In case you missed it, here is my guest blog over at The Middle Years Ministry. Check it out!
REAL Solution. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of books, articles, and social media posts that just surmise an issue with this current generation and the church. I’m tired of reading about the problems, and I was refreshed to read in this book – REAL and REACHABLE solutions to the issues of growing young. A heartfelt thank you to the all the work the writers put into this.
Dedicated Research. This was hard work to put this together. It was a clear dedication of the writers and research team to not leave a stone unturned. They went to the small churches to the megas, and found answers to the growing young question. That is something the reader will appreciate.
REAL Testimonies. These aren’t just ideas. These are real people who have been affected by churches that have intentionally reached out to this generation in their church. The testimonies were not just glossed-over stories from pastors, but from people inside the church who have benefited and lived out the ministry changes and direction.
Nope, nope, nope. There was one quote that made me quote Petrie on Land Before Time and say “Oh, no no no no”. “We wonder if sermon preparation and preaching is an area in which some leaders could invest less time”. While they did give this quote with the caveat of holding God’s Word at the “highest value”, it still is a dangerous statement.
The Random Boxes. This is a minor complaint, but it seemed to break the flow of the chapter when a box of random information was placed in the middle of a chapter. Suggest maybe placing this in the context of the chapter or at the end.
The Grade: A. I tell ya what this book did. Honestly, it gave me great encouragement that my philosophy of ministry was on the right track with this generation. On the flip side, it challenged me immensely in the weakness of my own ministry in reaching this generation. That is what this book will do to you, encourage and challenge you and your ministry.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with parents. Hope you find this podcast helpful in your student ministry.
Synopsis: This was one of my all-time favorite series I have done with my students. After all, what are you preparing your teens to do? Face life after high school with a Biblical worldview, a heart for the lost, and a desire to live a life as a servant to the King. This series got down to business of what life will be like after high school. We discussed money, relationships, careers, temptations…we talked about REAL LIFE.
Special Features: We brought in special speakers from programs like “5 Minutes for Life”. Other special speakers included missionaries that spoke on their high school experience and a panel of youth leaders that answered questions about life after high school. At the end, we brought in parents to help us with the “Real Life Experience”, where the students went through a graduation ceremony and went out into the real world. It was all pretend, but we put them through college admission and job interviews, budget training, and even gave them jobs to complete.
This was the exact topic that I wanted to be the foundation of my talks. At the heart of everything we discussed, we kept coming back to the idea of God’s will. What is God’s will in your career? Your relationships? Your future? This book is a basic framework that will help you find footing in this foundation and provide solid Biblical support for your discussion. You will need to supplement and add to the material, but this less-known resource acted as a great resource through this series.
Set up as a devotional for seniors transitioning into adulthood, the table of contents became my best friend with to use this as a curriculum resource. Once I outlined my messages, I was able to take valuable nuggets of information with each small devotional. This book was especially helpful in the conclusion and takeaway of the messages. It provided dynamite discussion questions that added to the final moments of each series topic.
Our ministry context comprises of junior high and high school on Sunday nights. That being said, I needed a resource that would add an element for the younger student. They are not thinking too far ahead, but they should be. This topical resource allows the teacher to engage the student from the youngest age to the oldest. These authors were spot on with the topics that needed discussed with students regarding their future. This was another valuable resource for this series.
Bonus Video Suggestion:
Hard to believe…10 years of Youth Ministry. Praise the Lord for his grace, for the patience of teens and their parents, and the countless times God has brought strength to my weakness.
And get this…my article on the 10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years in Ministry has been published by Youth Specialties. Go check it out and be encouraged.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.
In recent years, I have found great value in having a student leadership team. It’s not cliché, its true…Jesus spent additional time with a group of men to give them individual attention and help them reach their potential to start the early church. In these student leadership teams, the goals are on a much smaller scaled compared to Jesus and His disciples, but the goal still remains to help them reach their spiritual potential and to be the next generation of leaders in the church. Here’s some tips that have helped make the student leadership team a reality.
Ain’t No Such Thing as Small Potatoes. Don’t be afraid to start small. The first year I hosted a leadership team, there were only 2 participants. Small is not always a bad thing. Individual attention was given. Questions were answered. Real progress was accomplished in this small group.
Where do is sign? Please make sure to have an application process. You can’t just have a sign up list on the side of the youth room, and hope each person becomes a leader. Have some requirements right off the bat like an application, and even an interview. The requirement of the student leadership will be lofty, so the application process should not be just putting your name on a piece of paper.
Little Help Over Here. Don’t be afraid to go find some help with leadership training. May I make a suggestion? The good people at LeaderTreks, particularly the 365 Leadership Training, is a great place to start. Additionally, I scour the Christian leadership blogs, often sent to me by ChurchLeaders, and use the blogs as an opener to each of our meeting.
Thank You For Coming…Now What? In addition to the leadership training curriculum and leadership articles, the key part of leadership training is the concept of “level above”. It is a requirement for each participant to serve in the church in some capacity. But that’s not enough to just serve in children’s ministry as a volunteer. We take it a “level above” and require the student to teach or lead a portion of that children’s ministry. If children’s ministry is not their thing, the requirement for volunteering in other areas of the church are go a “level above”. We discuss each person’s individual assignments at the beginning of each meeting.
Put Them in the Game, Coach. Part of training leaders is to give them opportunities to lead. Sounds simple, but it takes some steps of faith, patience, and willingness to allow failure. Sure, you could plan youth events easily by yourself. But in leadership training, you must allow them to take the lead. In the past, I’ve allowed students to plan events like the Christmas party, Super Bowl Party, and a Compassion International event. But the doozy was the Easter Egg Hunt. The teens were placed in charge, planned out the schedule, sought out volunteers, made phone calls, prepped the materials…it was their show. Talk about a step of faith. But let me tell ya, in the end, this was a valuable learning experience in leadership that was well worth the effort.
Personal & Prayerful. Spend some time with them. Ask for personal requests. Invite them over for a lunch prior to the meeting so you can get to know the students. Find ways to make the meeting time special so students want to come, and younger students have something they look forward to.
What do you do? How have you built student leaders?