15 Ways To Partner With Parents In Your Youth Ministry: The Next 5…

In my previous post I talked about ways in which you and I can partner with parents in our youth ministries. While you are called to youth ministry, it’s imperative that you adopt a ‘Think Orange’ approach (or whatever you want to call it), as we look to partner with parents. After all, the influence of parents on their kids is far greater than the influence you can have given the limited time you will have with them each week…

The two influences of family and church come together to make a greater impact on students. Therefore, it’s essential we find ways to partner with parents as they raise their kids.

Partnering-with-Parents-570x372
Our Problem: Although you may already agree with this philosophy of ministry, if you are like me, there have been times when I have been unsure as to how to implement a strategy to partner with families. In this post we continue to look at the next 5 of 15 practical ways you can implement a strategy to partner with parents. Some are not rocket science, while some will challenge you… Read more

15 Ways To Partner With Parents In Your Youth Ministry: The First 5…

Partnering with parents in youth ministry is absolutely essential. When I speak to youth workers, usually we agree that partnering with the family is far more effective than living in a silo youth ministry that only focuses on the students.

But the problems is this: While most of us agree that partnering with parents is essential, many of us don’t know where to start practically…

Partnering-with-Parents-570x372In the book, Think Orange by Reggie Joiner, he makes a great case for using our time and resources to support parents. Each year the average youth ministry will have approximately 40 hours of teachable time with students, while parents will have approximately 3000 hours of teachable time with them. It makes simple sense to support parents and partner with them as they raise their kids…

But what can this look like practically?

In the next few posts, I will list 15 ways in which we can effectively partner with parents. Some ideas are easy to implement, while others will take a change of culture in your church. Read more

Three Crucial Questions To Ask About Your Youth Ministry…

There are three crucial questions that surprisingly many youth workers can easily forget to ask as they minister to students. (I’ll cover the three questions in a moment, but follow my train of thought for a moment would you)?

So often we go to college to study youth ministry, (I actually studied Family Life for my Bachelors), we learn youth ministry philosophy, programming, and practical youth ministry… But we can easily miss these three crucial questions… When we arrive in a new church, we work passionately and programmatically to build a healthy and sustainable youth ministry based on a model or methods we have seen work before… But we can miss these three crucial questions…

Why do we miss the crucial questions? (I know we haven’t got to the questions yet… Stay with me for one moment longer)?

Rather than asking questions and delving into potential new territory, it’s our instinct to default to what we know: Models and methods.

In other words, we implement what is familiar instead of fact finding…  We default to what we’ve done before instead of discovering the new…

So what are the three crucial questions you might ask? 

  1. What are the needs of the students? 
  2. Where are our students spiritually? 
  3. What steps do we need to take to meet the spiritual needs of our new and committed students? 

ONE: What are the needs of the students? You see, before we default to a model or method, we need to understand the needs of our students? What are their greatest challenges? What do they long for the most? What felt and perceived needs do they have?

You see, by listening first to their greatest needs, we can then develop a model, method, and teaching designed around them. Rather than implement what we have done before, we can custom create a ministry that meets the students where they are.

TWO: Where are our students spiritually? I am surprised by how many conversations I have had with youth workers who have little idea of the spiritual climate of the group they are leading. It’s not enough take a model and method and teach the word faithfully. It’s imperative we know where students are in their faith walk so that we can help guide them to the next steps.

Not knowing where our students are spiritually is like a doctor performing surgery without knowing a diagnosis!

THREE: What steps do we need to take to meet the spiritual needs of our new and committed students? By knowing the answers to the first two questions, we can then begin to develop a plan to help our new and committed students take their next steps in their faith walk.

Until we understand their greatest needs (which varies from church to church and area to area), we will not know what to teach and what to address…

Until we understand the spiritual climate of the group we can’t confidently create steps based on where they are currently standing…

Now please hear me out. Model and methods are brilliant to ensure that we have a good structure and balance to our youth ministries. However, it is essential we take time to assess the people God has place under our care first. THEN we can implement a model based on what we know to be true.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you addressing these questions? Have you missed the before? Are you following a model or method and forgetting to take time to ask crucial questions? 

Phil <><

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Youth Ministry

In my previous post I talked about the need to understand what we are called to, rather than what we are pulled to in youth ministry. Having a strong faith foundation and knowing what God is calling us to, will help us avoid saying “yes” to everything, and doing everything in our own strength…

Recently I saw a great post by Carey Nieuwhof that provides 9 Signs You’re Burning Out In Leadership. It’s a great post and really worth the read. You can check it out by clicking here.

Phil <><

Avoiding Youth Ministry Burnout

Over commitment over time can lead to lack of commitment and eventually burnout. 

No one enters youth ministry ever expecting to burnout, breakdown, or lose their passion. However, in my years of youth ministry I have heard too many stories of great youth workers who left ministry all together because of burnout…

Flame Burnout

There are many reasons why you and I could burnout, but it usually starts when we try to do everything for everyone with only our strength. Before we know it, we are working unhealthy hours, our walk with God is shallow, and our family are getting the left overs. But, how can we avoid this? Here’s a starting place:

Know the difference between what you are called to, not what you are pulled to.

The bottom line is this: When you and I can have a healthy walk with God, we will hear His voice and He will lead us to what we are called to. From here we can:

  • Discern what God is calling us to do
  • Know the difference between a good opportunity and a God opportunity
  • Have the confidence to say “no” to the things that we are pulled to
  • Have the clarity to be able to communicate our vision to others
  • Have the time to spend with God and our families
  • Find peace in God’s plans even when storms rage around us.

You see, there are a number of reasons for burnout in youth ministry, but personally, I believe it begins with an unhealthy expectation that we say “yes” to everything, (and then in our own strength, try to do everything). Instead, we should begin with a strong relationship with God that continuously seeks His purpose and vision.

There are many other ways in which you and I can be pulled into burnout, but this is what I have observed in the last few years.

How are you avoiding burnout? Do you have time to hear God’s voice in your life? Do you know what you are called to for the long and short haul?

Phil <><

photo credit: ViaMoi via photopin cc

Youth Ministry Management: How to Keep Great Volunteers – Part 2

In my previous post I provided five ways to keep great volunteers in my youth ministries over the years. Having a great team of volunteer youth leaders is essential to the health of any youth ministry. There are no more ‘lone rangers’ in youth ministry and it’s important that we maintain a ‘wide bandwidth’ of volunteers to reach the different kinds of students we have in our churches and communities.

Volunteer Youth Worker

Here are five more ways that have been effective in investing and keeping great volunteers:  Read more

Youth Ministry Management: How to Keep Great Volunteers – Part 1

In my previous post, I talked about how I recruit volunteers. Having a well established volunteer team that is trusted by students is an incredible strength for any youth ministry. But this will only happen when we are able to keep volunteers coming back year after year. But how can this happen? What are the keys to keeping great volunteers?

Team Youth Ministry

Here are the first 5 of my essential practices to help keep great volunteers. I’ll post 5 more in my next post:  Read more

Youth Ministry Management: Recruiting Volunteers

There are ‘lone rangers’ in youth ministry. Your youth ministry will be effective if you have a great volunteer team. “How do I recruit good volunteers?” This is something I get asked about a lot. Today, let’s take a look at how I have successfully recruited volunteers, while also dispelling ways that I do not recruit volunteers. 

Recruiting Volunteers

In recruiting volunteers, I DO NOT: 

  • Put an an announcement in the bulletin or church newsletter
  • Make an announcement in the worship services
  • Put up recruitment flyers around the church
  • Create a catchy video that promises potential volunteers an incredible ministry and free coffee, (I did that once).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the methods above, but for me, they are simply not very effective. The other aspect is that they are all deeply impersonal ways to recruit volunteers aren’t they? If you and I are dreaming of a relational ministry with relationally invested volunteers, it is imperative that we start out on the right foot and employ methods to recruit potential leaders in a relational way. (I think this is true of hiring a full-time youth worker too).

In the last ten years, there have been only few times when I truly struggled to recruit enough volunteers. Part of that is because I think I have a fairly good idea of how to keep good volunteers, (I’ll post about that next), and part of it is because of the way I recruit them. Here are four things I do:  Read more

Youth Ministry Management: How To Start Your Week Strong

Yesterday, (Sunday), I saw a quote by fellow Brit Marcus Buckingham:

“What are some steps you can take today or first thing tomorrow morning to set yourself up for a strong week?”

For many of us in youth ministry, being organized and disciplined in administration does not come naturally. However, there is one thing I have found most youth workers can do that will make a huge difference to their week. Simply taking an hour at the beginning of the week to plan and prioritize can make all the difference and help us stay more focused.

Starting right in Youth Ministry

Read more

How To Navigate The Crazy Seasons of Youth Ministry

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know it’s been slightly quieter than normal in the last few weeks. I’m sorry if you have missed your regular 2-3 posts per week, but there’s been a lot going on in life and ministry… In the last 7 weeks I have:

  • Finished my Masters Degree!
  • Attended the FAM Leadership Network through Homeword
  • Travelled back to the UK for two weeks to visit my mom who has Alzheimer’s
  • Taken a team on a Group Workcamps relief mission trip to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy clean up
  • Begun a transition in my current church ministry

Youth Ministry Navigation

I’ll be honest, this is not the norm, but it has certainly been an interesting few months… We all have crazy seasons and sometimes things happen outside of our control. During these times, it’s imperative that we have developed healthy defaults in our lives that help us navigate through such crazy times. I have no idea what a crazy season looks like for you, but I know that youth ministry is full of such times. Here are four healthy defaults I implore you to maintain before you get to the crazy seasons of ministry: Read more

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