For Students: Exposed!!

One of the biggest lies we can believe about ourselves is that we are worthless.  A lot of times we feel worthless because we equate our self worth with our accomplishments and how others view us.  Once those things fade away and we have nothing, and we are left feeling worthless.  Other times it has more to do with a life filled with pain.  Whether it’s with parents who treat you like crap and you feel like they don’t love you at all or a boy/girlfriend that has pretty much treated you with zero respect or even teachers that have pretty much told you that you wouldn’t amount to anything.  You are valued and loved by God.

I want you to know that your circumstances do not define you nor does it define your worth.  No matter what people have done or said to you and no matter what you have done, God loves you and values you.  You are valuable to God for no other reason than the fact that He created you.Job 33:4  The bible says that Jesus Christ gave his life for us while we were against him.Romans 5:8  So that we will have the opportunity to be with him forever.John 3:16 Which means He made the decision based on how He felt about us and not based on our abilities, our behavior, or what we have to offer him.  Your value doesn’t come from you or other people but it comes from the one who created you.Psalm 139:13-14

  1. God has created you in his imageGenesis 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  2. God is always thinking about youPsalm 139:17 (NLT)How precious are your thoughts about me,O God.  They cannot be numbered.
  3. God cares about every area of your life and wants to be there for you1 Peter 5:7 (AMP) Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
  4. God loves you and there is nothing that can ever make him stop – Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  5. God has created you with a purpose – Ephesians 2:10(NLT) 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

A lot of times I forget these things when I’m going through rough patches in my life.  God has given us one of the most, if not thee most, valuable thing He could give. His identity.  Imagine Bill Gates (worth 60 Billion dollars roughly) giving you his identity. Crazy Right!! God (the creator of EVERYTHING… even Bill Gates) values you so much that he makes you in his own image.

You are valued, thought about consistently, loved like crazy and purposefully created by the one who will never change on you, God.  Remember what God has said about you and also remember what he has done for you.

Share this POST if you know someone else needs to know this or be reminded.

hope it helps

ac

 



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For Students: Shipwrecked!!

1 Timothy 1:19 – “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

Basically, this verse is encouraging anyone of faith to rely on, trust in their faith and listen to their conscience when it has prompted them to hold on to what is right.  It’s also warning us not to violate our conscience by clinging to what we believe is right and not clinging to what God says is right.  I violate my conscience when I think I know better than God.  I violate my conscience when I refuse to heed it’s calling to do what’s right.  A lot of times we think “oh I would never make the decision to do anything crazy”.  I reply with, not at first but over the course of time not clinging to your faith, violating your conscience becomes easier.  The things that you thought you would never do, you will find yourself doing.

I can recall many times in my life when I thought I knew better than God.  I thought that I had a better understanding of how I should live my life than he did. Proverbs 3:5  Of course I never said these words out loud, I just lived like it.  If my life could talk it would’ve said “God, I will do it your way in all the areas of my life except:

  1. In my relationships with the opposite sex.
  2. When I’m hanging out with my friends.
  3. How I treat my family (whoever has authority over me).
  4. How I make my decisions because you don’t know me the way I know myself.
  5. (You fill in the blank).

I had to learn this the hard way but God cares about all of the areas of my life and his plans for my life are holistically better. Hosea 14:9 The reason God’s plans are holistically better is because He’s seen my life from being to end and all the affects of every decision I will ever make from every angle.  He also can see what and who my plans affect.Proverbs 5:21

I screw all these areas up in my life when I don’t follow his plan because I can only see short term.  God’s plan deals with purpose and His best for me. My plan deals with selfish desires and short lived gratification.  God’s plan is always for my benefit even if it doesn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned I don’t have to know everything as long as I know the one who does and shares freely priceless wisdom. Proverbs 2:6

Practically, I would never make decisions based on partial information if I didn’t have to.  Well, God is saying when it comes to your life you don’t have to. Just follow my path because I have seen your life in its entirety.  Everyday we have to make the choice to cling to our faith and not violate our conscience.  I’m finding out the more I understand God’s word (the bible) the more easier it is for me to make the choice.

This weeks challenge: Ask God to reveal to you the areas in your life where you are not clinging to your faith and where you are violating your conscience, align yourself with God’s best for you(His plan) and avoid shipwreck.  Talk with someone if need be.

hope it helps

Feel free to leave a comment.

ac

Youth Group Leaders Active or Just Available?

I have had the pleasure of revamping our volunteer youth group leader program. I can’t tell you enough how awesome it has been dreaming about how to make our weekend youth group services more relational.  Now, I know that youth group volunteer leaders are nothing new.  Probably every youth group has some form of adult volunteers serving in their youth ministry.  I definitely applaud and commend any adult who takes on the task of being a leader in youth ministry.  It can be tough at times, as students can be everything but friendly and open.

When I first begin this process I looked at our current program and kind of surveyed a few other ministries.  I really felt like we were all in the same boat in terms of expectations and the actual duties of the youth group leader.  The model consisted more about the leader being comfortable, present and available.  Leaders were asked to do the setting up and the labor of the youth group more so than the connecting with students.

So I had an idea to challenge our leaders to be proactive in connecting with students.  Instead of them waiting for students to approach them, they would approach students.  I definitely understand how hard it is so I basically trained them on how to approach new and core students.  I created a simple four step model for them to use.  The four steps are greet, meet, connect and pray.

  1. Greet – We want to greet students.  We will greet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Meet – We want to make sure that we genuinely meet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye/”.  I also had them refer to this handout I created to help them really connect with the students “Conversation tactics for youth workers“.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.  Every situation will be different but when the opportunity presents itself feel free to pray.

I also added a small after service snacks to slow students down so that we could have a chance to connect with them.  I explained to our leaders that success would be just getting to greet the students.  So if you walked away from your service and all you were able to do is say hi to students then I consider your time at service successful.  Never underestimate the power of hi and a smile when the intention is to show God’s love to someone.  The great thing about it is that most of the students will be back the next week.  So now you can build relationships with those students who you have already greeted. If the leaders have the privilege to move on to the next 3 steps then I would consider that a bonus.

Yes, this definitely stretched our volunteers so it’s important that you stress the difference between what success is and what’s the added bonus.  Success being the hi and a smile, and the bonus being meeting, connecting and praying for students.  We launched this last weekend and it was a great success.  Our leaders rose to the challenge and did an awesome job.  The very site of leaders proactively greeting, meeting, connecting and praying for students was super encouraging.

I believe the key to volunteer leaders being able to really move forward in the 4 steps with confidence is making sure they feel and students know they are fully apart of leadership. We are doing 2 things to make that happen.

  1. Our leaders were introduced from stage so students would know that they exist and would understand their purpose. This gives the leaders license and confidence to speak into the lives of the students and spiritually lead them.
  2. They will also have the opportunity to be a part of the service (could be a video, announcement or handling communion).  We want students to know that they are a part of the student ministry leadership team and getting to know them is just like getting to know staff.

How does your weekend leaders differ or resemble this process?

Hope it helps!

Training for our Weekend Leaders

Had the privilege of training our weekend leaders this past weekend.  We are taking our leaders in a new direction.  They will completely be a part of our weekend team.  They will no longer be just available but will be initiating connections with students.  Thought I would post what I shared with our leaders.

The duties of the weekend leaders (Pastoral Care Team) will be to meet, greet, connect and pray for students.  Our goal as the weekend pastoral care team is to reach out to students that are disengaged and also care for the students that are a part of the ministry.  We are a part of the weekend team, so we will be fully engaged in the weekend programming.  We want to bring the level of relational ministry on the weekend to a higher level of importance.

Here are 6 ways you will serve on the weekend:

1. You will be introduced to the students so they know that you exist and understand your purpose. This will give you the license and confidence to speak into the lives of the students and spiritually lead them.
2. You will also have the opportunity to be a part of the service (could be a video, announcement or handling communion).  We want students to know that you are a part of HSM leadership and getting to know you is just like getting to know staff.
3. You will be assigned a zone in the theater during the service you attend.  You will scout out those students who are sitting alone and sit with them or assign student leaders to sit with them.  You will also control the noise level of the zone, making sure students are being respectful of each other.  During Saturday 430pm service and Sunday 9am service we want all of the students sitting in the lower level of the theater.  Please remember the students in your area who race to sit in the back alone and be sure to greet them after service.
4. You will intentionally connect with students.Instead of standing around waiting for students to come and get prayer, we will be actively pursuing and connecting with students so we can meet, greet, connect and pray.

  1.  Meet – We want to meet students.  We will meet students instead of wait in a corner for them to come to us.  We will reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to us.
  2. Greet – We want to make sure that we genuinely greet them.  Refer to the hand out “Hand Shake Hi to a Hug Goodbye”.
  3. Connect – We want to make sure that we are intentional about our conversation with students.  We want to look for ways in the conversation to suggest a next step.  For new students we want to guide them towards community.  That could range from life groups to serving opportunities within the ministry or summer camp.  You can even suggest grabbing coffee, lunch or ice cream with them at the refinery sometime.  For students who are already in life groups, you can suggest serving in a ministry, missions or summer camp.  We want to make sure students are getting connected.
  4. Pray – We want to pray for students.  While you are connecting through conversations, once an area of struggle, pain, disappointment, hardship and trial appears offer prayer.  We want to avoid saying “I’ll be praying for you”.  Pray for the student right there on the spot.  Even pray for the core students you already know that have been met, greeted and connected.  Go deeper in conversation and pray for them.  Just because they are a part of our core students doesn’t mean they have everything together.

5. You will also be a part of the follow up team. We want to get them connected. If you meet a first timer make sure they fill out a response card so we have their info.  We want to make sure we are able to keep them updated on what’s going on in HSM.

  1. Hanging out with first timers. – We will send our first timers to the growth booth. You will then escort them to the VIP lounge where they can sign their name and get awesome snacks! What if we had KING SIZE snacks…even bags of cotton candy?!  You simply take two minutes sharing about our ministry and how much we are glad they are here.  Tell them to make sure they don’t leave without saying hi to you the next time they come.
  2. Following up with first timers. – Contact the student just to see how things are going. Finding out how can we help them get more connected is our goal.

6. We will have an after service event.  We will do a hang session right after all four services.  The Saturday services can be different from the Sunday services.  Basically, we will have an activity after each service that we will help slow students down so we can connect with them.

how are your weekend leaders active on the weekend?

hope it helps

ac

Conversation Tactics for: Youth Workers

Having a conversation with a new student can be like pulling teeth.  You get all hyped to greet them to only have them give you the least amount of info about themselves.  Getting their name and letting them know you’re glad they came would be a success, anything more is a bonus.  I would say the success to a “bonus” filled greeting would be open ended questions, follow-up questions and being intentional.  So I want to give you a few steps in this area.

In the early stages of the conversations you really want to ask questions that you can refer back to in the conversation.  Examples: family, sports, school, their church history and etc… I do this so that when I hit a dead end I can ask more questions about one of these areas.

Open ended questions are great because you can gauge their level of commitment to the conversation.  A closed ended answer to an open ended question lets you know where they are…not interested. If it’s a more elaborate answer you know they are somewhat committed to the conversation.

Examples of Open Ended Questions:

What has been your biggest struggle in high school and why?

Do you have a crazy coach and how do you manage his craziness?

What are you planning on majoring in college and why?

Are you close with your parents and how supportive are they about (fill in the blank)?

What are some struggles you’re having in your walk with Christ?

How long have you been coming to church and what’s got you coming?

What’s the attitude towards Christianity in your family?

Follow-up Questions:

Listen with the mindset of asking a follow-up question.  The best follow-up question is one that challenges a student to reveal more of them self through the conversation.

Examples:

So how did you feel about your parents saying that or doing that?

So how has your decision to commit your life to Christ changed you?

Why do feel your life is so stressful right now?

The above are just a few examples to get your mind going.  Each encounter will be different so you will have to make them up as you go.

hope it helps

ac