An Insane Season of Youth Ministry & Life

Disclaimer: This is a rant post. Don’t read this as me being unhappy or ungrateful, but rather as me being in a place where I am completely dependent upon the grace of God!

This last season of life has been one of the craziest seasons of life and ministry for my family. Not only has it been crazy but it has also been incredibly challenging and life-giving. While that seems like an oxy-moron it’s actually when you push yourself to rely fully on the presence of God that you find a strange sense of peace amidst the crazy. Let me just bullet point what the last season of life has looked like for me:

  • Got pregnant with our third child
  • Prayed through a new opportunity in Austin
  • Decided it was God’s will to join the mission at The Fellowship Round Rock
  • Faithfully transition the youth ministry I’d spent four years shepherding
  • Sold our Plano home
  • Moved into a friends place while house-hunting
  • Started new youth ministry role (building relationships & programming)
  • Bought a house and moved in…boxes, boxes, boxes
  • Started Summer in Youth Ministry
    • Summer Camp planning & execution
    • Summer College Interns
    • Mission Trip to Dominican Republic
    • Lot’s of awesome weekly relational ministry & programming
  • Still learning the people, programs, and processes of a new church
  • Found out our unborn baby will have clubbed feet or joint disorder
  • Started learning how to run multi-site youth ministry
  • Started recruiting new Small Group leaders & slightly altered SG model
  • Launched Small Groups
  • Wife went into pre-term labor…doctors got it stopped.
  • Transitioned youth pastors at our multi-site
  • STILL meeting new people and building relationships at a church of around 2k
  • Planned and executed Fall Retreat
  • Wife went back to hospital with pre-term labor during Fall Retreat…stopped again
  • Attended Middle School Ministry Campference…AWESOME!
  • Keying in on leader development and care
    • New College worship leader
    • New multi-site youth minister
    • Small Group Leaders
  • All of this plus the weekly Wednesday & Sunday routine

Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride! Despite the busyness, the Lord has been so gracious and kind. He has been my strength and the fact that things are going really well is testimony to His provision and plan. There have been low times, but He has seen me through. I’m tired, but He is my source of strength. Today, I hold onto the following passage. I hope it comforts you if the mountain ahead seems impassable.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

– Psalm 40:28-31

Want more encouragement and cool stuff? Who doesn’t?! Click the button below to get more stuff like this regularly!

 Get Cool Stuff

David Headshot

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

 

Why you NEED a Youth Ministry Team

Stop running alone.

Reality Check: You cannot do youth ministry by yourself. You will never be able to do youth ministry by yourself. Your church, students, and community need more than you alone will ever be able to provide. You NEED a team.

Let’s break this down:

  1. You simply can’t do it all.

If you have a large student ministry, it is impossible for you to disciple the masses. The more leaders you recruit and train up, the deeper the impact that your ministry will have. If you are a part-time youth pastor with only a handful of students, you still need to execute a professional full-time youth ministry through the strategic efforts of a passionate team.

  1. You can’t be everywhere.

You might be able to make every game, small group, Sunday, lunch, coffee, etc., but it’ll cost you your sanity and family. As your ministry continues to grow, you will need leaders dedicated to being present in your student’s lives.

  1. You’re just not good at everything.

If you are a visionary that tends to ignore the details (like permission slips, event registrations, weekly communication) then perhaps you would benefit from an administrative team who can help you carry out that grandiose vision. Or maybe you need a Small Groups team to help you recruit, train, and send out leaders. Strong leaders know themselves. This means they know their weaknesses and fill their gaps with qualified and passionate leaders. Where are you weak? Who can you recruit to take your ministry to the next level?

Want help building an All-Star Team?

If you are doing youth ministry alone, or if recruiting leaders feels like pulling teeth, then you need to check out Jody Livingston’s new online course, Building the All-Star Youth Ministry Team. I know you can relate to the following:

Have you ever…

felt guilty for just plugging warm bodies into spots in your Youth Ministry?

felt like a used car salesman when recruiting new volunteers?

found yourself on promotion Sunday still needing a ton of volunteers?

Have you ever had any of these thoughts?

“I feel like I’m begging people to serve in our Youth Ministry.”

“I wish I could have volunteers that are passionate about our Youth Ministry.”

“I’m tired of having to do it all alone, and am not sure how much longer I can do this.”

So…what would your ministry look like if you had a team of loving adults around you who are pouring into the teens in your ministry?

I’m so excited for this course and the way it will help youth workers, like you and I, be intentional. In Building an All-Star Youth Ministry Team, Jody will teach you:

✔ Why you need a team around you

✔ Where to find the volunteers you want and need

✔ How to approach and ask potential volunteers without begging

✔ How to keep the team you build

✔ What to do when you have to ask a volunteer to step out

Get after it! Leaders are learners and we all have a lot to learn about how to build an all-star team. I’ll see you inside the course!

Build an All-Star Youth Ministry Team

David Headshot

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

 

Quick Summer Camp Tip

Get your congregation on board!

If you have already been to camp this summer, you’ll want to remember this for next summer. If you have yet to go to camp (I leave this coming Sunday!) then it’s not to late to take this extra step!

What’s this extra step?

Get your adult congregation to join you at camp…through prayer.

Here’s the reality, summer camp in youth ministry can either be something that only effects 20% of your church, or it can be something that reaches 100% of your congregation. One small step will get the remaining 80% of your congregation on the summer camp train.

That small step is prayer bracelets. 

Each year, I buy some cheap Tyvek wristbands. Like the one’s you get at waterparks. I then write the name of each student and adult going with us to camp on these wristbands (one name per wristband). You will want to make a few more than the average weekly attendance of your church.

Doing this ensures that a handful of adults will be praying for EACH student that is with you at camp! How cool is that?! Ask your pastor if you can make a verbal announcement and ask your congregation to take a wristband and commit to praying for one student each day for the week you are at camp. It’s totally worth the time, and you’ll end of doing it every year!

If you love this idea, be sure to share it so that other Youth Workers can use it also!

David Headshot

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

 

20 Mission Trip Musts

Joining God's Global Mission

Taking students around the world to see God’s global mission is one of the great joys of Youth Ministry. Watching the eyes of students opened to God’s heart for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized is priceless. A well planned and organized mission trip can be an Ebenezer in a students life. What follows are 20 Mission Trip Musts that have helped make mission trips successful. A Mission Trip Guide per se:

20 Mission Trip Musts

  1. Talk with church staff about global, national, local mission relationships
  2. Use a Mission Trip Middle Man (Makarios, The Global Orphans Project, Praying Pelican) who has a long-term commitment to a church/location/people group.
  3. Recruit Leaders for the trip. Assign logistical duties to each leader.
  4. Open Trip Registration and interview potential team members. Pick a team.
  5. Schedule 5 pre-trip meetings.
  6. 1st Meeting: Cover trip logistics (passports, immunizations, etc), fundraising, and assign mandatory reading (When Helping Hurts, The Hole in Our Gospel).
  7. 2nd Meeting: Cover the purpose of the trip. Is the trip focused on service, discipleship & evangelism, partnership development, or vision casting?
  8. 3rd Meeting: Focus on Spiritual Development. What are you learning from the readings? Assign team members a prayer partner and travel buddy who will keep them accountable and cover the other in prayer.
  9. 4th Meeting: Do something fun together. Have a cook-out, invite families, and conclude the night with families praying over the mission team.
  10. 5th Meeting: Have a packing party where all bags are weighed and supplies are checked and double-checked. (Best done the day or two days before.)
  11. Begin each day of the mission trip with personal quite times. Encourage journaling.
  12. During the trip drink lots of water, work your bottom off, and watch God move.
  13. Regardless of the purpose of the trip, emphasize to team members that relationships are most important. Encourage them to actively engage with locals.
  14. Each night of the trip have a team debrief. Ask: Where did you see God at work today? Who did you see God using? What did God teach you about himself?
  15. After debrief, let different members lead a team devotional each night.
  16. Bringing someone who can lead the team in worship through song is always a plus and helps set the tone for evening meetings.
  17. Each morning, have the team draw names out of a hat. Each team member will write an encouraging note to that person.
  18. The last night, turn the corner during your evening debrief. Emphasize how our mission field happens to be the location and people God has placed before us. Our jobs, families, schools, and communities are our mission field.
  19. Also, have you team prepare to share their experience. They should be able to answer:
    1. What did God do on your trip?
    2. What did God do in your heart?
    3. What are you going to do now?
  20. Have a team meeting a week or two after you return. Ask what joys and frustrations they have experienced upon re-entry to everyday life. Pray that all would embrace a missional mindset and fulfill the promptings God has given each of them.
David Headshot

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

 

Get Over Yourself and Empower Others

You are not the solution.

This past week I was in the Dominican Republic. It was an amazing and transformative week. It was also a breath of fresh air, as I was able to rely on so many people to help pull this trip off. You see, I was dropped into this trip. I’ve only been on staff at my new church for 2 months and this student mission trip was planned sometime last year!

Get Over Yourself and Empower Others

This week was an excellent reminder that the best ministry you will participate in is the ministry others have been empowered to do. You as a youth pastor/worker are not the be all/end all when it comes to youth ministry events/trips/gatherings.

Yes, there is a feeling in your gut that if you don’t stick your fingerprints on it somehow it won’t turn out the way it should…but that’s simply not true.

Get over yourself and empower others!

That’s it for today.

David Headshot

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

 

Youth Ministry TV 002: Community vs. Maturity

Is deep & wide possible?

In youth ministry we walk a fine line. One the one hand, we want to whip out a few pizzas and attempt to feed the 5,000. Every youth pastor desires that their flock would grow. We want to cast wide nets on the side of the boat that Jesus suggests.

On the other hand, we want to push students deep in their understanding of the gospel. Shortly after feeding the 5,00 Jesus exhorts the crowd to understand that He is the bread of life. In John 6:60 & 66 we find: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” and “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” So how do we facilitate community & maturity in youth ministry?

A few years back, I wrote a piece on Understanding Discipleship, where I broke down the needed elements of holistic discipleship. Youth ministry is more than just fun and games and it’s more than just beating students with the Bible. Youth ministry is complex, layered, and ever changing. Take a read:

 Understanding Discipleship

Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed and I would love to get your thoughts! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and leave us a comment.

Get Students Talking

it develops faith...

This summer, we will be changing up the way we structure our teaching time on Wednesday night. During the school year we have a sermon followed by small groups where students break down the message and then exhort each other in community.

Get Students Talking

While this system has served us well, the groups, divided by grade and gender, tend to be larger and quickly get off track. Our Small Group Leaders do a great job facilitating discussion surrounding the message, but you can only wrangle 20 7th grade girls for so long!

This summer, we’re going to switch it up a bit. The goal is for students to own their faith. Students need to learn what they believe, why they believe, and know how to talk about what they believe.

We are going to seek to achieve this by getting students into small groups led by both Small Group Leaders, upper classmen, and our Summer Interns. Our system will include a master teacher teaching in short 5 minute bursts and then initiating discussion questions that will be carried out by the table leaders. Table leaders will then seek to get students talking about what they believe and why they believe. Am I a little nervous about protecting correct doctrine? Sure. Am I a little worried about what will be discussed at each table? Sure. But I know that students “getting it right” will only be a by-product to students first learning to think critically as they verbalize their thoughts and feelings.

With this in mind, what do you do to get students talking? How do you give students the opportunity to verbalize their faith? Comment below!

David Headshot

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

 

Youth Ministry TV 001: Student Overcommitment

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the first episode of Youth Ministry TV! On our show you will find a couple of everyday youth pastors discussing the joys, struggles, trends, and tricks of student ministry. We hope you find this extremely helpful and encourage you to Subscribe to us on YouTube and iTunes!

In Episode 001 we promised you some awesome parent resources that will help you engage parents. Click the button below and you will get:

  • Parent Point Graphics
  • Parent Point Contact Cards
  • 2 Parent Seminar Trainings (Facilitating Teenage Faith & Having “The Talk”)

  GIVE ME PARENT RESOURCES

Do you prefer audio? Here ya go…

David Headshot

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

 

Youth Ministry Paint War

Everything you need for Battle

This past Wednesday we kicked off Summer a littler early with a Paint War. We wanted students to be excited for everything that’s ahead this summer and what better way then with hot dogs, worship, a short message, and a paint war?

Paint War 2 transparent

Our students hand an absolute blast! We rented a pavilion at a near-by park where we grilled hot dogs, socialized, threw the ball & frisbee, played 9-square, worshiped, jumped into the Word, and then had our paint war. This is a great summer event that you can pull off! With minimal supplies, you can host your own paint war…and it’s totally worth is simply for the fun, community, and awesome pictures!

Youth Ministry Paint War 4

Youth Ministry Paint War 5

I HIGHLY encourage you to host your own paint war. And here’s the deal, I’m going to make it easy for you. Click the button below and I will send you a Paint War Cheat Sheet with all the details/graphics/supplies/rules you will need to pull off your own Paint War! You’re Welcome! Enjoy!

 Click Here for a Paint War Cheat Sheet

Transition in Youth Ministry: Part 4

Communication Strategy

How you enter a ministry will say a lot about who you are, how you operate, and what you want to accomplish. As Will Rodgers said, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” Have a clear and organized communication strategy will help you hit the ground running in your new ministry position.

Transition in Youth Ministry Part 4

Below you will find the communication strategy I used in my recent ministry transition. Five weeks in, I have initiated everything on this list. Am I finished? By no means! But I have started conversations and stated the ball rolling on all six of the following:

New Job Communication Strategy

  1. Expectations of your Senior Leaders
    1. What should my first 30 days look like?
    2. Who should I get to know first?
  2. Get to know your volunteers/youth staff
    1. Get to know their thoughts/concerns/vision
      1. Hold a leader meeting
      2. Start scheduling individual coffee/lunch/dinner meetings
  3. Get to know the parents
    1. Cast Vision for partnership
      1. Ask for stage time to exhort parents
        1. Explain that generational faith takes a community
        2. Ask them to join the effort/volunteer
      2. Set a communication plan (email, texting, trainings, seminars)
        1. Monthly Newsletter, parent trainings each semester, texts as needed
  4. Get to know students
    1. Identify key connectors (Who will help you get to know groups?)
    2. Build a Student Leadership Team or recruit high school interns
      1. Use them to foster community and develop ideas
    3. What schools are represented? Can you get on campus?
      1. FCA, Games, Lunches, Recitals, etc.
    4. Set a communication strategy (texting, social media)
      1. Texting every week with encouragement & announcements
      2. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Group, or whatever their using next.
  5. Get to know the children’s ministry/staff
    1. How can the children’s ministry and student ministry work together?
    2. What is the overall goal, strategy, and plan to develop the next generation?
    3. What can you do for the other ministries of the church?
  6. Get to know local youth pastors
    1. Start or find a local youth worker network
      1. Ask about successes and struggles in the area
      2. Make friends…you’ll need them!

What am I missing? What did you do in your first month on the job that helped set you up for long-term success? Comment below!

Need a full transition strategy? Check out my previous posts on this topic:

Part 1: Question Everything
Part 2: Leave Faithfully
Part 3: Entering a Youth Ministry

David Headshot

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