What We Did This Week

This week was our last mid-week gatherings for the school year. Over the summer we take a break from our weekly programs and do other various events throughout the summer months like pool parties, cookouts, and other stuff. We also do mission trips during the summer and this year will be taking our middle school students to Chicago and our high school students to Memphis. We are taking both trips with LeaderTreks. Both of our nights this week were extremely different than normal. You will see this in the details below of what we did this week.

Last Night of Porch Social MediaWhat We Did at Porch (High School)
Pre-Party: We threw a pre-party an hour before the normal start time of our service. We rented a mechanical bull and had Chick-Fil-A and Insomnia Cookies. The pre-party was basically designed to have students come early, hangout, and build excitement for the night.
Worship Set List:
 In Tenderness (Citizens & Saints), Psalm 18 (Citizens & Saints), Unstoppable God (Elevation Worship), All Things New (Elevation Worship), How He Loves (David Crowder Band), Man of Sorrow (Hillsong), Raised to Life (Elevation Worship), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), Take the World But Give Me Jesus (Ascend the Hill), and Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens & Saints).
Videos: Now is The Time (Remix) and God Loves You
Highlight: Being able to stand among our students and simply worship. Most nights I’m consumed with my talk or with details of the night so it’s hard to stop and worship with the band. Since all we did this night was have the band lead in worship I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with our students and sing to Jesus with them. It was a blast!

Last Night of Edge Social MediaWhat We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Intro Video: Street Fighter Bonus Stage in Real Life
Upfront Game: Weiner Head. How could I not play a game with middle school students called “weenier head?” This game requires a bit of prep work but is worth it in the end. You get a few construction hard hats and drill a few lines of screws in them from the inside out. Then you will need to buy hotdogs. Students play in teams of two while one student places the hard hat on their head while the other student throws hotdogs at them. The goal of the game is to be the team with the most hotdogs stuck to the top of your hard hat. Click the link above to read more about this game and to download the graphic we used.
Group Game: Scatterball. We play this game at least twice a month and our students love it. It’s basically dodgeball but with only one ball (we throw in more as the game goes) and when you have the ball you can only take a limited amount of steps. If you get hit you are out and if you catch a ball the person who threw it is out. Click the link above to download the graphic we used for this game.
Teaching: We didn’t really have a talk like we normally do but we did do a short Gospel presentation and gave students a chance to respond. We wanted to end the year off reminding our students of the most important thing ever and that’s the Gospel.
Highlight: Hanging out with students before the service in the inflatables that we had set up. We own a few inflatables as a church so we had a giant slide and bounce house set up for students to enjoy. It was a blast getting to let loose and have fun with them on those.

What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaWe had another great week in our student ministries! Below are the details of what we did both in our high school ministry and our middle school ministry.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Group Game: Dueling Unicorns. We did this game last week in our middle school ministry and it was a blast! We decided to give it a try with our high school students and they loved it! It involves party hats, shaving cream, and balloons. Fun game for the students playing as well as the students in the crowd watching. Click the link above to read the details on how to play as well as download the graphic we used.
Worship Set List: Unstoppable God (Elevation Worship), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), All I Have is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music), and Made Alive (Citizens & Saints).
Teaching: We continued our Acts series by talking about how God rescued Paul and Silas out of prison as well as used them to lead the prison guard to Christ. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: Having our campus worship leader, Jonathan Claytor, join us and lead worship with our normal Porch band. Our regular adult leader who plays and oversees the band was out of town so Jonathan came and filled in. It was cool to see our students get a chance to play and lead worship with him since they see him on stage every weekend at church leading worship.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Opening Video: Toy Wars
Upfront Game:
Shake it Off. Easy game but loads of fun. We brought a few students up and had a friend of their choice put around 70 sticky notes on them. Then they had a minute and a half to shake as many sticky notes off themselves without using their hands. And of course we played Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” while the students where shaking the sticky notes off. Couldn’t play this game without having T-Swift help us out.
Group Game: Scatterball. We play this game about once a month because our students love it and ask for it all the time. Basically dodgeball but you can only take up to 3 steps with the ball. We start with one ball and then throw a few more in as the game goes on. Click the link above to download the graphic we use.
Teaching: Same as what we did at Porch. We continued our Acts series by talking about Paul and  Silas being rescued from prison and leading the guard to Christ. Click here to listen to the message from Edge.
Highlight: Most nights I open up and lead the first game. Then I usually have leaders do the other parts of the service and I don’t come back up until I teach. This night I had my leaders do everything up until I taught. It was awesome sitting back and watching them lead our students. I love seeing our leaders get up on stage to lead games and help us pull off an awesome night.


What We Did This Week

Acts Social MediaWe had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministry this week. We had good amount of new students attend this week and our overall attendance was higher than normal. Not only attendance but there was good energy in the room both nights and students seemed to have a blast! Below are the details of what we did both nights.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Video: Austin Says Goodbye to the Amish Beard
Upfront Game: Snapchallenge. We did this game last week with our middle school students and we figured we would give it a shot with our high schoolers. It’s a game from Download Youth Ministry that lets contestants see a Snapchat picture for five seconds and then has them answer  a question about the picture.
Worship Set List: Let It Be Known (Worship Central), This I Believe [The Creed] (Hillsong), This Grace (Kristian Stanfill), and Raised to Life (Elevation Worship).
Teaching: We continued our Acts series by talking about Paul’s salvation story from Acts 8 and 9. We talked about who Paul was before he was a Christian, how he came to Christ, and how God used him after he became a Christian. It was the first time I have ever done a message on Paul’s salvation so it was fun to prepare and teach. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: Hanging out with some of our students and leaders afterwards at Pizza Hut. Each week we either go to a local wing place or Pizza Hut after. It’s always a blast and there is always good community that is being built among our group. I was reminded of how important just hanging out and talking is to student ministry as I watched our students interact with each other as well as with our adult leaders.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Video: Dogs Failing at Being Dogs and Austin Says Goodbye to the Amish Beard
Upfront Game: Dueling Unicorns. This by far was one of my favorite upfront games we have done all year. It was awesome! Get a few pairs of students upfront, have them put party hats on, give them each a balloon filled with shaving cream, and have them go head to head to see who can pop their balloon over their opponents head first. We did it in rounds so that each round someone was eliminated making it so that two students went head to head for the final round. We also showed this quick video of myself and one of our high school leaders demonstrating how this game works. Click here to see a video of this game, more details, and the graphic we used.
Group Game: Clumps. This is a game that has been around for a long time but it’s an easy game that requires no set up, few supplies, and gets students mixing. Basically you have someone upfront with a metal pan and a cooking spoon and have them hit the pan a certain number of times. The number of times they hit it will determine the number students must “clump” into (basically locking arms and making a circle). Whoever isn’t in a “clump” is out. I’m sure there are a ton of different variations to this game tweak it to fit your group.
Teaching: Every few weeks we break our students into small groups and that’s what we did this week. In their small groups students continued our Acts series by reading and discussing Paul’s salvation story from Acts 8 and 9.
Highlight: The energy and excitement of the students. All the students were pumped to be there and loved every part of the night. I know it’s not all about the “energy, fun, and games,” but when over a 100 middle school students are at church, actually want to be there, and are hearing about Jesus than that is a win for me.

3 Effective Ways to Structure Student Small Groups

???????????????????????????????????????Small groups are an important part of an effective student ministry. They are important because they move students past just showing up at youth group every week and listening to you teach. Small groups move students to a place where they can better develop community with their peers (and an adult leader or two) as well going deeper into God’s Word. These two factors, community and Bible study, will help them grow in their faith. This is what we want as student pastors. We want students to develop community and dig deeper into God’s Word. So we make small groups a part of our student ministry. But how do we structure those small groups? Do we do them in homes? Do we do them within our mid-week or weekend gathering? Do we make them something for every student or just students who want to go deeper? These are all good questions to ask when thinking about how to structure small groups in your student ministry.

This past year we restructured our small groups and are planning to tweak them yet again this coming year. Because of this I have been doing a lot of thinking about how small groups are structured in our student ministry. I have also been talking to other student pastors about how they structure small groups in their ministry. There are many different ways you can structure small groups. There is not one perfect way. Every student ministry looks different and small groups will look different in every ministry. However, I have seen and be a part of three different structures of small groups in student ministries that I believe are effective. Let me share those with you.

Small groups in homes of adult leaders outside your normal mid-week or weekend program. This by far is the most popular way to structure small groups in your student ministry. Basically students meet in small groups in leaders homes throughout the community. It could be on the same night or different nights. Leaders open up their homes and the students in their small groups meet there to build community and study the Bible. This happens outside your normal “youth group night.” The positives to this structure is that small groups are there as a “next step” for students who want to go deeper. You don’t force students who may not be Christians or that are not ready to go deeper into a small group. Your large group gathering serves as a place for non-Christians to feel comfortable and hear the Gospel. Also, this structure helps students feel safe and comfortable as they meet in a home. Plus, adult leaders get to display hospitality and fellowship by opening up their homes to students. The major downside of this structure is your asking students to give up another night of the week. They are already coming to your large group gathering and now you ask them to give up another night for small groups. For busy students this may be difficult and keep them from getting involved in a small group.

Small groups every other week in place of your mid-week or weekend program. This is the structure we are currently doing with our middle & high school students. We are actually moving away from this and going to in homes outside of our large group gathering for high school students next year, but keeping it this way for middle school. This is a great structure if you want to see all your students be in on a form of small groups. Basically small groups happen every other week in place of your large group gathering. You can have them come to the same place you meet for large group and then just have them split up into groups or you can have them meet in homes at the same time you would meet for large group. Either way, small groups happen on the same night/time of your large group. This is a great way to not make your students give up another night. It allows you to accomplish both large & small group ministry in one ministry night a week. The downside to this structure is you may scare away non-Christian students who don’t want to be in a  small group yet. Also, your students may not want to invite their non-Christian friends because they know they will be split up into small groups and it may be uncomfortable for them.

Small groups every week as part of your mid-week or weekend program. Basically you make small groups a part of your large group gathering. Most student ministries that do this will have small group following the teaching time so students can discuss what they just heard. Again, this is a great way to not make your students give up another night. Also, it helps every student get a form of small group ministry. I like this structure because it allows students to instantly discuss and talk about what they just heard. The downside with this structure is that you usually don’t have a ton of time for small groups so it may not accomplish the community goal of small groups. Also, students are only discussing what they heard instead of actually digging into Scripture.

There are a ton of other ways you can structure small groups in your student ministry, but these are three I have seen that are effective. How are small groups structured in your student ministry?

4 Things Student Pastors Must Learn To Do Well

dark-blue-background-backgrounds-wallpapersWith every job comes the demand to learn how to do certain things well. When it comes to being a student pastor there are a few things I believe you must learn to do well. I’m still pretty new to full-time student ministry myself, but I’m learning a ton of stuff along the way. Here are four things I am learning that I believe myself and other student pastors must learn to do well.

Teach well. I believe the most important thing students pastors must be good at is teaching God’s Word. Student pastors can build a program, plan great events, and build great relationships with students, but if they cannot teach the Bible effectively to students they will struggle. I’m not suggesting that they must be able to stand on stage and give the perfect expostional sermon, but they must know how to take the truths of God’s Word and teach them in a way that applies to the current culture of today’s teenagers. Students pastors must learn to teach the Bible well on stage to a large group of students as well as within one on one relationships with students. Student pastors must always be striving to be better teachers of God’s Word.

Work with people well. Ministry is about people and student ministry isn’t any different. Student pastors must learn to work well with all types of people. First, they must work well with the church staff. Nothing is worse than a young student pastor who thinks he knows how to run the church better than the rest of the staff. Student pastors must learn how to work well within the whole church staff. Second, they must work well with parents. Student pastors not only minister and serve students, but their parents as well.  Third, they must work well with volunteers. A student ministry cannot be effectively ran by just the student pastor, it takes a team of volunteers. The student pastor must learn how to work well with these volunteers. Learning how to work well with people is very important in student ministry.

Program well. Don’t get me wrong, I know student ministry is much more than building a creative and attractive program, but that program is an important part. Student pastors must learn how to be good programmers. That means programming the mid-week or weekend services well, retreats well, events well, and other things we do in our student ministries. I know some student pastors are all about relationships and that’s great! Relationships are key to effective student ministry, but you cannot sacrifice building an effective program for the sake of only building relationships. Student pastors must learn how to program their student ministry well.

Study teen culture well. I hesitated throwing this last one in, but I believe it’s something student pastors must do well. To be a good missionary you must study the culture your going into. The church doesn’t just send missionaries into foreign mission fields without giving them time to learn the culture. It’s the same with student ministry, student pastors must see themselves as missionaries to students who have their own subculture. Therefore, student pastors must learn to study that culture well. How will a student pastor effective teach Biblical truth if they don’t know the culture they are applying it to? How can they build a relevant program if they don’t know what attracts and connects with teen culture? Student pastors must learn to study teen culture well. Studying teen culture isn’t hard, it just takes time. Click here to see a list of helpful tools I use to learn more about teen culture.

I know there are many things student pastors must learn to do well, but these are the ones I have been thinking a lot about recently. I would love to hear from you on this subject. What do you think are the most important things student pastors must learn to do well? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.