Here is part one of Inside Out. This series is all about your students heart and mind. We love to see life change in the lives of our students and we know it starts from the inside out. Help your student to have a new heart with this series.
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What Does The Fox Say?
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Youth ministry resources come in a variety of styles, just like your students. That is why it is important that before you choose the right resources for your ministry you make sure you know your students well. Because not only are they different than the students down the road, they probably are different than you were when you were a teen. So before we can make a wise decision about resources and the direction of our ministry it is imperative that we first consider our students. You need to think about their interests. This way the games, sermons, bible studies, etc. that you choose will be something can relate to and feel a connection with. You also need to know their hurts and struggles. You need to know what they are dealing with in their lives at home, at schools, etc., so that your ministry and what you use to provide that ministry speaks into the hurts and struggles in their lives. You also need to know where they are spiritually. This way you can choose sermons and studies that are on their level. But maybe most importantly you need to get a sense for where you believe that God is taking them. You need to pray and ask God to give you wisdom and vision for your ministry and their lives and then choose resources that push students to move beyond where they are to where God wants them to be.
Youth ministry resources are a tool to better help you to do ministry, they are not a replacement for you in your ministry. What do I mean? I feel like a lot of people are looking for ways to be absentee student pastors. They want to be able to throw a project or a Bible study at a student and say, "Here, go figure it out." There is a time for this because some students do need to learn to pull away a little bit and stand on their own. But for the most part our students need us and our leaders as well as the resources. So make sure that as you find the resources you need that you carefully plan how you will implement them as well. Consider how they can be incorporated in to the relationships that you and your leaders are building with your students so that those relationships can have a greater impact, instead of trying to use the materials you find to replace those relationships. Because while our students need to be empowered to go out and grow and serve on their own, they still need us a long the way to pour into their lives.
When it comes to youth ministry resources, I will admit that some times I like the old way of doing things. I like a book to make copies of or a CD-Rom to download files from. This is probably just because often times I fight change and I enjoy hoarding. But while getting resources to our students is often better in a more tangible manner it is not always best when it comes to acquiring them ourselves. That is why I encourage you to look into digital download versions of resources. For one they are cheaper. You do not have to pay for all of their shipping and production costs or all the pretty packaging. Second, it is more convenient. No longer do you have to take time leaving your office and going out to a bookstore to peruse resources. You can do it right on your computer. And finally, they are reusable. If you buy books you usually only get one use out of them or eventually they are lost or worn out. But if you do a digital download you can use the resource over and over again. And trust me, you will probably need it again. So the next time you look for resources think about finding ones that you can download to your hard drive so you can build your library more quickly and cost effectively.
When choosing youth ministry resources you must keep one thing in mind, as with anything we do in youth ministry. You must be focused in on the Gospel. Because our goal at the end of the day always should be to help students experience a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ so that they can turn around and help others do the same. This is why you must keep a few things in mind. For one, make sure that the resources you have share the Gospel. Be it sermons or Bible studies, make sure the Gospel is involved. Next, make sure that the Gospel is shared correctly. Sometimes there is bad theology floating around, and while we do not need to necessarily give all of our students PhD's in theology, we do need to make sure the resources we use are theologically sound. Finally, try to find resources that not only share the Gospel with your students but also train and equip them to do the same. Because when we come to Christ that is not an ending but instead an incredible life changing journey of growing in Christ and changing the world around us.
I love Dare2Share
and always have! If I need a kick in the pants for evangelism I head over to hear
Greg Stier. We are getting ready to kick off our back to school midweek and I am going through these videos! You must check them out!!
In student ministry, you never know what youth ministry resources you will need or when you will need them. That is why I believe that it is important that you as a student pastor build a library of resources so that you are ready for any and every situation. And luckily for us, we do ministry in the day and age of the Internet and social networking so this is now easier than ever. No longer do you have to drive to a bookstore or go to a conference. Many of the resources you need are only a click away. But even with things being easier, I still want to make sure that you have the guidance you need in order to build your library. So here are some tips I have picked up along the way in my years of ministry that I have found to be extremely helpful.
1. Think digital. - I have nothing against the tradition resource books. But here is the thing. If something works well once there is a good chance it will work well again later on down the road. The problem is though that if you bought it in a book there is a chance you can only use it once before it is pretty much destroyed. Or at least eventually it will wear out. But if you get your resources in a digital download format then you can quickly and easily print them off and make copies as often as you need to.
2. Don't say no. - One of the greatest resources we have as student pastors is each other. And out of the networking we do and relationships we build, people will often offer to share some of their resources with you. Now, some of these often will not be that great. But if someone offers you a free resource, take it. It makes them feel good, it does not cost you anything, and you just never know when it might come in handy.
3. Get organized. - As you accumulate these resources you may begin to feel like a hoarder which is understandable. But trust me, I truly believe you can never have enough of these resources stored up. But with all of this accumulation you need to get organized. Used to you had to do this in file cabinets and bookshelves, and you may still have to to an extent. But if you are thinking digital this is merely a process of setting up file folders and storing everything immediately in their correct folder. Then make sure you have a backup or two because we all know that technology is not perfect and I would hate for you to have to start all over again. But if you are organized and have a backup, you will always be able to have the right resources, at the right time, for the right situation.
Again, you never know what situation you will find yourself in when doing ministry. So I encourage you to accumulate as many resources as possible so you are are ready for whatever this journey throws at you.
Youth ministry resources are not the end all to be all of youth ministry, just a component of it. But they are a big component as they allow you to do your job more effectively and easily. Granted, the most important thing remains relationships and being able to share the Gospel and build those disciples through those relationships. And with the right resources I believe you cannot only do that better, but also be able to focus more on those most important things. That is why, not only do we want to provide you with those resources but also give you a little bit of direction as to which of these resources are most important to include in your library.
1. Games- Some of us love games and some of us hate them, but I believe we all could agree they are an important part of student ministry. Not only do our students need to let loose from time to time but also our games can be a great opening door into your ministry and a way for your students to build relationships with you and your leaders as well as your others. That is why I would suggest having PowerPoint games as well as a collection of traditional outdoor crazy games that we all know and love or dread.
2. Sermons- Your students need to hear from you and hear you teach the Bible. This is not all they need but it is important. Now you can write your own sermons, but this takes away from that time you could be using for prayer and deepening relationships with your leaders and students. That is why I suggest using some pre-prepared sermons so that you can share the truth you want to share but take the other time during your week to handle other important tasks.
3. Curriculum- Be it discipleship curriculum or Sunday School curriculum, you need to have something for your students so they can dig into the word. Granted, all you need is a Bible, but curriculum makes for a great guide. Yes you could write your own but I suggest avoiding this unless it is your true gifted area, for the same reasons that I gave for sermons.
4. Events- Your calendar does not need to be loaded with events because you need to have time at home with family and also do not have an unlimited budget. But they are good to have from time to time to either refocus your students spiritually or reach out to your community. We have some great prepackaged events that you can use so that you can have a great event with only some of the headaches that they can bring.
5. Apps- This is a new type of resource in youth ministry, but also a useful one. Not only are they cheaper than traditional resources but also are easier to get into the hands of your leaders and students. I encourage you to search for youth ministry apps and see what you find that could be of use in your ministry.
These are not all of the resources that are available but are definitely the major ones that I would make sure you have in your library. Because again, they are not exactly what ministry is about but they can help you do ministry in a much more effective way.
At Youth Ministry Resources we like to ask big questions like "What is youth ministry
?" because we are student pastors just like you. Therefore, we feel it is important to wrestle with what student ministry is as well as where it is going so that we can know best know what we should be doing to reach this generation.
The answer to this question has changed over the years. At first youth ministry was just about entertainment, games and keeping the teenagers away from the rest of the church. Then it became more about keeping kids from doing bad things. But as our culture has changed, family dynamics and health has changed, and students have changed because all of this, youth ministry has had to and needs to change with it.
At its core we believe that youth ministry is about reaching students for Christ in such a way that they experience life change and become life changers. How exactly you go about that changes depending on the community you live in and the culture of that community. For example, if you come from an urban or rural setting, if your families are working class or more affluent, if you have a lot of intact families or a large number of divorced families with single parents, all of these factors affect how you do ministry.
But I will tell you that regardless of your setting or circumstances the goal is the same, to help students experience life change in Christ and become life changers. And there are some things that all students are longing for that will help you achieve this goal in your youth ministry. First of all is relationships. We were designed for connections and relationships and more than ever students need those. Because even though they are the most connected generation ever they have also become the most isolated. Some of this due to the breakdown of families and some to technology, but regardless of the cause the problem exists. And due to this problem students are longing for community and relationships and when we offer this to them it will be like a breath of fresh of air and will begin to break down walls and hard hearts in the lives of students. Another thing that will always work is truth. You need to speak truth into the lives of your students, both from the stage and in face to face conversations. This includes both truth from scripture and honest counsel about how the choices students make will affect their lives. Because we live in a culture that no longer believes in truth. Therefore our students not only need it, but they also want it, whether they will admit it or not. Finally, I believe that youth ministry should offer students a purpose. That purpose comes from Jesus changes their lives and giving them a vision for what He wants them to do, but as a youth ministry you should help them find that purpose and encourage them to follow it. Because students do not just want to be entertained. They want to do something with their lives and accomplish big things. They want to change the world and leave an impact, they just do not know how to. We need to help them realize that they only way is in Jesus and then call them to great things . We need to raise the bar and let our students know that we expect nothing less than them being life changers. And when we do, I believe students will rise to the challenge and we will be amazed by what God does in them and through them.
We could keep going and get into more details about what exactly youth ministry is. But much of that is so fluid depending on your context. I believe though that what we have discussed today will help you better understand what it means to minister to youth and will help you do it more effectively. Please hear me though. I do not believe that this is an exhaustive description of youth ministry, nor do I believe these are the only things we should be doing. So I encourage you to share with us, when you think about "What is youth ministry?", how do you answer that question?
I love mission trips!
I love how God uses our students!
I love watching our students share Christ!
I love how God shows up and shows off on mission trip!
I hope your summer is going great!