Youth Specialties Blog
By YS on August 27 2008 | 8 CommentsI got off the phone this morning with John, a youth pastor, who will leave his church in 20 days because of the church’s financial situation. He’s built a big youth ministry with lots of kids and very few volunteers. “The church isn’t interested in working with teens,” he tells me. John is truly heart-broken for the kids and is reaching out to me to see if I can help the church in some way after he leaves. He doesn’t want to see it all fall apart and he knows it will after he leaves. I didn’t tell him this. It’s probably for the best. You see, somewhere along the way we youth pastors bought into a lie. We believe our job is to make things happen, to build programs, to attract youth all in the name of ministry, or building the kingdom. We bought into the idea that our job, our ministry is to make things go. We believe that somehow, our success or failure as a pastor is dependent upon our ability to motivate people to follow through and implement our plans and our dreams in the name of vision. In fact, we in the church are infatuated with visionaries who make it happen. The lie is pervasive these days. Chances are this is a small reason why you love being a youth pastor. You have ideas, and you get to inspire and envision people to produce your programs. Chances are you are evaluated by how efficiently you bring others on board with your vision and how well you produce the goals and objectives you declared. But this is a deeply flawed understanding of leadership and is destructive for church staff, and those within the church as well. This is a flawed perspective because it has unintended consequences. This kind of thinking is highly colonial and creates a level of isolation, entitlement and passivity that enables congregations to abdicate their responsibility to the leaders, who often gladly take it. The leaders become strangers and distant from the people they are called to lead in this environment. In extreme cases people can become cogs in the details of a leaders mechanistic plans. Service is reduced to volunteer positions that must be filled. It’s important for you to understand something. You aren’t called to make things happen in your church. Oh, you may be paid to make things happen, but it’s not God calling you to plan, lead and pull off all that unsustainable stuff. It’s not God calling you build it all, or convince others to build your vision either. You will always have more ideas, more dreams, more hopes, more plans than your church should pull off in your ministry. You will always see more than can be done right now. You must learn to live with this tension.
- Your job as a leader isn’t to make plans and then have others buy into them.
- The role of a leader is to declare the mission, and create an environment in which people can dream and live into it.
- By making things happen you are robbing people from the God given responsibility they have to children in your church.
By YS on August 27 2008 | 8 Comments
By YS on August 24 2008 | 0 CommentsIf you need a game for this week's youth group, here is one NOT to try. Kind of reminds you of Exodus 21: 28-30, doesn't it?
By YS on August 24 2008 | 0 Comments
By YS on August 23 2008 | 2 CommentsThis week's free shirt comes from the Revolve Tour. Here's a description of this year's tour, All Access.
If you've got a group of girls in your youth group that are interested, make sure to check out the Reveal Tour dates and locations. Learn how to have your youth group, ministry, or event mentioned on an upcoming Free Shirt Friday. Special thanks to Holli Bibler for modeling this week's shirt.
When it comes to a relationship with God, you have All Access. And at the Revolve All Access event, you’re welcome to just come as you are and be ready for an experience you will never forget. You’ll get a glimpse of what it’s like to have All Access to the love of God.All Access is a Friday night – Saturday event designed for 6th through 12th grade girls. (But girls who are a little younger or older come, too . . . and we hear they enjoy it!)
By YS on August 23 2008 | 2 Comments
By YS on August 22 2008 | 1 CommentsWe currently have a couple job openings for our staff in San Diego. While I'm not the newest employee of YS I am on the new side of things so I can speak about coming to El Cajon with a fresh set of eyes. Youth Specialties is an amazing place to work. Like all people who work hard, we like to have tons of fun. Both jobs are related to our newest addition to the YS family, Planet Wisdom. If you love Planet Wisdom and Youth Specialties and are passionate about the mission of YS, let me encourage you to check out these two job openings.
By YS on August 22 2008 | 1 Comments
By YS on August 22 2008 | 6 CommentsLes Christie chairs the Youth Ministry department at William Jessup University in Northern California. Les is also a frequent speaker at YS events and author of several YS books. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Les about some trends going on in youth ministry as well as a few tips for handling discipline in youth group. YS: It seems there is a big trend with youth ministry getting more involved with ministering to parents, what are some things younger youth workers can do to gain credibility to “go there” with parents? LC: Don’t have so many activities that you isolate students from their parents. Strive to bring parents and teens together. Come along side of parents, don’t try to take the place of parents. Our job is to equip, encourage, and affirm parents. Keep your parents informed. Be a friend of parents and they will rally to your side in times of conflict. You want parents on your side not on your back. Return phone calls and e-mails Start youth meetings on time and end on time. Nothing ticks parents off then waiting in the parking lot to pick up their kid after a meeting has gone on to long. Empathize with parents. YS: What are common parenting mistakes/myths you see with adolescents in the church? LC: One myth is that kids are vastly different compared to when they were teenagers. Kids are the same, the culture they live is has dramatically changed. Parents blaming kids for things they have no control over. Most of the clothing, music and television programs were designed by adults not teens. Avoid idealizing the past. It was never as good as you think it. I have a sign in my office that reads, “The older I get the better I was” We were never their age. They are living in a completely different world. Another myth is that parents have no influence on their teens. The truth is that every survey every taken on teens shows that parents are the primary influence on teens. At this age they tend to listen to you less but watch you more. Another myth is that teens are trying to put parents out of their lives. They aren’t. They are just adding other people to their lives. Don’t take it personally. Over reacting to teens choice of friends. Get to know your teens friends. Beneath those outlandish looks are often delightful teens. Another myth is that responsibility, communication skills and decision making skills come naturally. They don’t’ they must be learned. Don’t panic if your teens don’t share your values and beliefs right now. They are like rubber bands stretching away from parents but end up coming back later in life. Choose your battles wisely or you could be battling 24 hours a day. Don’t over indulge your kids. YS: What are some quick tips for establishing “the rules” for youth group? LC: Involve students in the rule setting processes! They are more likely to obey and support rules if they helped make them. Keep rules to a minimum. Choose your battles wisely. Make sure rules are fair and reasonable. State rules positively. Be specific. Make sure students are aware of consequences when rules are not followed. YS: What is the dumbest rule you’ve ever heard for a youth group? LC: It wasn’t one rule. Maybe some of you might be old enough to remember the soup Nazi from the Seinfeld series. (No soup for you!) I have seen youth groups that look like this. They have a zillion rules and that seem to smother the students individuality and creativity. It seems the students cannot do anything. It is very oppressive. I remember speaking at a camp where they had this huge posted list of rules and after each rule they wrote in bold letter “VIOLATORS WILL BE SENT HOME”. Not too friendly at camp. YS: How do you handle ADD/ADHD kids in youth group? LC: This is the most common behavioral disorder in kids. There are many unanswered questions as to the cause. These kids often get labeled as “bad kids”. These are kids who talk incessantly, blurt out certain inappropriate words or sentences, squirm, fidget, pick at things, and act impulsively. They can be very disruptive in youth groups. Although AD/HD kids have average and sometimes above-average intelligence, they often struggle academically and socially, resulting in poor self-esteem. Your understanding is crucial to helping an AD/HD kid be successful in your group. Insensitivity or ignorance will only reinforce a kid’s low self-esteem. Find out from the parents what types of difficulties their teen experiences. Also find out his or her strengths and abilities. Then build on those strengths. If the kid is a poor reader, avoid calling on him to read aloud. Or, give him prior notice and allow him to prepare. If the kid is hyperactive, ask for his help in some project or make him your assistant. Keep him busy and direct his energy positively. Make the extra effort necessary to build relationships with your kids who have AD/HD and understand the ways each kid is unique. You could be the one to make a real difference in this young person’s life. While many AD/HD kids are accustomed to receiving love, acceptance, and understanding from their families, they don’t always expect it or get it from other people. Let the parents know about your concerns. Encourage them to meet with the expert. Although parents are usually aware of problems with their kids, they may find it very difficult to admit the problems. Be patient. Parents have probably heard complaints for years and may not have known what to do or may deny the problems. AD/HD kids can be draining on their parents and others, but the rewards of accommodating them are worth the time and effort it takes to do so. Pray for the teens and pray for yourself and other leaders that you will be able to help the young people, not add to their problems or lack of self-respect. Use visual aids, small group activities, role-playing, and other teaching methods that demand tactile/kinesthetic participation. Allow movement and some talking during class. Use a high level of touch. The good teacher will touch the teen appropriately on the back or shoulder and have the ability to bridge the gap between teacher and student. Have good eye contact. Keep a good sense of humor. Be easygoing. Don’t be so rigid and strict that you’ll blow up if kids say something completely weird or out of context. You might even laugh and say, “Well, this is a little off the wall.” Look for the good and be generous in positive reinforcement. Interested in more tips from Les? Check out his brand new book, When Church Kids Go Bad.
By YS on August 22 2008 | 6 Comments
By YS on August 21 2008 | 2 CommentsHere at YS, we try to keep our eyes open for great youth ministry blog posts to pass along. Here are 5 we think you should read right now.
- Mike shares what he is looking for in a youth ministry blog, Signs of a Good Youth Ministry Blog.
- Josh caught a little problem in his next message series and asks if he is running a Sexist Youth Ministry?
- Tony had a chance to interview a member of Hillsong United, here's his 5 Questions with Jonathon Douglass.
- Dennis got one of those notes that reminded him, Why I Do Youth Ministry.
- Josh shares some great tips for those working with a retreat speaker, 3 Things to Make Sure You Tell the Retreat Speaker.
By YS on August 21 2008 | 2 Comments
By YS on August 20 2008 | 3 CommentsIf you haven't been over to PlanetWisdom.com recently, let me give you four excuses to go check it out. Jonathan Matlock and his team over there have some great content for you and your students.
- Pussycat Dolls "When I Grow Up" music review
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie review
- Blog post from Mark Matlock, "In Spite of Me."
- Early bird deadline for PlanetWisdom Chicago is fast approaching.
By YS on August 20 2008 | 3 Comments