Saturday, April 26, 2008

Should Small Groups have specific goals?

A youth minister over at PDYM blog has posed what I think is a great question for youth small groups. You can find the post here. I'd love to hear any of your thoughts, especially those of you who lead small groups (or who have led small groups). You can comment either at this blog or that one. I'm very interested in this conversation thread and so will follow it both places.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Evaluating Yourself in Speaking to Youth

Here is a Talk Evaluation Sheet for delivering talks to youth.

This is a helpful, structured way of getting feedback on a talk you are giving. Especially if you speak to Youth once a semester or more, feedback can be helpful in your overall development as a speaker.

How I have used this: I give one to a junior high boy, a junior high girl, a high school boy, a high school girl, and an adult leader or two before my talk and ask them if they would be willing to fill it out during and after my talk (and to be honest in their feedback). Getting the forms back afterward and reading through them has really helped me in developing my own skills in speaking to Youth.

And I have learned to not take it personally if the Talk Evaluation Sheet comes back to me with doodling on it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Can Introverts Be Good Youth Ministers?

Throughout my life I have bounced back and forth between introvert and extrovert on the Myers-Briggs personality scale. (You can take a sample online test here.)

Just two years ago I tested as an extrovert, and just the other night on Facebook I tested as an introvert, so who knows? The distinction is all about where you gain energy--introverts gain energy and replenishment primarily from being alone, whereas extroverts gain it primarily from being with other people.

A couple years ago I read a great article about introverts and youth ministry. I have never thought I fit the stereotype of the loud, funny, center-of-attention youth worker who is always telling hilarious stories and having the kids hang on their every word. Not that there's inherently anything wrong with that (it takes all types), but it's definitely not me.

But youth ministry is about building relationships. In youth ministry one of the things that matters most is building relationships with youth, spending face-to-face time with them in their worlds.

Do the introverts among us stand a chance? If, no matter how long we have been in youth ministry, the thought of introducing ourselves and reaching out to teenagers we don't know remains scary or unnerving, is there any hope for us?

Read this thought-provoking article here to find out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Core 2008: Generation Change

Today 9 Adult Leaders from The Upper Room Youth Ministry went to The Core, a one-day training event put on by Youth Specialties, an excellent resource company for youth ministry. Duffy Robbins was the speaker and did an excellent job presenting the material. There was quite a bit to process during the short five hours we were there, and I am sure I and the other leaders will be returning to the material as time goes on.

In the meantime, you can view the main page for the training event here. And you can find free resources from the event here, including all the notes from each of the sessions. So if you came and you missed some fill-in-the-blanks, you can get them at the free resources link, or if you weren't able to join us and want to see what you missed, check it out!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"The mark of a good leader..."

I read this Proverb in The Message translation this morning:

"The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following." (Proverbs 14:28)

Any youth worker--from weekly volunteer to full-time to occasional helper--is rightly called a leader. With that in mind, for us to ask ourselves and reflect on this morning:

*Am I a good leader to the youth among whom I minister?
*Do they follow me and my example?
*Inasmuch as they follow me, do I reflect God's image and point them to Jesus, who is the true leader for us to follow?

Food for thought on this Thursday.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


A collect in the Book of the Common Prayer gets it right when it comes to ministry: “In giving we receive.” I still remember the summer that I received a call to youth ministry. I was involved in a summer program of Rock the World Youth Ministry Alliance in Ambridge, PA called Josiah Project. One of the three ministry components was youth ministry (the other two were cross-cultural ministry and urban/city ministry). Admittedly, youth ministry was the one of the three that I was the least excited about at the time. God changed that very quickly.

I had been working with a team of middle school students at a ministry called The Pittsburgh Project, helping with house repairs in the neighborhood. After a hard day we went to the grocery store to get some ice cream. In front of us there was an older woman who clearly needed help with her bags, but I barely noticed, or if I did I rationalized that I was too tired to do anything about it, and had already “done my ministry” for the day.

Ethan, a 7th grader in our group, was right on top of it. He noticed her need immediately and went to help her to her car with her groceries. It was then that I realized that youth ministry is not just about adults ministering to youth. It is also about youth ministering to adults. And youth and adults ministering together. Ethan led by example when I needed to be led. And he is a huge part of why I am in youth ministry today.

What about you? How have you been blessed by youth that you were ministering with? Or has there been a time when a youth really ministered to you? How have you seen youth leading by example as Ethan did?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Great Resource: PDYM Blog

I wanted to send you all to a great blog on youth ministry from Doug Fields and the folks at Saddleback Church (and beyond). It's a "community of like-minded youth workers" called PDYM (Purpose Driven Youth Ministry) Community.

The link is here: PDYM Blog

Probably my favorite post of late is one about a 90-something-year-old youth worker named Granny Franny. Check it out here. You won't be disappointed!

And don't worry--there are many more folks than just Doug Fields with good things to say about Youth Ministry! I'll be adding links to other folks and their stuff as time goes on.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Welcome to Youth Ministry Leadership!

Hello, everyone, and thanks for checking out the new blog!

This blog covers youth ministry, leadership, and church life. I will put things here that are useful for anybody in a position of leadership in youth ministry: whether full-time youth leaders, volunteer adult leaders, student leaders, or any minister-leader in the church. Much of what is posted here will have applications beyond youth ministry and church life, too.

I'll post some of my own reflections and writings, as well as links and excerpts from other sources I think folks would find helpful.

Let me know what you think by commenting on a given post! To do this, just click on the bottom of the post where it says "Comments."

To begin the discussion, I wanted to post my brief review of a book called What Matters Most by Doug Fields. If you've read it, I'd love to hear your feedback, which you can post as a comment.

Fields has written a short, to-the-point, practical yet reflective book on why learning to say, "No," and then practicing saying it, is essential to staying healthy in a ministry leadership position. Although Fields is a vocational youth minister and writes with vocational youth ministers as his primary audience, this book applies to anyone in ministry--paid or unpaid, full-time, part-time, or volunteer--and to anyone who is busy.

Early on he writes, "I want to challenge you to say no more often so you can say yes to what matters most" (18). Fields points out some warning signs that can help you discern if you're addicted to busyness, or if you're putting doing ministry above loving God (for example, by consistently counting the time you spend preparing a talk or small group lesson as your own personal devotional time). He also talks about practical action steps you can take to bring things back under control.

Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). The temptation is always there for the minister to do more, be more, accomplish more, and say "yes" more. Yet as you do this, you risk damaging your first love: your relationship with Christ. Fields's short book is a call back to that first love with a clear escape route from any busyness, overworking, or people-pleasing that may have entrapped you.

Those of you who have read either the book or this post, what are warning signs you've learned to look out for as you fight busyness? What has God taught you in this area?