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13 Nov 2023

Network and Build Stronger Youth Ministries

By |2023-11-06T06:48:51-08:00November 13th, 2023|Youth Pastor Life|2 Comments

Ministry can be a solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we’ll explore the immense value of networking with other youth pastors. Building a community of like-minded individuals can lead to more vibrant and effective youth ministries.

Ministry Can Be Lonely, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

As a youth pastor, you might have experienced the occasional loneliness that comes with the territory. The weight of guiding young souls can be isolating. However, by connecting with fellow youth pastors, you can find a support system that understands the unique challenges and joys of youth ministry. No one should navigate this journey alone, and with a network of colleagues, you won’t have to.

We Get Better Ideas in Community with Others

Youth ministry thrives on creativity and fresh ideas. While you might have a wealth of innovative concepts, imagine how much richer your arsenal of ideas can become when you network with other youth pastors. Sharing experiences and brainstorming together can spark new, exciting approaches to engage and inspire your students. When we pool our collective wisdom, everyone benefits.

Encouragement Comes Best from Those Who Get Us

There’s nothing quite like the encouragement that comes from someone who truly understands your role. Fellow youth pastors can offer a unique perspective and empathetic support. They’ve been there, experienced the challenges, and found ways to overcome them. Their encouragement can be the fuel that keeps your passion for youth ministry burning brightly.

Wins Are Sweeter with Someone to Celebrate With

Every victory, no matter how small, is worth celebrating in youth ministry. Whether it’s a student’s spiritual breakthrough, a successful event, or personal growth in your role, sharing these wins with a network of youth pastors makes them even more meaningful. When you have someone who understands the significance of these moments, the celebration becomes more profound and fulfilling.

In conclusion, networking with other youth pastors is not just about connecting; it’s about creating a web of support, idea-sharing, and shared victories. By building this community, we can alleviate the loneliness, amplify our creativity, draw encouragement from those who understand our journey, and make the sweet moments in youth ministry even sweeter. So, reach out to your fellow youth pastors, connect, and start building stronger youth ministries together.

8 May 2023

Finding Community as a Youth Pastor

By |2023-05-08T07:43:04-07:00May 8th, 2023|Youth Pastor Life|10 Comments

As a youth pastor, you likely spend a lot of time building and investing in your community of students. You pour your heart and soul into teaching, guiding, and supporting them as they navigate their faith and their lives. But in the midst of all this, it’s easy to forget about the importance of finding your own community.

As someone who has dedicated themselves to serving others, it’s essential that you have a group of people who can support and encourage you. This is especially true in the demanding and emotionally taxing role of a youth pastor.

Here are a few reasons why finding your own community is so crucial:

  1. It helps you avoid burnout.

As a youth pastor, it’s all too easy to become consumed by the needs of others. You might find yourself working long hours, neglecting your own needs, and feeling drained and exhausted. When you have a community of your own, however, you can find support and encouragement that helps you avoid burnout.

  1. It helps you stay accountable.

Being a youth pastor is a weighty responsibility, and it’s easy to feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. When you have a community of your own, however, you have people who can hold you accountable and help you stay focused on what matters most. They can offer you guidance and wisdom when you’re feeling lost, and they can help you stay on track with your goals and priorities.

  1. It helps you grow in your faith.

As a youth pastor, you spend a lot of time pouring into others’ spiritual lives. But it’s important that you take time to nurture your own relationship with God as well. When you have a community of your own, you have people who can challenge you, inspire you, and help you grow in your faith.

So how do you go about finding your own community? Here are a few tips:

  1. Look for a group of people who share your values and beliefs.

Whether it’s a group at your church or an online community, look for people who share your commitment to following Jesus. You’ll find that having this shared foundation can help you build deeper connections and find greater support.

  1. Be intentional about making connections.

It’s not enough to simply show up to a group and expect to find community. You have to be intentional about building relationships with others. Take the time to get to know people, ask them about their lives, and share your own story with them.

  1. Be vulnerable.

One of the key ingredients to building deep and meaningful relationships is vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles and your doubts with others. When you’re willing to be vulnerable, you’ll find that others are more likely to open up to you as well.

As a youth pastor, finding your own community is essential for your well-being and your growth in faith. Look for a group of people who share your values and beliefs, be intentional about making connections, and be vulnerable. With these ingredients in place, you’ll find that you have the support and encouragement you need to continue pouring into the lives of others with joy and passion.

Ronald

Need to reclaim some time so you CAN find community? You need to check out this training:

1 May 2023

A summertime prayer for youth pastors

By |2023-05-01T08:56:39-07:00May 1st, 2023|Youth Pastor Life|10 Comments

As we approach the summer season, I want to take a moment to encourage you in your ministry. You have been called to shepherd the hearts and minds of young people, and that is no small task. But, with God’s help and your dedication, I am confident that you will make a significant impact on the lives of those you serve.

As you prepare for a summer of activity, it is essential to remember that you are not alone. God is with you every step of the way, and He will give you the strength and wisdom you need to lead your youth group effectively. Take time to pray and seek His guidance as you plan your activities and events.

Remember that your ultimate goal is not just to keep your young people busy, but to help them grow in their faith and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. So, as you plan your activities, keep that in mind. Ask yourself, “How can this event help my students connect with God and each other?”

I know that this summer may bring some challenges, but I also believe that it will be a time of tremendous growth and transformation for your youth group. So, keep pressing forward, even when it feels difficult. Trust in God’s plan for your ministry, and He will use your efforts to bring about His kingdom work.

So let me offer this prayer over you:

Father God, we come before you today with humble hearts, asking for your guidance and wisdom as we begin this summer of activity with our youth groups. We pray that you would bless our efforts and use them for your glory. Give us strength and perseverance when we feel weary or discouraged, and fill our hearts with your love and grace. We ask that you would use this summer to bring about transformation in the lives of our young people, and that they would come to know you in a deeper way. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Remember, fellow youth pastors, you are doing important kingdom work, and we are in this together. Let us continue to support and encourage one another as we serve the Lord and His people. May God bless you and your ministry abundantly this summer.

Hey, want to make some more time for yourself and your summer? Check out this free training hosted by DYM! Click the photo to sign up and learn how to reclaim your time and thrive in ministry on May 9th at 10 AM PST!

27 Mar 2023

Who Cares about Self Care?

By |2023-03-27T06:20:41-07:00March 27th, 2023|Youth Pastor Life|4 Comments

At the end of December 2022, I packed up my apartment in Upstate New York and moved myself, my golden retriever, and my three parakeets to Northern Pennsylvania. I went from a ministry position as a youth and worship pastor to a similar position, only as a children’s and youth pastor. Having been at my former church for a few years, I knew the rhythm and heartbeat of the building, the programs, the services, the extra activities we hosted. Now, I more often than not feel like a stranger. I’m still learning names and getting to know the routine of my new church family. I’m still getting used to my new office and the way the front entrance creaks when someone walks through the doors. The house I’m living in doesn’t really feel like home yet. From time to time I’ll still wake up in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn not knowing where I am for the first few moments of consciousness. In the new, different and change of this season, I’ve found myself pretty distracted, leaving little to no energy at the end of the day for healthy habits. Honestly, I’ve found myself overwhelmingly hollowed out as I try to keep up with several jobs and hours of binging tv shows and social media in hopes to recharge just enough for the next day’s work. I hadn’t been in this rhythm long before The Lord gently got my attention and asked, “Mason, is this working?”. And the answer was “Nope. Not at all”.

The point of all this is to encourage you as parents, as youth workers, as pastors, as co-laborers in Christ, to critically think about whatever is hollowing you out in this season and what’s been done to recharge. Things like gym time, healthy eating, reading a  book, playing board games, watching movies all touch on caring for different aspects of our life, but I wonder how different things would be if we include and prioritize our spiritual health in our self-care time. I wonder if the tiredness that’s easily felt, the frustrations we have, the discouragement we receive, the heartache we endure comes from a disconnect of what should be prioritized in our self-care time and what is actually prioritized.

When looking at the example Jesus models, ‘self-care’ looks very different from what most would consider doing now. It looked like tears of frustration and fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. It looked like long periods of fasting and prayer in the desert. It looked like retreating with close friends in the midst of the crazy. It looked like being present with The Father one on one, with no walls or barriers – just sheer vulnerability and transparency, leading to unhindered communion with the Giver of Life. The result? Jesus left those encounters with refreshed purpose, renewed vision, revitalized passion and direction for what the Lord had asked of him.

Hopefully what I’m getting at is starting to poke through a bit; self-care time is really important, especially in seasons where extra stressors are inevitable. The reality of it all is it’s really easy to be distracted from the presence of God instead of by the presence of God. Especially in ministry, it can be really difficult to be present and connected with The Lord. When we’re flustered by all the new or even the ‘same old, same old’, it’s so easy to make unnecessary things priorities in our self-care time. What God has taught me in this time is that the type and time of self-care I seek really does matter. As a follower of Jesus, my self-care time serves a vitally important role in regularly encountering the presence of God. That’s where the waves of life cease, where darkness and evil flee, where my stressors and anxieties can take a time-out, and where the newly hollowed out spaces become hallowed spaces of fragrant faith and rich renewal.

These were really difficult rhythms to get down as I had been used to a different way and perspective for far too long. As a Youth Pastor, I had felt like there was this pressure to have all of these aspects of life down so I could teach those I’ve been entrusted to care for. However, that denied me as a work in progress with The Lord and to not get discouraged too quickly, baby steps were really important in prioritizing my Spiritual Self-Care. I think for everyone those steps look a little different depending where we’re starting from. For myself, it looked like scheduling in on my calendar those times to be with the Lord, times to engage in spiritual disciplines, and times to be just myself. It worked getting me to meetings on time so what the heck, I thought I’d give it a shot. After a few weeks of following my calendar closely, I started craving that time more and more. When things would get a little rocky, my first response was, “Man, I want to just go be with God for a little bit”. This replaced, “Man, I just want to take a nap for a little bit”, and “Man, how many episodes of Ted Lasso did I just watch”!

Maybe you’re starting off at a much more disciplined place than I was and if that’s the case I want to meet you so we can be friends and learn from one another! Maybe a baby step for your own self-care time does look like unplugging and going to a movie, spending time with loved ones, going for a walk, etc… because those aren’t bad things at all! They may actually help see how important it is to take that time for yourself, that you don’t have to feel guilty or shame yourself for unplugging and getting an emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual refresher. Go to the gym and get those gains on! Go to the beach and soak up the sun! Go get a snack and take a nap! Watch your favorite move with your fur-baby on the couch with an unreasonably priced blanked that has no business being that cozy! Whatever it is to get you in a habit of resetting and refreshing! Another baby step; look for Jesus at the gym, on the beach, in your dreams, and in the cuddle time with your fur-baby! He’ll show up and give you the refreshment of an eternity! Be blessed as you seek him in your self-care time!

–   Mason S.

“I’ve been doing youth ministry since 2012 in various capacities. When I got started, i couldn’t get enough and just got plugged in with leaders that invested in me as a young leader and gave me the opportunity to serve. After living and learning through several church and para-church ministry experiences, I wanted to further my education and ended up getting a degree in theological studies and youth ministry. As years go by, the excitement the Lord has given me for the next generation of students and church leaders has not depleted in the slightest. It’s been an honor serving countless amounts of students at camps, churches, and different youth events over the past 11 years and I’m so excited for what’s to come for these upcoming world changers!

Care for the Leader’s Soul: A Prayer Retreat Guide

In a season that has felt like anything but “normal,” full of uncertainty and change, anxiety and grief, Jesus’ invitation to you is the same as it was for His disciples after a full day of ministry: come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. – Mark 6:31 (NIV)

How sweet is His invitation to be in His Presence and receive from Him! This prayer retreat has been prepared with love for you as a minister in this challenging season. You’ll be guided in how to prepare your mind, heart, and environment, what to anticipate, and how to journey into a time of thoughtful reflection, journaling, and prayer as you step away to meet with God.

Click here to check it out!

Renew Your Hope Youth Worker Retreat Day

In order to sustain ministry for the long-haul, youth workers need regular times of rest and spiritual renewal.

Youth workers are often tired, lonely, and struggling to survive their week-to-week responsibilities. This retreat will remind youth workers of their secure hope in Christ, inviting them to move away from fear-based habits and return to hope-based habits.

This guide to a half-day retreat is designed to help you reflect on your hopes and your fears as you do youth ministry. It’s designed to help you intentionally reflect on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It gives you a chance to write a new prayer, offering to God your biggest fears and hopes.

Click here to find out more!

26 Jan 2023

3 Signs You Need to Slow Down

By |2023-01-24T13:41:32-08:00January 26th, 2023|Help Me With..., Parents, Youth Ministry Hacks, Youth Pastor Life|2 Comments

As youth pastors, we often find ourselves in a whirlwind of activities and events. We’re planning the next sermon, scheduling meetings with volunteers, and running from one event to the next. It can be hard to pause and really take a moment to rest.

But rest is essential for our physical, mental and spiritual health. If we don’t take the time to rest, we won’t be able to give our best to the ministry. With that in mind, here are 3 signs that you need to slow down and rest once in a while:

1. When You Feel Overwhelmed – If you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. Feeling overwhelmed could be a sign that you’re taking on too much and need to re-evaluate your priorities. It’s important to take a step back, assess the situation, and find ways to reduce your stress. We can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to take time to fill it back up and rest. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

2. When You Feel Disconnected From God – When we’re too busy, it’s easy to become disconnected from God. If you’re feeling distant from God, it’s a sign that you need to slow down and give Him your full attention. Rest is a vital part of our spiritual walk, and it’s important to make time to spend with God. As Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Taking the time to be still and rest in God’s presence will help us to reconnect with Him.

3. When You Can’t Focus – If you’re having trouble focusing, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. When we’re tired, our minds can’t focus, and we can’t do our best work. Take a break and use that time to pray, read Scripture, and rest in the presence of God. You can also take a walk, journal, or spend time with friends and family. All of these activities can help you to relax, refocus, and gain perspective.

By taking the time to slow down and rest, we can be better equipped to serve our ministry and glorify God. Remember, it’s ok to take a break and rest once in a while. Make sure to honor God by taking time to rest and recharge so that you can serve with a renewed spirit.

Need something to send to parent that sends the same message? We’ve got a great resource for you!

PARENT RESOURCE: 4 Signs You Need to Slow Down

We are all aware that life can be busy. Our calendar is jam-packed each week with work, kids, school, sports, and friends. Our culture moves quickly and keeping up can be so exhausting that it hurts us. This new year, you may need to slow down. Here are 4 signs your fast-paced life is killing you.

How to use:

1. Attach to your next parent newsletter

2. Print and have available at your next parent meeting

3. Create a resource hub in your space for grab and go parent resources

4. Create a monthly “parent equipping” (separate from newsletter) video explaining how to use the tool.

Gold members got this for free this month. Want to get free stuff? Become a Gold Member today!

4 Jan 2023

5 Youth Ministry New Years Resolutions

By |2023-01-04T10:02:07-08:00January 4th, 2023|Leadership, Youth Pastor Life|4 Comments

As we come to the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about our resolutions for the coming year. As a youth pastor, I thought I’d share some resolutions that I think all of us in youth ministry should work toward.

1. Cut down on the pizza and soda at youth events: We all know that pizza and soda are staples of the youth ministry diet, but it’s time to start making healthier choices. Let’s try to offer healthier snacks and drinks to our youth, and maybe even incorporate some physical activity into our events!

2. Take more risks: When we’re trying to reach young people, it’s easy to fall into a rut and stick with the same old activities. Let’s challenge ourselves to try something new and take some risks. It might be scary, but it’s often the only way to reach the teenagers who really need us.

3. Get out of the building: We all know the importance of building relationships with our youth, but sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the youth room. Let’s try to get out of the building more often and meet our teenagers in their environment. Whether it’s going to a sporting event or just hanging out at a local park, let’s make an effort to meet our students where they are.

4. Listen more: It’s easy to get caught up in our own ideas, but if we want to really make a difference in the lives of our youth, we need to be willing to listen. Let’s strive to listen more and really get to know our youth on a deeper level.

5. Have more fun: Youth ministry can often be a serious business, but let’s not forget to have some fun. Whether it’s playing a game or just goofing off, let’s make sure that our youth know that we care about them and that we want to have fun with them too.

These are just a few of the resolutions that I think we should all be striving for. With a little effort and dedication, I’m sure we can make this an even better year than the last. What would you add? Happy New Year everyone!

Ronald

17 Nov 2022

It’s Time to Quit

By |2022-11-17T12:36:40-08:00November 17th, 2022|Youth Pastor Life|0 Comments

  1. It’s time to quit striving to save students. “No one comes to the Father unless the Holy Spirit draws them.” Your overtime hours, answering emails and texts at night won’t be the extra edge needed for students to say yes to Jesus. Do what God has called you to do “with all of your heart and not for men,” but God is doing all the heavy lifting to save students. You are not God. God’s going to get done what He wants done. You only need to be faithful.
  2. It’s time to quit putting ministry before your family, your personal fellowship, and your health. Your family are your most important disciples. Date nights, tucking in your kids, exercising or time in nature, and being in a small group for yourself are your priority. If you aren’t married, although you have more free time to say yes, you still need to practice saying “no” above your 40 hours because your personal and spiritual health depends on personal time with Jesus, your family relationships, sleeping 8 hours, and your friendships.
  3. It’s time to quit hustling. In our chaotic culture, you often must do something radical to get your life back from the algorithms. We all know the adage, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Don’t be afraid of what people will think of the pastor going to personal or marriage counseling.  Delete social media—yeah, it can be a helpful tool, but (unpopular opinion here) it’s not necessary to disciple teenagers. Get Covenant Eyes because pornography is destroying lives and families and disqualifying too many pastors from ministry. Work only 40 hours. Don’t check emails or texts at night. Take a weekly sabbath. Don’t go into debt. Make a budget, and live with less, so you don’t need to have a side hustle to pay your bills. Say a holy “no” to good things so you can have greater things—like more peace and quiet, healthier relationships, and the gift of being fully present.
  4. It’s time to quit doing it all and release more to others. Moses’ father-in-law told him to do the same thing. The sermon, game, youth room, or event being your version of perfect won’t save more kids. Craig Groeschel says, “If someone can do it 50% as good as you with potential for growth—delegate it to them.”
  5. It’s time to quit seeking the spotlight and following people in the spotlight. Our culture is obsessed with celebrities, and the Church in America has become similar. I think in most instances, we need to avoid the spotlight, simply be faithful to disciple one more teenager, listen to the Holy Spirit, and tell no one about our accomplishments. Our “well done good and faithful servant” will be so much more satisfying.
  6. It’s time to quit thinking the grass is greener at another church. Have a conversation with your senior pastor about what your priorities should be if you are getting burned out and need to reorient. Unless it’s a clear call from God and you’ve tried to make it work from several different angles, don’t quit.

This month, DYM Gold Member’s got Sabrina’s resource, “The Cross at Christmas: 25-Day Devotional” for free with their membership!

This 25-day Christmas devotional will get your students connected to Jesus over this Christmas season by taking them through almost all of the parables of Jesus. Each day explains the parable, explicitly connects it to the gospel, challenges students with practical application for the holidays, and gives them space to journal what God is speaking to them.

Each day is laid out in an easily accessible format with: Read, Where is Christmas, Reflect, Pray, Apply. The “Where is Christmas?” portion is where we can see the good news in the parable.

Whether you have students who are completely unchurched or have been Christians forever, this resource is a great tool to challenge them, help them understand some of Jesus’ most difficult teachings, and give them some next steps in their relationship with Jesus.

Check it out below:

31 Oct 2022

The Spookiest Youth Ministry Things Ever

By |2022-10-31T13:46:11-07:00October 31st, 2022|Youth Pastor Life|3 Comments

 

Let’s face it. Youth ministry is NOT for the faint of heart. Here are some of the scariest things that have happened to real youth pastors.* Reader beware!

  • Scheduling Wednesday night at the roller rink, only to discover it’s adult night. 
  • Hearing that song come on over the Spotify playlist. The unedited version. 
  • A midnight phone call. From a seventh grade student. Who just wants to know if you play Smash Bros. 
  • Saying something from stage you didn’t know was a brand-new innuendo.
  • Your senior pastor sending you an email that says, “We need to talk.” And nothing else.
  • Showing up dressed for the youth group costume party, only to realize you have a speaking part at the memorial taking place that morning.  
  • Tagging who you thought was your guest speaker for your retreat in a social media post, only to discover it’s a really inappropriate comedian. 
  • Scheduling your lock-in to end at 11 AM.
  • Calling a student by the wrong name.
  • Asking a student who attended your youth group for five years if it’s their first time visiting.
  • Your accountant asking if you can explain the receipts. From the mission trip. Two years ago.
  • Realizing you butt-dialed your associate pastor while out to dinner with your spouse. 
  • Telling yourself the game won’t make anyone throw up. Regretting your decision to not bring a trash can on stage five seconds in. 
  • Tapping a student with the church van because you didn’t know he was crouched in front of it.
  • Hearing the next summer camp announced from the main stage. That you didn’t plan. Or budget for. 
  • Finding three couches donated to the youth room. You’re pretty sure they came from the 50s. No one claims responsibility.
  • Missing two students after playing sardines. You vaguely remember someone saying they were dating. 
  • Attending a homeschool sporting event.
  • Accidentally sending your lead pastor swear words, because talk-to-text translated your heart instead of your words.
  • Having a student say an inappropriate joke in front of you that you find funny, but no, you can’t laugh or even smile at it.
  • Being called by the bookkeeper and asked to explain your purchase of that super sexy pack.
  • 20 minutes after youth group, you get a phone call from the parents of the last student to be picked up. They’re an hour away. 
  • After having the same spring break week for the last 30 years, the school district decides to change it only after you bought tickets for the international mission trip.
  • Senior graduation recommendation letter season.
  • Getting invited to a junior high band recital.
  • Having a deacon or elder invite you into a “serving opportunity for our young people.”
  • A homeschool family inviting you to their boys’ Manhood Ceremony.
  • Opening your desk drawer, and finding a check that is a six-month-old registration payment for camp for a student.
  • Budget season (interesting how it often coincides with Halloween).
  • Having a 15-year-old student introduce you to her 19-year-old “fiancé”.
  • Having an 18-year-old student pitch you on their multi-level marketing scheme.

Spooky!

Happy Halloween! Or Happy Harvest Festival Day. Whatever works for your context.

*Names hidden to protect the funny circumstances and prevent senior pastor emails.

8 Sep 2022

I Just Dropped off My Son at College, and I Love Youth Ministry More Than Ever!

By |2022-09-07T10:02:31-07:00September 8th, 2022|Youth Pastor Life|5 Comments

Last week my wife Heather and I drove away from the university campus we had just left our second son at, tears on both our faces, making the long drive home. Weren’t we just changing his diapers? Our football lineman was once so small.

I’m so thankful to be a youth pastor. My wife and I jumped into full time ministry 21 years ago as newlyweds. We had our first of four sons three days before our first anniversary. The youth group called him “Cletus the Fetus.” Heather wasn’t as impressed as I was with their baby naming skills. Having my own children move through our student ministry has been an eye-opening and perspective changing experience for me. For a brief moment, all four of them were in our youth group at the same time – now we’re down to just two as the older two have graduated and moved on. Here a just a few reasons I love student ministry as a father and why I think it was so critical for my son we just left at a college too far away:

  1. My son loves the church. I couldn’t say the same when I was a teen. In fact, it was right around his age that I swore off faith altogether. I was a pastor’s kid who hated what I had seen and experienced. My wife and I have always had as one of our barometers for health whether our kids like our church – not just the children’s ministry or the student ministry, but the church as a whole.
  2. My son has a crew of loving Christian adults in his life. Mama Lin (Willie), Ed, and Figgy (Mike) spent the last seven years as his small group leader, showing up to events, visiting him at his job, and listening to all his stories. Those three men created an environment that built trust, loyalty, and incredible spiritual growth with a group of – what seemed at first to be challenging – Christian young men. There’s Kim, Carl, Melissa, and so many more who also serve in our student ministry. The best part? I got to choose them. I’m the youth pastor. Why do I put so much care into who is a part of our student ministry? How often do we get the opportunity to choose the adults who influence our children?
  3. My son knows how to serve, to lead, to study scripture, to have accountability, to find other believers. He’s not perfect. I’m sure there are going to be moments in his college experience I would rather not know about. But I got to plan the seven years of his student ministry; it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and staying in one place for all these years meant I got to see it through from beginning to end. I have seen my son lead worship, I’ve launched him off the blob, I’ve done street evangelism with him in Costa Rica, we’ve fed the homeless together on the border with Mexico, I’ve wrestled and beat him many times … and been beaten by him a few times in recent months.

Youth ministry is a gift. We get to be present during the most transformative time in peoples’ lives. Everything is bigger, everything is exploding, everything is new. And we get to be there. We get to see children go from concrete thinkers emulating their parents to teens processing and making their faith their own. My house is quieter than I would like now, but I feel good about where my son is at, literally and figuratively. I couldn’t imagine not having been his youth pastor!

Matthew and Heather McNutt have been in full time youth ministry for twenty years. He is also a speaker, author, and ministry coach. They have four sons ranging from 13 to 20 years old, which means the majority of their time is spent buying food and replacing broken furniture. You can find more of Matthew’s resources on DYM here!

 

If you’re a Gold Member, you got Matthew’s newest teaching resource: Wash Your Hands for free this month! Why check out his other stuff on DYM too?

14 Oct 2021

Students, Pastors, and Cell Phones

By |2021-10-14T13:23:12-07:00October 14th, 2021|Leadership, Youth Ministry Hacks, Youth Pastor Life|4 Comments

Students have cell phones. If they don’t yet, they probably will by Christmas. It can be a great way to communicate with them directly, but it can also be an overwhelming tide of communication. 3 am memes, anyone?

Setting some ground rules and boundaries for how you reach out to students is a great way to put safeguards around yourself and the students you communicate with! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Have designated “off” time! Set a 9 am to 9 pm boundary for replies. Did they text at 11 pm? Unless it’s a BIG emergency, it can wait until the morning.
  2. No more than a few texts. Use only as a way to briefly check-in or ask about something. If the thread is turning into something they want to have a conversation about, find a time to meet in person to talk about it. See if they can come early or stay a little later after your usual meeting.
  3. Avoid phone calls. Having a written record equates to the “have more than one person in the room while interacting” rule. It also helps to make sure you prioritize conversations for in-person times.
  4. Make sure your phone number is accessible to everyone, not just a few. Be willing to give it out to anyone. Be clear with rule number one from the get-go.
  5. Ask students for their numbers. If you need the student’s number but can’t find a good time to ask them, ask their parent so that they are in the loop. Parents should know that you are contacting the student! Another way is asking if another student can text a student about something. This could be a great way to serve!

Do you have any boundaries or ideas for contacting students? Let us know!

Kayla Feil

Kayla is the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Along with her role, she is currently attending Luther Seminary to get her MA in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. When she isn’t at church or writing papers, you can find her practicing yoga, running, or adventuring around Chicago!

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