October is the New September

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I few years ago, a youth pastor shared this phrase with me. “October is the new September”.

This is probably not the case in all settings, but it is a reality in many of our CRC youth ministries. Perhaps your church is one of the many who adopted this rule and if you are, I would love to hear why. I could guess, but your own story is much more interesting to me. (In the comments section, please feel free to share them!)

No matter when you begin your ministry season, it is always most excellent to use a few tried and true methods to help your church start off on the start note.

From the Faith Formation Ministries top ten ways category, let me share a few of my favorites from the “Top Ten Ways to Build a Stronger Youth Ministry.” 

  1. Pray Early and Often. Youth ministry cannot succeed without being in the will of God. Bathe your youth ministry in prayer daily. Ask that it be included in the congregational prayer on Sundays. Develop a prayer calendar for yourself, praying through the specific needs of your leadership and teens. Be intentional in prayer. Do not let it become something you do only when you think you have time; make time!
  2. Build a detailed Calendar. In order to have a successful season of youth ministry, it is vital to develop a strategic calendar of events, teaching dates, outings, and so on, so that your leadership team, the youth, and their parents will all be on the same page and can plan their weeks accordingly. When there isn’t a clear path to follow and direction for the year, chaos can and will happen.
  3. Develop a strong Youth leadership team. Your best resource in youth ministry is the youth themselves. They are the ones who know the struggles teenagers are living with and the joys they experience daily. Use this to your advantage! Find youth who have shown leadership skills and invite them to help plan a youth group evening; and older youth to mentor younger youth; ask youth for input on study topics, social events, and outreach. Your youth program is a great place to start developing leadership skills in young people and equipping them to be disciples—and doing so will also help build their faith!

As I do ministry, prayer is as necessary as the air I breathe. It must become part of our ministry DNA. Without it, we default to a place of personal agendas and that is NOT a helpful place to lead from.

Doing ministry without a plan (of course we always need space for the Holy Spirit) is impossible to do well. Leaders and youth will feel lost without direction and purpose. Parents will not be able to schedule well without your calendar. Be clear and communicate the dates and plans well!

Discipleship is core to youth ministry. Whether you take a formal or informal approach to developing youth leadership, it must be central to our call as youth leaders.

So, what about you? What have you found vital to kicking off your season, whether in September or October?

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Community Builder

We have a vibrant youth/young adult ministry. We bring in five busloads full of university students from three area universities (about 300 students) every Sunday morning. This 'bus ministry' is a vital part of who we are as church. The church's dedication to this bus ministry really hit home last summer -- during August -- when there appeared to be a communication glitch with the bus company and they didn't show up to pick up the students. The church arranged for a large fleet of taxis to pick up all of the students, take them to church, and return them when it was all over.

The fall season is formally kicked off when we launch the Adopt a Student program. Students sign up to be paired with church families. We have three rules for church members before they adopt a student: they must be part of a small group, you can't adopt the same student two years in a row, and if you're single you must adopt a student from the same gender.

Community Builder

Keith, this is off topic from the blog post but we are starting a new Young Adult ministry at our church. What Bible/topical studies do you use? If you could email me at [email protected], I would love to talk to you about Young Adult ministry.

Community Builder

Keith, this is off topic from the blog post but we are starting a new Young Adult ministry at our church. What Bible/topical studies do you use? If you could email me at [email protected], I would love to talk to you about Young Adult ministry.

Participant

Thanks for the great question Angela. Many congregations are asking the same one.

I am laughing cause I was really on the ball and planned our first night of youth for September on the first Friday. I had planned a night at the home of one of our members for dinner, sharing a faith story based on the building blocks of faith, and time for games. A few nights before the event one of the parents informed me that the Christian school had their opening bbq that same night! Being new to the community I did  know this. All our juniors were going to the school bbq! Well the seniors and leaders enjoyed the dinner and some of our juniors joined us later in the evening. Lesson learned: check out what else is happening in our students lives prior to planning special events. 

Participant

Thanks for sharing Aviva. Communication is vital and tricky. 

Community Builder

Angela, you asked what study material we use for our young adult/university students.

These are millennials. They have tons of questions about faith and, more importantly, they don't know how to defend their faith.

They wanted meaty content so we're offering an apologetics course provided by 'Answers In Genesis', taking them especially through the first chapters of Genesis.

These students tell us that they have enough opportunities to socialise with friends on campus. They crave biblical content, so we give it to them.

Imagine hundreds of Christian young adults, equipped in apologetics, let loose on our secular university/college campuses!

Participant

Thanks for sharing this Keith

Community Builder

This is great Keith! I was actually thinking the same thing before you responded. For that age group, an apologetics class is really a great idea. It can ground them in the reasonability of the faith and also equip them to defend and also go on the offense and tear down any argument that comes against the Word of God.

At a PCA church I attended several years ago, we would get a group of college students each summer from Campus Outreach (similar to RUF, Cru and other collegiate ministries) and I had the opportunity to teach a class on apologetics and I used John Frame's (RTS prof) Apologetics to the Glory of God and also Four Views of Apologetics. It was a lot of work because it wasn't in a teachable format, but the material was great. I lean toward the Presuppositional camp (Van Til) but I think it was great to show that all the different approaches can be beneficial to the believer.

I also liked Tim Keller's Reason for God, which seems to be very approachable and not too over the head for most readers. There are some weak points for sure and Keller can be both great and also a little to ambiguous at times, so its not an overall endorsement. But because he is a pastor in a big city, he deals a lot with millennials and so I think he is very shrewd in his approach.

Hope your study goes well! Blessings.

Participant

Thank you Eric for these helpful suggestions.

Guide

Just a note that they are probably post-millennials. I'm currently listening to the audiobook Generation iY and it is surprising how much difference there is in this newest generation (Z). 

Admin

Sounds like an interesting audiobook, Wendy. Would you recommend for those leading youth in the church? or not necessarily?

Community Builder

There are two other areas that apply equally to young adults and to all of us.

1. Pornography. Today's culture is saturated with pornography. I  can't imagine a fall session of young adults, students -- probably all of us -- without a serious, biblical treatment of pornography. Genesis 2 and the treatment of male and female as God's image-bearers can't be stressed often enough.

2. Technology. We are an inter-connected society. We literally have the "whole world in our hands" as the old song goes.  While we regularly preach the importance of sabbath rest from our work, we also need to build in sabbath rest from technology ... whether that is turning off our cell phones and emails for an hour or two a day, an entire day on the weekend, whatever.  Do we control technology or does it control us?  During Sunday worship, young adults/students are encouraged to turn their cell phones ON: mute the calls but open up the Bible app when it's time to read scripture.