Someone just asked me, “Jonathan, we’re looking for a new youth pastor. What would you look for in a youth pastor?”
What would you say?
Kids like them?
(Those are the ones I hear from people frequently.)
To be honest (see what I did there?), none of those three above make my top three Continue reading “Top 3 qualities I’m looking for when I hire” »
The youth ministry was fizzling out and no one knew why.
It was as simple as this: kids weren’t meeting Jesus, and the ones that already knew Jesus weren’t growing. As a result the group had sputtered and was on the verge of dying.
If it were a horse it would have been put down.
This past year I have had the opportunity to spend time with Continue reading “Poor Leadership 101” »
I love hearing youth ministry stories and ideas from youth workers around the world, and yesterday I heard one that really “popped.”
We’ve been in South Africa for 3 days now, playing tourist, hanging out with youth workers, and speaking at a conference here in Cape Town. In that time, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this new “mate” of mine named Vicus.
Vicus has been in youth ministry for a decade, and really has a heart for troubled kids. He’s developed such good relationships with schools in the area (coaching and serving the schools) that the schools literally will call him up and say, “We’ve got a teenager you need to talk with.” In fact, certain teenagers have been given a choice: get expelled or spend time with Vicus.
Most kids choose time with Vicus. And this time ends up being pretty therapeutic for these kids.
Vicus puts them to work at a Continue reading “Expelled… or Vicus?” »
What do you call your adult leaders in your youth ministry? Chaperones? Leaders? Ministers? …Steve?
Is there a word that captures their purpose a little better?
I’ve taught my Connect workshop to youth leaders 3 times in the last 7 days in 3 different states, and my message didn’t change:
“We don’t need more Chaperones; we need caring adults who are willing to connect with young people, love them, and engage in meaningful conversations.”
Last Saturday I taught this workshop in West Houston, and a youth worker named Dave Blanchard hosted it, inviting his team of Sherpas. Yes… a Sherpa Continue reading “Chaperone… or Sherpa?” »
“What is the most important skill I need to teach my volunteers?”
That’s what my friend Brandon asked me when he was planning his fall training with all of his leaders.
What would you answer?
Without hesitation I answered him, citing a ministry skill that trumps all others:
“Connecting with young people.”
“Go back to your Bible.” I always tell youth workers at my training workshops. “What did Jesus model? Did he sit there in the synagogue Continue reading “The Most Vital Skill in Youth Ministry” »
Last week a brand new set of books hit the shelves that are SO SKINNY…. any youth worker can read them!
Yeah, even that one intern!
Group Publishing had a creative idea of grabbing 6 authors on 6 vital youth ministry subjects. I was blessed to be one of those authors—writing “The Skinny on Volunteers.” Then Mark Oestreicher wrote Continue reading “They are just so… SKINNY!” »
Have you ever sat in church on a Sunday morning, looked around the room and coveted volunteers?
Okay, maybe it’s just me. I’ll notice a young couple I know sitting across the isle who are fun, relevant and on fire for God. All I can think of is…
“They’d be perfect youth ministry volunteers!
Middle schoolers would love these two!!!”
And then what do we usually do? We shake our head and say, “I wish they would sign up to help.”
And that is where we usually fail. Continue reading “Recruiting Your Volunteer Dream Team” »
This week I received a great question in the form of a tweet, one I’ve been asked repeatedly about mentoring young people.
Youth pastor Brandon asked me about developing today’s student leaders. He finished reading my book, Ministry By Teenagers, and was challenged by my emphasis to provide an adult mentor for each student leader. His specific question was Continue reading “Developing Student Leaders” »
I walked into the small church Fellowship Hall in Richmond, VA and it was busting at the seams. 300-plus teenagers and about 70 leaders—better than a 1-to-5 ratio of adult to teen.
Don’t be intimidated by the numbers… be challenged by the ratio.
This was a church of less than 1,000… no building (they were borrowing the Fellowship Hall from a neighboring church). Normally, they met spread out in living rooms all over the city.
It was fun to see the energy in the room. Each table had six to eight kids and one or two adults all laughing, talking, and eating pizza together (there’s that ratio again). It was the beginning of their D-Now weekend (D-Now stands for Disciple Now, a weekend retreat of sorts focusing on the spiritual growth of teenagers). I was the speaker, but it wasn’t me who would be making the big impact that weekend… it was the 70 adult leaders who were spread throughout the room connecting with kids. God was using these caring mentors to make a huge difference in the lives of these teens.
What was their secret? Continue reading “What youth ministry should look like” »
Earlier this week I shared a fun “no-prep” game, the kind that you can do on the fly to fill a void or liven up a party or event.
The nice thing about no-prep games is that you don’t have to run to the store really quick and buy 100 balloons, cut 100 pieces of string and pass them out to everyone (although Ankle Balloon Pop is a great game).
Here’s another one I saw this weekend. Youth worker Bekah Miller ran this with her youth group- an old classic game with a fun twist Continue reading “MORE No Prep Games” »