Tag Archives: Service

Characteristics of a Gen Z Youth Ministry

Had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Teen Leadership Conference at Clarks Summit University.  There I was part of a National Youth Ministries Conference that featured incredible speakers who spoke on ways to impact Generation Z for Christ.

Studying the different generations is fascinating to me, and it is important to understand the characteristics of each generation.  Especially since there most likely is 7 generations in your church on a given Sunday.  Seven!

Do you know the leadership style of the Generation Z?  What impact is social media having on this generation?  Mental health seems to be an issue, how do you help students who are struggling?  These are all issues we discussed in the seminar.

My job was to answer the question:  “What does a Generation Z Youth Ministry look like?”  Here’s a checklist to help you in your quest to reach this generation.  I encourage you to check it out, and feel free to add more in the comments.

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What If I Can’t Afford a Mission Trip?

Let’s face it.  Mission Trips can be expensive.  Travel expenses, training materials, ministry supplies, possible medical expenses, meals, housing…and the list goes on.  Is the expense worth it?  Absolutely.  I’m on record that short-term mission trips can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to provide long-lasting spiritual life change.  BUT…there are times when the expense of a trip is simply too much.  So what do you do when you can’t afford to go on a mission trip?  To put it simply, look out your window!

Each year, we host a summer mission project for our junior high students.  It is a mission trip literally in our backyard.  It teaches them how to participate in a mission trip setting, and helps their love for serving others to grow. 

Below are some examples of projects we have done in the past or plan to do in the future that are inexpensive projects that can serve as your summer’s mission trip:

  • Landscape a neighboring apartment complex
  • Yard Work for elderly of your church
  • Help with end of the year cleaning at the local school
  • Plant a community garden
  • Trash pickup along the roads of your community
  • Free Garage Sale for community
  • Vacation Bible School Projects
  • Clean nursery toys
  • Church Spring Cleaning

That should get you started.  Even if you do international trips at your church, I strongly encourage you to try some community projects either in the summer or throughout the year.   After all, if you are not serving in the community you are in now, how can you serve in someone else’s community?

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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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Youth Curriculum Review Series – 2015 Edition (cont.)

In the final installment of the Youth Curriculum Review of 2015, let’s take a look at some small group curriculum.

41efF+SLSLL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_Creative Bible Lessons in Job by Doug Ranck.  Let me just say this.  I have searched and used many youth curriculum, and one of the curricula that I often recommend is the Creative Bible Lessons.  Here’s what you get with this curriculum.  A starter or icebreaker for the lesson that often comes with multiple options with minimal setup but maximum effectiveness.  Then the lesson is dynamic, easy to teach, good foundation of Scripture, and a good challenge.  In the end, there are discussion questions and worksheets that work very well in the small group setting.

66475Serving Like Jesus by Doug Fields & Brett Eastman.  This was a good fit for small group, but on a heavier teaching night, it would not work as well.  The teaching material is limited and often required some additional work.  However, the discussion questions and outlined series were phenomenal.  I actually added to the series by inviting people in the church who were serving like Jesus to interview them.  That added to the material.  The highlight of this curriculum was definitely the plethora of interaction and discussion questions.  So if you struggle in the teaching side, this might not be best series.  But in a small group setting with shorter teaching and more discussion, this is perfect.

indexSurrender by Francis Chan.  Disclaimer to begin:  I’m a huge Francis Chan.  I’ve read every book he has written and Crazy Love happens to be in my top 5 books of all time.  That being said, this series is a small group goldmine for many reasons.  It provides a DVD series to break up your teaching.  The subject matters are not fluff, but are very challenging, relevant, and hold the interest well.  The lesson is very well put together and Biblically based.  The discussion questions provided allow the small groups to flourish and have great follow-up.  The only down side is it only 4 weeks.  Other than that, it is well worth using for a “break” series during the year, to finish the year, or even in a retreat setting.



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How to Make the Opening Night of Youth Group Awesome

The Opening night of youth group sets the tone for the rest of your year. It isn’t a deal breaker for a teen, but it does factor into their decision to come back. So what are some things you can put into your opening night that would make it awesome, special, and worthy to repeat a visit. Here are some thoughts:

static1.squarespace.comBig Game. Plan ahead to have a big game or special icebreaker to make it a unique night. I’ve heard of youth groups that do a huge food fight. I haven’t been so brave but have done the BeanBoozled Jelly Bean Challenge, Blind Volleyball, and have even tried the Watermelon Challenge this year. This was last night.

Introduce New Series. This is the perfect opportunity to get the excitement level up for the new teaching series. Show an intro video that goes along with the theme. Other ways to promote can be done through skits and homemade video productions.

Rules. This needs to be part of your routine each year. Go over rules for conduct, dress, treatment of others, and various rules that you can refer back to if there ever is an issue. Prevention is much better than confrontation.

Give-Away. This does not need to be an XBOX or THIS…but a gift card and some things around your office like candy and leftover gifts from a youth conference.  I put it all in a box and do a drawing.  It makes it more dramatic.

Time in the Word.  I made the mistake one year of not doing any time in the Word, and made it all fun and games.  Well, when some visitors came back, guess what they expected youth group to be like?  That’s right, all fun and games.  Make sure you are clear what the focus is, and that is to help these students grow in their relationship with God.

Sign-Ups For Service.  Having trouble finding volunteers for ministries?  Here is an opportunity to have sign ups for children ministries, sound team, ushers, game crew, and the list goes on.

New People.  Have a dessert or cake to celebrate the new 6th or 7th graders that have just joined your group.  This will allow them to feel welcome and hopefully want to come back.

Introduce the Leaders.  We take a few moments to recognize the leaders, celebrate the years they have been serving, and explain what they will be doing – small group leader, event leader, etc.  Also, this is an opportunity to share how much we care about them, and to let them know we are available if they ever needed to talk.

Well, those are a few highlights of our opening night.  What do you do to make your opening night special and awesome?  Feel free to comment.

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3 Leadership Principles from Jesus’ Life

Let me set this up for you, and I’ll try to do this quickly, since most of you probably will be skipping this intro anyway, and just skimming down to the bold list below.  Hey, I read blogs too, I’m not offended.

So, here is the breakdown of the story found in John 13:1-20.  Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples.  Peter refused to be washed by His Savior.  Jesus calms Him down, and ends up washed all of the disciples feet (yes, if you know the story of Jesus, that includes the one that would betray Him).

What does this story have to do with leadership?  Well, I am glad you asked.  Goodness, that was corny, but I’m still writing, and unwilling to push backspace.   Okay, no more waiting, here is the list of leadership principles in Jesus washing feet:

jesusleadershipHumility.  This was is pretty obvious, but it can’t be skipped over.  As the ultimate leader, Jesus was willing to do tasks that usually given to servants in the household.  Jesus was willing to clean the filthy feet of those that were about to scatter, abandon, and even betray him.  That takes it to a new level.  Talk about humility.  Jesus was going to receive nothing in this exchange, except rejection.

Service.  No act of service was beneath Jesus.  He was willing to wash filthy feet, and he was willing to give His life.  In terms of being a leader, nothing should be beneath us in service of God and others.  As a pastor, there may not be someone around to plunge the toilet.  As a youth leader, you may have to mop up the vomit.  As a servant in God’s kingdom, you may have to out of your comfort zone for the Gospel to be heard.  Don’t let any service for others, and especially God be beneath you.

Vision.  This was a brilliant move by our Savior.  Jesus was giving a powerful illustration of what He wanted from his followers.  Jesus, by humbly serving His disciples, was teaching the men, who Jesus would leave the Gospel message in their hands, how to be a leader.  He taught them they were not above the message or the subject of the message (verse 16).  Christ saw this as an opportunity to show how them an example of true humble service.  Serve God and others humbly, never thinking more of yourself.  Jesus said if He is willing to do this, as Lord, you should be willing to do it for others.

Humility.  Service.  Vision.  Want to be a leader?  I’d say these three things would be a good place to start.


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10 Ways You Can Encourage A Young Person

You want ways you can give future faith to our faith future.  Here’s a start:

1) Attend one of their special events.

2) Every Sunday, Ask them how they are doing

3) Write an encouraging letter/Facebook post

4) Pray with them before a church service.

5) Be a mentor in their life—spiritually & practically.

6) Teach them how to serve in ministry, give them opportunities to serve, & serve alongside them.

7) Find out birthdays of teens/kids & send them birthday cards.  Kids love getting mail.

8) Invite them to help a project—i.e. cleaning a Sunday school room, building a VBS set)

9) Be another godly influence in their life, another godly example, another godly legacy to follow.

10) Pray for them.

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Compared to Jesus as a Servant, I’m an Ant

Honestly, I can’t even call myself a servant.  More like an ant.  Compared to Jesus Christ, who would wash the feet of the men who would abandon, deny, and betray Him.  Jesus, who died a painful, torturous death for his enemies.  Jesus, who constantly gave himself for those that were cast from society, the poor, the sick, and the needy.  Let’s just do a little comparison.

  1. Jesus:  Washed the feet of men who abandoned him, denied him, and betrayed him.  Me:  I have never washed anyone’s feet besides my wife’s.  Wash the feet of those that betray me?  Jesus wins this one by a landslide.
  2. Jesus:  Died a tortuous death for his enemies.  Me:  Let’s just throw the dying for enemeies out the window and start with – do I love my enemies?  The community, my neighbors, and fans of rival sports teams…they all need God’s love.
  3. Jesus:  Served the sick, poor, and needy.  Me:  Wow.  Boy, do I again fall short.  It’s time I open my eyes to those in need around me, and be a servant to those that are in need, and show Christ’s love.

So you can see why I’m just an ANT, or maybe I’m more like an AIN’T.  God is teaching me about service, and I sure have a long way to go, but I’m glad I have a Savior’s example of how to serve.

What about you?  If your service to others on a daily basis was judged like a waitress at Bob Evans, would you still have a job?  I tell ya, I would probably be told to go wash dishes.  It may start with taking your judgmental glasses off.  You may need to be okay with some un-noticed, behind-the-scenes, dirty work.  You have to start somewhere…even if it is doing some yard work for the elderly couple on the corner, or serving in nursery at church, or writing someone a thank you note every week…it’s time we start being a servant to others.  Remember, Christ + IAN = Christian.  So, without Christ, I Am Nothing.  It’s time we serve like Christ did.  Instead of being just an ANT or an AIN’T, it’s time to be a SERVANT.


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