12: On Re-engaging Students, Balancing A Hybrid Ministry Model, Difficult Students, And More!

Episode 12 of the Making Sense of Ministry Podcast

In this episode, Steve Schneeberger joins Brian and Kirsten to discuss your questions! These questions include re-engaging students and families, difficult students, balancing a hybrid ministry model, new pastors, and more! We also announce the winner for our giveaway.

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Ashley: 0:01

Welcome to the making sense of ministry podcast presented to you by the youth ministry Institute, a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. Here’s your host Brian Lawson.Brian Lawson: 0:13

Welcome to Episode 12 of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is the podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry transform lives and impact generations. I’m here with the wonderful and only Kirsten Knox and the incredible Steve Schneeberger, welcome, guys.Kirsten Knox: 0:29

Hey, Brian.Steve Schneeberger: 0:31

Hey, Brian, how’s it going?Brian Lawson: 0:32

Good. Good. We are back together. Today we’re going to talk about some of your questions that you sent us and maybe share our opinions and our experiences and, and you can do with you with them what you want and what you will. We personally think they’re great ideas, but we’ll let you decide. Before we get started, we’ve got a little message from our sponsor that Pearson is going to share with us.Kirsten Knox: 0:55

Here at the making sense of ministry podcast, we don’t shy away from tough questions, and we don’t think you should either. Questions are a sign of growth, and it’s a way easier to hear God’s answers when others join us asking those very same questions. That’s why I’m excited for today’s sponsor, the social hub for all your spiritual dilemmas in questions is only a click away with our friends at BeADisciples.com, head over to their website and scroll through their affordable ecumenical accredited, short term online courses, all taught by content experts out there, you’ll be in company of others, where it’s safe to discuss hard questions, if you have questions and are looking to grow, and enroll in the course today and ask away at BeAdisciple.comBrian Lawson: 1:45

Thank you for that Kirsten so we announced the giveaway back in Episode 10. I believe. So it’s been a few weeks, and we we’re gonna we’re gonna give away Kirsten?Kirsten Knox: 1:56

Yes, we have a gift card, a $30 gift card to Amazon that we’re giving away. For those of you who sent in questions, we drew names today. We’re excited to give that away to Reverend Kate Kennedy from New Hampshire. All right. Congratulations. Yes, then Kate, we will send you an email with all the information and your gift card.Brian Lawson: 2:19

Yeah, excellent. And this is why it pays to listen to the Making Sense ministry podcast because you don’t know we might literally pay you Who knows?Kirsten Knox: 2:28

WinningBrian Lawson: 2:29

Friends just so you know, I hope you’re a part of our making sense ministry Facebook group, because next week, we do have a surprise coming there for you. Just as a way to say thank you both for listening, but also for the ministry that you lead and serving. So if you’re not part of our Facebook group making sense of ministry, you need to join today so you don’t miss out on surprise next week. Alright guys, are we ready to dig into some of our questions that we received. Yes, yeah, let’s do it. Alright, so we received a lot of great questions. And if we don’t get to yours today, we will try to get to it and maybe Episode 13 or 14. And also, I’d encourage you to send keep sending those questions to podcast@yminstitute.com. Because the reality is, if you’re facing a situation, or you have a question, I would imagine somebody else out there is facing something similar. And they and they need somebody to ask as well. So I hope you will, we’ll do that you’ll send us those and we’ll do giveaways again in the future. And maybe we’ll do them without telling you because that’s fun. All right. So let’s let’s get started here. I there’s these were so good. So let’s start with with Sarah. So this was from Sarah, and she has to really kind of big, but good questions. The second one I connected with on a personal level. And I don’t know if I have a good answer, but I connect with on personal level. So here’s here’s what she wrote. Here’s something I’ve been struggling with. Digging Deeper when students don’t want to. I have a group of middle school kids that seem hungry to learn, have questions and really seem to be thinking about our lessons. My high schoolers, though, seem resistant to wanting to dig deeper to grow. And it’s frustrating. So how do I encourage them to go further? Or how do I learn to be okay with a thought that they may never get there? So we’re really kind of looking at how we’ve got two groups of students, one who want to grow, and one who seem to not want to? How do you work with those two different groups? And is it appropriate at times to just accept where they’re at? Or should we always be pushing them to grow? I think it’s being asked what do you guys think?Steve Schneeberger: 4:42

I wish Sarah were here with us. We could ask her some more questions about our situation. Now I wonder if those two groups of kids are in the same group if she’s doing a lesson with all of them in the same room. So the middle schoolers are going deep in the high schoolers or not that would kind of turns the tables from what usually we experience because it’s more difficult if they’re all in the same group, right? They’re in different groups, it’s a little bit easier, I think, different groups, you take them where they’re at and move them forward. And, and so that’s, that’s frustrating when you have an older group of kids that you think should be deeper, but aren’t but but I think, meeting them where they’re at, and trying to ask pertinent questions that would allow them to, to maybe think deeply about something, but maybe just being with them, is what they need right now.Kirsten Knox: 5:42

Yeah, I think that to know the clarification, right? Like if they’re together, teaching or not, so I think I would, first I would say, if they’re together, I would think about strategies of teaching them separately, so that you can meet where they are. But when I heard this question, what I thought about was another question, but what does it look like to go deeper? And I think oftentimes, when I first read that I think about small groups or Bible study, right, sitting and talking and thinking about a topic or scripture and thinking about that some students may learn differently, and do learn differently. So thinking about what intrinsically motivates them? Where are those? Where are they those? That’s the question I would ask, and, like, would they be motivated to do serving? And I can use that as the jump board to go deeper with him? Or his community? What is driving them, but to think about, where are they? What motivates them? And how can I use that, to help go deeper, because I think particularly with this generation, some songs, sitting around and just talking can be difficult for them, depending, especially on the group dynamics affect that a lot. So there may be some desires to go deeper that you’re not seeing because of that. So are there some more active ways that you can help them grow deeper in discipleship? discipleship can look differently than just being in a small group and talking about it?Brian Lawson: 7:06

Yeah, that that term deeper, I think, is tough sometimes, because what does that mean? Really? Yeah. And I think we use a lot sometimes, because we’re not sure exactly what we mean. Sometimes, I think, for some people deeper might mean, a better conversation where we’re talking about things of greater significance. For others, I think deeper might mean, theologically deeper, and we’re talking about things that are bigger in scope and picture, and maybe harder to comprehend others that might be more historical facts about the Bible. So deeper, I think, is a little bit of a of a word that is not entirely clear. So. So I wonder, Sarah, for you? What do you mean by deeper? And what is it your ultimate goal is that you’re wanting you’re wanting conversation more? At which point, I think, you know, like the other two have said that, considering whether you’re together or separate, maybe something you need to think about? And also, is the group a type of a group that needs to be moving around? I mean, some people will talk better when their hands are doing something, whereas others will not. And so those are all all considerations that that I think need to be thought through. And how about this? Is it okay to accept a student who doesn’t want to go deeper? And how do you how do you get to the point where you’re okay with that?Kirsten Knox: 8:30

I would say yes, um, that’s hard for me to say yes, because I think it’s hard to accept it. And it’s hard to be in that space. But I really think they get to just drive the direction of their spiritual growth, and that they get to be in the driver’s seat of that. So even though I wish they would want different things there and be in a different space, if I don’t give them space to sit where they sit, then possibly that could be harmful to them. And I think you can give them space to sit there and accept that as well as always providing opportunities for them to move in a different direction. So I don’t want to be hopeless about it. Right. Like, they’re just never gonna get it or that because I think that’s a dangerous place to be. But I think they get to drive that. And then I’m going to provide opportunities and encourage them to walk through that and let them make those decisions.Brian Lawson: 9:26

Yeah.Steve Schneeberger: 9:28

I like that as well. I’d one more thought in terms of a strategy, though, if I could go back just Just a second. I think a simple strategy occurred to me when Kirsten was talking, and then you reaffirmed it, Brian, when you were saying a few things. So Sarah, I think a simple strategy is changing up where you’re meeting with them, doing something just a little bit different. Sometimes knocking folks off balance, helps them engage in a different way. I’ve taken You know, I’ve met kids at a cemetery before and, and done a devotional and experience there, you don’t have to go and do that you can actually just, you know, find a different room in the church building or a different space outside, as many people are meeting outside, and maybe you decorate it differently, or you put something in there that kind of draws people’s attention. And it’s, it goes with your particular lesson. So, so maybe take a little bit more creatively about visually what you’re doing with with your group that might help as well. Yeah, excellent.Kirsten Knox: 10:36

And when talking, the other thing I thought about was changing up just your agenda could also be helpful, right? Because they get kind of in this routine of flow of the night, and there’s some advantages there. But in this situation, I think there could be advantages of shifting that up. And you might find that they’re more open to conversation in a different space. And in that agenda, and I also thought about, what are they struggling with, and what is stressing them out? If I’m looking for places for them to think different, and I’m looking at that conversation, kind of understand where they are, there might help generate just some of those conversations more naturally.Brian Lawson: 11:12

Yeah, it’s like a consistent for me, it’s a consistent attempt to inspire them to want to, to desire to discover more. And, and to recognize, it helped me to recognize that not everybody’s in a place to want to do that, for whatever reason at that time. But if I’m there, and I’m consistently making an effort that at some point in time, that they’ll probably hit something in our life that that makes them want to go deeper in something, or different, to think differently, or more deeply about something. And so that helped me to say, yeah, maybe this student just isn’t at that place right now. But who knows, maybe something in their life is going to cause them to think about something in a in a broader, more significant way. And so I’ll try to be there to inspire that when that time comes. So that’s, it’s a great question, Sarah. I think a lot of people deal with that on in different ways, in different times. But she also has something else, which I think was was pretty good to set also had a had a new middle school students show up to our our first youth group back in person. When I learned he was interested in tending my immediate reaction was not a positive one. Which Sarah, I don’t think you’re alone on that one. I think we’ve all been there before. Yeah. She said, I had his older sister and group for a year and follow them both on social media, I see things that immediately make me cringe political, post poor language, strong opinions that don’t necessarily draw jive with Christian living. They’re outspoken, and this middle school boy is especially known to speak without a filter. So let’s talk about how we deal with students we don’t necessarily want to deal with how do we as leaders view each child as a child of God?Steve Schneeberger: 12:57

Yeah, Sarah, I may be the wrong one that answer this question for you. Because I love kids like that. It’s just like, those kids walk into my youth group. And I think, oh, there’s a challenge, this will be fun, you know, and trying to engage them in ways trying to affirm them. And basically, I’m trying to win them in a weird sort of way. So that it’s the competitive nature of me that maybe kicks in. But it’s also there’s this in the back of my mind, I think, well, this kid may need what I have to offer more than all the rest of the kids in the room. So I need to work a little bit harder here. And I understand, I mean, I’ve had kids that have been really, really super difficult, and that we’ve had to put on plans, you know, in terms of their behavior and all that stuff. And it’s challenging. But, you know, some of the greatest stories can come out those relationships, where were they, those kinds of kids get it, or, you know, later on in life, have some breakthroughs. And you feel like you’ve been part of that process with them. As they, as they, you know, ultimately, God’s who wins them over. So we’re just facilitating that arrangement. So yeah,Brian Lawson: 14:18

Sometimes I wonder to what’s what is driving the things that that bother you the most? Or, you know, maybe maybe there’s reasons for it that are that you just don’t know, and don’t see. You know, I had a student once, who was the guy in the room who was always really funny. You know, you know, that person who always jokes around, which is great, brings lots of energy to the group. And when I needed the game to be fun, he was the go to guy to make it fun. But sometimes for me, that was very difficult when I was trying to actually shift this to a moment of focus or seriousness. And what I discovered as I got to know him is that whenever he was being funny, particularly funny, it actually was an expression of significant depression and other issues he was dealing with it, he didn’t know how to deal with. So the humor was was really wasn’t, was it was a cover so that others didn’t really see. So sometimes I also think that the behavior that drives us nuts, we need to try to remember that it may actually be a symptom of something else.Kirsten Knox: 15:25

And Sarah, I would first say it’s, I just like your courage to ask the question. I think that’s a hard question to ask, because sometimes we don’t want to admit that or we feel guilty about that. So I say, thank you for asking that question. And really just acknowledging that because I think there are those students that are particularly challenging for us. For me, that is when that student then it affects the environment, the dynamic of the whole group, and it’s hard to move like Brian, you were talking about, because of some of that behavior is challenging. And what I have found that has been helpful for me is to do the I don’t know if you’ve heard of the empathy map, but I don’t write it all out. But I just kind of do it in my head. So those things would be to think about, what are they hearing? What are they seeing? What are they thinking, what are they feeling? And what are they doing? And what are they saying. And when I have a particularly hard student, I try to walk through that from their perspective, because it helps me have empathy for them. And that can shift how I interact with them. But it also can help me give them a lot of grace in those situations, and maybe even see some themes. And when you do all of that, like some things will come out, and then it will help you connect with them in a different way. But also think as this is happening as a middle school student, then there’s a lot going on in his environment, or her environment, right. And so to recognize that at such a young age, I think is helpful. And then but also say it’s okay to set boundaries, right? And have that conversation. If it gets really disruptive, then that’s a space you can move into with that student in a loving way. And that is also helpful. But those have been some strategies that have been helpful to me.Brian Lawson: 17:08

So Kiersten, when you set those boundaries? Who do you usually involve in that conversation? And how do you go about doing that?Kirsten Knox: 17:18

Usually, I would have that one on one with the student first. And have that conversation. And really probably try to listen first and understand where they’re at. And then set some boundaries of kind of here, when we’re here. Here are the expectations of how we talk to one another how we treat one another. And give them some of that. And then I’ve also had to, at some point, do that with a greater group. Because it just infected that so not singling that person out. But talking about as a group, hey, let’s revisit when we’re here, here are the expectations here are the standards, so that everyone’s together in that?Brian Lawson: 17:59

Do You Do you ever feel is necessary to pull in the parents in that conversation? Or to communicate that to them? Or At what point do you decide I need to make them aware,Kirsten Knox: 18:10

this is so funny, because there’s some of this that I’m dealing with right now in the youth group that I do part time. And I try not to my goal is not to involve the parents in light. Unless we get there, right? Like, we’re gonna try everything to manage that here. And to do some behavior modification in this space so that we don’t have to get there. And then we may, right, like that might happen. I have a group of boys that are very competitive. And when we play games, and there’s competition, the way they treat each other is just not okay. And we’ve had to shut down some games to be able to say, Hey, we just can’t play this anymore, after we have tried to navigate that differently in that as we were playing it. But we’ve had I’ve had conversations individually with students. Know, your original question to me was, when do you involve the parents, I think once we say, Hey, here’s where we are, I’m going to give them I’m going to tell them the process ahead of time. So I’m gonna be like, when this behavior happens, I’m going to give you a warning and allow you to self correct, right? If that doesn’t happen, then I’m going to ask you that take a seat and take a timeout a plane with so you can have some time to reflect and have some time to get yourself in a different space. And then you can rejoin us. And if that happens enough, then and they’re not able to do that, then the next step is that I would talk to the parents and have that conversation. But I don’t want them to be caught off guard. by that. I want them to know here are the steps. So I think it’s important to say when we have behavior problems, here’s the steps we’re going to navigate through so they know that process on the front end, because when you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence, so they’re not caught off guard and then that also I think gives them some control and power in those situations.Brian Lawson: 19:48

Yeah, I think it helps to if you talk to the parents about positive things, also. So you know, anytime you can affirm the parents and their their kids, so that way if you ever have to have a question That’s not pleasant, they’re more apt to listen because you’ve already already been positive about their children in the first place. So I think that’s always a good thing. I do think there are times that you might have a student that pushes your buttons, that the student just knows how to push your buttons and just the right way, you know, probably, all my years of experience, I’ve had two or maybe three students that way that they just know how to get to me. And so for me, in those moments, I actually asked another adult leader who I had significant trust in to be the one to handle that. Student marami, you know, and I actually had assistant who helped me with that for a while, which was great. And that that worked is a good counterbalance. So if there’s just a student, who just knows how to push you just the right way, right away, I would say find an adult leader that you trust, who understand that you guys are on the same page of how to handle things, and have them handle that student. And in those ways, and maybe you’re not the one to disciple that student. I mean, maybe there’s somebody else, a small group leader, somebody who actually needs to be focused more on that student than you. And I think that’s appropriate and okay, because we all have people that know how to push us just the right way.Kirsten Knox: 21:13

Well, yes. And I think the important part, there’s a self awareness, right. It’s really important to have that self awareness, as a leader and then to walk through that. Yep.Brian Lawson: 21:21

All right. So our next one, this is from the Reverend Reverend Kate Kennedy, the winner today, she, she said, I’m wondering if you could talk about ways to lead a hybrid in person online youth ministry program, without at leadings Kids feeling out left out, or youth pastors feeling burned out? In my ministry setting, some parents are eager to have their kids attend in person programming, and are trying to reduce screen time. And others are not allowing their kids to attend anything other than virtual meetings or events. How do you recommend serving both populations without having the program feel kind of lackluster? Or splitting our energy or time too much? Thanks so much. Love the podcast! Hmm. This is a tough one. Let’s just be honest about that. Yes.Steve Schneeberger: 22:10

Yeah. Kate, I’m glad we gave you the gift card, because we may not be able to answer that one. That’s really, that’s really hard. I mean, we’re in a new paradigm right now and trying out new things. And we’re seeing youth pastors burning out and feeling discouraged all the time. And we’re here to encourage them. But yeah, when you’re doing a hybrid, when you have some people online, and some people in person, just by that nature, you’re you’re doing two different things. And they’re going to be two different experiences, and possibly two different results. And, and that’s, that’s, that’s so difficult, and it is difficult for everyone. You’re not alone there.Brian Lawson: 22:56

Yeah, my wife’s teaching, and she teaches in person. And she teaches virtual, and which means it is two different mindsets, it is to even though it’s the same objectives and outcomes, the lessons are vastly different, and the way you go about presenting them, so have four days in one world and have four days in the other, and where it wears out. So I mean, I think this is across the board. For a lot of us, I wonder if you were talking to you, this is I haven’t actually seen this, but I wonder if this would work is if you could if you had a leader who’s been around for a while, who understands the mission or purpose of your ministry, if they couldn’t take on the online portion of it. And then you oversee them. But their focus is the online portion or, or their focus is the in person, yours is the online. Like I wonder if you couldn’t find a trusted leader to try to do that. So you’re not as split. I don’t know what you guys think about that.Steve Schneeberger: 23:52

I know a church that is doing that. And and there are a larger church. So they have some staff that could that could take that but that could be a volunteer leader as well. And so one person is in charge of the all the in person stuff, and then one person is in charge of the online track. And, and so just by virtue of two different kinds of leaders, the experiences are going to be different. And and then everybody’s just said, Okay, we’re going to be okay with that. I think Kate that that’s the key here is that the experience is going to be different, no matter how you try to make it the same. It’s just it just can’t be the same. It’s it’s too difficult to do that. So maybe the advice is to give yourself permission to just have two different experiences and and be okay with that. And if you think about it, the way you worded your question, I think the way I understood it is that you know, parents and kids are choosing which experience they’ll have and and so they know what they’re getting into as well. And it’s not ideal. We all know that this is not an ideal situation, but it’s but we just I think I’m a firm believer in just doing the best that you can and, and leave the rest up to God and, and you’ll be okay.Kirsten Knox: 25:12

Yeah, I think it’s so hard right like what do we have said just a hard space to be in? I have seen when I heard this question I thought about a church that I’ve seen kind of navigate this well, and this has been their strategy. When pre COVID, they met on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, and then when COVID hit in, they had to go all virtual, they did the same, but what they watched was their Sunday morning participation really increase. And so when they have gone back to transitioning, they have transitioned to in person on Wednesday nights. But Sunday mornings, they have kept virtual. Because what they found was they had a lot of kids who wanted to engage, but Sunday mornings didn’t have transportation. And so they could do it online, and they would connect. So that’s kind of been how they’ve navigated going back. And for them that has worked very well, because those are programs that already had different experiences and different identities, right, different purposes. And so they kept those the same. So there’s some of that, that people, it’s familiar, but then kept those one in person and one virtual and their weekly programming. I thought that was I mean, it has worked well for them. So that’s been kind of cool to watch and be a part of, but I thought that was possibly a way to do that that would help you strategize that.Brian Lawson: 26:28

Yeah.Steve Schneeberger: 26:29

I like that care soon, because you’re identifying, you know, what’s working. So instead of like going out of from the, what’s not working angle, which sometimes we can get pretty I mean, I can get in that space pretty easily. But switching it around and saying, Okay, what what is working? What’s the piece that’s working? Let me really accentuate that. So I think that’s really helpful.Brian Lawson: 26:53

Yeah, I mean, really, we’re talking about to a realignment of what we see as successful. I mean, the word lackluster was really sticking with me. And I think that it’s easy for us to feel like all that we’re doing is sort of just mediocre. And maybe it is maybe this first season and maybe that’s the best we can do. Or maybe maybe it’s mediocre when we compare it to when we used to all be together. But that’s not it anymore. And so, so what, what would make us walk away feeling like it was successful? And so maybe thinking through what is it you really feel like needs to happen to be successful, if you can get out of the mindset of what was before and think about where we’re at now. And so I don’t know what that looks like, for for you Kate. But I would say that I think anytime you keep somebody connected at whatever level during this season is success. So anytime you can connect with them and make them feel connected is very successful right now. So I know that seems lackluster compared to what we used to what we do in normal times. But But I just feel like that is success right now. So next one. Thanks for the incentives. Whoo. How to engage families who have gotten out of the habit of church, and ministries because of COVID. And this, this particular question is asking for larger youth groups who have 500 plus youth on their on their roles. So I think we can answer this in two ways. So the the typical church, youth ministry, but then also how would a larger youth ministry handle this? How do we engage families who have gotten out of out of the habit of church?Steve Schneeberger: 28:36

I think it goes back to what you were just saying, Brian, we we recalibrate what our expectations are. So I think I think I know who asked this question. I think she’s a friend of ours.Brian Lawson: 28:49

And yeah this was Emily.Steve Schneeberger: 28:52

Yeah, and so yeah, Emily. Yeah, I totally understand where you’re coming from on this because I know your church know what, what you’re what you’re doing there. And. And so it’s Emily’s been there a while. So she’s had, you know, a level of expectation and success and what that looks like. And so, so you almost I think Emily almost have to wipe all that clean is so hard to do, because you feel like everybody else has the same expectation of you. And I don’t think that’s true. I think we fool ourselves when we think in this time that people have the same expectation as they did a year ago. And, and really, you know, all along all of us in our roles in our churches, were really in charge of defining what success looks like. And so that means you have to redefine it and recalibrate it, then you could do that individually. I think the best approach is to do that with a team of people and say, okay, what’s this going to look like moving forward and then and then when you’re frustrated, you’re measuring against something that’s, that’s new. So in this case, getting everybody back into the habit of coming back and being engaged. My first thought when I read the question was that it’s like this, like starting over again. It’s like you just got there for the first time. And which again, in your situation may be more difficult because you’ve been there a while, but it’s but if you remember that feeling when you got to a church, and oh, everything was new, and you just had to get a group of kids connected. But you didn’t know which kids it would be. You knew that you met these kids and you met their parents, and but you’re really not sure if those are the ones that are gonna stick or not. I mean, I think it’s that it’s, it’s just starting over in your mind from day one, and then rebuilding again. And being okay with that.Brian Lawson: 30:54

Yeah, absolutely. Steve, when you said get a group together, who what kind of, what kind of group? Are you thinking? Are you thinking? Like, church staff, supervisors? Are you thinking like leaders or parents? Like, when you think about that group? What do you think of would be a group to pull together?Steve Schneeberger: 31:10

Yeah, I think of a mix of people, you know, a couple of leadership kids, a couple of your volunteers, you know, folks that are that are extremely vested, and want to see something happen, but, but know that this is a different time. So I’m just talking them through about, okay, how do we revision what we’re doing here? and know what Emily, I’m imagine she’s done that already. So she’s got a group of people, but it but it goes to the, it goes to the metric piece, you know, how do we, how do we define success? We’ve defined success so often in youth ministry by the number of kids that are coming. And that’s I think that’s important, because those, get those numbers equal. Kids, like actual individuals, but, you know, sometimes we need to look at our online success, you know, what’s our engagement? You know, all those metrics that we’re using in social media stuff was, let’s start using those as a way to measure as well. And that way, it’s not so much as all the people that are coming back. It’s really we’re looking at all of the reach that we’re having throughout the community, not just in the people that we see face to face. So it is rethinking all of this.Kirsten Knox: 32:28

Yeah, yeah, I think that’s powerful, redefining what success is, and being able to do that, I love that. And the other part that I think about those teams, Steve, that you just speak about that is so helpful, is that you get to share the burden, right, this burden of this expectations have shifted this burden of people not being as connected or engaged as we would like them. That’s a heavy burden that as ministry leaders we carry, and having those people around, you’re going to help with this strategy, right, like you’re going to come up with the output. But I also think the real powerful please piece in there is just the sharing of that burden. And I’d also think about possibly adding to that team, if there are a couple of those families or parents or students that are disengaged, that have gotten out of the habit that you would like to get in the habit. If a couple of them could be on that team are one of them, then they speak from that perspective. And they help you understand that that person in that group of people in a different way than those who are connected and have stayed connected. And that might be another part of that strategy. That could be helpful.Brian Lawson: 33:32

Yeah, when I think about so this is Emily’s question, but not directly towards her situation at larger churches, but just smaller churches, for instance. I mean, let’s remember, what engagement is, in the first place. Engagement is really human connection. It’s like connecting to individuals. So if you’re in a smaller church, that’s easier, because you can just reach out one one at a time. And I think that’s appropriate and should happen. And it’s easier to get feedback to like, here’s like you’re talking about when it’s small church, when it’s a larger church, I think you have to have a systematic approach, you’ve got to come up with a system of how you’re going to do this. So first, starting with what is engagement, you know, look like for you, and what is it you’re seeking. And then I would say if I was if I was in Emily’s shoes, I think that I would probably break up geographic zones, I would probably say Where are people geographically and break it up into zones. And then I would try to make teams of people who focus in on zones. You know, some maybe two or three, my volunteers focus in on certain block radius, and I would actually map it out. I mean, and I would say, these are the students in this area. We need to engage with them somehow. And think creatively about how each team does that and maybe give them some flexibility. Maybe you maybe you have one team that wants to go do driveway things and maybe you’ve got another team that wants to actually throw a block party within your you know, so whatever it looks like but I think I would try to come up with perfect In a larger context, a systematic approach of how do I go about breaking it down into smaller chunks? Because when you think of 500, that’s just overwhelming for one or two people. So you’ve got to figure out how do I break it down into smaller pieces. And then how do I send people rather than me being the one doing it, is what I was thinking when I think about the larger piece. But again, for me, I always go back to engagement begins with connecting, that there has to be some kind of connection with them. So large or small, that’s always I think, the case, one more thing that may be beneficial to you is to think about how you are writing what is going on when you write. So when you’re when you’re creating a promotion, about an event happening. So let’s say you divided up your students into a smaller group. And so you’re going to have a block party in that community or driveway visits in that area. When you are expressing that that is happening, think about how you’re expressing it, don’t express it in the sense of you’re passing on information, but express it in the sense of why they need to be there. Think about the motivation and why they need to be there and write that into what your your Instagram posts or your social media posts, or your text message. Give them a clear benefit as to why they need to be there. I know that that seems sort of marketing copy sort of cold, but I think that they need to know that motivation as to why they need to be there. So you’re reminding them as to why it’s significant, not because they have to, but because they will actually receive benefit personally, by being there. Alright, um, the next one, a think its our last one today. Emily, we hope we gave you some thoughts on how to proceed, we’d love to hear back from you guys. Also, if you’ve done some of this, or if you try some of it, how it’s going. Because we are in this season learning with you also, as well. So Alright, hey, Brian, here are some things I love to hear some thoughts and collaboration. My Church is getting a new senior pastor. What can I do to start the relationship of right to set realistic ministry expectations? What is the best way to present my ministry to the new pastor? So transitions, which for some, if you’re in a Methodist Church, some of you a few of you, maybe you’re doing that now, many of you won’t do it till July. Other groups and denominations, you know, can happen at any time. So, when you’re going through a transition, what do you guys? What have you done? What do you recommend? Think about?Kirsten Knox: 37:41

Ah, that’s such a great question. I think hard. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety when you go through that transition. So I’d say first, acknowledging that and just being able to be okay, with Yes, that is a part of transition. And I always felt like when a new pastor came, there was this internal pressure to want to present or to tell them about the youth ministry, right, like I want, in this sense to showcase it. And I, what I had learned later in ministry is and kind of holding off on a little bit of that, but when I would get a new senior pastors go in and really to ask them questions, and seek to learn, versus to tell. And so questions that I would ask as, like, How can I be helpful to you and this first couple months of being in a church? And seeing also how, what is the best way to communicate with you? Like, I want to know, different pastors, like different forms, or different types of communication? So I want to know about that. And then I think another question to ask is, what just drives you nuts? Like when you’re with staff, right? Like you have stuff? What just drives you crazy, cuz I kind of want to know, those things do on the front end, right? Like to know to avoid those. And then I would also ask, how would you like to learn about the youth ministry and what pace because this person’s coming in has a lot, right, they have a lot to learn. And typically, those areas that have more problems get the most attention at the beginning. And so I recognize that they’ve got a lot. So I want them to see me as an asset to be able to help them in that transition. And I’m willing to do that in whichever way is helpful to them. Not and what is helpful to me, right, because I want to go, I have my own motives and internal pressure that I have to navigate. So I want to do that separately, and then be able to go in and for them to see, hey, I’m here to help you. Tell me how I can best do that.Brian Lawson: 39:34

Yeah, I think it’s great asking them what their pet peeves are, right. Like you don’t want to accidentally do those things that just drive them nuts because that puts you on the radar. You know, I think positioning yourself as somebody who’s there to be an ally, and part of a team is always is always beneficial. And and I think that start with the bare minimum of what they need to know with the youth ministry. Like you said, here’s an invite them to let you know what speed they want to learn about it. But at least start with, hey, here’s what we’ve been doing briefly overview, here’s why we feel like it’s been successful for the vision that we’ve got. And we were proud of what’s happening. I also, I also think, inviting them to come and see if at any point they want, and also letting them know though, I don’t expect it, I just want you to know you’re invited. Like, I know you’re busy. So you may not be able to, but just do know you’re invited. Anytime. And so I think an open invitation, but but the clarification that’s not an expectation also is helpful, as well.Steve Schneeberger: 40:43

Yeah, I would, I would agree with both of you on all of those points. And I just add that my experience is that it takes a new lead pastor about 18 months to fully acclimate. So that’s a long time. And and my other note here is that, that they, everybody wants to talk to them when they first get there. So they’re, they’re getting inundated with people who want to get on their radar on their agenda. And it’s overwhelming to them. I mean, you think about how many people they need to learn their need to learn, learn, learn their names, their position in the church, their life stories, all of those things. There’s just a lot, a lot, a lot of things that they need to get up to speed on. So I love the questions that Kirsten put out there and the advice that Brian gave, but just, I guess, to go back to an earlier question is have empathy for the lead pastor, and know that it’s going to be tough. And if they’re not paying attention to you, it probably means that you’re not in crisis, which is a good thing. So move forward with that and and learn that that’s affirmation of your ministry is that they’re not paying attention initially. But But if you know the pace that they want to take it, then then you’ll be able to offer that.Brian Lawson: 42:08

Yeah, Connor, we hope that answered your question. And that’s all we have today. Did you have any last thoughts do you want to share before we wrap up the show? episode?Kirsten Knox: 42:18

I was just like, good questions. And I think many people are asking those questions. So I think it’s great and to recognize, we are in this together. And we get it right. It’s a hard space to be in.Steve Schneeberger: 42:35

Yeah, thanks for asking great questions. And, and just know that we’re, we’re with you, and, and continue to ask those difficult questions. And, and, and if we all share the burden together, I think, I think we will continue to get through this.Brian Lawson: 42:54

Yeah, just remember, when you don’t realize it, even if you feel like things are lackluster, that God is still moving, and God is still working, even when we’re not fully aware of that. So friends, we’re here with you and for you. And also if you would like some more personal conversation, or some guidance or some some development, we do coaching, we have been doing coaching for a long time, and believe that will be fantastic for you and your ministry. So if you’re interested in that head to YMinstitute.com and I think that’s it friends. Don’t forget to join our Facebook group, because we do have a surprise next week, the week of Thanksgiving. So if you’re not part of that, go ahead and join. And until next time, friends, I hope we helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.Ashley: 43:41

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