Hot Topics

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.


About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to Hot Topics

  1. Eleanor says:

    Ever consider doing webinars on some of your training? Living in Northern Alberta, Canada I know the chances of me coming to see you live are very slim. I would however participate in a web cast, or webinar.

    • Thanks Eleanor. That’s an awesome suggestion. Unfortunately, I’m currently mostly speaking at other organization’s venues. This weekend it is a YS thing. They’re pretty good about making their training available. When I taught two workshops at their National Youth Workers Conventions, they sold those really cheap as MP3’s.