Tag Archives: Student Ministry

Developing Student Leaders Podcast

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Click image above to listen to my latest podcast.

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How to Plan a Student Mission Conference in 5 Easy Steps

In the past 7 years, we have hosted a student mission conference.  Basically, our goal is to encourage students to be missionaries at their schools, in their neighborhoods, and on their teams/bands/social platforms.  In order to do this, it takes creativity, planning, and organization.  Want to give it a try?  OK, then let’s get started…

  1. There’s No “I” in Team. Broaden your network, and network with others churches for an event like this.  For example, I contacted a missionary of a local parachurch organization and several other churches.  One larger church even offered to host, and it’s been at that church every year since then.
  2. Sharing is Caring. Once the network is established, don’t be afraid to share.  Put your ego aside, and share.  This might mean another youth group’s praise band leads the singing.  You might have other youth pastors be speakers.  Ask another church if they would host.  Be willing to share the responsibilities, and make it a collective effort.
  3. “Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun” (Albert Einstein). If this is going to be an annual event, you will need to get the creative juices flowing.  Each year, we have changed it up.  One year we had a special speaker.  Another year we allowed the students to pick their breakout sessions.  Another year we did a mock evangelism training event, where students received evangelism training and then entered a “cafeteria” to witness to students (youth leader actors).  Students come each year with a new experience.  I believe this has allowed this event to be successful.
  4. Free is Free. One year we had a special speaker, so there was some cost sharing for the honorarium.  But since then, with ministry sharing, each year the event has been free.  We cut the snack, speaker fee, and other costs to allow the event to be free each year.  This has made it easier to invite other churches when the event is free.
  5. Does the Bible Talk About The Gospel? Have trouble coming up with a theme?  Not with this event.  With the Gospel interwoven throughout the Bible, finding a theme has never been an issue.  Each year we take a different aspect of the Gospel and evangelism and allow that theme to drive our teaching portion of the event.

Bonus: For The Detail Oriented People in the Crowd.  We host it on a Wednesday night for 1.5 hours.  Sunday night would be another great option, keeping it in the regular youth program schedule.  Limit the praise time to 2 songs and have your icebreaker ask people are coming in.  This provides for more teaching time.  Keep prayer a focus of the night as well.

There you have it.  If you have any questions on how to plan this event, feel free to comment below.  It has been a real blessing to our youth ministry over the years, and I hope it will inspire you to plan a student mission conference in your ministry sometime soon!

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5 Lessons Learned From a Local Mission Trip

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of leading a group of students on a mission trip.  We didn’t need plane tickets, or even a full tank of gas for that matter.  It was a mission trip in our very own city.  Our student ministry takes short-term mission trips very seriously.  But missionaries don’t just live in foreign countries, but also reside locally as well.  So each year, we try to give the students a different perspective of missions.  Here’s what I learned from this year’s local trip:

  1. Train for the 100m AND the marathon. Runners have to train for running short distances as well as long distances.  They have to eat right, train, lift weights, and stretch for each race.  Same with mission trips.  Just because it is a local trip, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have training.  Use the time you have with your students for unity building, leadership training, discipleship, and evangelism training.  You might be surprised how much the training will benefit a trip that is at your church or down the road.
  2. Don’t Miss What Is Right In Front of You. If a local trip is going to accomplish one thing, hopefully it increases the love for your community.  This is something I really saw in the students as we they went out and did puppet shows, and did some painting projects.  They really enjoyed serving and caring for their community.  A great benefit of local trips.
  3. Expectations Blown. I set some expectations for the students each day of what I wanted to accomplish, and they blew those expectations out of the water.  It was good to set a bar to reach, but when the students jump over that bar, it’s oh so sweet.
  4. Follow-up. Something I am learning I need to do is to make sure I follow-up more efficiently.  Sometimes I give an assignment like an email…it’s sent, check it off the list.  I need to make sure I give out assignments and tasks (delegation and leadership training is a healthy thing), but also follow up with those tasks.  I’m a work in progress.
  5. Make the connection. We did some projects for our children’s ministry this week.  We did puppet shows to help promote VBS, and we painted rooms in our children’s wing.  Why?  Because we wanted to love our community, but we also wanted our students to grow in their love for THEIR church.  I want them to WANT to invite others to church, to be proud of how they are part of the church, and a growing love for their church family.  I think this “trip” only added to those goals.

What about you?  Have you done any local trips lately?  What have you done, and what did you learn?  Would love to hear the good, the bad, and the blessings.

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Partnering with Parents

Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with parents.  Hope you find this podcast helpful in your student ministry.

https://lcm.wol.org/multiply/partnering-parents-jeff-beckley/

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10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years in Ministry

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.

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How To Get Parents on Your Team – Part 2

Last week, I wrote on the importance of being on the same team as the parents in your youth ministry.  I cannot overstate how critical it is to have a parental connection and partnership within your student ministry.  The trust and credibility you build with parents will only bring value and growth.  Parents will provide the support you need in various ways and you will be able to provide valuable insight and encouragement to their parenting journey.

Today, I’d like to share with you one practical method of getting parents on your team.  It’s not a trick or an ulterior motive ploy.  On the contrary, you hopefully have the same heart as the parents, and that is to see their child grow in their relationship with the Lord and reach their full potential of using their God-given abilities and gifts.

One way that happens is through Parent/Pastor Conferences.  You heard me.  Why can’t teachers have all the fun with parent/teacher conferences.  After all, aren’t youth pastors/workers/leaders also teaching their children valuable material (the most valuable actually) and need to give progress updates to the parents and find ways we can work together at church and home to allow the student to achieve continued spiritual growth?  In actuality, this meeting has more significance (no offense teachers, you are most appreciated), but not because of the teacher’s place in the student’s life, but because the church teaches about that which is eternal.Shouldn’t parents and pastors sit down and discuss ways they can partner with each other to allow the teenager to fight temptation, grow in their spiritual disciplines and gifts, and experience spiritual growth.  I can hear you scream YES from here!  So how is this done?  I’m glad you asked.

  1. Pick a date. Provide a date with a wide range of times.  Example – 3-7pm on a weeknight can allow families with different schedules to attend.  Provide alternate dates to parents so they can still have time to meet with you, but encourage the conference date as a primary option.
  2. Sign-up List. During your next parent meeting, explain the parent/pastor conference and pass around a sign-up list.  Follow up with parents that may not sign up, but this provides a good base of meetings right off the bat.
  3. Make it Professional. I had my dear wife make her famous chocolate chip cookies (this puts everyone in a good mood to start the meeting) and some coffee.  I set out two leather chairs in the lobby, coffee & cookies on a table, and a sign saying I would be with them in a moment.  This is not a silly exercise, we are talking about the spiritual condition of a human being.  Take it seriously.
  4. Have a Plan. For me, I kept it very simple.  In order to stay in my 30 minute timeframe, I had 4 categories:  Concerns, Strengths, Weaknesses, & Goals.  The parents talked and I also gave my input as well.  This plan worked well in this context and kept discussion on topic and with a firm direction.  **Make sure to have plans for each grade written down and ready to go.
  5. Make Prayer a Focus. We want God to be the main source and contributor to our discussion.  So we make sure to invite God right off the bat through prayer.  Then, I make it a point to have the dad pray at the end of the meeting if he is able to attend.  This is a subtle encouragement to allow the dad to take charge spiritually within the family.  It’s always a blessing to hear parents pray for the teens you serve and care for.

That’s it.  5 steps to conducting a parent/pastor conference.  Just another way to get parents on your team.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the value this provides in your personal ministry to teens, and in your relationships with parents.  Trust, encouragement, direction, blessing, and counsel all happens in 30 minutes.  Give is a try, and get on the same team with those parents.

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How to Get Parents on Your Team – Part 1

All this discussion about football & the National Anthem, I thought I’d find some comparisons to football and youth ministry.  It’s very common for a rookie in football to make…well, rookie mistakes.  A poorly thrown interception, a missed assignment, or a blown play.  The classic rookie mistake for a youth pastor is to neglect the parents.  Some young or inexperienced youth pastors might even go as far as to see parents as a hindrance or an enemy to their progress in ministry.  Not so!

My ministry philosophy is based on Deuteronomy 6:5-7.  The youth pastor needs to be the assistant coach to the head coach, the parents.  “The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents…the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family.  This is not a job for specialists.  It is a job for parents.”  (George Barna, Revolutionary Parenting).

The goal of the youth pastor and his ministry team is to be an assistant coach to the head coaches, the parents.  It is the parents’ responsibility to raise the children, and the youth ministry should assist with that goal in various ways.  This assistance occurs through the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual counsel and encouragement, and prayer.

Alongside those essential spiritual actions, there are practical aspects that need to be brought to the table.  A good assistance coach will help in-game planning, go to the coach when they see a player struggling or injured, and help inform the coach where they lack the knowledge.  Youth ministry is no different.  The youth ministry team should help the parents game plan.  In other words, they should help them develop the spiritual goals for their child and allow the programs and teachings to aid in reaching those goals.  Also, it is imperative for the youth ministry to go to the parents when a student is struggling spiritually.  There will be times when behavior is inappropriate, words throw up red flags, or things are said in small groups where the parents need to be made aware.  Then, the youth pastor can aid in the recovery process.  Lastly, there needs to be parent meetings that include youth culture updates, upcoming event information, discussion/advice from other parents and other essential communication that will act as support in the parenting process.  After all, it is the responsibility of the coach for the team’s behavior, but the assistant coach has a vested interest in the outcome of the game.

You want to get parents on your team?  Make sure you are on their team first.

Stay tuned for next week – a practical way to get parents on your team that will only take about 30 minutes of your time.

 

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Young People Need You

Think back to that person that invested in you.  Where would you be without those late night conversations, the advice over a milkshake, or the shoulder to cry on.

Take this man named Myron.  An ordinary guy who decided to invest in the next generation.  And now, while in the midst of a difficult time, he is reaping the reward of all those hours spent helping young people.

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How to Partner With Parents

Ask any youth ministry veteran what they wished they did more of in their first few years of ministry, and partnering with parents will probably be in their top 3, if not their top wish.  It is so important to get on the same team as your parents in youth ministry.  This book will help you be the assistant coach to the head coach (parents) that you can be.teamup

Book Review:  Team Up by Phil Bell

The Good:

Pep Talk.  Skeptical of involving parents in your ministry?  Well, at least read chapter one and then let me know what you think.  The author does a great job grabbing the reader’s attention in the first chapter to explain the importance of parent involvement.

Practice Makes Perfect.  At the end of each chapter, the practice drills are dynamite.  They provide ways to implement everything you just read.  These could also be put to good use in parent meetings.

Super Practical.  Man, I came away from this book with tons of ideas for parent meetings and boosting my relationships with parents.  How do you do parent meetings, how do you communicate, how do you _______.  It’s all there and the steps are all written out.  Right on Phil Bell!

The Bad:

Gimme Some Cheat Codes.  The only thing I really feel like this book is missing is some devotional or lessons for parents using God’s Word.  It would be nice to get some example of lessons or portions of the parent seminars that were mentioned in the book.  I’m not looking to copy the entire presentation, but passages used, more detail of topics covered, and lessons that proved to be effective would be beneficial for the reader.

The Grade:  A-.  Talk about a practical ministry book that everyone in youth ministry should read.  This would be the one.  After reading it, I texted a few of my youth ministry buddies right away and told them about this one.  So this me telling you all, get this book and be encouraged by ways you can minister to and with parents.

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