Ignite Launch Series: ready.set.GO!

Our first series of the year for Ignite (our high school ministry) is called: ready.set.GO!  We are going to look at the CORE things that we should be about as followers of Jesus.  I’m really excited for this series because I think it starts our year out the right way.  The three weeks will act as a “launching point” for our ministry year.  Check back every week to see what we talked about.

Communicating with Parents in Student Ministry

Loved this info from “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry” by Doug Fields.   It is very practical information about how to communicate with the parents of your students.  I borrowed the titles and added my own 2 cents. 🙂

Your communication should be…

1. Consistent – We need to keep parents up to date on what is going on with their kids.  If you start feeling like “Wow… it has been a while since I’ve communicated with parents,” then it has been WAY too long.

2. Concise – Just the facts.  Let’s face it, parents’ time is important.  They don’t need to read the “novel” that is our communication letter.  What they need most is the 5 W’s and an H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and HOW MUCH.

3. Clean – one word: PROOFREAD!  We shouldn’t be known for how poorly we write or communicate.  Spelling errors show a lack of concern for the details and a lack of care for what kind of material you put out.

4. Clutter Free – One thing I’ve learned over the years is that parents don’t care about the clip art or graphics that you think look cool.  In fact, that stuff actually distracts from the main message that we are trying to communicate.  What parents need: THE DETAILS.

5. In Advance – Early communication prevents parents having scheduling conflicts.  The further planned out we are in our calendars and the more we communicate, the less parents are going to feel the need to have to choose between their family and church.

6. Cheap – There is no need to have the latest and greatest communication tools with parents that cost an arm and a leg.  As I type this,  I must confess that our student ministry just paid a lot of money per year to use a text messaging system to keep students and parents updated with announcements.  That system is really for our students’ sake… it will help with parents, but there is an easier and cheaper way for sure for them.

7. Honest – We need to learn to communicate in “REAL” times.  For example, if you know your event won’t really get over until 9pm… don’t put 8:30pm on the announcement.  If there is one thing that annoys a parent it is having to wait for their children/students because the guy in charge didn’t plan ahead or think about the parents.

8. Helpful – We need to communicate so that parents know how to talk to their kids about what they are learning.  Our communication must help parents, not confuse them.

Bottom Line: We need to be MINDFUL & THOUGHTFUL of our students’ parents!

The Power of Doing the Little Things

I was reading in “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry” by Doug Fields this afternoon and loved what he said about doing the “little things” in student ministry and the HUGE IMPACT that it can have.  I have done some of these things from time to time and they really make a big difference.  When we do the “little things” it says that we actually care about the students that we are leading. What are some of the little things? Well, they are things like:

  • Calling/texting/facebooking students on the first day of school and praying for them.
  • Sending students pictures taken of them at youth group events.
  • Dropping by their workplaces to say hi.
  • Attending the last quarter, inning, or set of their games (showing up at the end gives you a chance to interact with them after the game)
  • Mailing their favorite snacks to them on their birthdays
  • Calling students’ parents just to brag on them.
  • writing notes of encouragement to students during exams or other stress-filled weeks.
  • Inviting students over for dinner
  • Following up a few days after a student shares a prayer request
  • Using your students as positive illustrations in your messages or Bible studies (get permission first)
  • Remembering students’ names and using their names when you talk with them.

“Listen Up!”

I was reading in one of my favorite YM books: Your first 2 years in youth ministry by Doug Fields… and I stumbled upon this little gem.  If you are anything like me, then one of the things that you get criticized for often is talking too much and NOT LISTENING.  That can really become a detriment to youth ministry.  Doug challenges us to LISTEN UP:

Listen with your ears.  Do your students know you hear them?

Students want to know that you care about what they have to say.  The best way to show you are listening is to ask follow-up questions that allow them to speak more. 

Listen with your eyes.  Can your students see you care?

I have to admit, I have been in the middle of conversations with students and “appear” as if I was listening… but I was really looking at something else.  Or even worse… had tuned them out and allowed the “glossed over” look to take place.  Students want to see in your eyes that you care about what they are saying and who they are.

Listen with your face.  Do your students believe you’re listening?

expression shows you are listening and that you care.  Panface means your mind is elsewhere and that you couldn’t care less about who is talking to you.  you can say you are listening until you are blue in the face… but the proof is if your face actually turns blue!

Listen with your hands.  Can your students sense you care?

When you use APPROPRIATE touch, it communicates to your students that you care about them.  When it is appropriate to give a hug, high five, pat on the shoulder, etc… we should.  Why?  Because good ministry means connecting with students in a way that they normally don’t get from the world.  Students are bombarded every day with inappropriate touch.  We need to show them another way!

BOTTOM LINE:  LEARN TO LISTEN! 

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…”  James 1:19