Multempire - Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Clearing YM Noise Away

Posts tagged relationships

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Working With Homeless Youth Opens Minister's Eyes (Click Title for Youth Worker Article)

This article is a story about a minister who got brought out by a friend named John to help with kids who were in tough spots.  The story turns to a young girl named Brenda whose boyfriend had stolen her money to get high and she had no place to stay.  She was in a tough spot and was probably going to have to steal to get the money she needed.

The writer, when meeting Brenda, tried to use a God-ism.  “God wants this for you…” etc.  It is a hopeful message but Brenda had probably heard that before.  What she needed was some real people who she could sort the issue out with.

There are different types of poverty beyond monetary or even nutritional needs.  Relational poverty is real and this article highlighted this well.

This part of the story is powerful:

My first lesson in crisis counseling was and continues to be that when people are in crisis and struggling with complex problems, the last thing they want or need is a quick answer.

Imagine the frustration a person in crisis would feel if a counselor said, “Oh, that problem you’ve been struggling with is so easy. What you have not been able to answer in a month I can answer in 35 seconds. Boy, are you stupid.”

[Then] John listened to Brenda, then asked her questions that highlighted her strengths and her resources. He asked Brenda if she had been in this spot before and what she had done then.John taught me a lot. Brenda taught me more.

If I am going to be with people and be of any help, I need to get to know them first. I need to know where they’ve come from, their problems and their strengths. I also must allow them to know me.

Click here for the full article.

Filed under Youth Worker Journal Article review resource youth ministry poverty street life relationships relational poverty relationships

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Leadership: Perception and the Art of Youth Ministry

If you are a youth minister, you are also likely into technology and keeping up with the newest trends, games, etc that your youth are getting into.  Because we live in this world we probably talk about our phones, the apps and games we play, and we are proud of how technically competent we are in this realm.  This can be a downer when we realize that “techie” also means that you are the go to “Tech” fix guy/gal when something breaks in the offices.

Regardless, a recent incident in my (Dan’s) work life highlighted the need to know how others perceive the youth minister. 

Day 1 - I talked with a staff member about all my apps.  I especially highlighted how I play an online Battle RPG and colead a clan of 150 fighters from across the globe.  Something I do in my down time. 

Day 2 - I was in staff meeting, taking notes on Notepad during the meeting for later reference.  I also periodically check my emails to see if a student or parent has sent any forms in. That same staff member was directly across from me and could see me widdling away on the keyboard of my phone during the meeting.

Day 3 - I sat at lunch in the break room at church and sat across from the staff member.  I had my phone out, and she noted my games again.  I realized that her only reference to my phone had been that I play games on it.  I immediately hit the nail head on and said, “I just realized I’ve only shown you my games, but did you know I do just about everything on my phone now?”  We had a whole conversation about how my phone is a computer.  I made sure to mention that I never play games during staff meetings, and highlighted Evernote, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and everything I use for efficiency and youth contact work. 

She actually said she had thought that perhaps I wasn’t paying attention to the meeting, which would have made me look unprofessional.  As a youth minister in a field not often understood, to look unprofessional is a serious black eye. 

Not that we have to look like lawyers or keep an eye out 24/7 - but in order to be taken seriously, we have to let people know we are serious about what we do.  As a seminary trained youth minister with working in youth ministry for a good while now - the last thing I need to be seen as is the goofball who doesn’t think what everyone else’s thoughts and ideas are important. 

We are ministers of God building the Kingdom!  This is serious (if not extremely awesome) work to be doing.  We should see ourselves as God’s ambassador’s to all people in our church.  We should build bridges between the old, medium and young. 

Have you ever realized you had accidentally become the goofball YM?

Filed under Professinalism youth ministry Perception leadership relationships technology games culture church staff

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Doug Fields Talks About Marriage

Looks like Doug Fields, the writer of “The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry”, had some downtime during a recent Marriage Retreat led by Jim Burns (of Homeward Family Center), and said a few words about marriage that are relevant whether married or not.  Basically, the point that couples want to CONNECT more than just TALK applies to any relationship.  Sometimes we can connect without words. Here is a bit of the article and click the Title to Jump to Full Blog by Doug.

1. This is a stereotype, but when women say, “We need to talk more”, most men immediately move to feelings of guilt and failure. One guy said, “When my wife says, ‘We need to talk’… I think I’m in trouble.”

2. We have come to believe that more talking is essential for our marriages.

3. While talking is very important, what most people are really looking for is a deeper connection with their spouse. They’re not looking for more words, they’re looking for a stronger connection.

4. Instead of making “more talk” your goal and forcing times of talking (which typically lead to calendar, to-do, and talk about the kids), make it a goal to connect in more natural ways (hanging together, no agenda times together, being together).

5. My experience has been that the deeper the connecting…the deeper the conversations.

6. Talking isn’t the goal, connecting is.

How do you connect (married or not)?

Filed under marriage Doug Fields rest connecting relationships youth ministry

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NNYM Highlights Importance of Support from the Senior Pastor (Click Title to Jump)

Youth Ministry is a fickle science/artform, and one of the key indicators of success of a youth ministry is, “Does the Senior Pastor support the vision of the Youth Minister?” and probably vice versa.  Do you have your Senior Pastors support? Thanks National Network of Youth Ministry for the highlight.  Twitter: @nnym

Filed under Senior Pastor Support youth ministry leadership vision relationships staff

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Reaching College Students (Means Reaching Their Influencers)

An article by displayed some Pew statistics on College Student church attendance, and discussed the possible legitimacy of internet churches.  It was a great article, but in reading, another thought came to mind.

Is there someone officially ministering to the college professors? Looking at the statistics, where almost 50% of Freshman regularly attend church, then by Junior year, that drops to around 35% - a possible reason is striking.

If God set up humans to be relational in nature, and the students lives are focused primarily around relationships with professors, and are detaching from their parents (and home community/church’s) influence - then professors are being looked at as the role models for people in this part of their lives.

In youth ministry, one effective way to minister to the students, is to first minister to the parents.  Since kids are intertwined with the identities of the adults who care for them, they benefit systematically from the welfare of the adults who care for them.  A healthy and educational parent is far more influential than any youth minister - so in essence, the youth minister recognizes their limitations and produces leadership in the leaders of kids lives.

Same with professors. Even if a professor can’t openly talk about their faith in the classroom, students talk about the worldview of their professors because it is part of the key of “Why” the professor assigns what they do.  Many students talk with their professors outside of the classroom as well - because though professors provide a function (education) in the classroom, they are human beings who are more complex than what they teach. 

Honestly, I hear a lot of talk about reaching college students, but it seems the systematic challenge is to reach their influencers - the professors - for the Kingdom.  What are your thoughts?  Have you had a good relationship with the professors that teach your youth when they leave for college?

Filed under College Ministry Student Ministry Youth Ministry Professors Higher Education Kingdom of God Relationships Caring Hope Statistics

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Seriously Youth Pastor - Get on Facebook NAO!

The main reason that I have heard from other youth ministers for not being on Facebook is “I tried it, but I saw crazy things about my youth, and so I deleted it.”

First of all, I think that deleting something because you saw too much is a bad excuse to delete.  First of all, your youth need you there to remind them that they need to be civil no matter where they are.  Social Profiles have been testing grounds for youth personality and identity for a while and you are a part of that process.  By being a presence (and yes, doing the messy “I can’t believe you said that” conversations, you help teens integrate their online morality with their real world morality.  You help them integrate all the different codes they maintain, and actually help them have less stress in their lives.  Unfortunately not less stress for you, but that is what you signed up for.  Get tough skin and jump back in.

Benefits of successful integration into your youth’s social network:

(A) You can promote events easily.

(B) You can plan events online through groups.

(C) Your youth talk with you, and you can do less home calls (I love that one).

(D) Kids start texting you after a while (and you know you’re loved then!)

(E) You see what their interests are and who they hang out with by what they “like” and comment on. 

Ultimately, Facebook is a great communication tool when used right.  Learn proper social network etiquette and teach it to your youth by role modeling it.  Call them out in love (in a private message) when their out of hand, and be a presence for Good and represent the Kingdom of God online! It takes time and some sweat equity, but it is rewarding when it begins working right.

Filed under Facebook Social networks overcoming fear youth ministry relationships communication research youth culture

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Minister Effectively - Team Relationship Mapping


An essential ingredient to doing good youth ministry is knowing which  students are being reached relationally and the quality of that  relationship. Often, youth fall through the cracks because even with a  robust team of volunteers, the same core students are being targeted  by multiple leaders leaving the core relationally spoiled and the  “fringe” students underinvested, leaving them disenfranchised with the  ministry which can lead to resistance to education and other growth  opportunities.

How can this be solved?

Relationship Mapping:
A group of youth can be looked at and grouped  according to which leader is reaching out to them. This can be done in  a speadsheet but can become confusing. It is probably better to map the relationships visually for each leader using concentric circles to denote the influence of each leader in terms of quality to each student.

For example, your leader Jolene connects with John, Jane, Jim, an Sally. She also Connects peripherally to another twelve or so, and on top I that about 25-30 kids depend on her to greet them with a smile, a word, hug, or
handshake during the course of the week or during a program.

John, Jane, Jim, and Sally would be Jolene’s first circle. They are dependant on her for extra-family wisdom and guidance as well as encouragement and confidence.  Then the next group of 12 are the second circle. They also depend on Jolene but not as consistently.  They may have large, strong families or not at all and so they may disappear from time to time due to an inconsistent lifestyle. Either  way, they still find some amount of nourishment through Jolene. The
last and largest group are the last circle. This circle is more likely to overlap other leader’s circles and some of them probably are the core kids of another leader or are in need of being brought into closer relationship.

Practical Implications:
(A) You have each of your leaders map their relationships as best they can at a meet-up, and overlay them upon each other. Note if the same names keep ending up in many leaders core groups and have a conversation about who feels most connected to those students making decisions to ensure that the most kids possible are getting the highest quality relationship. The goal isn’t to compete for the best kids, but rather, to challenge ourselves as individuals to step out of our comfort zones, and also for clarity for the team as a whole.

(B) Next take the role for the entire youth group, and begin to look at what names are not in any if your leader’s relationship maps. These are most likely the students who are “Falling through the Cracks”.  Their parents are probably complaining at Parent Meetings or you’re receiving phone calls about the spiritual health of their student (and probably the effectiveness of your ministry as a whole!).  Many parents are probably apathetic about the issue, and sometimes silence  on this issue can be worse than a few complaints.

Whatever is happening, the great thing about relationship mapping is that you now have a visual, made by your volunteers, to show them how the team can be more effective and reach more students with more quality relationships.  You also can now implement a plan that can be communicated both audibly and visually to parents (some of whom will still not get it-don’t be discouraged).

Now, begin implementing the plan. Have your leaders discuss which students they can take on comfortably and they feel can be connected with naturally. Talk about it before and during meetings. Ex: “Have you had time to connect with Jeremy?” The goal is to always be aware as as a team of who is being connected, and to keep up the expansion
of possible quality relationships. Though it may not be perfectly implemented, there will be an ideal standard or goal to attain. Any team without clear vision and goals will eventually begin to stagnate.

Large companies and corporations spend huge amounts of money tracking how many customers they have served and keep massive records of surveys and statistics so that they know whether to remain connected, to improve their service, or whether they should reach out and bring in a new client. As a youth group, you have an even better advantage.  The ground level relationship with a student is powerful and can help a  student choose whether they serve the world or Christ. Your
team has a passion to proclaim, model, serve, and disciple the students in congregation and community. Let them see their reach and  be challenged to be a more effective team!

-Daniel Griswold, @dannonhill (

Filed under Relationship Mapping Relationships Minister Effectively Youth MInistry Being Awesome

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Cyber Bullying Fueled by Unknowledgable Parents

This NYT article passed along by @ys_scoop details some of the stories of cyber bullying on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace.

The big takeaway from this is that parents are not up to speed with the technology they are giving their kids. Those cell phones are basically personal computers and cyber-bullying can happen at any time day or night.

Since most kids have phones, and parents aren’t monitoring the activity, and without the maturity to think through consequences of words written - harm can come quickly and become intense for the ones being targeted.

(1) Parents need to become educated if they let their kids use smart-phones or interact from a pc. (2) Students need monitoring by adults, which means adults who live among kids and point out abuses like in the real world. (3) Youth Ministry Professionals and others who interact with youth can be middle-persons helping parents and guardians bridge the tech gap and assisting in profile creation for themselves.

The easy reaction is fear when kids are getting hurt, and to pull away. But that is not a long tern solution because Facebook and Twitter are not going away. Connection online is growing easier, and responsible adults need to model responsible citizenry in the online world.

Filed under Parenting Educating Oneself Keeping Up Parenting Tech Knowing Teens Enabling Parents Relationships Protecting Next Generations Healthy Web Use