It’s an argument as old as church itself — when is the best time to hold youth service? After all, you want to leverage your time to be appealing to both parents and teens, but you may not want to interfere with family time or other events. There are very good arguments for many different times to have youth services. Though it is impossible for everyone to agree, we here at M2Y have compiled some information that may help you in making your decision. But remember, ultimately you will need to make a decision that works best according to your personal and church schedule.

Single Youth Services vs. Multiple Weekly Services

In planning the time of week for youth services, few youth pastors are lucky enough to pick a time without encountering concerns, complaints or downright opposition from staff members, parents, and the worst — senior staff members who are also parents. If your plotted time doesn’t bode well with everyone, the people-pleaser in you may decide it’s best to hold multiple weekly services. And that’s okay…if, and only if you have the time, energy, support and dedication to pour into your teens and services whole-heartedly more than once every seven days. Coasting by isn’t going to cut it, and your teens will notice if you are showing up with poorly prepared messages or sloppy planning. In our opinion, do one thing and do it right. If you are doing your job well and not ‘running on fumes’, others will adapt their schedules to fit yours.  On the other hand, if you are overflowing with helpful adult leadership and have more than enough time to hold multiple weekly services (we call you the one percent around here), then go for it!

Breaking it Down – Day by Day

Sunday Morning

Many churches adopt Sunday morning youth services, though we here at M2Y only recommend them for Sunday School purposes and in addition to another main youth service. The truth is that teens don’t like getting up early and are less likely to attend Sunday morning – especially if they do not attend church with their families. Also, teenagers are old enough and fully capable of worshipping with adults in the main Sunday morning service.

Sunday Night

Sunday night is a popular night for youth services and is also one of our favorites. The reason? Kids have had time to unwind after a week of school and are less likely to have homework than they are on Wednesday nights or prior plans than they are on Saturday nights. Plus, youth service is fresh on their minds after being reminded at Sunday morning church service. The downside? They have school the next day and parents may want to reserve Sundays for family night.

Wednesday Night

Wednesdays are perhaps the most popular night of all for youth services, but why? More and more churches are getting away from mid-week services due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, they are opting for a small group format that seems to work well and also foster relationship among church members. Kids often have after-school commitments, sporting events, and homework that gets in the way of regular Wednesday attendance. If you are itching for a mid-week gathering, try a small group format, fellowship or Bible study.

Saturday Night

Like Sunday nights, Saturdays are popular nights for youth service – especially among larger churches. Our advice? Go with a Saturday service if you have a youth ministry that your teens are itching to come to week after week. There’s no school the next day, and you’ll benefit when teens are at church rather than hanging out late into the night without adult supervision. Keep in mind, however, that Saturday nights are sacred to most teenagers. If your youth services aren’t up to par – they probably won’t show up. It’s nothing personal, except that their social lives are a high priority (right up there with breathing and sleep).

 

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Welcome to 2012, the time when more and more people (specifically young people) are attending church online. Whether you agree with it or not, the fact is — it’s happening. But instead of fighting it by trying to push teens through the door every Sunday or Wednesday, take advantage of it. This is a whole new opportunity to reach the teens in and around your community. No, that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for your students to just stop showing up. But, rather, you can market this as an outreach to your closest mission field.

Assuming you have a youth group website or church website, (if not — stop now, and set up Easy Web Hosting $6.95) you have the power to drive students and parents to the site, and eventually through your doors using podcasting or, preferrably, video streaming. The beauty of live video streaming is in the connections. You can link to archives of previous youth services, as well as announcements or worship. These videos are easily linked to from your Facebook page, where students may choose to share the videos with other friends who, perhaps, do not currently attend your services.

If other students in your community start watching your services online, you may not see their faces personally at first, but after a few weeks of watching, don’t be surprised if some start showing up in person — especially when you host special event nights..

Cheap Video Streaming

It’s no secret that youth groups are on a budget. The cheapest (Read: FREE) way to video stream is by recording your services, and then posting them to YouTube. As you well know, YouTube videos are easily linked on Facebook, and they can be embedded into your website with some simple HTML code that you get right from the YouTube website once your video has been uploaded. You can start acquiring channel subscribers on YouTube who return to watch additional messages, skits, etc. in the future.

If you would rather produce higher quality videos that look professional, you can use a video streaming services, or learn more about online streaming with a written guide. There are several of them out there. Check your local book store, or if you have the patience to wait two days for shipping, you could probably save a lot of money ordering through Amazon. The Streaming Media Bible is a great option, although there are many products that could help your stream cast your church services.

It’s All About the Kids

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the students in your community ever darken your youth ministry doors. What does matter is that they get to know and accept Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. You could be the very person who helps change their lives the most, and not even know it.

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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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Getting started in youth ministry is hard enough with a large support system, lots of kids and plenty of funding. But what about starting a youth ministry in a small church? You typically have only a fraction – if any – of the resources of larger churches, and it is highly likely that you have only a handful of teenagers actively attending church services. So what’s a youth pastor to do?

Embrace your weaknesses. So many youth pastors look at small space, small resources and a small gathering as a bad thing. Instead, we say turn it around to your benefit. Exploit the benefits of an intimate setting to your teens. If you don’t have the money to deck out your youth room, why not hold your service at a volunteer’s home a couple of times each month. The setting will be more relaxed and comfortable, and meeting in a home will help build camaraderie between the students during the early stages of starting a youth ministry in a small church. As your group begins to grow, attend youth conferences together and hold frequent fundraisers to help pay for a youth room. If you assemble the group carefully, you’ll end up with a thriving group of kids more interested in hanging out and worshiping together than a flashy youth room with all the bells and whistles.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is competing with larger churches in your town with greater resources and a larger population of students. If there is a church in town that does a big event once a year for back to school or Halloween that thousands of people attend, don’t try to throw together your own gathering the same night and expect your students to attend your function. If they do attend, they will do so reluctantly because all of their friends are at the other function. On the other hand, if you ask the youth minister of the other church how you can help with the event, your kids will get excited feeling like they get to be a part of a group event. Also, it’s good to show students that you can work together as the body of Christ without having to adhere to the borders we draw between church lines.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t spend all your time worried about what you don’t have. Instead, focus your time and energy on what you do have. While you should always be dreaming and planning for the future, love, attention and the support of volunteers and church members are the only vital resources you need to get started in youth ministry.

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Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking about youth pastor conferences 2012? Maybe you’re back for more because you visited one of the Youth Pastor Conferences we recommended in a previous post. Or maybe you are new to youth ministry and need some ideas for getting your church group on the road to success. Just like before, we narrowed down our recommendations for the best youth ministry conferences around for 2012. Take a look at each one to see which one fits your needs best. All will attempt to help you grow as a youth minister, and the encouragement you leave with will spill over into your ministry to touch the hearts and lives of the teens you minister to. And while you’re waiting for the next conference, get a nice refresher with Scott Aughtmon’s AWESOME e-book, Lasting Student Ministry. We like to think of it as a youth conference in a box.

  • Orange Conference known as OC12, April 25 – 27, 2012 in Atlanta - this conference is gaining steam among youth workers. It always features functional and practical breakout workshops on topics that matter to youth pastors. Some of our favorites from the past covered topics like planning for youth group Sunday, motivating youth group volunteers, using social media for your ministry connections, dealing with special needs and a number of other subjects. Registration is already open and starts at $239 for an individual or $219 for groups. Check it out at WhatIsOrange.org
  • Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 known as SYMC 2012, March 2 – 5 in Louisville – perhaps the most well-known of all youth pastor conferences, this one will knock your socks off. It is associated with Group publishing and Simply Youth Ministry and is absolutely top of the line. It’s great for networking and learning about the latest in youth ministry software and trends, such as the ever-popular Live Curriculum. 2012 conference speakers include Francis Chan, Matt McCage, Duffie Robbins, Tim Schmoyer and loads more. You’ll also be entertained by Shane and Shane, The Skit Guys and Jeremy Camp.  Check it out at SimplyYouthMinistry.com
  • National Youth Workers Convention 2012 known as NYWC 2012 – The dates and conferences prices aren’t yet published for this conference, but it isn’t one to be missed. It typically takes place in a couple of cities between end of September and mid-November, with registration opening sometime at the end of July. NYWC is all about refreshing youth pastors with the rest and encouragement they need. Yes, you’ll still get equipped for ministry through the main sessions and countless breakout workshops (for 2011 they had 80!), but you’ll also get to hang out with a lot of other people who do the same thing you do. NYWC also features late night comedy and hang-out time, so you don’t want to miss this one. Check it out at NYWC.com
  • Unleash Conference at New Spring Church, March 8, 2012 in Anderson, South Carolina – this is a one day youth pastor conference in 2012 located a couple hours north of Atlanta. It packs a full conference into a one-day event for the youth pastor on a budget or time crunch. Registration is super cheap – starting at $49 for the early bird rate – and the conference is beneficial for all church leaders, rather than just youth pastors. Check it out at Unleash.cc
  • Youth Pastor Summit 2012, March 5-6 in Orlando – this one is a lot of fun. Yes, it’s in Orlando, so it’s a great excuse to slip over to Disney or Universal theme parks for some fun. Best of all, it’s free. The conference is located at both the Hard Rock LIVE in the Universal theme parks and at First Baptist Orlando. The first day of the conference features morning sessions, free lunch from ChickFilA and live bands. You’ll then have the afternoon and evening to enjoy in the Universal Studios theme park for free. Day two features more sessions and some praise and worship. No doubt you’ll leave refreshed. Check it out at StudentLeadership.net.
  • Seeds Conference 2012, March 7 – 9 in Tulsa – Seeds is a really state-of-the-art conference for the entire church staff. Church on the Move used to do multiple conferences for each ministry of the church, and then decided to combine them all into one superconference with separate tracks for youth ministers, childrens pastors, lead pastors, etc.  Check it out at SeedsConference.com

For more youth pastor resources, check out Teen Life Ministries (lessons, small group studies, devotionals, discussion starters). And if you’re ministry could use a little help in the media department, take a look at Christian Teen World. For a low monthly fee, you get access to two sermons per week, an archive full of over 100 previous messages, teacher lesson outlines, student lesson outlines, fully illustrated powerpoints to go along with each lesson, group icebreakers, handouts, lessons on incorporating social media into your ministry, wallpapers, classroom materials and more. We highly recommend it – especially if you aren’t a full time youth pastor or need help due to time issues.

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So it’s already time to throw your teenagers a group Christmas party and you don’t know how you’re going to top last year’s gathering. You’ve already exhausted the white elephant game and you can only handle watching Elf so many times. What’s a person to do? Well, there’s always Holiday Charades and the traditional Christmas trivia, but how can you spice it up…as in, keep your teenagers awake and participating? Well, we’d like to think we’ve assembled a pretty great list of Christmas party game ideas here…feel free to read through them and add your own ideas at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our first post about planning a Christmas party from last year.

Christmas Carol Karaoke

Grab a karaoke machine and start playing your favorite holiday tunes. Whether it’s a solo competition, group style or lip synching, judge each performance on a scale of  one to five, with one being a “lump of cole,” two being a  “fruit cake,” three being an “ugly Christmas sweater,” four being a “cup of hot chocolate” and five being a “new iPad under your Christmas tree.” Well, you get the point. Just make it fun.

Holiday Costume Party

Remember that candy-induced holiday just a few weeks back? What was the name of that again? Oh yeah, Halloween. Here’s a thought…why only dress up for Halloween? Why don’t you host a holiday costume party and tell everyone to come dressed as their favorite holiday character. The possibilities are endless. From Santa and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, to the Grinch and Scrooge, the possibilities are endless. And it’s just one more way to spice up your Christmas party.

Human Christmas Tree

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need further elaboration, here it goes. Pick a few teens to “decorate” as human Christmas trees. Divide a group of kids into teams of five and hand them a strand of Christmas lights, tinsel, garland, ornaments and popcorn strands to decorate their “trees.” Put two minutes on the clock and have them light up their trees at the end. Take a vote on the best trees and hand out awards.

Did you like this post? Let others know about it. Share us on Facebook. And while you’re at it, subscribe to our blog’s rss feed for regular updates. And feel free to share more of your own ideas for Christmas party games for teenagers in the comments section below.

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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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