Lessons from “The Core” training

Yesterday I attended Youth Specialties’ “The CORE” youth workers seminar with a couple volunteers from Redeemer. We had a good time and came away with a lot of new insights, ideas, and tools for effective ministry. I personally walked away with four challenges.

1. I need to find a way to spend less time in the office and more time on student’s turf.
It’s so easy to spend most of my time in the office planning events, preparing Bible lessons, and envisioning the future direction of the ministry that all my time becomes consumed with that and the actual students themselves are neglected. Although I have a lot preparation work to finish for Acquire The Fire and summer camp, this week of spring break is the perfect time to start balancing office time and student time. There’s one student in particular I feel I need to devote most of my one-on-one time towards.

2. Youth group needs to be a more emotional place than it currently is.
Students can be very emotional people. They are drawn to having different emotions stirred through mediums such as movies, music, and even to the extreme of sex, drugs, and alcohol. By nature I am not a very emotional person, so how I run a youth ministry tends to follow my personality in this respect, but somehow it needs to change. I’m not talking about tear-jerking stories, emotional experiences meetings or guild-laden tactics, but a balanced element of some kind where there is more emotional involvement than there is now. Exactly what this is supposed to look like for us, I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ll keep thinking about it and see what the Lord brings to mind.

3. I need to spend less time thinking, “What should I teach them?” and more time thinking, “How can I get to know them better?”
Back to the first lesson I mentioned, I probably spend too much time in my office thinking how I can most effectively communicate whatever they need to know and at the same time meet their perceived and actual needs. Although this is important and necessary, equally as important is knowing the students on a daily, personal, individual basis. Again, this is another area where I need more balance. I need to remind myself again that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

4. Our youth room needs to resemble a place of belonging.
Our youth room isn’t that bad, but it could use a lot of work. We have two couches, a ping-pong table, foosball table, a TV, and a bunch of deflated bean-bag chairs. The kids and myself have talked a lot about remodeling it, but we’ve never acted on our dream for the room. I think now that this is probably more important than I originally thought. These kids need a place where they can take ownership and shape however they want, to create their own place of belonging in the church.

Posted on March 12, 2006

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