Yesterday we ran down 10 quick hits on increasing relational ministry in your youth group; today we’re back with 10 more and hoping you contribute another couple in the comments, too! Here we go:
11. Set up shop at a fast-food place right next to the school that has open lunch. Send a group text saying you’re buying tacos for the first 5 who show up.
12. Get a copy of the school paper; shoot an email to the principle with encouragement.
13. Buy every ad space possible—football programs, gym banners, etc. Banners don’t make a ministry more relational but they let people know you are available when the time arises.
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14. Show up at funerals for any teenager in the community. Your face is a symbol of the care of Christ. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, your presence makes a statement.
15. Organize a “drop by” coffee shop afternoon where students or leaders can drop in for a free drink on you and a chat.
16. Have your room set and program done 15 minutes before the service starts so you can greet everyone as they come in.
Yesterday we looked at how your student ministry can really serve your graduated seniors by helping them find a church, equipping them, and checking in on their faith and life periodically. Today we’re back with 3 more ways that youth groups minister to students in the “5th year.”
Send a care package.
There’s something magical about notes and cards from home. Combine that with some of Sandra’s famous brownies and it’s like heaven on earth. Think of a creative package you can mail to your students—what if you created an assembly line at youth group next week and made up some really special gifts to send their way? It would be a great way for students to get in on extending their community beyond 12th grade, and also give them something to look forward to when they’re done with high school, too!
Send your Grads off with the Graduation Gift Set 2!
Invite them back.
This past weekend it was so fun to have some of our students back for their college spring break. A better youth worker would have planned a reception for former students to come back to, or even had a little reunion planned for them. How cool would it be to create a culture where students are celebrated when they return and look forward to reconnecting with the leaders who loved them beyond youth group? I want that kind of ministry!
Binoculars are a funny thing to me. Our family only ever owned one pair. I can think of reasons someone would want some: bird watching, hunting, making sure your students survived the downhill slip-and-slide. I think I’ve used our pair one time. I’m pretty sure it was at a football game. A mirror though, I use every day. We have tons of them in our house. Most are decorative, a few are purely functional. I watch myself brush my teeth a lot. I also see how many spots I can miss while shaving. In normal life, I use a mirror WAY more than binoculars. When studying the Bible, unfortunately, I find myself using binoculars much more than a mirror. Many of us study the Bible looking through a pair of binoculars. What I mean is, most of us study the Bible in order to teach someone else the truth we’re learning. This is fine, but most of the time we miss studying the Bible through a mirror. Usually we’re so busy studying the Bible for other people that we rarely look at it for ourselves. This is a trap too many youth ministers fall into. Myself included. The next time you’re studying the Bible in order to teach a lesson, try to see how you can apply the truth to your own life first. Not only will your own life be changed as a result of studying the Bible, the truth you try to teach others will mean that much more to you. When students see that the Bible has changed your life they will be more inclined to change their life based on the truth you teach. Next time you’re preparing a lesson ask yourself these questions: How does this change my life? Have I taken the advice I’m about to give my teenagers? Has this passage spoken to me personally? What would have to change in my life after studying this lesson?
I am a closet youth ministry academic. In my 20+ years of youth ministry I continually strive to grow, learn, and mature. One of the benefits of reading, studying, and growing is that you can pass down what you’re learning to the volunteers in the ministry so that many can benefit from it. I’ve been studying and reading a LOT about volunteers. There is a ton of great writings/trainings/articles/books on the subject. A lot has been said about what a volunteer needs to be successful. The writings have been from the staff or ministry point of view. I haven’t seen much (if any at all) writing from the volunteer’s perspective about what they want/need/seek to help them be successful.
So I think some healthy conversations with our volunteers would be very helpful. I’ve entered into these conversations with the volunteers within our youth ministry. The following questions have been the most helpful, maybe they could be helpful conversation starters for you as well…
The first two questions seek their perspective on the ministry (and not just their performance).
Question #1. From your perspective, what are we really good at in our ministry?
Question #2. From your perspective, what could we improve on in our ministry?
The following two questions seek their perspective on what would help them be more sucessful in their role
Question #3. From your perspective, are we using volunteers within our youth ministry in such a way as to be completely faithful to God’s calling? If not, what would you add, change, or delete?
Question #4. Can you think of anything, anything at all, that could help you be more successful in your role within the youth ministry?
Question #5. What can I personally do, not do, or provide for you that would help you in your calling within our youth ministry?
The conversations I’ve been having have led to minor changes in the way we do things, in the way the volunteers are trained and encouraged, and in the way we minister to the youth. It’s important for you, the paid professional, to be teachable and open to all types of praises and criticisms.
It’s important that we provide vision, strategy, and leadership. But it’s also important that we include the volunteer’s perspective in all aspects of ministry.
Director of Youth and Young Adults