4 Ways to Honor Graduates

Yesterday, our church celebrated the graduating seniors of 2014. As I called names and shook hands, I started thinking about all the ways we celebrate graduates. So today I want to share with you 4 ways to honor graduates.

1. Get involved with local baccalaureate services.

As youth pastors, we need to be continually looking for ways to integrate ourselves with the school system. One excellent way to do this during graduation time is through baccalaureate celebrations. Last year, our church had the good pleasure of hosting a baccalaureate service. And to be completely transparent, it wasn’t because of anything I initiated! The parent of one of our graduates was on the parent board and reached out me as they began to have discussions about locations. I quickly offered our space!

This year, another parent reached out to me and asked if I had interest in doing the opening Scripture & Invocation. Once again, I quickly said yes!

Did you notice the common denominator? PARENTS! What if you were to be productive and reach out to parents at the beginning of the year and offer your services for the end of the year baccalaureate service? The very next week I had a student, whom I’d never met, say she saw me at the service. A bridge was built.

Me getting my baccalaureate on…strike a pose!

2. Get grads in front of the church & then pray!

Every year we have a Senior recognition Sunday where we march the graduates across the stage, announce where they will be going, they shake the pastors hand, and then we pray. This is such a special time. Every year I hear people talk about how they taught the graduates in 3rd grade or held them in the nursery as babies. Bringing them before the congregation not only blesses the graduates, but it blesses the saints who have poured into them over the years. They get a chance, once more, to pray over the graduates as they prepare to take the next step.

praying over graduates

Praying over graduates.

3. Give grads & parents food & a personal charge.

After our second service we do a lunch for our grads and their parents. We have done fancy food in the past, but found that everyone gets excited about BBQ (cheaper than fancy italian). As the parents and students dine, I take the opportunity to charge both parents and students. This talk usually involves some combination of: keep Jesus preeminent, who you surround yourself with matters, parents don’t “helicopter” your grads, but give them responsibility.

I then give them a gift. But not a Bible or a cheap “graduate prayers” book. They get so many gifts during this season and with a youth budget, let’s be realistic, it’ll be under $5, not that great, and in the end they’d probably prefer the $5! No, what we give them leads me to my next point!

4. Help grads find a new church.

We give our students the gift of community! Having read Sticky Faith, I wanted to be intentional in the way we help transition our grads. We want students to find a church the first week they step onto their new campus. We want them to be forward thinking about where they will attend and where they will find gospel community. We do this in two ways. A) We look up churches that we would want to attend if we were going to each respective college. B) We pass along the information of our students to the college pastors of these potential churches!

So what do you do? How do you honor grads and set them up for success? Post in the comments below!

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask!

Summer Calendar 2014

Can you believe that Summer is almost upon us?! What are your plans this summer?

Here is our Summer Calendar for 2014:
(If you have a creative summer calendar that you would like me to share, just EMAIL ME and I’ll share it on the blog!)

summer calendar 2k14

Finally, what are you asking God for this summer? What do you want to see Him do or accomplish through you and the events you have planned? Share your response in the comments below!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

 

Invalid Entry

Every weekday morning (okay –  almost every), I head to the gym to do a little of that crazy thing called exercise.  Today was no different.  I woke up, ate breakfast, took my daughters to school and then headed to the gym.  Parked in my usual spot.  Walked into the gym and proceeded to scan my card.  Here’s where it gets a bit interesting – the display on the card reader was reading “invalid card”.  

Thinking the scanner misread my card I scanned it again and I got the same response from the card reader.  A few thoughts started to pop into my head, “did I pay my membership?”, “have I been kicked out of the gym?”, and the ever popular “3rd time’s a charm – scan it again!” – so I did.  Same response – “invalid card”!  Then I noticed the reason…I was scanning a supermarket key tag instead of my gym key tag…oops!

This little lesson this morning reminded me that we can be doing all the right things and not getting the results we expect because we’re using the wrong tools.  So often in ministry we fight hard to build a ministry or even a great program so students will want to come to our church and/or programs.  Once they’re there we’ll talk to them about what God has done and how awesome Jesus is – hoping they come back.
That’s totally different to the way Jesus did ministry.  Jesus went to the people and talked with them not to them.  When He met with people, He helped them experience the love and grace of God.  John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message) NOT “The Word became flesh and waited for everyone to come see Him”. If we put our energies into “us going” instead of “them coming” we just might get the opportunity to show more students the love of Jesus.
  • Maybe during the weekend take a cooler full of ice and water and some of your youth group to the park to give water to the kids playing basketball.
  • Head to the high school with a few pizzas and invite students to join you for lunch
Doing little things like this show them that you are willing to “move into their neighborhoods” and live life with them.  You never know what a simple act of love will do to someone – they just may meet that Jesus you keep talking about!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/nate.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Nate has been in youth ministry for 10 years. He’s not famous. He hasn’t saved the world from impending doom, but he knows and loves a guy who did…and that guy is Jesus. Nate is the youth pastor at Flora United Methodist Church where he helps students AND parents through the journey of life together…with Jesus. He loves to teach/preach the Bible. Nate lives in Flora, Indiana with his wife Heather and their two awesome daughters, Riese and Sarah. Nate also blogs at: http://nateeckert.blogspot.com/[/author_info] [/author]

Be a “Yes” Person

We’re taught to say “no” a lot in ministry. I’ve been told countless times that you need to say no more often so you don’t spread yourself too thin and become ineffective. As youth workers this a good principle because we are constantly confronted with good opportunities that would drain us from the things we need to be doing.

Taken to the extreme, this can lead to a mentality where we only focus on the things directly within our ministry and job description. We see church ministry like an assembly line where we focus only on our widgets. The problem with this is that the church is a family, not a factory. A family where the parts are connected. That means we need to say “yes” from time to time to ministry opportunities in other areas of the church.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve said yes to serving other areas of our church that don’t directly effect my ministry to teens. One with a singles’ mission trip and another with a young families father/son retreat. Both are completely outside my job description. So when I was asked by leadership to take part, I could have declined. I said yes because I believe it makes ministry better.

Saying yes makes the Body healthy. The members of God’s body are interdependent. We should care about the health of the single’s ministry of your church, because it is just as important as yours. Both contribute to a healthy church body. I accepted the role of leading a single’s ministry mission trip because they needed someone and I was available. Saying yes means I am contributing to the health of the church at large, not just my own ministry.

Saying yes gives you opportunities for growth. When you step outside your normal ministry realm you get stretched in new ways. As part of the father/son retreat I had to speak to both dads and young sons. I have little experience teaching to either audience. It was challenging to come up with talks that could work for both an 8 year old and a 40 year old. Saying yes meant I learned to be a better communicator.

Saying yes shows your leadership you are ready. Many youth pastors, including myself, don’t want to get pigeon holed into one role. While ministry to teens is our main passion, we have other abilities to offer. Sometimes this helps leadership see you in a new light that might open doors in the future.

I’m not saying that you should say yes to everything. But maybe God is calling you to say yes to something that is outside your normal ministry. It may lead to an unexpected ministry experience, but you’ll never know unless you say yes.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

Spiritually Leading Teenagers

Last Sunday I had the awesome opportunity to preach to our adult congregation.
My topic: Spiritually Leading Teenagers

Watch it and let me know what you think!

Flip This Family – 2nd Edition: The Teen Years from LifePoint Plano on Vimeo.

If you like something you hear…steal it, use it, preach it!

Two sources I reference:

Sticky Faith – Powell, Griffin, Crawford
Soul Searching – Christian Smith

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

Want to keep track of your students?

Want to keep better track of your students? Want to keep a better record of your students?

Ever ask yourself the question where has that student been in a while

Why has that student stop coming?

Then do this…

Have a Round Up time!!    (Round your students up!)

-Have a time twice a year (April, Sept.) where you or your volunteers/small group leaders sit down and facebook/email/text/call the students you haven’t seen in a while to find out where they been. (Make a chart w/ students name, how were they reached, reason haven’t seen them in a while)

-If they don’t answer or respond after you have tried at least twice don’t get discouraged. Sometimes they will respond. Sometimes they wont. But you can sleep at night knowing you did your job by reaching out to them.

-Let the student know you have missed them and wanted to know if everything was okay. To lighten the mood if they feel uncomfortable, ask them if anyone has said anything to offend them and if you need to beat someone up. You can even ask if they have started attending another church…if you feel comfortable.

Find out why they have stopped coming. That student could help you resolve issues that might be going on in your Student Ministry.

-After you have finished, you have lightened the load of a leader or helped a student come back!

This idea came from my pastor Kenny Hibbard and I think could help out your Student Ministry tremendously!

You are able to find out where that student has been! Maybe they started going to another church, moved, or maybe had a conflict you were able to resolve, just following up with them! Go for it!

Hope this helps!!

Student Pastors, keep allowing the front door to be WIDE OPEN, but also keep doing a great job of keeping the back door SHUT. Make sure your students are sticking.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Michael-Hux.png[/author_image] [author_info]

Michael Hux is the Student Pastor of Team Church in Matthews, NC.

Connect with Michael on Twitter or Instagram: @_Hux

 

[/author_info] [/author]

Is it not enough?

What do you do when someone else gets recognition, more responsibility or a promotion? There are days in ministry when what we have been given is enough, but all too often there are days where it isn’t.

The longer I’m in middle school ministry, the more often I see people around me getting promoted and advancing up the chain of command. If I’m honest, I get jealous of them because I want to be recognized for my good work. We in America place a lot of importance on titles and position. We preach the false gospel of meritocracy, “those who are more talented and work harder deserve to move up.” So when you are a 35 year old youth worker, you start to believe that you deserve more. More authority, more recognition, a bigger sandbox.

In Numbers 16, three Levites named Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led a rebellion against Moses. Their complaint was that Moses had acted as if he were greater than everyone else by being their leader. We all know how ridiculous this claim was. Moses RESISTED  being a leader. He told God “no”, but God insisted. Korah had it all wrong. It wasn’t Moses who exalted himself, God did. Their beef is with God, not Moses.

Moses’ response is convicting to me. He says, “Is it not enough that you are Levites? Is it not enough that you get to take care of the Tabernacle?” Korah, Dathan and Abiram had their ministry. God had given them a place to serve and yet it wasn’t enough.

In student ministry we can spend a lot of time worrying about the “low” place we hold in the church. We feel as if God has forgotten us or that those around have left us out intentionally.

My response to you is this: Is it not enough that you get to disciple teens and leaders? Is it not enough that you are able to teach the Bible, minister to families, and watch kids grow up? Stop longing for more power and prestige when God has given you a place in His kingdom. Be thankful for the ministry and season God has put you in. Stop striving and start enjoying.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

Followship of the Disciples

Have you ever noticed how dumb the disciples are portrayed in the gospels?

It’s almost as if they are on a downward trajectory until the resurrection. Think about it. It must have taken GREAT faith to drop their nets (the family business) and follow after Jesus. This new, unknown, Rabbi preaches a sermon near the lake they fished and when He invites them to be His disciples, to follow Him, they immediately leave their trade. This is nuts! It would have taken great faith and a little nerve. What do you think was going through Zebedee’s head when his two boys (James & John) jump out of the boat and take off (Matt. 4:21-22)?

He was probably hacked off! Who is going to help him man the nets/boats?! Leaving to follow Jesus would have taken great faith. But let’s look a little further into their followship…

In Mark 8:31-38 Jesus lays out plainly what will happen to the Son of Man. He told them that He must “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priets and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). Peter’s reaction?

He rebukes Jesus! He rebukes the man who has walked on water, fed 4,000, healed the deaf, cast out demons, and calmed a storm. What?! WHY would he doubt the intentions and words of Jesus? Has He not seen the power behind Jesus’ words? This is a royal example of Peter missing the point. A chapter later in Mark 9:30-34 Jesus again foretells his death and resurrection. The disciples response? Fear. Which this somehow parlays into a conversation about which disciple is the greatest. Again, the disciples miss the point. Now let’s look at the disciples followship shortly before the crucifixion.

In Mark 14:43-50 Jesus is in the garden praying before His arrest. The disciples who know Jesus is stressed, somehow fall asleep. When they wake, Judas is on the scene having Jesus arrested. One disciple begins to defend Jesus, but Jesus prevents the fight. We would think that the disciples would be faithful. That they would offer themselves over as well. “If you are going to take Jesus, you have to take us also!” But verse 50 states, “And they ALL left him and fled.” They ran. A few verses later, we find the story of Peter denying Jesus.

The closer to the cross we get, the dumber the disciples become. However, after the resurrection, the disciples begin to proclaim Jesus with boldness, courage, and faith that would inevitably lead to their deaths. 

I encounter many students who are in different stages of followship. I see newbies demonstrate great faith and lifelong followers miss the mark completely.

May we as youth workers use the disciples to encourage our students. May we praise those who drop their nets to follow Jesus, but may we also prepare them for the difficult road ahead. When they fail, and they will fail, may we point them to a Savior that lives. A Savior who doesn’t want selfish conformity, but rather humble warriors on mission to make disciples by offering life through Jesus Christ.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]