Can we all agree that being a student is extremely difficult?
With the influx of technology and accessibility, students seem to be more stressed and more discouraged than ever before. The advancements that promised an easy life has caused thousands of students headaches as they try to navigate who they are and how God made them. Students need relationships. They need encouragement. They need Jesus.
Many student ministries are set up so that the weekly service opportunities for students in the church basically boil down to the greeting time at midweek services. As a result, students don’t take ownership, get excited, or invite friends to church. They also tend to dismiss community service projects as just another thing to go to … and they skip out.
Empowering students to serve within the local church will accomplish a variety of really positive outcomes! Students will develop in their faith and take an owner’s mentality. They will be excited about the things your ministry is doing, and they will invite their friends. Students will see how service helps them grow spiritually, and they will look for ways to serve outside the church too.
Here are seven ideas to get you started.
How To Create A Student Ministry Of Doers
- Plan Services
This is one area your students can help keep your student ministry engaged in culture. Give them the sermon outline and allow them to help the worship team create (with guidance) engaging and creative midweek experiences.
- Follow Up With Guests
Most student ministries gather contact information on visitors (if not, you need to start) and have adults send a card to visiting students. Imagine the impact you could have if your upperclassmen sent cards or made it a priority to maintain connection with visitors while at school? You can still be the one who addresses cards and makes phone calls so there are no confidentiality issues, but transferring part of the responsibility to your students will benefit everyone!
- Lead Games
Students need to be up front as much as possible during worship. They need to see their peers on stage reading Scripture, praying, and acting as leaders. Give them some game resources, let them learn the rules, and schedule them in the worship set. For great game ideas check out FunNinja.org and DownloadYouthMinistry.com.
- Lead Kids Worship
High school students are perfect to help with Kids Worship on Sunday mornings. Our church has two services plus a Bible study hour, so I expect our student leadership team to attend corporate worship service plus help serve in Kids Worship. They lead songs, participate in skits, give devotions, and facilitate games. Your students will grow deeper in Scripture through preparing Bible studies and leading kids.
- Plan Trips and Events
There have been times that I thought an event would be a surefire hit and found out that it was a flop. Pass event ideas by your students so you can get their honest feedback. They have awesome ideas that will reach their generation.
- Announcement Videos
Announcements can be boring and dry. Give your students a list of announcements, a time limit (one minute or so) and send them out with their smart phones to create something! This will help them open up conversations with their friends about church and Jesus when they post the videos online.
- Empower Them To Share The Gospel With Their Friends
Whether you are a small group leader or student pastor, you must empower students to be vocal about their faith. Talk about it often, and give them training and resources to do it. If the extent of their evangelism is just inviting people to attend a church service, they will never learn to articulate their faith for themselves.
- Brainstorm Sermon Topics
When you are outlining your preaching calendar you should ask your students about the issues they are currently facing and the questions they have. This is an easy way to ensure you connect with your group and minister in the areas they need encouragement.
One of my motivations behind writing a book called Doer was to help students own their faith and start to make a difference in their community and across the globe. As ministry leaders we must move from enabling passive faith to expecting dynamic service.
To learn more about Doer, click on the image and head to the site. We have bulk discounts so you can walk through the book with your students.
Every leader feels the pressure to complete more.
- Create more products.
- Meet more people.
- Attend more meetings.
- Write more posts.
The pressure for more is a leadership constant. Entrepreneurs and leaders rarely experience contentment. But how could we? We tend to see the broken aspects of the world and are wired to fix, adjust, and change.
So, we end up working longer hours, pushing families, businesses, and ourselves to the limit.
In the name of doing “more” we fine-tune our personal disciplines and meticulously monitor our progress. Our source of guidance and direction come from our:
- To-Do List
Can we be real for a minute? You can’t get everything done.
If you are anything like me I bet you know that this is a reality, but it doesn’t stop you from being consumed with worry and stress.
There are some items on my list that I am incapable of accomplishing. In fact, there are many items that I have absolutely no power over.
That is why I have started creating to-do lists for God.
Now, before you think this is the most arrogant concept that you have ever heard of (I know that I am a nobody and that God does not take orders from me) my intention is to create a space that is a reminder that God is God and I am not. There are conversations, situations, and projects that I cannot control. I need to hand them over to the One who has control and dominion so I can stop worrying about them and focus on the tasks that God has for me today.
We make lists for our employees to take ownership of, why not acknowledge God’s part in your work life?
Why Create a God To-Do List?
1. Admits Your Dependence Upon God
Like I said, we need a daily reminder that our power fails in comparison to God’s. By God’s grace you are in a place of authority and influence. Don’t forget to depend on His strength and wisdom as you lead.
2. Increases Your Prayer Life
Making a “God To-Do List” is essentially the practice of writing down prayer requests. I would suggest that you pray through any to-do lists that you create, but shifting tasks from your side to God’s is an easy way to start praying.
3. Shifts Your Focus on What God Has For You To Do Right Now
You need to do what God has given you to do for the day. Stop worrying about the situations you cannot change, instead you are investing in the areas that God has planted you. The deeper the roots you develop now, the stronger your leadership will be tomorrow.
What items and task are weighing on your heart that you need to hand over to God?
Your pride will want you to depend on your own strength. Fight the urge to do more and start pursuing a God-honoring philosophy of work.
How you provide for kids tells parents who you actually are as a church.
Every church desires to be friendly, kind, loving, and invested. We all want our churches to teach the Word of God in love and walk alongside of individuals and families as they navigate each phase of life. But every now and again churches must take a step back and see if they are organized and functioning in these ways.
Children’s ministry is a unique area in the church because of the investment each parent has to their kids safety and comfort. Yes, parents of teenagers care about their child’s safety too, but we have to agree there is a different dynamic when we talk about caring for a preschool or elementary child for several consecutive hours. This is a great responsibility that most parents limit to their extended families.
Since caring for children is such a great responsibility, children’s ministries must go the extra mile to ensure that they are providing for the family’s needs when a guest arrives on campus.
Below are eight checklist items that serve as a foundation for a church to examine their ministry space to see how welcoming and warm their ministry space is for a first time guest. Now, this list does not provide specifics about room designs, check-in systems, or security processes. This is simply an entry point to create a welcoming culture in your children’s ministry.
8 Checklist Items To Ensure You Have A Welcoming Children’s Ministry Space For Guests
The Rooms And Lessons Are Ready Before The Kids Arrive
You should not be cleaning as parents and leaders are showing up to drop off their kids. In the same manor, you should not be running around the church collecting craft supplies and games for your lesson. The rooms and your lesson should be ready to go when the doors of the church are opened.
The Teachers Arrive Early
It is a rarity that first time guests will show up late to a worship service. Guests will always arrive earlier than your regular attenders. Why? Guests want to make sure they know where to drop their kids off, speak with their children’s teachers, and find a seat in the worship center before the service starts. To ensure that your team is ready for guests, family ministry leaders must arrive at least 20 minutes early.
The Facility Light Are On
Nothing says, “We are not ready for you” as loudly as having facility lights turned off. Do not try to pinch pennies and save energy by turning off lights to hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms. Trust me, if someone falls because you were being cheap you will pay more in legal fees. Your facilities must be lit. If the lights are turned off it communicates that you are closed and unwelcoming to the community.
The Welcome Team Is Approachable and Informative
The children’s pastor isn’t the only person who can welcome a new family and lead them to the check-in area. Your front lines (welcome team and check-in leaders) need to have kid and adult class information, understand the process for guest families, and be attentive to needs. Doors should always be opened for people as they arrive in your building. It is the small acts that communicate that you value others. Within this conversation is adequate exterior and interior signage to direct parents to the family ministry entrance.
The Check-in System Is Easy To Operate
The parents must know where the check-in system is located, how to check-in their children, and the process for checking their child out after service. Our church has a worker in both kiosk locations (preschool and kids ministry entrances) to assist first time guests and ensure their questions are answered and that they are correctly entered into the system. An easy way to make this process quicker for first time guests is to provide a fillable or downloadable form on your website for parents to complete before their visit.
The Teachers’ Names Are Posted
First time guests have a hard time remembering all of the names of people they are meeting in their small group, worship services, and their child’s leaders. Make sure that every volunteer has a name tag on each week and that the leader’s picture and name are visible by the room door so parents can avoid awkward name exchanges in the coming weeks.
The Teachers Are Attentive
Does the guest family have any allergies that need to be discussed? How about questions about feeding bottles? It is best to have two leaders per room so that one leader can stand by the door before and after bible study to answer questions, transfer information on upcoming events, and brag on the kids to their parents. When teachers are attentive to a family’s needs parents are more comfortable leaving their kids.
The Parents Are Contacted Within Three Days By The Small Group Leader And Church Staff
It is important that both the small group leader and the church staff contact guest parents within three days of their visit to the church. To have one and not other contact will limit the potential relationship the church can build by supporting small group leaders as they minister on the front lines in the children’s ministry. Use this as a non-threatening, informal survey about their experience. Ask them about their visit, if their kids enjoyed their room, if there are any questions that you can answer for them, and inform them of the next event that is coming up.
As a small group leader: How can you ensure guests are noticed, cared for, and comforted?
As a children’s leader: How can your team ensure hospitality and care is extended to every family this Sunday?
This summer will be full of ministry and media!
As you prepare for summer camps, retreats, events, and mission trips here are some apps that will help you share the vision and stories of your trip.
These are all apps for iPhone and the best part, they are FREE!
8 Essential Apps For Student Ministry This Summer
Your best camp pictures are on your student’s phones. PhotoCircle allows you to easily share photos in an album so that your group can see what everyone is doing. You can use this to gather all of the pictures from your students for a end of week post or add parents to the group so they can see what is happening each day!
Your students will listen to music on the way to and from camps and mission trips. Make a playlist for them with the songs from the week, songs to make them think, or songs to trigger memories they just made.
Videos are an awesome way to send prayer requests and updates while you are on the road. You don’t have to have a GoPro and Macbook to make quality videos. This is a quick video editing for iPhone.
This is a fairly new, easy-to-use photo editor. This will transform your Instagram pictures into frame-worthy snapshots.
You will be too busy to post this summer. The easiest and cheapest way to send reminders is through Hootsuite. You can schedule reminders about deadlines, packing lists, and updates while you are out of the office.
This is group chatting at it’s best. Students can join the group and you can send one text and tell them it is time to meet back at the bus during your tourism day. The best part is that people can sign up through their phone without downloading the app.
Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook and Twitter. This where most of your parents are social. Live Feed from the rest stop, right before worship, or send back prayer requests. This is a quick and easy way to keep your parents connected while you are out with their kids.
For those flying or traveling long distances with youth. This app will help you stay on schedule with weather, fly information, maps, and directions.
What other apps do you utilize during the summer for your student ministry?
I love reading and spend a significant amount of time each week consuming various blogs, books, and news outlets to keep me focused. And, depending on who you talk to, I might be addicted to buying books. My office might be covered with books… The struggle for shelf space is definitely real though – I am having to start stacking them on random flat surfaces! The question has become, “Do I keep the picture of my kids during our beach vacation or use that space to stack books?”
Sadly I feel like the minority when it comes to reading. Too many people are quick to dismiss disciplines because of their daily demands. Learning is a discipline that is developed and maintained. As I talk to people it is clear that they value the idea of learning and reading, but can’t find time to invest in their own personal development. Strong leaders are learners regardless of how busy their schedules become.
I am in no way an expert in time management but here are a few hacks I have used to fuel my hunger for learning.
Life Hacks To Help You Learn Throughout The Day
Start Listening To Audiobooks and (Quality) Podcasts
Audiobooks and podcasts are a great resource to utilize during your commute, while you are mowing the yard, as you complete your morning workout regimen. When you start adding the time you waste listening to talk radio or pop music you can spend significant time absorbing to new ideas. Each week I am able to listen to four to five podcasts on current events, sermons, or leadership ideas by simply listening while I workout and mow my yard.
Read One Chapter Per Day
For some the thought of reading a book is overwhelming. An easy way to read a book is to break it into manageable chunks. I aim to read one chapter of a book per day. At that rate I can read through a book in a couple weeks. If this is too much, cut it back to a chapter every three days.
Study One Topic Per Month
Since I am a pastor I spend significant time preparing sermons, bible lessons, and talks. One way I focus in on my study is to spend one month researching, praying through, and learning about one doctrine, idea, or person per month. Over the course of a year I am able to develop a deep grasp of twelve biblical doctrines.
Follow Local and National News Outlets on Twitter
If I had to guess I bet that you do not have a daily newspaper subscription. Print media has taken a hit since the rise of the digital age, but news outlets have figured out how to share stories on social media. Twitter will show you the most recent posts from those your follow. Add in a few news accounts and your Twitter feed will deliver you the top stories in real time.
How are you setting aside time to learn in spite of your busy schedule?
Summer in youth ministry is an incredible time to see God work through relational ministry. A student’s flexible summer schedule lends its self to impromptu hangouts, deep conversations, and opportunities to develop spiritual disciplines.
Summer is a pivotal time where transformation can happen in student’s lives. If you want an awesome fall semester you need to invest relationally during the summer months.
I know what you are thinking; your summer is already too busy. While summer is supposed to be a vacation, we all know that the summer can be busier than other seasons! Youth pastors are traveling to and from camps, leading mission trips, helping out with church-wide events, and planning for an incredible fall schedule. Yes there are a ton of events, camps, and holidays, but don’t overlook the flexible opportunities you have to minister.
You need to maximize your time this summer to make sure your team is building a relational foundation that will catapult you into the fall.
Here are six tips to keep in mind as you enter the summer rush.
- Organize Your Calendar For Relational Ministry
Your students will be bored out of their minds by July. Plan to add in some time getting coffee with leaders and grab a burger with a few students. Utilize your flexible schedule and meet up with parents and students throughout your day.
The summer is a great time to spend time with your students, but it is not your job to provide childcare. You still have a job to do so don’t feel the pressure to over program your summer schedule. If you are exhausted heading into September you will likely stay tired until Christmas.
- Provide Opportunities For Your Students To Serve
Summer is an awesome time to get students serving. Try to get them plugged into the things already happening around the church (vacation bible school, men’s and women’s events, kids ministry, etc.) that way you are not adding additional events and projects to your calendar. Serving as a small group is the best option because you can utilize smaller groups to serve when it is convenient for them.
- Offer Creative Bible Studies
This is the perfect time of year for you to add a short bible study with your students. This can be a small group of 8-10 students, or a focused group of 2-3. I’m aiming to start a high school guys bible study group in the mornings where we work out to P90x then study God’s Word. Students love these opportunities.
- Reduce Your Student Worship To Small Groups
Our band is lead by college students who head back to their hometowns during the summer. Instead of stressing about the lack of worship leaders we decided to set up round tables and walk through a couple video-based small group lessons in a large group setting. This helps when I have to miss for events I can hand the prepared material to another volunteer to lead.
- Invite Students Or Leaders Over For A Cookout
If you are able, invite some students to come hang out and eat some hamburgers. You can invite a specific bible study group or have a leader’s cookout. Encourage your small group leaders to host a cookout for their bible study group. Back them with the student ministry budget to take some financial stress off of them cooking for 15-20 students.
Summer is the perfect time to build relationships with students, parents, and leaders.
What are you doing this summer to build community in your student ministry?