Some of my best student ministry volunteers are former students. For many years I overlooked former students and never recruited them to come back and be volunteers in our ministry. However, in the past few years I’ve leaned into this group and seen more and more of my former students come back to serve as volunteers.
We do have a policy that former students must be a year removed from high school before they can serve in our high school ministry. Because of this many of my former students start out serving in our middle school ministry.
I’m convinced that former students have the potential to be your best volunteers. Here are three simple reasons why I believe that.
1. You know them. One of the great things about using former students as volunteers is the simple fact that you know them. You have probably spent a few years getting to know them, pouring into them, and seeing them grow. You have a decent grip on their strengths and weaknesses. You know their personality and how they operate. Usually when you recruit a new volunteer you know next to nothing about them. All you know is what they shared in their application or when you met with them a few times. However, former students you know and this will help you put them in the right spot within your ministry.
2. They know you and your ministry. Not only do you know them but they know you. In addition to knowing you they also know your ministry. They probably have a good understanding of what you want your ministry to look like and be about. They know the culture and vibe of your ministry. This will save them much time and energy as they set out to be volunteers in your ministry. Sure there will be some things they don’t know. It will be new for them to be on the “leader side” of the ministry. However, they will know more than the normal new volunteer so that’s a plus.
3. They want to give back. The reason most former students come back to be volunteers is so they can give back to the ministry. Usually these are students who God impacted in huge ways through your ministry. Because of this they want to come back and be a part of God doing that for other students. This is the main reason they make great volunteers – they have experienced God through your ministry and they now want to help other students experience the same thing. That’s awesome!
Don’t overlook your former students when you think about volunteers for your ministry. Reach out to them and get them plugged in. They will make great volunteers in your ministry.
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.
What 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!
What 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.
A few months ago I wrote a post about my top three favorite websites to get student ministry game ideas. Even though there are countless websites out there with great game ideas, there are also some great books out there that have tons of great game ideas for your students. Most of these books are pretty cheap and would be a great resource to have on your book shelve. Here are three books I have found extremely helpful when it comes finding great games for students.
Best Ever Games for Youth Ministry by Les Christie. A few years ago I sat in one of Christie’s workshops at SYMC on how to do good games and icebreakers. I love this guys energy and creativity. Many of the games and icebreakers he shared with us came straight from this book. In this book Christie shares well over two hundred awesome games that can work for any size student ministry. He breaks the games into five categories: zoomer (high energy games), energy saver (low energy, stationary games), wide open (games for large playing areas), pair up (games that require students to partner up), and crowd pleaser (games that work great with large groups of 50 or more students). This book will also list any supplies you need for each game as well as a quick summary of how the game works.
The $5 Youth Ministry by Todd Outcalt. What student pastor doesn’t love games that take little prep and supplies only cost a few bucks? This book is just what the title suggests, game ideas for $5 or less. The cool thing about this book is it’s pack with so much more than just games. There are practical ideas for teaching, worship, missions, and more. This book explains the games (or other ideas) in quit a bit of detail. It also shares various options for each idea so you can see what works best for your group. Todd has done an excellent job at putting together this helpful resource.
The Hot Seat by Johnny Scott. This is a little book I bought last year at SYMC and have not used as much as I would want to. This book offers quick “in the moment” games that you can do with your students basically anywhere. Like the book above, this book is packed with much more than games which makes it even a better resource to have. One way this book is helpful is it provides great, fun games you can do with your students when your in a bus or van going on a missions trip or headed to an event. It’s a small book so it’s easy to carry around with you and every idea within it requires basically no prep or set up.
If you want to spend less time planning games and more time preparing your message or next event, than get one or all of these books. They will give you great game ideas so you can spend less time planning them yourselves. If your like me, you enjoy doing games with your students (especially middle schoolers), but often times planning and preparing a good game can take up a ton of time. That’s why these books are helfpul. They give you great game ideas that your students will love!