I’m really excited about the training labs I’m teaching this weekend at YSPalooza Chicago, because the two topics I’m teaching are addressing two of the biggest training needs I notice in youth ministries across the U.S.
I know that might sound a little dogmatic. Don’t get me wrong—I really don’t think I have some unique sense of what American youth ministries need. I just make a habit of listening to people on the front lines all over North America, and I have noticed some common denominators that surface when it comes to training needs. The YS leadership team looks at these as well so they know what training and resources to provide. This year, these two topics were among that rose to the top:
- Connecting with Young People
- Leading Small Groups
It’s interesting how intertwined both these topics are. Both have a lot to do with listening to young people, as opposed to lecturing. Both are more about relationships and less about programming (in a world where “programming” is the P-word). I’ve surveyed, taught and written about connecting more than any other topic. I can’t overemphasize the need for positive adult role models who are willing to spend time with young people.
This weekend’s schedule is really fun. Doug Fields and I teach Friday night, then Saturday Mark Matlock, Megan Hutchinson and I teach. Here’re my seminar descriptions:
Leading Small Groups…Without Losing Your Mind:
Small groups are a proven way to help teenagers connect and feel heard, but effective small groups require good leaders. The following workshop provides 5 basic tools that will help anyone leading a small group (and one of them is duct tape!)
Connecting with Kids on the Front Lines:
How do you reach a generation starving for someone to notice them? How about “one kid at a time!” Let’s pause for a moment, stop thinking about “program” and start thinking about connecting caring adults with kids. This session challenges and equips youth workers, both paid and volunteer, to initiate contact with today’s teenagers.
If you can’t catch either of these truly-affordable YSPalooza events (Chicago or Philly) this year, I encourage you to grab my book on connecting with young people, or my first book where I devote an entire chapter to leading small groups.