Summer Priorities for Youth Ministry

Summer is always an interesting time in ministry isn’t it? I was thinking the other day about how a lot of places get really chill during the summer months. For me it might be the opposite. But the thing that is definitely different is the amount of opportunities that we have to connect with students and their friends during the summer.

Talking with a mentor the other day, he was explaining that churches generally go crazy with their events during the summer. Trying to do everything in 3 months or they do nothing. They shut down services and do very little programming.

Interesting that we have a tough time finding that balance isn’t it? Also interesting that we probably talk with our people about that balance a lot.

Through all the things going on in the summer for you, I’d like to share a few things that I make a priority in the summer.

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How to get the most out of your notes

Ever been to a conference or hear a sermon and you just take notes like crazy. Hearing the content, you know that it will be life changing if you just can remember it.

But after writing all these life changing quips, you forget them. They don’t come up in your mind and you can’t apply the life changing truths.

It stinks. But it’s happened to me on more than I’d like to admit.

Over the years, I’ve been taking notes, I’ve had to develop a system to take things and create action items to help me go over content and apply it to my life.

A few years ago I wrote a post during the Orange Conference for turning your notes into action. I think that post is still relevant and I use a lot of what is in that post, but I wanted to give a few more tips for helping you get the most out of your notes.

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Preparation for #OC15

This weekend I’ll be attending one of my favorite things during the year. The Orange Conference.

I’m always excited to go to see some friends and ask questions and learn. This year, I’m especially excited about the theme, “It’s just a Phase”

The idea of phases is one of the most fun things that I’ve been able to experience in ministry. If you didn’t know, I’ve worked in Elementary School, Middle School and now in High School Ministry.

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Watching for the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit.

What’s been happening over the last few months at my church has been fascinating. Simply fascinating.

I’ve watched God move in a church before and it was incredible. Seeing people’s lives changed for the gospel was evident. I’ve longed for that.

It’s happening.

We’ve seen students grappling with God’s word, we are seeing dads question their jobs and priorities and we are seeing God move, albeit in small pockets.

I’ve quit trying to rationalize when I hear why someone is coming to mind and I’ve quit trying to figure it out. I’m learning to just ask. You would be surprised how many conversations I’ve had lately that start out like this.

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Youth Ministry and the Consumerism Culture

Recently, I’ve been studying for a series on relationships for our High School Students. Working only with Middle School students before, I’ve never had the opportunity to talk about this subject before. Our church chooses to give parents of 5th and 6th grade students ample opportunities to lead the conversation before the church aids the family. So this will be new for me.

It’s been challenging.

One of the things in studying that is sticking out to me is just how much a consumer driven culture has began to define everything. Certainly marriage is seeing the brunt of that, but it’s far more reaching.

In fact, I came across this article that I shared on twitter and Facebook and this quote has stuck in my brain for the last few hours:

Youth groups rarely encourage young people to grapple with tough questions. Instead the goal seems to be to engineer events that ratchet up emotional commitment.

It caused me to stop and think about church. There are quite a few attitudes from folks that help reveal how much consumerism has seeped into our culture and how the church desires to solve it emotionally rather than with true spiritual transformation.

Here’s a few attitudes that you might want to be on the lookout for.

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What are you developing?

As you may know I’ve been posting this week for Blogger’s Week put on by the Orange Conference. I’m thankful for Orange and all they’ve done to help me in ministry and I’m more than thankful that they bought an ad on my blog on the sidebar. Be sure to check out the Orange Conference and if you are looking for a conference to really begin to ask questions and understand what Family Ministry is all about, then this is the conference for you.

I’ve been going over the 5 questions I’m Looking forward to getting answered at Orange this year.

Question #1

Question #2

Today’s question is more personal in nature. It actually stems from something that I’ve been working on on the side. Writing and grueling and being filled with fear, but it’s also something that has to do with my personal journey.

What is the one skill or gift that you are working hard to develop this year?

For me this question is something that I need the answer to for a variety of reasons. Every year I try and really work on one characteristic or skill that I can really work at improving. Last year it was my physical fitness. I’m continuing that this year, but my main goal and my hope is that I improve in my ability to write and produce content this year.

I’ve written more in the last few months than I may have ever written in my life. I’m trying specifically by practice, to improve this part of my repeitoire.

I’m not a pastor by training. I’m a pastor by experience and learning from others. I really wouldn’t even say that i’m good at it. My real gift is teaching and while that’s a part of the role, it’s not the largest part and in my experience it’s not the most important.

But being able to communicate effectively with the pen is something that I’ve always wanted but never really been effective at. My grammar isn’t very good and sometimes I just use too many words and don’t really tell an effective story.

But this year is different.

My hope by asking leaders this question is to provide some inspirtation for my own future training. I’m 28. I’m no longer the young person. But I’ve got a few years ahead of me as well. I really want to know which skills I should be working on in order to really improve my chances of helping others as much as I possibly can.

I really believe I’m still in my preparation phase of life. If I were using Robert Clinton’s stages of Leadership I’m in the middle of Ministry Maturing. God is working in me I feel maybe more than he is really working through me. I’m beginning to realize the need to figure out my passions, skills, and experiences and how God wants to use those most for His glory. But man it’s a tough process.

My hope in answering this question is to gain some insight from older leaders that were in this stage. Here’s some questions that I hope to ask to gain some wisdom.

 

  • What is one skill that you wish you spent more time on in your late 20s – early 30s?
  • What is something in ministry that you always tried to avoid doing during that time in your life?
  • What was God doing in you during that phase?
  • If you had an hour to talk about one or two things with someone my age and hope they could really benefit from it, what would you talk about?

I’m also really looking forward to Orange this year because the theme is It’s just a Phase. Make sure to get signed up for the Orange Conference today!

 

Comparing Spiritual Growth to Growth in Attendance

I’m blogging this week for the Orange Conference 2015 Blogger Week. I’m going thru 5 questions that I’m hoping to get answered at the Orange Conference.

Question #2 is this:

What do you do when you see signs of spiritual growth in your students but there isn’t a correlation to attendance?

This will be the first time that I’ve been in ministry where the ministry isn’t growing in attendance in our large group progam. I made some decisions that I believe will help long term but they are proving to be a challenge in the short term.

One thing that is happening in my ministry though is I see students taking steps to grow spiritually. Like big steps.

We’ve had a huge increase in the number of teenagers volunteering in our church and we are seeing great results in middle school because of this, but our attendance in our high school program is not improving…yet.

They are also taking on roles in their schools that are growing their influence there. This is so huge knowing the way that God could use them to help others in their school.

A few questions that I’m hoping will help me find the answer…

  • How do communicate that great things are happening when attendance isn’t growing?
  • How do you stay encouraged when something isn’t going well?
  • How much do you focus on fixing the broken thing instead of driving full force on the things that are working?

So tell me, What have you done to stay encouraged when things aren’t going as well as you’d hope them to go?

5 questions I’m asking at the Orange Conference

5 questions for the Orange Conference

This is the first post in a series that I’m writing for Orange Conference 2015 Blogger Week. You can check out all of the action here at the Orange Conference 2015 Blogger Week.

Usually when I go to a conference, I’m looking to get some answers to some questions that I have.

I’ve written a few posts on how to deal with the answers to those questions in the past. Here’s one on how to turn your notes into action.

I will tell you that this year, I’m really excited about asking some questions. So for this Orange Blogger’s Week I’m going to tell you the 5 questions that I’m most excited about answering at Orange.

Today I’ll give you the first one. It’s simply this:

What is the scorecard that you use to know if you are winning in high school ministry?

scorecard for your ministry

Ultimately I’m looking for some high school folks that look at their ministry and they know the fruit they are looking for.

Questions I’m asking to help me discover this:

  • What’s the one thing you wish all your volunteers would help students do?
  • Why do you do what you do every week?
  • What’s one thing you hope students that are around for all 4 years of your ministry leave knowing and practicing?
  • How does your service help them take a step further down that path?
  • What is the most important thing you are doing as the leader to help your ministry achieve that goal and plan?

I’m looking for answers to this question because I’m looking to give incredible clarity to leaders this year on what we are shooting for in our High School Ministry. I’m looking for God’s direction on what we should be doing and where He wants us to go. I’m hoping finding answers to these questions will help me to clarify what God is already saying and provide some ideas for tangible steps to take in our ministry.

So that’s a big question that I’m looking to find some clarity on at Orange Conference 2015. If you are interested in finding this out alongside me come hang out with me at #oc15. Drop a comment below and let me know you’ll be there. I’d love to take you out to some coffee and pick your brain.

What question in High School ministry are you hoping to answer at this year’s Orange Conference?