the ys middle school ministry summit took place at spring hill camp in evart, michigan, in mid-september. 45 paid junior high or middle school-only youth workers attended. these are the mostly unedited notes. remember, they’re notes on a dialogue of 45 voices, not a refined set of ideas…
JR. HIGH MISSIONS:
“Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Clayborn (great book)
Why? What are you trying to accomplish? What’s appropriate or not? Guidelines/Rules? Suggestions?
1. Marko – The experience of learning. It is the reversal of the train. There is nothing that brings about more intense sustained spiritual growth in a shorter period of time than Mission Trips.
2. The value beyond the immediate face value is given their developmental stage, they are so naturally self-focused, they think they are the center of the world, and to provide any opportunity to get the focus off of themselves does wonders for their world-view. Mission trips are opportunity for radical world-view reshaping.
3. It is a tangible application of faith – seeing the big picture and applying what is going on.
4. Reinforce what you do in the summer on a regular basis.
5. Huge transformation.
6. Teach them Christianity is not about self-improvement, but about self-sacrifice. We want them to start grasping that.
7. With mission trips, it is a smaller group, so you can build deeper relationships and be more real with them.
8. There is something different about a camp (hanging together) and serving together. Living the gospel together. The comradery that is built doing something of service together.
9. Lives are changed on mission trips – lives of others and lives of our own kids.
10. We are trying to meet a need.
11. There is a LOT that we all can learn from other people.
What are we trying to accomplish?
1. We are trying to meet a need and not just “use” someone for your own benefit.
2. Living the gospel, and to learn this in order to be practiced for the rest of their lives.
3. To actually serve, have the chance to make an impact somewhere.
4. Every student to realize that you are a missionary – wherever you are!!!
5. Idea: Reach Beyond goal for each small group.
6. Are we trying to build a summer around it, or are you doing it because you have to do it?
7. Idea; Starter trip – divide by grades.
Marko – won’t take Jr. Highers on a plane. This can change their motivation. Anything we do, we drive. Therefore, he won’t take any Jr. Highers on an international mission trip. The plane makes it seem too adventurous and takes away from the serving aspect of the trip.
I used a tiered approach for them in serving. Starting with something small and local, then bigger, then bigger during their Jr. High years.
What’s appropriate and what’s not?
1. Liz – I don’t want to stay overnight (on the way) or fly.
2. Mark – 7th and 8th graders in Mexico seem too much for me… I would like to hear more about that.
3. Significant training is important. (application process, training meetings, etc.)
4. Give them boundaries and expectations
5. Be willing to say “no” to a kid going on a trip, and give them other opportunities they can have to serve during the year.
6. Hit and Run missions isn’t appropriate — teaches our kids the wrong things. Must partner with a ministry who has a presence, and serve them. Book recommendation: Serving with Eyes Wide Open
One more question: How do we transfer the fantastic experience and learning from a trip into life back home?
1) Doing debrief times every day – what did God show you today? What does that mean for you personally?
2) Keep the serving going – keep opportunities for them to go. Don’t make it a one-hit wonder, but keep their passion.
3) Plug them in to places where they can serve in ministry weekly. Serving is serving!!!
4) Have the small groups do something so everyone is doing something at least one time during the year.
5) Mission Trip reunions – where students and parents are invited together to share stories, etc. This also reminds the kids of what happened.
6) Talk about it in your teaching and encourage them.
7) Get students to share their testimonies of what they experienced.
WORKING WITH AND TRAINING VOLUNTEERS:
Current Reality of the issues we are in with volunteers:
1. Not enough volunteers
2. Empowering volunteers
3. Overcommitted, late, and irresponsible
5. Constant Communication
6. Ways to encourage them
7. Coaching and managing
8. Getting rid of leaders
9. Motivating and Encouraging
11. “Big Church” supporting volunteers
12. Caring for Volunteers
13. Building community
14. Reasonable expectations
15. Adult vs. Younger Volunteers
We need to constantly be challenging parents to step up.
RECRUITING: – Incredibly difficult. It is not easy at all.
1. Asking current volunteers to recruit for you
2. Praying Them In
3. Have the kids ask potential volunteers to work with the group.
4. “Junior High Ministry” by Wayne Rice, Chapter 1, is great for selling the vision.
5. Ask people who you come in contact with – and spread out to other parts of the church to try and recruit.
6. “educate” adults on the importance of being a volunteer and the need for them.
7. Give them the open letter that JH Pastor’s Summit wrote (search on marko’s blog or YS website) that makes the case for Jr. High ministry in about 3 pages.
8. Give them a job description so that they know exactly what it is they are stepping into.
9. Have a dynamic small group leader give a testimony in the service about how the ministry impacted them.
10. Remember you don’t want to just fill slots with a warm body. This is CRAZY hard because there is a constant battle to fill the spots so the ministry can happen. But this could be more damaging in the long run.
11. Sometimes there are SO many ministries that need volunteers that to convince someone to take the position of Jr. High volunteer is difficult.
BALANCING BETWEEN ENCOURAGING THEM AND TRAINING THEM:
Our two most basic roles is encouraging them and training them. What do we do? Where is the balance?
1. Tyler – We have a 6-week process to become a volunteer leader. It is a hard to get in, easy to get out process. 2 interviews, a couple applications, and 2 weeks of observation.
2. Many of us do monthly training meetings.
3. Others do a conference at the beginning of the school year, with training and seminars for both new leaders and returning leader. Then they do quarterly meetings. Also do weekly emails with information for that week, training, encouragement, etc. They do this offsite. They charge leaders $20 for it, but that includes lodging, meals, and material. If leaders want their own room, then it is $120. They say that this is mandatory for all leaders – but this is hard to enforce. They do make it at a fun place, though, which is enticing. Then there is a make-up meeting for those who couldn’t make it.
4. An annual retreat (offsite) is KEY for leaders.
5. Invite spouses to go on the retreat with to encourage the family nature, and helps the leaders desire to go. The spouses often enjoy the time as well.
6. Have a reason behind your meetings. Don’t just meet for the sake of meeting and nothing more.
7. Communicating via email.
8. Meeting quickly before or after a Jr. High ministry event
9. Pour into their lives.
10. Find other adults whose purpose and job is to encourage the volunteer leaders.
11. Pray for your leaders and let them know you are praying for them. When their birthday comes, make sure to acknowledge that. Give leaders a free item each week from the ministry (candy bar, soda, etc.), give them gift cards.
12. Throughout the year observe them doing something great, then at the end of the year have a rally for the leaders. Read off a paragraph of what was noticed in them during the year. This takes a lot of time, but this is more than just a simple gift that was purchased. The leaders love it.
13. Quarterly meetings, but we started adding in cook-outs. Not so much training, but keeping the leader involved relationally.
14. Commissioning time and prayer time over the leaders at the beginning of the year to send them off to minister to the kids.
15. Take them to an event/training session. This makes a HUGE difference in their lives.
16. Spend a good portion of your budget on your volunteers!!! Without them, the ministry can’t happen – so don’t go cheap with them.
WHAT ARE NON-NEGOTIABLES IN OUR TRAINING:
1. Abuse reporting procedures, and information such as this. This has to be a part of the original training.
2. Good touch vs. Bad touch
3. Give the volunteers an idea of who they are ministering to (culturally)
4. Teach the leaders how to lead a kid to Christ.
5. What is “success” as a leader, what does a good small group look like, etc. Set up the expectations from the beginning.
6. Answer some “what-ifs” that they might encounter.
7. Set up a mock-scenario of a small group with different type of kids in the small group. Have the leaders act it out, trying to lead that group.
8. Get them knowledgeable about today’s youth culture.
9. The Vision and Values of your youth ministry – you have to be on the same page and heading the same direction from the start.
10. Let them know the “why” to all the programs that we do.
11. Keep it FUN
HOW DO YOU BUILD A CULTURE OF YOUTH WORKERS WITH DEEP RELATIONSHIPS:
1. Empower them to do ministry.
2. There is SO much power in cooking meals together – being somewhere where you prepare the meal together, not just order pizza.
HOW DO WE MOVE SOMEONE OFF OF BEING A LEADER:
1. Keep notes and documentation of what the problems are.
2. Regularly talk to the leaders about what they are doing wrong and don’t wait until the “big bang”
3. What about a situation where you inherited some leaders who love the kids and feel called to serve, but they don’t just get it and the kids just don’t respond to them??? How do you negotiate those situations?
a. Sign a covenant, meet with them regularly (like in a job review), to continually evaluate how things are going. Each time they meet they set up a small task for the leader, as well as answer questions and address any evaluation.
b. Find another area where they could serve in your ministry that is a better fit for them.