Tag: youth ministry

3 Questions

Learning to Ask for Help

learning to ask for help
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I had a conversation with a student last night. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite leadership conversations to have with teenagers.

There are some changes in the future (I’ll post more about that in a few weeks), but this student runs the computer on Wednesday nights at church. He loves running the computer at church, and I can identify with him.

We currently have a 2 person rotation on running computer at church, and every week when I see him his first question is always “can I run computer tonight?” When I have to say I’m going to ask the other one first, he is always disappointed.

So, last night, we had a little talk. I told him I love his enthusiasm (and can identify with it, we are kindred spirits), but I had a challenge for him: teach someone else what you know.

I told him if he could learn to teach someone else to do it, and subsequently not take over for them, he would become incredibly valuable.

The reality of the moment was I was having the discussion with him about what I wanted him to do while pointing out the very thing I had done with him. I taught him how to run the computer, and let him do it. Now, if he could do the same, maybe he could find someone who loves the sound booth as much as he does.

This is the challenge we all face in leadership. One of the most challenging things we face is letting go. That’s where the 3 questions come in. For some of us, we need a reminder to ask the 3rd question. We need a reminder that until we allow others to move forward we are not leading, we are simply working.

Who do you need to teach something today? Who do you need to ask for help? I’m not saying you fully surrender anything, but maybe you can find someone today who will find their passion because you asked for them to help. And if you can do that, everyone wins.

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In the Trenches

4 Tips for a Great Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Tips
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With the Super Bowl fast approaching, there are a few things we can count on:

1. Cowboys fans are left thinking next year is our year (finally).

2. Patriots fans getting ready to cheer their team on, or claiming they needed a break from the Super Bowl.

3. Youth Ministers’ mental wheels are turning trying to plan the big party.

I have been in youth ministry long enough that I remember when, as a church, we had to invite people to our “Big Game” party, because we were infringing on the NFL. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.

But one thing I do know, from having done Super Bowl parties over the years: there are a few key elements that make a great party. Here are my two cents.

  1. Embrace the Variety – I know this may not come as a surprise, but the focus of the game is not always the game. The commercials are a draw for some, whereas you will have other people show up just for the fellowship and time together. That’s okay, embrace the variety. 
  2. Keep the Atmosphere Engaging – I have done parties at a house with a pool table, so we had an 8 Ball tournament running concurrently with the game. We have asked students to predict scores quarter by quarter before the game starts, and given away a candy bar to the student who is the closest after each quarter, and a little bigger prize for the winning prediction. Have some board games at a table toward the back of the room. Whatever you can do to keep the atmosphere engaging is almost always a win.
  3. Great Snacks – What good is a Super Bowl party with out great snacks? I don’t know about you, but there are a few people in our church who do a great job with snacks, so be sure to ask them to join or to just bring a snack. One of my favorite Super Bowl memories is making stuffed jalapeño’s with a kid before everyone showed up. We had a blast prepping food, and even more fun eating it! Don’t forget…Of course creativity counts, but taste matters. Don’t show up with a football shaped platter of vegetables without dip (except this year, as I’m trying to watch what I eat).
  4. Find Resources – Here are two Super Bowl resources I think you should at least be aware of: 
    • Jonathan McKee’s Super Bowl Quiz – this is great for the kids who show up and haven’t watched a snap of football all year. It takes some attention on your part, but something to definitely consider! He will usually post about the week of the big game.
    • Football Sunday – Whether you use this as an alternative to half time, or find another time to show it, it’s worth checking out!

Finally, one of the questions that comes up the most: Do I give a devotion or not? The answer is up to you, but here’s my suggestion: If you do, keep it short and pause the game. You can resume the feed after your devotion, and use the random local car dealer commercials as a chance to make up lost time. But those commercials don’t come until around the end of halftime and the slow part of the 3rd quarter. You’re not going to recover 10 minutes.

The bottom line for all of this, though, is to have fun. Enjoy time together, and be gracious to the kid rooting for the team that’s losing–they’re emotionally invested and that’s okay.

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Leadership Journey

It’s All About Perspective

perspective
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Do you remember being a child and watching clouds, trying to imagine what shape they’re making?

“Ooh, there’s a lion.”

“Whoa, look at the mountain!”

“Hey, that looks like a centaur attacking a cat.”

As a parent, I thoroughly enjoy hearing my girls talk about what a cloud looks like, and then listening as the other one tries to find it. The truth is, just because one daughter thinks it looks like an animal, the other one can think it looks like food, and neither can be wrong.

The difference is perspective. Each girl looks at the same thing and see something different.

The same is true in leadership, and especially in developing student leaders. Perspective makes all the difference. There are teenagers I watch grow and develop and see one thing, while someone else sees something different. One person’s frustration is another person’s compassion.

When we set out to develop student leaders, we have to understand something from the get go: every student has the potential to lead. Let me say that again.

Every student has the potential to lead.

The challenge for us, though, is viewing a student with the right perspective. Some students are natural up front leaders. Their peers naturally look to them, respond to them, and follow them. But what about the student in the background? Are they chopped liver?

My compassion point is not for the up front personality, but for the behind the scenes student. If I can find a student who loves to serve, but does not desire credit for serving, then my heart starts pumping. I know if I can teach that student not only to serve, but to find someone like them and train them to do the same thing, a movement will start.

Now, my compassion for the behind the scenes student does not mean I neglect the up front natural leader. I develop both, but approach each with a different perspective.

Today, what perspective shift do you need in your life? If you’re a youth leader, what is your natural compassion point? How does that influence your actions? What change can you make today?

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Big Picture

Make 2019 The Best Yet

Make 2019 the Best Yet
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What was your biggest takeaway from 2017? Yes, that’s right, not 2018, but what did you learn from the effort you put forth in 2017?

Do you have a formal review process to check over at the end of a year? Do you have an informal one? Do you have a place where you right down lessons you learned and tweaks you wanted to make in 2018?

If you do, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and let me know what you use and how you track/evaluate a year.

But if I were to be completely honest (and why wouldn’t I be honest?), I can barely remember November 2018, much less anything from 2017. Today let’s finish 2018 with a bang and kick off 2019 with some momentum.

As you look back at 2018, here are three questions to help you evaluate the year. You can go as deep and detailed as you want, or you can stick with general bullet points that can be reread in minutes come December 2019.

  1. What We Did. Again, you can spend hours filling this out, but what if you stepped back and looked at where you started in January and maybe listed out a few mileposts along the way. We’re not looking for evaluation at this level, but more just testing your memory, so include a couple of misses as well as some successes.
  2. What Worked. Once you have listed out the what, ask yourself what went well. Hopefully something you did was successful, so celebrate it! What made it work? Looking back, can you describe what made the difference? If you had a significant event or turning point in your ministry, emphasize that. For me, I was able to attend HORIZONext in April, and walked away with a great idea for Senior Recognition in 2018 and 2019. That milestone helped me make strides for the Fall, so it is definitely something I want to remember. Pick a few things, and celebrate what went well.
  3. What to Do Differently. Here, you get to dream. No year is the same, but if you could repeat 2018, what would you keep the same, and what would you do differently? Maybe back-to-back-to-back red bull themed lock ins were not a wise decision. So, what would you have done differently? Be honest, but also be a little wishful on your part. If you wished you would have spent more money on an event, that’s okay.

So, there you go. You’ve evaluated 2018, and guess what? You’re ready to set some goals for 2019 by allowing 2018 to inform your direction for 2019. You may not like resolutions, but the truth is we all feel a little surge of optimism and excitement come January 1, so capitalize on it for your ministry and get ready for a great 2019!

 

This post originally appeared on the Horizon Resources blog, but I thought it was worth posting here as well.

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Leadership Journey

2 Key Traits for Student Leaders

2 keys
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Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?

A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.

This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.

In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.

1. OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE

I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.

Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.

Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.

2. WILLINGNESS TO SERVE

The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.

A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.

As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.

Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.

The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!

 

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