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Youth Ministry Management: How to Keep Great Volunteers – Part 1

In my previous post, I talked about how I recruit volunteers. Having a well established volunteer team that is trusted by students is an incredible strength for any youth ministry. But this will only happen when we are able to keep volunteers coming back year after year. But how can this happen? What are the keys to keeping great volunteers?

Team Youth Ministry

Here are the first 5 of my essential practices to help keep great volunteers. I’ll post 5 more in my next post:  Continue Reading…

How To Honor Graduating Students While Keeping The Big Picture In Focus.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am new this school year to my church and its Youth Ministry. In the past years, Axiom (Student Ministry) has had “Grad Nights” to honor the Seniors, where all Seniors come dressed in caps and gowns, and some of the core leaders go through each student and affirm/challenge them in their future endeavors. Each Senior gets a going away present from the staff, like a Bible or inspiring book. I really like it, I think its great!

But as for this school year, I wanted to take a little bit of a different approach. Not a huge change, just a few small & subtle differences that I think can make this night a huge hit:

cap on books

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A New Job Description For Veteran Volunteer Youth Workers?

Just last night I chatted to Marve and Maryann. They are two incredible youth workers who have been volunteering for nearly 20 years in youth ministry! How awesome is that? However, a trend that I often see with veteran volunteers is that they think they have a ‘sell by’ or ‘best before’ date in youth ministry… If you speak to Marve and Maryann, you don’t get that sense… Why is that?

Veteran Volunteer Youth Ministry

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3 Essential Steps To Help You Refocus In Your Youth Ministry

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” ― Alexander Graham Bell

“Focus!” At times, that’s a tough thing to do in youth ministry isn’t it? The nature of our ministry will often be a moving target with changing issues and challenges. Working with students is anything but predictable. While we cannot change the foundational nature of youth ministry,  there are certain areas that should always stay in focus regardless of the changeable landscape of youth ministry. If you are struggling to stay focused and manage ministry well, you should keep reading…

Youth Ministry Focus

Just this week ‘Dave’ (one of my elders), came into my office and gave me some clear focus that I want to pass onto you today. Here’s what he said: Continue Reading…

Is There Someone You Are Forgetting To Thank In Youth Ministry?

Just this week I met with some brilliant youth workers who volunteer in my ministry. As we shared our highlights from the last month, one of my volunteers ‘Steve’ shared how one of our college age students sought him out in church to appreciate him for all he did for them in the high school ministry. His story got me thinking about two things:

Thank You

First, it’s not uncommon for students to go through our ministries without saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for what we do while they are with us. It’s not that they don’t appreciate us, it’s just they don’t consider to tell us… Often we might hear from them once they are in college, (or later).

Second, it made me consider how much I appreciated my youth leaders and mentors when I was younger, but perhaps I never communicated it to them… Which got me thinking:

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Youth Ministry Gut Check: Are You Spending Too Much Time Writing Messages?

Today I want to ask an honest question. I would love feedback as I am still churning through this one myself. Do we spend too much time writing messages when students really need us to be in their world, rather than trying to talk about their world?

I’ve been reading back through Generation iY by and I got stuck on one of his observations about Millennial generation students that you and I minister to. Here’s what he said:  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…

Youth Ministry Mentoring: Students Need ‘Fans’

I have never been a sports fan.  I wasn’t brought up around sports.  I was horrible at them.  To this day I trip over my own feet.

That was until I got into college.  I went to UMass Amherst, during the years that we had a close to amazing basketball team. I got totally caught up in the games, the fun,   and the midnight madness.  I shouted the names of my favorite players along with everyone else.  We became fanatics.  We bought the shirts, and proudly donned maroon and grey in honor of our school.   Players took the court.  Thousands of us were there to let the team know they were loved and we were all in this together. Continue Reading…

Helping Students Discover Their Potential In Your Youth Ministry

Our small group conversation had taken many paths this day. Honestly, I can’t remember how it ended up here. All of a sudden a very animated Anthony blurts out, “I hate it when adults tell me I have potential.”

“Why?” I inquired. In my own mind that is a great word that helps others understand that we were made for more.

Anthony continued, “Well, first of all I mostly hear the word from teachers or my parents when I am getting lectured. It never really seems positive. Also, I don’t ever feel like I am allowed to just mess up. It’s like everyone just thinks I am this screw up. When I do something right, it’s like that was a mistake.” I wanted to make sure I understood where he was going, “So what I hear you saying is that you feel like people just think you can’t get ever get it right. When you do that is just a deviation from the norm. What you want is people to see that you are really not trying to mess up. It just happens sometimes.” (Yes I used the word deviation. Yes I had to explain what I meant by that.) His eyes went wide, “Exactly! I don’t feel like adults really believe in me when they say that. It’s like they can’t see I’m trying.” Anthony got quieter now as he looked at me pleadingly, “Mrs. Leneita, I am trying. Why can’t people see that?” Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Mentoring: How To Help Girls Find Their True Reflection

When one of my daughters was about 3 she used to have this little frilly blue dress that she referred to as her “Cinderella Dress.”  It was her way of being a princess. Twirling she would sing to me, “Mommy don’t I look so beautiful?”

There was a problem though.  As this particular child would get “dressed up”  for a special occasion she would begin to panic.   All of her confidence would drain as she analyzed her hair, and shoes,  certain everything was less than perfect.   Yes, at three.  As a matter of fact her Dad and I started to dread these special occasions.   When she was at home in that blue dress, she was a princess who had just entered the ball.  Anytime it involved going out in public, it had to be perfect to the point of breakdowns and tantrums.

I wondered if it was my fault? Had I so desperately been excited by having a little girl I had turned her into the “fairy” monster?   By the time she was 2 1/2 she had two younger siblings.  Was this her way of being “seen” in the midst of all the others? Continue Reading…

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