Fun little video from HSM Summer Camp leader training about the power of a leader’s attitude.
Fun little video from HSM Summer Camp leader training about the power of a leader’s attitude.
Was talking with AC from our team about summer camp training the week after next, and he showed me some cool stuff he’s been working on to give our cabin counselors and volunteers. Here’s some of what we’ll be training our volunteers on soon, maybe it will be useful to your leaders, too! Most of it is original stuff, except for the crisis part at the end which he adapted from something online.
Cabin Time — Be Intentional
We want the students to feel a sense of community within this group. Going to a camp with so many students can feel super intimidating. So making your group a camp within summer camp creates a great feeling of community and togetherness amongst the students in your group. The more time your group can send time doing things together the better.
Here are some ways to create community within your small group:
- Eating meals together
- Doing a few, fun free time activities as a group
- Doing one or two breakout sessions together, and debriefing at lunch or dinner about it.
Debrief –Be Intentional
Debriefs are a must. Each night your group will be asked to go and talk about the message after each general session. You will also be given a handout that will help you guide debrief. To enrich debrief even more take notes so you can really dig into what the message was about and how they can apply it to their lives.
Your group will be made up of different students at different stages in their faith and some with no faith. The message needs to be unpacked and discussed. This is a time where the message can get super practical and unpacked for each student. This is a time where they will share their thoughts about the message and how they feel it actually applies to them. So this time is very important time for your students in the overall camp experience.
Feel free to create rules for your cabin time. Especially rules during discussion time. Making sure your students are being respectful to one another is huge in creating a safe environment. Students need to be able to share what’s on their hearts without fear of judgment.
Student in Crisis – Be Intentional
There is a chance out of all the students that are going to camp that there will be some students going through a crisis. So here is some info for you in the event you are approached from a student in crisis. A crisis for them could be anything from a bad break up to thoughts of suicide.
You may be the first or last person to whom the student will tell their problems too. Accept the opportunity to be there for that student as a privilege and honor. Give your full attention to the conversation, say a quick prayer for guidance, and refer when necessary to Phil. Accept the opportunity to be there for that student as a privilege and honor. Ministering to that student during a time of crisis will make a life changing difference.
- Listen- Listen to students’ pain, hurt, confusion, words, and non-verbal expressions of loss or agony. When we listen, we are more able to learn about what is really going on.
- Talk-When a student shares a problem with you or sits (or stands) in front of you, they are probably waiting for a response. Avoid clich
Before I was a Youth Pastor, I was a volunteer in the same ministry I work in now for a decade, loving and serving High School students week in and week out and pouring myself into them and trying to point them to Christ. It was a passion, to see them grow in their Faith and grow as people, learning to be in the world and live a life for Christ. It took time and effort to be a part of, but it was life giving, and having the opportunity to see God moving in my small group was a privilege.
The Bar has always been set pretty high in our ministry when it comes to expectations of our team but I am sensing that it is time to consider how to raise the bar again to a level that I think is unapologetically high, but attainable, and it all starts at the top.
Don’t ask for more than you would give: In the first 7 years of being a volunteer at our Church I missed Youth 3 times, which I recognize is extreme. But the reality is that if I am going to ask my team to prioritize their week around investing their time at our program week after week, its important that I am able to model the high standard that I ask of them.
Volunteer like they do: Youth time is not work time. I ask our volunteers to give up 6 hours of their week including our weekly program and connecting with their students mid-week. If I am going to ask them to give up their free time to serve our students, I am willing to do the same and don’t count our youth night as paid time but as volunteer and shows that you value their time as you do your own.
Students deserve the best: Warm bodies are filler at best, but as the spiritual leaders of our flock, they deserve the best volunteers you can find to lead small groups, worship and any other event. They need Christ focused adults who model a healthy spiritual life and spur them on to do the same and our time with these students is too short to settle for less than the best. Allowing people to serve half heartedly can’t not only be discouraging to other leaders, but detrimental to their students when your committed leaders are constantly filling in the gaps each week. Recruit and train the best leaders you can find.
Make Time For Leaders: If we ask our team to connect with their students during the week, then I need to make time to connect with our leaders. Whether it’s a coffee or a McDonalds breakfast, face-to-face connection, encouragement and discussion goes a long way to keeping your team engaged.
God honours commitment: I truly believe that God honours commitment, and that we can and should ask our volunteers to be 100% in, that their Yes be their Yes. There is nothing more disappointing than a small group leader fizzling out half way through the year, but outlining and modeling the expectations will go a long way to building a culture of longevity in ministry. Longevity encourages longevity and some of the most fruitful youth ministries I have seen have been lead by Pastors invested long-term in the lives of students.
Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.
The schedule of summer for me means way more relational time with students – and it also means I finally get through the stack of books that I’ve been meaning to get to all year. Here’s the 5 books I’m hoping to tackle the next couple of months.
Onward – this book was given to me by Kurt Johnston and I’m starting it first. Excited to read about Starbucks recovery several years ago. Fascinated with them already, excited to get an inside look at how they work/think.
The Indispensable Youth Pastor – Aside from Onward, this is the book I’m most excited about on the list. Looks like Mark Devries has put together another winner.
Launching Missional Communities – This resource was sent to me by the authors late this past fall, and I like it because it sounds so outside of my normal thinking.
Teenology – This is one of Jim Burns latest books on raising teenagers. He just spoke recently at our church, and it reminded me to make sure to read this since I work with kids, and it won’t be too long before we have a teen of our own around the house. Wild!
The Volunteer’s Field Guide to Youth Ministry – I’m looking at this as a potential resource for our incoming volunteers this fall. Not sure if it’ll be something we use, but want to check it out this summer.
What’s on your summer reading list?
Our ministry at USAFA Club Beyond relies heavily on its volunteers and so there is a deep need to help set them up for success. Here are three things we do to ensure we achieve it.
Empower them. Training is one of the fundamental parts of a great team. Whether you have a group of veteran volunteers or first-timers to youth ministry, everyone can benefit from training. A single yearly training is not enough nor are one hour monthly events. The single, longer session is perfect for vision casting, youth ministry 101, and the overall mission of the youth group. At the same time, monthly meetings are perfect for Q&A from struggling volunteers, tweaking skills, and going over future curriculum. We incorporate both and find that they appreciate all of it.
Equip them. This includes a thorough and purposeful curriculum, a four or six month calendar of events, and all of the necessary equipment. Their job is not to come up with the questions or the lesson (though several of them are great at it and I ask for insight when writing up the curriculum). On their best nights, they stick to the core of the curriculum but follow the discussion of what the students bring up, asking different questions and using other illustrations than what is printed. But when life gets hard, they have a terrible day at work before youth group, or get into an argument with a family member, now they are not coming to club at 100%. This is when preparation key to providing success.
Encourage them. Sure our title is youth worker but at least 30% of our time is invested in adults like our volunteers and so we must make a point to focus on them too. Many of them are hurting just as much as our students but they have figured out how to cope. We need to minister to them in their successes, failures, mistakes, and accomplishments. So if a student is giving them a hard time or they are going through a crisis, buy them a Starbucks and give them an hour or two of your time to be a sounding board or help bear their burdens.
Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.
Yesterday I posted part 1 of our volunteer process in our high school ministry – here’s the second half of the process from start to finish. Let me know if there’s anything that needs clarifying in the comments!
Leader training is a critical and ongoing step in the process, our very best leaders attend small group leader training each year, even as veterans. We regularly give away little books or resources, encourage them with a video or note and even make sure they have ongoing training in their hands every few months.
When there is a crisis in the life of one of our leaders, we are there. Flowers for a death in the family, a visit if they’re in the hospital, prayer over a family crisis – I am a pastor to pastors – and these amazing volunteers are our front line ministers so I need to give them focus, love and care.
Be a cheerleader.
Occasionally you may have to remove a leader. Every year so far we’ve had to deal with the messiness of ministry specifically with volunteers. It may be a personal issue, a doctrinal issue or something to do with lifestyle. Either way, I have to take care of it as it is part of our process. My least favorite one on this list but a necessary evil.
We have some superstar leaders, and when they’re run is over we celebrate. Maybe it is as simple as a note or movie tickets, other times it is dinner at a nice restaurant. Take time to love them our the door if they finish well.
I get asked this question all of the time: I want to work with students – what is the right path to go into youth ministry? The answer is not quite as simple as it may seem. Here’s what I think:
There are many roads to youth ministry.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a whole bunch of amazing youth workers – and they come from an incredibly varied background. I know great youth workers that learned youth ministry in the trenches, I know great youth workers who learned a ton in seminary. I know some that have little to no education at all, and some with far more education than is even practically necessary.
Aundrea was a stay-at-home mom. Jacob was a farmer. Phil was a nurse. Nathan was a police officer. Jessica was planing on being an elementary school teacher. Tommy drove a Pepsi delivery truck. Aaron worked in a warehouse. Jeremiah was a magazine editor. Johnny went to seminary, and Chris isn’t even done with school yet. I went to Bible college myself … but graduated with a business degree.
There are many roads to youth ministry.
So which is the right path? Great question, and one I hope that God answers clearly and individually for you. Will you be more hirable if you have a degree? For sure. Is not liking school enough reason to skip it? Probably not. Can you get an education yourself by going to conferences or books? I think it would be helpful for sure.
So with this concept in mind, here are a few thoughts for you as you consider what your next step might look like:
Whatever road you take, blessings on your journey into youth ministry!
Couldn’t make it to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2011? Here’s the dates and location of SYMC 2012! Hope to see you there!