Summer 2010 volume 7, issue 4
Your Guide to 365 Days of Youth Ministry
PARENTS AS YOUTH LEADERS
How to balance the fine line of being your child’s friend, parent, and youth leader.
Even though it’s summer, there’s not much down time. Learn how to best prep for the coming fall, while taking some respite.
Check out the 2 prayer activities inside.
This bas issue’ ed s disc on the theme is iplin sp Loo e of p iritual k in raye s acti vity ide for r. idea s!
THE INFO FROM THE DIRECTOR Youth Unlimited eQuip volume 7, issue 4 Editor Shari Ilbrink Publication Coordinator & Graphic Designer Kristen Van Stee Contributors
Prayer – n. a humble and sincere request to God, an utterance to God in praise, thanksgiving and confession.
Rick Roeda Gretchen Driesenga Kristi Kruithoff Fred Meyerink Cody Statema Mark Knetsch Megan Wunderink Kristen Van Stee Jeff Kruithof Youth Unlimited eQuip is printed in the United States and is a FREE resource to contributing churches. eQuip is available for purchase at $25 /yearly subscription. Canada: Canada Post International Sales Agreement #41124116. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Youth Unlimited eQuip Box 1100, Norwich, ON N0J 1P0 CANADA Youth Unlimited Board President Brad Laninga (Holland, MI) Vice President Mark Elgersma (Minneapolis, MN) Treasurer Roger Drost (New Maryland, NB) Secretary Arlana Huyser (Inwood, IA) Rick Abma (LaCombe, AB) Ben Fergus (Herndon, VA) Jake Hiemstra (Goderich, ON) Zan Ingalls (Somerset, NJ) Cindi Riemersma (Tinley Park, IL) John Rop (Muskegon, MI) Eric Tolbert (Kalamazoo, MI) Paul VanHofwegen (Tolleson, AZ) Frankie Wunderink (Henderson, NV)
Over the years of my life, prayer has always been a staple in growing and nurturing my relationship with God. However, I will also be quick to admit that way too often it has been restricted or limited to merely something on a to-do list—pray before a youth group meeting, check; pray before bed, check; after dinner, check, check, check—prayer is complete for the day. Throughout the school year I meet weekly with a small group of men for Bible study. One of them owns a small family business which has really felt the impact in the downturn of our economy. Over the course of our meetings he has shared with us multiple times, “Guys, take the initiative to get down on your knees daily in prayer, because you don’t want God to force you there.” I have witnessed and admired how this gentleman’s faith and relationship with Christ has grown through these challenging economic times. As I reflect on this advice, I hear him saying prayer is not simply about talking to God, sharing our joys, struggles and petitions; but it is about being diligent in listening, seeking his lead and being obedient to follow. As you leave for your summer trips with young people be sure you have your teams of prayer warriors lifting the group up in prayer. But also be sure to listen for God’s
small voice during the trip. I have found him asking me to deviate from my plan and when I did my trip with young people went from good to great! Summer is also the time many youth ministry teams evaluate the past year and plan for the coming year. As you begin, don’t just take a few minutes to pray before that meeting. Instead, be intentional about creating opportunity for God to speak into you, your team and the plans. I have found God has spoken to me through the counsel of others, reading relevant youth ministry resources, attending trainings, spending time in the Bible alone and with others. Prayer is a conversation with God, what an amazing blessing! I encourage you to be careful not to do all the talking, but create the space to listen. He will speak. And when we hear his voice and are obedient to follow I believe we will find our ministry efforts more fruitful. Partners in ministry, Jeff Kruithof Jeff Kruithof is the Youth Unlimited Executive Director. He serves on the Student Ministry Advisory Team at Providence Church in Holland, MI. To get in contact with Jeff, write to him at email@example.com or call 616.241.5616 ext. 3043.
CONTENTS 4-8 Season at a Glance: Summer Ministry Timeline
ON THE WEB All of the websites you find in eQuip are easily accessible from the YU website. Find them all at www.youthunlimited.org/equip. You will be prompted for your username and password. username: yupartner password: partner2010
Communication 4 Be Prepared for the Parents! 6 Enjoy the Pie While You Can
Leadership Development 8 The Expert Says - An Interview with Prof. Nydam 12 Nuts & Bolts 14 Simple Leadership Development
Youth Group Community 15 Community Prayer Walk
Events 16 Youth Worker Prayer 17 The Prayer Labyrinth
Teaching God’s Word 18 Prayer Based Youth Ministry
Insight 20 Look Before You Leap
Re Look for the resources symbol to find the latest and great helpful publications related to youth ministry.
IMPORTANT NOTE! This is the last issue of eQuip you will be receiving at this address. Starting in the fall, eQuip will be mailed to the youth ministry contact at your church, as indicated on your updated ‘partnership form.’ If you do not receive your copy, please request it from him/her before contacting Youth Unlimited. Thank you!
Be Prepared for the Parents!
Each issue of eQuip will contain a ministry timeline. This will be your general outline to keep track of where you are at now and what you should be planning for in the months to come.
Begin planning fall kick off event.
Your Guide to 365 Days of Youth Ministry!
Begin recruitment of your volunteer youth workers.
Promotion How will you promote this meeting? Some suggestions: • Church bulletin/mailboxes • Sunday announcements • Social media (Facebook, Twitter) • Phone calls/texts
Pray about and develop fall message schedule.
“Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” -Deuteronomy 4:10
Place The time and date may dictate where you have your meeting. Try to have it in an area large enough to host all who are interested in joining.
Finalize your Sunday school curriculum.
Date and time After the morning church service can work well, or maybe an evening that the parents/adults may already be at the facility for a different meeting.
A parent/congregational meeting is a great way to encourage parental involvement. It covers many important areas of youth ministry. Here are some areas to take into consideration when planning a meeting and what you can hope to gain from it.
Agenda and Schedule Have copies available to all who come and project it on a screen if possible. This allows you to maintain control of the meeting and stay on task. Include the following in your agenda: • Introduction of current youth leaders • The upcoming calendar • General questions • Event and activities feedback • Pass out volunteering options for the parents to sign up for, ie: • event drivers • food preparation • prayer • other youth ministry related items • newsletter sign ups: via email, Facebook, or hardcopy
Research and purchase Sunday school curriculum.
Time of year A good time to have one is in the fall and/or the start of a new youth ministry year.
Working with parents—you can almost feel that knot in your stomach. You know that working with and informing parents is what you are supposed to do, but how?
All of this leads to the ultimate goal of creating some great dialogue and insight between the youth leaders and the parents. Parents and congregational members need a place to give feedback and ask questions. By setting up a meeting, you give them that opportunity in a controlled environment. This gives you as the youth leader the support you need. Rick Roeda is the Youth Pastor at Mountainview Christian Reformed Church in Grimsby, ON.
Update and print fall ministry brochures/hand-outs.
Schedule a training meeting(s) for youth workers and teachers for mid/late August.
Finish recruitment of volunteer youth workers and Sunday school teachers.
Have the church council approve your Sunday school curriculum.
Remember even the best laid plans can have their hiccups so be prepared for anything! Here a few real life possible outcomes and reasons to be encouraged not discouraged: • Low attendance—many parents will not come simply because they feel you’re doing an okay job and have nothing to add. They will be very happy to know you’re doing the event, but still will not come. • Other congregation members lecturing parents. Yes it happens! Anything from how to parent, to bringing other
Articles on communicating with parents: •
Three Questions Every Youth Ministry Must Ask Parents, by Tim Schmoyer www.studentministry.org/threequestions-every-youth-ministry-mustask-parents/ How to get Parents Involved in their Kids’ Lives, by Kevin Twombly http://revkevgcc.wordpress. com/2008/08/07/how-toget-parents-involved-in-theirkids%E2%80%99-lives/ Parental Involvement – How to Get Them Involved! www.youthministryideas. net/2008/08/27/parental-involvment-how-to-get-them-involved/
Mail updated medical forms to the students on your mailing list.
problems in the church purportedly caused by the parents and telling them how they should fix them—use the schedule to help keep this in line. Complaints about certain events and activities Critiques and criticisms about youth leaders
Make copies of curriculum materials, training tools, youth worker and teacher policies.
Tag Team Have the other youth leaders or youth elder up front with the leader that is leading the meeting. That way when questions or comments come along that the leader is unable to answer there are others who can support them.
COMMUNICATION “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” -Oscar Wilde, Poet
Enjoy the Pie While You Can
Host a Parent’s meeting.
Host a kick off event.
Parents continue to be the main supply pool of leaders for youth pastors. Maybe we are just suckers for a good piece of pie. I have three boys aged 15, 17, and 19 that have gone through all the programs our church offers. As a parent it’s been great to be able to be a part of their life through church ministry from Sunday school to young adults. However there were challenges we faced—us as parents, and them as siblings.
Distribute fall outreach invitations (before September 30)
I have been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years—I guess that makes me a ‘veteran’. A lot has changed over the years, but youth are still youth. The only difference today is that they need to be continually challenged because of all the distractions— iPods, cell phones, Facebook, etc. Youth have become great at multi-tasking. As leaders we need to work around the distractions and challenge our youth to keep Christ and youth ministry high on their list of to-dos.
Here are a few words of advice that I have learned from my own children and fellow leaders. • Always be in prayer asking for wisdom and guidance—you’re going to need it. • As a youth leader, you need to have healthy relationships with adults. Your relationship with the youth needs to be that of a leader, not as a friend. I see far too many leaders try to become friends with the youth. This type of relationship can become dangerous and unhealthy. Your relationship should be the same as it is at home with your children. A strong level of respect needs to be built and earned. • Never gossip or talk about kids in youth group or at home. If you have your own children in youth group, keep your home life at home, you will earn their trust. • You need to be aware of what kids are doing at home and at school, learn the language and understand the culture. Listen to the music they are into, but don’t make it part of
Recruit some parents to organize a fall outreach event.
bite of pie in my mouth before I answer that? Over the years I have learned to bypass the pie and ask for lunch or even dinner—might as well take advantage of the situation.
Finalize plans for and send out invites for the kick off event.
Someone once asked me, “Of the twelve months of the year which month do you enjoy the most and which month do you least look forward to?” That’s a tough question. May tends to be my favorite month, September my least favorite— spring and fall with the heat of summer in between. Living on the west coast has its benefits and pleasures but sunshine is short lived. May marks the beginning of long days, sunshine, and holidays at the lake with family. September, however, brings the return of shorter days, cooler weather, and rain, rain, and more rain. September is also the time when the local youth pastor makes the annual ‘let’s go for pie and coffee’ phone call. I think you all know what I’m talking about. He says, “Have a nice piece of pie and whatever coffee you like, I’m buying…” Who can guess what the next question will be? Let me help you, “…We are very excited about this year’s youth program. It’s going to be awesome, we have tons of cool things planned…” are you catching my drift? “… We are short a few leaders and really need your help, can we count on you?” Whoa! Slow down! Can I at least get the first
Plan a meeting with your group leader and teachers to discuss what has gone well and what can be done better after the first month of ministry.
who you are. Social networks are a good place to learn about your youth. Be calm around the youth. Don’t try to fix everything, they get enough of that at home. Let them figure it out. You will be surprised how often they will come to you once you have their respect. If you have your own kids in the program, leave them alone to be themselves around their friends, give them space. I like to build relationships with their friends. If you can win over their friends’ respect, you will be in your own kid’s good books. I have always given my own kids the choice to have me as a leader or not. Always encourage and build up kids in front of others, whether they are your own or are under your leadership. If you need to disciple or correct, do it away from the group with another leader. If you are asked to be a leader, your number one concern should be for all the youth, not just your own. Too often I see parents get involved to be close to their own children and try to
control the ministry for their benefit. You would be surprised how quickly other youth see through this. I feel sorry for youth that have parents who try to do this. It’s not always easy to treat everyone like they are your own but it’s something you should aim for. There are always one or two youth that just push you the wrong way. Remember we do this out of love and reverence to Christ. Before you react, stop and think to ask yourself. “What would I do at home? What is the root of the problem?” You will usually find there
is an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with. Let the Youth Pastor know of your concern. Finally, have a servant heart, be positive, and have fun.
There you have it—advice from an old parent vet. It has been great to be a part of our local youth ministry and to see youth including my own grow up to be Christ-like servants and leaders in the church teaching the next generation. This September when the phone rings take the time to enjoy the pie before the phones go silent.
The Meyerink family. (L to R: Brent, Elly, Fred, Freddie, Kevin)
Need More Help? At www.youthunlimited.org/eQuip you’ll find an ongoing calendar as well as updates of what your groups should be doing now. Visit today or add something new! Cody Statema is the Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina, MN.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Ronald J. Nydam, Professor of Pastoral Care at Calvin Theological Seminary. Rev. Nydam served as a pastor at Third Christian Reformed Church of Denver, CO for ten years and as the agency director of Pastoral Counseling for Denver for fourteen years. He is the author of Adoptees Come of Age: Living Within Two Families, and has a special interest in the study of relinquishment and adoption. (excerpted from www.calvinseminary.edu)
The Expert Says - An Interview with Professor Ron Nydam In our last issue of eQuip, we brought you Part 1 of an informative and valuable interview with Dr. Ronald Nydam, Calvin Seminary’s Professor of Pastoral Care. In this issue, we will learn about Dr. Nydam’s book recommendations, topics to hit and staying spiritual healthy. Gretchen: Do you have any recommendations of key issues or topics that many of today’s teenagers would relate to? Dr. Nydam: 1. First thing that comes to mind is this piece I do on romantic radar. It’s a positive way to get at some very important issues. You get everybody hooked right away because they’d like to know why they fall in love with the people they fall in love with as teenagers. They’d like to get a read on their romantic radar. The topic that’s underneath that is how important it is to forgive our parents for whatever injuries we have sustained. In our own Reformed understanding of human beings, we take seriously the capacity of sin to mean that all of us are pretty broken. That means that those of us who are parents are broken too, and no matter how much we love our kids, we also hurt them. And whatever injuries our kids sustain, if they don’t forgive their parents, they will carry them into their love life. Many times when divorces do occur, it’s not because of the relationship itself as much as it is the baggage that someone brings to the alter of marriage. We have a very powerful ethic around divorce,
but we don’t have any ethic around marriage, which is a real shortcoming in our pastoral theology because we ought to be much more thoughtful about helping people make promises they can keep. So the first topic is not so much the usual talk about sex, it’s more about seeing how that plays into relationship. To be created in God’s image is to do relationships and when we connect our sexuality to the rest of who we are, we’re really doing the right thing. 2. The other topic that comes to mind would be helping teenagers manage conflict. They have probably learned good and bad things from the models at home. I did a presentation to some teenagers a couple weeks back, and I did a lousy job because I came very prepared and treated it like a classroom – even had a handout – and it was a mistake. Learn from my mistake. I should’ve just thrown the paper away and rather than tell them about how they manage conflict, I should’ve just listened to them for half an hour and then offered them some reflections – I know it would’ve gone better.
One of the things they are very interested in is how do I get along with my friends, and how do I deal with it when my friends say something behind my back, and how do I deal with betrayal and gossip, and what we call the triangles that get made in clique relationships. So, dealing with conflict in relationships, I think that would have a lot of traction with teenagers. 3. Third thing to talk about would be how to leave home well. There’s a big fat word that we use around here a lot which is Differentiation. Differentiation is your ability to be yourself, no matter where you are, no matter what conflict you’re in, no matter what relationship you’re in. If you are well differentiated then you can do intimacy well and attach to people well in a life-long way. If you can’t do that, if that differentiation is not in place, then you’re going to be reacting all the time. And being reacting is incredibly different than acting. Being reactive means that someone else is running your life in an unhealthy way. Acting means that you’re making decisions from the inside. In some sense, it means you’re listening to God first,
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT “All of us are living by ourselves in our own little bubbles and we’re not aware enough of the world around us.”
because the Holy Spirit speaks to us in our own hearts. So the whole business of leaving home well comes to mind as a topic. 4. Fourth would be how to get out of the bubble of narcissism or self-interest in a culture that supports it all the time. We are encouraged to only take care of ourselves. All of us are living by ourselves in our own little bubbles and we’re not aware enough of the world around us. So, I think an important topic would be how to get out of your own bubble and really understand what empathy is. Because empathy is getting into somebody’s life. As long as you’re preoccupied with who you are, you can’t understand other people. Empathy is what I call the goal of pastoral care. Empathy is your ability to really enter somebody else’s world and know what it’s like for them. It’s what Jesus did when he came to earth. He entered our lives. Part of the Christian life is entering the lives of others and being so secure in who you are, that you can become what I call “unselfconscious”. Because you’re cool with who you are, you can enter the life of somebody else.
If you spend way too much time early on in daycare, or if you spend too much time alone at home, or if you’re a latchkey kid and you spend 24 hours a week – with the television or the internet, what do you expect people to be? It makes me wonder – we’re all so much in our own bubbles, we don’t know each other. So getting out of that bubble into an empathic embrace of people, and an empathic embrace of the world is an important topic with teenagers. 5. A fifth, bonus topic that comes to mind is a book called Last Child in the Woods by Robert Louv. I think young people today, because they’re so dialed in electronically, have diminished their appreciation for the outdoors, for nature, and for our purposes, general revelation. God reveals God in general revelation as well as the Scriptures (Special Revelation). Getting young people to the edge of the Grand Canyon, getting people to see God in nature and to reflect on that, getting out of the house and off the computer is my objective. There’s this lack of appreciation for God’s Creation. And I don’t just mean the importance of taking a vacation, but plunking them in
the forest and giving them an opportunity for reflection. Our ministry to young people includes getting out of their houses and unplugged, and getting together in God’s creation, so they can take a different look at the world around them, and experience themselves differently. If that’s part of spiritual formation (General Revelation) and we clip it and make the world a video or monitor screen, we are depriving our young people of what I consider a very important spiritual resource. It doesn’t mean we all have to be outdoors people who backpack, canoe and kayak, but it does mean that we need to find space to be with God, and I think that our electronic world limits that. Gretchen: What are some ways that youth workers can avoid burnout and make sure they have enough support? Nydam: Let me first make some general comments about burnout which may surprise you. We’ve typically thought of burnout as something that pastors often face. There are ministries out there where they rehab broken pastors who have been continued on next page
Continued: Expert burned out because of over involvement. Now, from a systems perspective, it does mean somebody is over functioning that’s driven by a certain anxiety that they have to attend to, and sometimes they can get at that in reparative work that’s done. So, burnout happens in ministry in general. But there is a change going on. Because of what I call the new narcissism, and if I’m more careful, it’s the new secondary narcissism. We have a lot of students who only want to work 30 hours a week. Well you’re not going to burn out if you never hit 4th gear. You’re not going to burn out the clutch if you baby the engine. I find myself not wanting to feed into the narcissistic grandiosity which says ‘Well I shouldn’t work too hard, I need to take care of myself’ so, I’m a little cautious about the older, more traditional comment about burnout. So, having said that I’ll go back to the youth ministry piece and repeat that the reason for the burnout of youth pastors is systemic. Youth pastors are called upon to play a certain role in the system. And that role in the system is in some sense impossible. There is an expectation that the spiritual well-being, even the salvation of the teenagers in the church, depends on their work. Everybody in the church is anxious about it. It all gets put on the shoulders of the male or female youth worker and he or she has this incredible sense of responsibility on those shoulders. And it only works so long and you can’t take it anymore. In some sense youth workers are trying to
carry a 500lb piano up the stairs alone. And that’s pretty impossible. So, as long as the system works the way it does, we will hire youth pastors, we’ll burn them out and replace them. The real solution is systemic and that means that families take more responsibility for their roles in the spiritual well-being of their kids.
On the following page, Dr. Nydam has outlined some ‘must-haves’ resources on any youth worker’s book shelf.
I know this is nuts, but what if you told all the parents that one of the requirements for their children’s participation in the church’s youth program was that once a week they had to have devotions together with their kids. And if that didn’t happen, the kids couldn’t go. I like that. I’m not trying to be funny. I’m trying to spread the problem, spread the anxiety, so that the church as a community carries that concern rather than one person – the youth pastor.
OUT OF THE TRENCHES
Youth pastors have to spread their anxiety about the spiritual lives of people in their charge. One way to do this is through regular, weekly, solid-as-a-rock conversations with other people on staff. A regular time and place where they can say, “this is what I’m anxious about with our young people”. When the other staff know that and they carry that anxiety together, it’s huge. But the way it’s set up, youth pastors are kind of set aside and they work until they cook. They don’t get that support. In other words, “They’re solving our problem, we can forget about it.” That dynamic needs to be challenged, otherwise it’s just going to keep happening,
Dr. Nydam’s interview continues with Gretchen in Out of the Trenches. Check out the archived issue at: www.youthunlimited.org/ trenches
Gretchen Driesenga is the Youth Director at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls Mary Pipher and Ruth Ross This book captures the dilemma of a culture that puts so many girls under the pressure to not be themselves. This book is a bit overstated and dated, but it captures the pressure that young girls experience in middle school probably more than high school. When it was written, it was more high school, but those things have all dropped down. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson I think this is in some ways less dated, because the culture asks boys to disconnect from their hearts. This book is about that emotional disconnect. Our culture teaches us that masculinity is some kind of an emotional disconnect or separation from self. The Bible defines gender so differently than the culture, and the demonic way that the culture defines gender hurts little girls and boys. The Ambitious Generation: America’s Teenagers, Motivated but Directionless Dr. Barbara Schneider and Professor David Stevenson This basically says that teenagers have so many options that they are paralyzed, and they don’t have the parental guidance to make good decisions about their future. The paralysis includes having so many options that
if you pick one you let everything else go, so you can’t pick any. This is a very extensive study and it doesn’t do much of explaining it, it just describes how direction less teenagers become once they become college-age. •
The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager Thomas Hine This gives a historical perspective but also talks about the fall of the American teenager as being “parked” by society. In other words, when you’re a child you’re important, when you’re an adult you’re important, but when you’re an adolescent, you’re parked. Adolescence is a social construction and we’re feeding in a social construction. It’s a social critique – very useful. A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence Patricia Hersch [The author] immersed herself into the lives of teenagers and reports on the life experiences of [them]. One of the things she says is that children don’t leave their parents anymore, they lose them. If you lose your parents, then there’s no authority that you have to rebel against. Adolescent rebellion is almost historical because today’s young people are not bucking up against authority in some adolescent way; if there’s authority around, well then no one wants to be around. She talks in some detail about this, and she documents it anecdotally.
Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers Chap Clark This is the beginning of [Clark’s] study where he spent a year looking at how profoundly lonely the student is in a high school in California. The implications of this are pretty powerful.
Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for the Passionate Church Kendra Dean This frames the spiritual problems of today’s adolescents correctly.
Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before Jean M. Twenge [The author] lays out in painful detail how profoundly isolated and uncaring and inconsiderate today’s teenager is. It’s overstated, but it basically pitches how the personality of today’s young people is very, very different. It goes back to what I was saying about narcissism. And you have to remember that narcissism is a disorder of character, it is a mind injury where either because of immense isolation or indulgence, children grow up not learning to get out of their bubble and enter the life of another. It makes marriages, and relationships—including our relationship to God—very difficult. It’s a telling and painful critique of the culture.
Nuts & Bolts When I was on the swim team it was always hilarious (unless it was me) when a swimmer would mount the starting block, get set, and then roll into the water before the gun could signal the start of the race. They had done all the preparation but could not hold their balance long enough to begin the race. Sure it is time to plan the fun events for the next season and get creative dreaming about new directions for the ministry, but when it comes down to the start of the year, it is always very important to have some of the essentials ready to go before that first leader’s meeting. Here are some leadership and administrative areas to keep in mind so we can start the year strong and directed. Council Involvement One of the easiest ways to trip up the new year is forgetting to include your council or church board in your plans and vision. Most churches will bend over backwards to see to the spiritual needs of their youth. If you happen to be in a church that does not exert themselves for the spiritual needs of their youth, this may sound like an action you would much rather avoid, however, it is crucial for you to equip and mentor the leadership of the church— encouraging them to be involved in such a way. Before the new ministry year begins, communicate everything to your council. What will you be teaching in Sunday School? What publishing company did you get it from? What are the merits of this Sunday School material? How does this material fit into a broader vision and scope for the education of the youth in the church? What themes or books of the Bible will be taught during youth worship gatherings? Why do you incorporate small groups as a part of your worship time? Why are you planning a winter retreat? Communicate everything.
I have found that communicating the finer points to our leadership not only informs them about the material being taught, but it also invites them to be a part of the ministry as well. So when a new visitor comes to the church, the leadership board can easily describe and glow about what God is doing to work in the lives of the youth. They have opportunity to buy into the work of the ministry and become your biggest fan, because they see the work your team is doing and the value it has in the life of the church. Training your Youth Leaders Develop a specific equipping plan and tools for your youth leaders to take advantage of for the work of ministry. Your leaders are giving up their time and energy to focus on using the gifts God has given them. It is our job as leaders to give them the tools and the opportunities they need to shine and do the work they feel called to. How will you equip your leaders to lead small groups? What resources can you offer them to develop meaningful conversa-
tions with their small groups? Do you have a calendar planned with the youth events that are scheduled so that they can plan ahead? Do you have a resource library that you can direct them to for special needs that may arise in their relationships with their students? If your church does not have a ‘Sexual Misconduct Policy’ in place, develop one and train your leaders with it as well. Your youth leaders are to be above reproach and it is important for them to understand the boundaries that are in place to protect students in the ministry but also to protect themselves and their families. Our church requires all adults involved in our youth ministries to go through this training. Not because we are necessarily worried about the intentions of our volunteers, but to communicate the safe, loving, and healthy environments in which we expect ministry to take place. If there is a potential leader that balks at such a commitment, you know there is a red warning flag saying they may be someone you do not want as part of your team and ministry.
the ministry God has called you, then God will provide. It is our job to communicate to the council and church the vision for the ministry we are being called to and to communicate the needs (or opportunities to participate). It may not produce all the finances you were hoping for (and it may) but God will provide in powerful ways that you may not have expected. So be thankful for what you have been blessed with in your budget and seek God’s continued blessing for the rest.
Budgets, Budgets, Budgets Plan out and stick to a budget for the ministry. This may seem like a no-brainer, but most churches are very aware of the use of their finances. This has only been heightened over the recent past as churches are having to make tough decisions about which pastor to lay off or if they can stay in their current building if giving does not increase. I have never been a part of a church where finances and meeting the budget goals for giving has never been an issue. People will always be changing jobs, the HVAC units are going to need fixing, roofs will need repair, utility costs will go up… there are so many aspects of a church budget that our elders and deacons put a lot of time and energy focusing on so that the ministry of the church can take place.
Cody Statema is the Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina, MN.
Sample policies for your church to build from are available on-line at www.youthunlimited.org/equip
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17
As a leader of a ministry, it is important that you stick to what has been allotted to you. You may feel like you need more to do what you are called to do, but as I have found over the years, that feeling will never go away. If you have financial gaps in what you believe you need to do,
Volunteers Simple Leadership Development This summer, many of us will spend time and energy recruiting new leaders for the fall. We will send emails, set up coffee meetings, give overviews of our programs and ‘sell’ our ministry to get the best leaders possible. Then what? When we have our faithful volunteers in place, how do we go about training and developing them? Most of my leaders are working full time, have children at home and many other responsibilities to balance on top of volunteering their time in ministry. A valuable way you can respect your volunteer’s time is by offering concise and effective trainings and distilling the wealth of resources you have available down to a few key points. Here are a few simple ways you can effectively develop your leaders. 1. If you receive weekly or monthly newsletter emails from various youth ministry sources, do not merely forward it to your volunteers for them to sift through. Do the work for them by picking out an article you would like to highlight, and send it along with a short introduction explaining why you thought this is relevant to their ministry. Here are some ministry websites to check out:
www.youthunlimited.org www.cpyu.org www.youthspecialties.com www.youthworker.com www.fulleryouthinstitute.org
Most of these sites have a place on their homepage to sign up for enewsletters. Each site also offers other resources, articles, and lesson plans that you can peruse if there are specific topics that you would like to address with your leadership team. 2. Another terrific resource is Doug Fields’ Youth Leader Training On the Go. This twenty dollar bundle includes an audio CD, 12 Teacher Trainings, a CD-ROM, 12 pre-written email encouragements and 52 double-sided handouts. You can email your leaders one of the trainings that they can download to an iPod and listen to when their schedule allows, and follow up at your next meeting with one of the worksheets provided. 3. Invite your leaders to join you for local trainings. If you attend any trainings, conferences, or retreats without your team, bring along extra money to buy CDs or DVDs of the trainings you found beneficial. Send them out to your leaders or incorporate them into your next leaders’ meeting. Check with other churches and youth pastors to see if they may have any resources you could borrow. 4. Seek out ways that local professionals might lend you a hand in training your leaders. Having a college professor come in to talk about adolescent development, or a therapist come in to talk about family dynamics could be extremely valuable to your team. Ask around at local churches to see
if perhaps they have used the same curriculum as you. They might be willing to come share their insights. You could also make a deal with a fellow youth worker and train each other’s leaders. Focusing on leadership development in simple but effective ways will help your leaders feel valued and useful, as well as better equipped to handle the many facets of ministry they are bound to face. Let’s spend as much time and energy equipping our leaders as we do recruiting them and recognize that by investing in our leaders, we are impacting the lives of the students we minister to. Gretchen Driesenga is the Youth Director at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
YOUTH GROUP COMMUNITY
Community Prayer Walk Team How many of us remember to pray for our communities on a regular basis? Sure, there might be a quick prayer as we pass through, or before a community outreach event, but how consistent are we or our church? One effective way to keep our communities in the forefront of our minds is to be in them and consistently interceding for the people there. Something our church has done regularly is a prayer walk.
Praying intentionally in public can be an intimidating thing for anyone, but a very powerful visual sight. It takes courage and purposefulness, can teach us a lot about ourselves in the process, and serve as a strong witness to observers. Perhaps one of the most obvious prayer walks our church has done is small groups praying on “the strip” of Las Vegas. People praying in clusters are definitely noticed there!
can be very beneficial for all ages. I am always amazed by the prayers of some of the elementary students in our church. Many of them are not afraid to pray out loud in large groups or in public. Somewhere along the line, many of us adults develop nervousness or dislike praying aloud in public. The innocent (and often blunt!) prayers of the younger group, as well as the more confident adults, set a
Some of our more intentional and informational prayer walks involve sharing information about specific needs for the community or city, ie: crime rates, education levels, social issues, homelessness, addiction, etc. Find statistics on your city’s needs, plan a purposeful route, put together your groups, write up instructions and get into your neighborhoods. By providing specific information about your community, the prayer walk can be an enlightening time or a clear reminder of the challenges our neighbors face. Specific information helps avoid generic quick prayers and encourages participants to search deeper for God’s vision and purpose for the local church, as well as our own level of responsibility.
good example for the rest of the group, especially those (sometimes the teens) who are unsure about how socially acceptable praying in public might be. Seeing role models and respected adults stepping out of their comfort zones also teaches important lessons. If you are looking for new ways to involve the prayer ministry of your church, or to teach your youth group about God’s vision for your community, consider using the active approach of a prayer walk. Perhaps you too will begin to look at your community with new eyes and understanding as well!
SERVE participants on a prayer walk in Venice Beach, CA
It is always a great opportunity to involve all ages of our church in prayer, vision building, and outreach. Different variations of a “prayer walk” might be: praying as you walk the perimeter of your church’s property; praying while walking through the community; praying and driving through the community; stopping at local schools for prayer; or praying specifically through the higher-need areas of your city. These prayer walks might consist of large or small groups made up of members from your youth group, families from your congregation, or mixed age groups from your church. Prayer walks can be used as an outreach tool if you specifically talk with people. Offer to pray with them or hand out literature. Use the walks as a way to focus intentionally on a certain area, neighborhood, or people group.
However you choose to organize your prayer walk, involving the whole church
Megan Wunderink is the Youth Pastor at Grace Valley Church in Las Vegas, NV.
EVENTS: YOUTH WORKER
Youth Worker Prayer
Youth Worker Prayer
I am your servant, God. Where you want me to go, I will go. Point the direction. Show me the way. You called me to work with young people. They want to hear your voice, God. They want to know you. Help me to show them the Creator of the universe. Send me enthusiasm when I don’t feel enthusiastic. Send me patience when I’m out of it. Send me large shoulders to lean and cry on. Send me ears to hear the things that aren’t being said. Send me eyes to see beneath the surface. Send me words to say when they ask me the hard questions. Give me the ability to laugh at myself.
Prayer…we all talk about it. We pray before a youth group meeting, before the next round of hotdogs and pizza. What other ways can prayer be used in youth ministry? OR How can prayer become the foundation of our youth ministry programs, not only for a group of youth workers, but for the everyday ups and downs?
Offer up your students by name Pray for individual students Pray for church members who give you a hard time and don’t understand your ministry Pray for your own needs I am your servant, God. Where you want me to go, I will go. Point the direction. Show me the way. Amen
‘A Youth Workers Prayer’, The Book of Uncommon Prayer. Contemplative and Celebratory Prayers and Worship Services for Youth Ministry by Steven L. Case. Copyright 2002 Youth Specialties.
That is where the Youth Worker Prayer comes in (see box to left). It’s simple, easy to use, and gives a great foundation and guide to how to start praying for yourself and students. This prayer encourages you to lift up the names of your students. Say their names out loud. If there’s a particular teenager who’s in great need, focus your mind on that student’s face and his or her problems. Tell God exactly what you want for that teenager. Pray for church members who give you a hard time. Ask God’s blessing on them as well. Finally lift up prayers for yourself! Areas to use the Youth Worker Prayer: • • • • • • • • • •
Before a youth group meeting Before planning the youth calendar—use the prayer before you even discuss events and activities as it allows the whole planning session to be based on prayer After a rough youth night Your personal devotions When meeting with a perspective youth leader—It helps give a great overview for what they are getting themselves into! Current leaders A leaders retreat A congregational meeting when talking about youth ministry. Use it as an intro or outline to discuss youth ministry. Before a ministry review Just think…
Above all we all need to be reminded that we are not alone in youth ministry but guided and encouraged from above. The Youth Worker Prayer helps give us that and the push we need!
Rick Roeda is the Youth Pastor at Mountainview Christian Reformed Church in Grimsby, ON.
The Prayer Labyrinth Not so long ago during Holy Week our church hosted our annual Prayer Path. Also known as a Prayer Labyrinth, the Prayer Path is a tool to guide interactive prayer. Our church uses the Prayer Path as an outreach tool, and also to help the people in our congregation prepare their hearts during Holy Week for Easter. In the past we’ve also used the prayer path during SERVE and various other events throughout the year. You work hard all year long spiritually filling up the youth in your church. This winter, take some time for yourself. Re-charge, Re-commit, and RETREAT. Youth Unlimited, along with local planning teams, is hosting Youth Worker Soul Care Retreats in the following areas for 2011: Michigan January 25-27 Geneva Camp and Retreat Center Alberta February 11-13 Radium Hot Spring, BC (Spouses welcome) Ontario February 25-27 Circle Square Ranch in Severn Beach British Columbia March 4-6 Manning Park Retreat Center Minnikota March 18-20 Broom Tree Conference Center, SD For more information and to register please go to our website at www.youthunlimited.org/retreats
I was first introduced to the idea of a Prayer Labyrinth, or Prayer Path, during a Youth Pastors’ Convention. What a breath of fresh air, a stress reliever, and time of spiritual renewal! For those of us who have a hard time quieting our hearts and listening during prayer, this is a great tool to empty our minds of all distractions and really focus on God. It is a guided prayer that helps us be purposeful in our prayers, getting our thoughts off of ourselves and our worries, and redirected to God’s purpose for the world as well as others’ needs. The Prayer Labyrinth our church uses takes about an hour. Participants wear headphones and follow the instructions they are given. The Labyrinth (or Path) looks like a maze on the floor, and participants wander slowly from station to station. Each station holds various activity, such as lighting a candle for someone, writing confessions, planting a seed, leaving footprints in sand, or moving magnets on a world map. The Labyrinth draws its participants inward to the center with a time of communion and then guides participants outwards to be lights and witnesses in the world.
The Prayer Labyrinth is appropriate for most ages (mid-elementary and up), and the teens in your Youth Group can especially benefit from this activity. It can be hard enough for us as adults to focus on praying for any length of time, let alone an hour. Interactive prayer can be so helpful to our youth and ourselves since it uses all of our senses: touch, sight, sound and taste. In a busy world filled with noise and distractions, the act of putting on headphones to block out the world and helps us focus our thoughts and look upwards and inwards. This purposeful action results in relief, a lifting of pressures and responsibilities, and time of communion with God. Consider using a Prayer Labyrinth for your youth group or even your whole church. You can create your own, or use a pre-made Labyrinth. While it does require some set-up and time (each participant needs an hour, and starts 10-15 minutes apart), it is well worth it.
Re Group Publishing (www.grouppublishing. com) offers The Prayer Path: A Christ-Centered Labyrinth Experience for $79.99; the set comes with CD guides, instructions for needed items and the “path” for the floor, and devotional guides. Kristi Kruithoff is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI.
TEACHING GOD’S WORD
Prayer Based Youth Ministry When it comes to the topic of prayer, it’s difficult to know where to begin. One could teach a whole year on prayer and not fully understand how it works and what to do. At the same time, one can know all there is to know about prayer without actually praying. So rather than focus specifically on how to teach prayer, this article will mainly focus on how to effectively incorporate prayer into your youth ministry. First off, as mentioned in the article on page 16, we as leaders have to be praying constantly. We all need to be reminded of this basic yet powerful practice on a regular basis. Second, create a one-on-one prayer network between youth and adults as a powerful tool to ensure each youth is prayed for throughout the year. My church has what we call Immanuel Mentorship Ministries. As part of this ministry, we’ve set up prayer partners where each youth is partnered with someone older. This is something that we launch every September. We create laminated prayer cards for each mentor to stick on the fridge. The prayer card has a picture of the youth along with a list of 3-4 prayer items to keep in mind throughout the year. If this ministry is something that grabs you, the first step is to find a volunteer willing to coordinate it. Our current coordinator’s job description (for lack of a better term) includes the following: • With the help of the pastor, pair up willing adults with each teen in our church. • With the help of a teen leader, create
prayer cards of each teen. • Throughout the year, provide helpful resources and tools to effectively mentor. • Remind the congregation on a monthly basis of the mentors’ responsibility through verbal or written announcements. • Will meet with the pastor on a bi-monthly basis. This ministry brings such a peace of mind knowing that each youth has someone older in the congregation regularly praying for them. As a pastor, it’s important to remind myself that my job is not to be the mentor of each youth in our program. The same is true for all of us who work as volunteers. We cannot be buds with each teen—our job is to encourage that others in our church are. I think you get the point. I’m pretty pumped about this ministry. If you think this is something you would like to invest in, you may want to consider checking out the following page
to read a letter for each mentor willing to take on this role. If you have any questions, please email me at pastormark@ immanuelministries.ca. A third practical tip on incorporating prayer in your youth ministry is to take prayer requests before each youth group session. It sometimes amazes me what is on their minds—from exams, to whether their dad has yet to receive employment. Another easy way to make our youth feel special during this request time is to keep track of birthdays. Although we could use some choir practice, it’s always a joy singing “Happy Birthday” to our youth! A fourth and vital prayer tip is spending time at each leader’s meeting discussing any concerns for each youth. We have an attendance sheet that we bring to our adult leaders’ meetings to see who’s been coming to our program and who hasn’t. Why aren’t they coming? Do we need to pay special attention to so-and-so? Any youth struggling with depression, parent’s divorce, anxiety, girlfriend/boyfriend issues, etc.? Sometimes it’s difficult keeping track of where each youth is at, but each youth is equally important. We are not in the business of making cliques; we are in the business of building a community of disciples. Sometimes that means reaching out to those who want nothing to do with your program. Neal Plantinga recently wrote, “Jesus is Lord- the one who prayed all night before he called his disciples, and who got Judas as one of the answers, and then kept him. Jesus
TEACHING GOD’S WORD This sample letter can be found in an editable format on the Youth Unlimited website at www.youthunlimited.org/equip. You will be prompted for your username and password.
Sample Mentor Letter kept Judas on, and fed him at the Last Supper.” (Forum, Winter 2010, pg.2) Jesus modelled for us a version of discipleship that’s really hard. Other obvious prayer tips are reminding the pastor to include prayer for our youth on a regular basis in worship; include prayer send-offs in worship for youth going on SERVE; pray for them when they get back from SERVE or any other major event; regularly pray through ACTSS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication [asking for stuff], and surrender) as a youth group. Practicing prayer is huge, and the creative ways to incorporate prayer in your youth ministry are endless. Successful youth programs are prayerbased. Prayer-based youth ministry also reminds us of our purpose. We are not here to create a youth program that will be the envy of our local churches. We are present in the lives of our youth to make disciples, and prayer just happens to be an essential discipline of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Mark Knetsch is the Pastor of Youth Outreach/Discipleship at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton, ON.
Dear Mentor, So, you have agreed to be a mentor in our mentorship youth ministry. Congratulations! Mentorship is one of the most effective ways to making disciples. Jesus modelled for us what it meant to be a mentor. He shared stories and wisdom to his disciples, he took time praying for his disciples, he also listened to the disciple’s questions and observations. Mentorship is modelling what Jesus did. In this ministry we want to continue what Jesus showed us. So, what does that mean for you in a practical way? Below you will find 3 helpful and important suggestions to help you build a relationship with the person you mentor. 1. Connect with your youth on a weekly basis at church. Connecting does not necessarily mean a deep conversation. Weekly connection is a simple, “Hi, how are you doing?” Through weekly connections the youth will come to realize that they go to church knowing that someone cares for them. 2. Connect with your youth on a monthly basis. This can be done in a variety of ways: emailing, phone calling, or an encouragement card. Other ways include going to their high school play or basketball game. The ways to connect are endless. Every connection outside the wall of Immanuel speaks powerfully to our youth. In the book The Tangible Kingdom, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay conclude that, “almost without exception, relationship are formed, important dialogue and conversation begin, and powerful moments of ministry occur during spontaneous, unplanned moments while we are sharing our lives together.” The point is to find creative ways to connect. 3. Connect with your youth at a coffee shop once or twice a year. Why twice? A number has to be picked, and it has to be realistic. If you can do more than that, fantastic! Two is doable. An intentional face-to-face conversation with a list of questions is where accountability takes place. Here is a list of questions you may consider asking: “How are you?”, “How is school?”, “How is your relationship with your parents?”, “How is your relationship with your siblings?”, “How are your friends doing?”, “How can I pray for you?” Be real and be honest yourself. Do not talk too much, but do share stories of your brokenness and life experiences. Listen carefully, and be okay with silence. The silence often times give youth time to think about how to say something. And remember, close each time in prayer. The reality is that there are those at our church who do these three things already. However, there are still youth who get lost and fall through the cracks. The goal of this ministry is for more of us to connect on a more intimate level. If you have any problems or questions, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the ministry coordinator. Blessings in your ministry, your name
Dynamic Youth Ministries Box 1100 Norwich, ON N0J 1P0 CANADA Publication Mail
Look Before You Leap In previous issues, I have been sharing personal stories that illustrate the wonderful reality it is that God calls messed up people like myself (and probably you too) to the work of ministry. I am so thankful that God calls the weakest ones to be his servants and to live for him. Ministry will always be an adventure with hidden curves, sudden bumps in the road, overwhelming vistas of God’s Glory and the joy of the fellowship with other Christians along the way. Even though I probably would never admit it in the midst of one of those sudden bumps in the road, I really enjoy the unpredictable parts of life and ministry. Several weeks ago, our students preparing to attend SERVE in Newark, NJ hosted a dinner/youth auction to raise money for the trip. The evening was a wonderful one, full of great fellowship and tremendous encouragement from the congregation to our youth. As I went to close the night’s festivities, the unexpected happened. Standing on the stage, I called all the students on the team forward to say “thank you” to the congregation, simple enough right? Enter Joel; an athletic, casually cool high school guy, who some would argue is a wee bit accident-prone. He is sitting near the front with his girlfriend, stands up, walks up to the stage at my call, and in his typical nonchalant fashion, leaps up the eighteen-inch rise to the stage next to me. During this leap, his right foot caught and he came slamming into the stage onto his knees with a mighty crash that made even the little children playing in the back shoot their eyes up to see the commotion! Jumping back in surprise, I quickly asked, “Joel! Wow, are you ok?” I figured he was fine, after all, he is a pretty tough guy. In response was a face I will never forget. Sheer and utter horror washed over his
face as if someone had just pitched a bucket of cold water over his head. Not receiving an answer I asked him again if he was going to be alright. Slowly, so slowly, he turned his head, and looking at me with panicked fear-filled eyes he breathed, “no.”
No? He wasn’t ok? I had seen him fall much harder than that in the past, how could he not be alright? At that moment, the rest of the team arrived at the foot of the stage and he suddenly hopped up with them and quickly found a place in the back of the group. I figured he was fine, until I heard the guys on the team beside me giggle and then form a solid, shoulder-to-shoulder wall. Again my attention was drawn toward Joel, whose eyes were no longer fearful as much as they were pleading with me not to make a joke about their sudden wall… and it was then that I realized the issue. Hiding it as best he could, the crotch of Joel’s jeans had a 6-inch tear gaping across his pant leg. Thankfully there was a roll of red duct tape that Joel was able to get his hands on after walking off the stage behind his escorting shield, but I am confident the next time he goes to leap onto a stage he will think twice about it. Better to walk up the stairs than have stares focused on your Sponge-Bob boxers. Note: (Joel’s name has been changed to protect Joel’s true identity, although he did post the story on Facebook so I would guess that the pseudonym is not wholly necessary.) Cody Statema is the Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina, MN.