Monday, November 3, 2014

Students Doing Ministry (part 2)

(Part 1)

Informal and Formal Ministry Training

In my previous post I wrote about equipping students to serve and getting them connected in a ministry.

There are two routes you can take Informal and Formal ministry training.  Whichever way you choose step 1 needs to be to identify ministries within the church where students can serve.  After equipping students they may even discover or start new ministries within the church.


  • Teach regularly about ministry, SHAPE.  At least on an annual basis.
  • Create one time ministry opportunities to give students a snap shot of serving the church.  
Have conversations with students specifically about serving.
  • Equip your youth ministry volunteers to have conversations that help lead students to discover their spiritual gift.

  • Point out to students when you notice their spiritual gift at work in their life as they serve.

  • Assist students in connecting on an existing ministry team within the church.


  • A process designed to train, equip and connect students in ministry.

  • A training class, one day retreat, training camp, weekly training for a set period of time.

  • A plan to teach students about spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality can be used in ministry then a process to connect them into ministry.
  • A ministry mentor who comes along side of the student to help them discover a ministry to serve in.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings for students who serve to debrief and evaluate their ministry.
I don’t lean to one plan over the other.  I just think it’s important that we help students discover their ministry and equip them to serve then plug them into a ministry in the church or even create a new one.

In the past we have been more informal with teaching SHAPE on a regular basis and connecting students with ministry teams within our church.  In January we will start a more formal approach and also heading into the direction of student-led ministry.  Teenager can do more than we think.  In fact our children's ministry would be understaffed if it were not for our teens serving. 
Teenagers need to be given responsibility in ministry so that when they graduate from high school they will continue  on in their adult year to be connected and serving in a local church.

I would suggest the following resources:
The Equipping Church - Mallory; Zondervan
Ministry by Teenagers - McKee & Smith; Zondervan

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Students Doing Ministry

Part 1
How many of your youth group’s students are active in serving in ministry?

Three common ministry misunderstandings I see in churches:

  •  Ministry is to be done by the paid staff.  They are the professional ministers.
  •  Ministry and Mission are defined as the same thing.
  •  Ministry is for the adults in the church.  Children and youth don’t serve.

Ministry is to be done by every believer in every church
.  Serving each other isn’t just for the paid professionals.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  Ephesians 4:11,12

Ministry is reaching inside of the church.  Taking care of the needs of those within the body of Christ.  Missions is reaching outside of the church, taking the gospel to those who don’t know Christ.  Churches need to be balanced in these two.

Ministry is for every believer in the body of Christ.
 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10

According to the verse above every believer receives a gift to be used to serve the church.  This would mean that when I trusted Jesus as my Savior at age 7 I was given a gift by the Holy Spirit to be used as a 7 year old boy.

What opportunities exist in your church for EVERY believer to serve?

We tell our students they need to serve but often fail to help them discover how God has shaped them to serve.  If we want to see students serving we need to help students discover their spiritual gift.  There has to be a strategy and plan whether formal or informal in carrying out this equipping.

Last Sunday night our students, in their small groups, filled out a spiritual gift assessment and then discussed their gift among their group.  We then pulled everyone back together to find out who has what gift.  As students raised their hands indicating their gift I could see in some of them that yes, in fact that is their gift.  This assessment not only helped the students but helped us as leaders see students gifts so we could help point them in the right direction in ministry.

In our church we have students who serve on our First Impressions Team, Nursery Team, Kids’ Zone Team (some are the leaders of a children’s class), Hospitality Team and our Kiosk Team.  These students serve each Sunday morning in our church.  My eldest man-child is 10 and he will often serve during our second worship gathering in the preschool class.   I’m not sure how much help he is but he is getting a taste of serving and what that’s all about (plus a taste of their awesome snacks).

In my next post I will give a couple of ideas about having an informal or formal way of equipping students to serve.


The spiritual gift assessment we used is Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts published by LeaderTreks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

8 Youth Ministry Impact Killers

The Lone Ranger - No way that one person can minister to an entire youth group, even a “small” youth group.  Jesus discipled a group of 12, I’m not Jesus so I would say that number is a bit high for me.  In our youth ministry we like the ratio of 6 students per 1 adult leader.  Spread out the ministry and your team will reach more and have an impact on more lives. 

No Vision -  Youth group is just a social gathering.  There is no reason, or master plan, for gathering the students together each week.  It is most important to remind them often of the purpose of your youth ministry and why you are on the face of this planet.  Why does your church’s youth ministry exist?  Be specific.  How do you carry out that vision?

No Ministry - The adults faithfully minister to the students.  Students can also end up doing all the ministry rather than teaching the students how to minister and giving them the opportunity to serve.  We need to teach students about how God has shaped them to serve each other, the church.  Give students opportunities to serve.

The Cold - Not the common cold or even cold weather, which I despise with all that’s in me.  But the cold feeling when a student who has either never been to youth group or is returning after a long extended absence.   Cliques are normal, in my opinion, we naturally are attracted to people and groups who are like us.  The old “birds of a feather” mentality.  We need to help our students to understand what it means to make a first impression and also to extend a warm welcome to the new kid or the returning prodigal.

The Driver’s License - Let’s be honest, the reason most youth groups have an abundance of middle school students is because middle school students don’t have many options.  There are so many places they can ride to on their skate board or bicycle.  That day of freedom when the keys that open the magical world of driving are handed off is also often the day that youth group takes a back seat in the new driver’s life.  There are so many more options out there once they can drive.  We need to help students, in those years leading up to the driver’s license, see the impact they can have by driving friends with them to youth group, use their car, or momma’s SUV, as a mission tool.

The Job - In our area this is a biggie because students get summer jobs at age 14.  We know that jobs aren’t evil.  We also know that jobs are important to a student if they want some spending cash and for the rare child who dreams of saving up money.  We need to help students learn that:
A.  You are going to work your entire life.  So don’t rush into it.
B.  McDonalds will more than likely not be your career.
C.  You can tell the manager doing the interview that you are heavily involved in your church’s youth ministry and it is important for you to now work on church days or when your youth group meets.  Student’s need to promise, and follow through, with working hard as they can when they are on the clock and faithful to be there when scheduled.

This pattern of working and missing corporate worship is something that will stick with kids into their adult years. I know that we, and I’m speaking as a parent, don’t want our children to view corporate worship as not important in life when they become adults.

The boy/girlfriend - Can I get an “Amen”?  Not much to be said here.  We see it happen time and again.  Priorities shift.  We need to help students learn how to have healthy relationships both with friends and with God.  Passion for Jesus Christ is the flame that needs to be fanned.  If a student is passionate about Jesus they are less likely (not a guarantee) to be pulled away from fellowship by a boy/girlfriend.  We must help them learn that Jesus is to be the center of their universe because he will always be there but the boy/girlfriend won’t.

The disengaged Christian parent - This is the Christian parent who doesn’t realize, or ignores, the fact that they are responsible and will be held accountable for how they disciple their child.  Part of discipleship is training your son or daughter in the importance of corporate worship.  We need to help parents discover that the youth ministry team is here to come along side of them as they disciple their teen.  There is significant evidence that students who connect with 5 adults in their church will be more likely to continue on in their faith walk after high school.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When it "clicks"

I love it when it "clicks".  There is no better feeling for a youth pastor than when the team of volunteers catch on and realize that they are the youth ministers.  It's fantastic!  The best!

Recently our middle school girl POD (small group) leaders got together and planned a non-sleepover pajama party for the middle school girls.  The leaders planned the whole thing.  All I had to do was give them a key to the building.  They showed a movie, made duct tape crafts, ate pizza, popcorn and other goodies.  The girls had a blast and enjoyed having an activity just for middle school girls, they even brought some guests. 

How does this happen?

Time.  It takes time for implementing vision of moving from "chaperones", leaders to ministers.  Time to share again and again, "Hey, you are the youth ministers."

Culture.  You have to build a culture that promotes and encourages the youth leaders to minister to the students.  We build into our weekly youth group gathering a time where the adult leaders can hang out with students and have conversations.

Openness.  Others have great ideas and can do awesome ministry.  It doesn't all have to come from you as the youth pastor.  Utilize the pool of brains and creativity you have on your team.

Trust.  Trust your team.   No one likes to be micro managed.  Trust your team and when someone has a good idea then turn them loose and let them get it done.  If it goes great then praise them and pat them on the back and thank them.  If it has some hiccups and glitches help them to learn from it so next time the event goes great.

Do you have any other suggestions to empower your youth ministry team to lead?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow Changing View

We had a great youth ministry team with about 8 caring adults and myself.  Each adult had a small group of students to minister to.

One night an incident happened and a young student (student A) needed some ministering to.  A group of adults, as well as that student’s small group leader, stepped in to comfort the student. 
I didn’t step in to comfort for two reasons: 
One I’m not a comforting individual.  Just look at me do I look like I bring comfort?  (see picture to right)
Two I was at the same time dealing with a student (student B) who was trying to figure out how to get home but actually a different place to go home because that student’s dad was drunk and apparently rather mean while intoxicated.

I was verbally attacked and raked over the coals for not bringing comfort to student A by student A’s parents.  They were upset at the situation that went down as I would have been as a dad if it were my kid.  The view was “Andy’s the youth minister.”  All the comfort given by the other youth ministers and adults in the church wasn’t viewed as student A being ministered to. 

When you begin to build a youth ministry team, a group of adults who will minister to the students, it may take time for the church to come around to the view that you are just one of the youth ministers.  Why?  Because my best guess is that many Americans, if not most, who grew up in church were taught that the minister was the guy standing up front preaching each Sunday, everyone else were just members.

The view for some (many) may be slow to change.  After years of taking a team approach to youth ministry here is what I see happening in our church:

  • Students view the adult leader that leads their group as their youth minister.  They go to their leaders for prayer, questions, advice.  It doesn’t all have to go through me.

  • Parents are starting to view the adult volunteers as their kids’ youth ministers.  Even talking with them and sharing together about their child.  The more a leader invests into the life of a student the more a parent will lean on them in teaming up to disciple their kid.

  • Volunteer leaders are stepping up to the plate and raising the standard in ministry.  The result is longevity on the team (every wise youth pastor wants their team members to stick around a long time).  Volunteers are also finding fulfillment and joy living out their spiritual shape and ministering to students.

  • I’m not trying to shepherd X amount of students.  My goal is to shepherd the team of adults and to help steer the ship.  I’m finding joy in watching students go to their leaders for prayer, advice, questions, etc.  Better and safer to have many shepherds than just one.

So if you are building a team just keep plugging away.  It may take time but eventually, if done right the view will change and it will go from “you are the youth minister” to “they are the youth ministers”.

By the way, our youth ministry team is made up entirely of volunteers and they rock!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ever Have Students Struggle with Doubt?

I'm always on the prowl for articles to help me and our volunteers to better minister to students.
Here's another good one from LeaderTreks.

“Just have faith.” I cringe when I reflect on the number of times I’ve answered students’ questions of doubt with that seemingly harmless phrase. When broken down, I recognize the ignorance, pride, and ultimately, fear, behind those words—“Just” as if it were a simple solution, and “have faith” as if doubt and faith cannot survive within the same person. I have since realized that faith cannot exist without doubt. It would be meaningless.
READ MORE . . . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Great Blog Post

If you're in youth ministry, or in church world in general, you've read about or heard about the numerous statistics pointing to what some call the "drop out problem." I don't want to get into the numbers. (Lately I am of the opinion that we can get too distracted by them.) But I do want to address something I've observed over the last few years.
 READ MORE . . . . 

The fine folks at YM360 put out some great material and resources. 
Check them out!