Another episode of the Download Youth MInistry Podcast. Enjoy the show - and please be sure to visit and thank our sponsors Orange, Leadertreks, YM360 & Azusa Pacific University. Just enough youth ministry so you don't feel guilty for listening!
We've been debating a little bit lately about social media and effectiveness - first off, Facebook is dying for teenagers and has quickly become the best place for parents. Who knew? Instagram has always been good and is getting even better, and Snapchat can certianly be fun, too. All of that to say - which of these social media outlets is working best for your students? Vote now!
Final days at camp - it was SO awesome. Teaching this weekend then getting ready for week 2. Nuts!
Day 3 at HSM Summer Camp - continues to be SO awesome!
Day 2.5 ... HSM Summer Camp is going strong!
Last week, we looked at 3 types of parents that you'll work with as a youth pastor. Starting today, we'll look at strategies for dealing with each type of parent. To begin, here are 7 strategies for working with helicopter parents, those parents who hover over their child, dangerously close, never letting them gain any age-appropriate independence.
Anticipate their questions. When planning an event, think like a helicopter parent. These are the parents who are prone to worry and as such, anticipating their questions and concerns will help you plan and execute your event well and reduce their worries.
Give them lots of information. Much of what drives helicopter parents is fear. To combat this fear, one of the best things you can do is preemptively disseminate information – especially information that addresses the questions and concerns you know they have. The more information helicopter parents have, the easier it will be for them to trust you with their teen.
Read information like a helicopter parent. Before you send an e-mail, text, or mailing, read through it through the lens of a helicopter parent. What red flags does the information raise? Taking time to address those red flags now will save you time and energy in the long haul.
Help them serve... In other ministries. Because of how involved they are in their teens lives, helicopter parents are typically some of the parents who are most invested in your church and ministry. However, their desire to hover over their own child typically makes it difficult for them to serve in youth ministry. So work with them to identify their gifts and find appropriate areas in your church to utilize them. If they must serve in youth ministry, find ways for them to do so behind the scenes, away from their own teen, who will likely clam up or act out if their parents are present. Additionally, always check with teens BEFORE inviting their parent to be involved in your ministry in any way. Doing so tells them that you have their back and that you care more about them than pleasing their parents.
Never run. As a hiker, I know that one of the most dangerous situations I could find myself in is getting caught between a mother bear and her cubs. A mother bear will do ANYTHING to defend and protect her cubs. So, too, will helicopter parents. This means that you'll likely have more interaction – and more confrontation - with helicopter parents than with other type of parents. Just as you'd never turn your back on a mother bear and run, you never want to run away from a helicopter parent. Instead, listen to them, even when they're criticizing you. Try to find a nugget of truth in what's being said. Ask good questions to try to find out what's at the heart of their concern. Then address that.
Affirm them. All parents appreciate hearing good things about their kids. This is especially true of helicopter parents. So when you notice their teen doing something good, take time to make a phone call, send a text, or write a note and tell their parents. Doing so will help them relax (ever so slightly!) and learn to trust their teen more and more.
Affirm parents to their teen. The relationship between a teen and their helicopter parent is especially complicated since teens are often resentful of their parents' hovering. As a result, teens who have this type of parent often see their parent negatively. Whenever possible, affirm parents to teens to help them see their parents in a more positive light.
As you work with helicopter parents, no matter how overbearing they may at times become, remember that they love their kids and want what's best for them. In fact, they love their kids far more than we ever will as their youth pastor. Because they do, it's important that we gain their support and have their back. Helicopter parents are not our enemies; They, like all parents, are our partners in ministry.
We're up at HSM Summer Camp this week - a wee our students look forward to every year. It has been incredible to far! Here's the Day 1 1/2 highlight video - in the thick of it all this week. Yeah!
So today our whole student ministry team is getting together to talk about the fall. Not the Genesis 3 fall, but the fall season for this up and coming school year. This is a time where we will come together and talk about sermon series, events, fun items, fall kick off, videos, etc. Basically we are putting things on the calendar so we can begin to think and plan towards this new school year and be ready to take it on while in the midst of a crazy, busy, fun summer. Here are some thoughts on keeping your fall planning spicy and fun:
Everything is off the table - One of the rules we have coming into this planning meeting is that everything is off the table. Meaning, anything and everything we have ever done is not an option to do this fall. Any series, any event, any video is not allowed. This for sure spices some things up a bit because sometimes we love to get in a habit. We love to be repetitive. Sometimes repetitiveness kills creativity. Now this does not mean we won't do something if we have done it before, I just want to make sure we just do just to do it and we have some fresh ideas come to the table because something might be better.
Do a meal crawl- We are taking the whole day for planning. A whole day in one place can be draining. So we will spend our morning at a local, good (key word is good) coffee shop and have breakfast. We will go to lunch and continue planning at our favorite local pizza place (where some of our volunteers and students work) and then we will end the day at a very generous family's house where we will finalize the calendar with a big cannon ball in their ridiculous pool. We will be planning, thinking, praying through everything all day but we will be alive and well and keeping the blood and caffeine flowing.
Give people enough time to think- If you are anything like me, I'm not my most creative when put on the spot. I think people think best when they have some time to sit, think and ponder on things. When they let it stew a bit. So send out an email with the agenda of the day and what you expect to come out of the meeting with at least a week before you actually meet. This way, everything is coming prepared for the meetings with ideas already. Will ideas come on the spot? Absolutely. But at least everyone is coming to the table with something.
Make it fun - Besides the different locations and different foods we will be involving in planning, we will also be rewarding the best idea. Our team will vote on the best idea of the day and the winner will get a gift card to Starbucks as a little gesture of fun and inspiration to move our planning for the fall forward. I don't know what you would want to add, I'm sure there is a lot of different things, but just making it fun will help ideas keep flowing and the team happy and engaged.
Planning meetings don't have to be boring. Spice it up a little bit. Make it fun. Make it engaging. What do you do for your big planning meetings? How do you spice it up?
We're trying to have a little fun with the announcements this summer - loved this idea we used last week. Silly fun! No summer interns were hurt ... very much ... in the making of this video!
Often times in youth ministry, particularly evangelically-minded youth ministry, we pride ourselves on "conversions", on those who have "accepted Christ", as well we should. Teenagers, like any age person, need to know Jesus, or more appropriately, need to know how much Jesus wants to know THEM.
Teenagers definitely need to be presented with the Gospel. As our Lord states, "the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few." Too many people today focus on the mistakes of the Church, and hardly ever on the compelling beauty, grace, and love of Jesus. There is an increasing number of youth today who have no idea who Jesus is or what He taught. I know because when presenting the Gospel over the past 10 years, I've had youth personally tell me, "I've never heard that before." Its really unprecedented in American history, and we are remiss as a Church to ignore this important reality.
But as I progress into my 15th year of youth ministry, I want to encourage other youth workers in this fact: the harvest is not the only thing. Much of my time in youth ministry has been seed planting over harvesting: saying that extra prayer for a young person, seeing a student's eye light up when they get a new understanding about Scripture, visiting a teenager at their sporting event or play, connecting with a student over a meal, or texting an encouraging word.
In many ways, seed planting IS the harvest for youth ministry, or at least, can lead to a harvest in the future. To be honest, some teenagers just aren't ready to be "harvested".
As Mike Yaconelli so famously (or infamously) said,
Young people are too…well…young to be disciples. Apprentices? Of course. Beginners? Sure. Trainees? Interns? Absolutely.
But not disciples. We've convinced adults and parents that we have a program that can produce disciples. We perpetuate the illusion that we can take 13-year-olds and make disciples out of them. We actually act as though we can transform a group of inconsistent, uncommitted adolescents into mature, committed disciples by spending an extra hour or two a week with them. Not possible. Are students capable of heroic acts? Absolutely! Can a 13-year-old be committed to Jesus? Yes, as long as we understand what we mean by committed. Can young people make a difference in the world? Of course they can, but we're still not talking about disciples.
I base this also on my own faith development, at least, as best as I can recall my high school years. Like many teenagers, my adolescent years were tumultuous at times, highly emotionally charged, wrought with confusion, and driven by a desire for social acceptance at any cost. I loved church and my youth group, but I felt this pressure to experience something HUGE for God, but now I see it was actually something I wasn't exactly ready for. When I would attend mission trips or heavy worship services, I wanted so deeply to have a conversion experience or an emotional "moment" with God, the same experiences it seemed other people were having. I was coveting others in worship! That's a 10 Commandment I broke! That sure doesn't work!
In hindsight, my faith was being formed in and through these times, and it was the small, seemingly innocuous moments that God was revealing Himself to me, slowly opening the eyes of my heart though God's prevenient grace until I was ready. God did hear my hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those early prayers were eventually answered. I'm not saying to not have audacious faith or hunger for God at all!
At the age of 20, I did indeed receive the Holy Spirit, felt completely reborn and was set on a completely different life trajectory than what I was on. God is the potter, we are the clay, and it can be hard to remember that.
Until then, I was not a mature disciple of Jesus Christ because I was not emotionally mature yet, and that was ok. God knew that. God did not love me any less. God was patient with me then at that stage, and God is patient with me now.
Some youth just aren't ready to be harvested, but all are ready to be tended to, watered, seeded, and more. I pray that the Lord of the harvest will lead us all in wisdom as we tend to our individual "fields".