Summer time has gone by very fast and the school year has started for schools across the country. Student Ministries now have a game plan for the upcoming school year and are excited to implement the plan. Every summer I go away with my wife and family to the beach before the craziness of summer begins with camps, mission trips and planning out the year. I personally love the beach, but not just because of the waves and sand surrounding me. I enjoy the beach because it is a place where I read and get away to plan some time to just listen to God.
The time of solitude excites me and gets me ready for the rest of the year in ministry or until my next vacation. When I have a game plan for ministry then I am excited for the fall and school year to begin to implement some exciting things that God has shared with me through the summer. Thinking about ministry for the 2017- 2018 school year, here are some things that I think need to be implemented in youth ministry this year.
Life can get crazy for student pastors very quickly if we are not careful. Intentionality must become the key to doing ministry. I know saying “intentionality must become key” seems very broad, but think outside the box for just a moment. Looking over school calendars in the fall and planning out to attend Bible or Christian clubs throughout the year shows intentionality. For our ministry here in North Carolina, we plan to attend Fellowship of Christian Athletes in four to five schools a year because we want to be intentional in reaching our students and schools within a 15-mile radius of our church. Some ways we seek to be intentional in 2017-2018 school year is to invest in local Fellowship Christian Athletes weekly meetings, serve as chaplain for athletics in two local schools, give out doughnuts before school to students and teachers, and have Bible study meetings with students in local eateries. What ways can you be intentional this school year?
I suffer from ADD and being focused takes a lot of my energy, but has proved to help our student ministry grow. Staying focused, what really does that mean? In ministry, there are many people and things bidding for our time daily. I have noticed that sometimes I have lost focus because of projects or wants that need to be done. It is very important that as a youth worker you stay focused on ministering to students and parents. Two years ago, I downloaded an app on my phone called 30/30, here is the link for Apple. I have not seen it on the google play/android market yet, but there is most likely something similar to 30/30. I love this app because I can set a timer every morning for my whole day and stay focused on the task and can pause it when needed.
Staying focused also addresses ministering to students. In my conversations with youth pastors over the last few years, I have noticed that there is a struggle throughout the year with events, holidays and small groups that youth workers can lose their focus. The solution I have found is to make a 12 month schedule for Sunday School, small group, mid-week meetings, etc. I put down what the lesson and purpose is for each. I know this takes time, but it will become very beneficial to know that you have service themes and verses planned out months ahead. It also helps to know the direction and goal for each meeting so you do not get caught up going for from one event to the next.
Execute leadership within ministry
It is never too early or late to begin to execute leadership within your student ministry. For adults, always look for opportunities to allow your fellow youth workers and volunteers to serve. Through offering opportunities, it will open the door for the adults within your ministry (Sunday School teachers, Small group leaders, mentors, etc.) to buy into the direction of your ministry.
When it comes to students, put them in leadership positions. Throughout the years of ministry, I have created positions for students because I want them to serve. Our youth ministry should raise up students to minister to fellow students, and for that to happen we must hand leadership positions to our students. I would say leadership gifting exists in middle school, but I would not have them serve until they are in high school.
Make Small Groups a Big deal
Small groups happen in different ways within student ministry. They happen in coffee shops, fast food restaurants, in homes and within the church building. However, no matter where they occur, small group settings need to be made into a big deal. Anytime discipleship occurs within student ministry it needs to be celebrated. When students graduate from your ministry they will look back on the small group settings as pivotal moments in the growth of their Christian walk.
No matter what you decide to do this year, make sure that you love the students God has entrusted you for this season.
SCOTT TALLEY has been doing youth ministry for 13 years. He serves at Ebenezer Baptist in Hillsborough, NC as the Pastor of Students. Talley has studied and written on youth ministry and received his Doctorate in Global Mobilization at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Talley seeks to help fellow youth pastors reach teenagers with the Gospel, while also engaging students to make disciples locally and internationally.