Thursday, July 30, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #10

Today we celebrate our 10th Youth Ministry Lite column!! To some 10 isn't a big number, but when it comes to my column it's huge! Writing this column is such a blessing to me and and I hope that it has been a blessing to you as well. On to column 10!
Resource #1 today is a great way to help partner with the parents of your teens. You can even make it a group effort and make your youth leaders responsible for a section each, and use it to bring the team together. So what is this amazing resource? A parent newsletter. The newsletter could contain sections such as: Youth Pastors Column, Upcoming events, Topics to be covered and a brief overview along with a question or two for the parents to ask their teens. Also include articles on teens and their daily walk with Christ.
Our second resource are pocket gospels. A pocket gospel is a "tract on steroids", so to speak. They contain the basics of the faith (Jesus is Gods only Son, Died for our sins, Resurrection, He is the only way to be saved)the entire gospel of John and how to accept Christ. They have even partnered with dare2share (a previous resource) to design one just for teens. These are great to have out on a table for any visitors and to give to your teens to hand out to their unsaved friends.
Our talk sparker section is going to be a short one this week but its important. Youth Ministry can only be successful if you integrate the parents into the mix. You need to have regular meetings with them and host events where the parents and teens mix. A great "event" to have is a parent/teen conference so to speak. You need to be the catalyst that helps the two better understand the other. Be the mediator and coach them through how to communicate with one another. A big topic to bring up is compromising, coming to a middle ground. Also, try to get your teens to understand that they are on loan to their parents from God and their parents are responsible for raising them properly and that as teens they aren't always going to like what their parents want from them. I will stop here as I could go on and on. Have a great and blessed week and until next time...........

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #9

Here we are with out next Youth Ministry Lite, your source for the best ideas, tips, and resources for Youth Ministry. Our first resource can be found at your nearest Lifeway Christian store and is titled, The Invitation. It is a cd which contains music by a variety of artists, scripture, and narration by Rick Warren, which takes the listener through an invitation to accept Christ. This is great to hand out to first time visitors, regulars whom you arent sure of their salvation, and for the teens to hand out themselves. They are only a buck a pop, a deal you can't pass by!
Our second resource is a tool which I have learned to use often, a poll/survey. You can create a survey on your lesson topic and let the teens fill it out and hand it in prior to class or you can create one to simply get to know the teens on a more personal level. The possiblities are endless and from my experience, the teens love to take a survey and they like hearing what their peers answered.
For our talk-sparker I want to discuss a very tricky topic. It's tricky because it requires the youth leader to take a stand. The topic is "creating a safe-haven" youth group. Now when I say safe-haven, I mean having a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and picking. Every teen should be able to walk into your youth group and know that they will not be berated, bullied, or picked on. I am a stickler for this in my youth group and my teens know that so long as I am their youth leader, I am will not tolerate it. So how do you go about creating this environment? Here are a few tips to help you make your youth group a "safe-haven":

1. It starts by letting the teens know that you mean business.

2. Hold your teens accountable. Talk one on one with any offenders, build them up and let them know they are better than that. If you have repeat offenders, find out why they bully and come up with a plan to prevent it from happening again.

3. When you see it happen (since we arent living in a perfect world), handle it immediately! You've got to keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

4. Make sure there is always a teen to youth leader ratio of 5:1. If this isnt possible right off the bat, begin recruiting! Pray and begin asking. Enlist the help of adults whose sole purpose is to be your "Eagle Eyes", you can even come up with a clever name for them. Meet with them as a group and train them in how you want them to handle any bullying situations and what constitues bullying. Always talk with them about any incidents they handle.

Have a great week and I'll see you soon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #8

Happy Fourth Weekend! I have some resources that I am very excited to share with you! Our first highlight is the 4-session dvd pack Teens vs Parents by Mark Matlock. This is a great tool to use either on your Wednesday night meetings or to do over the summer as a week-long class for the community. You can promote it to the community by having you and your teens go out one evening and do a neighborhood blitz, handing out flyers and explaining what the activity is. You can also make up posters to hang within your youth area at church to promote your teens to invite their friends and neighbors. It is a great tool to teach teens how to have a better relationship with their parents and provides you the opportunity to teach them how they should view and treat their parents. This is a big issue as many of today's youth do not respect their parents or adults for that manner. On the fifth evening you could invite the parents to come in and discuss with them what you have taught the teens and what you hope comes from the lessons. You could even talk with the parents about both parties making that night when they begin with a clean slate. Possibly having the teens serve their parents/guardians refreshments.
Next up we have a great book and journal combo for you to read. Now it doesn't specifically deal with youth ministry but rather with you. Many times we forget about keeping ourselves spiritually healthy and this is a great book to renew yourself with. The title is The Travelers Gift and it is written by Andy Andrews. Make sure to pick up the journal that goes along with the book as I highly recommend it! I am currently reading both and it has had a huge impact in my life and how I view success and whats important to me. You will be telling your friends about it, I guarantee.
For our talk sparker this week I want to discuss teens, their prayer life, and what stance you need to take on the issue. Of course you know that you need to talk about prayer and so forth but what about really making prayer an important part of your weekly meetings. It is one thing to allow your teens to say your closing prayer and another to have them regularly participate in a prayer meeting. If we want to teach our youth how important prayer really is then we have to give them hands on experience. Every 1-2 months give the youth 10-15 minutes to spend in prayer. Prior to providing them this time, share with them how the prayer meeting will work and what the purpose is. You could ask them for specific prayer requests before you begin the prayer meeting or even the week prior and then type up a prayer sheet and handout to them. This will give them some direction. It will take them time to learn how to pray for 10-15 minutes and you have to be right alongside them. Make sure you ask each week for updates on the prayer requests that have been made. You could even have a praise party after your prayer meeting every couple of months. Make sure that you explain to the teens that God often times answers our prayers differently than what we want or expect. However, He sees the whole picture of our life and truly knows what is best for each of us.

By His Grace and For them,
Ashley E.