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Youth Ministry Priorities For Christmas Break

Youth Ministry ChristmasWow, Christmas is just around the corner. If you are like me, it is such a busy time up until Christmas, I hardly have time to catch my breath. Once Christmas break is here, I usually don’t use my time well. I often arrive at January 1st tired, unfocused, and spluttering into the new year. So, before Christmas gets here, let’s make sure we have some good priorities in place to ensure that our Christmas break is a time to Refuel, Refocus, and Regather our efforts. Continue Reading…

How Do You Define Success In Your Youth Ministry?

Youth Ministry SuccessHow do you define success in your life and ministry? Is it possible you’ve been sucked into a inaccurate definition of ‘success?’

I’ve Been thinking a lot lately if we can “redefine” success. As we move forward (especially in ministry) we think it is about becoming more “famous” or “known” or “read” or “rich.” Yet when we look at the life of Paul we see one thing. When he was “Saul” this was when he was seen as “celebrated” by the world. When he became “Paul” he was scourged, ridiculed, shipwrecked and jailed. The Holy Spirit would tell him when he went somewhere he would be put in jail. He walked back into Jerusalem knowing that he would be taken. His response that his greatest desire was to do whatever it took for the Gospel to be taken to heart by the masses.

In the Lord’s eyes “Success” = “Faithfulness.”

Here are four questions to consider as you think about success and faithfulness: Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Realities: 2 Quick Ways to Tell if you are Focused on People or Programs.

People are more important than programs… But are they really?

You see, if you are like me, there have been too many times when I have allowed programs and details to get in the way of true discipleship and authentic relationships with my students and leaders.

And the bottom line is this: No matter how effective we are at running great programs, eventually students will see through the shallowness and seek out a different place to belong.

So, how do you know if you are too focused on programs instead of people? Here are two quick ‘checks’ I continuously make as I go about youth ministry. Continue Reading…

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: An Interview With A Veteran Youth Worker – Joel Snyder

What does it take to hang in for the long haul of youth ministry? How can someone stay at the same church for a lengthy period of time and see great fruit because of their longevity? What are some of the keys to staying healthy and happy in youth ministry? Today, we hear from youth ministry veteran Joel Snyder, who has been in youth ministry for 25 years at the SAME church!

1) Joel, you just recently celebrated being in youth ministry at the same church for 25 years! How did you do that?  Continue Reading…

A Good Reason to Cancel Sunday School In Your Youth Ministry?

Is it possible that canceling ’Sunday School’ for your youth ministry once a month can actually help your students develop a stronger faith and connection with your church? Well, apparently this is true. According to a gigantic study by , two of the greatest indicators for a life-long faith after high school include: 1) Being a regular part of church worship services 2) Serving within the church. For many of us who have a Sunday morning student ministry program, we are aware that many of our students only attend our student specific programs, and there is the potential that they will hardly ever serve in church or attend regular services.

This could be a detriment to their faith walk… Continue Reading…

How to Recover from a Bad Day in Youth Ministry

Have you had one of ‘those’ days lately in your youth ministry? You know the one… A bad night at youth group where nothing went to plan… A student who made a horrendous mistake that you didn’t see coming… That parent who chewed you out and didn’t give you any grace… Or maybe your leader has not appreciated all your hard efforts…

No matter how hard we try, we can’t avoid having bad days in ministry… Working with people is messy, and we have to admit it, we are flawed people too… But how can you and I recover from one of those days?

Here are some things I have to be reminded of often: 

1) Tomorrow is a new Day: When you and I have a bad day, there’s often the feeling that we will never recover from our predicament. However, God is not done with us and no matter how much we’ve messed up, or how much someone else has hurt us, God gives us a fresh start each day. Seek the safety and shelter of God and discover His fresh start today!
2) It’s not about us: Sometimes we take tough days way too hard simply because we are hanging on too hard and trying to do everything in our own strength. Some of us, if we are honest, have been fueled by people pleasing in an unhealthy way. When a student rejects us, or parent is upset, or a leader in the church is hard on us, we take it too personally. It’s good to remember that our strength, purpose, and affirmation should come from God, not people. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about God, his plans, and his purposes. When you and I get caught up with people pleasing, we begin to elevate others and ourselves above God… Refocus on Him.

Continue Reading…

Too Focused On Numbers?

How do you know if you are too focused on numbers in your youth ministry? Is that even a bad thing? I would says, “yes, and no…” So when are numbers a bad thing and when are they a good thing? Is there a good ‘test’ to tell if we are too fixated with numbers? That’s where we are going today…

Go to a youth ministry gathering and you’ll meet other youth workers who will ask this question over and over as they play the comparison game: “How many students do you have in your ministry?” Or maybe you have met the youth worker who is always talking to others about their numbers and seems to be obsessed with how many show up? Now granted, there are times where the numbers discussions are healthy too. Here’s some of those instances: Continue Reading…

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: 5 Essential Boundaries

How can you hang in the long haul and be successful in your church ministry situation? If you have been in youth ministry even for a short time, you have likely heard the statistics for ‘youth ministry burnout’ or know someone who has lost their passion for ministry.

Even though youth workers are passionate and committed to their ministries, it’s equally as important that they are committed to healthy boundaries.

While boundaries might sound defensive and rigid, they actually benefit your church greatly, since you will be healthier for your students… And you might just stay at that church longer too…

5 Essential Boundaries

ONE: ‘Devotional’ Boundaries: When it gets busy it’s easy to allow our devotional time to get edged or become a lesson plan. Staying fresh spiritually requires us to have a committed regular time to fill the tank personally. I think this should be a given, but how are we really doing in this area?

TWO: ‘Family’ Boundaries: If you can’t take care of your family first, how can you know how to take care of the family of God? (1 Timothy 3:5). At times I confess I have put ministry ahead of my marriage and family. Of course, there are certain seasons of craziness, but they must only be seasons. Your children (if you have kids), need you to invest in their life and faith. There are many people who can invest in the students you work with, but there is only one person in the whole world who is called to “mommy” or “daddy” to our kids… In the same way, your spouse (if you are married), needs your best, not your left-overs… Continue Reading…

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: The Importance Of A Mentor

As far as I know, Ron has never done youth ministry, but he is a big reason why I am still in youth ministry today.
I have known Ron for 15 years and met him when I first came to live in the States. Ron was Director of Small Groups and Assimilation at my first church here in the U.S and also became a mentor to me about 10 years ago.
Here’s 10 reasons why Ron has helped me to hang in for the long haul. Perhaps a mentor could do the same for you? 
1) He knows my good, bad, and indifferent, (and calls me out when I need to be challenged).
2) He’s a friend I trust and feel I can share everything with.
3) He’s in full time ministry at a different church and understands the rigors of ministry that I go through.
4) He has a place in North Michigan that we go to once a year to golf, grill steaks, and share real life together. Continue Reading…

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: Meet Rick South

Do you ever wonder what it takes to hang in for the long haul in youth ministry? Do you ever wonder what it takes to stay at the same church and have a fulfilling ministry? Today we begin a short series focused on youth ministry longevity and how to make a lasting impact in the lives of students…

I have known Rick South for eight years. He is someone I greatly respect as a youth ministry veteran and mentor. I met him when I lived in West Michigan and was in a network of youth pastors that met every Thursday morning at a local breakfast hang out. A couple of weeks ago my family and I vacationed back in West Michigan and I got to have breakfast with Rick and bunch of youth pastors, (at this really cool place called ‘Toast and Jams’). Continue Reading…

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