3 Mistakes I’ve Made/3 Best Things I’ve Done

In September the Youth Minister Gatherings discussed their mistakes and joys in youth ministry.

Mistakes I’ve Made:
-not asking enough adults to attend and then not thanking those who did afterwards
-valueing parent opinion and asking for it more often than once a year.
-involving parents in programming
-reminding the youth that you did some of the activities they asked for
-if I think it’s great, the youth may not think the same way
-youth ministry is also a parent ministry
-youth show up to see each other and not just because I’m so cool. (i can’t take it personally when youth don’t come)
-don’t make an inappropriate comment about a youth in front of the whole group. (they may dish it out, but you can’t)
-should have had youth events over the summer
-start the fall off with a meaty first youth group lesson, not just fun
-being too general in parent/leader help
-being too self-organized, need to ask for more help
-on a mission trip, if you decide to camp out in tents – don’t do it in a state park where you have to load all your stuff up each morning and unload every night. whew!
-don’t try to change an existing unhealthy situation by yourself
-to think that I have all the answers, I need to get out of the way and have everything point to God
-to sacrifice my family
-Preview EVERY video clip shown
-always press send on email and add self so you confirm you got it
-always have the youth “invest” in a trip so there is ownership
-come up with a plan of discipline for non-regulars/visitors
-don’t forget to clean up after events and leave it for the next day
-don’t use biting sarcasm
-don’t immediately respond to an email/voicemail that is emotional and confrontational. Take some time to calm down and then respond later. if need to write to express frustration, don’t add address to email until the very end – this will elimate the “accidental send”.
-no buzz=no one is coming (if there are no questions about the event, then no one is interested or knows about it)

Best Things I’ve Done:
-getting “those adults” (who are not gifted in working with youth, but always have) out of ministry, but into specialized jobs, i.e. youth minister’s special assistant, paperwork coordinator…
-student led bible study
-topic-based Sunday School – each youth chooses which class for the 3 month session, then can choose again for next session. class topics: dangerous devos for guys, mean girls, Generation X
-allowing organic specialized groups to develop (ex. Man Night/Retreat, Yoga, Nerf Gun War)
participating in CTCYM (it changed my congregation)
-attending/participating in their school activities
-Dodge Baloney – slices, dipped in nacho cheese
-stopped worrying about getting all the youth together in one place at one time, and focused on meeting in smaller groups when more youth could meet. developed deeper relationships and more committment.
-look for the hidden depth that comes with issues, identify it and address it even if it is uncomfortable
-teaching the congregation there is no our youth/their youth or inside church youth and outside church youth
-Texting systems like Simply Youth Ministry or Tatango.com
-Parent rotation as a 2nd adult for Safe Sanctuaries, sign up parents to rotate so always have 2 adults at event
-look at other adult groups for volunteers – Singles (older and younger), Empty Nesters, Older Widows, Young Families (if you provide childcare)
-held a series of parents meetings with topic being “how do we define success?” (during transitional period), then visibly posted how we define success
-started a Mentor/Big Bro/Big Sis program – it is a 2 way street, younger & older
-always works devotional on Wesleyan Grace using Wood Balsa Planes taped under the youth’s chairs before they get there. (ask John Nader for details)
-always works lesson on Covenants in the OT – building an altar week by week in youth room (ask John Nader)
-using a fundraising point system and spreading it throughout the year, it helps the youth learn the value of work
-Community Programming – ecumenical 5th Quarters or Feed the Children
-use issues or topics that you are naturally reading or studying as the topics for your group lessons
-personalized trip guides, compile all the devos for the trip and print their name on it
-Book – “Shaped by the Story” by Michael Novelli
-have offsite Sunday School time service projects, every other week, the group goes to an offsite org and does service.
-changed to a student- led Wednesday night bible study
-Quarterly Parent Newsletter
-Blog on youth trips so parents can keep up and congregation can pray for you
-restrict energy drinks from all trips – no buying them at gas stations during stops.
Synago groups – student-led small groups