Tag Archives: Intergenerational Youth Ministry

2016 Youth Ministry Goals

In Philippians 3:14, Paul was not talking about youth ministry goals.  But I still love the phrase “press on toward the goal”.  In ministry, you must do just that…”press on”.  It is important to reflect on your past accomplishments, like I did last week, and grow from your mistakes and build on your successes.  But, it is also vital in ministry to look ahead, plan, and seek God’s guidance for the year ahead.  Below are 10 goals for the 2016 ministry year.  Hopefully these will provide you with ideas and/or encouragement for the coming year.shutterstock_263635745

  1. Short Term Mission Trip – Mission trips are a part of our ministry every summer in a cycle of local, out-of-state, international, and work trips. This way, the 4 year high school experience will allow for various types of mission work. This year a trip to New York is in the works.
  2. Inter-generational Ministry Continued Improvement – A tech class for seniors, service projects combined with adult small groups, guest speakers, mentoring initiatives, and integrated mission projects.
  3. Better Timing – Each year I look at my schedule and there is always at least one “why did I schedule that there?”.   This year I want to make a more conscious effort in the timing of events and programs. Team with parents in working out better schedules. Not all conflicts can be avoided, but why not adjust the schedule if it can be.
  4. Family Series – I have been trying to find more ways to gather the family together in a youth ministry context. This year, I plan to teach a small series on the family with the entire family.
  5. Co-Mission Event – Continue the annual co-mission, which is a mission conference for students. This year, there may be some changes to enhance and improve the evangelism training for the students.
  6. Series on Fear – I read recently teens have a wide array of fears. Fear is often what keeps them from doing right and what tempts them to do wrong. Fear takes them places they don’t want to go and holds them hostage when they want to leave. Fear is something we need to talk about.
  7. Winter Retreat – In the past, the winter has been difficult to draw up enough interest for a retreat. Part of it is timing with winter sports, weather, and life. But this year we hope will be different having a younger group.
  8. Service – Each year we place a heavy emphasis on service and provide ample opportunity to serve in the church and in the community. This year is no different with continuous plugging in of students in church life and a community/church service project scheduled every month.
  9. Global Emphasis – With the World in Need month continuing this year, we plan to place an emphasis on the issue of poverty across the world. We hope to encourage the students to not only pray but be a world-changer and do something about global poverty.
  10. Apprenticeships – Along with having a youth intern this year, I want to encourage the student leaders to seek out mentoring opportunities. These will be called apprenticeships within the student leadership team, but outside the group it is simply the older students helping the younger students with life. Mentoring needs to happen both up and down…being mentored, and mentoring others.
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What Happens When Senior Citizens Come to Youth Group?

Bridging the generation gap in our church has always been a goal of mine.  I’m a proponent of inter-generational youth ministry.  If you don’t know what that is, then go here and read this book.  Many churches are going to the model of separation and segregation of age groups so much that the generations never interact with each other.  Do I see value in age-segregated ministries?  Absolutely.  Hello, I’m a youth pastor!  But there is real value in generations coming together, getting to know each other, and truly becoming ONE church.  But it just does not happen over night.  You need to be intentional.  Sure, there are select few older generation that will take time to get to know younger generations.  But, for many, you must have a “Field of Dreams” model of ministry –  if you build it they will come.  if_you_build_it_-_olv_mens_cu_4_1

How does this happen?  Here are few ideas:

Serve Them.  Every year, our teen ministry hosts a lunch for the senior citizens.  The sky is the limit for the theme of the lunch, and thankfully I have very creative and talented youth lady leaders (because I could only host a grilled cheese or hot dog lunch).  We have done Valentine’s Day lunches, Brunches, Tour of Italy…the themes are endless.  And so is the value of teens serving the older generation.  The teens dress up, take the seniors to their seats, take their orders, and serve them lunch.  After everyone is served, the teens then find seats next to them and have genuine conversation.  Sometimes, the conversation is guided, other times it is just natural.  Another idea:  Form a team of teens and adults to serve the elderly through the year – yard work, general house issues, etc.

Have Fun Together.  Typically, either following lunch or another time during the year, we will have an informal time of generations coming together.  I’ve hosted a “Man Day” which includes a Bible study, hearty breakfast, and man games like “Name That Tool” and “Power Drill Relay.  Other ideas include:  speed dating & board game night.

Serve Together.  Our youth group has a service project every month, and we often invite adult small groups to participate with us.  This is a great way to bring generations together, by serving together.  Often, they see how teens can be hard-working, caring, and approachable.  It breaks down walls when you are serving Christ together.

Worship Together.  Please do not make the mistake of never allowing generations to worship together.  I’m a proponent of children’s and youth ministries as much as the next guy, but it is important that the generations have opportunities to worship and hear God’s Word together over the course of the year.  Maybe consider trimming down the age of children’s church, save holidays for all-church gatherings, and do not host a youth service during main worship times.

Pray for One Another.  Before I arrived at my current church, they already had this wonderful practice in place.  The senior citizen group had a prayer sign up list of all the teens and college/young adults.  What better way to bring generations together than to pray for them.  Our teens often pray for our seniors as well.

Invite Them to Youth Group.  Last but not least, invite them to your youth group!  Sure, many youth groups have a parent night which is a great idea.  But let’s take it a step further and invite the senior citizen group to your youth group.  A friend of mine in ministry gave me this idea, and we tried it yesterday.  Judging by the picture below, how do you think it went?  Seeing the elder generation, singing, playing games, and praying with the younger generation…it was incredible.  IMG_1376[1]

Sure, we are not there yet.  But we are intentionally trying to bridge the generations together.  Praying, serving, having fun,  and worshiping together as ONE church.

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2014 Year In Review

497606412_640Last year, these were my 2014 ministry goals.  Each year, I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord in such a wonderful ministry, church, and community.  Here’s how things played out this year, and maybe these ideas will help spark ideas for you new year.

  • “Bible Doing” – Bible Studies are great, but so is “Bible Doing”. During our local mission trip we held a Bible study that put our Bible lessons in action. Grade: A
  • Wedding & Funeral Message Outlines/Scripts – This took a great deal of prep work and discipline to sit down and write wedding scripts and funeral scripts even when I didn’t have any weddings or funerals to perform. But God knew…I had the privilege of officiating my first wedding, and had the honor of doing my grandmother’s funeral. Grade: A
  • Music Training Class – This class in still in the planning process. However, God supplied a new student praise band of 6 members.   This student-led band was a huge answer to prayer. Grade: Incomplete
  • Junior High Mission Trip – We held a mission project at the apartments right next door to the church. We helped landscape and clean up areas surrounding the apartments. It was a huge success building relationships with neighbors, and some even visited the church the following Sunday! Grade: A
  • Community Project – This project was combined with the Mission Trip described above. Grade: A
  • Host “Ask Your Leaders” Night – This night was a true blessing. Teens asked both informal and in-depth spiritual questions. Examples included questions about dating, afterlife, creation, and much more. Grade: B. Not every student was prepared with a question. I could have done better in allowing to think about questions for a longer period of time than just a few days
  • Sunday School Rehab – High School Sunday School has made some positive changes to teaching structure and discussion. And a Junior High Sunday School started this year!! Grade: A
  • Equip Parents/Families – Spiritual Growth Planning with several families, and expansion of Parent Training in Parent Meetings. Grade: B-. I still need to improve here. The meetings are my strength, but the informal discussions and meeting with parents outside of church walls needs to improve.
  • Continue Inter-generational and Discipleship Ministry– Young at Heart Lunch & Service, Combined Adult/Teen Service Projects. Grade: B+. Always room for improvement here, but was pleased with the progress.
  • Outreach – Easter Egg Hunt, Teen Outreach Events, & Better Visitor Discipleship/Follow-up. Grade: C. Sure there was great outreach with events and those that attend the church, but what about on the school campuses. Please pray I will have more opportunities to go on campus to share Christ.

2014 G.P.A. – 3.38.

Didn’t make the honor roll this year. Still have room for improvement. But I will say this, God truly blessed. I was able to perform a wedding for my sister-in-law, honor my grandmother in her homegoing, be part of two teens accepting Christ, serve alongside teens in numerous service projects in the church and community, and saw some incredible growth in teens and their parents. Thank you Lord for all you did in 2014. To God be the glory.

 

 

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Book Review: Inter-Generational Youth Ministry

Book Review:  Inter-Generational Youth Ministry by Mel Walker

The Good: 

Intergenerational Cover FinalThose in youth ministry are up to our ears in statistics of high school and young adults leaving the church. True, statistics tell a story, and are valuable in evaluating cultural trends. However, statistics are like a home run hitter that only hits home runs when no one is on base. It is helpful, but it will rarely give your team the win. Statistics are helpful, but they rarely get results. That is, unless you couple those statistics with solutions. When you provide solutions, you have a book worth reading.

This book begins with a youth culture history lesson. It was fascinating, and set up the rest of the book perfectly. In fact, I found it so helpful, I used much of the material in my message at the teen/senior citizen luncheon. It was a perfect tie in of generations. Basically, I gave the history of youth ministry, the current state of youth ministry, and what you as the elder generation can do to help.

In the following chapters, each ministry of the church is dissected and examined. From children’s ministry to the senior saints, the evaluation of the current church models were scrutinized respectfully, and given helpful solutions to issues that exist in churches across the nation.

As a reader of scores of youth ministry books, what separates the good from the bad is the “how”. Sure, anyone can observe and articulate the problems that exist in youth ministry. Anyone can verbalize problems like a popular news network. But what makes this a good youth ministry book, is it provides the “how”. Each chapter includes multiple, practical steps to implement the solution to the existing issues. In addition to the how, each solution is accompanied with Biblical support. What a combo! So, when you as a youth worker, youth pastor, church staff member, parent, or church member begin to employ some of these solutions in your church and inevitably get the “why” question. You now have practical reasons and Biblical reasons for the changes and new ministry practices you are implementing in your church. That’s what I call armed and dangerous…OK, maybe I should stick with practical and Biblical.

The Bad:

Frankly, it was difficult to find the bad in this book (you will see why when I give out the grade), but there was one thing. On occasion, there is a repetition of illustrations or concepts. Some of this, I realize, was done for emphasis of certain points. However, there were other idioms or illustrations that were repeated, and could have used some more originality.

The Grade: A

This book is a MUST READ for all those involved in the church. Notice I did not just say those involved in youth ministry. This is an all-hands-on-deck experience. This is a total church makeover that is worth a look. These concepts and ideas have been part of my ministry philosophy for years, and for someone to write down specific ways to implement them, it is like long-lost friends being reunited.

Not only is this book immensely practical and useful, but as was mentioned before, it is Biblical. Without the Biblical support, you could get excited about new ministry ideals, but they would have no weight, no substance, and fade away like a passing fad. The Bible’s eternal principles are worth exploring, and are priceless when a writer can articulate those in your context, and flesh our practical ways to accomplish those principles.

Honestly, this was one of my favorite youth ministry books I have read. It deserves to be put into practice in your ministry today. It’s time we do something about the problems of our young people leaving the church, instead of just pointing out the problem. This book will give you solutions, and step-by-step instructions to putting those solutions to work.

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Mocking Evangelism

What’s wrong with me, I’m currently reading a book called “Questioning Evangelism”, and I’m about to blog about Mocking Evangelism. Before you start throwing stones at your computer, let me straighten things out here. Questioning Evangelism is a book about using questions in evangelism. And I’m not encouraging mocking evangelism, but the use of Mock Evangelism events.
Mock Evangelism events are a staged event where students can practice sharing the Gospel with those they know and trust. How is it done? Well, let me help you explain by answering 3 Questions: Why, Where, & Who?evangelism4

Why? Maybe your youth ministry is different, but I’m entering my 3rd year in my current ministry, and when I polled the high schoolers, very few have ever led anyone to the Gospel. So I wanted them to learn how to do it in a “safe environment”. So the Mock Event allows the students to practice their gospel presentations with familiar faces before they go out and share with strangers.
Where? My goal is to make it real as possible. One time I set the gym up like a lunchroom, another was a park, and last year was the streets of Chicago. Also sounds are effective. So, in that lunchroom setting, I was the principal and would give announcements from the sound system. Or for a mission trip to Chicago, I showed slides with sights and sounds of downtown Chicago.
Who? In the past, I’ve mentioned the importance of intergenerational ministry.  Well, here is one way to accomplish bridging the generations together. Each time, I invite several adult small groups to come and participate. For the student lunch room, I had adults dress up like cheerleaders, athletes, or in goth costumes. For the park, one guy was passed out on a bench, another was painting portraits, and another was playing catch with his kids. BEST PART: Gave permission to adults to “step out” of character when needed and instruct or encourage the teen. Say things like “Here’s what you can say here” when they get stuck or “that was really good, keep going”. This is a real opportunity for natural discipleship/mentoring to take place.

Extra: Be Creative. Use sounds, people of your church, PowerPoint, decorations. Make it real, so when you do take your students out, they will be as ready as they can be. Cater to your Trip. For example: I knew part of the Chicago trip would be to invite people from their homes. So I had “actors” in side rooms ready to answer the door. The teens had no idea who they would meet on the other side. Hilarious! But it gave them experience of what they would face on the trip, and in real life.

Hopefully you can see the value of Mock Evangelism Events, particularly in the mission trip training process. However, I’ve used these events concluding series on the importance of sharing the Gospel. Please, don’t allow this event to be a replacement for the real thing, but as a training ground for your students to be sent out as missionaries in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities, and around the world.

 

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2013 Goals Evaluation

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I thank you.  Also, you maybe remember the goals I set for the 2013 ministry year.  Well, it is always a good idea to look back and see how we did on each of those goals.  Below are the 10 goals and the evaluation grade.????????????????????????????????????????

Student Takeover   Broaden & Heighten the expectations of students in ministry & youth group participation.  Continue personal discipleship & Leader Training.

A-.  During the course of the year, we provided multiple opportunities for students to participate and lead.  In fact, we set aside one youth group night per month for the students to lead the entire night – from attendance to set up!  Would have been an A, but without having everyone involved, it wasn’t quite accomplished.  Something to shoot for, 100% involvement!

Parent Connection    Parent Seminar & Improve with weekly youth culture updates

B+.  Much better this year.  Held a parenting seminar, provided youth culture updates each week regularly, and hosted 3 parent meetings.  Improvement needed in the area of parent involvement in activities (more than just providing snacks)

Family Life Planning     Begin offering life planning for student ministry parents.

A. My goal was to begin this, and I have been able to begin this with several families.  Looking forward to more of this in 2014.

Easter Outreach Community    Easter Egg Hunt planned by leadership students

A.  Praise the Lord for how well this went.  I could not have asked for better leadership by the students, and they deserve an A.  Over 125 kids came to our first student-led outreach!

Youth Pastor Network    Launch a network in SW Columbus.

B.  Sure, I was able to launch the network.  But due to schedule conflicts and limited participation, the group was typically only 2 or 3 guys.  Still, it’s a start!

Public School Ministry    Still working on ways to enter public schools to share Jesus.

B-.  Was able to go to school and speak to Special Education department and put my name in for help with counseling.  Other than that, still needs work.  Possibly working on doing an ant-bullying program for the coming year.

Youth Leader Equip    Improve equipping & discipleship in meetings.  More opportunities to equip for service.

B.  Some improvement here of more intentional equipping in leader meetings, discussing ways to mentor/disciple.  Need to broaden scope of training.

Better Documentation of MSM    I’m talking pictures/video.

B-.  Doing a better job with this, trying to post pictures and video when possible.  Still working on getting a MSM video together for the website, which would drastically improve this evaluation grade.

WIN Event    World in Need Event to promote spiritual and physical needs globally

A.  One of my favorite events of the year.  Liked it so much, going to do it again this coming year.  What an eye-opening, worldview forming event this was.  Well worth the time and effort.

Inter-generational Church    Promote events and ways to bridge generations in church, church programs, church events.

B.  Could definitely use improvement, but was able to pull off the best inter-generational event in my ministry career.  Did a “speed-dating” type event, connecting the older & younger generation together.  Still hearing about it even 4 months later!

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4 Reasons Why Your Church Should Have an Encouragement Month

At our church, there is only one month where we encourage each other.  So we set aside October each year, and call it Encouragement Month, and get all the encouraging out of the way before the holidays.  Kidding. Kidding.

Encouragement month is where the church family is asked to attend kid & teen extracurricular (sports, band, drama, etc) activities.  The month prior, we ask parents and guardians to turn in their children’s schedules, so we can put together a master calendar of activities.  That calendar is blown up, and displayed in the lobby.  At the display, there are also copies of the schedule to take home.17.-Encourage-sunset

So what’s the point?  Seems like a great deal of organizing, for what purpose?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are 4 reasons why it is worth it, and why your church should consider doing it.

Kids Like Encouragement.  Imagine that.  Kids and teens like to be encouraged.  And let me tell you, when those students have a cheering section from their church, it means the world to them.  Never underestimate attending a ball game, play, or band concert.  All you have to do is sit there, and cheer when appropriate – apparently school plays aren’t the place for the wave.  Who knew?

Bring Generations Together.  I loved hearing stories of older generations attending some of the games or concerts.  When a young person sees the older generation taking interest in them, they begin to see them in a different light.  This small step can help bond the church together tighter, and can go a long way in the unity that churches crave.

A Youth Leader’s Best Friend.  As much as we would like to, it would be difficult for most youth pastors or leaders to be able to attend every student’s activities.  Or, if you are a smaller ministry, you may feel pressure to attend several games of the students you have, but your schedule doesn’t allow it.  Well, committing to attending games in October allows you to make sure a representative from your youth ministry comes to the game, and show that student support and keep the connection to your ministry.  And, for the smaller ministries, it allows you to streamline your schedule more effectively, and keeps you accountable in supporting your students in their extracurricular activities.

Connection to the Schools.  While your main purpose is not to make a connection with the school, it is to encourage the student.  Your attendance does provide an opportunity to meet administration, teachers, and coaches.  This connection could begin to develop into a larger ministry role in the future, when the school administration knows and sees your support.

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Top 10 Requirements for a Youth Pastor Search

Hard to come up with just 10 things to include in finding a youth or student pastor candidate.  But here’s 10 that come to mind.

  1. Biblical standards is a good place to start – must follow without question the ground rules in I Timothy 3 & Titus 1. (I realize this covers a lot, but I can’t say it better than Scripture does!)
    1. Along these lines – same commitments to Biblical standards & doctrines
  2. Follows the philosophy of the church – Typically youth pastors fall into a few camps:  Program Driven, Family/Discipleship Driven
    1. There needs to be and understanding of the philosophy of the candidate.  This will help with finding a right match.
  3. For me, a high value in relational and Biblical discipleship is paramount in youth ministry.Job
    1. This means – willingness and desire/passion to disciple young people and also families/parents.
  4. Understanding of family ministry – involvement, passion for equipping, and desire to consistently communicate with parents.  Someone that sees parents as someone on their team, not one they try to just keep happy.
  5. Inter-generational – willingness to involve teens in service in the church, encourage engagement in adult relationships, and provide opportunities for teens to serve and worship alongside adults and kids.  Basically provided a bridge between generations.
  6. Relationship-oriented – this generation is less about knowledge, and more about relationship.  “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” (Maxwell)
    1. Also able to work well with others on staff & develop/maintain a positive relationship with youth leaders/children workers.
  7. Organized – Can’t tell you how important this is.  Leadership loves it.  Parents love it.  And teens benefit from it.
  8.  Effective communicator – not only in formal settings like teaching/training/meetings.  But also have the ability to communicate clearly in informal settings like one-on-one with teens, weekly staff meetings, and secular arenas (like YMCA or bowling alley for example in planning events)
  9. Driven – there needs to be drive – both spiritually and practically.  Always looking for ways to improve the spiritual & physical environment of the youth ministry.
  10. CALLED to ministry – love for teens is a requirement, but a call to ministry is a step above that.
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Great Outreach Idea…That Resulted From a Good Outreach Idea, That Failed

God can work in failure.  You want an example, just look in the mirror.  Wow, that was harsh for something right after breakfast.  But how true is that.  God chooses to use sinners like us…for some reason we are His plan for reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We fail, we mess up, and our plans often fall apart.

But here is the good news:  God can use our failures for His glory, and for His purposes.  Why?  Because God is not surprised by anything.  Let me just give you an example that happened recently.

Each month, my student ministry is to have a service project of some kind, whether it is serving in some way in the church, or in the community.  So let me just break it down for you to save you some time:

Good Idea:  Host a Spaghetti Dinner for a Local Football Team (failed when 3 schools either refused or were not able to commit)

Great Idea:  Pack To-Go Spaghetti Dinners & Deliver Them To Our Church Neighbors (Honestly, came out of the question, “What are we going to do with all this spaghetti?  God answered that question.

Here are 10 steps to make this happen:

  1. Ask the church to donate 50 meals:  Spaghetti sauce/noodles, 2 liter, can of fruit
  2. Bag them nicely
  3. Add:  Church brochure, tract, Christmas invitation
  4. Plan your route, and have a bus/church van driver to drop off & pick up
  5. Group your teens with adults (inter-generational ministry!)
  6. Make sure each group has adult male (safety) and a female (less intimidating)
  7. Each person carries 2 bags
  8. Go door to door saying something like “We are from _______, we are your neighbors, and we care about you.  Here is a dinner on us.  Feel free to visit us anytime.  God bless”
  9. Come back & pray for each street where bags were delivered
  10. Have hot chocolate & coffee to warm back up (or cold drinks, depending on weather/location)

We didn’t cook the meals, just delivered the goods, so they could have the meal anytime.  And we got to meet our neighbors, showed them we loved them, shared the love of Christ…and we were able to do that in about a half hour.

God turned a failure into something that could affect eternity!  Sound familiar, it should…just look in the mirror!

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Discipleship – 4 Keys to Student Discipleship

What are we discipling our students into?  My answer is found in Colossians 1:23…that type of faith!  Discipleship is developing a faith that sticks, a faith that is their own, a faith that is their foundation, a faith that is boldly shared with others…a faith that is at the heart of a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the thing, and I think you probably realized this, was that there is no 10-step process or whatever to producing true disciples.  However, I do think there are 4 key concepts in discipleship of young believers.

Discipleship requires:

  1. Knowledge – Proverbs is clear that we need knowledge before we can capture wisdom.  Therefore, there needs to be Doctrinal/Biblical/Theological training, which can happen in small group, Sunday School, and youth group arenas.
  2. Relationships – There needs to be mentoring outside the context of the family.  This is something that must happen, and is most commonly found in the small group structure.  Chap Clark in his research for the book “Hurt” claims that each student needs 5 positive adult relationships to influence a young person spiritually.  That is where youth leaders/sponsors can take their place…we are not asked to take the place of the parent…but I do believe we have value in being that assistant coach that helps the parent in producing Christ-followers.
  3. Connection – Do not neglect the importance of inter-generational ministry.  While I do believe youth ministry needs to do a better job at allowing the family to be the voice and equipping the parents, but there is no need to abandon youth ministry all together (see movie “Divided” to find out more about this movement).  However, I do think there is great value in integrating the students in the church:  worship, children’s ministry, mission trips, older generation connection, etc.  If there is a connection, a feeling that they can be used, and an understanding of how they can use their gifts in the church – then I feel they are more likely to stay.  Say it with me…Connection!
  4. TIME  – This is maybe something that we all miss.  We’ve all heard the expression of how you spell LOVE is T-I-M-E.  And although it is very corny, it is true.  Very rarely do our students remember our lessons, but they do remember the time we spend with them both in church and outside church…that informal and formal time that I was talking about.

 

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