Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1This week we are still talking about small groups.This week we bring in one of our veteran volunteers to talk about training, leadership, and care for our small group leaders. We had a lot of fun. Check it out!!

 

Hope it Helps,

Kurt & AC

customer-misconceptions2One thing that I get to do in pastoral care is meet with parents. It is super great when the conversations are awesome, but it’s the worst when tough conversations have to happen.

So I thought I would list a few mistakes I’ve made concerning dealing with parents and my learnings.

  1. Assuming They Know. - I had to learn that parents are learning and growing in parenting, just as much as I’m growing as a youth pastor. They don’t have all the answers, and I can’t just assume they do. I also can’t assume they understand what we are here for and I definitely can’t hold them accountable for something I’m assuming they should know. Example: You can’t just assume a parent understands the importance of presence vs. presents in a child’s life. I had to learn “STOP ASSUMING”.
  2. I Can Help Without Them. - With any pastoral care issue you increase the chances of healing and restoration when the parents are involved. They are still the number one influence in a students life. Now, I totally understand cases where parents may not be there to help, but the idea that I can help apart from them, will in the long run not hold true. You will burnout and eventually leave the student to fighting on their own. Because after they leave the ministry you must move on to the next set of students that are coming in with their own problems. I had to learn to INVITE THE PARENTS INTO THE PROCESS.
  3. I’m Only Ministering To Students. - When you minister to the students you are ministering to the parents. Maybe the message is different, but you are ministering to them as well. A lot of parents stress out and anxiety comes from worrying about their children. Some worry about their kids socially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I know as a parent I’m always thinking “Well, what do my children think about this or that?” When my children come home from small groups or church and they are telling me what they’ve learned or it comes up out of the blue, it ministers to me. I feel super blessed by our kids ministry. We’ve even had parents start coming to church who had given up on it, because their child started coming. We’ve had parents give their lives to Christ because their child started coming to church. I had to learn “THE MORE INTENTIONAL I AM ABOUT MINISTERING TO STUDENTS, THE MORE I MINISTER TO THEIR PARENTS.”
  4. Parents Can Participate If They Choose To. It’s our job to communicate to parents the important role they play in their child’s spiritual development. They need to know Deuteronomy 6 was written to them and not the youth leader. Now, I know some may say well my parents weren’t involved and look how I’m in ministry. And I would say praise be to God for intervening, because that is not the norm. Parents are essential because they are the number one influencer. God created parents with the ability and authority to mold and direct. Do yourself a favor and encourage their participation in the spiritual growth of their child. For some parents you will be confirming some things they are already doing. Others you will be introducing them to something new. Think about how to do this in the context of your ministry. I’ve had to learn “I NEED TO ENCOURAGE PARENTS IN THIS AREA, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THEM THE CHOICE.”

I could go on and on, but I thought I’d share my top four. The key to keeping parents in mind is to remember that you are support and not primary. What’s been a mistake you’ve made dealing with parents?

Hope this helps,

AC

Need to find a way to communicate more effective with parents of teens in your youth ministry? Try PARENT CONNECT, an editable monthly newsletter for parents. 

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valueBeing in youth ministry I’ve had the privilege of learning a lot. And I can honestly say out of all the things I’ve learned there are some learnings that I feel like I will never stop growing in. Now, when I started this list I easily thought this could be a 10,000 word post, but no one would read a post that long. So here are a few of the things I’ve learned that I believe are valuable. I believe allowing God to grow me in these areas has made me a better youth worker. So are are 6 of 100 learnings I’ve had. haha

  1. Be Flexible. Majority of our day to day tasks in youth ministry are very random. It isn’t uncommon for my day to go from a brainstorm meeting, to a counseling session and then a hospital visit. Flexibility is one of the main ingredients to longevity in youth ministry, and it actually relieves the stress of ministry. Those who are a step by step, can’t miss a beat type of person, usually don’t last long in youth ministry. So be flexible.
  2. Go The Extra Mile. Make things the best that they can be. Consider the task you are assigned as the bottom floor. When given a task or project look for ways save time and money. Sometimes that means making sure you don’t have to make another trip somewhere or completing the whole task instead of just the part you where assigned.
  3. Attitude Is Everything. It is super easy to get caught up in the craziness of ministry especially when you are seeing the less attractive side of ministry for the first time. It’s important that you keep an attitude of thankfulness. This will require you to look past the craziness of seeing the not so attractive side of ministry, and focus on the life change that’s taking place. Also, now that you are on the other side you need to be aware of an attitude of pride and arrogance. It’s impossible to know and learn everything there is to know about the ministry during your time there. Keep a learners attitude of humility.
  4. It’s Not About You, It’s About The Students. This has everything to do with leading from a place of comfort. Serving students from a place of comfort ensures the inclusion of a few and exclusion of many. This is because you will most likely pour into, hang with, and allow to lead the students who you connect with best. The ministry will be all about you, and most likely you will end up with a ministry where everyone looks out for themselves, if it’s modeled in the leadership.
  5. You Are A Leader First. Remember you are a leader first and the authority you have to speak into their lives, is only as strong as your leadership. Your friendship with students is important, but your roll as a leader is more important.
  6. Time With Jesus Is Imperative. Just because you work in ministry doesn’t mean you are automatically being ministered to. You need to be just as active in the local church as the members. You should be serving in some capacity, attending bible study or small group, etc. It is critical that you are spiritually filled. Your time with Jesus will be something you will have to protect.

It is so important that you continue to stay open to a life time of learning and growing in ministry. I think ministering in a way that pleases God takes a complete entire life span. So keep learning and growing.

 

Hopes it helps,

AC  

Conversation_mattersIf you didn’t get to read the first part click here. I just got back from summer camp and I’ve been hearing all week about all of the amazing conversations that happened. So in this post I really wanted to go practical, and give you a few ideas to noodle on. Now, all of these are a work in progress, but the main objective is to get students conversing intentionally. So here are a few ideas I’ve been working on:

  • One-on-one – One of our values in student leadership is that every student is known. Every meeting we take the first 25 minutes and students pair up with another student they don’t know so well. I give them some questions to ask each other and some things to pray about for each other. At first I thought 25 minutes was to long but come to find out, 25 minutes isn’t long enough. I literally have to interrupt their time together. Every meeting they rotate. Goal: Model community for the rest of our youth group.
  • 10 x 10 - Once a month during our large group time we break off into groups of ten for ten minutes. We separate students by grade. We play a fun game that has to do with names and we all share an interesting fact about ourself. At the end if someone remembers everyones name in our group, they win a gift card. Goal: Everyone in the group will know someone by name, and everyone in the group will be known by someone.
  • Meet and Greet – This is an idea for some of your core students. You create a list of core students/student leaders who wouldn’t mind hanging with a first timer or a student who just hasn’t been able to get connected. This is an intentional way to get students conversing and connecting. Remember, we connect through conversations or some form where we have to interact with each other. Goal: Help students feel like they belong and are known.
  • To Know or Not Know – This is a great small group ice breaker. Pair up students with a list of things to know about each other. Give them time to go over and answer the questions. Bring the group back together and then drill one about the other. The winner is obviously the one who remembers the most. Have the two contestants write down their answers and reveal them at the same time. Goal: Just a fun way to get students to know each other.
  • Act it Out or Hum it - It’s like the game celebrity. Gather up the groups favorite celebrities, movies, and songs from the group. Write them down on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar or hat. Create two teams that will go head to head. The deal is you either have to act it out or hum it.  Five points for every correct answer. Each turn you have to choose to wither act it out or hum it before you pick from the hat. 5 points for each correct guess. After each round each student has to say why the choose that celebrity, song or movie. Goal: Help students find some commonality with each other.

I’ve learned that none of these things work without the intentionality of your leaders. Students feed directly off of the excitement and involvement of those leading. So your leaders must catch the vision that conversations matter. The truth of the matter is conversations are born around discussing the normal stuff of life. Relationships are born when commonality is found between two people. Remember these are just ideas made to be picked apart and added to and subtracted from. The goal is to be more intentional about the conversations that are being had at youth group and small group because it matters.

I would love to hear any ideas you may have.

Hope it helps,

AC



Conversation_mattersMaking connections through conversations is something that I’ve been really thinking about. Every meaningful connection that I’ve made in my life started with a conversation. I think in the past I’ve put more emphasis on connecting, and not enough emphasis on how important it is that we have conversations. The connections I’ve made and the conversations I’ve had are the two things that have shaped my life more than anything else. I can remember getting my first job at Burger King and getting connected to my boss who become a mentor in my life. It started with an interview where we conversed for 2hrs. Another important connection made at Burger King was to my wife, and it started with a conversation at the milkshake machine. I can go on and on and I’m sure if you thought about it, you could do the same.

As I think about this topic I think about the amount of time and resources we put into trying to get students connected. We want to put on the right event, get them in the right small group, give them free stuff or say all the right things just to get them connected. We put on huge outreach events that are great and fun, but maybe only a few students sticks around if any.

Every weekend after service I hang out with students. The funny thing is all they want to do is just hangout. They will even purchase their own food #ptl (praise the Lord) and sometimes pay for mine :) . The intentional conversations that I’ve been able to have with them has connected us more and more. It has helped me truly care about them not just as a student under my spiritual care, but as a person. I believe it’s only at that level that are we able to make the biggest impact. This also got me thinking “what if students got to intentionally experience this connection with each other?” It would change our entire ministry.

Students are attracted to fun and that’s a fact! But that fact doesn’t automatically mean connection. I’m convinced that in order to create a culture of connecting students to leaders and other students, we must create a culture where conversations are just as important as the event, which takes intentionality on our part of the ministry.

We need to start thinking about how do we become more intentional about the conversations that are going on. Most students aren’t thinking “I need to seek people out and have meaningful conversations”, even though they truly want to be connected and have those types of conversations. A lot of times our programs and events leave the meaningful connections up to chance.

Now, in spite of our unintentional efforts, the Holy Spirit comes through and students lives are changed and meaningful connections are made. I believe our efforts will always be flawed and never one hundred percent, and we need to lean on the Holy Spirit in whatever we do. Especially, when it comes to ministry, having conversations and making connections. With that being said, my prayer to God is, “help me be more intentional in facilitating possible life changing conversations”!

In order for us move forward, we must first know where we are.  So here are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are my current programs and/or events fostering conversations?
  2. If they are, how intentional are we about the those conversations?

In my next post I will go super practical in terms of what this looks like in my ministry. I truly believe that students and the ministry grows the same way, and that’s through simple God ordained conversations. I’m still thinking this through and processing it all. So if you are reading this, you have just joined me on a journey that the Holy Spirit has been leading me on.

 

Hope it helps,

ac

 

What have you learned makes a serving experience or camp a great one?

Doug Franklin over at Leadertreks has some great thoughts on how most of this is up to the posture of adult leaders. Here are ten of his observations:

  • Mission_TeamGoing is not enough: “…we don’t just want them to go, we want them to grow.”
  • Be a trip mentor: “A trip is a great place to develop a long-term, life-changing relationship with a student.”
  • Have a purpose for the trip: “What do you want your students to look like when they return?”
  • Inspire spiritual growth: “Students will feel a need for God while on the trip, and this is a great opportunity for you to introduce them to spiritual disciplines”
  • Find teachable moments: “…mix a student’s experience with the truth of God’s Word.”
  • Challenge students: “… [it[ starts with challenging the top performing students."
  • Get sleep: “Trips become increasingly ineffective as team members become tired.”
  • Add value to your adult volunteers: “… the number one problem I see over and over again is adult volunteers who have no idea what they are doing on the trip. They come because youth trips need adults, but beyond that they are not sure why they are there.”
  • Remember Boundaries = Love: “Don’t give students what they want; give them what they need.”
  • Stay connected to God: “You can’t impart what you do not have.”

(Read the rest of Doug’s solid article here.)

I think Doug is spot on. Just last month we had a major difference in a serving camp experience because of the investment we made into our adults, which in turn helped them better invest into students.

Which of his points most stands out to you?

Is there anything you would add or subtract?



Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1

 

 

Show’s Topic: The Gospel!!!!!

Hope it helps,

AC

Led-Zeppelin-fourAs I continue to love on students and family through pastoral care, there are some things that I’ve had to become knowledgeable about. Because students and their families are dealing with these issues and in order for me to really care for them, I need to educate myself. So I thought I’d share few of the issues with you. I am by no means an expert in any of the issues I list. My goal has been to know enough to understand what it is I’m dealing with so that I can respond better.

  1. Mental Illness - There is such a huge stigma when it comes to mental illness, because we automatically associate mental illness with a lack of smarts. Therefore, people are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Well, I had to educate myself on the topic, so I could view and pray for my students struggling with mental illness in the right light. Sometimes I think we can tack on things and misdiagnose students based on what we think we know about the student and what’s really going on. I always push parents to seeing a professional, but that doesn’t negate my responsibility to walk with the student and family through the process. The crazy part is that out of all the kids that are struggling, only 20 percent are being diagnosed and treated. It makes me want to know more, because I most likely have students and families who are dealing with it on their own.(NAMI)
  2. Self-Harm – The Huffington Post came out with an article not to long ago that said Self-Harm was becoming main-stream thanks to the internet. I’ve definitely had more conversations concerning this topic then I would like to in my own ministry. I had to become knowledgeable about it so that I could minister and care for our students who are struggling in this area. Because even though I send them to see a professional, they still need support as they go through this journey of healing. Again, I need to know what I’m dealing with because I want to be able to care and pray for my students very specifically. I created this for my leaders(click here).
  3. Suicide – It’s the second leading cause of death for ages (10-24). And the third leading cause of death for college-age and youth (12-18). There are 5,400 attempts a day by students in grades 7-12. What’s interesting is that 4 out 5 teens who attempt suicide give warning signs. Which makes me want to know what to look for, and have some guidelines on how to respond.(TJF)
  4. Abuse – In youth group a lot of things come out concerning students. I want my leaders to know what to do in case abuse is found out. Even more than that, I want them to know the signs to look for in students who they think may be being abused. There are mandated reports so it’s crucial they understand they are bound by law to report abuse.

I think sometimes we shy away from these types of issues, because it’s like opening pandora’s box. But in Matthew 9:12 … Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Studying Jesus’ ministry here on earth leads me to believe that He was all about blowing the door off of Pandora’s box. He spent more time with those who struggled than any other people group during his time on earth. I had to open my eyes to the fact that the majority of my students are probably struggling with something. And I can’t be so occupied with doing ministry that I neglect those who are in need of being ministered to. I have to care about these students just as much as God does. They need community and people praying for them just like everyone else and maybe even more. Just a thought! What are some other things we need to educate ourselves on so we can minister to our students and their families better?

 

Hope it helps,

AC