This week I had the privilege of speaking via video to my friend Josh Evan’s student ministry class at Trinity Bible College. I talked to them about programming a student ministry service. Anyone who is doing student ministry at a local church will spend much of their time programming weekly student ministry services. Programming our student ministry services is something we in student ministry must strive to do well. It’s important we have good, quality services where students can build relationships with other students ad adults as well as worship God and grow in their relationship with Him. Click the link below to watch this video and learn more about programming a student ministry service.
You have probably heard it said before, “Leaders are readers.” This catchy leadership principle comes from Harry Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” If you want to be a good leader, than you better start learning how to be a good reader. Reading is essential to effective leadership. I believe everyone who finds themselves in a leadership position knows that, but the question many of us ask is what does it look like to be a good reader? How does a leader become a good reader? What kind of books should I read? How often should I read? These are all great questions and worthy of discussion, but I want to offer up a few thoughts on how leaders can become good readers.
These thoughts will be directed towards those in leadership within local church ministry, but are applicable to anyone in a leadership position outside the local church as well.
Read broad. If your going to be a leader who is a good reader than you must learn to read broad. What I mean by this is don’t get into the rut of reading one type of book or books on one subject. For example, I am a student pastor. It’s easy for me to only read books about student ministry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To be an effective student pastor I need to read good student ministry books, but that’s should not be the only thing I read. I need to read books on theology, leadership, church ministry, and books that are not even Christian or church related at all! Whatever leadership position you find yourself in, read beyond that specialization. You want to be a well-rounded leader, and to do that you need to be a well-rounded reader. A particular note to others in Christian leadership is needed here. As Christian leader’s, we often only read “Christian books.” But this isn’t always a good thing. Some of the best leadership books, and books in general, are not “Christian.” Read them, but filter what you read through God’s revealed Word. At the end of the day, Scripture is the best leadership manual, so filter what you read through it.
Have a plan. Reading takes time and if you don’t intentionally plan to read you probably won’t. If your going to be a leader who is a good reader than you need to have a plan. If there was a perfect reading plan out there I’d share it with you, but there isn’t. Everyone’s plan will look different and will be based on personal interest and fields of leadership. However, Mike Calhoun shares some of the best information I have ever read on creating a personal reading plan in this blog. In that blog, Mike talks about creating a reading plan that is based on your interest and desired field of learning. I am in the middle of creating my own personal reading plan and would encourage you to do the same. Also, just having a list of books to read over a set time, such as a year or six months, is a good place to start. As an example, check out my friend Josh Evan’s book list for what he is planning on reading this year in this recent blog post.
Read consistently. After you have a personal reading plan, commit to reading consistently. To be a leader who is a good reader it’s not enough to read broad and have a plan, you must commit to reading consistently. I’d suggest reading daily. Have a certain amount of time each day that you set aside to read. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but enough time to read a few pages. If you only read a few pages a day, everyday, you will be surprised at how many books you will make it through. I had a friend in college who read everyday for thirty minutes. It was incredible how many books he would get through by just reading thirty minutes everyday.
Engage with others about what your reading. As a leader, don’t keep what you read to yourself. Engage with other leaders about what you are learning through in your own reading. One of the ways I do this is through my blog. I regularly post book reviews of the books I read. However you do it, make sure to engage with others about what your reading. This will help you think through and digest what you are reading. A good idea might be to read a book along with another leader so you can discuss it as you read it.
These are just some thoughts about how to be a leader who is a good reader. I want to continue to become a better leader through the discipline of good reading. What are some thoughts you would share with other leaders about how to be a good reader?
Recently, we had a leadership seminar with my adult leaders. It was a huge success, and we look forward to doing another one in the future. I want to give you a few thoughts on how to plan an effective leadership seminar for your adult leaders.
Schedule a date early– Many adult leaders have families, and it is important and respectful to plan your seminar early so that they can plan on being in attendance. I would recommend at least 6-8 months out of planning.
Decide what topics you would like to train your leaders on– It is important that you have direction in what the purpose of the seminar is going to be. If it is just to inform them of your ministry, I would recommend calling it something different. When your leaders hear the word, seminar, they will think that it is a meeting on what they can do better to become more effective. So, decide the topic(s) that you would like to address, and promote them to the leaders so that they can prep in their mind for the seminar.
Have a gift for the leaders– We did “small group survival kits” for our seminar. We had a pen, pad, nice cup for a drink, “about me” forms for their students, gum, snacks, etc. It is just a little gift to show them that we appreciate them, and it also taught them a bit about their small group in the middle of it as well.
Have food– Food is essential to make these events a success. Your adult leaders love to eat or else they would not be in youth ministry. Have food for them, and cover the cost of the food if possible to show them your appreciation. Also, just a note, do not have pizza, because they are so accustomed to having that with their students.
Always have a Q & A time– This is usually one of our best times. We allow anyone with questions to ask, and we will have some effective discussion.
End with a group event– We did bowling, and it actually went over real well. This is solely for relationship building! It works great to just kick back, relax, and have fun with one another. You can do bowling, putt putt, or any other activity.
I hope that this helps you. We had all but like two leaders at our seminar, and it was a hit! If you would like to know more about leadership seminars, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on this post.
Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston-Salem, NC area. Josh is passionate about seeing life change in students and teaching them the Word of God. Josh is an avid blogger, speaker, student pastor, and Duke Blue Devils fan! You can connect further with Josh on his blog, twitter, or send him an email.
I’m always on the lookout for new apps to use in student ministry. There are a ton of apps out there, but there are some that are great for student pastors that will come in handy for your ministry. I wanted to share my favorite iPhone apps that I use regularly in my student ministry.
Youth Culture Report. One of the things I am always doing as a student pastor is keeping up with the current teen culture. I try to keep an eye on current trends as well as what is happening in the life of teenagers around the world. I do believe every student pastors need to be students of teen culture. This is why I love this app! On the Youth Culture Report app, you will find tons of links to blogs and articles about current teen culture. It’s simple and easy to use. This is an app every student pastor needs to have on their iPhone. By the way, they are relaunching this soon and it will be even better!
Group Text. The best way to send out reminders to students is via text messaging. Because of that, I use text messages to promote events, send out reminders, and to just connect with students. Most of the time I send out promo’s and reminders as a large group text using the app “Group Text.” This is a great app I was introduced to by my friend Josh Evans who uses it with his students. It allows you to create lists and then send out a mass text to whatever list you want. I have a list for my students, leaders, and parents.
Dropbox. I absolutely love Dropbox! Dropbox allows you to keep files in a cloud that can synced between all your devices. For example, the files in my Dropbox are synced between my iPhone, iPad, and Macbook. Awhile back I wrote a post about using Dropbox in ministry that will help you see how I use Dropbox in my ministry (Click here to view that post). It’s a nice app to have if you have important files you want at your fingertips at all times. I keep all my files for our student ministry in my Dropbox so I can access them whenever I want on what device is infront of me. This also allows me to back up those files and not have to worry about loosing them.
Evernote. Evernote works the same as Dropbox, but is notes instead of files. I use Evernote a lot when it comes to meetings and reminders. If I need to take quick notes during a meeting with my leaders, parents, or senior pastor, I can take them in Evernote on my iPad and open them up later on my iPhone or Macbook. What is so great about Evernote is that your notes can be text, audio, or even an image. There are some great posts about using Evernote in student ministry, but here is one I would recommend you taking a look at.
Instagram. By far one of the most popular iPhone apps out there is instagram. But instagram is a great app to have if you’re a student pastor! It’s a great way to take quick pictures of your students, events, and trips and post them to Twitter or Facebook so other students and parents can see them.
There are a few more apps such as Twitter and Facebook that are self-explanatory that I use daily in student ministry. The ones I mentioned are one you may have not heard of that I think are “must haves” for student pastors. What iPhone apps do you use most in student ministry?
It’s summer, so that means many student pastors are taking their students to camp. By this point in the summer many of you have already made that trip and are experiencing the all too often frustration that happens after camp. Let me try to explain this frustration. You take a handful of your students to camp. Some of them are students you know desperately need Jesus and need to change the way they are living. As the week goes on you see a change in them. And then by the end of the week, they are crying, throwing a stick in the fire, and proclaiming that they are going back home to live a totally different life. You, as the student pastor, cannot be more excited. You go back home with the hopes of seeing that students live for Jesus. But a few weeks after camp you notice that the student is right back to where they were before camp. It seems as though the experience and decision they made at camp doesn’t exist. So your frustrated, wondering what you can do as a student pastor.
I’m sure many student pastors have experienced something like this. I know I have and even experienced it this summer with some of my students. So what do you do when you find yourself frustrated because it seems the change you saw in students at camp didn’t last past the bus ride home? Here are a few things you need to remember if you find yourself in that spot:
1. Remember the growth and change in students is a process. Don’t forget the important doctrine of sanctification. As Christians, we don’t change overnight. Becoming more like Jesus is a life time journey and your students are on that journey. Remember that the student who went to camp, made many decisions, but came back the same way they were before, is on the road of becoming like Jesus. This will take their whole life. So don’t get frustrated when you don’t seem to see the change. Realize camp is just a stepping stone for them to become like Jesus, it was not the “quick fix.”
2. They may need encouragement. Many students don’t see lasting change in their life because they don’t get the encouragement they need. They often time comes back to friends and maybe even families that don’t follow Christ. Make sure the student that went to camp and made decisions gets plugged into your ministry, if they are not already. Get them in a small group where they can be encouraged by other students and Godly adults. Also, allow them to give a testimony of what God did at camp to the whole church. I’m a big fan of this idea because it brings accountability as well as encouragement to the student. Remind them of the decisions they made at camp and encourage them to stick to them.
3. Pray for them. This may seem very elementary, but it’s something we often overlook. Nothing will be better for that student than for you to get on your knees and pray for them. In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, Paul tells the believers he is writing to that he “constantly mentions them in prayer.” Can you say this about the student you’re so frustrated with because they don’t seem to change? God is the one who sanctities them, so spend time praying about them to God.
These are just a few things to remember when your frustrated because the “camp experience didn’t last” with your students. I hope these are an encouragement to you and feel free to share in the comment section below how you feel about this topic.