Graduation is one of those moments that parents wait for and at the same time dread. It means seeing their child from birth to “ready for adulting”. Its so important as a youth pastor to understand that its not just a transition for students, but parents to. Especially in a year like this one, where nothing is what it used to be and everything has changed. Its our job as pastors to help parents navigate this transition effectively.
Here are some changes that are coming up for parents as they shift from one who guides, directs & trains to one who mentors, advises & listens.
1. Their child is old enough to make decisions on their own but NOT without them
The parents roll has changed. Their child will begin not asking if they CAN do something or not. They will begin to ask for guidance, advice and saying “what would you do.” They will make decisions on their own but will still look to their parents as a sounding board to make their own choices!
2. Diving into their child’s life will never be more important
Even if they did a poor job of spending time & getting into their kid when they lived at home, it’s now more important than ever for them to do so. Parents should be asking them questions about life, future and their career path. Their faith will take on a whole new look as they are on their own and truly figuring out WHO they are in Christ. Parents need to show even more care and concern in this next chapter of parenting than before.
3. Parents will start to become a little smarter in their child’s eyes
For the past few years parents have been stupid, dumb and out of touch. Parents never seem to understand where “they” are coming from. Now that they are doing life on their own parents will become people who they trust and come to for advice and direction. Mom and Dad start getting a little smarter and their child starts to realize their parents had their best interest in mind the whole time! (I’m sure this will be very gratifying for most parents)
A new chapter in life is taking place, along with a new chapter and phase in parenting! Each phase takes time, dedication and love! Parents need to continue to get after it! As youth pastors, its our job to cheer them on and encourage them to continue being an active part of their child’s life even after they leave the home. Parents graduate too, some don’t know how to do it well. Lets help them out!
Ministry hasn’t stopped happening since the Coronavirus came onto the scene and churches closed physical buildings. If anything ministry has ramped up. By this time, you have settled into some type of rhythm with your ministry programming, utilizing social media, Zoom, Google Hangouts or the House Party app. The last few months have made some of you weary, some of you frustrated, some of you ready for life to get back to “normal” (when I say some of you… I mean all of you), and some not sure what to do if things don’t open back up soon.
There is no doubt that you have been praying hard during these uncertain times. You have an opportunity to make it personal even though this you are currently living in a very impersonal world. Right now, a personal phone call means way more than a zoom call with 30 people. Right now, a hand written note to encourage someone means way more than saying it in the comments section of your instagram live feed. Right now, pulling up a lawn chair in the front yard of a student who has parents on the front lines fighting this pandemic means way more than an online scavenger hunt.
Here are some ideas as you continue ministry in these uncertain times:
1. Call Every Leader and Student
When you call the people you serve, you are letting them know they are worth your time. That may be the most important way to spend your time right now. When someone knows they are worth your time, they will decide what you have to say is worthwhile. Set a goal to call everyone that is a part of your
2. Write Every Leader and Student
Who doesn’t like to get mail? Writing an encouragement note is a lost art and needs to happen more often. When a leader gets a word of encouragement in the mail, it doesn’t just bless that leader but each family member in the home benefits from those caring words. When a student gets a note from their youth pastor, it’s a big deal and on top of that encourages that student’s parents too. Writing a note builds trust with that student and also their family.
3. More Than Content
Content is plentiful on the world wide web. Entertainment is abundant online, and there are people that are very good at it. If you are putting the majority of your time into content creation you are going to miss a golden opportunity to care for, empower and equip those involved in your ministry. The main course of your ministry should be saturated with as many personal connections, spiritual conversations and space to listen as you can handle. In a world that currently feels out of control, people need to be reminded of who they are, how much they are loved and that there is hope beyond what they see and feel. What students and leaders need can’t be found online, because its another human being that sees something in them that is special.
No matter where you find yourself today, know that you are not alone. Be encouraged, your calling isn’t through a screen but through personal relationships with those you serve. Look at this ministry landscape as a momentum builder for the future.
Everyone has been operating from home for some time now and ministry is still happening. What an incredible story this will be, the fact that the church didn’t stop taking the Gospel into the world. The reality is that we will be re-entering the in person world again and for youth ministry it takes an amazing team of caring adults to pull it all off. How in the world do you build up your volunteer team without being physically in front of them or without an official announcement from the adult services?
The truth is that we need to be recruiting right now to be ready for WHATEVER the fall brings.
Download the free eBook on what your Volunteers need from you!
Here are some tips and tricks to recruiting volunteers during Quarantine:
1. Ask Your Current VolunteersThis is your greatest resource. Your current team is on your team for a reason, they know what it takes, they know if people would be a good fit or not, so ask them who they know. Reach out to each of your volunteers and ask them for 1 name each. This would be an awesome start to recruiting great leaders.
2. Parents are an untapped resource
Not every parent should serve in youth ministry, but there are some that absolutely should. Make it easy for parents to know about needs and opportunities to serve. Take them through the same process as anyone else and be ok with finding different opportunities for them if you know it will not be a good fit. Don’t hesitate to reach out to families, who have kids committed to the youth ministry, they already believe in it, now they need to see how they fit into the vision.
3. Church Database
Use your church database to your advantage. Most databases can filter ages, types of people, attendance numbers, etc. Disregard if you don't have a church database but every church should have something, even if its Excel!
4. Ask Staff
The people you work with on a daily/weekly basis know people you may not. Take time to describe what you are looking for to your team and see if they know people. Again, ask them for one name each and see what comes from it. You may not realize your best volunteers are known by other staff members even if you don't yet.
5. Church Social Media platforms
Social media right now can be your best friend when it comes to recruiting. You need to have a compelling vision, communicate it clearly and then ask if people want to join you in reaching this generation. Use the church facebook group, use the church instagram account, go LIVE, create great looking graphics and see what happens. Its a free resource you should be leveraging to recruit.
6. Your personal Social Media
People you like and are friends with should be a no brainer to ask to serve with you. If they like you, they will say yes. Don’t hesitate to put something out on your own social media platforms. If you want to build a great team you have to do whatever it takes.
What you need when you talk to someone interested in serving with students:
Vision - You need to be able to convey what you see for students in the ministry, where you believe God is taking you, and how that person fits into the story
Clear Path - application, background check, observation, etc. The idea is that after your meeting that person will know exactly what needs to happen to serve.
Clear Expectations - Before they jump in they need to know exactly what is expected of them if they serve. The worst thing you can do for a volunteer is to communicate poorly and to blindside them with unspoken expectations you have for your leaders.
Don’t just pick one of those ideas, do them all! Don’t wait around until its to late! You need to start recruiting now!
Build a team to go after middle school and high school students together! Give away ministry and allow the gifts that God has given people to shine!