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Keeping Parents Plugged-in on Mission Trips

This Sunday, myself and a team of high school students and leaders will be heading to Copperhill, TN for a week-long mission trip. As I have prepared for trips like this, I have found it to so important to over-communicate details with the parents and students and make sure that everyone understands deadlines, details, and the decisions we are making.

However, one aspect that can get overlooked, is the importance of communication during the week of the trip. This includes daily updates, blogs, photos etc. Good communication from the trip helps in so many ways:

  • Families can pray specifically
  • It calms the nerves of worried parents
  • It promotes God’s work
  • It creates “bridges” of communication between parents and students once the trip has ended
  • It can involves students (as they blog and post photos)
  • It keeps fundraising families in the loop as they hear the progress of students which they supported

Here’s just a few ways we are communicating with families while we are away:

1) A Daily Blog: It’s easy to set up a basic blog through WordPress or Blogger. Every day, we plan to have a couple of students blog about the work and experiences they are having. We set a blog up a few months ago to communicate the details of the trip, as well as creating interest for parents and financial supporters. Here is a very basic blog we set up:

Continue Reading…

Helping Students Navigate Through Tragedy

T.J. was one of those kids every parent prayed for. At 16 years old, he was strong in his faith, passionate about the mission field, full of joy, and a real practical joker. T.J. was a student who had been at our church for years and was loved by many!

This past September, while on his way to church with friends, tragedy struck. Who would have thought that a car full of Christian teens would have ended up in a wreck, taking the life of T.J.? After receiving a call with the shocking news, I prayed for God to give me the wisdom to help T.J’s family, students and leaders navigate through this tragedy. Here is what I have been learning in the last few months.

Continue reading at youthministry.com

 

Scheduling What Matters Most

“If you never did ministry again, I am not sure I would care at this point!”

These were the hard, but truthful, words my wife spoke as she shared her frustrations of being married to an overscheduled youth pastor.

It wasn’t like I didn’t see it coming… Over many months I had blurred the lines of ministry and family. I had created an unhealthy ministry schedule in a church that was exploding with growth. My overscheduled ministry had become the enemy of healthy family time. I knew in my heart there were things I needed to change.

I had been to conferences that told me to create boundaries and to take care of my family. Even though I knew simple changes would make all the difference, I was allowing the complexity of ministry to lead the way for my family. It took a difficult reality and painful words to begin a new direction…

Here’s what I discovered: When I schedule what matters most for my family, we stay healthier and I minister from a healthier perspective. Therefore, it is imperative that I live by some simple, (yet powerful) ways of planning family and ministry. We do this by picking a regular day to make a plan. For us, it’s Monday evenings. We have dinner together and look at our upcoming schedules. During this habitual planning time we are intentional about setting aside family time.

Here’s how we schedule what matters most:

 

When Sports Compete With Youth Ministry – Part 3: Real Life

In my first post on this topic, I talked about importance of changing the way we view sports to promote “teamwork” between sports and youth ministry. In my last post I talked about the importance of owning the problem and coming up with practical steps to help students in their harried sports schedules. Today, I want to post the reply to an email I sent to a good youth ministry friend. Here was his predicament:

I really liked your blog posts about us dealing with the sports in the schools.  I think we do a decent job of working around the game schedules, but what is terribly frustrating for me is the dreaded “open gym” in the school… The girls basketball coach just posted the spring open gym times for the basketball team.  All of these practices directly conflict with the high school youth group and start this Sunday and go until school gets out.  But I wouldn’t really begin to call these gym times “open” at all.  The coach demands that everyone be in attendance.  So starting this Sunday through the rest of the school year, I will have lost roughly 50% of my regular attenders because a lot of the girls in my youth group are in basketball.  I want to be supportive of the team and the girls in sports, but his actions make it incredibly hard to do so.

Here’s a reply I gave him. But what about you? Can you help? Continue Reading…

When Sports Compete With Youth Ministry – Part 2

In my previous post I talked about the reality of sports (and other extra curricular activities), and how they often collide with our youth minisrtry events and programs. In this post I want to look at practical steps I take to help sports and youth ministry work for me and the families I minister to. Or another way to put it, here is how I I try to create teamwork between youth ministry and sports:  Continue Reading…

Simple But Effective Training for Volunteers – Part 3: Consistency

Today I want to wrap up with a quick but crucial training tip I give all my volunteers. In my previous post I talked about the importance of using questions effectively to help students gain truth and application in their lives. In addition, I expressed the importance of keeping training for volunteers simple: “Effective training is better when it is simple, memorable, and practical”.

Today’s tip is probably the easiest to remember yet perhaps the most crucial: Consistency is Key. Consistency is the knot that ties everything together. Continue Reading…

Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 5: Students

Many of the students in our ministries come from broken homes or difficult situations, (not all, but many). Statistically many of them are living with only one parent and have seen divorce. It’s important that I see the big picture of my ministry as a model to these students who need to see how a dad / husband acts and lives. In the same way, many of my students need to see how a mom / wife acts and lives through the example of my wife. Even if students come from great families, it’s vital that my students get the inside scoop to myself, my wife, my kids, and the way we live… Scary thought?

Here’s what I do: Continue Reading…

Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 4: Parents

Many parents are busy, stretched, and stressed. Everything I do must be intentional about their helping families – not hurting them. The way I schedule, the way I communicate, and the way individually support parents should be a passage to helping them (and ultimately helping their kids). If I can partner with parents effectively, it could be one of the best ministry investments I make!

It’s God’s design that parents disciple their kids, (Deuteronomy 6:7). Unfortunately, many models of youth ministry either take over the role of parents, or do not intentionally partner with parents to support them. Continue Reading…

Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 3: Volunteers

In my previous post I talked about how a successful ministry goes hand in hand with a leaders who care well for their own family. Today I want to talk about the importance of caring well for volunteer leaders and supporting a healthy family focus for them too. Many of them work full-time, or have teenagers of their own and busy lives. Therefore, it’s imperative that I create an environment that is conducive to healthy family ministry for them too…

I could start by telling you what I do to promote a healthy family focus for my leaders, but I will let some of them start by telling you instead: Continue Reading…

Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 2: You

Yesterday I began a five-part series reflecting on why it’s important to be family focused in our student ministries. I also gave a quick snapshot of how I keep this focus. Today I want to continue this focus by looking closer at one aspect I mentioned in my previous post:

IT STARTS WITH ME (OR YOU): In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives Timothy the charge of calling overseers and deacons. Continue Reading…

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