Archives For Youth Ministry

It’s the end of an era for my family and my ministry. My daughter will officially be entering into the youth ministry in a few weeks at church! I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, I turned into a middle school dad. I’m having a tough time seeing my baby girl grow up, and this just adds fuel to the fire.

I’m extremely thankful that we have a huge group of pre-teens at church, and my daughter can’t wait to start attending. I’m also thankful that we have Jr. High leaders who really love this age group and do a great job teaching and leading them. I’ve been involved in youth ministry for a long time now, but Jr. High is not my calling. You need patience, energy, and discipline in order to keep them having fun while staying focused. I still help and teach some with our older teens, but I’m not sure how I will handle that when my daughter joins that group in a few years. I’m having a tough enough time now with her in our Jr. High group.

Youth Group Struggles

May 19, 2010 — 3 Comments

Most Christian blog writers tell you how great everything is going in their churches. I want to switch things up and tell you a little about one of our struggles this year in the hope it may help some of my readers. First, I need to give a little background. I started working with teenagers in youth ministry 14 years ago. I have spent countless hours hanging out with teens, riding in 15 passenger vans, and doing way too many gross games that involved food. This blog even started out when I was in youth ministry. But 3 years ago, I accepted the call to pastor the church I’m now at. Since that time, I have juggled youth responsibilities with the responsibilities of pastoring and leading a church, and I haven’t always done a good job.

With the start of this past school year, we made quite a few changes. In hindsight, we made way too many changes at the same time. The effect has been that our Sr. High youth group has really struggled through this school year. In fact, it has been one of the most frustrating years ever for me in youth ministry. So what happened and what have I learned from it.

  • We graduated a huge class of seniors last year. I neglected the impact that it would cause on the group. Losing that many leaders at one time really created a sense of loss for the group. We didn’t do a good job of preparing the current students to rise up and take leadership.
  • We changed the time and structure of our meetings. This may seem like a small change, but we moved it too early on Sunday. We currently meet from 4:30 to 6, before our 6pm Sunday night service, and that just hasn’t worked. We wanted to change the main meeting time to mid-week, but because of scheduling problems, we couldn’t make it happen. I’m not sure what to do next year, but it won’t continue at the current time for our Sr. High group.
  • I stepped back from teaching and leading the youth and got more people involved. This was a very positive change, but yet it was still a change. It made things a little rough at the beginning of the year and it took some time for the youth to get comfortable with the new leaders.

Looking back, I think our group would have been fine with just one or two of these changes, but when combined, the changes posed some serious problems. We really do have a great group of students, but things just haven’t worked out the way we intended. It is going to take some work to regain momentum for the summer and for the next school year, but I am also excited about the possibilities. I know the teens in our group have a huge potential and God can definitely stir them up to do great things for the Kingdom.

And lastly, it’s not been all frustrating. Our Jr. High/Middle School group has had a wonderful year. It has grown and continues to be strong. We had some great leaders step up and serve (thanks Ed and Veronica!) and I’m confident that it will continue to grow. I’m just a little nervous because my daughter will be in that group next year. :-)

Hopefully this may help some of you who are planting churches and juggling responsibilities. Please share your thoughts on youth ministry in the comments below.

StudentLife is a great organization for youth workers and they have put together an informative video on current youth culture. The truth is that today’s culture is changing rapidly due to the use of internet and media. Over the last 15 years, I have seen a huge change in the youth in our small rural community. Our teenagers used to lag behind contemporary youth culture by months or even years due to our isolation from the outside world. Now, with the rise of social networking and the internet, our teens hold the same worldview as others from around the country, and their beliefs are shaped and changed quickly. It’s scary, but it’s reality. If you have a passion for seeing teenagers come to Christ, then I encourage you to watch this video. This would also be helpful for parents of teens as well

ht to Josh for the link

The Bored Generation

March 11, 2010 — 2 Comments

Lately, I have noticed something that seems to be on the increase.  I am concerned with the boredom of an entire generation.  Check out the facebook and status updates of young adolescents and you’ll be sure to see the infamous statement, “I AM BORED.” I am sure that this isn’t something entirely new, but I do see it as a growing problem. In the midst of incredible advances in technology, entertainment, and communication, teens and children are complaining that they simply have nothing to do. With a 5 year old, 9 year old, and 11 year old, it’s a phrase that comes up often at our house. If we hear complaining about boredom at our house, the first step is usually cleaning their room or reading a book. But even with consequences, our children still want us to entertain them and help them find something to do.

I think this problem has huge implications for the church as well. If the younger millennials grow up in a society where they are constantly entertained, it will affect how we reach them. We must start getting to the root of the problem. One area of concern is the pace of our society. Everything is based on instant gratification and no waiting. From fast food to movies on demand to instant messaging, everything has been geared toward providing them what they want when they want it.  I still have hope, but it will require action on our part.

At the risk of sounding old, I actually remember before we had game systems, cell phones, and home computers. As kids, we spent much of our time simply being kids, playing and enjoying our time with friends. As adults, I feel we have a responsibility to help guide and direct the younger generation to learn how to live life to the fullest. I think we can teach and model some important truths.

So What’s the Cure?

  • Let’s teach them to develop a Holy curiosity – When you look at the world with wonder and anticipation, you simply cannot become bored. When you explore and learn, you will grow in maturity and in knowledge.
  • Let’s teach them to be still and know God – If we cannot teach our children to slow down, what will happen as they grow older? Jesus spent regular time in silence and solitude with God the Father, and we need to do the same thing. It brings us into God’s presence, it allows us to avoid stress by bringing our requests before God, and it strengthens us with the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Let’s teach them to use their imagination and creativity - I’m afraid we are preventing them from finding solutions to their problems. When they are bored, they can become incredibly creative. It’s in those times when they come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things. Let’s not stifle their creativity. Instead encourage them to discover something to do when they are bored.
  • Let’s teach them to serve others – At the root of boredom is selfishness. Everything is focused on my needs and wants. When we find ways to serve others, it helps refocus our priorities on the two greatest commandments. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving others as ourselves.
  • Let’s teach them the power of reading the Bible and other great books – I am thankful that my children love books. I love seeing them pick up books, but still way too often I hear the phrase “I am bored.”  I want to create in them a love of reading. It’s amazing what they can learn from great stories. And I especially want them to spend time reading their Bible. It is such a great joy to hear them reading Bible stories to each other.

I encourage you to join in the conversation. What else would you add to this list?

Over the past 14 years, I have been to numerous conference for students. I’ve taken groups to all of the major conferences, but there is one that stands out as my favorite. I have seen how a weekend spent in the Bible can totally change a teenager’s life.  I started attending the PlanetWisdom Student conference when it was organized by Shepherd Ministries with Dawson McAllister teaching and Al Denson leading the worship (yeah, I’m getting old)  Mark Matlock has done the teaching for a while now, but one thing has remained the same.  While bands have changed (Dutton, Addison Road, Plumb, and Mercy Me), the quality of the conference is top notch year after year. You can expect great teaching from the Bible, great worship, and some times of great fun orchestrated by the Skit Guys.

I was really disappointed to see that the conference was cutting back this year and not coming to Charlotte. But when we found out they were offering the weekend as a simulcast, we immediately signed up. Tonight we are hosting this conference and are expecting teens from many different local churches to attend. I think it is a great idea to bring local teensagers together to worship and learn together.

It’s not too late to attend. The cost is only $15 at the door for the entire weekend. We open the doors at Cornerstone tonight at 6pm for pizza ($3 per student) and worship will kick off at 7:30. Our Sunday night worship team will be kicking things off. The conference will go to about 11:30pm tonight and start back up at 9am tomorrow morning. Everything will wrap up around 5:30 tomorrow night. For more information, visit the PlanetWisdom website, watch the video below, or contact me. Help us spread the word and get local teenagers to attend!

Crazy Love Update

October 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

We kicked off our study of Crazy Love with the youth and college students from Cornerstone this past Thursday night. I wanted to share the links back to my comments on each chapter of the book. I’ll be adding the later chapters to this list as we go through the study.  You can also find out more about the book at the official Crazy Love Book website.  We have a few more books available if you missed Thursday night so see us at church to get your copy.   We are reading chapters 1 & 2 for next week’s study.

Posts in this series:

live

I’m not a huge fan of curriculum for youth.  I’ve seen far too many lessons that were long and culturally irrelevant, and most of the time they didn’t even make sense. If I see another youth lesson where they ask people to dress up in Biblical costumes I think I will drop kick the writer into the 21st century!  For the most part, over the last thirteen years of working with youth, I have written my own lessons.  I like getting ideas from others, but I couldn’t find the right mix of Biblical teaching and conversational questions that fit my teaching style.  With our recent changes to our youth ministry at Cornerstone, I knew I needed to come up with a plan for equipping and preparing our different youth leaders.

We have made the change from one large youth meeting each week to multiple smaller groups meeting at the same time.  We all meet together for announcements and some activities, but then we split up into different age groups.  I did want all the groups studying the same thing each week, so I started looking at several different options.  I really liked the content and messages from the XP3 curriculum by the reThink group, but it is geared for one teacher to teach a large group and then break up into smaller discussion groups.  We have tried that before and it is tough to teach a lesson that connects with a large group of students ranging from 6th to 12th grades. The lessons were also very long.  I looked at some others that I won’t mention here that seemed like they came straight out of 1980, and then I finally found what we we’re looking for. Simply Youth Ministry just recently released a curriculum for small groups called the Live Curriculum.  I talked with another youth pastor who was using it, and we made up our mind to jump in.  So far it’s been great.

The lessons are easy to customize and share.  It is online based, so I can login, make any specific changes that I feel are necessary, and then share with the rest of our leaders.  They can then customize the lessons for their group and teaching style, and print out the lessons and student sheets, all from their homes.  The lessons are intended to create discussion, and there are even text message questions and parent emails you can send during the week.  You can also choose the order in which you teach the lessons.  The cost sounds a little high ($499), but you are buying into a four-year plan so it really becomes cheaper than all the other options that I have seen.  I’m not easily impressed, but I think this will really help our youth ministry and save some valuable time for our leaders.

When choosing a curriculum, don’t choose something because everyone else is using it.  You have to evaluate your ministry and style, and then find something that will be a good fit.  In many cases, you may have to write your own, but don’t rule out looking at all curriculum.

Our new youth website

September 17, 2009 — 2 Comments

The blog here has been a little slow this week. We have added a second Sunday service at Cornerstone and have kicked off our new youth ministry structure. I have been busy with all the details of getting everything off the ground. I did want to share with you a new youth website that we will be using to let our teens know about upcoming events. I had to bring myself back up to speed on a CSS formatting and working with html templates, but I’m happy with how it turned out. We have added the ability to subscribe to announcements by email or by txt messaging. We have also created a church facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mycornerstone, so if you’re on facebook, become a fan of what God is doing at Cornerstone!

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