Last night I got on a it of rant on Twitter. Part of it was reflection of my own status in life and part of it was my distaste for mediocrity in general.
Here is my rant from Twitter:
@paulturnertoo We should stop giving out attendance awards in elementary school because in real life, no one cares that you showed up for work consistently
@paulturnertoo Rant Continued: No one gets the “thanks for showing up and doing your job” award. No one wants to put “I’m consistent” on their resume.
@paulturnertoo Rant Continued Part 2: Instead, people should get awards for crazy ideas, failed projects, and irrational behavior that produces something.
Before we get to the top ten ways to “raise the bar” in your own ministry. Let me put my rant in context. Some Youth Pastors are happy if anyone shows up to a youth meeting (been there) and we “award” kid with praise for their attendance. Nothing wrong with that on it’s face. For some kids, attendance IS a big deal. Some kids come from rough homes and some have never darkened a church door for which they do deserve some kudos. I do thank my group of kids from time to time for being there because they could be some where else, doing homework, at another youth group, etc.. At some point though, attendance is not enough for praise. Just showing up is not enough. I don’t think God applauds us for doing things He’s commanded us to do in the first place.
Jesus speaks of servants and duty when he says, “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?” So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”
We have to get over thinking we are doing God a favor by just showing up. It’s arrogant. So, what can we do to raise the bar in our youth ministry?
1. Have a student of the month where you honor kids for “above the bar” behavior such as serving others , outstanding attitudes, or Christian example. Choose a meeting where other kids can nominate someone and share why they deserve it. Take those three kids over a three month period and do something special for them like a dinner out, concert, etc.
2. Ask for greater commitment in their giving, service projects, and sharing their stories in Christ. Let’s not beg kids, let’s challenge them.
3. Dare them more. Kids love dares. they like to prove us wrong. Dare them to cross the line of mediocrity to achieve something great. I dared my kids during an outreach to give $50. if they did, I would let them slime me. They gave and I got slimed. Funny thing though, offering was up the next three weeks because they knew then they could give more than they could be giving.
4. Provide leadership training. Whether this is taking kids to a conference or investing in a leadership team, lay out a path of achievement and growth that takes kids from attendance mode to investing mode.
5. Have a personal conversation with kids and challenge them to step up. Most kids are living well beneath their potential. I had a talk with a student on our worship team about him mumbling the worship lyrics and not engaging 100%. My talk was short, direct, and encouraging. The next time I heard him, he was clear, engaged, and loud. Don’t be afraid to have that talk.
6. Don’t be afraid to lose kids. I know, tough to say if you This is a personal philosophy I have and it is one most would have to think and pray through before adopting it. If I am afraid of losing kids, our youth ministry will never become who they can be or supposed to be. I love our students, parents, and church and I do everything I can to keep those God has given me, but, I ultimately answer to the Lord.
7. Discipline those who are causing havoc. If kids do not think consequences are an option they will abuse the youth ministry and one day abuse the church for their own means. I have dealt with kids. lost kids, and God gave us the strength to rebuild and blessed us because we honored Him. Do everything possible to restore a kid and walk with them even if you have to disciplinary action. They may not like you at the time, but in time, they might respect you.
8. Stop doing everything. If you do not give your kids ownership of your program, you are ultimately hurting them. Give them small tasks, a servant board to choose from, a project board to post ideas. Start with a suggestion box and make sure to challenge kids to sign their name to their suggestion so you an follow u and challenge them to lead their suggestion.
9. Dream big and make it public. If you want to raise the bar as far as programing goes, make a challenge that will require the entire group and God himself to fulfill. Set an outrageous fundraising goal or a ridiculous amount of kids you’d like to take to camp. It does not matter if you fail, you moved the dial. If you succeed, the next time you dream big it won’t be so hard for them to have faith in God for it.
10. Raise the bar in your personal life. I like to pick up people on the side of the road, hitchhikers and such. Why? Because it’s out of my comfort zone. I give away money I do not have because I want to live a great life of faith. If you want your kids to raise the bar, we must raise the bar in our own lives, always having a story to tell them about how God is working in our lives.
How about you? How are you raising the bar in your youth ministry?