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Dealing with email: 13 rules for getting less email

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. One of the things that frustrates almost all of us I think, is our email inbox that just never seems to get empty. No matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, it just keeps filling up. I want to give you some advice for dealing with your email in two posts and today we’ll start with one very obvious, but often overlooked solution: getting less email.

Have you ever realized that you can influence the amount of emails you get? It’s no rocket science, I guarantee you. The amount of email you receive is for instance directly related to the amount of emails you sent, but it’s also dependent on some other actions on your part. Have you ever taken a critical look at your own email habits to see what it is you do that causes your inbox to get flooded?

There are things you can do to ensure getting less email

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How to know if you have the gift of preaching

This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth. Let’s start with making something very clear: there’s no such thing in the Bible as the gift of preaching. There is however the gift of teaching, which is mentioned several times. Let’s start with clarifying what we mean by preaching and by teaching.

Do you love explaining the Bible to others, kids, teens, or adults? You may just have the gift of teaching.

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Leading on full: filling up your tank

The Germans call it an ‘Aha-Erlebnis’, the moment a certain truth or insight hits you. It’s that moment when all of a sudden something makes sense and you ‘get it’. I had such an Aha-Erlebnis at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit a couple of years ago listening to Hawaiian pastor Wayne Cordeiro speaking on ‘Leading on Empty’. He was talking about his burnout and the factors leading to it. And what he was saying about the absolute necessity of ‘filling up your tank’ before it’s empty, connected with me.

What fills your tank, what gives you energy?

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Peer groups and peer influence: does it matter?

A youth ministry friend of mine wrote me with the following question:

How much does peer group matter and can we overcome the ‘problem’ of not having a peer group within our small youth group? We have a group of about 6 or 7 from age 11-16 and none of them really relate very well to each other, despite most of them having been in the same church most of their lives!

It’s a good question, so let’s look at peer groups and peer influence and how important this is to teens.

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Creating unity in your youth group: is it possible?

I recently wrote a post on creating unity in your small group in which I shared some things you can do to promote unity in your small group. It was picked up by Church Leaders and Terrace Crawford promoted it with a tweet. That got a reaction from Paul Sheneman. His view: unity isn’t a technicality issue. And he’s right of course, unity isn’t something you can create by following certain steps. Or let me put it this way: following certain steps isn’t a guarantee for unity in your youth group. There’s is no five-step program that results in unity. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Is it possible to create unity in a youth group? (photo courtesy of Mattox via www.sxc.hu)

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Saving time by grouping similar tasks

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. In my opinion, the whole concept of time management is not to work harder, but to work smarter. Our goal should be to be both effective and efficient in youth ministry, meaning we accomplish our goals with as little energy as possible. There are many smart ways to accomplish more in the same amount of time and today I want to share one simple thing that can save you lots of time: grouping similar tasks.

The goal of time management techniques is not to work harder, but smarter so we become more efficient and effective in youth ministry

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Tailoring your message to youth’s spiritual journey

This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth. In prepping your message for youth, it’s essential to spend some time tailoring it to where your students are at, spiritually speaking. If you don’t, you may end up with a beautiful, well-written message that completely misses its purpose because your audience doesn’t recognize it’s spiritual ‘level’ in what you’re saying.

Spiritual journey

A beautiful way of looking at these spiritual ‘levels’ is to see it as a spiritual journey (1). As we all know, becoming a Christian isn’t a matter of one decision, it’s a longer road filled with several smaller steps and decisions, and sometimes also roadblocks and wrong turns. The spiritual journey of youth then, is the route they take from being spiritually dead (unbeliever) to spiritually fully alive (believer and disciple).

Everyone we meet, including our youth, is at a certain point in his or her spiritual journey. Some may be at the start, barely acknowledging the possibility that there is a God. Some may be at the point where it all starts to make sense and they’re almost ready to commit. And some may be at the point where they’ve decided to follow Christ, but struggle with putting that into practice.

Tailoring your message to your youth’s spiritual journey is crucial if you want it to have impact

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Applying the 80/20 rule to youth ministry

This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry. In an earlier post I discussed the 80/20 rule and how this rule can help you set priorities in your youth ministry. Today I want to delve a little bit deeper into how this rule can be applied in youth ministry. But first, let’s recap what the 80/20 rule is about.

Shortly put, the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto principle) states that there is often a 80/20 connection between input and output, between efforts and results. In short, in many cases 80% of the results come from only 20% of the efforts. But it works the other way around as well, 80% of the problems you face in youth ministry come from only 20% of the students/parents/church members.

Now let’s see how we can apply to 80/20 rule to your youth ministry by asking a whole bunch of questions. I’d advise you to take some time to work these through, you’ll be amazed at the insights you’ll gain.

1. Identify biggest results

What does ‘success’ look like in your youth ministry? In other words: what’s the 80% of results you want to strive for? You can describe success in youth ministry in different measurable parameters, for instance:

  • Number of baptisms amongst youth
  • Attendance in youth services
  • Number of students involved in small groups

But there are also many indicators of ‘success’ in youth ministry that aren’t so easy to measure, like spiritual growth, a good relationship with each student, growth in unity, etc. However you define success in your youth ministry, make sure you do somehow define it. Otherwise you’ll never know how you’re doing.

The number of baptisms can be a way to define sucess in youth ministry, but there are many non-measurable parameters as well

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Six powerful ways to end your sermon

This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth. As stated in an earlier post, ending a sermon well can be quite a challenge. Even if you have managed to keep the youth’s attention all through your sermon, you’ll need to work hard to keep it right till the last words. But the beautiful thing is that with the right ending, you can not only hold their attention, but bring home your key message in a powerful way. Here are six ways to do that:

How you end your sermon is crucial if you want your sermon to have impact

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