Q&A

Our church is in the planning stages of trying to revive a Junior High (grades 6-8) group. Does anyone have some experience in organizing a successful program for this age group? In particular, did you model it after your High School group or start from scratch?

February 22, 2011 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

I am asking around to the different forums how that Library Ministry can connect with the youth of our churches. It is not that there is not material out there for them. It is how to deliver it to them. Now that Christian Bands are getting mainline exposure and the book choices are getting...

February 21, 2011 0 5 comments
Blog

But this is our reality right now and the thought is ‘God, when is enough, enough?' Has that thought ever run through your mind when it comes to youth ministry? You have a group of kids that show up at school drunk and they get expelled. A mother tells you, just before you walk into church on a Sunday morning, that her daughter tried to commit suicide...

February 17, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

This article entitled "The Distraction Model of Youth Ministry" by Brian Kirk should give reason to question how you're doing youth ministry in your church and what the long term effect will be on your youth.

January 19, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

In mid-December I received a call from Mags Storey and she introduced herself as a writer for the newspaper Christian Week. She wanted to do a write-up about the Soul Care Retreats. When I asked her why, she said they are unique in meeting the needs of youth workers across North America...

January 19, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

If you think about it, it’s not a bad way to start the new year. No, it’s not a new year’s resolution – they are never fulfilled but perhaps a 'lifestyle adjustment' is a nicer, more proactive way to phrase it. As I sit and ponder I find myself looking into the various rooms of my life – son of the King, husband to an amazing wife, father, son of two wonderful earthly parents, son-in-law ...

January 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Within the CRC, only one third of our churches have paid youth workers –  either part time or full.  As a paid youth worker, what gold nugget of advice can you give to the volunteer in a volunteer driven church to encourage them in ministry?

December 20, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Burnout - it's a reality for many youth workers. Stats show that the average youth workers lasts 18-24 months in one church!! If you have been in ministry for more than 24 months, in one church, what are you doing on a regular basis that keeps you motivated to continue in youth ministry. Share...

December 20, 2010 0 1 comments
Blog

Equip Magazine is intentional about equipping today's volunteer youth worker for  today's youth. Addressing the needs of volunteer and paid youth workers alike, each Equip Magazine tackles relevant topics in areas such as how to lead Bible studies, Leadership Development, how to build lasting community, youth group nights and more. If you are ministering to youth...

December 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Here is a definition of laughter:

"Laughter is an audible expression of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy. It may ensue from hearing a joke, being tickled, or other stimuli. It is in most cases a very pleasant sensation…" or in this case it is brought on by watching The Chair skit...

December 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

Want a great way to introduce the Heidelberg Catechism to your youth group? Check out this Rap from Curt “Voice’ Allen. It may just give a new appreciation for the 129 Questions and Answers.

November 30, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

Have you wondered if you’re in youth ministry for the ‘right’ reasons? How do you know if you really care for the youth you are ministering to? These are tough questions. These are questions that every youth worker, either paid or volunteer, should consider a few times a year. It’s not redundant but rather a reality check.  

November 30, 2010 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Hi,

Has anyone out there used 3Story by Youth Specialties? The blurb on the website says that it helps youth learn how to share their faith by focusing on 3 stories: God's story, their story, and their friend's stories.I've used Becoming a Contagious Christian Youth Edition in the past,...

November 22, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. Depending on where you are across North America, the snow is falling or soon will be falling. The familiar melody of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas may come true this year.

But with the hustle and bustle of Christmas also comes...

November 16, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

We are matching up our youth with adults in our congregation who are willing to pray specifically for the youth in their care.  We have some ideas of our expectations but would like to have a creative or catchy name for it (something more than just "prayer partners").  We are hoping the adults...

November 4, 2010 0 2 comments
Blog

Our friends, family and others who are close – deserve to be known by their names.  Our youth deserve to be known by their names because it is simply who they are. It lets them know that we are truly interested in them. It lets them know that we wanting to know who they really are.

November 2, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article
A weird thing happened to me the other day that taught me a bit of a life lesson. You see, our family operates on a rather odd sense of time--our bedroom alarm clocks are usually set 10 minutes ahead of regular time. While we know this full well, and are made aware of it every time we enter the...
November 1, 2010 0 2 comments
Blog

"The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they - at some distant point in the future - will take over the reins. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely... because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile." - Alvin Toffler

October 21, 2010 0 17 comments
Discussion Topic

Should the youth pastor do youth ministry on behalf of the church, or guide the church to do the work of the ministry? Thoughts?

October 18, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

A few weekends ago I was at the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego, CA and had the joy of sitting through a seminar by Dr. Tony Campolo. Over the years I have been to many of Dr. Campolo’s seminars and every time I walk away with a great gold nugget that can be implemented into...

October 18, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

She came into my office ready to let me know her thoughts and what I should do about a particular problem. Her voice was stern, her eyes locked on mine and it began: “You should not allow Bill (name changed) to come to youth group because the way he acts makes my son Tim (name changed) feel...

October 6, 2010 0 7 comments
Blog

I came out of the meeting with a strong sense that God is a God of Action, not a God of inaction. The Lord desires you to be moving forward in your life, and especially in your faith. He wants you to be doing something, to be bettering yourself for His purposes, so that your righteousness will surpass that of the Pharisees.

October 6, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Church Council! This is not a word that makes many youth pastors smile. Instead it’s a word that more often will cause heartburn—the kind that popping a Tums won’t fix. Dealing with a Church Council is a reality for every youth worker – you can’t hide from them, so it’s best to embrace them....

September 29, 2010 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

Is the faith life of our young adults a mile wide and an inch deep? Why are so many young people leaving the church? This article "Young adults spirituality is 'wide, shallow, compelling': Pollster" in USA Today shares some interesting facts about young adults.

September 24, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

Is your church set up to be sensitive to the needs of those with disabilities? Do your youth understand what is it like to live with some form of disability? Check out this awesome activity that your youth can do during an evening.

September 24, 2010 0 0 comments

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This is great! Thanks for sharing Monica!

Glad to hear our churches are taking the HC seriously again. I've heard it has been particularly useful in outreach to Latinos as so many of them come from a nominal Roman Catholic background where young people are expected to learn "Catechism".

The Skit Guys have some scripts available. Perhaps one of them might work for you. Here is the link: http://skitguys.com/scripts/list/category/plays

Thanks Marcel - it needs to be said. I haven't checked out the resources you mentioned (except the skit guys-couldn't pass that up), but thought I'd pass along another resource I've used recently. It's from a fairly unorthodox guy, but he's engaging and fun to listen to and says it like it is. His name is Mark Gungor and he does the laugh your way to a better marriage seminars which are great. He recently put out a resource called "Sex, Dating & Relating: Teen Edition" that I've used with students. I think it's worth checking out. I only used the parts where Mark talks and found it pretty good.
www.laughyourway.com

Hi Dina,
Thanks! I'm glad you feel included in my writing. I have tried as much as I can to keep these blogs gender-neutral or gender inclusive for exactly that reason, but at times it does get awkward-sounding and so I default to my own personal situation. Hopefully my observations can still be relatable to both genders in those times too. Blessings on your ministry!

posted in: "The Kids"

Comment from Dina Zomer: Youth Pastor at Maranatha CRC in Cambridge, Ontario:

Could you please thank Monica for her latest article in which she put (Mom's)? There is not a lot of encouraging articles written about female youth director/pastors who are moms as well. So I really appreciated the brackets. :)

Love your ministries!

Blessings,
Dina

posted in: "The Kids"

"Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality" by Don Millar is very raw and written in casual, contemporary style. Teenagers (any 20-30 something even), turned off by organized religion and the "big c" Church would find this discussion of rubber-hitting-road Christianity refreshing, I think.

I guess I would call it structured chaos :-) The entire church building is available for us to use; no other groups are allowed to schedule meetings there during this time (which really cuts down on the complaints about noise and rowdy teenagers!)

When the kids arrive they enter through the social hall where we have a variety of table games: pool, foosball, air hockey, ping pong, etc. As kids enter the facility they sign in and have immediate access to snacks. Usually the first thing they say as they enter the door is “Hi! What’s for dinner?” Often, they gather around the kitchen to share news and talk about what’s going on at home and school, then wander off to join their friends.

We have one classroom set up with electronic games such as Playstation and X-Box 360. In addition there are a couple of laptop computers available. Another classroom is deemed the “homework” room. Here kids can work individually or in groups on that day’s homework or group projects. If they need help or tutoring they can get if from their peers, one of the older kids or an adults.

Down the hall, there is the more typical “youth” room with the standard couches, bean bags and stereo system for hanging out. The worship center is available for kids to use for music practice or jam sessions. (One of my favorite memories is the sight of a couple of guys arriving by skateboard with their guitars in one hand and amps in another!) The adjacent church parking lot serves as a freestyle skateboarding area.

Though it may at times appear unorganized, there is a lot of intentionality built into this set up. The kids have a safe place for much needed “down time” to visit with their friends. Because there is no expectation that they all participate in orchestrated group activities they tend to form into natural affinity groups. I have the freedom to move from group to group thereby interacting with small groups and individuals in a more natural and open environment.

At 5:30 we gather everyone together in the social hall for announcements, prayer and a family style dinner. Each week we have kids take turns setting up tables and chairs and I usually ask for a volunteer to offer prayer for the meal. For many of our kids this is one of their first attempts at prayer. (One of my favorite prayers was when a young man said “Yo, God. Uh, thanks for the food, thanks for S… and S… making dinner. Help us to behave and do good tricks on our skateboards. Amen” – classic!)

After dinner, kids are free to resume their chosen activities until 7pm. At that time they can either leave for the evening or join us for an hour of worship called “Vintage Youth”. Here we use experiential worship practices – silence, candles, prayer stations, responsive readings, teaching and discussions, prayer, blessing, etc. No bands, no praise team, but plenty of Spirit!

As far as volunteers, this year has been an incredible blessing. Up until now it had been only myself and one volunteer – really tough! This year we have been blessed with having 3 additional individuals offer to help. One helps in leading worship, one helps in the kitchen, freeing up my long standing volunteer for more relational interaction, and one comes during our worship time to assist in cleaning up.

A couple of additional notes:
1. This program has continued to evolve over the years. We have learned that half the battle is getting out of God’s way and letting Him work. When we started, we had about 10-15 kids, mostly from church families. They started bringing their friends, who then brought their friends and so on. Some kids come every week; some come a couple times a month, some drop in from time to time. Our average weekly attendance is around 40; if they all showed up at once there would be over 100. The majority of our participants come from unchurched homes.

2. We’ve learned that conventional wisdom often isn’t. We don’t have “Jr. High, High School, College divisions. We just have youth ministry. This means that it is not unusual for kids to bring younger siblings because they are left in charge of them. A number of kids continue to come even though they are past high school and now in their late teens and early twenties. On any given day we might have kids as young as 6 and as old as 21 gathered together. Some might argue that this is too inclusive. We find it leads to a stronger sense of family, something greatly missing in many of our kid’s lives.

3. This ministry is a testimony to this particular church’s desire to reach out to the youth and families of its community. This is a church of roughly 200 members – not large by any means, yet they continue to support us through the budget and additional offerings. (Trust me, feeding 40 kids every week isn’t cheap!)

4. We work in an urban context. Gangs, drugs, violence, dysfunctional family lives, homelessness and neglect are an everyday part of our kid’s lives. This type of ministry is not without its pressures and hardships. This is a place kids come to be safe and be loved, and it is where the Gospel is spoken through words, hugs, confrontations, prayers, tears and a lot of laughter.

My typical “youth day” begins at 9 am when I do the shopping for the evening meal. It officially ends about 13 hours later when I’ve dropped off the last kid at home. It is exhausting and glorious work. I can’t believe God picked me for this job!

I’m sure that’s way more than you were asking Marcel, but if you or anyone else has additional questions, please feel free to contact me at either 510.782.6010 or suedye@sbcglobal.net . Thanks!
-sue kuipers, Christ’s Community Church, Hayward, CA

To amplify your point, Marcel, I saw this posted today:

Interview with Kevin DeYoung  on The Good News We Almost Forgot in the Heidelberg Catechism

(Kevin DeYoung is the pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, co-author of several books (Why We Love the Church and Why We’re Not Emergent), and author of Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. Kevin kindly agreed to be interviewed about his new book, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism, which is on the Heidelberg Catechism.)

Thanks Marcel for posting this blog.
Yes, the three sections of HC: sin, salvation, service are very solid foundations of who is God, who we are, and what are expected of us as people saved by grace. We need solid Biblical church education materials for our youth. I think there is an older version of the HC, is it entitled, "The Church?"
Keep up the good work! 1 Cor 15:58.

Great point! It's a shame that the word Catechism sounds so heavy--I think many people just assume it won't connect with today's youth. But studies like Questions Worth Asking are so creative and engaging. They draw teens into discussions about foundational questions that speak to belonging.

amen, and amen!

I would love it if parents were involved in our youth ministry beyond the typical role of chauffeur and/or host. I encourage the parents of my youth to participate in any and all of our youth events in whatever way or role they feel most comfortable - from helping out in the kitchen, to joining in during activity time, to sharing their faith story, to being a small group leader, to being a mentor. So far, there haven't been many takers - parents tend to rely on the excuse that their kids don't want them at youth. Even if this is the case (which isn't as often as parents like to assume it is)
upon becoming involved, many parents (and their children) realize what a blessing it is to participate in youth ministry.
The obvious caveat being that if a parent is a small group leader, they would not be the leader of the group in which their child is a member.

WOW! Sounds like a great ministry you have with your after school program. Can you lay out for us how the 3 1/2 hours look from week-to-week? Do the youth run around and play? Is there some structure to it other than a meal and worship time? Has the ministry grown in the past 5-years? How many volunteers do you have to run the ministry?

It sounds like you have something good going here and perhaps this is an idea that other Youth Workers across North America might be interested in promoting in their respective churches.

Thanks 'Skuipers'

I’m not sure our model fits any or all of the 3 you mentioned. We have a weekly afterschool program that is similar to a drop-in community center model. It runs from 3:30 pm till 7:00 pm and includes dinner (free). It is immediately followed by a worship service which kids can choose to attend (or not).

We’ve done this for over 5 years. This year has seen about 100 kids attend at some point. Each week about 30 – 40 kids show up for various periods of time, 15 – 20 stay for worship. The majority of our students are from unchurched homes.

The atmosphere allows for the development of relational-based ministry and allows for the development of small, informal groups.

You may be correct. I went to high school with your brother and sister. Thanks for replying and keep up the thoughtful writing!

So I'm pretty sure I remember who you are - and if I'm correct, we didn't go to high school together, although we did go to the same church during our high school years.

Thanks for reading and replying!

Great suggestion Dana. For those interested in checking out Questions From A Pickle Jar, here are the links:

http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Questions-from-the-Pickle-Jar-Set

and

http://67.199.69.61/pickle/index.htm

Questions From A Pickle Jar is a Faith Alive Resource.

It's funny you should mention that you use Facebook to connect with old friends. Even when I read this post I knew that we went to highschool together, although you probably didn't know. In fact, I was good friends with your brother. Your parents and he were at my wedding where I married my youth pastor husband. I never knew you ended up as a youth pastor. Social media is a powerful tool that should be used as such. Another blog about social media addiction recognition would be a great topic for youth pastors. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. I have used my experience to help others - It's James 1 testament every time!

If you have the guts, Questions from the Pickle Jar was fantastic! Highly recommend this material!

Facebook is an ever so wonderful tool for connecting with those around us. When I first joined FB i was reconnected with my child-hood best friend, and with our small circle those child-hood friends, we all hung out for an evening.

You could say that my addiction to FB was fueled into flames at that point. I spent hours and hours searching for long lost friends, trying to rekindle lost friendships. Mostly all to no avail, but I refused to give up my quest.

I guess it came over time that I found that I was travelling down a road that I didn't need to go on, and then to focus on actual face-to-face connections - and develop those.

I love the fact that you posted those three signs of addiction - a plainly obvious way for others to see if they are travelling down that same road.

Social Networking sites can be so valuable, but they can be just as evil as they are valuable. The pendulum has swung too far in this direction, perhaps as youth pastors, parents, friends - as adults - we should strive to help to swing this pendulum back to a good balance between online friends and real human contact.

Perhaps this might be a good topic for another spilled salt.

Thanks Miranda for your thoughts. I encourage you to take your discoveries to your husbands youth group, and be a resource to help those who are travelling down the same road that you are.

God Bless you and your husbands ministry!

I can totally relate. I used to love playing Farmville on Facebook. My youth pastor husband came home one day and told me he had to see what Farmville was all about because many kids in the youth group were talking about it. I have a very busy life but I used to love the control that Farmville gave me. I was in control of how my farm looked, how much money it made and where I would spend that money. If I didn't like how I had set the farm up I could change it. Hours would pass quickly and the farm looked great, but my house did not. I tried to cut back by only checking the farm once a day but the addiction was so powerful. What I enjoyed for the control factor actually left me feeling powerless. Thankfully I left the farm and have never looked back.

What saved me you ask? God of course. I was selected to attend a conference for work. There was one session that talked about social media addiction and the signs thereof.

Some of these were:
- Sneaking a peak online so people won't see you and complain
- Ignoring real people to take care of virtual ones
- Reorganizing your schedule to allow more time for online interaction...

At the same conference there was a session on the science of happiness. What I learned was positive people have lots of meaning in their life. So as soon as I got home from the conference I deleted the meaningless farm. I told people I was quitting cold turkey so I would be kept accountable. I approached it in kind of a "12 Step" fashion. Some of my Farmville friends tried to convince me to keep playing to enable their addictions. I would say to them, "You do realize it is not a real farm, you are not earning real money, and nothing will really die if you quit."

Looking back I don't know where I found the time to play. Now I have re-focused my time into real people and meeting the real needs of my home and those around me. Thankfully, God has also used my short lived addiction experience to help others leave "the farm" as well.

Like others, I don't use just one of the models, but use a mix of them. In my mind, if you run a program solely under one of these models, 'success' just might not be found. Different kids come out for different reasons. I know if I was to never have a 'just-for-fun' event, some of my kids would end up elsewhere, whereas if I never had small groups, I would loose everyone of my leaders. Here's a bit of a break-down of what goes on over here ...
1. Event focused
- Around once a month, or once every other month, we'll do something extra, be it a random game night, service projects, or worship night with other local youth groups.
2. Relationally-based
- I try to meet up with most of my youth for coffee or a coke. I encourage my leaders to also do the same, so that we can build relationships through the goodness of starbucks or tim hortons!
3. Small Group
- for the most part, this is our focus, we use small group ministry to teach the kids here. I would say it happens 80% of the youth nights. When there isn't a scheduled SG night, lower numbers show up. The hard part is of course finding curriculum suited to all ages.

a couple pages i use for YM games and general ideas ::
- http://www.thesource4ym.com/
- http://www.egadideas.com/ideas.asp
- http://www.youthpastor.com/

posted in: SUGGESTIONS Please

1. My greatest joy is developing relationships with students, youth leaders, and families of our youth.

2. My greatest struggle is getting the congregation to see the importance of letting the youth have an active leadership role in all aspects of church life, particularly in regular worship service planning, membership on committees, and in providing fresh insight and innovative ideas for our church.

posted in: Joys and Struggles

I am a youth leader turned pastor's wife. I served a church in West Michigan for four years and then my husband graduated seminary and we moved to Oregon. I have three kids under four and that's what keeps me busy right now. I still am involved in youth ministry but more of a suportive role and hope to do more as my little ones get a little older.

Anyway I am very, very discouraged by seeing so many high school kids (some of who I ministered to and others who my fellow youth pastors in my town ministered to) leave the church, leave the faith, or can't find their place in the church. Many of them flock to the large mega churches and then complain they can't find community and even miss some of the familarity of the CRC they grew up with. I think it is great if they start attending another church. We don't neccessarily have to keep them at our own churches (I stopped attending the same church as my parents when I was 19), but we want them to continue to grow in their faith and be active members of a church.

If I had to do it all over again in my previous church position, I would have seen if my responsibilities could have extended to the young adults. Not neccessarily putting together a program like youth group where they all come on a Sunday night. But possibly regularly meeting them on their campuses once a month or every other month to keep that connection. Or establishing mentors within the church to share that task. If that would possibly turn into a Bible Study or small group, that would be great. It would be a way to keep that connection going and support them. It seemed like some of my youth groups kids needed that support more so after they graduated high school and faced some big challenges.

Since I'm new to my current church, we are undergoing a period of change.
We are in the process of developing a youth ministry that incorporates all three models in some respect.
1) Event focused - montly events that range from intergenerational gatherings within our church, community service projects, and community building events (i.e. the "fun nights")
2) Relationally based - at some point during their high school career, the goal is to have each student in our youth ministry connected with an adult member of our church in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, whether through doing Profession of Faith, student leadership training, prayer or prayer partners
3) Small groups - we don't have small groups in the formal sense with an assigned leader; we have a more fluid approach where the groups and leaders change depending on who is in attendance at our discussion evenings. This approach fosters great relationships between the students and the leaders because there is always a bit of change from week to week. Our group is relatively small (just under 20 students), so this works well.

Thanks for the reply.

I really love the idea of the "exit interview." Maybe we'll incorporate that in our youth program this year.

Thanks Marcel! I really appreciated these reflections. About "quiet time," I refrain from turning on my computer until I've spent some time in Scripture reading and prayer as well as sometimes silence or journalling. I usually can't get too far in my work without the computer, so the quiet time happens consistently near the start of my day!

Something that I recommend to youth leaders and other pastors is praying through your up-to-date church directory. We have a small church, so I only have 2 or 3 pages to go through per day and I'm done in 5 days; in larger contexts, leaders may have to work through their directories over a couple weeks. Regardless, the point is that you are praying for the people you are serving. Seeing someone's name may remind you of a joy or need about which you can pray and maybe act upon. Also, repeatedly putting them in God's hands can perhaps help reduce some messiah complexes!

The youth leaders of Telkwa CRC consistently pray for the church's youth. I am convinced that is connected with the effectiveness of their ministry.

Peace,
Stanley

my pleasure.

I highly recommend the "Seven Deadly Sins" materials from Faith Alive. It cerainly fits the criteria you've outlined (which, by the way, are very helpful ~ thanks!)

Personality types are also closely related to spirituality types.
Check out:
Sandra Hirsh and Jane Kise "Soul Types"
Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey "Prayer and Temperment"
Gary Thomas "Sacred Pathways"

I hope to lead an end of year workshop with the youth ministry leaders of my church on this topic. If anyone has any other resoures on "spirituality types", please let me know.

N.T. Wright's "Simply Christian" can be a good option. It is a bit more readable for today's youth than "Mere Christianity", in my opinion. Also, Shane Claiborne's "Irresistible Revolution" can provide a window into the Christian faith and its implications in a way that connects with youth. It certainly isn't explanatory in the same way as "Mere Christianity", but it can be an effective bridge for some young people.

Our home missions regional guy in Western Canada (Martin Content) suggested the strengthfinders and it was a blessing as well; great stuff. We (Woodynook - Lacombe, Alberta) have led an evening workshop called "Colours" that keeps the personality profile very simple (just 4 colours)in which our intergenerational missions team participated. Youth, young adults and adults have a new understanding for each others participation in the church and in missions. I also appreciate your comments, Marcel, on the 'embracing the elders.' I do wonder about participating in administration, pastoral elders and full council. I have gotten along with all five senior pastors I've worked with, and have fostered a relationship where we represent and support each other in the meetings that only one of us are at - perhaps that's why I wonder.

I recommend "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. Collins headed the human genome project and started college as an agnostic, went to atheism, and finally to Christianity. His credentials could scare some people but he writes in a very user friendly, non-technical style. Also, he credits the writings of C. S. Lewis as being instrumental in his journey to faith.
-Bill

Our most consistent mode is the small group model, though it is hard to peg our ministry strictly as one of these models - we're mostly moving between event focused and small group, but it always seems that both of these are done with the hope that they'd build a more relationally-based ministry ;P

Something we're starting to do this year was having Senior "Exit Interviews" with the students gradutating from high school in our church. (Similar to the exit interviews you have in college with the financial aid department.)

We sit down with each senior and walk them through what they can expect mentally, spiritually, emotionally etc going into college. We also ask them how they've grown spiritually over the past four years-- investigating if we are 'achieving' our goal of developing mature Christians and if our ministry was effective in their lives. We also talk with them what it means to still be a church member and in community while they're physically away. We provide them with resources and people to connect them with at their future campus-- already knowing their gifts and interests. We also try to give them an idea of places they can attend church (many students go out of state/town).

This also helps us keep a pulse on them while they are in college and will transition them nicely into our college ministry. We connect each student with an adult mentor/prayer partner from our congregation once in college. From our college ministry we try to transition them into ministry opportunities with other adults in our community especially while they're home on breaks.

But the exit interview provides somewhat of a 'right of passage' that helps draw a line and gives us an opportunity to talk about Christian community and how they fit in the big picture in this different stage of life.

We also do a senior retreat every June that also signifies the 'graduation' from youth group. We also have 'Senior Night' at the end of our ministry year to celebrate them and their involvements and leadership in our youth ministry.

Thanks for the article, Marcel. Understanding how people think is so important for ministry. Doing a personality test is a great way of opening our eyes to what makes the others tick. The Myers Briggs is perfect for this. I just picked up a book recommended by my brother who is also in ministry. His staff used Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton, and Liesveld, a book that includes another type of test called the Clifton StrengthsFinder. We may use this StrengthFinder test as staff here at Immanuel CRC in Hamilton. Anyone else do this one to shed light on its effectiveness?

Another good resource that I'm familiar with are the books by Lee Strobel: The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, the Case for a Creator, and The Case for the Real Jesus. These books are sold in teen editions as well as adult editions.

For the question of why evil is in the world, or why bad things happen, I often give Lewis Smedes' *How Can Everything Be All Right When Everything is All Wrong.*

Thanks for sharing your story Adam!

Mark, Great comment! In my previous church we did the Myers Briggs Personality Test between the staff members. It was incredibly helpful to us in understanding each others personalities and how to work with each one uniquely. It was a great tool to work through with fellow staff members. Thanks for pointing this out.

Great article, Marcel.

I think another thing that we don't think about enough is that a good chunk of youth ministry folks fall into the Type B personality spectrum, where many administratively-minded council members (and many senior pastors) tend towards Type A. This often results in people speaking on two different levels. Similar tendencies exist with musicians and artist-types within the church.

Learning a little about your own personality and appreciating the way other people think is key to making this type of relationship work. Its sort of like the "Five Love Languages" for pastor-youth pastor-council relations.

Jolanda, thanks for your comments. We hope that this site will be helpful and informative to youth workers across North America. Thanks also for your input, I will check it out and see if we can get it added to the site for other youth workers to enjoy. If you have any more websites to recommend or thoughts you would like to share please pass them on. Thanks so much!!!

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This site looks great, Marcel. Here's another web resource that I always recommend-- www.thesource4ym.com. It was helpful to me when I was a youth director. My favorite feature is the game search (http://www.thesource4ym.com/games/). It suggests games for your group based on criteria you select (size of group, indoor/outdoor, messy/clean, etc.). The slang dictionary is also fun (http://www.thesource4ym.com/teenlingo/).

posted in: SUGGESTIONS Please

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