Wednesday, April 24, 2013

5 Ideas For Recruiting Your Best Team Ever (Well, Maybe)

Recruiting - For many youth workers it's a word we love to hate.

One of the most difficult but rewarding parts of leading a relational ministry is seeking and inviting other adults to serve.  It's super exciting to see equipped leaders operating in their giftedness.

In my experience April - June has been an important time for recruiting new leaders and retaining existing leaders.  It's important to complete recruiting before the craziness of summer hits.  If your volunteer team is nailed down by the middle of June it gives you the freedom to enjoy the summer without being too stressed out about small groups leaders in September.

Historically this has been one of the most difficult parts of my ministry.  I've experienced heavy stress, fear and frustration.  Let's face it, finding the right people to serve students is hard work.  
As you enter this season of recruiting here are a few ideas that may help ease the work load...

1.  Create a punch list

First things first.  Before you can seek leaders to fill roles you need to know what roles need to be filled.  This begins with meeting with current leaders and discovering their intent for the fall.

After you figure out who's sticking with you create a list where you can clearly see the gaps that must be filled.  As you create your list go ahead a dream about your leadership team.  Maybe this is the year you have 2 leaders per small group.  Is this the year you develop student leadership?  Don't forget to plan for potential growth.  

Whatever the case, make sure you have a clear understanding of the needs and dreams.

2.  Pray like crazy

Ok, I  don't mean to be overly spiritual here, but finding the right people to be in the right positions is a God sized task.  We must ask Him to lead us to the right people.  We need Him to prepare their hearts for the discussion.

Creating a environment of God dependent prayer is essential in finding the right people to serve students.  And by the way, when God answers prayer we get the benefit and He receives the glory.

3.  Ask your current leaders

Your best source for finding new volunteers is your current leaders.  Assuming they've bought into the ministry vision they can be your biggest cheerleaders and informed recruiters.  Each leader should be able to give you at least one person you could pursue.

4.  Cast a broad net

An up front announcement to the entire church or an article in the church newsletter is a good idea.  This won't be your most effective method of obtaining great leaders but you may pick up a name or so.  

Communicating church wide is also a way for you to tell the story of your ministry and the priority on life on life relationship. It's good for the whole church to know the power and potential of your ministry.

5.  Recruit like you lead


Get to know the heart of potential leaders.  
Buy their lunch or coffee.  
Ask them to tell you their story.  
Find out about their family.  
What do they do for fun?
Find out who discipled them.
Discover who they are personally.  

You may find they are better equipped or passionate for other areas of ministry in your church.  If so connect them with the appropriate ministry.  You are not simply trying to fill a spot, you're helping them discover how God could use them.

At your first meeting don't let them give you a commitment about serving in your ministry.  Share vision and clear information about the expectations and time commitment.  Leave them with something to read and a ministry application.  Then ask them to pray for a week.

After a week or so give them a call and see if they have any more questions and find out if they're ready to pull the trigger.  After they say yes invite them to your fall training event or retreat.  

Remember your relationship with them is just beginning.  As you pursue, pray and care for them it will model how you want them to pursue, pray and care for students.

Having equipped adults who love Jesus and love kids has been a priority for my ministry for years.  Recruiting and sustaining the right team is one of the most difficult pieces of relational ministry but also the most rewarding.  

So, get started!  Summer (then September) will be here before you know it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Students Take Over - An Example

What does it look like when students begin to feel genuine ownership in student ministry?  Yesterday I was looking at our high school ministry's facebook page and came across this unsolicited post from one of our seniors.  

It made me smile.  Enjoy.

Just something I'd like to share

Looking through old pictures getting ready for beach camp this year. And I came across this one. It reminded me so much of what had happened on the pool side during our pool talks. 

We would share stories, something we learned, or maybe something we were struggling with. And during this time I was shown just exactly how many people had a poor relationship with their dads. I was blown away. I couldn't relate. My dad has always been around and never hurt me. But there were so many people that could. Everyone acted like the family we claim to be! On top of that I thought about how awesome it was that although some of our earthy dads suck. Our Heavenly Father is amazing! His love for us is so great and powerful! And we get to worship him all week, we get to spend time with him everyday! And I cannot wait for this opportunity to hear stories of people who found their joy in god during beach camp this upcoming summer! 

When students take over you don't have to promote your events as much, they'll do it for you!  And by the way, they'll also write your blog for you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blind Spots - You Have Them

It's happened to you.  

You're on a 4 lane road...

Before you change lanes you turn on your blinker...

you check your mirrors and began to ease into the other lane...

but at the very last second you hear a horn and realize there is a car right in your blind spot.  

About that time your heart jumps up in your throat as you swerve away from the potential collision.

It happens in the car - it happens in life. 

I recently had a friend share something with me I didn't realize I was doing. It reminded me of the importance of having people in our lives show us our blind spots.

We all have blind spots.  There are areas of our life and ministry we cannot see unless someone points them out.

We have personal blind spots - 

Having people in our lives who will lovingly tell us the truth is non negotiable.  God has called us to live in authentic community and many times that community includes encouragement, reproof and even rebuke.  Sure, the encouragement is always needed but we need men and women in our lives who have the courage to show us all areas we cannot see.

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
But and enemy multiplies kisses.

We have ministry blind spots - 

In my opinion Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world.  When he's playing his best there's no one who can beat him.  Guess what, he has blind spots.

Although he could drill his golf coach in a round of golf he needs his coach to help him see what he cannot see himself.  You probably have blind spots in your ministry and should consider asking someone on the outside to take a look.

Having a ministry friend, coach or consultant assess and ask questions is always a good idea.

So here are 3 questions...

1.  Is there someone in your life who you trust to show you what you can't see yourself?

2.  Be honest.  You know you have them but do you really want someone to point out your blind spots?  Ignorance is bliss...isn't it?

3.  Are you the kind of person who makes it easy for others to help you see what you can't see yourself?

I'm so thankful for friends (past and present) who have loved me enough to show me weaknesses or sin I couldn't see myself.  God has used them to form who I am and how I serve in ministry.

We cannot grow unless we are willing to listen, learn and change.  Seek others who are compassionate but courageous.  Give them a green light to share with you what they believe you don't see. 

I'm confident you and I will never grow without others who are willing to show us our blind spots.  Go find people who can show you what you cannot see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Student Leadership - They Can't See It

Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting with some youthworkers at YS Unconference Kansas City to discuss student ministry.  One of the discussions I attended was on student leadership which created some fascinating dialogue.

I'm passionate about student leadership and have been working for years to help students discover, develop and utilize their giftedness.  In our ministry context we're only scratching the surface on doing this well so I'm  thankful for the other youthworkers in the circle who encouraged and taught me.

Sitting in the circle I was reminded of something so crucial in helping students in the discovery process.

They Can't See It

They can't see the fact that they're growing in their faith.
They can't see that God has uniquely wired and gifted them for service.
They can't see that their friends watch them and seek them out for help.
They can't see the impact it makes when they engage the student sitting alone.
They can't see that when they pray God moves.
They can't see the potential they have for the Kingdom.
They can't see that how they serve behind the scenes brings God glory.

Simply put, unless we tell tell them where we see God working in them and the potential they have for the Kingdom they will never know.  We must help them see what they can't see themselves.

When is the last time you caught a student doing some great and complimented them?  When was the last time you sat with a student just to cast vision for "what if"? 

If we don't help them see it, who will?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kids In Pain - Perspective For Parents

Yesterday our student ministry led our students, adult leaders and parents in a discussion on the pain students experience.  

We have discovered that self mutilation (cutting) is common amongst our middle school and high school students who are hurting.

Trey Grant, our middle school pastor did a outstanding job seeing the need and bringing faith centered awareness and equipping to our people.

One of our parents was particularly touched by her own struggle with parenting and posted an outstanding blog this morning.

If you're a parent I encourage you to read it.
If you're a youth worker I encourage you to pass it on to your parents.

May we be people (parents, youthworkers, grandparents, leaders) who see the next generation as Jesus does, with great compassion.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2 Reasons I Love JFYM

I was a just a baby.

The first time I interviewed for a student ministry position I was asked about my "ministry philosophy".     To be honest I had no idea what to say.  It came out as "love Jesus and love kids".  Not a horrible answer but incomplete if you're going to have a student ministry with more than 6 students.

Believe it or not I got the job.  

A couple of years later my ministry philosophy was shaped and sharpened by a simple strategy called "Jesus Focused Youth Ministry".  JFYM isn't a program or event, but an overall student ministry strategy based on the ministry of Jesus.

Since the early 90's every student ministry I have led has in some way been shaped by this strategy.  

There's much I love about JFYM but here are two highlights...

It starts with the leader's connection with Jesus

The first time I heard Barry St. Clair talk about the importance of the leader connecting with Jesus through prayer and repentance it wrecked me.  As a young youth pastor I knew how important this was but to make my connection with Jesus an integral part of my student ministry strategy made total sense.  God used this time not only to grow me up as a pastor, but also as a dad, husband and man. 

It focuses on multiplication

I desperately needed to be challenged that one person couldn't single handedly reach and deepen every student.  That's not the way Jesus did ministry.  Hearing that God could and would use other leaders set me free to seek out and equip other ADULTS.  It wasn't about going from event to event but about investing in those who would invest in others.

With this change of approach my student ministry began to grow.  It grew in breadth and depth.

If you're looking to get off the treadmill of event driven ministry and develop a strategy that invests deeply in adult leaders and students check out JFYM.  It will make a difference in your ministry and for the Kingdom.

Reach Out Youth Solutions

If you have any questions let me know.