As a student pastor you have many youth ministry tools at your disposal. Many of these are the youth ministry resources you keep in your library like games, sermons, curriculum, and events that you can use to work towards reaching students for Christ in a variety of ways. But today what I want to look at is the fact that many of your best tools are not always what first comes to mind. But these tools are incredibly valuable and can have an incredible impact on the life of a student.
1. Time- I continue to believe that our time is one of the most valuable resources that we have. Therefore we must use it wisely as we find time to spend alone with God daily, find time for family, and find time for our ministries. But time is also valuable for another reason. Taking the time to sit down with a student or show up to an event can mean the world to them. Often times this is because they know how valuable your time is and appreciate the sacrifice you make in using it to invest in them. But many times it is because no one else in their lives is giving them any time at all. It continues to amaze me how so often we think of these big, fun, and exciting things we can do for our students, like events, when really all they want is the simple things, like time.
2. Wisdom- I always think of wisdom as knowledge combined with experience. Therefore we all have some of it to give. And our students need our wisdom. They are bombarded from all sides with what the world says is wisdom about how to live their lives. We need to make sure that we are there though to impart true wisdom to them about a life filled with hope and joy, even if sometimes that wisdom comes in the form of speaking a harsh truth into their lives in order to save them from themselves.
3. Heart- More than anything, students want to know that they are wanted, loved, and that they belong somewhere. They want to know that someone cares about them and what is going on in their lives. We need to make sure that we are opening our hearts to our students so they know that someone cares and that someone is there to carry their burdens with them and to celebrate their victories.
These are what I believe to be some of the most important tools we have as student pastors. What about you? What are your favorites?
Today I want to provide you with a list of youth ministry activities that you can add to your youth ministry resources library. Because in student ministry, fellowship is a great way to build relationships and give students a very easy way to get involved in your ministry and connect with other students. And I have been amazed by how many times, these simple times of fellowship lead to incredible life-changing conversations. The problem is that while these activities are great it is often difficult to find the time to come up with ideas for what to do. That is why I hope this list of youth ministry activities will be of great assistance to you and a great starting point for some awesome times of fellowship in your youth ministry.
One of the major parts of any youth ministry resources library will be youth ministry sermons. Because of this, I want to give you a few ideas that I think might help to improve upon your sermons. These pointers by no means mean that I think I have this all figured out. They are just merely some things I have learned over the years, most of the time after some pretty bad moments in teaching, that have helped me grow as a communicator.
1. Have an outline.- I cannot begin to express how important this is. Because without an outline you run the risk of rambling and going off on all sorts of tangents. But with an outline you can remain more focused which will be easier for your students to follow. Plus you will be less likely to leave out things you want to say. Not to mention that when that moment comes where you get caught up in the moment and think, "This will be so funny(even though it probably won't be)," you can avoid it because it is not on your outline. I do like to try and memorize my outline so I can speak more confidently and not be staring down the whole time, but I still always have it with me.
2. Ask yourself it is really worth it.- I think the occasional story, joke, or shock value statement is okay and can even enhance your teaching. But when used inappropriately it can be distracting and often destroy the work the Holy Spirit is trying to do in the room. So you always need to ask yourself are these components worth it. Does the story help prove a point or is it just you trying to be funny or look like a better communicator? Is the joke really funny or is just funny to you? And even if it is funny, is it really necessary? Does that shock value moment really necessary or could the issue you are trying to draw attention to be communicated another way? These are important questions to ask because while these communication techniques are often useful they can also be high risk maneuvers.
3. Keep it focused. - Your students brains are already going in 100 different places. Not to mention they can only learn so many things at a time. So you need to make sure that your sermons focus in on one major idea and constantly go in a direction where every point helps to teach that idea. Because if not your students will not be able to follow along and will tune you out. Plus, if you are not focused, and go off on a tangent like telling a random story just because you think it is funny, you run the risk of that tangent being the only thing they remember instead of the scriptural truth you are trying to communicate.
4. Keep it short.- In communication, they say that people can only focus in for 15 minutes. For teenagers that time is usually shorter and because of the world we live in, their attention span is probably much shorter than however long any study says they can focus. So you need to keep things short and to the point. I say go for 15-30 minutes. You also need to find ways to break things up along the way to refresh and refocus your students. Some ways to do this are video clips, changing points, changing slides, having a discussion question, interjecting a quick activity, object lessons, etc. Again, these are just ideas and there are many other ways to break up your sermons.
5. If the Holy Spirit says something else ignore me.- At the end of the day be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. And if the Holy Spirit tells you to ignore everything I have typed here than do it. If the Holy Spirit says to talk for an hour than you do it. If the Holy Spirit leads you to throw out your outline and speak something else entirely then do it. Did you know that during Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech" that he turned his outline over and started preaching from the heart. And he did it right at the point most of us remember. So sometimes the Spirit leads you and you must follow.
Again, these are just suggestions, but they are suggestions that have come over years of experiences of not always crafting and communicating the best sermons. I would love to hear from you though. What are some lessons you have learned that help you improve your youth ministry sermons?
Youth ministry games have always been one of the most sought after youth ministry resources by student pastors. And it makes sense because kids of all ages and personality types love to let loose, and if we are honest we do to. I mean what is more fun than pouring flour or mustard all over a kid and then having a group of them chase you to return the favor? Today though, as we look at games I do not want to just give you a list of games you can use but instead I want to look at 3 important things when it comes to games that we as student pastors must consider. Then, in exchange for bearing with me I will give you a free game you can use in your ministry.
1. Youth Ministry Is Not All Fun And Games.- For along time there was an idea in student ministry, that eventually turned into a stigma about student ministry, that all we were supposed to do was play games and let the kids have fun. While I believe most of us have gotten passed this I know there are still some places where either this is what is expected us or maybe we still think this is what kids want. But I want you to know that students need much more than fun and games. Students need community. Students need to grow in their faith. Students need to learn God's word. Students need to go out and share their faith. Students need to be challenged to meet the needs of those around them. Students need to have a high standard set that says they can do big things for God. So it is important that in the midst of having fun, we make sure our primary focus is on more than just that. Because not only do our students need these greater things, at the end of the day they want them as well.
2. Kids Do Need To Let Loose Once In A While.- This is for those of you like me who regularly get told you are no fun. To be honest, I spent a large chunk of my life wasting time and playing video games. And part of the reason why was that the student ministry I was in never called me to anything else. They were just glad I was "staying out of trouble." Now that I have realized how much I missed out on and how many people I could have been reaching, I very much live with an attitude that there is work to be done. But I have to remember that students do need to be challenged but there is also a benefit to having fun and students need that occasional release. So for those of us who are all work and no play, remember to play every once in a while.
3. The Goal Of It All Is A Student Feeling Connected. - Students need to feel connected. They need to know that God loves them and that those around them love them. Not just because they desperately need this in the world we live in but because God has designed us this way. God designed us to need and desire community. So when you are planning games, or anything in ministry, you should think about how the activity helps students find one of those important connections, either with God or with others. And anything that might either make a student feel isolated from others or turn them away from God should not be a part of your ministry. Because even if you or someone else thinks it is funny it is not. And anytime you are uncertain I always say play it safe because no game is worth risking turning a student away from the Kingdom of God.
Well there's my two cents. Thanks for bearing with me. You can fill out the form below for your free game.
Some of the most searched for youth ministry resources are youth ministry lessons. This is because in youth ministry there are many lessons that we need for the various portions of our weekly and monthly calendar. I want to take a moment though to walk through some of the lessons that you might want to include in your resource library, in case there are some things that you have not yet thought of.
1. Small Group/Youth Sunday School Curriculum- Regardless of what you may call it, you need a designated time weekly for the students to be a part of small group Bible study. Because your students need to be in the Word and growing in it if they are going to be able to live out their faith in this world. For this time you need a series of lessons for your students to study. It is not that your leaders and students could not just study on their own, but your leaders may not have the time to go out and prepare on their own to teach a Bible study from scratch. Plus this will help your students stay more focused as well as having your ministry focused on a more singular vision.
2. Youth Discipleship Curriculum- At some point your students need to take the next step in their faith and be discipled. Actually, this should begin immediately, and technically does if students continue to be a part of their ministry. But I believe there should be specific focused times for this where students are digging into a deeper study than in their small group Bible study as well as having an opportunity to share and deal with bigger issues. Again, a study is not mandatory for this but it does help to give some focus to the time spent between a student and the person who is discipling them.
3. Youth Ministry Sermons- You probably have a midweek service where students have the opportunity to come in for worship. A part of that time should include teaching as well so students can learn and have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Granted, you could write your own sermons, and you may want to, but it is always nice to have a few extra sermons in your library in case you have a week that just gets too crazy. Some of you may even want to consider always using sermons written by someone else if you feel writing is not your gift or if you know the demands of your job and church are just too much for you to be able to find time to write and study.
4. Youth Retreat/ Disciple Now Curriculum-Occasionally it is good to have your students get a way for a little bit to refresh and refocus on their walk with Christ. You may just call this a retreat weekend or a more specific event name like Disciple now. Either way, this is always a great time for your leaders, your students, and for you. Usually as a part of this weekend there are a series of lessons and devotionals that students go through in order to spark discussion and help them grow in their faith. Four to six lessons is usually all you need for a weekend like this.
Remember that none of these particular part of your ministry "need" a curriculum but it is nice to have for focus, uniformity, and because many of your leaders do not have time to write and study along with the other responsibilities of their lives.
And remember something else, when you think about youth ministry lessons, sometimes the best lessons do not come from a curriculum at all, but instead come from the daily teachable moments like Jesus had with His disciples.
When it comes to youth ministry resources, or youth ministry in general, going with the flow is not always a good thing. Because just because there is a new hot trend does not mean that will necessarily be best for your ministry. You have to take time to consider your students and the culture of your church and community to see if what ever idea or trend or idea you are considering, will be a fit for your context. But there is another layer to this.
Just because your church has always used a resources or always attended an event, does not mean that it always needs to in the future. For example, I know when it comes to Sunday School curriculum, many of us have a publisher that we automatically reorder from every semester or every quarter. This may be because it is easier or it could be because we are told we have to. But here is the thing, just because it is what we have always done does not mean it is best for today. Therefore you need to carefully consider what you do in your ministry based on what students are there and where you feel God wants to take them spiritually. This way you can make informed and wise decisions and not just take the easy road that always have been. Because what has always been done may be okay for you down the road but it may just not be right for today.
One of the goals we have in helping your youth ministry is to provide you something that is desperately needed but hard to get as a student pastor. What I am talking about is rest. We have been commanded to follow God’s example and rest. On the seventh day of creation God rested. Jesus, who was God with skin on, took time to get a way and rest, and even take a nap from time to time. But if you are like me, this is one of the most difficult commands to follow. There are two reasons for this though. One is that there are many demands on my time and sometimes it is hard to schedule in rest or have others understand that I do not have to be at every single event that our church or a student has. As a fellow student pastor you probably understand this. We are pulled in many directions between our families, our students, their parents, other church members, and even our staff members. Because of this rest is often just something that is difficult to find time to do. But there is another reason I struggle with rest that I think many of you can relate to.
I am definitely one of the people that tends to lean towards the philosophy of, “I can rest when I am dead.” I am very driven and want to be a good steward of the time God has given me on this earth. So I often want to make sure that I am accomplishing something for His kingdom, be it writing, serving, building relationships, or even planning an event. Because of this it is hard for me to stop and just rest because I feel wasteful and like nothing is being accomplished.
But I, and you must find times to rest. We must set up healthy boundaries in our ministries and in our families, and find accountability so that we keep in line with those boundaries. This way we can do what we have been commanded to do, and need, rest.
This is because rest is about more than just keeping another rule. It is about us caring for ourselves so that we can better care for others. But more importantly rest is about us remembering that we rely on God and not on ourselves. Remember my second reason for struggling with rest? While on the surface it is about wanting to do great things, at the root of it all it is simply about the fact that I struggle with trusting God to care for me and work in the world around me. Instead I feel I must do it all on my own. But by taking time to stop and rest, I am not only getting what God knows I need, but I am reminding myself that God is who supplies everything that I need and I do not make my own way. Instead I rely on the loving God of the universe who knows the number of hairs on my head.
So this week, and every week, make sure that take time to follow one of the most important and yet difficult commandments, the commandment to rest.
Take some time to speak into the guys in your ministry about sex.
Sex outside of marriage and sex inside of marriage is different.
Sex outside of marriage is wrong (we all know that)
The question how far is to far is not the right question.
But what is the wisest decision you can make.
Youth Ministry Resources
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