3 Essential Steps To Help You Refocus In Your Youth Ministry

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” ― Alexander Graham Bell

“Focus!” At times, that’s a tough thing to do in youth ministry isn’t it? The nature of our ministry will often be a moving target with changing issues and challenges. Working with students is anything but predictable. While we cannot change the foundational nature of youth ministry,  there are certain areas that should always stay in focus regardless of the changeable landscape of youth ministry. If you are struggling to stay focused and manage ministry well, you should keep reading…

Youth Ministry Focus

Just this week ‘Dave’ (one of my elders), came into my office and gave me some clear focus that I want to pass onto you today. Here’s what he said: Read more

Infographic: Students, Social Media, and Communication

This week we have been looking at how social media can benefit your ministry, as well as the importance of creating good boundaries. Below is a helpful infographic showing how students between 13-18 currently use social media. You might be surprised by their favorite mode of communication.

Social Media Infographic

What We Can Learn:

5 Social Media Guidelines For Youth Workers

In my previous post, we talked about The 5’c of Social Media Use for Youth Workers. Using social media can be your friend when doing ministry, but it can quickly become your enemy too…  I have heard stories of youth workers who are getting into trouble because of the way they are using social media. I have also heard quite a few stories of people not getting a new position because of the social media ‘past.’




Here are 5 social media boundaries for you as you go about your youth ministry: Read more

The 5 C’s of Social Media Use In Youth Ministry

What’s the best way to use social media in youth ministry?

Depending on how savvy you are at using social media,  you could find yourself either overly confused, or on the other end of the spectrum, you might find that too much knowledge is leading you to wasting too much time in ineffective ways. Because I have struggled on both ends of the spectrum, I have created 5 specific ways in which I use social media effectively and efficiently.

Social Media Youth Ministry

My 5 C’s of Social Media:  Read more

What Lance Armstrong Can Teach Students In Your Youth Ministry: A Free Lesson Outline

Are any of us really that shocked about Lance Armstrong’s admission to Oprah and the world? But what can we teach students from this? Is it that no leader, sports personality, or authority figure can be honest these days? Frankly, I think that is what many of our students are learning in this current generation…

Lance Armstrong

So, how can we take this latest admission and turn it around for our the students in our ministries? Below are some thoughts and perhaps a starting place for us. Feel free to add to the conversation at the end of this post. You might even want to use this as an outline for a message?

Read more

Relational Investment – The Difference Maker In Youth Ministry Volunteer Development…

How do you know if your volunteers ‘get it’? How do you know if your meetings and training are effective? What should training look like? With limited time, how can you make the most of volunteers busy schedules?

If I am honest, there is an insecurity in me that tells me I am not doing enough, or that there’s not enough time and resources to effectively train my leaders… Ever feel this way?

Volunteer Youth Ministry copy

Recently, I went back to a previous church for a birthday and was able to see a number of former volunteers who I had invested in over the years. One of my former volunteers sat down with me and shared something that took me a little by surprise… He shared that I had been one of the most influential people in his life… As they say in England, I was ‘gob smacked!’ To be honest, as I tried to think back to my time with him, I could not put my finger on what I had done to make this difference. Instead of over thinking things, I sat back and listened as he shared what made the difference to him. He said something like: Read more

Ministering to Parents Webinar with Dr. Jim Burns

Last weekend I attended a ‘Confident Parenting Seminar’ with Dr. Jim Burns here locally in Michigan. I have known Jim for 12 years and I know him to be a brilliant guy, great communicator, incredibly knowledgable, and wonderfully authentic.

I am super excited to tell you about an upcoming webinar provided ParentMinistry.net when Jim will be presenting on ‘Ministering to Parents’.

Jim Burns Parent Ministry

As someone who has been in youth ministry a long time, I wished I had figured out the importance and skils of partnering with parents years before I did. This webinar lasts for an hour, is completely FREE, and will be one of the best investments you can make on January 24th at 10am CST.

Click here to Register

Are you planning to go? Let me know. 

Phil <><


Creating a Youth Ministry Volunteer Meeting Outline That Works.

So, what makes a volunteer meeting effective? What do we need to cover? How can we create a youth ministry meeting for volunteers that will help them feel like their time their time has been well spent? Most of all, how can we use a meeting to equip volunteers to grow in their skills as they invest in students? Those are some of the questions I have asked myself over the years. Maybe you have too?

However, I can share with you the basic format I follow to ensure we cover the most essential aspects in 60 minutes or less… You see, most of our volunteers are stretched for time, and it’s essential that we honor the little time many of them have…


1. Devotion / Vision Casting: Simply put, we look at scripture to guide us to clarify why we do what we do from week to week. It can also serve to guide us in the ‘how to’ of ministry.

2. Highlights and Helps:

  • Highlights: This is an opportunity for me to listen to my volunteers: They share stories, celebrate victories, and provide insights to how God is moving in the life of students. It’s easy to default to challenges and what needs to improve, so it’s imperative that leaders are encouraged to share their positive highlights first. This also serves to clarify the vision of why we do what we do. Nothing casts vision better than a story of a changed life.
  • Helps: This again is where I listen to my volunteers as they share ministry issues they need help with. Often other volunteers will jump in with solutions they have discovered for themselves. I also have opportunities to provide quick training moments with my volunteers. If there is an issue that is hefty in nature, I will usually ask my volunteer to schedule a time to talk later.

3. Tips and Tweaks: As I go through the ministry month, I keep a running list of things we need to improve, change, or adapt. This is a short time for me to give specific (and short) training to my volunteers.

4. Review: We often will look at a teaching series, an event, or a program and review how they went. It’s essential that we always look back and review what we have done. Even better, it’s imperative that we take notes and provide solutions for next time…

5. Look Ahead: 

  • Teaching Series: I usually give them a 3 month basic outline of the upcoming series. This is huge for the volunteers who like to plan. It will also help you to have greater creativity as you begin to percolate on ideas in the coming months.
  • Events: These include outreach, connection, and servant events.
  • Next Meeting Date: Always, always, always, provide the next meeting date! Help your volunteers make your meetings a priority by giving them the date well in advance before their schedule gets filled up…

6. Prayer Time: This should be a given, but often it is the thing that gets missed at the end of a meeting. If need be, assign this to a volunteer who will not forget!

And finally: Write an agenda (and include times if you need to stay on track)! Even if you are not the most organized person, this is a must! Having an agenda ensures you stay on task. Having times on your agenda will help you honor volunteers and get them home to their families in good time…

What do would you add to this list? What staples have you established in your youth ministry meetings? 

Phil <><

Creating a Youth Ministry Volunteer Training Schedule That Works.

How often should volunteer youth leaders meet? What should be the focus of the meeting? How much is too much when it comes to meeting frequency? How can we build community as a team together?

These are just a few questions I get asked quite regularly by youth workers. My first answer is always, “It depends on the culture of every church. No one size fits all, but there is definitely a good balance that needs to be found when creating and developing a great team of volunteers.

I don’t know what your context is, but here is a basic schedule with the purpose for our meetings throughout the year. This is not THE way, it is just a way that works in my context.  Even if you are a volunteer, you might want to steal a few ideas for your youth pastor / director / minister… Read more

Is There Someone You Are Forgetting To Thank In Youth Ministry?

Just this week I met with some brilliant youth workers who volunteer in my ministry. As we shared our highlights from the last month, one of my volunteers ‘Steve’ shared how one of our college age students sought him out in church to appreciate him for all he did for them in the high school ministry. His story got me thinking about two things:

Thank You

First, it’s not uncommon for students to go through our ministries without saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for what we do while they are with us. It’s not that they don’t appreciate us, it’s just they don’t consider to tell us… Often we might hear from them once they are in college, (or later).

Second, it made me consider how much I appreciated my youth leaders and mentors when I was younger, but perhaps I never communicated it to them… Which got me thinking:

Read more

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