get neglected in light of the more urgent things. Notice I said urgent, not important.

With all the "sky is falling" statistics we hear about student ministry sometimes we can get discouraged. Yes, we need to continually adjust and learn how to better connect students to Jesus but I'm thankful for all the youth workers who are doing the ministry of "being there", being God with "skin on" to a generation who desperately needs the love and grace of Jesus.

Hey, if you work with students, Thanks AND keep up the good work. God is using you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Group Leader's Meeting

If you work with students and adult leaders are the foundation of your strategy then you most likely meet with them from time to time.

In our student ministry there is very little that's more important than training and shepherding our small group leaders but it seems that often gatherings for them aren't thought through as well as they should be.

Here's an outline of a gathering we got right. I hope it helps.

4:45 - 5:00 Coffee / Dessert

5:00 - 5:20 Small Group discussion / prayer
Question is "We're 3 weeks in, how are things?"

5:20 - 5:25 Logistical Announcements

5:25 - 5:35 Devotion - Focus is importance of caring for your own heart.
The condition of your heart directly effects your ability to minister to students.
Psalms 51:10-13

5:35 - 5:40 Prayer Around Tables (response to the devotion)

5:40 - 6:00 Training - Small group dynamics (3 simple points)

Come to your meeting time prepared

Listen and adjust to what is happening in the life of your students

Connecting with students outside group time impacts your group

We also discussed things like, "what happens when one person dominates the group" or "what do you do when no one in your group speaks up"? We put a white board by the coffee and asked our leaders to write questions or topics they wanted to discuss. These questions surfaced on our white board.

When going into small group leader meeting we want to listen to our leaders, help them know how important they are, care for their hearts and provide some quick simple training. The challenge for our staff team is similar to the challenge of our volunteer leaders, finding time to spend one on one to build and deepen relationship.

Hey, would love ideas of what you've done that's been effective. We're always refining and trying to get better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Kick A#@" is in your youth group

So I finally watched the movie "Kick Ass". Can I say a*# on this blog? Anyway, there was much about the movie I didn't like (it's "r" rating is legitimate) the language was rough and there were some sexual situations that were over the top but beyond that I actually loved the story.

Dave Lizewski is lot like students in our youth groups. He's not extraordinary, in fact he's a little geeky. He's not the kind of student we would typically be drawn too and he definitely doesn't fit the old school, lame strategy of reaching the "popular" student and the rest will follow. But Dave longs for greatness. There's something inside him that wants to do and be more than he is, he wants to be a super hero.

"we see someone in trouble and we wish we could help, but we don't"

Dave Lizewski

A lot of our students feel the same way. They see devastation in Haiti and they want to help. They see friends at school who are rejected and something in them wants to help. The world is broken and they long to be a part of fixing it.

The story really gets going when Dave asks the question, "how come nobody's ever tried to be a super hero?". After being ridiculed by his friends for asking the question he follows through by ordering a ridiculous looking spandex super hero costume. For some reason not only does Dave have the desire to be more, he has the ability to do something about it.

To find out what happens next you'll have to actually watch the movie.

So here's the question.

When's the last time you sat down with a student and shared with them the potential you see in them? Not just the obvious kids who can play the guitar, light up a room with their personality or pray in front of others, but the ones that are kind of out of sight. We can see potential in students they can't see themselves.

God has uniquely wired and gifted students in our youth groups. He has given them "superhuman powers" to accomplish his work and build his Kingdom. Each of our students has a super hero inside of them that needs to be unleashed on the world.

As leaders of students we must help them...

* Discover their gifts

* Develop their gifts

* Utilize their gifts

They already have the desire, we need to coach them in following through on what God has already placed inside them.

Yes, "Kick Ass" is in your youth group, maybe you just don't know it yet. And here's a suggestion, maybe ask him to change his / her name?