Archive by Author

Back to School: Meet the Parents

So the teenagers are heading back to school.  Maybe your office will finally get cleaned now.  After making your trip to Goodwill with all the unclaimed junk left over from camp, consider spending the first few weeks of school making contact with moms and dads.

Youth Ministry Back to School

School starts and we’re nursing kick-off weeks and asking kids about their first few days of classes – But just as their routines are all new, so are Mom’s and Dad’s.  So seize that opportunity:

  1. Write a note to every parent.  “Hey Mr. Jackson:  Praying for Michael as he heads back to school this week.  Praying for you, too.  Let me know if I can pray for something specific!”  ~darren Continue Reading…

Meet The Bloggers: Darren Sutton

This week we are taking some time out to meet the bloggers at youthworktalk.com – Many of you read this blog regularly, so we thought we would give you Darren Suttonalittle inside scoop to our lives. If you are new to reading this blog, take some time to read some our previous posts to get an idea of what we talk about here.

Name: DARREN SUTTON

How long have you been in youth ministry?  25 YEARS

Favorite Food: ICE CREAM…WITH PIZZA AS A CLOSE SECOND!

Favorite TV Show: AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS….YES….STILL.

Favorite Movie: ANYTHING STAR TREK / INDEPENDENCE DAY / FERRIS BUELER’S DAY OFF

Morning Person or Night Owl?    NEITHER – I GOT ABOUT A GOOD 20 MINUTES IN ME AROUND 10 am, OTHER THAN THAT – I’M USELESS

Youth Ministry Strengths:  LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, PARENT PARTNERSHIPS, CREATIVITY

Youth Ministry Weaknesses:   LOCK-INS, DRAMA, SUNDAY MORNING DOUGHNUTS…SERIOUSLY, TRYING TO BALANCE BEING A GOOD DAD & HUSBAND BEFORE I’M A GOOD YOUTH PASTOR

Best book recently read?   HMMMM – I OBVIOUSLY NEED TO BE MORE WELL-READ.  I’VE READ SOME GOOD BOOKS RECENTLY (WIRED FOR INTIMACY, SUGAR BUSTERS, AND A FEW OTHERS), BUT I WOULDN’T CATEGORIZE ANY OF THEM AS ‘BEST’.  HOW ABOUT 50 TOUGH QUESTIONS TEENAGERS ASK, NO TEENAGER LEFT BEHIND, AND EVERYONE’S CALLED TO YOUTH MINISTRY – THOSE REALLY ARE SOME OF THE BEST BOOKS I’VE READ RECENTLY…DESPITE THE BLATANT BLOG AUTHOR PROMOTION!

Darren

Are you Communicating the Wrong Message About Worship in your Youth Ministry?

Worship is More Than Music…

We all want to create a space where our students can meaningfully connect with God.  It’s why we expend so much energy on things like transforming summer trips, engaging Bible studies, and relational retreats.  It’s also why sometimes we send an unintended message to our students…

Serving Worship

Sometimes, in an effort to be more relevant and connectional with teenagers, we’ll create a student worship service.  We utilize examples and media in our messages that are more ‘student-friendly’; we engage students in a way that sometimes doesn’t happen in our regular worship services; of course we have an amazing student band doing to most current worship tunes from everyone’s favorite contemporary worship leaders, while subtly including music from other genres that they might even have playing on their iPods.

We do all that for an exceptional reason.  We want to soften the soil so the transforming message of Christ finds fertile ground in the hearts and minds of students.

Our unintended message is this:  Worship in the student ministry is better because we use better songs and YouTube videos.  We accidentally boil worship down to its simplest form – we get a sin immunization by singing music we like one hour a week.

Worship is more than a preferred music style.  It’s more than a relevant message.  And it’s way more than an hour in any given week.  Worship is life.  It’s an existence dedicated to maintaining and relaying to others a connection with God.

That connection comes through more than the media thrust upon us by well-intentioned organizers of what should be an experience designed to celebrate all that God has done through our week of life-worship in the previous 167 hours.

According to Romans, our lives are the worship service.  Conveying anything less than that to our students, intentionally or by accident, sells short the call of Christ and the command to live our lives as an act of worship…regardless of what the student band is playing on Wednesday night.

How are you communicating a lifestyle of worship to your students?

Darren

photo credit: via

Ministry is More Than a Service Project

We’ve all been there!  Our student ministry has gotten a little too inward focused.  Our students are a little self-absorbed.  We realize we although we are definitely not OF the world, we’re also not IN it!

Sometimes our first reaction is to schedule a service project.  We call Habitat for Humanity or make a mad dash for our local homeless shelter.  And if we’re real world changers, we might even make that a regular ministry opportunity we offer…

Youth Ministry Serving

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Youth Ministry Discipleship is More Than Filling in the Blanks

Discipleship = learning to live the life of a Christ-follower.  It’s one definition and definitely not the only one.  But if we’re using this as a working definition for training up the next generation of faith-walkers, then we must assess HOW we’re doing that.

Discipleship

Looking at modern day youth ministry distresses me.  We’re sitting students in a room and talking to them for an hour and expecting them to absorb, by osmosis, the conviction and character it takes to follow Jesus in all areas of life.  If we’re especially organized, we’re even giving them an outline with some of the answer left blank – knowing that if they’re writing down the notes we’re giving, they’re truly being transformed. Continue Reading…

A Youth Ministry Community Essential is…Community!

We marvel as we look around the room and see no one connecting with each other.  Kids are cloistered.  Adults are standing in the back of the room – probably with their arms crossed and not saying much of anything.  And we wonder….why do we not have community here?!  Where is the fellowship?!

Cue the countdown video.  We do a genuine, heartfelt welcome (from the stage).  The band leads in worship (from the stage).  You speak a compelling message (from the stage).  And fade to black….

Youth Ministry Community

True community does not happen without intentional programming.

Continue Reading…

Helping Students Share their Faith: Evangelism is More Than a Test

It was a Sunday afternoon.  A portion of our student ministry had committed, along with our entire church, to embark on a 16-week series about evangelism.  There was a simple, easy-to-remember formula for hitting the ‘high points’ of salvation and grace in any given conversation.  After that – the practicum.  Each week we spent time memorizing, practicing, coaching, and applying.

Something was missing, though.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…until about week 11.

Test Exam Evangelism

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Finding Support in Youth Ministry: How Much Should I Tell My Spouse?

This week we continue our  series of posts about the importance of finding support in youth ministry. If we want to hang in for the long haul, it’s essential to find the right people and practices to avoid painful pitfalls:

Youth Ministry Spouse

“How Much Should I Tell My Spouse?”

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Balancing Family and Youth Ministry Part 2: The Family Calendar

OK, let’s get real.  Balance in the calendar isn’t REALLY what we’re talking about here.  What we’re really talking about is making sure our spouse and kids remember our name and the last thing we were wearing in case we actually don’t come home one night because something sinister has actually happened to us!

Balance Family and Ministry

Balance in the family calendar means balance in family harmony.  And we all want to strive for that. If you aren’t ministering to your own family, you cannot possibly make lasting impact on anyone else’s family.

So try this: Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Productivity: Part Three – Horizontal Spaces

I’m not a naturally organized person.  I had to train myself to be administrative – some would say I haven’t done a great job of that!

My office easily overwhelms me – and when it looks like a bomb went off in there, I just try to avoid the fallout.  Seriously – I found myself working in the student center or Starbucks just to avoid looking in my office door!

So I developed a routine so I could live with myself!  It’s my mastery of the horizontal spaces.

Youth Ministry Productivity Part Three

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