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…]

Creating a dress code for your youth ministry

Does your youth ministry needs a dress code and if so, what should that look like?

Summer is on its way and it always brings up the inevitable issue of clothes. Or rather, lack thereof. Appropriate clothing can be a bit of an issue in youth ministry. But is it wise to enforce a dress code in youth ministry and if so, how do you go about creating a dress code for your youth ministry?

The 4B rule

Let me start with describing my own experiences. Yes, we did have a dress code in my former youth ministry, but only for those students who were up on stage. We simply enforced the 4B’s rule: no breasts, butts, boxers and bellies visible. Easy to remember, works like a charm. Every now and then the worship leader had to remind someone of the rules, but all in all it functioned pretty well. [Read more…]

The unintended consequences of rules

beach rules

On July 24th 1915 the steamer S.S. Eastland capsized in the harbor of Chicago. More than 800 people perished in an accident that could have been easily prevented. You see, after the catastrophic collision of the Titanic with an iceberg, a new law was passed stating that all passenger boats were required to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers. Understandable and certainly issued with the best intentions, but it proved to be fatal for the S.S. Eastland.

This steamer’s design wasn’t optimal to begin with, and with the added weight of the extra lifeboats it became top heavy. It capsized while tied to the dock. There was no time to hand out life vests or use the lifeboats and 844 people died, including many women and children. [Read more…]

How to get rid of a bad youth ministry volunteer

road ends sign

No matter how good your screening process for new volunteers for your youth ministry, at some point you may find yourself stuck with a bad youth ministry volunteer. There can be many reasons why a volunteer doesn’t work out (anymore) in your youth ministry:

  • A lack of chemistry with the students, the team, or with you as youth pastor;
  • The volunteer has demonstrated risky behavior that hasn’t changed after several warnings;
  • The volunteer is going through a rough season in his or her life and simply doesn’t have the energy for youth ministry right now;
  • Not everyone is destined to stay in youth ministry forever, even after having successfully served many years it may be simply time to leave;
  • The gifts and character of the volunteer don’t match with the task he or she is doing;
  • The volunteer does a reasonable good job with the students, but is causing problems in your team (no team player) for instance with excessive criticism;
  • Despite best efforts and the necessary youth ministry training, the volunteer simply isn’t ‘performing’ well;
  • You may have made some changes in the youth ministry (for instance in programs) that the volunteer doesn’t feel comfortable with or the volunteer doesn’t support the mission and vision (anymore).

Even the above list is far from exhaustive. There can be many reasons why you need to part ways with a bad volunteer, but how do you do that?

[Read more…]

There is no formula. There is God.

math formula

“I’ve seen so many brothers and sisters whom I love who follow one paradigm after another. They’re going to Willow Creek. They’ll do 40 Days of Purpose, this model and that model; en they end up discouraged. They find out after 18 months that no system works. There is no formula. There’s God.

This is Christianity. This isn’t copying IBM or Apple. We’re supposed to get before the Lord and find out what God wants us to do. Every church is unique. Every pastor is unique, so we can’t make shortcuts and get some model that we copy in some mechanical way to get the same results so we can be more influential or have a church that’s large and all of that.

When I see that 1,500 ministers are leaving the church every month, I think much of that is discouragement that comes from ‘Oh, that’s the answer. No wait, this is the answer’. ”

Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, in an interview with Preaching May/June 2012

The lie about the makeability of youth ministry


I’m a control freak, I admit it. I’m a structured and organized person who tends to plan (way) ahead and I’m big on analyzing processes using the theory of action and reaction and cause and consequences. The often-heard saying ‘stupidity is doing the same things but expecting different results’ is one I wholeheartedly agree with.

Yet I know there are limits to what I can control, especially in youth ministry. I know from experience that no matter how much I want it to be so, youth ministry isn’t makeable. It frustrates me at times, it makes me feel powerless and completely out of control, but there’s nothing I can do about it. The makeability of youth ministry is a lie.

Now, I’m not even sure if this is a correct English word. I’ve sort of translated this literally from the Dutch expression, but it conveys exactly what I want to say. Makeable, makeability, they refer to the thought that we have control over something, that we can shape it and make it exactly how we want it to be. But there’s no makeability in youth ministry, there are no guaranteed ‘results’. Youth ministry isn’t mass product, manufactured in large quantities. It’s a uniquely crafted work of art, individually shaped for each specific youth ministry. [Read more…]

How to create support for your ideas and plans


You can have the best ideas ever and create strategic plans for your youth ministry ‘till you’re blue in the face, but unless others support you, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s very important to have vision, but it’s equally important to have people support your vision. So how do you do that? How do you create support for your ideas and plans and get people to cheer you on? It’s all about the three R’s:




Research your plans

The first thing that’s important is that your plans for your youth ministry are well researched and well developed. You need to know what you’re talking about and be able to back it up with numbers, statistics and facts. Many plans are grand in scope, but very sketchy on the details and no one will support those. People need to see your vision is  grounded in reality. [Read more…]

How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

small group

One of the most challenging plans to make for a new season of youth ministry is a teaching plan. Yet it’s also the most rewarding one, both spiritually and in terms of stress reduction. First, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of making a teaching plan. Then we’ll discuss how to actually make one for your youth ministry.

The benefits of a teaching plan

I admit: I’m a planner, so making plans and planning in advance comes natural to me. Yet I’m convinced of the benefits of a teaching plan for every youth ministry. Here’s why: [Read more…]

The 7 habits of effective meetings


[This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry]. Meetings have gotten a bit of a bad reputation. That’s because a lot of them are bad. They’re too long, unfocused, have way too many attendees and afterwards no one really knows what the point was. For many people, meetings feel like a complete waste of time.

But when meetings are done the right way, they cannot only become effective, they can actually become something to look forward to. Meetings are actually a very practical and good way of getting things done, especially in youth ministry where it’s always about people first. So how do you transform meetings into effective, something your leaders actually look forward to? [Read more…]

Making an operational year plan for your youth ministry


So, you’ve created a mission and a vision statement and you’ve translated this into a strategic plan. Now what? Now you make an operational plan, also known as a year plan. It’s the concrete plan of what you want to do in the upcoming year or season.

An example of an operational plan

Let’s say your mission is this:

“Making students into devoted disciples of Jesus”

You’ve made a vision statement in which you describe your dream of making at least 50% of your young people into devoted followers of Jesus, meaning that they attend church, read their Bible by themselves, pray daily and show in their daily life that they are becoming more and more like Jesus by bearing fruit both in character and in evangelism. [Read more…]