Youth Leaders Academy is Back!

Schaapjes twitter header

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

(cue dramatic music…)

there was a blog called Youth Leaders Academy. And now it’s back!

I started Youth Leaders Academy a couple of years back after moving to Germany and finding myself with too much time on my hands. How the times have changed! It was just before a second international move, this time from Germany to upstate New York, that I decided to transfer most of my content to the Download Youth Ministry blog. My goal was to continue blogging there. [Read more…]

Using Youth Ministry to Teach Independence to Students


We’ve been talking about independence and what we can do to raise independent kids and promote it in students. One obvious tool we can use as youth leaders, is our youth ministry.

We may complain about parents doing too much for their teens instead of letting students do it themselves, but as youth workers, we tend to make the same mistake. That’s because it’s much faster to clean up the youth room myself, than to supervise four students who take twice as long with not nearly as a good a result. Well, deal with it. The only way students can learn is by letting them do it, even if they don’t do it well at first. [Read more…]

Raising Independent Students


In a previous post, we started our discussion on raising independent kids. Much has been said about extended adolescence and the irresponsibility and dependence of this generation of young people. I think our goal is to counter that trend and stimulate independence.

Many of us may be parents as well as youth workers, but since this is a youth ministry blog and not a parenting blog, the question is how to ‘raise’ independent students. What can we as youth leaders do to promote independence in our students? [Read more…]

Raising Independent Kids (part 1)


It was a great combination of a play date for my son and a catch up with a friend for me as both our sons played with each other at McDonald’s. After an hour or so my son reported to me he was thirsty. So I gave him two dollars to buy a bottle of water at the counter. My friend looked at me in amazement. “You let him do that all by himself?”

To be honest, I never even thought about it. He’s seven by the way (my friend’s son is eight) and he didn’t hesitate going to the counting and buying that water. He brought back the change and all was well. Afterwards, my friend and I talked about this and she confessed she would not have let her son do that. I pointed out that we were in the same space (though divided by a glass wall) and that I trained my son to raise hell if someone would try to take him. She reluctantly agreed that she was maybe a bit overprotective. [Read more…]

Join the DYM Book Club


So here’s the thing: I started a book club over at the Download Youth Ministry blog over a year ago, the DYM Book Club. And even though I love reading and I devour books, I’ve been lousy at keeping that club going consistently. To give myself some extra accountability and because I really believe in inspiring each other to read great books, I’m promoting it here as well.

Every month we pick four books to read from different categories: young adult fiction, leadership, personal growth, and youth ministry. This are the choices for this month: [Read more…]

Relationships with Students are not a Job


Recently, I talked to a student who had been hurt by his youth pastor. You see, the student announced that he’d decided to attend a different church. And the youth pastor had severed all ties with him, almost instantly.

You know what the student said, how he had felt? Like a job.

He’d had a wonderful relationship with this youth pastor, which he needed because he was going through a rough period of his life. They had talked almost daily and the student had valued the help and the relationship. But theologically, there had been some issues that made him decide to switch churches. He never saw it coming, that changing churches would mean losing the relationship that meant so much to him. [Read more…]

The Benefits of Being Bored


There’s never a dull moment in youth ministry, right?

Actually, that may be truer than we realize…and also something we should not be so happy about. As it turns out, there are several benefits to being bored.

Teens nowadays have little time to be bored. I’m talking about good old-fashioned slumping on the couch, eyes glazing over, yawning while complaining at the same time…I’m soooo boooored!

We all know the culprit too: technology. Those long car rides that used to be THE surefire recipe for boredom are now spent playing games, checking phones, or watching dvd’s. Waiting rooms, airports, the hairdresser, rainy afternoons—they all used to guarantee getting bored, but not anymore.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing (though admittedly, traveling with kids has gotten a lot less stressful!). [Read more…]

Should you stop Saying ‘The Bible Says’?

Billy Graham

In his book Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, Andy Stanley makes the case that pastors should stop saying ‘the Bible says’ when quoting Scripture. His argument is not theological, but stems from evangelism as a goal. He states people have to believe Jesus as the Son of God before they have to believe the Bible is the Word of God. The phrase ‘The Bible says’ could make them tune out and prevent them from ‘meeting’ Jesus. In that sense, using that phrase could be a stumbling block for people to come to Christ.

It’s an interesting argument—and certainly a challenging one, considering the popularity of this particular phrase amongst pastors (a phrase that became widely popular because of Billy Graham’s use by the way). Understandably, Stanley’s plea has met fierce opposition and sparked a lively debate. [Read more…]

Bullying: How many Students never Tell Anyone?

crying girl

Bullying has become a topic that’s being studied and discussed more and more. Rightly so, considering the devastating effects of bullying on the victims. We’ve sadly seen too many teen suicides the last few years caused by bullying.

I come across bullying statistics regularly and you know how it is with statistics: sometimes one numbers says more than a whole list of statistics, no matter how serious a truth they represent.

Here’s the statistic that struck me:

30% of girls and 51% of boys never tell anyone about being bullied

I came across this number in a short article in Group magazine on bullying.(1) The number struck me as really high, so I wanted to find out if it was a reliable statistic. [Read more…]

His name was Adriaan


His name was Adriaan.

The theory may be that all students are created equal, but the practice is that you grow closer to some than to others. We were close, my husband and I, to him and his brother. Their mom joked at some point they spent so much time at our place, she should start paying us rent—or at least meal compensation.

Adriaan was a singularly gifted musician. He played the saxophone and he could make it sing. I’ve got dozens of pictures, recordings and videos of him playing in youth services and worship events. He loved music and he loved God and it showed. [Read more…]