Happy New Year!
Here it is…the 2nd day of January 2013. You made it!
The beginning of a new year is always a great time to evaluate your personal life and your ministry. It’s a time to celebrate the things from the past year that brought you joy, as well as take note of the things that brought failure or frustration. But mostly it’s a time to start fresh! So as you kick off 2013, here are a few ideas.
Look for a fresh start…
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…in your ministry
This is a New Year! The old is gone and the new has come. Thank goodness! As you reflect back on the year that’s just passed, take some time to debrief what you loved, what you hated and what you swear you’ll never do again. Start a “black list” of mistakes you made or things you’ll avoid between now and the return of Jesus.
…in your own walk with Christ
As leaders who are constantly surrounded by church, God, Bible and religious stuff, we can easily get into ruts that keep our relationships with others shallow and slow our spiritual journey to a crawl. Change it up! Order a new devotional book, start a new reading plan in YouVersion, try a new location for your study. Either way, get a fresh start with God, too!
This week we’re focusing on student leaders. If you are creating a student leadership program in your group, here’s a quick punch list with some basic ideas of what to avoid and what to include instead.
DON’T only ask the shiny students to join.
Too often the leadership of a youth group is made up of the “chosen ones”—the shiny kids who show up at everything or squeak the loudest. Instead, consider that one kid who is so close, yet so far away. What about the student who is totally on the outside, looking in? Instead of just obvious leaders, think outside the expected and see what happens.
DON’T let your meetings pull them out another night of the week.
Often times, being part of the student leadership program requires an extra night out every week. The result is that many students miss out on it because they can’t give up another night.
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Instead, consider meeting on an occasional basis unattached to core programs (like youth group) so your students can be focused. We prefer once a month for a few hours, which gives us plenty of time with them but without an ongoing weekly commitment.
DON’T be afraid to give them big stuff.
Student leaders need to be challenged. The quickest way to disillusion these key teenagers is to be unprepared for your time together or waste their time with piddly projects. Instead, give them the teaching calendar. Let them plan services. Challenge them to come up with next quarter’s youth group calendar. Let them run wild.
Josh and Kurt wrote a great article the other day about being available for students—especially in times of emergency or crisis—and their points were right on. As I write this, one of my high school students is sitting on the couch across from me because a few hours ago he texted me and asked if I could find him a safe place to stay after a serious altercation with a parent tonight.
I am so thankful that I was awake, that I had my phone on, and that my wife understands that sometimes being a youth pastor means driving at 1AM to pick up a student in crisis.
These moments where we have the opportunity to be there in crisis are huge for three reasons.
It shows they are important: Crisis moments for students are disorienting, scary, and oftentimes lonely. When you or one of your leaders is able to drop what you are doing and show up, the message is loud and clear to the student: You matter.
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It shows them Jesus: In the midst of a busy ministry where you’re being pulled in all kinds of directions, it’s reasonable that many students and leaders are looking for your time. When a student is in crisis, there is an opportunity to have a Matthew 9 moment. Jesus is walking through the crowd and stops when he feels someone touch his robe. In the midst of a bustling crowd, he stops and focuses on the needs of the one. The same opportunity is there for us, to stop in the midst of everything to focus on the one student in need and show Christ’s love.