Monthly Archives: September 2014

5th Quarter Video Ideas

It’s 5th Quarter season again.  Many of you are gearing up for that 5th Quarter Party, and hoping for a great turnout from the big game.  If you need some help planning, check out this blog post and this one too.  Maybe your speaker cancelled on you, you need a back-up speaker plan, or you simply wanted to show a video this year.  Here are some video ideas that may work:


Other Ideas: 

Feel free to comment and leave video ideas that you have used in the past.  Let’s help each other make these 5th Quarter parties a success…which means seeing students meet their Savior, Jesus Christ!



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6 Steps to Parent Meeting Success

If you haven’t figured it out yet, parents are important to your success in youth ministry or student ministry. And by success, I mean the spiritual growth, depth, and love for the Savior in the teens in your youth group. I say that, because you can grow your youth group by numbers without the aid of parents, whether it is by heavy programming or giving away an iPhone for answering a question in Sunday school.parent_meeting_dribbble-1innh9r

But if you are seeking spiritual depth, if you are seeking a faith in your students that lasts beyond their high school years, if you are seeking a unity and health within your church…you must lock arms with your parents into battle. Teenagers are facing tremendous battles like the negatives of social media (gossip, cyber-bullying, self-centeredness), sexual pressures that happen everywhere from the office chair in front of a computer to taking the next step in a physical relationship, stress for academic achievement, loneliness & abandonment…and the list goes on. Why would you not want another ally in youth ministry? It would be like an Army General being offered 25,000 more troops to help in a war effort and saying, “Nah, I can handle this on my own. I’ve got the training and experience, let me handle it”. It’s ludicrous. But this is happening all across the nation in youth ministries. Stop blaming the youth ministry for the exodus of young people, and take a look at the failure of combining the efforts of youth ministry and parents. That right there is a winning formula for a teenager.

Maybe it will take some more convincing. Maybe you have been burned in the past by parents. Well, even if you confidence needs rebuilding or your skepticism remains, I’d encourage you to give these steps and see how God can use parent meetings to build a healthier youth ministry.

Step #1 – Support Group

Your first goal is to communicate the parent meeting is FOR the parents. It should be obvious that a parent meeting is for…well…parents. But make sure you arrange the meeting to be something the parents enjoy and more importantly, need. Your attendance at parent meetings will always be a struggle, but if it is something that will benefit the parents, they will come.

One specific way is to arrange the room in tables. And following the meeting, explain you’d like the parents to pray for each other. Discuss how each of them are in the same battle, teenage-dom. And you may gain advice and counsel from other parents, but most important can pray for each other. This has been my favorite part of parent meetings. I’ve seen parents talking to each other long after prayer is over, and truly helping each other, life on life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Step #2 – Equip

Come prepared to teach the parents. Sure, the typical youth leader is younger and may not have teenagers of their own, but that doesn’t mean they cannot teach on parenting teenagers. Why? Because there is book that has the authority over all parents, and no one will argue with its content. It’s called the Bible. Other resources: The Seven Checkpoints (Stanley), Raising a Modern Day Joseph (Fowler), Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tripp).

Step #3 – Youth Culture Update

This is really fun. Come up with a quiz of 10 questions about teen culture. is a great resource for articles and information for these culture quizzes. Plus, when you give away answers, you can give valuable insight on the question. Questions about drugs, social media habits, teens & driving, or academic trends are all good places to start. So much value in keeping your parents clued in on teen culture, and it will give you tremendous credibility, showing you do know things about teenager that parents do not.

Step #4 – Fill the Calendar Later

Many times, we as youth leaders make the mistake of making the parent meeting all about events, programs, and filling the calendar. Sure, there still should be a place for that. But email, calendars, and newsletter can provide that information just as easy. So why waste time in the parent meeting with information about events. Put this information in front of the parents, but talk more about the purpose during these meetings, rather than just dates, times, and permission forms.

world-war-3Step #5 – Prevent World War III

This may be the most important step, so are you listening? DO NOT ask for questions during the meeting. You are inviting disaster. When you open the floor, you are opening it up for criticism, questioning of programs, and you are put on the spot. Rather, make it clear at the end of the meeting you are available to chat afterwards, or the parents can email, text, or call with any questions they may have. This will save you. Trust me on this one.

Step #6 – Food & Childcare

Eliminate the excuses. Provide food and childcare, and you have eliminated 90% of the excuses right there. Plus, everyone likes to eat. So have your leaders help with planning a meal and helping with childcare, and more parents will attend.
Resources: Family-Based Youth Ministry (DeVries), Pushing the Limits (Walker, Calhoun), reThink (Wright)

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5 Steps to Launching a Junior High Ministry

junior_highLet’s face it, there is a ginormous difference between a 7th grader and a 12th grader. There is a height difference, maturity difference, social difference, intellectual difference, and often a spiritual depth difference. But many of the youth groups across the nation, including my own until recently, lump these grades together.

Public schools figured this out a long time ago, that the education model at its best, features a separation between kids, junior high students, and high school students. So why do many church models feature a much different alignment? Factors include size of the youth group, lack of youth leaders, limited facility space, or just simply lack of time.

But what if you do not face those issues, and you realize it is time to launch a junior high (JH) ministry. Here are 5 steps to help with the launch:

  1. Dedicated Couple. This is the most important. It is listed first on the list, because without a dedicated couple, your JH ministry will most likely fail. Your first task in launching a JH ministry is to hit the recruiting trail. Look for a couple in your church that has a heart for young people. They don’t have to be theologians. They don’t have to be young. They don’t have to be hip, cool, jive (or whatever the kids are saying these days)…the main criteria is a deep love for God, and a love for young people. That’s what JH students need – a consistent, caring, and dedicated person in their life. And if the couple is not dedicated, they will quit next Tuesday, because JH students are a rare breed that require patience and dedication. Did I mention dedicated?junior_high_ministry
  2. Special Events. Junior high events, where do you start? Begin to look at your student ministry calendar and find those weeks where the high school students have something, and the junior high students do not. Those are the weeks you need to start brainstorming what events can be held for your junior high students so they do not feel left out and you show them they are a big part of the youth ministry too.
  3. Teach to Reach. Let me drop a bomb on you. Most worldviews are established by the 8th Yikes. So you think you should focus your teaching on 7th and 8th graders. Say it with me, “You betcha”. Who says “You betcha” anymore? Well, you just did. But seriously, teach on their level of understanding, but challenge them in their faith. Raise the bar in evangelism training, service, and theological intake.
  4. Brace for Impact. Immediately work with your dedicated couple to begin recruiting. I do not think it is a coincidence that the 1st year we are doing JH ministry, it is the largest JH group we have ever had. I haven’t taken a math class in a while, but it seems to be addition by division, so you better multiply or it could subtract. Get it? Help will be needed in quick order, so don’t lag on recruiting help. Begin praying and thinking of who can join the JH team right away.
  5. 6th Grade Jump. 1st thing you will want to teach is a transition class to the 6th Include in the curriculum all the basics: behavior in the worship service, communion, baptism, giving/offering, service, Bible study, worship, etc. Do not just assume your JH students know how to worship, have a firm grasp on the ordinances of the church, and have a desire to serve. Teach them!

These are not all-inclusive steps, but these will give you a firm foundation for establishing a JH ministry. In a small church, like mine, we still combine regularly. Without a full-time JH pastor or worker, it would be difficult to completely separate. But having dedicated teaching times, events, and ministry to JH is something that you can still accomplish even at a smaller church. Begin praying for that couple, and when God brings them to you, buckle up and trust God with this new adventure.

Recommended Resources:  Controlled Chaos – Kurt Johnston, Kurt & Scott’s Junior High Adventure – Johnston & Rubin

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Preparing a Sermon Last Minute

Have you heard the phrase, “Preach, Pray, Or Die”.  Not a very jovial phrase, but you get the point.  A pastor must always be ready to preach.  Those in ministry most likely have been in this situation before, where something comes up and at the last-minute, your “number” is called.  It’s not funny when it happens.  But this video is hilarious to anyone who has experienced the “Saturday Sermon Crunch”.

Just a friendly reminder to always have an emergency or back-up sermon ready to go.

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