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Youth Worker: 3 Reminders for Staff and Volunteers!!!

1imagesThis weekend I had a new weekend volunteer start.  It was really cool to see her excited to jump right in and get started.  While we were talking she told me that she felt God calling her to youth ministry with kind of a nudge specifically towards teen girls.  It was great to see how excited she got talking about something she was so passionate about which got me thinking…I believe she received three things yesterday that we all need from time to time.

  1. Understand Expectations  –  Just loving on students is not a goal or expectation.  Don’t get me wrong, I use that phrase a lot but leaders need to know in what way do we love on students.  They need to be able to understand what you expect of them.  So be clear in your expectation, and if it takes a long time to explain it than you probably need to look for ways to explain them as simple as possible.
  2. Express Ideas and passions – I have to remember that God called them to serve. He also gave them the passion for ministry.  So I must not take that lightly and make sure they know that their ideas and insight are just as important as anyone else. I would probably say their insight is even better with them being on the outside looking in.  Also, when a volunteer feels heard and valued they buy into the ministry even more.  Allow them to express their ideas and passions. It doesn’t have to be done just the way you want it done all the time.  They may surprise you and give great ideas and insight.
  3. Early Wins – I remember when I first started in youth ministry. Every win I would get gave me more confidence to keep going and even gave me the confidence to stretch myself and try new things.  Volunteers are there not for monetary reward, but their reward is in the change they can make in others and themselves.

2imagesIf you’ve been in youth ministry for a while maybe you need to revisit the expectations that are set.  How often do you get to share your ideas and passions? Maybe it’s time for a one on one with your boss.  Maybe you need to take the time out to just reflect on some of the wins in your ministry.  Sometimes when you’ve been in ministry for a while you can become numb to these three things. It can cause you to set your youth ministry on cruise control and you never really get excited or have that fire you once had for ministry.  I know there are more, but I wanted to highlight the three that I valued as a volunteer and as staff. What would you add to the list?

hope it helps

ac

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respondToday, I got the opportunity to be on The Simply Youth Ministry Show.  We got an email about a youth worker who had parents come and tell him that their son is gay.  While this topic deserves more than 12 minutes, we took it on. I thought I would elaborate more on the topic.

Popular opinion says it’s OK and to each its own and the only people that are speaking out loud in opposition are the people who are screaming God hates gays. Which is completely untrue. I believe that as culture continues to push embracing this life style as the norm, you will have a lot more students with questions.  We need to talk about it.

I’ve had enough conversations to know that there is no easy solution when dealing with students who struggle with homosexuality because every situation is different.  However, I do believe there is a…

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Youth Workers: Ministering to Students in Crisis!!!

Here’s a little training piece I wrote for our life group leaders.  Each situation can be different and call for a different response, but I believe the ones listed are super important as you support students during the time they need you the most.

  • INVOLVE PARENTS RIGHT AWAY

Be up front with students and let them know that their parents will need to be involved. Let the student know that you have the responsibility to make someone else aware of the situation. As a small group leader you can never agree to  “never tell anyone what I am about to tell you.”  Our first option is to always try and coach the student to tell their parents, but be firm in letting them know that either way their parents must know.  Offer to do it together if need be, but it must be done.

  • REFER TO A PROFESSIONAL

We are not professionals.  So if you feel for any reason that a student needs professional help, talk with their parents. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the parents you can call the Student Ministry office.  We will help you figure out a plan.

  • BE PATIENT -1 Thessalonians4:15 

There will be times when the student that is getting help will relapse.  The fact that you have spent so much time with them praying and talking can easily make you take their relapse personally and get upset.  Be patient.  Especially, if the student comes and tells you, don’t waste that opportunity to model Christ’s love to them.

  • PRAY CONTINUALLY -1Thessalonians 5:17     

Prayer should always be your first response. God has incredible plans for your students, and He wants you to be apart of it.  We must stay in communication with Him.  Connect with Him for the words to say and the steps to take, as you support students.

  • LISTEN WELL AND ASK QUESTIONS – James 1:19

Students that are going through crisis need you to do these two things more than anything else. I know it’s so tempting to give them advice because you’ve been where they are or you know the solution to the problem.  Taking the time to intently listen and ask questions says a lot.  You never know, you could be the only adult in their life who listens to them intentionally.

  • REMEMBER ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE THE HEART – Philippians 1:6

You are here because you like students and want God to do something awesome in their lives. God is going to use you.  We must remember that even though God uses us, He is the only one that can change hearts. So don’t carry the burden of this situation, thinking that you are the one that will change your students’ heart. God is faithful, He will fulfill His promise and complete the work that He has used you to begin.

  • HSM IS HERE FOR YOU

Know that you are not serving alone – You can call on us and we will help out in any way we can.

 

WHAT TO DO IF A STUDENT IS IN DANGER

1.ASSES THE DANGER

These situations are never easy to handle, and we want to help you through it. Our team can help you decide if this situation is, indeed, one in which a report to authorities must be made and discuss further action with you. Even if you aren’t sure this is “big enough” to warrant reporting to the authorities, let us know what’s going on so we can pray for you and help you lead your student back toward health.

Who to contact from your staff:

(contact info)

2.Report to the Authorities

You are a MANDATED REPORTER which means you must REPORT known or suspected instances of CHILD ABUSE to the authorities.  You do not have to check with us first.  Legal action can be taken against you if you don’t.  We are definitely here for you if you are not sure and want to talk with someone about the situation.  Also, we are not mandated to report self-harm unless it is life threatening.

3.Follow Further Instructions

The church team will instruct you on what steps, if any, need to be taken from here. Most likely, your role in the reporting of the situation will be complete at this point, it would be rare for your involvement to be required beyond the initial report. Continue to pray for the situation and that it will be resolved quickly.

hope it helps

ac

For Students: Youtube Video of the Week!!!

Here’s a new video from Jeff Bethke the I HAte religion but Love Jesus guy.  This new video is called “Counterfeit Gods”.  It is basically asking you one simple question: Who’s sitting on the throne in your life? I would encourage you to think about that question as you watch the video.

hope it helps

ac

For Youth Workers: Pastoral Care Quick Tip!!

I’ve kind of built this list to help me remember some important questions to ask parents when they call for help.  The conversations drive the questions that I ask, but for the most part I make it through most of the questions every call.  I remember a call I had from a parent and it lasted for about an hour.  The funny thing is she pretty much talked herself through the whole thing.  Basically, the call was successful not because of my wisdom, but my asking the right questions allowed her to think more critically about the situation than she had before.  I hope this is something you can use and even add to. I’m sure there are more great questions…

  • How old is the student?
  • What school do they go to?
  • What grade are they in?
  • What is the students situation?
  • How long has it been like this?
  • Do you have any idea as to why they are acting this way?
  • How is their relationship with mom/dad/siblings?
  • Are they seeing someone professionally?
  • What have you already tried?
  • How can I best serve you?
  • Is the student a Christian?
  • Are they involved in church?
  • Have they been in a small group (life group) before?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how violent do they get?
  • What’s the parents relationship like? Married/Divorced/Get along either way?
  • How often do you hang out as a family?

hope it helps

ac

Youth Worker: Meeting With Students Can Be Challenging!!!

I had a parent call concerned about her teen.  The student had done something the parents didn’t see coming and it really rocked their relationship.  So the parent called and told me what happened and that they wanted me to talk with their teen.  Before we got off the phone the parent said, “oh and by the way, they don’t want to come talk to you. I’m making them come anyways!”  Shocker right! The reality is that this is the nature of all the calls I get.  To be honest, I wouldn’t want to talk with someone either if I’ve done something wrong. Especially if my parents are going to make me.  Well, I’ve seen God work miracles in the lives of students through our conversations.  So after I work through things with the students I started asking them what were their thoughts about meeting with me.  These are some of things they said:

  • I was just going to try and fix them.
  • They would share as little as possible and give short answers.
  • I can’t help them because I don’t know the whole story.
  • They feel judged.
  • I’m going to help their parents control them.
  • The most common response amongst the students I’ve asked was that they think I have automatically taken their parents side on the issue so why bother?

I’ve used this information to help me navigate conversations with students.  Here are a few of the many steps I take in response to the way the students are thinking:

  • First, I remember only God can change the heart. So I take time to pray for the time I’ll be meeting with the student.
  • I do not jump right into talking about the problem.
  • I intentionally ask questions about their family relationships, school, sports or a hobby of theirs. -The problem tells you nothing about who the student is, so I ask questions in these areas to give me a more holistic view of the student.
  • I’m not here to add onto the guilt or shame the student already feels. I’m here to connect the student to Christ.  So I’m careful to use language that encourages and pushes them in the right direction. Speaking the truth in love just like Christ did.  You don’t want to add to the people in their life speaking negative to them.
  • Ask questions about their walk with Christ or the lack of their relationship with Christ.  I’ve found that a lot of students problems stems from problems in their relationship with Christ or the lack there of. Of course there are practical steps the student needs to take but Christ is the ultimate solution we must push.
  • I’m transparent with my own life when the holy spirit leads me to be in relating with the student.  – Students respond when they know you can truly understand them. Word of Caution: “Be lead by the Holy Spirit”.
  • I’m very conscious to the fact that I need to see the student the way God sees them and not allow anything that they have done to alter my view.

There is definitely a lot more that I could say as I think about this topic.  Interacting with students can be easy when they think your awesome, but can be very challenging when you have to be the leader who has to speak the truth.  I’ve seen God work miracles in the lives of students.  I’ve seen God change their hearts and instead of being a hassle to their parents they become a blessing to their parents.

hope it helps

ac