Hope it helps.

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In order for anything to move there must be a constant flow of energy.  I’m learning it’s the same way with my life being effective for God.  In order for me to be moving in the right direction there must be a constant flow of acknowledging God in the matters of my life.  When that doesn’t happen I stall. I make bad choices and decisions.

Do you have a daily connection with God?

The effectiveness of my life for God is only as strong as my daily connection with Him.  My ministry should be a direct reflection of my daily connection to the one who holds the purpose to my ministry.  For example:

  • The same unconditional love I receive from my relationship with God should flow over into the way I love others.
  • The way that God has given to me, should flow over into how I give to others.

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Pastoral Care Friday Quick Tip: A Healthy Summer in Youth Ministry

Summer can be super crazy for any youth group no matter the size.  We all are planning like crazy, ordering stuff, booking places to meet and renting stuff to use.  Then we go into the mode of managing and staffing all these events.  Then the summer fly’s by so fast that we don’t even get a chance to recap.  The only thing we know about the summer is it cost a lot of money and a ton of students or less than expected showed up.  Here are four things I’m thinking through for me and the team(We are all like high school students when it comes to the summer:)) –

  1. Pray, Pray, Pray….This year our team is going to be praying strategically for the summer.  You never pray enough.  Having a strategy helps people pray specifically and it helps remind people during this crazy summer time.
  2. Heighten your teams awareness of their own spiritual need for rest, and time with God.  Since we in the YM world move at a much quicker pace in the summer.  Sometimes we need to be reminded not to forget what fuels us and avoid burnout.
  3. Document life changing moments – Whether it’s through feedback surveys for each event or documented testimonies.  Give students and leaders a chance to respond to what God has done through the program or event you’ve planned.  Unsolicited responses are always the best in my humbled opinion.
  4. Encourage each other.

This is super short and quick but it will definitely make a huge impact on your summer.  Would love to hear other ideas on how to keep the summer healthy and about more than just how many showed up!!

 

hope it helps

ac

Vote on your favorite earthquake status Update!!!

9 Ways to Keep Your Volunteer Youth Leaders Motivated!

This is not the end all be all to this topic.  I love starting conversations and getting people thinking.  I was just thinking about when I was a volunteer leader for two years and how I now lead a few of our volunteer leaders.  I know how easy it is to become unmotivated when it comes to being a volunteer. So I thought I’d write some ideas on how to keep them motivated.  I’m pulling from my experience as a volunteer and also as a person who has and is managing  volunteer leaders.

Here are a few ways to keep your leaders motivated and engaged in my humbled opinion:

  1. Allow your volunteer leaders input into the planning process. – This does not mean that they have to be at all the meetings for something you are programming.  You want them to feel invested so figure out an area they can own and allow them to take ownership.
  2. Try to be specific when you are celebrating and encouraging your volunteer leaders. – When I was a volunteer it meant a lot to me when I would get a complement that was related to something that I did specifically.  Example: Ac..it was awesome how you made that student feel so comfortable with being here, even though they didn’t know no anyone.  It didn’t mean a lot because I needed the complement, it meant a lot because it was confirming that God is using me just as he created me.  We all need that from time to time.
  3. Be consistent in meeting or connecting with them. – whether it’s a meeting monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.  However you connect, be consistent with it.  The more you put into your volunteer leader program, the more it shows them that they are valued.
  4. Make sure that their duties are worth their time being there. – Plan very carefully what they will be doing, if possible let them know in advance.  There is nothing worse than showing up to serve and you end up doing something because things where not planned out.  I know things are never perfect but just be a wise steward of their time and yours.
  5. Avoid having them serve at multiple events if at all possible. – As you plan your calendar think about how not to burn your leaders out, because it’s super easy to do.
  6. Build Community – plan something fun to do together.  Plan a picnic and invite their families, bowling night, pot luck dinner, etc. Whatever you do make it informal and highly relational.  Which means make sure you all are doing something where conversations can be had.
  7. Lead by example and not the iron fist. – Don’t tell them to greet, meet, connect and pray with students if you are not doing it.  We are in this together, so don’t treat them as hired help.
  8. Offer Training and/or Resources related to their job – It says you care about their success.  I wanted to be the best at what was asked of me as a leader.  Training and resources that can better assist them in doing their best is a win win for everyone.  Even if you just have people who setup the youth group room, have a time of encouraging them, and pouring into them whatever God lays on your heart.
  9. Acknowledge their sacrifice and their families sacrifice – They are definitely not looking for you to do this, but when you acknowledge their sacrifice it lets them know that you do not take their them for granted.

Any thoughts?

hope it helps

ac

Friday Quick Tip: A Way to Use Facebook for Pastoral Care!

Thought I’d share this with you.  Creating a culture of students who pray for each other.  My first idea was to do a traditional prayer area that students could go get prayer.  I would staff the area with leaders and students.  I really wanted students to experience the value having people praying for them.  My first idea didn’t go the way I expected.  I would get a few students a month to the prayer area, where I would have leaders and students standing post.

Then I had the idea to use Facebook as the area for prayer and use that area for organic connections and prayer.  Since students are already on Facebook it was a matter of meeting them where they are.  So I created HSMiPRAY where students are praying for students.  The only people that can join  are high school students and our youth group leaders.  When a student joins they read the description and are free to start posting prayer request and praying for other students who post in the group.

Here’s the description:

iPRAY Ministry (Students Praying for Students) – We are devoted to praying for others and our ministry. Without self-gaining motives and we are thankful for the means of communication by which we can talk to God. God never intended for people to walk alone in life, but in community with him and others. So this group was created for us to walk together in prayer. Praying for each other and our ministry.

There is no prayer too SMALL that God is too busy to hear and there is also no prayer too BIG and CRAZY that God isn’t big enough to handle. From school work to parents divorcing, God cares about it all.

You can message us your prayer request and the iPRAY team will pray for you. hsmIPRAY@groups.facebook.com

or post it on our wall…if you don’t mind others that have joined the group to see and pray with you.

AGAIN – There is no prayer too SMALL that God is too busy to hear and there is also no prayer too BIG and CRAZY that God isn’t big enough to handle. From school work to parents divorcing, God cares about it all.

I would ask that we’re all mindful of people’s request…and just encourage others if comments are made.

When a prayer request is posted students either (like it) or post as a comment (“praying for you” or something encouraging).  We do not encourage or allow advice giving.  If a student posts a prayer request that might need attention, our pastoral care team will contact that student through Facebook and offer to meet with them and talk.  So if we see someone give advice (even if it’s good) we delete it.  I actually contact the student via Facebook and say “great advice but we want this to be just for prayer and encouragement because if everybody gave advice it could get out of hand”.  Usually it’s a close friend who’s giving the advice so I encourage them to contact them directly with the advice.

We have 150 students added and we have not advertised it at all.  It’s really just been word of mouth, friends adding their friends, etc.  We’ve had prayer requests from students who are struggling in their faith to students who’s parents are divorcing.  It is an awesome sight to see students who aren’t even Facebook friends praying for each other.  They know they don’t have to wait til youth group to get prayer.  They can post at anytime and have people praying for them at anytime.

hope this helps

ac

Pastoral Care for Student Ministries!

In youth ministry the concept of pastoral care for students can be a little unclear.  I would love to start a conversation about what pastoral care for students should look like.  I’ve talked with a lot of youth workers and leaders about this and I usually get one or two answers.

  • “Well, it’s on a case by case bases.” – what does that even mean?!?!
  • “Who ever knows the kid well enough and their personalities kind of click handles pastoral care.”

For most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, we are just winging it. I can tell you that if there isn’t an intentional plan it is most likely not being done. I like to think pastoral care is a proactive response of ministry.  We think about what is the ministries response to students who are going through tough situations in their faith and life, and how can we be proactive in our response.  Most of the time when we give the answers above it’s because we have made some assumptions by default.

A few assumptions we make about our ministry when it comes to Pastoral Care are:

  1. Our programs are good enough.
  2. Our kids are serving so they must be on the right path.
  3. Attendance equals growth – students who come to every event you have are healthy.
  4. Our small group leaders are handling it.

I definitely believe this is an area we must be intentional about and we must make this just as much of a priority as the programs we create for fellowship, evangelism, etc…  I learned from my own ministry that there are students I will over look who are struggling with their faith or are having major issues going on at home because of my assumptions and lack of intentionality.  So what are the steps I took towards being intentional in this area? Well, first I had to ask myself some questions about the ministry.

  • Have we made pastoral care a priority?
  • Within the programs we do have,  how can we create opportunities to care for students better?
  • Are we training our leaders to care for students, or are we assuming since they signed up that they know what to do? – most of the time if we are winging it than they are to.
  • Are we assuming that our core students have it all together because of participation?

Here are a few ideas that we’ve implemented:

  1. Our large group time volunteers have been trained to be proactive. We have really maximized our time with our students by commissioning our leaders to not just be available but be active. Check out – Active or Just Available?
  2. Prayer during service for students that is tied into the service. – We’ve also had them fill out a “contact me” card just so we can follow up for continue care if needed.  Most of the time you will get students who need prayer but also some guidance, so being able to follow-up is critical.
  3. We also give each student a prayer request card so they can fill it out and request prayer.  We are intentional about not being super generic about those who need to fill them out. Example: If the message is about students making bad decisions, then we will ask those students who have done so to write “contact me” on the back of the card if they need someone to talk with.  We work that part into the message because it carries more weight than just making an announcement.
  4. We used a “text in” if you are dealing with porn.  So students were able to text in for someone to contact them and talk with them about their struggle with porn.
  5. Grab a group of trusted volunteers to meet with core students one on one.  Your core students would love it.  I can tell you from experience, the students who are there all the time need to be met with.  Those are the students who get the less care because of the attendance equals growth factor.
  6. Start a prayer chain with your leaders for the ministry and students. – This can be open to any church member who is willing to spend a few minutes in prayer a week for the ministry. – If I was listing in order of importance this would definitely be at the top.
  7. Training our staff and volunteers on how we will respond to students who are dealing with hot topic issues like same sex attraction, self harming, etc…

These are some super simple things that we’ve added to our ministry.  These are just examples of what we’ve done.  You know your ministry better than me, so come up with your own ideas for your students.  The point I want you to get out of this post is to be intentional about caring for your students.  Just because the students are coming out and sharing things voluntarily doesn’t mean it is not going on.  We have have to think proactively.

Would love to hear more ideas on how you are caring for your students.

Any thoughts?

hope it helps

ac