Guest Post: How to Plan a Leadership Seminar for Your Leaders

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 joshhevans@gmail.com 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.

Guest Post: Gospel Centered Youth Ministry

Within evangelical circles there’s a lot, I mean a lot, of talk about gospel-centeredness. This is by no means a bad thing, and God has personally used this movement in my life in which I have gleaned much from the wisdom of those advocating this movement. So when we think about being “gospel-centered,” we want to make sure that we are placing the gospel at the core of every area of life, specifically within the church and in it’s various ministries. To this area, youth ministry is no exception. Students can be taught this concept, and youth ministry leaders can model this concept before them. Here are a few ways to make sure the gospel is at the center of your youth ministry:

1. Make Jesus the Hero of Your Preaching. If Jesus is not the Hero when it comes to our preaching, then we’re probably giving our students a moralistic gospel. Instead of focusing on how your students can do better, focus on Jesus, the One who makes them not just better, but new (2 Cor. 5:17). We tend to get wrapped up in behavior modification, which constantly says “Do better” but when we look at Jesus and what He offers us in the gospel, He says, “It’s done” (cf. John 19:30). This truth has the power to change lives. I grew up with conception that the gospel changed me at conversion, but then I had to work really hard to gain God’s approval from then on. This can be a very frustrating way to live! Grace is a continual part of the Christian life, and God’s grace remains the same for both Christians and non-Christians. Our students can grasp this, and it is truly liberating to know that what you do from day to day does not rest on you, but on what Christ has done for you.

2. Build Intentional Relationships With Your Students. This is something that we all hear, but how vital this is to a student ministry that is centered on the gospel! The more I do ministry, the more I see the importance of relationships with our students. They need us to teach the gospel to them, but they also need to see the gospel lived out before their eyes. You may be one of the few people in a student’s life that cares enough about them to get past the surface and really see what their needs are. The gospel is ultimately the cure for every need in every student’s life. They need us tell them that their sin brings bondage, and that Jesus brings liberation. We should strive to build intentional relationships with our students to lovingly show them their deepest need, the gospel.

3. Be Strategic in Your Programming. Most youth guys and girls love programming. It’s just one of those parts about a youth worker that gets the blood pumping! I love programming as well, but programming can be dangerous if the focus is on the program itself over the people whom we are ministering to. We always have to remember that our ministry is about people. People that Jesus died to save, and people that we have an opportunity to speak the truth of the gospel into their lives! So if the mission of your ministry is something like what I just mentioned, make sure that your ministry program reflects that mission. Strive for a balance in what you are doing, and give your students opportunities to serve and proclaim what Jesus has done for them. Lots of youth ministry events we do are fun, and that’s great, but when was the last time we did an event where our students served the community? How are we training our students for ministry? Do they know how to verbally tell someone about Jesus? Our programming should reflect our ministry’s mission.

The gospel has radically transformed my life! The ridiculous amount of grace that God has showed me is incomprehensible (cf. John 1:16)! Just think about how the gospel has changed your life. Now think about your students, and how you would love for their lives to be changed the ways yours has. Hopefully you’re seeing that, and that gives you even more motivation to elevate Jesus to His rightful place, which is above all things (Col. 1:18). I am convinced that if the truth of Jesus Christ is at the core of our youth ministries, we will see lives transformed by its life-saving power.

This guest post was written by one of my best friends Mark Etheridge. Mark is currently a youth ministry intern at Union Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC. He is a recent graduate of Liberty University and is planning on attending Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the Spring.

Guest Post: How to Start an Effective College Ministry

Starting a college ministry from the ground up is not an easy thing to do, but at the same time, it’s nothing to stress over. In this post I hope to give you some things I’ve learned and help you as you being a college ministry in your church. Now we all know that ministries targeting college students are desperately needed, so we’ll just jump right in with some practical steps you can take to kick it off.

1. Base it on the Gospel – You ministry needs to be based on the Gospel. The message and hope of the Gospel should be made very clear very frequently.

2. Vision – Pray and think about the vision you have. You want to be able to articulate this vision to others to bring them on board with you. Don’t be scared to have a God-sized vision, but step out in faith and pursue.

3. Leader – Choose a leader wisely. Maybe the leader will be you, but maybe you will have someone else begin this ministry. Find a man who is godly in his personal life, has the gift of teaching, and knows how to study the Bible in its context.

4. Core Group – Figure out who would comprise a solid core group. These are the college students you are sure will come and will invite others. As the ministry grows, the core group will grow as well. Allow these students to have input in the ministry, and get them excited for it by filling them in on details.

5. Structure – Structure your ministry wisely. College students don’t ask for a lot to do, but they do want something. I would suggest something very simple like singing, teaching, and small groups. Emphasize the teaching. College students want answers. They are going through a time in their life where they question a lot of things, so make the lessons to be grounded in the Word and very informative and practical. The small groups will help them build relationships with others and this becomes accountability. Singing is good; it helps set the tone for the meeting, but I’ll be honest, if it gets in the way or becomes a hassle, just get rid of it. There’s no law saying we have to have singing at every meeting. When the students develop a love for the Word, they will come whether there is singing or not.

6. Make it Legit – I highly encourage you, however you decide to do your ministry, make it legit. College students can tell whether or not you are putting your whole heart into reaching them, and if they see that you’re not, they will not be impressed. You want them to see that worship is enjoyable, and that they are loved at your ministry.

This guest post was written by my good friend David Sheldon. David is a recent graduate of Piedmont International University and currently interning at Union Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC. He has been given the opportunity to start a college ministry called The Well at Union Grove. You can see more of David’s thoughts on his blog as well as follow him on Twitter.

What the Virgin Birth Shows Us

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to speak at The Grove Student Ministry for their “Christmas at The Grove” service. The Grove is the student ministry at Union Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC. Josh Evans is the student pastor and has a great blog where you can find great posts on student ministry and leadership. I wanted to summarize the message I gave and share it here on my blog.

After much prayer and study, I decided to speak to the students about what the Virgin birth shows us about God and His Son Jesus. I believe the Virgin birth shows us three important truths that can be seen in Luke 1:35 which says,

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy the Son of God.”

Gods Power. The first thing we see from the Virgin birth and this verse in particular is that God is powerful. The phrase “the power of the Most High will overshadow you” shows us that the Virgin birth was something planned and carried out by our sovereign and all-powerful God! A virgin giving birth to a child is impossible, but our God is the God of the impossible. We are reminded of this when the angel tells Mary this in verse 37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Christ Sinlessness. We see the word holy in this verse which means  pure, good, without any defect or deficiency or blemish. It carries the idea of being totally set apart from sin. One of the reasons Christ had to be born of a virgin was because He had to be sinless. If He would have come through the normal means of birth He would have inherited the sinful nature we are all given because of Adam’s sin in Genesis. Christ would not have been able to be the sacrifice for our sins if He had a sin nature. He had to be sinless in order to die for our sins in our place. Being born through a Virgin and by God’s power, Christ came into the world sinless. He then lived a perfect, sinless life in order for His righteousness to be imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). I wrote a blog called “What the Layaway Angels Teach us About Christ” that talks more about this truth, check it out!

Christ Humanity. Christ was fully God, but also fully man. We don’t understand this, but we know it is true because God’s Word teaches it. This is why the Virgin birth is so amazing! Christ, even though fully, came down to earth and walk among us a man. The verse above ends with the phrase Son of God. This title of Christ shows us His deity as well as His humanity. This was Christ very title of Himself and used it the most Himself. He wants people to understand He is fully God, but also embraced humanity. This should encourage us because He can understand and sympathize with us as we go through life. The beginning of Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” Christ, our high priest, can sympathize with us, how encouraging! The ends of this verse says, “…in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Even though Christ was sinless, He still faced temptation as we do. We see this clearly in Luke 4:1-12. The reason Christ came as a human was ultimately to die on the cross for our sin and giving us a way to have a relationship with God (Philippians 2:5-8; John 14:6).

I hope this Christmas didn’t pass you by without taking a time to think about the Virgin birth of our Savior. He came through God’s power for you! He was sinless so He could die for you and give you His righteousness! He embraced humanity so He could sympathize with you! Christ came into this world for you and for me. Have we let that truth seek in this Christmas?

I hope to have the video of this sermon on here soon. Until then feel free to check out some of my other sermons I have preached over the past year on the “Preaching and Teaching” page here on my blog.

Guidelines for Using Social Media in Youth Ministry

Josh Evans, a good student pastor friend of mine, said this in a recent blog post about using social media in youth ministry:

Remember, social media is part of your job. I felt bad years ago for using Facebook during the day, but honestly, now, I consider it a part of my job. I connect with students and pastors through this so I do not feel bad using it throughout the day for those purposes, not just for personal use. This will eliminate being addicted to it during the evenings.

I really loved what Josh said. Social media is so huge in our culture, we in ministry would be foolish not to use it. At the same time we need to remember that social media can be a leaders worst nightmare if not used correctly. With that in mind, the good and the bad of social media in ministry, Walt Mueller gives a few good guidelines for social media use within youth ministry in a recent blog:

Yesterday I promised to follow-up some personal social media use guidelines for youth workers with some parameters for use of social media and technology in youth ministry. Here’s the deal. . . in our Digital Kids Initiative we are not looking at real specific strategies. In other words, our goal is not to provide a lot of “how-to’s.” There are plenty of other people out there who can help you with that. In fact, we hope to set up a special spot on our Digital Kids Initiative Page where youth workers can share their great ideas with each other. What I want to do is provide some general guidelines and parameters that will help us use and address social media in God-honoring and redemptive ways, rather than in ways that are counter-productive (even when we may not know it) to the advance of God’s Kingdom.

Here are five general practical ideas, guidelines and parameters. . .

1. Use technology and social media to enhance, not replace, real-world ministry and community.One of the very real dangers of all these emerging technologies and tools is that we will begin to employ and rely on them so much that our face-to-face ministry and relationships wane. . . even if only a little bit. Kids in today’s culture all need more face-to-face and real-world relationship time. Physical presence is necessary for spiritual nurture. Technology and social media should serve to extend our real-world flesh and blood relationships with students. In addition, don’t buy the lie that digital community is real community. Real community is lived out in close physical proximity with down and dirty vulnerability. Remember. . . technology can extend and enhance this kind of community, but it can never replace it. Doing life together virtually really isn’t doing life together.

2. Use technology and social media to connect and communicate. Perhaps you’ve heard me say that in youth ministry eras past, the best way to get into the heart and soul of a student was to get into their bedroom and take a look at the walls. Not a very smart strategy these days. Yep, it’s a different world. But the bedroom wall has extended in today’s world onto the walls, photos, comments, links, profiles, and postings that fill their Facebook pages. Facebook offers a connection to who they are. Go there to learn more about their hopes, dreams, desires, struggles, and needs. And if what you find on their Facebook pages doesn’t line up with what you know of them in the context of real community, well. . . then you’ve gained a deeper sense of who they are and how you can minister to them because they’ve just revealed their disconnected identities and selves. Social media also allows you to communicate with your group during the week. Use it to extend your reach by promoting events, sharing Scriptures, posting thoughts, and putting up thought-provoking quotes.

3. Use technology and social media to equip and inform parents. Social media must be employed to communicate and stay in touch with parents. If you’re wondering what to pass on to parents on a regular basis. . . well. . . just check out our CPYU website for a treasure-chest of stuff to pass on. Provide them with links to news, articles, and reviews. Send them an article a week. Connect them to our daily Youth Culture Today radio show. Or, subscribe to our weekly Youth Culture e-Update and forward it on to your ministry parents. Parents love youth workers who keep them informed.

4. Teach kids to use technology and social media redemptively. This is discipleship, plain and simple. Warn them about how easy digital media can suck them in and become idolatrous. Teach them about the many dangers that lurk on the Digital Frontier. . . things like sexting, dumbing down, information overload, pornography, over-sharing, etc. We’ll be talking more and more about more and more of these dangers in the coming weeks and months. Introduce our Digital Code of Conduct to parents and their kids. It’s a tool that offers clear parameters to discuss and follow. In addition, walk them through the Scriptures, teaching them about what the following issues and topics have to say about how they live on the Digital Frontier: truth, authority, humility, spiritual maturity, wisdom, respect, creating culture, honesty, sexuality, integrity, discernment, self-control, etc. Be sure to discuss these topics in your one-on-one conversations and in your times with your youth group.

5. Help your students establish media parameters by establishing media parameters in your ministry. An 8th grade teacher who’s been teaching for 16 years told me this about the effect of social media and technology on kids: “We’ve lost the art of written and spoken language, solving problems regarding differences in personalities, resolving conflict, and maintaining real, loyal, accountable relationships.” That’s not the kind of world we want to create or live in. Since they are increasingly tethered and almost always “on,” your youth ministry needs to be a place where there are times where they turn it all off and put it aside. Teach them how to be close to others in physical proximity by honoring them and turning off your phone, your computer, and your tablet and then focus on those who are present. Establish and encourage them to practice a media sabbath – one day a week when they turn it off and put it aside. Give them opportunity and space to be silent (Remember those youth group “solos” that were so meaningful for so many of us?). Promote deep reading, contemplation, and quiet times to sit and mediate on God’s Word. . . listening to hear Him speak. Or how about this. . . a 40-hour technology famine to raise money for a cause?

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC. Head over to his blog for some great stuff on leadership, student ministry, and church life. Walt Mueller is a worldwide student ministry leader who writes, speaks, and studies youth culture. He is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Check out his blog here.