A couple weeks ago, we were wrapping up Thrive Friday for June and I was thinking about future professional development topics and volunteer training resource ideas.
Suddenly, a strange realization hit me.
We spend a lot of time talking and teaching about the importance of building relationships with teenagers and how to do that.
Which is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. But it sparked the question “why do we need to teach people how to be in relationship with younger generations? We don’t teach people how to build relationships with adults or as adults, right?”
Let’s dive right into Mark chapter 4, right in the middle of the story.
Jesus has spent the day teaching the crowds in parables. He hit some of his more famous one: The Parable of the Sower, The Parable of the Lamp, and The Parable of the Mustard Seed. It’s been a good day. It’s been a busy day. Crowds and crowds of people heard Jesus preach that day. His message had reached multitudes. And as the day comes to end, Mark tells us of a couple other stories that happened that night.
Most of the time our youth group meetings are a bit of a blur without a lot of opportunity for tons of one on one time. Every now and then I have a conversation with my teens that has an impact on me, if not on them.
A few years ago during small groups is one such example. We just finished a talk on chastity and modesty that really only scraped the surface of what our dignity is and how we should respect our own bodies so that others will also respect us. I sit down with my 8th grade girls and pull out my pre-planned discussion questions, prepared to dive right in when I am stopped short by one of the girls. KEEP READING
I was pretty sure, that day, that I wanted to quit more than I ever had wanted to before.
The youth had done just about everything in their power to irritate me, ignore the topic for the week, and be distracted through our prayer time. Our goal that day had been to make cookies for the upcoming cookie walk. I thought it would be really cute for them to create gingerbread men of the Saints we had been talking about. The teens had learned about a lot of the Saints over the semester and over the two years I had been with them. KEEP READING
I’m a planner, an organizer, a structurer-of-schedules, and a tweaker-of-timelines. I live by to-do lists and daily plans. And, yes, I’m that person who will write something on the to-do list after I have done it just to feel more accomplished.
As a high school teacher, my classes are busy from bell to bell. And goodness knows that for all of the craziness that youth ministry entails, these schedules and timelines and organization are important (otherwise, we still wouldn’t have Jen’s permission slip and meetings wouldn’t be as impactful). And yet, as necessary as structure and to-the-minute plans and even the highest level of content are, this is not where our teens are meeting Christ. KEEP READING
Thankfully, it’s not often that someone walks into the youth office with a desire to do damage. Unfortunately, we often miss red flags in volunteers who have a great desire to do good, but end up causing harm. We’re going to tackle some common misconceptions about youth ministry volunteers and then discuss how to say no to the wrong people so that we can say yes to the right people.
*One note: By “wrong” people for the job, I am referring to volunteers who do not have the capacity to do the job well. I do not mean people who could cause serious damage by criminal behavior or otherwise scandalous actions.KEEP READING
When I first started working with middle schoolers, other youth ministers were quick to give me praise. “Oh, you work with middle school? God bless you!” “It takes such a special person to work with that age!” “I could never do that. You must be some kind of saint!”
No, I am not a saint. Yet. Maybe someday when the good Lord has factored in my many years of servitude, I mean service, with middle schoolers, and given me time off in Purgatory. Truthfully, I love working with middle school. They are such an incredibly fun age to plan activities for because they are generally not “too cool for school” yet and they still like to have fun without worrying too much about peer perception. KEEP READING
Having been involved in both youth and young adult ministry, I’ve had a lot of time and opportunity to observe the “young adult problem” in the Church, from multiple angles. For many reasons, young adults get lost in the shuffle, particularly so if they are not in the demographic that college campus ministry programs typically serve.
Most of the time, solutions focus on creating parish young adult groups, theology on tap events, and social “mixers.” All of these are worthy ideas and projects, but I would like to argue that the real solution starts earlier – while they are still in our high school youth groups.KEEP READING
Having trouble leaving the office at a decent hour?
Not taking a day or two off a week?
Finding yourself saying over and over again, “Sure I’m free”?
Most youth ministers struggle to work any kind of regular hours. If you don’t have the self discipline to set regular hours for yourself, then building in reasons why you cannot work overtime may help.
Some youth ministers have to clock out each day at 3:30 to go meet their 5 year old’s bus. Others may take a regular day off on Fridays because it coincides with their spouse’s day off. In some cases, single youth ministers, especially those who have moved for work or live away from friends and family, can have a very hard time walking away from the office. KEEP READING
We all need it. Here’s how to make it actually happen.
A personal retreat is a necessity for anyone giving their heart in ministry. Let’s talk more about what that looks like, why it’s worth taking, and how to structure it.
What is a personal retreat?
A personal retreat is a dedicated full day (or more!) of time to be refreshed in intimacy with Jesus, and to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Why should I take a personal retreat?
We are spending ourselves in ministry daily, and as the saying goes “You can’t give what you don’t have.” We often must go back up the mountain (beyond just our daily prayer time) to be refreshed by Jesus. KEEP READING