Tag Archives: interlinc

5 Essentials To Start Your Youth Ministry Year

EARLY in the morning, like before the sun was up early – I was gathering my gear to go on a difficult nine-mile hike in the local mountains. “Let’s see. Water’s loaded into the pack? Check. Dog’s pack is loaded? Check. Hat? Check. iPhone? Check. Dog’s leash? I’ll get it on the way out. Okay, let’s go.”

I forgot the leash.

Even though I thought through what I needed to have, my sleep-deprived stupor made me forget something important. If I had remembered the leash as I was getting into my waiting friend’s truck, I would have run back inside the house and retrieved it. But, I didn’t realize my folly until we were at the trailhead.

The new school year is about to begin, and even though you may have left the house for your hike, there’s still time for you to run through a checklist of items that you need to have for your fall kick-off to be effective. Here are five items that I think you need to have for this start to the new ministry year. I’ve even been able to tie them to the five items on my list this morning!

1. Supporters In Place
Your supporters include, but aren’t limited to, your church leadership, the parents of your students, the people who you have regularly praying for the youth ministry (you DO have a group of those amazing people, right? And you communicate with them often, right?), and those people who are willing to help out “anytime you need anything.” The ability that you have to generate “support” for you and the youth ministry will determine the long-term success of your efforts. Your support group is the water in your pack. You can do a bunch of hiking without it, but you won’t be able to go very far. And, you won’t recover from a big effort as quickly or as well. So, build relationships with those who may not be directly involved with what you’re doing, but who want to support your efforts. Make sure those relationships stay near the top of your checklist.

2. Team In Place
Since youth ministry happens person-to-person, not program-to-person, you need a whole team of people to help make the person-to-person happen. Since you’re just one person, you can’t expect to have significant relationships with all of the kids in your ministry PLUS all the kids who show up to check things out. All kinds of people are needed to reach all kinds of kids, so recruit as many folks as you can who are willing to befriend, teach, befriend, cajole, console, befriend, encourage, and challenge teenagers. (Did I mention that they should befriend kids?) Your team of volunteers will help you carry the load, like my dog carries his water and food that I would otherwise have to pack.

Get Music & Media Resources for Back-to-School!

3. Big Events Identified
A youth ministry gains a lot of its reputation and momentum from the “Big Events” that it can pull off. The “GOOD TIME Event” in YLO89 is a good example of a Big Event. It generates tons of exposure, “brag factor” (what the kids talk about the next morning at school), and helps cement the youth ministry as an important part of the youth culture of that area. Think of Big Events as being paydays. You get an infusion of resources at each one that helps you continue on to the next. They are to youth ministry what a hat is to a hiker – they cap everything. (I know. It’s a stretch.)

The GOOD TIME Event is a great kick off special event — and it’s free!

4. Game Plan In Place
My iPhone tracks my hikes using a GPS app. I can see at any moment where I am, how fast I’m going, how far up I’ve climbed, how far I have to go – and see it all with the satellite imagery of the terrain I’m hiking. You need a similar view of your ministry. That’s your Game Plan. Set your teaching series, objectives, and other vital issues into place before you roll into your new year. Now, every year presents unique opportunities and challenges to a youth ministry. Maybe this year you have a huge influx of new freshmen, or you have a bumper crop of seniors. Maybe you’re really connected with the athletes this year instead of the musicians last year. You can’t use last year’s plan. So plan your programming, and your teaching series, to maximize the resources you have. You also need a degree of flexibility with your Game Plan. If something takes off unexpectedly, you need to be able to adjust – like when we decided to take a trail spur this morning instead of staying on the main trail. My iPhone showed me a possibility, and we adjusted our Game Plan to take advantage of it.

5. Budget Available
My dog, Tipper, is very well behaved. I have spent a ton of time (and money) training him. He comes when called, heels on command, and generally is a very well mannered dog. But, he’s big and black. And even though he has his own pack (which usually gets a lot of “Cute!” comments), a big black dog can spook some people. To keep him from going off in directions he shouldn’t, I bring a leash with me to use when other people with dogs are on the trail. Your budget should be like that leash. As long as you’re disciplined and well mannered, you won’t necessarily need the restrictions it brings. But, when tempted to go too far too fast, or engage in activities that might spook your church’s Treasurer, use a budget as a tool to control those urges.

I hope your new school year is AWESOME this year. I’m sure that these five items will help you make it even more effective!

Let’s fight for “One More Song!”

Guest post by Eric Gargus, interlinc WriteGroup and 15-year Youth Ministry Vet

There’s something really special about most Christian albums. Back in my teenage years I would buy a cassette from my favorite secular bands (yes, I’m old but not as old as the 8-track guy) and only find one or two really great songs. I always felt ripped off. In my experience, about nine out of ten Christian albums really deliver on all the cuts. That’s a pretty astounding (and thoroughly unscientific) statistic! Of course, the seven to nine terrible songs on those cassettes I bought back in the 80’s are what built iTunes (that’s just my theory but let’s assume Steve Jobs got tired of buying albums and only enjoying twenty percent of them).

The majority of Christian artists and songwriters out there are making excellent music. Those whose hearts aren’t in it or just couldn’t make it in the secular industry are always brought to light. And those stalwarts who have stayed faithful to God — like Third Day and Skillet — always seem to cross generational lines and put out terrific tunes.

So with all the great Christian-themed music, why are your students’ portable devices full of secular music? Sure, some of it is both great and clean. But come on, have you kept an eye on the Top 20 lists lately? Grandma would blush. Grandma’s dog would blush.

Check out new music from Newsboys, Stellar Kart, The City Harmonic and more

It’s a fight to keep putting Christian music out there in front of your students. More often than not it’s a losing battle when trying to get uplifting music into their digital playlists. Don’t tire in the fight. Last Sunday a parent approached me and said, “My son now has one song on his playlist that I like.” My first thought was, “DELETE THE REST OF THE PLAYLIST!” Then I took a step back and thought, “Something connected! We actually won a battle!”

That song in that kid’s playlist came from my most recent Youth Leaders Only Box. I think I’ll adopt a personal motto this Fall — “One More Song!” Let’s use the resources we get from interlinc to fight to get just one more song at a time into our students’ playlists.

Rock on!

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Write Group: Ideas for Thanksgiving

Editor’s Note: We asked some of our Write Group members — the youth leaders who write the Bible studies and articles for our Resource Books — to share some of their favorite Thanksgiving ministry ideas. And we want to hear your ideas! Share them in the comments.

We do an all-youth Thanksgiving worship time on a Wednesday night before the holiday, bringing together all youth, 6th-12th grade. We meet in the front part of our sanctuary mixing in a lot of worship music led by our youth band, scripture readings, Thanksgiving video clips, quick devotional by one of the leaders, communion and add what we call “stool time.” We set a stool up front, give youth the opportunity to come up, sit on the stool and tell about something for which they are thankful.

— Doug Ranck

Pancake Breakfast: I know it sounds strange, but we used to cook pancakes and sausage that morning. Our students cooked and served the breakfast. It was always a huge success because people don’t want to cook 2 meals that day.

Turkey Bowl: The day after Thanksgiving we have a flag-football game. We order 3 color shirts — Red, Blue and Black (for refs) — and do a school yard pick ‘em then pass out the “jerseys”. We serve hot cocoa and pizza after the game. We also have a camera man and repeater doing pre-game and post game interviews. The video is then edited (interviews and highlights) and then show the following day.

— Todd Pearage

I’ve always had a Staff vs. Students football game after church on the Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve also used the week of Thanksgiving, which many of our kids have off of school, to take teams of kids to the local Salvation Army facility to help prepare, serve, and clean up dinner for the homeless folks that depend on the SA. I take one team of 7 or 8 kids per evening on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.

— Ken McCoy

Ours was a Turkey Bowl football game on Thanksgiving morning: Old Guys (29 and up)  vs Young Guys (13-29). Old guys won of course :)

— Paul Turner

Serve Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless.

Take boxed dinners to parks, downtown, and other areas where homeless people are.

— Cindy Engøy

Podcast: Jamie Grace

This artist talkback with Jamie Grace was recorded at Creation Northwest this summer.

UPDATE: Click here to download a PDF of our “Heart of the Artist” article on Jamie (taken from this conversation) from the YLO86 Music Resource Book.

Jamie Grace talkback


Podcast: Red talkback

We had a great conversation with Red at the artist talkback at Creation Northeast … check it out.


Podcast: Brandon Heath talkback

Check out this talkback we hosted with artist Brandon Heath at Creation Northeast 2011.