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For pastors and volunteers in youth ministry today, there is no glossing over the fact that many teens identify with a homosexual or bisexual lifestyle. Just a couple of decades ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a teenager who admitted to being gay — even if they were secretly leading a homosexual lifestyle. The culture of today has changed that, yielding acceptance and support to individual sexual identity. Chances are you have gay teenagers in youth group at church. So how do you handle it?

We’ve been called to lead teenagers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. The End. We all know what the Word says. Even non-Christians are aware of the Bible’s verbage concerning homosexuality. It’s wrong…no if’s, and’s or but’s. However, so is every other sin. In fact, all of us have sinned. Whether it was a homosexual lifestyle, sleeping with a significant other before marriage or holding unforgiveness in our hearts, all of us have come short of the glory of God. So what changes us? What compels us to lead a lifestyle pleasing to God?

I dare say it is the unfailing love of our savior. A savior who never condoned our sin, but instead loved us through it. He loves every person…including people who are gay. Love is a powerful thing. Love can move mountains. Most of us were changed and transformed into the new creations we are today because we had an encounter with God’s love. Gay teens need the same thing — they need to know they are loved. They need to know that someone — you — sees them for more than the sin in their lives.

In fact, gay teens may need love even more than most other kids their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, LGBT youth are more likely than heterosexual teens to report being bullied or abusing substances. Teens who questions their sexuality are also more likely to be teased, miss school, report depression and even engage in suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

How to Minister to Gay and Lesbian Teenagers

The teen years are tumultuous and all about finding independence and identity. Teenagers are heavily influenced by the messages around them and can carry hurts and soul wounds for a lifetime. That is why finger-pointing and chastising doesn’t work and never will. Instead, a youth minister must walk the line of speaking truth into the life of a gay teenager, but doing so in love and grace.

If you need help learning how to address gay, lesbian and bisexual teens in your youth ministry, Ministering to Gay Teenagers by Shawn Harrison is an excellent resource. Available as a digital download or hard copy, this book will help you learn how to:

  • Respond when one of the students in your church youth group ‘comes out’
  • Answer the ‘tough’ questions so often ignored by the church
  • Help a teen’s family as their teen identifies with or participates in a homosexual lifestyle
  • Practically serve and minister to LGBT teens in love and truth

Youth leaders, please read this book. It will lay out the framework for ministry to gay teens and also help you learn to look beyond the surface and into the issues affecting each individual teenager’s life. As this issue becomes a growing part of today’s culture, the kids you minister to today and in the future are relying on you to learn God’s heart for LGBT teens.


Ministering to Gay Teenagers by Shawn Harrison

 

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It is that time of year again when our loyal seniors make the leap from high school into college, and we — along with parents — hope that all we have taught them over the past several years will stick with them throughout some of the most difficult and tempting years of their lives. So how can you make the transition from youth group to college as smooth as possible?

Help with the Transition to College Ministry

If your students will be attending a local community college or going straight into the workforce, try helping them connect with the college ministry leader at your church. Throw a college/senior social to help students get to know some of the college kids at your church. If your kids will be moving away, try helping them connect with a college ministry near their new college campuses.

Equip Your Students with Christian Resources for College

Chances are, you or your church performs some type of senior recognition at the end of each school year (If not, try organizing one this year). Instead of giving them a certificate or a shiny new Bible, try providing your seniors with books that are designed to help them through the difficult circumstances they may face in college. We suggest “Make College Count” although you may find other resources at your local bookstore or on Amazon. To make it personal, write a personal note of encouragement to each student to be placed on the inside cover of the book. You never know when those kind words could be just what your students need when they are in a dorm room far away from home.

Help Your Students Find Their Identities

The college years are a time of soul searching for all students. Your teenagers will begin to search within themselves for answers to life’s most important questions. They may begin searching for purpose, or may even begin questioning why they believe what they believe. This is a normal part of growing up, but you can help guide them in the right direction by encouraging your teenagers to begin determining who they really are before they exit your youth ministry. Give students your personal phone number to reach you or another youth leader any time with questions or for prayer — even after they have left your ministry.

Conclusion

Ultimately, every teenager in your youth ministry will embark on an independent journey in life. Although we wish the best, we know that everyone makes mistakes. Above all, be loving and patient with previous students throughout their college years. The Bible promises that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it!”

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Nothing will make a teenager yawn faster than hearing you ask them to turn to Leviticus. While it’s no secret that some of the oldest books of the Bible seem less exciting and make less sense to young people than Acts or Romans, those books hold a treasure of scriptures that set the foundation of our faith. So how does a youth pastor making teaching the old testament to teenagers more exciting? Even more, how do you get teenagers to start researching the scriptures themselves?

Fascinate Them

Teenagers like to be wowed. Actually, adults like to be wowed too. As humans, we love the extraordinary – especially when it unfolds right in front of our eyes. Try giving you students a handful of scientific scriptures. Ask them to determine why those scriptures are so significant to us today. For example, in Job 26, scripture says that God hung the Earth on nothing – which proves scientifically correct. But how did Job know this fact? Again, Isaiah states that the Earth is round. Students know the story of Columbus and the general belief that the Earth was flat for thousands of years after Isaiah made his statements.

Answer Their Questions

Because the Old Testament is made up of ancient scripture, many students wonder why certain scrolls made it into the Bible and others did not. What was the process for determining which scriptures were the inspired Word of God, and which ones were not? If Elijah was a man of God, why did he cause 52 boys to be mauled by bears just for calling him “baldy.” Try promoting a series on the Old Testament by encouraging students to write down their questions and put them in a box in the weeks leading up to the series. They will be more likely to show up to services if they are already interested in what you are talking about.

When in Doubt, Get Help

If you need to teach the Old Testament to your youth group, but don’t have the first clue as to where to start, consider using the Rooted youth series. It is a six-week study designed to help teenagers understand the importance of the Old Testament and what it means for us today. It answers all the tough questions for you, including why the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, why the Bible isn’t just another religious book and how the Old Covenant affects our New Covenant. Even more, Rooted explains the difference between the books and divides the Old Testament in to the poetic books, the prophetic books, the Torah and the historical books. The best part? Rooted is about $29, which is less than $5 per lesson – and it’s both downloadable and available by mail. Get it here: Rooted – Old Testament – Download

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The New Year is upon us, and you may be re-evaluating youth ministry in the new year. Perhaps you’re looking for ways to freshen up your ministry, or maybe you need a complete overhaul. Either way, we’ve got some tips for making this year the best year ever for your youth group.

Start the Year with a Bang

As your students come back after Christmas break, don’t wait until school starts to get your youth ministry hopping again. Start the year with a bang by scheduling a New Year’s party. We suggest a new year lock-in. If your church isn’t a good location, do a lock-in at a local gym or a willing volunteer’s home. Schedule a lot of fun lock-in activities. Our picks include a scavenger hunt and a lot of fun Xbox Kinect games. There are a lot of party games for lock-ins, so take a look on Amazon for some deals, as well as a variety of Kinect games.

Get Your Resources in Check

Make sure you’re ready to tackle the new year with your group by getting your resources in check. This means finding a couple of good websites to follow for great ideas, as well as scheduling a couple of youth pastor conferences during the year for refreshers. We also recommend subscribing to a Group Magazine Subscription (1 Year) – 6 Physical Issues. They are full of ideas relevant to today’s youth ministry. You’ll find youth camps, retreat ideas, sermon ideas, volunteer resources and more freebies in their magazine. And at $2.49 an issue, we consider it a bargain.

Try Something New

This year, instead of sticking with the same old tired way of doing ministry, why not beef it up by adding some variety to your services. For example, if in the past you just showed up with a sermon on Wednesday night, why not plan out your entire year by themes. We recommend something different each month. Do a four-week series each month on a particular topic. February is a good time to discuss all things love and dating with teenagers. Other theme ideas include missions, tough issues (depression, divorce, etc), the cross, prayer, honor, and just about any other topic you can think of. Be sure to promote each series with posters, post cards, information on your website, funny skits, media and games. If you have the resources, end each series with a fun event night that kids can bring friends to and you can promote the next series at.

Find Some Filler

Free up your time and reduce stress by anticipating the moments during the year when business can prevent you from having a well-prepared service. Instead of throwing something together or having a game night with no spiritual substance, go ahead and create five or six filler services that are ready when you need them. That way, if you have a family emergency or a busy week at the church, you’ll seem very well prepared despite your lack of time and energy.

Our suggestions for great filler include the Nooma – Nooma Pick 6 from Rob Bell, or one of the Simply Youth Ministry complete sermons from Doug Fields. They add a lot of new sermons throughout the year and are available for immediate download, complete with a message, media and youth outlines. Want some ideas that really make an impact? Try the One Month to Live – Download, which teaches teens about living as though you only had one month left on this Earth.

Renew Your Relationship with Your fVolunteers

Volunteers are the oft-too-forgotten part of our ministries. The simple truth is, they want to be a lot more involved than you think, but they also want to be thanked. Instead of only scheduling volunteer meetings with instructional information, have monthly appreciation gatherings at your home. Try a pot-luck and game night to bond with your team. Pray together, and toss around ideas. They’ll appreciate feeling more a part of the direction of the ministry, rather than a herd of cattle being pushed in a single direction.

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Youth Group Facebook Page Optimization

We just finished discussing in Part One of this two-part post series about how Facebook is one of the biggest tools in your youth ministry arsenal. It is a powerhouse for reaching out to students and parents – whether or not they attend your youth group. You absolutely, 100 percent need a youth group Facebook page. It gives your students a sense of community and a place online to share their experiences, youth group photos and get support from each other. But enough of why you need the page – if you’re reading part two of this series, you already have one and now you just want to know how to get your students active on the page. If you don’t have a page, visit Part One for the set-up tutorial before continuing on this page.

The first step to getting more people active on your youth group’s Facebook page is to get more people to actually like the page. You also need to retain those people and keep them active on the site. If you took our advice in section one, you were able to Create a custom Facebook page in minutes with North Social apps. This is a breeze, because it’s as simple as creating a quick landing page and incentives that gets users to like your page. However, there are more ways:

  • run a Facebook “like” competition (give away a free t-shirt randomly for every 100 likes you receive)
  • create a YouTube channel with recent messages and announcement videos. Link to your Facebook page.
  • Offer special discounts on youth group products and trips for Facebook fans only.
  • Regularly post to your youth group page’s wall about upcoming services – leave cliff hangers that they can only find out the answer to if they attend service
  • Post open questions about how the youth group is affecting your students’ lives
  • Post pictures and videos to the page frequently – tagging students and parents to get them to comment. Not only will they remain active on the page, but their friends will gain exposure to the page as well.
  • Consider running a Facebook ad for your group. Though you may not have the funds to run regular targeted ads to the youth in your community, you may be able to afford an ad for your major events, such as concerts, retreats and guest speakers.

The biggest key is consistency. As you know, consistency with your students breeds trust. The same principle applies to social media. Keep your students and parents interacting with each other regularly. Whether that means posting a daily devotional post or polling your kids about what topic they would like to discuss next in your group, just do something…and do it often.

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If you have a youth ministry, Facebook is probably one of your biggest tools for staying connected to the students you minister to. There are more than 400 million people using Facebook, and for many, it may be their first impression of your youth group. Because the world of social media is constantly evolving, it can be difficult to stay up to speed on Facebook pages, youth group fan pages and how to incorporate your ministry into the middle of it. We’re going to give you some tips for making a custom youth group Facebook page and using it to reach out to your students.

We’re breaking our youth ministry Facebook page tutorial into two parts. This first part will discuss the look of your page. After you finish reading, head over to Make a Custom Youth Group Facebook Page – Part Two, where you’ll learn how to market your page to your students, parents and the students in and around your community that you want to attract to your ministry.

If you haven’t already done so, create a Facebook page for your youth ministry at facebook.com/pages. Update your youth group’s information and add a picture to your page. At this point, you should have a basic youth group Facebook page, and your wall should be the first thing visitors see when they come to your page.

Look to the top of the page for the “edit page” feature. Click it to customize the layout of your page. It is here you can customize

  • Who is allowed to view the page
  • Who can post to it
  • Who may post pictures to your youth group page
  • Who may tag your youth group in other photos
  • And you can also determine how strong of a profanity censorship you would like on your page.

If you have a youth group Twitter account (which we highly recommend), you can link your youth group Facebook page to your Twitter under the Resources tab in the “edit page” feature.

Edit your About section to reflect the thing you want your visitors to see most. Next to your page picture, this is the most visible section of your Facebook page unless you customize it. You about section could include information about service times, an upcoming youth ministry retreat or a link to your youth group website. Make it short and sweet, and also easy read.

If you want to take your page to the next level, with impressive graphics, giant pictures announcing upcoming competitions or events, or by making an professional-looking Facebook landing page with video, polls and tons of other features, you have three options. The first – and most unlikely – is to custom code all of the effects yourself. This is extremely complicated, and the coding changes constantly, as it seems like Facebook updates itself every five minutes. The second option – and most expensive – is to hire a professional to do all the dirty work. But again, this is a large investment and will require ongoing funding to keep the site up to date.

The third option – and most economical- is to use apps to customize your youth group’s Facebook page. This is the secret of major companies and small businesses alike, and now you can harness that power in your youth group’s page. For example, you can Launch a professional Facebook page with North Social apps. It uses a whole slew of apps to customize your group’s page. Examples include apps that can customize your first impression, display a showcase of photos or videos from your last big event, take donations for your ministry, create a map to your next event, and even an app to accept volunteers for your ministry. You can also display a rotating Twitter feed right on your Facebook page.

 

Once you’ve got your Facebook page looking the way you want it to, head over to Part Two, where we’ll teach you how to optimize your Likes and expand your reach to more students in your community using social media. Again, if you are a youth minister of any size group from 2 to 2,000, and you aren’t utilizing Facebook for your ministry, you are grossly underexposing your ministry.

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This is the second year we’ve recommended the Girls of Grace Christian teen girls youth conference. If you’ve been looking for a place to take the girls in your youth ministry to refresh, renew and establish a greater identity in Christ, this is the place. Unfortunately, the Girls of Grace conference is focused predominantly in the Eastern half of the country, so you westerners may have to find another conference to attend unless you want high travel expenses.

Girls of Grace is geared toward teen girls ages 12 to 17, and it focuses on age and gender-appropriate messages that will encourage your teens to create a deep relationship with God. It may also serve as a bonding experience between groups of young females that are prone to cattiness and gossip.

This year’s Girls of Grace conference features Meredith Andrews, Jason Castro, Mia Fieldes, Satellites and Sirens, and of course, Point of Grace. Speakers include wardrobe stylist, Amber Lehman, Chris Wheeler and Constance Rhodes – the founder and CEO of a Christian non-profit that seeks to help women improve a distorted self-image. Leigh Cappillino will also speak, and she uses her own life experience to teach young girls about the value of purity and the importance of avoiding the mistakes and consequences that immorality presents.

Attending the Girls of Grace conference is a great way to have a lasting impact on a teenage girl’s most formidable years. Some of the worst experiences  can be traced back to a woman’s teen years, and Girls of Grace seeks to improve a struggling self-image, morale and confidence when it matters most. Though the conference is currently only active in four locations, the goal is to eventually operate between 10 and 15 conferences a year.

The 2011 Girls of Grace conference schedule starts on October 1st in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, followed by Jacksonville, Florida on the 15th. The conference then travels to Birmingham, Alabama on October 29th before rounding out the schedule on November 12th in Wyoming, Michigan. For more information on how you and your daughter or group can attend the Girls of Grace conference, as well as conference locations and ticket reservations, visit GirlsOfGrace.com.

And if you decide to go, we would love to hear about your first-hand experience back here on the Minister to Youth website. Feel free to email the site administrator with testimonials or photos from your experience. We may publish your story on the website!

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Criticism. It’s an ugly word that no one wants to use, but every one seems to participate in at some level. Criticism is the greatest tool that the enemy can use to wreak havoc on your youth ministry, church, family and any other area of your life. Now, we aren’t talking about constructive criticism – you, know, the kind that uplifts, encourages and gently corrects in love. Rather, we’re talking about the judgmental, back-stabbing, hurtful, mean-spirited, gossip-fodder thoughts that others have about us and each other.

Now, may be criticism isn’t a problem in your youth ministry. Maybe all of your teens are thriving and growing in the Lord, all the while learning to edify each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. If not, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. You see, criticism isn’t just a “teenager thing.” It isn’t excusable. Instead, it has the potential to stir up feelings of rejection, anger and resentment for the teens on the receiving in. No one wants to be a part of a group where they don’t feel at home.

So how do you address criticism in your youth ministry? We have some thoughts.

  • Dedicate a youth service to teaching your teens about Christ’s love in action. Talk about how the pharisees controlled the temple like bullies on a playground – bashing and scheming against Christ in a hateful way. Discuss the ways of Christ and how he ministered to and loved on people who the Jews would have looked down upon during that time. Ask the teens to reflect on the people in their lives who have been pharisees and talk about how they’ve felt when wrongfully judged. Teach them how to forgive their accusers. Then turn the tables. Ask the same teenagers how they think they may have been the pharisee to another person by using criticism and gossip to hurt them. Show them that they can change by repentance.
  • Lead by example. Yes, we’re pretty sure you  don’t criticize your teens or talk badly about anyone else in front of them. But, perhaps you could do a better job of encouraging them. Show teenagers that their words are powerful – not only when used negatively – but also when used positively. The Bible says that our tongues are capable of speaking life. Become a ball of encouragement who constantly uplifts, compliments and encourages everyone around you. Others will pick up on your edification, and the teens you lead will mirror your example.

 

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So many times as youth pastors and leaders, we try so hard to balance a work and home life that should come naturally to us. We visit youth conferences, read books and try everything in our own power to connect with teens in the newest, most relavant ways, while still fiercly guarding our private life. While you seem to be doing everything right on paper, maybe your youth ministry isn’t thriving in quite the way you have envisioned it to. The problem more than likely has little to do with your cutting edge services, a disorganized youth leadership team or a sub-par youth facility. The problem is probably your accessibility to the teenagers you so desperately wish to influence with the love of God. So how do you make yourself more accessible to teens as a youth pastor, leader or mentor?

The Human Factor

Because teenagers seem to be from another planet at times, we are often guilty of trying to be too much like them in order to relate to them. Though be relative is good with moderation, it is probably one of the least successful ways to make yourself accessible to a teen in your youth group. Think of it this way – your modern and culture-sensitive services, sermons and events are great for ATTRACTING your teens to church. Unfortunately, they do little to nothing for CONNECTING with those same teens to get them to stick around.

You see, whether they act like it or not, all teenagers are human in every sense of the word. That means that like you and me, they crave love and trust in their relationships with others. They easily see through a cheesy youth pastor façade, no matter how good your intentions are. They want to know you care. They want to know they can trust you. They want to feel as if your attention is genuine, rather than a part of your job description.

So How Do You Make a Connection?

Well, how do you connect with your friends? Yes, I know that you aren’t seeking the same type of friendship with your teens as you have with the adults you spend quality time with, but the same principles apply. Try to stop viewing each teenager that walks through the door as a task or goal. While it is important to keep each teen’s best spiritual interests at heart, try just building an authentic relationship with each student with complete sincerety and candid conversations. Make each student feel comfortable, and try to avoid jumping at the chance to give instruction or tell as student what he or she “should” be doing unless asked. As you build your relationships, their hearts will open to you and be more susceptible to your wisdom in their lives.

Remember, as the old saying goes, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Try having individual conversations with your teens on a regular basis. Meet with them. This is where relativism works. If you are reaching out to a highschool football player, go watch his game and take him out for pizza afterwards. If your teens are musicians, try hanging with them in a hip coffeehouse. Open your home to junior high students to come camp out in your backyard. If you are a woman reaching out to teen girls, take a couple to get a manicure with you before their prom. Whatever you do, be actively involved in their lives, and above all, be yourself.

Remember, though we think we can change students with our infinite wisdom about adolescent volatility and our many years of experience, true and lasting change comes from the work the Holy Spirit does in each life that comes through your ministry. You simply facilitate that change by loving on the teens you are called to serve.

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New Product - Live Curriculum - Doug Fields' 4-Yea

The Live Curriculum available from Simply Youth Ministry is rapidly growing in popularity. At first glance, it looks like another youth curriculum program with a few bells and whistles. However, we’ve recently taken an in-depth look at the program to bring you a Live Curriculum review that will answer your questions and help you make a decision as to whether or not the program is right for your youth ministry.

About Live

First and foremost, we have to note that the Live Curriculum is not something you want to use for your regular group youth service. Instead, the program is designed to streamline either your small group or Sunday school lessons that are usually taught by your youth leaders. That being said, most successful youth ministries have some sort of small group gatherings on a regular basis, and we at Minister to Youth believe that those gatherings are vital to creating solid relationships and foundations in ministry.

Live works off of a 36-week year, assuming that many youth groups postpone small groups during the 12 weeks of summer and during the holidays. However, pastors can organize and edit the lessons as they see fit. The lessons are age-appropriate and are designed to build upon each other over time. Essentially, you can plan your lessons for up to 4 years, or 144 weeks in advance from anywhere, anytime. For an example, SYM’s chart below provides an example of the lessons and the order you can teach them in:

New Product! Live Curriculum – Doug Fields’ 4-Year Small Group Curriculum!

Easy Features

A purchase of Live comes with one to two years of access to the online tool where you set up what your leaders see. Each leader can log-in with permissions to view your customizable master calendar, view the lesson plan for the week, and view any notes you place in the leader’s news feed. From the dashboard, you can also send out pre-written parent emails about the week’s topic, and if you are a Simply TXT user, that program is fully integrated with the Live Curriculum as well, allowing you to effectively send out reminders to your leaders and students.

Portability

We have to say, this is our favorite feature about the Live Curriculum. Simply Youth Ministry recently released an incredibly cool iPhone and iPad app that finally brings youth ministry into today’s technology. You can view entire lessons on your screen without carrying around your bulky laptop. Oh, and did we mention that this app is FREE? We’ve provided screen shots below. Oh, and if you aren’t an iPhone or iPad owner, the Live Curriculum is soon to launch an Android app as well.

iPhone iTouch Log-In Screen

Time

The fine people over at Simply Youth Ministry do more than help youth pastors minister to students – they also minister to youth pastors. They have research that suggests that the connectivity and fluidity of the Live Curriculum will improve a youth pastor’s effectiveness by more than 73 percent. And it makes sense too; having a 6-year road map of lessons gives pastors more time for what’s important – connecting with students.

Customization

There is nothing worse than feeling tied down to a curriculum or series that you don’t really want to teach or you don’t feel is a good fit for your youth ministry. We like that the Live Curriculum offers both junior high and high school options to choose from, and that the lessons are editable to your discretion. For an example of how to edit a lesson, you can watch the following demonstration:

YouTube Preview Image

Conclusion

Our final conclusion of the Live Curriculum is very positive. Though we can think of a few things to improve upon (for example, we think leaders should have access to the online tool for the length of their Live Curriculum usage), we found few things to deter us from recommending the program to youth pastors. We even consider the $249 and $499 prices to be quite modest considering what’s included…all of the organization and full lesson plans come out to less than $3.50 per lesson. To us, $3.50 is worth about 7 minutes of our time on a good day, so unless you find it easy to write a quality lesson plan and organize it for your leaders in 7 minutes or less, chances are it’s a good value for you too. And better yet, you don’t have to put together a small group lesson for 2 to 4 years.

To purchase Live Curriculum, or try it for FREE, choose which version you want to learn more about below:

High School Live Curriculum

Jr High Live Curriculum

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s the one day every 365 days that we lavish our love and affection on another person with cheesy gifts and expensive dinners. Teens buy into the hype as well, and this time of year is perfect for talking to youth about sex. We know what you’re thinking – why me? Why put you in a room full of giggly students to talk about the most uncomfortable and least talked about subject in church? Well, because it’s just that – the least talked about subject in church. And teenagers need a Godly perspective on the topic.

Teens face sexualized media, music, movies and are surrounded by hundreds of hormone-driven students everyday at school. The problem isn’t teaching them about sex, rather, it’s teaching them about God’s plan for sex in their lives. Many youth pastors choose to take the entire month of February to focus on dating, sex and purity.

Valentine’s Day Backgrounds – Download

Just this month, Youth Ministry 360 released an incredible resource for youth pastors doing just that. Instead of fumbling through a hand made series for your group, they have put together the Live Different series pack, complete with 4 weeks of lessons on sex and holiness. It comes with two media videos, parent resources to involve families in the series, male/female small group discussions, digital banners for your website or Facebook page, student handouts, PowerPoint guides and promotional art to put up in your youth room or church. Below is an excerpt from the overview of the first lesson in Live Different:

Today’s teenager lives in a hyper-sexualized society. And while sexual immorality has plagued humankind
virtually forever, we seem to be in the midst of an age where the glamorization of sex is unprecedented. Teenagers are
bombarded by messages about sex and sexual behavior. What does our culture say to teenagers about sex? Culture says
sex is part of who you are, and that a teenager’s sexuality is simply one facet of his or her identity. Culture says sexual
expression is an important aspect of being young. But most importantly, culture says that sex between two consenting
teenagers is OK, if not normal. As long as sex is not coercive, marriage, and maybe even love, doesn’t really matter. The
problem is that this flies in the face of how the Bible talks about sex and sexual expression. It’s imperative that teenagers
learn God’s intention for how they are to make choices about sex and sexuality. This first lesson in Live Different helps
students understand the biblical context for sex and its expression.


Live Different by Youth Ministry 360 Now Available

If you want to take the traditional route and create your own message or youth sermon series, check out our previous post on teaching kids about Love, Dating and Sex. In it, we tell you how to put together a series that teens will never forget.

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No church or youth ministry with more than five people runs effectively without the help of volunteers. You’ve got to be able to not only recruit willing volunteers, but also get the right ones. You want people who WANT to work, not begrudgingly take the job because no one else will. You have to interview all youth ministry or church volunteers thoroughly before giving them a position, no matter how desperate you are to fill it. If you don’t, you risk a burnt-out volunteer staff and a lot of headaches and disorganization later on.

Application

Start with a volunteer application and background check. You can save or print our FREE sample youth ministry volunteer application here.

Interview

When you interview a potential volunteer, be sure to appear relaxed and comfortable. Introduce yourself well, and explain who you are. Talk about familiar things outside of church as well, like family and your hobbies.

  • Ask the applicant about his or her home life. It is a great indicator of how well he or she leads or reacts to authority.
  • Discuss the applicant’s hobbies – you can find out a lot about a person by the type of music or movies they listen to or watch.
  • Ask about the applicant’s spiritual life? Does he or she have an accountability partner?
  • Ask about the applicant’s ministry experience. What does he or she expect to contribute, and what does he or she expect from the leadership?
  • Finally, run a background check to make a decision about whether or not the applicant should serve in ministry.

Introduction to Ministry

Provide the new volunteer with a packet of information discussing your expectations of the volunteer, including what time the volunteer should be at services and events, appropriate attire and acceptable conduct. Let the volunteer come and observe services or the department he or she may be working in.

Training

You must train your volunteers. Many youth pastors find that they are great at leading youth, but terrible at organizing, delegating and training adults. If you are one of those youth pastors or you simply don’t have the time to put together a leadership training curriculum, try out Doug Fields’ Downloadable Training Sessions for Adult Volunteers –
Must Haves of Leading Students – Download
. You get four sessions, each of which lasts a brief 30 to 40 minutes and discusses topics such as leading small groups and building relationships with students.

Evaluate

Aside from the background check, this is the most important part of obtaining a new volunteer, and yet also the most neglected. You MUST follow up approximately two to three months after hiring a new volunteer. Find out how the department is working, what hang ups are going on and whether or not the volunteer is happy serving there. This is how you prevent the dreaded volunteer burn-out.

Must Haves of Leading Students - Download

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