Hiring A New Youth Or Children’s Minister

Hiring a new youth or children's minister blog post

What if you are hiring the wrong person? Where do we find quality candidates that will fit our church’s culture and context? How can we hire someone who will last? How long will it take you to find your next Children’s or Youth Minister?

These are a few questions that come flooding in as you begin searching to hire a new staff person. If you have experienced this as a supervisor before, you probably recall the emotions of that moment. Depending on the fallout that came after the transition, it may be one of those situations etched in your memory.

Give yourself a moment to be still, to be aware of your anxieties, and to prepare yourself for the journey of searching for your next Children’s or Youth Minister.  

As you lead your team and church through this process, it is helpful to remember you are not the only one asking these questions and feeling the weight of the uncertainty that change brings. Likely, you are also navigating the fears and anxieties of the children or youth, families, and staff members regarding who will be the next Children’s or Youth Minister and what will happen in the meantime.

Leading through the uncertainty of what’s next and others’ emotions takes significant time and energy, especially since you also juggle all your other essential responsibilities.

Here are 4 tips on leading through the transition and hiring.

4 Tips on Leading Through Transition And Hiring

Be aware

This is a personal and emotional time for those involved and affected by the ministry. Expect a lot of emotions. First, be aware that you are not responsible for “rescuing” them from the sadness or anger they are feeling. Second, be mindful of the pressure you feel that could cause you to rush through the hiring process.

Give your church and families permission to grieve 

Ministry is highly relational, making it so impactful and painful when transitions in leadership happen. Phrases like “this is hard” will give those struggling with the change the space to feel and process their emotions. Sitting with them in their fears and even sharing some of your own can be helpful. This transition season will also allow you to teach them how to navigate change in healthy ways, which is much needed and valuable skill in our world today.  

Give them a reasonable hiring timeline

The timeline is a critical step in setting this transition up for success. And often, this step is overlooked. The average time it takes to hire a new Children’s or Youth Minister is 3 to 4 months.

Be prepared that people may push back on this timeframe because of their desire to move from the unknown to the known quickly. Therefore, setting this expectation from the beginning of the process will help others manage their expectations and give the process the attention it needs for you to hire well.

To help you explain why the process usually takes 3 – 4 months, here is a resource for you that outlines the steps involved in hiring and the average time each step takes. Sharing all the steps and timeline involved in hiring will increase their confidence in the process and the outcome, plus help everyone exercise patience. 

Create a plan for the hiring transition

Create a team with those involved in the ministry to develop a plan for the next 3 – 4 months. This team will help you on multiple levels. Not only will it help you create a plan moving forward, but it will also give those affected by the transition a voice in the process, a clear pathway on how they can help fill the gaps, and a sense of control. 

We are most vulnerable in seasons of change. Since feeling vulnerable isn’t a comfortable feeling, it is tempting to rush through the process and settle for less than the right person for your church. Resist rushing. Give each step in the hiring timeline the attention and time needed to put your church in a position of strength moving forward.


Kirsten Knox, Senior Director of Ministry Partnerships

Kirsten Knox, Senior Director of Ministry Partnerships at YMI. Kirsten was part of the second class to complete the YMI two-year coaching and training class in 2009. She has since been a coach on multiple occasions. Kirsten Knox is married and a graduate of Asbury University with a degree in youth ministry.  She began working in youth ministry in 2000, serving Pasadena Community United Methodist Church for a decade. Click the social links below to engage with Kirsten.


Recovering From A Lost Ministry Role & Personal Crisis | Season 2: Episode 2

Making Sense of Ministry season 2 episode 2

In this episode, Brian and Kirsten talk with Emily Felgenhauer, Director of Youth Ministries at Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Florida. Emily shares her experience with losing her ministry job, finding a new future at a large church, and the ways she has faced personal crises.

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Brian Lawson: 0:14

Hey friends, welcome to the Making Sense of Ministry podcast. The podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry, transform lives, and impact generations. This is Episode Two of season two and I’m back with Kirsten. Kirsten, how are you today?

Kirsten Knox: 0:27

I’m doing good. How are you, Brian?

Brian Lawson: 0:29

Oh, excellent. Hey, I was thinking I was wondering, what are you binge watching right now? I need some more stuff to watch. So what are you? What are you watching?

Kirsten Knox: 0:37

Well, what? We’ve just started binge watching the Avengers movies, which you’ve probably seen those because I feel like no, youth minister that hasn’t seen it.

Brian Lawson: 0:48

No, I’m trying to catch up. But I want to watch them in order. So but Disney plus now hasn’t been order. So it’s perfect that

Kirsten Knox: 0:54

yes, that’s what we’ve been doing. We started that months ago. Like what cuz I think I’ve all of them. I’ve watched maybe two of them. And so we started in order, because I have no real timeline for them, the individual and the Avengers. And then this last weekend in St. Pete, on Saturday was the part one of the parks was doing a drive in, in game, watching the Avengers. And we were like three away from that. So I’m like, on Saturday, I’m like, let’s watch all three of them, and then go to the drive in and watch endgame on the big screen. Right. So this was the plan. So we started mid morning. Little did I know that those movies are long. Like we didn’t get them all done. So we ended up watching it. But we had to watch in game from home because the timing didn’t work for us to be able to go to the driving. But so by the end of Saturday, that’s literally all we did.

Brian Lawson: 1:46

So when you talk the whole, the whole Marvel universe that you’re watching or just Avengers?

Kirsten Knox: 1:52

Well, we started doing the whole Marvel from the very beginning, right? But then because I saw that there was the drive in I was like, let’s skip the individuals. We had three of just the like full group Avengers movies. Let’s watch those, and then go see in game tonight. That was my and I had seen the one I had seen was Civil War. We had both seen that. But I’m like, I want to rewatch that too. Because now I have context where I had just seen that one that was The First Avenger movie I ever saw. Yeah, we did. We did. We watched. So in the end of the night, we had four we watched. That’s all we did on Saturday was watch Avengers movies. Probably a great Saturday,

Brian Lawson: 2:32

probably a great it was what you know, one of the best events we did on spring break was all the Star Wars movies. This was before the three extra came out, you know, so we did all of them. We started like seven in the morning and got done like 11 or 12 at night. And if anybody survived the whole day without falling asleep when we were watching you got a shirt said I survived. So it was it was Yeah, it was good. That was a that was an easy. So if you’re looking for something easy, although I don’t know how well you can get in COVID. But after COVID look for something easy. That one’s easy. So

Kirsten Knox: 3:02

I feel good knowing that you haven’t watched them either, because I have said this to multiple people and I get the look.

Brian Lawson: 3:08

And I think we just lost listeners for this.

Kirsten Knox: 3:12

Did our credibility go down.

Brian Lawson: 3:16

I think so. So who do we have here with us today?

Kirsten Knox: 3:20

Well today for our guests. We have Emily Felgenhauer Yay. I’m excited that she is joining us. Emily is a dear friend of mine. And actually we met through Why am I back in the day I say that like we’re old back in the day. We did the YMI professional certification program to your program and met and have been friends since then. A lot of life together, including vacation, we have vacation together.

Brian Lawson: 3:49

And you’re still friends after this. Yeah, that’s good.

Kirsten Knox: 3:53

Emily has a love for cruises. So I learned I went on my first cruise. We went on our first cruise. So that was fun. But have done life and fun and she’s gonna come share with us today. So excited. Emily, How are you this morning?

Emily Felgenhauer: 4:07

Hey, I’m good. How are you guys?

Kirsten Knox: 4:10

Doing very good.

Brian Lawson: 4:11

Thanks, Emily for being here. We appreciate that.

Emily Felgenhauer: 4:13

I’m super pumped.

Kirsten Knox: 4:15

Yeah. All right. Well, let’s start off Emily, I want to give our listeners an opportunity to get to know you. So to do that, I thought it’d be fun. The first question that I have for you today is tell us about three of your favorite things.

Emily Felgenhauer: 4:31

And I love this question. I love the song from Sound of Music. I’m just kidding. Um, I would say my dog but I don’t think he’s a thing. Can I say wine on this?

Brian Lawson: 4:47

I think so. You know, every church has. Absolutely you can say wine.

Emily Felgenhauer: 4:51

I do love some wine. Jesus’s first miracle. It’s very dear to my heart. Um, I would also say Disney. I love Disney. I’ve always loved Disney. And I would probably also say Sherpa, like the cozy, fuzzy soft material. I’m actually wearing it right now. Yes, like who doesn’t love who doesn’t go buy that material and just want to touch it like it’s really kind of obnoxious and and not very sanitary with COVID. But yes, I do love. Love the cozy material.

Brian Lawson: 5:29

I tell you I have a closet full of sherpa.

Kirsten Knox: 5:33

I’m like you don’t get a lot of opportunity in Florida to wear it for like you bring it out when you can. But that’s why I do blankets a lot. Every time we go to the store, I’m always going to the blankets and I need any blanket like I need a hole in the head. But something about that soft material that is just inviting and cozy. I’m like just looking at it is really 100%

Emily Felgenhauer: 5:53

I totally agree. Yes.

Kirsten Knox: 5:57

I love it. And Disney. Have you done Disney during COVID season? I have I got

Emily Felgenhauer: 6:02

a three day pass back in the fall. And did it within like I think a month. He’s all three within a month. But yes, I’m a big fan of Disney. And it was great. It was less people. I felt like it was definitely more sanitary. And you know, you don’t? I don’t know. It was great. It was awesome.

Kirsten Knox: 6:26

Share with us today a little bit about how you got into ministry. And what made you say yes to ministry.

Emily Felgenhauer: 6:34

So I was a youth your kid growing up, and I was very close to my youth director. And I felt called into youth ministry when I was a teenager. So you know, the appropriate question that you ask your youth director is how much do you make? And she told me I was like bump this I’m not gonna be in ministry, no way no out. So you know, then I went to college, and I majored in corporate communications. But I went back to my church at the time to do an internship. And at that, that summer, the veil was torn. I saw real people from my pastors, there was drama, there was politics, and decided, again, church work was not for me, which is interesting, right? So then my second, my senior year, my second semester, I was looking for jobs in Daytona Beach area, because I was in college in the Chicago area. And I wanted to be in Daytona. My three older brothers were down here, I have two nephews, they were young at the time. So I was looking at communication jobs, and a youth director position popped up on my job search that was looking for good communication skills. And I it was a definite Holy Spirit moment. You know, I know, some of us can say we’ve had a few of those moments. And that was definitely one the Holy Spirit came into my dorm room and I was crying. It was very powerful of me feeling like, Am I enough? Can I do this? And God saying, Let me do this. And I just want you to be my instrument. And so I applied for the job knowing I was gonna get it at that very moment. But I waited three months, just like churches do they take forever to hire people? And so I just waited and I and I knew and so I started august of 2007. And the Daytona area. Yeah.

Brian Lawson: 8:33

I love that sense of like, holy trepidation, almost that you described, like, uh, yeah, I’m going to do this. But I’m also like, kind of don’t want to, but I’m also a little scared too. But I also don’t feel like I can. But I know I need to. Yeah, I get that.

Kirsten Knox: 8:50

Having that such that moment, right, I think would be helpful once you get into ministry? Because I would imagine there. I mean, for all of us. There has been those moments when you’re like, Can I still do this? Should I be doing this, like those hard times in ministry and then be able to lean back in to? I know, God called me to do this. I had this moment. And just to confirm, in those moments of insecurity, are those moments of toughness, just to have that power? Yes. What was the waiting like three months that? I mean, when you feel so strong about something then have to wait, I think

Emily Felgenhauer: 9:26

that just be really hard. I know, I actually accepted a position in downtown Chicago for Salvation Army. And I worked for them for two months while I was interviewing for the Daytona area church. And I was offered the position and then I turned it down. Because I was like, I don’t I don’t know. And then like, I mean, it was another Holy Spirit moment of like, you idiot. You need to call them back. You need to accept it. So then I moved. I moved in July. So yeah, I’ve been in ministry for 13 and a half years.

Brian Lawson: 10:01

Wow. flies, huh.

Kirsten Knox: 10:04

Yeah. I know when you say them like, Oh, this agent when we think about how is this possible? Well, Emily, today, we had you on one things we want to talk about is it’s been a hard season for youth ministers and children’s ministers or for anyone in ministry and talking about when you feel knocked down, how to get back up again. And you have a great story about what God has taught you through that and your experience through that. So would you share with us an experience that you’ve had about getting knocked down and what the healing process was like for you?

Emily Felgenhauer: 10:43

Yes. So I was at my first church, in the Daytona area for three years, and was doing great was doing great at that church, we had tripled the amount of students in that amount of time that I was there. Our parent program was huge. We had gotten a Daytona Beach area, youth ministers network started while I was there, that meant monthly support was great. That was when I was in YMI were those two years, it was really, really powerful. I, I really, I really thought that that was going to be where I was staying, because my family was over there, and all that kind of stuff. And then, unbeknownst to me, I was brought in by the staff parish committee, and told that they were giving me six weeks to find a new job. And that I was I was going to be let go. And that was beyond devastating. It was very, very hard. Just a very, very tough, I was told, I, you know, I learned a lot of lessons at that time I was 25 years old, I was still figuring out who I was as a person. I mean, I listen, I’m 35 still trying to figure this lesson out. But at the time, I, I, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I was faced with that in this conversation that I was playing favorites with families. And that that was really difficult on students and parents. And I had kind of like a poor attitude that was happening around the church staff, I was having some difficulties with some other staff people. And I had been late a few times to work. And that was a really important thing. And so those are, those are things that I was given some warnings on. But it I I was not aware that this decision was coming to play. When I was told that I had six weeks to find a new job. And they were very willing, it was during the summer. So they wanted me to continue to do ministry by going on mission trips that had already been planned to help with programming help get them off their feet after I left. And in return, they were going to allow me to do all the interviews I needed to do during that time to find a new job, whether it was going to be with a church, whether it was going to be long distance, anything like that. And so that was kind of the caveat of giving the six weeks. And in that six weeks time, we were also it was I was asked to keep it a secret. So I couldn’t share any of that information with any of my friends and my family. Well, in the church, my personal family knew. Um, so that was, that was huge. And so I apply, so I called Steve Schneeberger. schnee love him,

Brian Lawson: 13:53

which is our executive director,

Emily Felgenhauer: 13:55

and I called Kathy Rexroad, who was my coach for YMI and just just FYI, I had just graduated from YMI in April, and this happened in June, this was a couple months later, like talk about ultimate failure, you’re like, I just got certified. And, you know, the church just paid for me to go through this. And here I am being let go. I mean, like, talk about, you know, and and the question got brought up in this in this conversation of me being letting go, um, are you maybe you need to analyze if you’re really called into ministry. And that was, I mean, it was just, it was such a devastating conversation. And so, I called Steve and I called Kathy and I told them what happened, and they were both floored, obviously, because I was not aware that this was coming either. And so I asked Steve, I was like, please send me all of the job descriptions, like all anywhere that you know, like Texas. I mean, I applied to Texas, I applied to every open job in Florida. I applied back in Illinois, Indiana. And I had several interviews. Well, anyways, one job that Steve told me that was available at in Florida, was Hyde Park, United Methodist in Tampa. And he said, but don’t go out for that position. You’re not going to get it they only hire well seasoned youth directors and you know you’re you’re probably not gonna I mean you can go out for but you’re probably not going to get it you will you know you’ve only been in ministry three years and just got fired. Don’t don’t go out for this so you know me being the the smart cookie that I was at the time I was like, I’m applying to everything girlfriend needs a job. And it was by Kiersten This is on it. This is honestly, this is awesome. I’m curious, and I were super tight, obviously. And so I was like, Oh, she’s in St. Pete. I’ll you know be in Tampa Lola. So I applied and I did several interviews for a lot of churches and literally two days. Two days before my last day at this church in Daytona. I was hired at Hyde Park. And churches don’t work fast. And this was like, within like a five week span. I had done several interviews, and I got hired at Hyde Park. So I gotta tell you that phone call to Steve Schneeberger?

Kirsten Knox: 16:24

I bet you called him back to tell him like

Emily Felgenhauer: 16:29

so I called Steve and I was like, guess who got the position at Hyde Park? And he was like, You are kidding me, Emily. I never would have bought it. Like so anyways. Yeah. So yeah. And you know, for those of you who don’t know, Hyde Park Hyde Park, has has been a large congregation, and they had conference for the United Methodist Church in Florida. And and it really honestly felt like a Cinderella story to me, like rags, rags to riches in a sense of just feeling like not worthy. And not good enough. And, and also, I had mistakes like, I was not, it wasn’t like I was some victim. I mean, I had some learning to do. And then this church was like, well, we’ll, we’ll take you and we’ll train you to be a leader. And anyways, 11 years later,

Brian Lawson: 17:26

you’re still there

Emily Felgenhauer: 17:27

shocking.

Brian Lawson: 17:30

So I’m curious. Man, that question of Are you sure you’re even called to ministry in the midst of that moment? How did going to Hyde Park and and getting that position which Steve had told you probably wouldn’t be able to get how did that reaffirm or or challenge that statement that that was made to you about your call to ministry?

Emily Felgenhauer: 17:58

I think it goes back to my dorm room. And that Holy Spirit moment. I mean, I’ve had, I’ve had a few in my life, like maybe three. And that was a huge, powerful moment. And I knew in that moment that it was me and God in my senior year college, like I was praying to Him and I said, God, I’ve made mistakes at this time I had already gotten. Listen, I am. My story is crazy. I had already been suspended from college. I was, anyways, I drank when I wasn’t supposed to Lola. And so I was like I am, I am a unfit person to lead ministry. And I just felt like God was saying, girlfriend, do you not see all of the people in the Bible? Y’all are screwed up all of you. So, um, but I will say my first year at Hyde Park, I went to counseling for a year, because I was really dealing with failure and just fear of connecting with people because it was such a huge loss to, to, to say goodbye to those families who I had grown so close to and so um, I mean, it took it took time to heal, for sure. Yeah,

Kirsten Knox: 19:19

yeah. And being able, I just think of God’s goodness, when you share that. And I remember walking through some of that with you. And so here and you tell him tell the story just puts me back in those moments, but I think about God’s goodness, and making that calling such a moment for you that was preparing you for what was to come right in moments when it gets hard and moments, not only if I question it, but someone questions that, to me, like being able to do that and just the goodness of God in that moment. And then the courage that you had to be able to apply for Hyde Park, I think, right, that’s courageous in the moment. I mean, you talk about in a sense of handy to jobs I’m applying everywhere. But I still think it’s such a statement of courage to be able to do that. Particularly when someone you admire and been in ministry for a long time says I think that’s probably not a good idea. So I just love that as part of Your story, those themes that you see.

Brian Lawson: 20:16

Yeah, I also think it’s important for people to remember don’t don’t say no for other people, right? I mean, put it out there and let them say no. So I mean, you don’t need to say no, it’s for them. So I love that is great. I think that’s a that’s a chunk of wisdom there for people to hold on to. For sure. Yeah.

Kirsten Knox: 20:34

And Emily, you talked about going to counseling and working through the grief and that healing process? And I wonder, even today, are there? Are there ways that that experience still affects the way you do ministry? Or maybe not? In some moments, though, your thought process like how does that still affect you today? Or does it still affect you?

Emily Felgenhauer: 20:54

It’s funny, I, I still carry this fear of getting fired again, which could happen. I mean, this is, there is no guarantees in anything. But you know, anytime that I make a mistake, I usually call my supervisor and I’m like, oh, you might have to, you might be getting phone calls about this, I’m so sorry. Or like, you know, if I’m being told by my supervisor, or pastor like, these are some things that we need you to work on and get coached on. I take it very seriously. Like, it’s not something where I’m like, Oh, well, you know, what, like, no, it’s very serious, because I know what the consequences have felt like, and uprooting myself and the devastation of of leaving very quickly, a ministry because they were told on a Sunday that I was leaving, and I was gone by Wednesday. So that’s how quickly that transition happened for those families. So they didn’t get a huge, proper goodbye. And also at the time, I wanted to set up the next person up for success, and the person who did succeed me is still there. So you know that that was important, too, is I didn’t want to bad mouth, my situation either.

Kirsten Knox: 22:16

Now which show right and those moments, you understand that and want to do that, but also that just takes the last self control because it’s painful, and walking through that. And then at Hyde Park, you’ve had multiple supervisors, right in your time there. How does this experience and thinking about getting a new supervisor I would imagine that is then again, another wave of emotion of happening to navigate that as you go through those changes, what have you learned about changing supervisors,

Emily Felgenhauer: 22:42

yeah, changing supervisors, it’s not Yeah, great wisdom and advice as you walk through that. What have easy. So you get comfortable Finally, you get in a groove with somebody, and then, you know, they move on, or they they go up the ladder, or you know, whatever have you. And that has been challenging. And I think what I’ve learned is the first year of any kind of change, whether it’s, you’ve changed a job, whether you’ve changed a supervisor, the first year is just going to stink, it’s not going to be wonderful. And so knowing that it’s there’s going to be uncomfortable moments and knowing that it’s important to communicate, communicate your needs, communicate the things that you really like about what they’re doing, how they’re supervising you. You know, remember, and YMI they always talked about leading up and you have to communicate to your supervisor what works and doesn’t work. And so it’s been hard. I’ve had some tough years, like my old supervisor, not my current one. She and I had a really tough first year when she came to Hyde Park. And she left and like, I mean, it was she, she ended up marrying me when I when I did get married. We were so close. We’re still very close. So relationships can change. You just got to give it some time. you learned about getting back up? So you talk to us a lot about the getting knocked down? And what’s that? Like? And I feel like for me, I have felt that as you have told that story, and I imagine that for our listeners, is that such a story that resonates even if it’s not that same story, but the emotions of that but what have you learned about getting back up? So getting back up I think takes me mirror of being really honest with yourself of what what got you here? How did you participate in getting you down it wherever situation you’re in? And you’re you’re welcome. And my thing is, is like I tell myself, girl, you’re welcome to have a pity party, but we’re not gonna stay down here long. Like you can have it. You can go there you call your best friend and you have that pity party. But then we then we got to move, we can’t stay there. So getting back up, I think takes time of what feeds my soul. Like what are things that really inspire me to be better to do better? To get out of a nasty headspace, for me, it’s Disney music. I know. It’s pathetic. I’m 35 like girlfriend, but it’s true.

Brian Lawson: 25:26

Disney’s in our house a lot so that we’re not looking down on you. We had Disney Resort TV on our Spotify playlist last night. But you have children, Brian. But no, this wasn’t for them. It was for my wife and I let’s be real.

Kirsten Knox: 25:39

Brian’s like, Yeah, when you talk about the Disney, yes.

Emily Felgenhauer: 25:43

And you know, getting outside and walking, I’m not a huge like, gym, gym person, I don’t really enjoy it. I mean, I’ve done it, blah, blah, but I really enjoy walks. So going out and walking and getting fresh air getting new perspective. You know, getting in your Bible really like getting a good devotional, whether it’s from the Bible app, whether it’s literally just opening up scripture, having quality prayer time, which is also what I do when I walk, and how to get back up is a process. And there’s a lot of patience that you need with yourself, and know that it takes time to grow, you don’t grow overnight. And it’s it’s really letting the spirit lead you into the new way that that God’s taking you.

Brian Lawson: 26:39

So requires a lot of bravery. I mean, I think whenever you’re facing those situations, going into those unknowns about yourself and about where you’re going, whatever that looks like. And not knowing where the destination is, can be can be scary for a person who’s questioning their call. I can just imagine, you question that, because you’re asking the question or because someone else asked you the question. You don’t know where you’re going to land on that answer. And that’s, that can be a scary a scary thought. You mentioned that you had to sort of really become self aware about the parts that you needed to own in the process. How did you figure out what those parts were? Because I think it’s easy just to be down on yourself, and then name a lot of things that maybe aren’t really completely you. But then the opposite is true, a person can take no ownership. So how do you find you know, what really is? Okay, these are the parts I should grow in? How did you do that? Or how would you recommend somebody going about learning that about themselves?

Emily Felgenhauer: 27:39

Well, I think you have to look at the stages of grief. I mean, that’s really what you’re going through, you’re going through grief. And part of that is being defensive. And you know, in the very beginning when something happens to us, and we get knocked down. Whose fault, is it? Because it’s certainly not mine. You know, I think you I think you got to go there. And then it’s, it’s really, who do you surround yourself with? Do you surround yourself with? Yes, people? Or do you surround yourself with people who do challenge you? And that you can ask those hard questions with and, you know, kearson, I’ve been friends for so long that oftentimes, you know, I would even ask your son like, what, what do I need to learn from this? Like, what or I think, I think hearing from a loving person, and asking those hard questions from someone who has good communication skills, who can do what I call the Oreo, where they can say, like, Emily, you’re so great at these things. Maybe there’s some ways that you can work on this stuff in the middle. And then but don’t forget, you are a child of God. You know what I mean? Like, having some beers is pretty good. So good at that, yes. But I think it’s really important to have those people in your life to help you recognize and then when you hear things, to really take that to heart, and to say I want to grow, I don’t want to stay stuck. And I don’t want to be a victim. And I want to be somebody that other people can look up to. And I want to be an instrument of God.

Brian Lawson: 29:17

Yeah. Yeah, I think, you know, hopefully you have those friends like that. But I know not everybody does. I know one of the big shows we hear a lot about is youth or children’s ministers struggling to make friends outside the congregation that they serve, which creates its own challenges. So hopefully you have friends like that. But but if you don’t I you know, tell our listeners that this is where a great counselor can come in, come into play or, or some sort of professional coach or something. This is where you can see those sorts of avenues if you especially if you don’t have those friends that you feel like are good at the Oreo. Yeah. So

Kirsten Knox: 29:53

Emily, when you talked about getting back up, you named four things that I think are just pivotal for us and I want to recap those. One is the self awareness right and having the ownership of your situation. And the second one, identifying things that are life giving for you and that is inspiring those coping skills as well as just what helps move you forward. Then having patience. And then the fourth one was healthy growth takes time of those four, which one do you say for you just innately is easier of those steps and which one is more challenging for you.

Emily Felgenhauer: 30:27

So I would definitely say that challenging is patience. I am not good at that. I’m so not good at that. And God continues to put situations in my life, to try to help me to do patients, it’s so hard. Um, but I would say probably the thing that I go to the most. And that’s easiest is how to get back up. I’m an enneagram. Seven, if anybody is into the enneagram. And the shadow side of the first of all, the enneagram. Seven is an enthusiast I love to be enthusiastic and have fun. That’s where that’s my sweet spot. But the shadow side of that is pain. You really do not want to sit in pain, it is painful to be in pain. So Oh, I think my easy one is to figure out how to get out of pain, which is the coping mechanisms what what can get me out of the rut?

Brian Lawson: 31:27

Well, that’s excellent. And we thank you so much for sharing for your story, because I know you hear somebody feel like I hear all the time of people losing their, their their ministry jobs, whether they were let go. Or maybe it was even just a financial decision of the of the church and those kind of things. And so I know, there’s a lot of people who go through this kind of this similar types of situations in those transitions, so

Kirsten Knox: 31:53

I just think it resonates, right. Like it just resonates on many levels, professionally, as well as I think personally, as you think about as Emily shared about what she has learned and how she moves through that it’s not you can apply that on all different situations that you face. And I think that is just very valuable. And it’s good to be reminded, especially in this season, when I think we’ve faced a lot of uncertainty, it’s been a hard season, a season of grieving. And you can even use these as we continue to navigate this pandemic, and what does that look like and taking care of yourself emotionally, which is very helpful. I have one last question for you. How has this learning these things of how to get back up or even just the experience of getting knocked down? How has that been valuable for you in your life.

Emily Felgenhauer: 32:45

So you know, the story that I shared with you, there was a happy ending. And that is not always the case when we get knocked down. And that is not always Everyone’s story. And, to that I’ve had several things in my personal life that have been devastating. In the last several years, I did get married. And within my marriage, I had three miscarriages, and had to learn a lot about about grief in that way, about loving something and hoping and being so excited. And then it being taken away and taken away and taken away. And learning. What if my life doesn’t include this picture that I so badly wanted. And then after that, I went through a divorce. So your picture changed again. And that also has been a devastating journey. I’m, I’m almost, I’m almost a year out from having separated from my ex husband. And what I know, even though I’m still going through the healing process of that divorce, that what I’ve learned from my miscarriages that have been a little more separated year wise, is that time does really heal. And it’s okay to still have moments of mourning. And it’s okay to still have hoped for a different outcome. But the thing is, is that I know who holds my future. And that comfort is undeniable. And knowing that, that I belong to God, and that he has chosen me to be in such a time as this, and why in the world did I have to go through all of that stuff. And I know that it’s going to be a part of my testimony, it’s going to be a part of, you know, it may not be a Cinderella story, much like my job situation was 11 years ago, but I know that I still feel loved and I know that God has shown up for me in big ways this past year. And, and he’s going to continue to and so there’s a lot of hope in that but I would say for those who are in In the midst of real knocked down, whether it’s career wise, whether it’s personal, that it’s okay to be to be feeling very emotional, it’s okay to feel defeated. But to do everything that you know when your power to not stay there, and whether it’s a counselor, whether it’s a friend, find the things that gets you up, and just know that God loves you unconditionally, and that you are not alone. And that he is walking with you, and he does see your heart and He is with you.

Brian Lawson: 35:52

Hmm,

Kirsten Knox: 35:53

I love that so powerful. And I hear you just talking about leaning into your identity and our identity in Christ in those moments and what hope and power comes from that. So what ever you are facing the power of your identity in Christ. It’s just really that bedrock that we can stand on that firm foundation no matter what. so powerful. Thank you, Emily, so much for coming and sharing your story and having just helping us learn through you and what you have experienced, but also the courage and, and the wisdom that you have shown today. We really appreciate that and grateful for

Emily Felgenhauer: 36:29

Well, thanks for inviting me.

Brian Lawson: 36:30

Yeah, absolutely. All right. So we’ve got some questions that that we try to answer questions at the end of every episode, a couple of them, we got two specific things we’re going to focus on. So Emily, if you’re willing to stick around and talk through these with us, the three of us will try to give some answers to these. Let’s start with the first one that we received from Connor, was how do you use food in your ministry? At which events? Do you feed your students? Do parents make the food? Do you bring it in from a restaurant? And then finally, you know, how is COVID changed the use of food within your ministry? I don’t know about you guys. But my default answer prior to COVID was always yes to food, if you can afford it. I mean, that was just like default, I would find a way to put some kind of food in the room. Because Well, we all like a good like good food. So I don’t know, what do you guys think? How has that changed? And what are you guys doing now? How do you determine whether to bring food or not?

Kirsten Knox: 37:35

I would say I mean before COVID, right? Like food? I always Yes. I mean, if you can put it in there, right? Brian, I’m like you there’s something about breaking bread together that just builds community posts. COVID are in the middle of COVID. That has been a challenge, I missed that part. And we started going back in person in the last couple months and doing that differently, but finding ways to do that creatively. And for us meal, we did a meal together every week together. And we’re smaller youth group and our parents would bring that in each week, they would sign up for a different, different sign up for a different week to bring the meal. And we would do that. And we have not been doing that that is something that has, we’ve taken that out of our schedule. So justed what we do during this season, so I missed that piece of people bringing that in. And I will have to say in small small groups, we have done some where our high schoolers have met and had a meal together or done something. So we’ve done that more out than people bringing in in. And that has been helpful, but I do I missed that piece. One season when I worked at a church, they we had a commercial sized kitchen. And we had someone on staff that did the food and hospitality. And so that was easy, because you’re like then I just don’t have to order pizza. Right. And we were a size that people bring in it in would have been difficult. So that was a blessing. We enjoyed that piece. But I would say yeah, now we try. We’ve cut that out of most of our weekly programming, and missed that piece.

Emily Felgenhauer: 39:09

Yeah, I would say for our youth ministry, we always had food, we had bags of chips pack wider. And then like for actual programming, we bring in food to you on a flat KFC coming would have to like pay $5 to eat, you know, and then we’d always have candy at the end that we would hand out for we would do a challenge and at the end, and if the kid voted correctly, they got candy, which is the only thing we’re currently doing now when we do get in person which is once a month. We don’t have any food. We ask them to bring their own water bottles, but we do hand out candy at the end as they’re leaving. Because then you know, why not? They’re going home.

Brian Lawson: 39:59

That’s right. Yeah, I mean, I think that if it’s not if it’s not necessary, there’s no reason to expose your leaders or yourself or your students to COVID just because you feel like you have to have food at your event. So if you know if the students have had dinner before, after or they’re going to have it shortly After your programming, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have food right now in this season, give it like, like Emily said, or Kristen give it to them to take to go like take home with them or something. But if you’re at a church that’s struggling with a budget to, to have snacks for your children or your youth, particularly in youth ministry, we always had a snack bar because we had a really low budget for the number of students we had. I mean, significantly low. And so we had to find other ways to, to fund it. So we we had a snack bar, because we had students from 130 till eight o’clock. So we had him for almost seven hours. And so they were hungry, obviously. But but that snack bar actually, even though we charge next to nothing funded our visitor gifts, and it funded, I mean, some of the games we did, you can charge the minimum price and still have a little extra money there that you can invest back into the ministry. So I think short answer is probably avoid food right now give it to impact as a take. But we all believe in food whenever we can do that again. Yeah. Okay. The last, the last question we’re going to hit this time is not necessarily a single question. But I think it’s all over the Facebook groups. I’ve seen it everywhere. And I’ve heard people asking what what are we doing for Lent this year? If you’re at a church that that participates in Ash Wednesday, in the season of Lent, what are your guys’s thoughts on how people could do that this year and isn’t even relevant, really, this year? Any thoughts?

Emily Felgenhauer: 41:49

So for my church, you were kind of traditional that where we actually still have Ash Wednesday, and we do recognize Lent, for the liturgical year, and so we are still primarily online, I mean, we have in person services underneath a white tent on Sunday mornings, that maybe 40 people are coming to. But online, we can have over 1000 views on a Sunday morning, live with us. So with that, what we’re doing is we’re going to have a drive by come up and get ashes on your head on Ash Wednesday. And then we’re going to have a family kit that they can take home with them that will have devotions that they can do as a family together activities that they can explain to their children and youth about what is Lent, why are we doing it? And primarily, the purpose of it is to let go of something, which is the season right now of COVID. What are some things that we need to continue to let go up to remember God, and then what are something that we want to add to our life in order to get closer to God. So it’s really right now about building our parents up, to set them up for discipleship at home with our children and youth.

Brian Lawson: 43:08

That’s great. That’s great. I love that.

Kirsten Knox: 43:11

Yeah, and I love just giving them the tools to be able to do that. I think glint hits us just at a perfect time. And where we are in the pandemic, I was sharing the other day that I just feel like the new year, I just have this energy right here, like it just naturally comes. And this blondeness that I have felt has been odd for this season. And then thinking about Lent, perfect time for me to think back through what are things that I want to add and take away to help me in during the season, but also to give some life giving in places. So that has been just think for us to think about is comes at a great time. Like, I feel like in the beginning of the pandemic, I did a much better job of doing the things I needed to do to get through this. And then I’ve kind of let that lacks, though, horribly, some of my emotional blindness is I need to do that. So like, do those things that I think remit lent reminds me of that. And I love that idea of just doing it with your family. And then because ashes are gonna be different for a lot of people doing that this year.

Brian Lawson: 44:18

Yeah, I think lent this year could potentially be significant for, for people in a way of remembering and acknowledging mortality in ways that we never had before. Because I think that that’s something that as a society, in a world, we’re all acknowledging, at a deeper level than we ever have in our entire lives. And so that could be a significant focus of Lent this season for your church, I would say try to line up your ministry with whatever the church as a whole is doing. So if there’s any way that you can line up your teaching, or your focus with what the pastor is doing would be very beneficial to the families. And I also wonder if if you’re at a church that has the capacity or the ability, if putting out some short, very short 32nd two minute half videos, on reflecting on these things of Lent would wouldn’t be beneficial that you can put in your Instagram stories in those sorts of things, just to put it on the forefront of the minds of your of your teenagers and families. But yeah, those are great suggestions. Thank you all so much, Emily, thank you for sharing your time with us and your story and your heart. I know it was meaningful to our listeners, and I know they got a lot out of it. Friends, I’d like to remind you, as always, if you have questions, please feel free to send them into podcast@yminstitute.com or post them on our Facebook group, the Making Sense of Ministry Facebook group. And if you’re in need of coaching or you want some support, we we have short, short cohorts that we launch on a regular basis. We also have coaching, individual personalized coaching that we hope you will consider. And until next time, friends, I hope we helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.

Must-Have Youth Ministry Hats

Must Have Youth Ministry Hats

When my son Paul was in first grade, we moved from the Washington, DC. area, to Pittsburgh, PA. I had just taken a new youth ministry job, and the move was pretty big for the whole family. As well as all three of my children, I was born just outside of D.C., so naturally, I raised my children to cheer for the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins. My children had all the gear – shirts, hoodies, jerseys, and of course, hats. The problem was that Redskin hats in Steelers country don’t really work, but how do you tell your six-year-old son that he can no longer wear his favorite sports team’s hat now that we were living in a new city? I didn’t tell him, and he continued to wear his favorite hat.

On Paul’s first bus ride to his new school, a bully decided it would be funny to grab his hat off his head and throw it out the window. As he did, the other kids on the bus laughed. Paul was humiliated. That evening when I asked Paul how his first day of school went, he told me about the incident. I was furious. He was hopeful. He simply told me that he saw where the hat had landed, and asked if we could go back to look for it.  Miraculously, the hat was still near the spot where that bully had thrown it out the bus window.  Paul got his hat back. I told Paul that he might want to more carefully consider the types of hats he wears from now on.

Why do I tell this story? Well, I was thinking about hats we wear in youth ministry.

As Youth Ministers, we don’t just wear our one, favorite hat. And we need to carefully consider the types of youth ministry hats we wear because wearing the wrong hat at the wrong time can have consequences. One key to successful ministry is knowing when and where to don the right ministry hat.

Wise Youth Ministers Always Remember These Four P’s

PASTOR HAT

A wise Youth Minister remembers that sometimes you’re the pastor, so you need to shepherd the Lord’s sheep under your care. Whether you have the title, “pastor” or not, you are a shepherd. Your role is to point students toward Jesus, and help them reconnect when they start to get off course.

Most students have few people pointing them toward Jesus and inserting God’s Word into their lives. As a shepherd, one of your most significant roles is being one of only a handful of people tasked to care for a student’s spiritual life. Shepherd well. This is your primary role as a Youth Minister.

PAL HAT

A wise student ministry worker remembers that sometimes you’re their pal, so be a friend. Even Jesus didn’t just go around quoting scripture and teaching lessons.  Sometimes He was just a friend to those who followed Him.

The gospels don’t really show this, but I can guess that Jesus played games, hung out, and did a lot of laughing with His disciples.  And Jesus seems to be breaking bread with His followers a lot too. Bottom line, He was their friend. Sometimes that’s all our students need at the moment – a friend to laugh with, cry on, share with, and just have fun with. And someone whom they can trust and come to with problems and struggles. Do your students have a friend in you?

PARENT HAT

A wise Youth Minister remembers that sometimes you’re the parent, so share wisdom and discernment as a parent. You can’t always just hang out and have fun with students.  They’re bound to do questionable things that require tough love, and who better positioned to offer that than you.

Of course, most students have biological parents, so we can never usurp them. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t step into that role when needed and offer a parental perspective – especially if it reinforces things their parents are already communicating to them and that we’re equipping their parents to do. Even if you’re not a parent, be a parent to your teens.

Youth Ministry Coaching Ad

POLICEMAN HAT

A wise Youth Minister remembers that sometimes you’re the policeman, so draw the boundaries and enforce the rules. We know that in order to feel love, students need to know boundaries and face consequences when they cross them. God’s Word certainly tells us not to spare children from discipline when they step out of line (Proverbs 13:24).

As Youth Ministers, we need to use common sense when it comes to discipline. We don’t shame, punish harshly, or humiliate a teenager who breaks the rules. However, we do need to teach them that breaking rules, whether our youth ministry’s, the church’s, or God’s rules have consequences when broken. So, step up and enforce the rules.

So, there you go – the must-have youth ministry hats. It’s all about knowing when to take off one hat and put on another. If you can master the ability to seamlessly navigate this process, you’ll take huge strides toward providing the kind of holistic ministry leadership your teenagers need.


Brent Squires - Author

Brent Squires has dedicated the last twenty-three years of his life to student ministry. As the Student Ministry Pastor at Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis, Maryland, Brent provides leadership and development for three campus student ministry directors. He oversees a staff of seven, as well as almost 100 volunteers at the broadcast campus. His ministry consists of over 300 middle, high, and college-age students representing 30 area schools. He has been married for twenty-nine years, has three young-adult children, and one pit bull. Brent is also the co-host of the How’d They Do That? podcast. Prior to full-time ministry, Brent oversaw luxury seating for the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins.


Top 5 Things To Do In 2021, “Trapped,” and The Phrase We Never Want To Say Again

5 Things You Should Do In Your Ministry

In this episode, Brian and Kirsten share 5 things you should do in 2021. These 5 things will engage the people in your ministry, set you up for success, and will inspire you to stay in ministry – even when it is difficult.

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Brian Lawson: 0:14

Welcome to Episode One of our second season of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is the podcast designed to help you lead well and your ministry transform lives and impact generations. I’m Brian Lawson and I’m here with my co host, Kirsten Knox. Kirsten, how are you doing today?

Kirsten Knox: 0:29

I am doing well. I’m doing better I should say I have. Since we have started to set this up. I’ve had some coffee had a little bit of a frazzling. Morning. So I’m feeling a little calmer. So as you take a big drink of that coffee, right?

Brian Lawson: 0:46

The goodness of coffee? Yes, yes. And although 2021 has started a little rocky, we are in 2021. And we are out of 2020. So that is good. And we’re in the second season as podcasts. So what are you looking forward to this season? Here’s some What do you think we’ll we’ll do that people will love.

Kirsten Knox: 1:03

Oh, you know what I’m looking forward to just having conversations along the way as we readjust to ministry and getting back hopefully, right. This is the big hope that at some point in 2021. Ministry feels full in person ish, right like that, we get back to that. So just kind of navigating and doing that together and figuring it out. Because there’s a lot to figure out. So I just think, talking about it and walking through that. I’m excited in this season.

Brian Lawson: 1:33

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m so ready for things that to feel normal. Although we all know that it’s gonna be different. And there will be adjustments, but to at least feel normal will be fantastic when that day comes. So just out of curiosity, Kirsten, I was thinking about this. I’m wondering if you could bring back any one of your events this year with all the bells and whistles with no COVID concerns? There’s no limitations? Like, what would be the one event that you’d want to make sure you brought back?

Kirsten Knox: 2:04

Oh, hands down, I would say trapped, this is an event. It’s an all nighter me? Well, I say this, I do not like lock ins are really all nighters. But years ago, had a friend developed this event called trapped and it’s a 12 hour, we do it from 8pm to 8am 12 hour competition, where you start with two teams, and you end with one survivor at the very end of the night or early in the morning. And then you have some big grand prize that they get. But it is so much fun. I’ve been doing it for the last 13 years, and this year would have been 14, which we did not get to do it.

Brian Lawson: 2:43

So hold on. So you have one survivor. So how do you get down to that survivor? So like if someone wanted to do trapped? Like what’s the basics of how they get down to one survivor,

Kirsten Knox: 2:53

okay, so you divide up into two teams, we usually we did ours around Thanksgiving or not Thanksgiving Halloween. So we did a black team and an orange team. And every hour on the hour is an immunity challenge. So they do some kind of team building activity, the team that wins wins immunity for the hour, the team that loses then goes to the elimination round, where people from their team are eliminated. And the eliminations were all by chance. And your immunity challenges were team building and like working together because it never wanted anyone. Kids have all different kinds of skill levels, right. So you’re like, I don’t want anyone to get eliminated because of that. And then we’d have high schoolers that are eliminators. And they dress up it has a little bit of a Halloween feel to it. But so then you get immunity. So every hour, right, you have this immunity challenge. But if you get eliminated, you still participate in your immunity challenges with your team because you still want your team to win, even if you’re out. But if they go to the elimination round, you just don’t go like you stay back. I like that. Because I was concerned when you’re talking about people getting out like what do they do the rest night? But if they’re still trying to help their team save Yeah, yeah. So it still engages them. And then you have you know, basketball things going on that you have an irregular all nighter, right? Because when the other teams that the elimination round, there’s a team that’s back, so you have to have some kind of activities, we had a gym so we would do kickball, and different stuff. But then the teams get smaller and smaller. So at one point early in the morning, you combine to one team and that’s when you don’t participate anymore with your team when they become one. So at that point, you’re probably down to 10 or 12 people and then they compete against each other and then a number of them will get immunity like the person that wins the activity gets immunity sometimes to people get immunity depending on the activity. And then I think this is key, we have a readmittance game. So several times throughout the night everyone who’s been eliminated gets to play this activity, and then you can reenter the game. So if any eliminate live, right and so you come down to a couple and then you have a grand prize survivor.

Brian Lawson: 5:08

So okay, so the name trap freaks me out. So like I don’t like the idea of being trapped. But but it sounds pretty neat. It sounds like it’d be good event for for group to do whenever they can, again, just change the name that’s all, you know, like, sound like survivor in some ways.

Kirsten Knox: 5:23

There is a twist to that. Yes. And if you’re doing it in a different time of year you could change it to whatever name you want it but yeah, we loved it. Our kids loved it. That was one of the first things they said this year was can we be? Are we gonna be able to trapped? I got that question at Christmas. Yeah. I wonder what all of our listeners like what all their kids and students are asking for you know, like, what’s that? thing? They’re all I can we do that this year, please. I’ve gotten trapped and summer camp. Hmm. Yeah, like going away for the summer doing some kind of summer trip has been a two so far. Oh,

Brian Lawson: 6:01

yeah. I think if I, if I was I was torn when I was thinking about this either summer camp, because we really have a great camp down here in Florida, where we’re at Warren Willis UM camp is fantastic. So shout out to them. They do a great job. Makes it easy on us, youth, youth and children’s ministers because we don’t really have to do anything. Which is great. But so yeah, that one is great. And I love that. But I also would really want our beach retreat back. Being a Florida we go. And we’d go in early November. And so it was kind of chilly kind of not. Did you get in the water? A little bit? A little bit, but we mostly went to the pool. So it’s like a we called it a beach retreat. But it really wasn’t a beach or pool retreat. we would we would go out and do stuff on the beach games and stuff and like nighttime activities out there. But But yeah, that was that I loved it. And I think we liked it too, because the beach felt different in November than it doesn’tget that. But yeah, so I’m sure all of our listeners probably have things they just saw won’t come back and their and their students too. Yes. And here’s what I also want to not have to say put your mask on.

Kirsten Knox: 7:19

Put your mask on, put your mask on, no no over your nose to write like up like, I’m ready not to say that or to remind some of our students others did really great and you know, a couple we need to continue to remind so I’m ready for that phrase to be out of my vocabulary.

Brian Lawson: 7:36

So, okay, this is a little side tangent. I don’t know about you, but I watch TV and I see people without their mask on. I was like, wait, what are you doing? Put your mask on? And I forget Oh, yeah, that was 10 years ago. We didn’t need mask 10 years ago. So did crazy. Weird things. Yes. That there’s I don’t know if enormously around mask yet. But like it’s starting. Yeah. Right. Like I still forget mine. Our times are getting ready to walk in some places like Oh, yeah. But then again, when I don’t see it, like on TV, I’m like, What is it? So it’s an odd? I don’t know. odd thing. Oh, so if you are still listening to us, you know, Praise Jesus for you.

Brian Lawson: 8:17

But so in this episode, Kirsten, I think you and I were talking we, we felt like maybe it was good to share, like maybe the top five things that people should consider doing this year and 2021. Yeah. Like, and so as we were talking, we we sort of find these things would be incredibly important to our listeners this year into their ministries. And so I’ll start with the first one, and then and then we’ll go from there. So the first one we thought was so incredibly important for for you to do this year is to communicate 10 times more than you think you need to Yes. And you said when we were talking about this, that you felt like you would annoy people.

Kirsten Knox: 9:02

Yeah, I in my head. I’m like, Yes, I mean, repetition is good, repeat it, repeat it. And then there’s always this fear of mine that I’m being annoying. And what I have discovered is it’s in that spot that I’ve probably hit the right amount. So be annoying with your communications of repeating, we’ve just had so much change, right? Like your events or change times are impersonal, virtually, like there’s just been so much. And parents also are navigating so much other change in different arenas that they’re in that I’m like, they need to see it more often than what they used to need to see it. And I think that was a lot too. So yeah,

Brian Lawson: 9:40

I mean, trying to keep up with my own children’s schedules with school being virtual for them. I’ve got one child and one type of virtual and another and another type of virtual and the schedules change all the time. And then my I’ve got my schedule my wife schedule, so yeah, it’s just so incredibly difficult to keep track of everything anyways, under normal circumstances, but especially now, and like you said, with all the change that has happened in our ministries, you know, going some in person than out of person than back in person and digital and who knows anymore at this point in time. So, and I think we even have trouble keeping track. grown ministry sometimes like Wait, are we digital this? Yeah. So. So yes, I think communicating way more than you think you need to is absolutely necessary. I mean, post the same social post three times before your meeting, send out the text messages twice or the you know, send out emails multiple times. But use all the avenues and use them multiple times right now, because I think that’s really important. If you want people to show up, let’s just be honest.

Kirsten Knox: 10:43

You don’t have to change the content. Right. So you don’t have to develop that once. Whatever that looks like. just repeating Lee’s sending out there I think is important and needed. Yeah, absolutely. Kirsten, what’s the second one? Number two is identify new student leaders. As we were thinking about this, Brian, and I were thinking about this, we’ve had some changes, you’re starting a new year, even the fall will look differently. So probably the way you recruited student leaders or identified student leaders looks different. But just to be thinking intentionally about who are those and spending some time identifying those would be helpful.

Brian Lawson: 11:23

Yeah, because, you know, we really think and when we say student leaders, it doesn’t need to be a formal student leadership team. I mean, I even think you can do this in children’s ministry. And maybe we don’t give enough credit to our older fourth or fifth grade children in our in the ministries. But really, you’re just asking them to give inputs to provide their gifts to take ownership. And I think a fourth or fifth grader can even take a little bit of ownership of things in the children’s ministry. You know, I think about my wife teaching at school, I mean, there her students have jobs. And part of that is because they take ownership of the classroom, I take ownership of the family there. And so yeah, I mean, I think seeking to identify the new ones, maybe there’s something you always need to do anyways, because students leave children leave, they graduate to the next ministry, or they graduate out of the youth ministry all together, or they move around. But yeah, this year with all the turnover, I think seeking out the new ones, and keeping an eye out for the ones who’s who. Gosh, I always remember this was this is an old thing, but who cleans up, cleans up the room. Yep. You know, if somebody sticks around and cleans up the room, or picks up the Bibles or the chairs, or I see somebody intentionally saying hi to somebody who’s new man, those are the people that I would really gravitate towards trying to try to get them to take some ownership because they obviously already loved the place. And the people. So and you know, what I’ve noticed in this season recently is some students feel underutilized, because things that they are used to being involved in have, are not happening the same way or maybe not happening at all. And so they have this capacity, that maybe a different capacity to invest into do differently than what it was a year ago.

Kirsten Knox: 13:20

And I’ve noticed that there are some students, at least in our youth ministry that have shown that so I’ve tried to give some space where they can have a job or to do something and take ownership of an area. And it’s different, there’s been a shift for a couple of our students that I didn’t anticipate, but that I have seen and I felt like that was interesting. To take note of and then to think about, I mean, the question I asked is, how do I, how do I continue to nurture that? And take advantage of this new opportunity for some of our students? Yeah, yeah.

Brian Lawson: 13:57

The third one, on our list of things we think you really need to do in 2021, is find your parent advisors. Now I say this as somebody who never had an official Parent Advisory Committee. To be honest, I’m not a committee person. I don’t like committees. But teams, you like teams, I like teams, I want them to feel like they’re part of a team. But I don’t know that I ever officially have them. But I did have parents on my, on my volunteer teams, so they were consistently putting having input. But also I think, if you find parents who you can just call or text, talk through an idea with see how they respond to something you’re thinking about. Or you can ask them, you know, how are we serving you, you know, what we’re doing helping you actually? Or is it just making your life more difficult or complicated? So having some parents that I think you can bounce ideas off of whether it be formal or informal, I think will be very significant 2021 as we seek to move forward and rebuild many things.

Kirsten Knox: 15:04

Yes, and I when you’re thinking about that, identify and parents that have kind of navigated this differently, to get different perspectives, not just the one that more aligns with how You are thinking about navigating this. So parents that have been more cautious that maybe their students have only done virtual things or parents who can’t wait and are ready for pickup students to be their students to be in person and are asking for that, like, identify the different parents than where they may be. And being intentional about asking people in different thought processes, I think will be helpful. I did. I mean, I have to think through that, because I tend to ask people who write who think like I do. So I’m like, okay, getting that input will be helpful, because I’m like, they’re gonna, if I’m not asking for their input, they’re giving their input. And I want that to come to me versus in the parking lot or different places. So creating an avenue for that, I think is particularly important. Ouch. Right? I mean, they’re giving input and they have opinions whether or not you want to hear them, you know, whether or not you’re trying to hear them.

Brian Lawson: 16:11

Yeah, I think reaching out to them. And getting advice is fantastic. Because it is so easy to sit in your office, and just map everything out and be done, and move on. And think, yeah, everybody thinks like me, and this is great. But then then you try to actually do it, and it doesn’t turn out well. And oftentimes, it’s because you didn’t bring other people along in the way absolutely also didn’t communicate. And you also don’t have students or children that take ownership, but that’s besides them.

Kirsten Knox: 16:40

Yes, I think that is so true, to be able to get their input and to listen to them. And you’re I think sometimes the fear of doing that is that people aren’t going to agree, right? They’re gonna have different philosophies. So if I ask them, am I responsible for doing what they want? And I think people want to be heard, and recognize that in a group of people, people are navigating this differently. And I think most people understand that. But the value is then being heard. But I don’t think that Oh, wait, right. I’m gonna take what everyone thinks. And I’m work through that process. So listening to different perspectives, there’s value in them being heard, and then you’ll gain some great nuggets of then how to navigate it, and understand how they’re feeling.

Brian Lawson: 17:23

Yeah, and I don’t think we’re saying that just because one parent disagrees that you have to bow down to that. That’s, that’s not what we’re saying. But but we are absolutely saying, There’s wisdom and insight and listening to many different people involved. And you’re also, like you said, allowing them to be heard. And when you feel heard, sometimes you’re willing to go along with something, even if it’s not what you would have chosen, but because somebody took the time to let to listen to you. You’re more. Okay.

Kirsten Knox: 17:53

Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. And there’s power and collective thought. So in this season, I just think we need to lean into that space as much as we can. Yep. Number four, seek identity and belonging outside your work.

Brian Lawson: 18:11

Ooh, Ouch, that one.

Kirsten Knox: 18:13

That one’s hard.

Brian Lawson: 18:15

Yes.

Kirsten Knox: 18:18

We were thinking through that. When you’re thinking about how important it is, particularly, again, we say this all the time, particularly in this season of I think what it hasn’t exposed is the unhealthy ways we have gained our identity through ministry. Right, some of those things have been taken. We’ve watched our engagement levels change, or we’ve, we’ve watched those kind of things and didn’t maybe always realize how much our identity we get out of feeling successful in youth ministry. And what that looks like right now is different. So I think in that exposing that it also gives us an opportunity to develop that identity and belonging outside of our work, and being able to navigate that. Yeah, I remember, I don’t know if I’ve said this in previous episodes. But I am a dad. So I repeat stories. But

Brian Lawson: 19:10

I remember there was a season where I had felt like I was spinning my wheels in lots of ways. And what I mean by that is I was just doing stuff over and over and over again. But never feeling like I was actually seeing results. I mean, yes, I was seeing people and they were growing in faith. But I didn’t see anything tangible from my work. And so that really bothered me. And so I picked up the habit of painting partly because I had done it when I was kid, and I always loved it. I just had put it away for years. But part of the reason why I picked that up was so that there was something physical and tangible when I was done. Like I finished painting and there was something there, good or bad, doesn’t matter. There was a physical object there. Also, mowing the yard also was a little bit of that for me that I felt like I accomplished something that there was a sense of accomplishment there. And so for some of us, I think that means finding something else you can do that you can physically see something you’ve accomplished and remind you that that your work of the church is just part of what you do. It’s not all of what you do. It’s not all of who you are by any means. But we fall into that trap so easily.

Kirsten Knox: 20:21

Yeah, we absolutely do. I had a professor in college who said that all the time to us, and I didn’t really recognize it. Right. And until I got in ministry and realize Yes, that finding our identity outside of our ministry can be a real struggle, I had a friend say to me a number of years ago about finding a place outside of the church to serve. And it was a habit of hers that she did a ministry, it was a place where she found inspiration, and also felt like, she could be a good follower. Volunteer, then you learn when you’re a good follower, you can learn how to be a better leader. But when she first said that, to me, there’s a part of me was like, I just thought, how do you have the energy to do that, like, I and I could, you know, and I could give all the excuses about how much I do for my job and how ministry is all over the place. And it’s inconsistent, right? Maybe that had to do sometimes with me not always setting really good boundaries in those areas of my life also. But when I followed through on doing that, there was something life giving about that. So finding, I would encourage our listeners to find an organization in your community that you align with, that you believe in what they do. So that you have an outlet where you can just go and serve, you don’t have to be responsible for anything, you don’t have to show up early and set up or do any of that kind of stuff, unless that’s your job, I guess, at the volunteer space, but just being able to go into serve and build relationships with people that there’s no responsibility or expectation, because you’re the youth minister, or you’re the children’s minister, and you just get to be you and be able to serve. That was one of the things that I have discovered in ministry, I won’t say that I’ve always had the discipline of doing it, even though I have experienced the goodness of it, which is the interesting part, right. But in 2021, here’s what I’ve also noticed about my life is I think there’s, when you start a new year, there’s just this natural energy, right, like, energy and restart. And in this year, I haven’t felt that. And I’m not sure I always identify that that was a part of starting a new year until it didn’t happen. And I think there are many reasons for that part of pandemic part of just all that’s going on in our world. So I recognize the need to be intentional about being a part of engaging in things that inspire me. Yeah. And I think that can be through volunteer work, that could be through reading, looking for spaces. So in my time, this week, my reflection time I was thinking, What inspires me, and how can I engage in that? Because I need that I need that. My soul needs that this year. Yeah.

Brian Lawson: 23:08

You know, also, for me, I found this is where the network of other people who do the children’s or youth ministry, because we have a network of youth youth ministers here that I was that I belong to for years now. And help lead but also just participated in at different seasons. And going there with no, like you said, no responsibility, you know, no expectation. And just being there was so important. And sometimes I would have a lot to say, sometimes I wouldn’t, sometimes we would talk ministry, and sometimes we wouldn’t. But just being there with people who were like minded, and I could be real with made a significant difference in making me feel like I belonged. And just having a positive impact on how I saw myself and therefore how I saw others. Because a lot of times I think how we how we see ourselves, reflects on how we treat and see others. So, and this year, like you said, kearson, we’ve come out of a crazy 2020. We’re in 2021, which is probably going to have its own craziness like every year does but we’re in this year, and so seeking identity and belonging outside your work will be absolutely significant. And another thing which will bring us to the fifth point that we really think you need to hear for and do for 21 is that Kiersten myself and Steve and Annette and those of us at the youth ministry ends to we actually really think that 2021 and 2022 there’s going to be a lot of staffing changes at churches. I mean, actually really just in general across all markets like all jobs and all markets but especially at churches because it’s been such a traumatic event. And people have questioned everything. I mean, they’re many people question they’re calling they’re questioning whether or not they still can do the work that they’ve been doing. And so there’s just a lot of reasons why and usually not financially related. I mean, these are just personal related issues, but we really think that a lot People are going to be changing their roles and their positions. And so for you, whether you’re in youth or children or family ministry, number four, the seek identity and belonging outside your work, can go a long way in helping you, and helping you stay grounded in the season where you might be questioning things, which then takes me to number five, which I think is also a way for you to stay, stay in ministry, really, let’s be honest, like, if you are questioning your calling, or you’re uncertain, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Our fifth tip for 2021 that we really think you need to do is to look for professional development, seek opportunities for professional development, whatever that might look like, whether that is a conference that you go to or digital conference, maybe it’s books, you pick up some new books and say, Hey, I’m gonna make a goal to read so many books, maybe it’s through courses, or you maybe you go to seminary, or you or you go finished undergrad degree. Obviously, here’s kearson. I believe in youth ministry Institute, we have things that we do as well, that can be helpful anything from coaching to cohorts. But here’s the Why do you think professional development could help somebody stay in their position? If they’re uncertain right now?

Kirsten Knox: 26:33

I think it grounds us in why we got into this in the beginning, right? Like, my circumstances oftentimes can get in the way of me remembering why I started this or why I began this and my passion. So I feel like that professional development can reignite passion for us at times, the phrase that I’ve heard oftentimes from youth ministers, and I’ve caught myself saying is, this isn’t what I signed up for. Right? Like the way I’m doing ministry now, and I do it part time at my church. It’s just not what I signed up for. Right. And, and in that we can get caught in that space, and the all that comes with that. So I think professional development, there’s a grounding. Again, I think there’s inspiring that happens, we get inspired when we do that. And to find a way that works for you. I mean, whether that’s podcasts, webinars, there’s a lot more virtual opportunities, coaching, there’s different ways to look at that. To do that. I think it’s again, looking at things, when I grow my leadership, that’s life giving to me, there are areas I want to grow in, right, there are areas I want to develop. And so being able to identify those and take some time to do that, as a leader, where do I want to, to increase my ability or be a better leader, and then go find those spaces, also just helps with my confidence in ministry. And I think just in developing, so I think life giving, again, that can be another space, that’s life giving to us.

Brian Lawson: 28:04

Yeah, and, you know, when we say professional development, I mean, we were kind of mean in a lot of areas, because your ministry, and your service there is attached to a lot of the health of you as an individual. So this could be physical, emotional, this could be spiritual. So maybe you need just need a sabbatical or something. If your church offers that, or you need to seek out a spiritual advisor. Or if you’re like, I just don’t even know where to grow, that I’ve just been in this so long. And I’m kind of numb and I don’t know what I really need. This is a place where maybe a coach comes in. So a coach comes in and asks you questions and sees where you’re at. We have an assessment that we do on individuals core to call it a core competency. its core competency assessment, and that, you know, that’s a beneficial tool for maybe somebody who’s feeling stuck, and they’re not sure how they need to grow and develop. So whatever it might be, find an opportunity to develop professionally, because it will remind you of your calling, it will help you stay even in the midst of uncertainty and when you’re feeling uncertain, and instead you’re going to focus on development, it’s almost like you’re choosing not to focus on the uncertainty, instead focusing on what you can control. And that is your own your own development. So those are the five just to recap, communicate 10 times more than you think you need to. Number two, identify new student leaders, I even think these could be fourth or fifth graders, I think they can do fantastic. Number three, find your parent advisors, whether formal or informal, doesn’t matter for seek identity and belonging outside your work. And lastly, number five, look for professional development. And before we wrap up, I’d like love I know, we’ve got great interviews coming up this season. We’re going to interview some people who are doing fantastic administer, you have some interesting insights. And we’ll be back to your questions as well. We will we will answer your questions at the end of episodes after the interviews. So make sure you submit your questions to our Facebook group or podcast@yminstitute.com you c n email them to that email addre s. Yes, well

Kirsten Knox: 30:14

That’s all we have for today. We would love for you to join us on our Facebook group, Making Sense of Ministry group. And if you’re looking for free resources, a job board, or professional development, then head over to our website at YMInstitute.com, and until next time I hope we’ve helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.

3 Reasons You Will See Staff Changes In 2021

3 Reasons You Will See Staff Changes in 2021

I can see the end in sight, the light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine has arrived, and 2021 is here. Unless you are a Chiefs, Lightening, Lakers, or Dodgers fan, the nightmare that has been 2020 is over. Or is it? Could 2021 bring significant staff changes?

I’m not one to spread doom and gloom. I am looking forward to the end of the season as much as anyone else. Like everyone else, I am tired of wearing a mask. I miss my friends and family. I want to enjoy community again – in my church, city, and neighborhood. But my weariness also points me to the reality of what might be in store for us this year.

2021 will be a year when we will see a lot of volatility in the job market. And I do not mean through the elimination of jobs. People will choose to move on. There is a significant chance that your youth or children’s minister has considered leaving for quite some time. At the very least has felt a need for change.

So why do we say this? Why do we believe you should prepare for staff changes, and what can you do about it?

Here are reasons why you can expect staff changes in 2021 and what to do about them.

3 Reasons For Staff Changes In 2021

Fatigue

People are emotionally and spiritually tired. There’s nothing left for them to give. They have tried every idea they know and have received rather lukewarm results. Few are excited about what has been happening in their ministry. So, therefore your children’s and youth minister aren’t excited either. And, if they appear to be, they are faking it in hopes of generating excitement.

So, give them a break.

Be clear on the expectations you have for them during the pandemic and what the realistic expectations will be coming out of the pandemic. Be specific.

Set their minds at ease. And then, permit them to take a break.
A well-timed sabbatical (with healthy parameters) will energize ministry leaders for this next phase.

Change of Scenery

People are associative. We associate smells and sounds with places and periods in our life. When my brother visits his alma mater, he always comments on how the library smells and the memories that it brings back for him.

Unfortunately, 2020 will be associated with the places where people worked during the pandemic. In this instance, the empty rooms are more of a reminder of what could or should have been. The grief associated with the pandemic and its aftermath is not fully realized yet.

This grief will drive people to look for a new start. They want to make new memories.

Instead of a change of scenery, meaning a new workplace, think about changing their current scenery. A fresh coat of paint, a new mural, or a rearranged room may help move people to an emotional restart. Positively changing something will communicate hope to others as well.

Calling

Many in ministry have questioned their calling during 2020. Is God now calling them to something else?

There has been ample time to consider other options and life priorities. It makes sense for people to reevaluate their lives in a crisis. When individuals are feeling dissatisfied with their work, they begin to question everything – including their calling.

For ministry leaders, they have been able to spend more time with their immediate family. Indeed this has been beneficial for them, maybe life-saving in some circumstances. Yet, some may now be realizing just how much they have been missing with their family. They may have decided they need a new career that would allow for more significant family time.

Balancing family responsibilities in ministry has always been a challenge and will continue to be a challenge in the future.

Being open to dialogue about the next steps will be critical for those considering a change. Inviting people to consider how God is moving in their lives will help them be heard and, possibly, receive feedback from those they trust.

As you dialogue with your staff member, and you realize they could use some extra support, be ready to provide what they need. Maybe you provide our professional coaching that will encourage your staff member. Perhaps, it will help your youth or children’s minister stay at your church for years to come!

On the other hand, if you realize that you need to fill your newly opened position, we have a job board for you. Better yet, we help clients find the very best individuals for their open ministry positions. Feel free to contact us if we can help you with any youth or children’s ministry needs!

As we prepare for what 2021 has in store, may we be proactive in our approach. Hope is on the horizon. Let’s choose to be part of the group of people that give hope to others.


Steve Schneeberger is the Executive Director of the Youth Ministry Institute. Beginning in 1985, Steve began a vocation as a youth minister serving churches in Kansas and Florida. He is a 1981 graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park, Kansas, has a business degree from Baker University (1985) and a law degree from the University of Kansas (1988). He is married to Carol, a school counselor and former teacher. They have three children.


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.

Resources MentionedDiscuss hard questions with our friends at BeADisciple.com
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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

For more information regarding coaching, consulting, job placement and online courses, join us at YMinstitute.com.

5 Ways To Break Through Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome and Ministry

Imposter Syndrome. This is the name that is given to that overwhelming feeling that you are a fake, a fraud and that you will never be able to be close to people, lest they discover the “real” (and clearly less acceptable) you.

Imposter Syndrome is not just bad self-esteem. It runs deeper and can be harder to identify. It is accompanied by thoughts like “don’t get too close to them, or they will know you don’t know what you are talking about.” It can make you feel like a fake in a room full of people with whom you should otherwise be able to be authentic. Imposter Syndrome can encourage you to give up on a dream or a challenge because you’ll “probably never accomplish it anyhow”.

Where it comes from can be narrowed down to just a few places, all connected to our childhoods. If you have parents who demonstrated emotional instability (high praise and abruptly negative criticism), you may be someone who deals with this. Having overly supportive parents could land you in the same boat. If your parents never wavered in their conviction that you could do nothing wrong, no matter what you actually did wrong, you may also find yourself dealing with imposter syndrome. Both extremes leave the child with a lack of constructive feedback on who THEY are because both extremes are focused on the parents’ needs. It leaves the child, and then the teen, and then the adult without a framework of how to understand their own worth, independent of others.

Imposter Syndrome And Ministry

Those in ministry exhibit signs of Imposter Syndrome at an unparalleled rate to other professions, and it leads to a few potential pitfalls:

An unhealthy focus on achievement.

There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we need to do, right? Or is that just what we tell ourselves? In ministry, it can be easy to DO more and BE more. And since we are doing all of our tasks “for the glory of God”, it can be easy to convince ourselves that our pace and focus is noble. But for those with Imposter Syndrome, the root reason for trying so hard to maintain that pace is because they are trying to be “good enough”. They become convinced that the achievement toward which they are working so very hard will be the thing that finally makes them feel worthy of their titles, or worthy of what others think of them. Finally, they think, I can just stop running once I achieve (insert chosen achievement here).

An unhealthy focus on their public persona.

When we have a large number of students attending our program offerings, we feel accomplished and validated. Especially in the time of COVID, when everything we do is virtual, our exposure to what others in our profession are doing is at an all-time high. It can become disheartening to see another group maintain their numbers or have great luck with creative programming while we know how much of a struggle it is to get our own students to even log on. Because what we do in ministry is so personal, it can be very easy to tie our success in our profession with success as a person. And really, if the students are not signing on, then we are failing them, right? (No, we aren’t, but that’s what “Imposter Brain” wants you to think.)

Unhealthy boundaries and burnout.

For all of the reasons listed above, Imposter Syndrome can lead to ignoring our own families, our own needs, and ultimately burning out while trying to achieve something through our job that is unattainable, at least with those methods. The fulfillment that we have to chase is a fulfillment that we will never catch. Don’t we all want more than that for our lives?

The insidious nature of Imposter Syndrome makes it so that any accomplishment we have becomes further confirmation that we are doing a good job of fooling everyone. The lies we think we have told have been believed by others, and we must lie more to keep up the facade. While we authentically may be talented at an aspect of our job, we find it nearly impossible to believe that to be true.

So what do we do?

For people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome, there can be a few ways to break through that barrier into a fuller, more authentic life and relationships.

5 Ways To Break Through Imposter Syndrome

  • Speak up. Owning the negative self-speak that happens through Imposter Syndrome means breaking the shamed silence and owning your thoughts. Find someone, even just one person, with whom you commit to full honesty. Then, begin to name the thoughts that keep you trapped in this cycle.
  • Separate feelings from facts. Your feelings are important and valid. In situations like imposter syndrome, however, they become taken as facts which negate the empirical facts of the situation. Separating the two will help you to see what is really happening
  • Develop a new script. Your responses, especially internal, toward mistakes or failure can dictate how you see a situation. Remind yourself that failure in a task is not indicative of your worth as a person. Speaking that truth to yourself regularly will go a long way towards believing it.
  • Reward yourself. Setting goals is good, as long as they are achievable and measurable. Set small, measurable goals for yourself and when you achieve them, find a way to congratulate yourself. It doesn’t have to be public, and it doesn’t even have to involve anyone besides you. By celebrating yourself will help to achieve a positive association with your accomplishments, instead of the added pressure of having to keep pushing and achieving.
  • Deny the lie of the hustle. The great lie of “the hustle” is that it hangs your worth on productivity. You do not have to be productive; you only have to be YOU. Which is a highly achievable goal, once you are able to recognize who that is.

Imposter Syndrome can leave us feeling powerless and fraudulent. The good news is that you don’t have to continue to feel that way. For more information about Imposter syndrome, check out this episode of Ask A Therapist: https://youtu.be/M6-aJ9q_yi8


Kelly R Minter is a 20 year veteran of youth ministry, and an RMHCI in the state of Florida and operates Anchored Counseling. Kelly is currently taking new clients and can be reached via email. In addition to her work in counseling and the local church youth ministry, Kelly has been an advocate for youth involvement within the Florida Annual Conference of the UMC.


11: On Terrifying Parent Meetings, 2021 Budgets, Should We Require Parents To Volunteer, And More!

Episode 11 of the Making Sense of Ministry Hosts and Guest
 

In this episode, Brent Squires joins Brian and Kirsten to discuss your questions! These questions include “terrifying” parent meetings, 2021 budgets, and should parents be required to volunteer?

In his third decade of youth ministry, Brent Squires is the cohost of the How’d They Do That? ministry podcast, and serves as the Student Ministry Pastor at Bay Area Community Church.

Resources Mentioned
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Professional Youth Ministry Certification
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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 11 of the making sense of ministry podcast. This is a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry, transform lives and impact generations. Kirsten and I are back again. Hey Kirsten How are you? Hey, everyone doing good. How are you? Good, good. And today we have a special guest Brent Squires. Brent want to say hello?Brent Squires: 0:34

Hey, everyone. How you doing from Annapolis, Maryland.Brian Lawson: 0:37

All right. We’re glad you’re here. Glad you’re here. Brent is the student ministries, pastor at Bay Area Community Church in, as he said in Maryland, and Britain has been in student student ministry for 20 plus years. I think before we talked, he’s in his third decade is what we decided before. So in addition to his work at bay area, Community Church, Brent is also the co host of a ministry podcast called How’d They Do That, which I strongly recommend you check out I listened to a little bit about it. Brent, want to give us a quick rundown as to what that podcast is all about.Brent Squires: 1:09

Yeah, it’s really just a podcast, kind of interviewing other folks from around the country, both known and unknown, small church, big church, you name it, who are doing interesting, unique, exciting things in student ministry. So we just get to hear a little bit about their stuff. And then we get to steal it, do it ourselves and make ourselves look good. That’s the main motivation for the podcast.Brian Lawson: 1:33

Excellent. I actually listened. I was listening this morning to your interview with Josh Griffin. And so there’s some interesting stuff in there, which I which I enjoyed. Kirsten and I are glad you’re here today, Brent, and everyone, we’re glad to listen, we’ve got some good stuff to share with you. But before we get there, I’ve got a few other exciting things to share. Here at the making sense of ministry podcast, we don’t shy away from tough questions. And we we don’t think you should either. Questions really are a sign of growth. And it’s way easier to hear God’s answers when others join you and asking those questions. So that’s why I’m excited to tell you again this week about our sponsor, the social hub for all your spiritual dilemmas and questions is only a click away with our friends at be a disciple calm, head over to their website and scroll through their affordable ecumenical accredited, short term online courses all taught by content experts, they will be in the company of others where it’s safe to discuss hard questions. And if you have questions, and you’re looking to grow, enrolling course today, and as they say, ask away, be a disciple calm. And the second thing I want to share with you is I don’t know about you, I’ve never met a youth or children’s pastor or minister that doesn’t love free stuff, particularly free money, or in this sense, a free amazon gift card. And so you may know that kearson I have been answering your questions, last couple episodes. And we’re gonna keep doing that. And as a way to say thank you. And also to hear some more your questions, we’re going to give away an Amazon gift card coming up in the next couple of weeks. So to qualify for the drawing, you need to email your questions, whatever they’re about children’s or youth ministry, or what you’re facing in your church, email your questions to podcast at y m institute.com. And, and then what we’ll do is we’ll take everybody who’s emailed us, we will put you in for drawing to win that win that gift card. So no matter what your question is around, send it our way to podcast at y m institute.com. And also, be sure to tell us if you don’t want your name set over over the recording and we won’t say your name. Lastly, at the youth ministry Institute, we have a thorough and proven process to help churches find the best match for their open ministry positions. One of those searches we are currently doing is get ready for this this is this is a big one. We are currently helping the largest United Methodist Church in a country find their next Director of Student ministries for their main campus. And you heard that right. If you’re United Methodist, you probably know about Adam Hamilton, this is the church where he’s the senior pastor at the church has five campuses. And this position will collaborate with a large staff and the main campus which this position will be at reaches over 3500 students. And we’re currently taking applications for that position. So friends, it’s really exciting. I hope that you’ll consider applying and if you’re interested in learning more, head over to our website, why am Institute COMM And you’ll see a banner right at the top of the homepage, just click on that. And that will take you to where a site they’ll give you all the information. So we hope you’ll apply or if you don’t apply, maybe you’ll know somebody that you can send the information to. Because we really want to help help you have this great opportunity and also help them find the best match for their position. All right, here we go. Let’s get into some questions. As I mentioned earlier, we got kyrsten and Britton here with us and Brent, I’m curious, could you just briefly tell us about your call to ministry and and Maybe what has kept you in ministry? over the just a few years that you’ve been doing it?Brent Squires: 5:05

Yeah, sure. No, I appreciate that. It’s my privilege. call to ministry, safe as a young child grew up in a Christian home was a PK didn’t really feel the call the true call to ministry until later in life, actually worked for a number of seasons for the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins, and thought that that was my dream job and my my career, started volunteering and student ministry reluctantly, actually was looking for a way to get uninvolved, just because I really didn’t take time in the early stages to build relationships with students. But once I did that, then I felt God called me into ministry, and I couldn’t think of doing anything else. So it took about a year and a half to transition away from the NFL to a small church and about maybe 30 kids at its at its at that present time. And just fell in love with it and didn’t know a single thing was reading every single book. You know, I remember getting my first shiny copy of purpose driven youth ministry by DOUG FIELDS and all every book like that back in the 90s. I read them all, and was just trying to play catch up and made pretty much every most of the mistakes that you can make in student ministry. And then started catching a rhythm and just kind of really felt like that was what what God had called me to do. So I’ve been at three different churches of different sizes, and got to experience a good bit of student ministry. And it wasn’t until, you know, over halfway into my time and youth ministry that I started feeling like I think I’m a lifer. I think I’m gonna do student ministry until I just can’t do it anymore, or until there’s no church in America, that will hire me. And so now I’m 50 years old, I’ve been doing student ministry for about 2324 years. And I’m just excited to see like what God has in the future. So I’ve been able to coach some folks and work with some churches. And, as you mentioned, doing things like our podcast is very life giving, and then just focusing on building the church that God has me out here in Annapolis, which continues, you know, I thought even you know, a year ago at this time, I thought things were kind of on cruise control, but in a really good place. And then COVID happened and now it’s it’s as if every you know, we had a huge building, we have a 25,000 square foot dedicated student ministry building that we just opened a little bit before COVID. And now that’s totally taken off the table, everything that we’re doing is outside. So even with a building with every conceivable toy, and trinket that you could want, we’re not able to use any of it. And so it’s like back to doing parking lot games. And our building sits right next to a major interstate that connects Baltimore, to Annapolis. And so literally truck like semis are going by in the middle of my talks. And it is, um, I’m setting up chairs and on the asphalt. So I feel like it’s my first year of youth ministry again, but in a sense that super in big, big rating. SoBrian Lawson: 8:19

yes. And so you know what the moral of the story is that no matter what size of church, you’re always going to stack chairs.Unknown: 8:25

Yeah, I remember saying that to my staff. I remember saying when we, when we close down our old facility, we refurbished a piece of our old facility. And then we added on that with an expansion. And when we were closing that facility down, I remember saying and thank God for this new building, because I’m never setting up chairs again. And the man like I have no idea what 2020 was gonna bring, because now we’re setting up chairs outside in the parking lot on Sunday nights and on Wednesday nights and a lot of them.Brian Lawson: 8:57

Yeah, I’m curious, since I think I asked you in just a moment about customer about COVID. But I’m curious. In your episode, I was listening to Josh Griffin, you kind of talked about a moment where you weren’t sure if you were gonna stay in youth ministry and you were thinking about shifting out into a campus pastor role. So I know we’ve got a lot of people who may be are especially in COVID, thinking about whether or not they’re going to stay in this because it’s been so difficult. So I wonder if you could just share about your experience and how you decide to stay.Brent Squires: 9:29

Yeah, I wasn’t necessarily feeling dissatisfied with student ministry, but our churches, it was growing. We weren’t able, for some of the big holidays, Christmas and Easter in particular, we weren’t able to hold the capacity in our in our current church sanctuary. So we talked about doing kind of a satellite campus out of high school, and it was actually my idea. I said on Easter Sunday, let’s go to a high school rented out and hold a satellite service there. And so our senior pastor said, great, it’s your idea. You’re in charge of it. I was like No, I just wanted I just pitched the idea. I don’t want To be in charge of it. I’m a student pastor. And he was like, nope, go for it. And so we set it all up a couple of months of planning and processing. And, you know, I literally was picturing maybe two or 300 people and 1500 people showed up from our community. And most of them, were unchurched. And so he asked me, he said, I want you to look, we’re gonna, we’re gonna plant a campus there, and I would like you to go and be the campus pastor of it. And that was not necessarily in my plans. I had a short stint of for about three years where I was a lead pastor at the church that I grew up in. And so I had some experience in doing kind of the lead role. But man, I was very content with my student ministry role. And as I mentioned, we were just a year away from opening up this new facility, which I had been, you know, deeply, deeply involved in every aspect of that, and I wanted to see that come to fruition. So the long story short, is I said, I need some time to pray about it. And I went away to a youth pastors retreat. And Josh Griffin from download youth ministry was the speaker there. And I hadn’t met Josh, a couple other times in the past, and I asked, hey, just Can we talk? And can I just get some, you know, just insight from you? And he said, Sure, after that message tonight, let’s grab some time. And we’ll talk. And his message was, it was something to the effect. The title was why you should stay in youth ministry. And are five reasons why you should stay in youth ministry and divorce. It was Yeah. He told me later. Like, I that was the plan before I had talked to you. I didn’t say that for you, obviously. And then every every one of those like five points or whatever it was, like everyone else in the room was gone. And it was just me and him. And God was speaking through him to me. And and so that was my answer. And so I went back to my church, I literally didn’t even drive all the way back from the retreat to my church, I stopped halfway at a Starbucks went in, pounded out an email to my pastor kind of saying, Hey, I feel like the Lord has spoken. And I’m going to stay in student ministry, which he fully understood and supported that. So. Yeah, it was more of just like, Am I really called to this? And is there a next stage? You know, I was 48 at the time. So at 48, is there still room for a 48 year old and youth ministry? Or have you aged out and what that weekend clearly showed me was like, age, it’s not so much age, because you can be old and dumb, you can be young and dumb. You can be old and called. And you can be young and called. So it’s really about calling and obedience to follow that. And so yeah, I feel like the next however many years in youth ministry, you know, to the extent that God can use me, I’d like to, I’d like to feel that I’m going to be available make myself available.Kirsten Knox: 12:53

Yeah. What a powerful experience. I love that. God really shows up in those moments and gives us direction.Brent Squires: 13:00

Yeah, I wish that would happen all the time. And God probably says, I do too. You just don’t pray enough. If you prayed and sought me a little bit more, you’d get more direct answers like that. SoKirsten Knox: 13:11

I love it. Yeah. Well, Brent, the next question we have is primarily for you in it. And you answered this a little bit, but I wondered if you could share a little bit more about what adjustments and shifts Have you made during COVID?Brent Squires: 13:26

Yeah. You know, I’m like everybody else. I don’t have any magic bullets or great answers. I feel like COVID, as I mentioned earlier, was a great creator of a level playing field for all ministries, no matter your budget, your, your facility, your resources, it kind of made, you know, everybody’s either not meeting or meeting in a parking lot. There’s a few states that have been blessed and not been terribly impacted by some of the orders. And they haven’t been as affected by kind of some of the disruptions. But most of us have been what what we here at my church did, I have seven, seven staff that report directly to me, and so we circled up early, and just said, basically, everything is either not necessarily canceled, but it’s all on hold. Like we’re gonna hold it open handedly. For the next year that I’m talking like, March, April, and we’re just going to process no more than eight weeks at a time. Because you know what, first it was 15 days to slow the spread. Well, that was like, what, eight months ago now?Brian Lawson: 14:32

Feels like it feels like 20 years.Brent Squires: 14:34

Yeah, I literally Remember, you know, on the first day that our state shut down, I remember thinking how are we going to get through two weeks of no ministry like how are we going to do that? And you know, like I said, that was back in March. So we looked at just doing eight weeks out and just kind of stuck which is totally against my personality. I’m enneagram three, and so like eight weeks out with not good And that was not, that was not good enough for me. And so we just kind of looked at those eight weeks and planned no further out than eight weeks. And that’s largely what we’ve been doing since then. And then we came up with kind of, I don’t know if it’s a mantra or a game plan, or I called it, just kind of like our post COVID strategy. But like, now, I’m not sure when post COVID is going to start, because it seems like we’re still in COVID. But at the time, I was calling it our post COVID strategy, which was actually pretty simple. It was, first, let’s not forget what our purpose is. Our purpose is to point students towards Jesus. So like every single day, we have to remind each other we have to remind ourselves, we have to remind our volunteers that our role is to point students towards Jesus, which is helpful, because we don’t have to have technology to point students to Jesus, we don’t have to have a building, we don’t have to have a program. We can point students students to Jesus in a variety of ways. And we don’t have to be limited. The second thing was a total rip off from Andy Stanley, I think a podcast I listened to from him. And it was, we want to prioritize a responsibility over authority. So before we all had a lane, and everybody had a job description, and the seven or eight of us on our team, and then we have two other campuses, so the staff from those campuses, we all did what was in our job description. But when COVID hit job descriptions went out the window, because some people, their whole job was tied to a service. And we weren’t having services at the time. So we had to start really prioritizing on what the responsibilities were like what just needed to be done, rather than what our titles were or what our job descriptions were. And that’s that’s, that’s difficult, that’s challenging. The third thing is, we want to focus on solutions, not problems. So in the early days of COVID, even up there now, there’s always there always seems to be a problem that’s presenting itself, like, you got to wear a mask, it can’t do this, you can only have so many kids, you have to meet outside or you can’t. And the problems kept, they weren’t speed bumps, they were becoming mountains to us. And everybody wanted to stop at the problem. And basically, you know, almost call it a day, myself included. And so we had to kind of beat the drum of we’re not going to focus on problems. God is with us, we have a team, the answer is in our team, we just have to look deep enough and hard enough to find it. And that’s been very, very helpful. And then the fourth thing wasn’t originally the fourth thing on the list, it was something a lot more academic. But I felt super convicted that about this, this adding this fourth one back in and taking out the original fourth one that’s just choosing joy. We know the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And throughout COVID it’s been a joy, soccer for a lot of ministries that I know a lot of you folks that I’ve talked to and myself included. And so we needed to inject joy back into that. And we couldn’t manufacture that that could only come from his spirit. So those four things have been kind of like our Northstar, if you will that kind of kept us over the past like five or six months really grounded and focused. And we’re gonna hang on to that, at least through January one and see what pivots we make come the other side of this crazy year.Brian Lawson: 18:22

I think that’s great. I really love the I mean, I love all of it. So the Andy Stanley one I caught on that a long time ago, too, right? I remember him saying you walk down a hallway. And you know, somebody who just does their job won’t pick up a piece of trash they see on the grass, but somebody who takes responsibility and ownership for the whole thing is going to pick up trash I see on the ground, even if it’s not their job, because they care about place. I remember him saying that that’s stuck with me for sure.Brent Squires: 18:46

So that’s why I’m out in the parking lot setting up chairs, like, because I didn’t used to do that we had people that did that. And but now it’s like, well, but it needs to get done. And we don’t have volunteers on site at the time when we need to set up chairs. So I can’t be too big to set up chairs.Kirsten Knox: 19:05

Brent how have you seen that impact your team? Because I think walking through that as a team, there’s probably some real benefits that have come out of that teamwork. But how have you watched that happen?Brent Squires: 19:15

Yeah, well, the first couple of weeks, I just kind of shared that. Like it took a couple of weeks for me to form that. So I just thought of different thoughts and like let’s create kind of a strategy for us to have some sort of internal motivation or inspiration, something that we can remind each other again and again. And so then when I formed those four put said we’re going to go with these four, then for two weeks, three weeks, I taught on it at our weekly Monday morning staff meeting. And I just shared why I chose those why they were important and what each one of them meant to us. And I could have continued doing that for you know for the rest of time. But you know what i what I’ve learned and what you I’m sure know both of you is that you never learned something more impactfully than when you have teach it. So now at our staff meetings, I turned the corner and I started saying, Okay, now somebody else is going to teach it today. And so I said, we’re going to reserve a portion of our staff meeting each week to focusing on this, this kind of like North Star concept that we have. But I’m not going to teach it because I already know it, I already have it memorized, like, now I need you guys to teach it, because then you can re emphasize it to the group, while learning it yourself. So now, each week, we just go around and somebody, you know, even if they’ve shared in the past, somebody different shares on it again, and we’re gonna keep doing that. And we can refer back to it, you know, when we see something happen, and somebody doesn’t pick up the trash in the hallway, we can say like, Hey, remember, you know, remember number two on our list, like we it’s not about job descriptions and authority. It’s, it’s about responsibility. And so we’ve been able to catch each other and just, you know, playfully encourage each other to kind of re emphasize one of these points, or we hit kind of a speed bump, and we all kind of like get locked on. Well, we can’t do this, because we’re not allowed to have that many kids or whatever. And it’s like, Well, okay, but that’s the problem. But we’re not going to stop there like, so look, can we break the group into multiple pieces and do multiple events? You know, there is a solution to this, if it’s something that we really feel bad is directing us towards? Let’s not stop short. Let’s think through the problem to a solution and see where we come out on the other side.Brian Lawson: 21:32

Yeah, that’s excellent. So we could just stop the podcasts now. I think I mean, I think, right. That was great. No, I think that, that the student issue there, sounds very blessed to have you kind of leading that and guiding that, because that’s good, good insight. Because too often people do stop at the problems. And then they just say, Well, I quit. But in reality, if you if you spend time, together, dreaming and you’re willing, you’re willing to shift, you can actually find things that are better, likely than you ever would have discovered otherwise.Brent Squires: 22:03

Yeah. And so we had to shift. Yeah, and the first three are actually the easiest three, it’s number four, choosing joy, that actually for me, is the hardest one, because it’s so easy, you know, I can get motivated, but motivate. Motivation tends to be external. You know, like, it’s somebody motivating me from the outside, and I don’t, I don’t need to be I’m pretty self driven. So I don’t necessarily need to be motivated from the outside. What wrecks me is me, so so I need something other than me, I need the Holy Spirit. So the past three months I really been pressing into, Lord, I need more of the fruit of your spirit and like joy, like draining joy, like I need to constantly give me joy, you know, just because there’s, you know, every every other week, like, it seems like our state’s getting a new, you know, we’ve gone forward, and then we’ve taken steps back and what we can do and what opens and what closes. And, you know, here, sitting here at the time, this podcast is being recorded, like, we don’t have any public schools in session, like in person, no school sports, things are largely opened, but not fully opened. And our churches, you know, still We’re at 2500 person church, but we have maybe 300 coming between two services on a Sunday in person. So it can be depressing, it can be discouraging, and man, the joy of the Lord is the strength that I know I have to rely on. So.Brian Lawson: 23:33

Yeah, absolutely. So our friend Allison from Kentucky asked about parent meetings. Particularly she was preparing for a parent meeting and was terrified. And that’s what that’s what she said she was terrified. So she asked what important things should I share at at the meeting? And just from context clues I would gather this is likely her first time ever doing a parent meeting, and possibly her first season in ministry. Really? I would imagine she’s, she’s new. So what insights do you guys have? to that? What what are important things that need to be shared at a meeting parent meeting? In your mind?Kirsten Knox: 24:19

I mean, first, I would say they can be intimidating, right? Especially if you’re new to ministry, and the first time you’re having those, you know, Allison, you feel terrified or scared and be like, Yeah, right. Like it is an intimidating experience. So give yourself permission to be in that space. The one I would say one thing that I would put as a priority is sharing your heart, that sharing your heart with your parents and also the dream you have for what students will experience children will experience when they are there. And connecting that with parents is really important. Man, I think information and those things also have got to be a part of that because that’s helpful. for parents to have that information, but I think it’s really easy as leader sometimes. What is the details, and miss that first part of really just connecting with them? And I would think about as what are leaders that I like to follow? And what makes me want to follow them? And when doing those kind of meetings, kind of framing that and understand and how am I going to be that leader for them. And I think when I know people heart, and they really share that with me for ministry and for things that I value, that that really helps me connect. So I would spend some time on the front end, really doing that, and sharing that passion. And parents will love that, especially when that’s about their kid, because they recognize it takes a village to do this. And they’re intimidated to parenting is hard. So to have someone to walk alongside them who loves their kid and is excited and wants to point their kids to Jesus, I mean, that will help that connection and those relationships.Brent Squires: 25:57

Yeah, that’s good. I resonate with so much of that. And I’ll just add to that, that I have raised three kids, like all my kids are out of high school and into college, but it is still intimidating. So I can I can empathize with you. That would the person with the question would being intimidated. What I what I would suggest is, here’s what I’ve learned from experience, most parents, most parents will crawl through broken glass to get to somebody that is going to help them or encourage them with their kids. And most parents are willing to do almost whatever it takes including pay big dollars to get their kids to an expert, or someone that has at least more expertise than they do when it comes to their kids. For example, if the kids struggling in math, parents will do whatever it takes or pay whatever it is to get their kids a math tutor. They’ll do whatever it takes to get their kids to soccer practice, even Little League Soccer. And I’ve seen parents hire pitching coaches and the kids ate, you know, like, because they want their kids improve at pitching. You know, they’ll pay big dollars for a piano or violin lessons.Unknown: 27:10

And soBrent Squires: 27:12

what you have to do, what we have to do is look at ourselves, like we are the experts, at least in terms of church discipleship ministry, even if you don’t feel like an expert, you have to view yourself not in an arrogant way. But most parents, most parents do not feel overly confident with discipling their own kids. And I would say the majority of parents aren’t even intentionally discipling their kids. So you come along, and you’ve got great content, we’re assuming you’ve got availability, you’ve got volunteers, you’ve got programming, they probably view you a lot more as an expert than what you give yourself credit for. So lean into that you don’t have to be an expert on parenting kids, you know how to, you know, stop some of the behaviors and things of that nature, you can just refer them to books, and like a Jim Burns type person or, you know, other ministries that focus on parenting, what you can do is be a, an expert on the resources that are out there. And on the discipleship components. And again, if nothing else, you probably are the world leading expert on your church’s ministry. And if they’re at your church, or at least bringing their kids to your church’s ministry, you are an expert. And that will grow the longer that you’re there. And then if you just wait around long enough, you’ll be older than all the parents of the kids in your ministry like I am. And, and then you will legitimately be an expert. Because I was super intimidated might when I first got into youth ministry, I didn’t even have kids. And I didn’t worry about that. Because I thought, Oh, man, I won’t be in youth ministry. By the time my kids are older, I’ll I’m way too smart to be stuck at the level of youth pastor. Two to three years, I’ll be like everybody else, I’ll be something bigger and better. And here I am all these years later. So yeah, you will eventually stay around long enough, out, outgrow some of that and be older than all the parents.Brian Lawson: 29:16

Yeah, I think the core when I was thinking about this is I just imagined somebody who’s younger, probably never, you know, obviously doesn’t have kids. Maybe that’s not even on their radar ever or for a long time. And, and so I remember sitting I mean, being in like a friendship Hall thing. And, you know, there’s parents at tables sitting there looking back at you. And I remember thinking, Oh, I’m even with kids. I guess I have answers for you. So you’re right. I think that that feeling is something that we all experience at different times. And I think no matter how old you get or how long you’ve been, you still can encounter that and I I think it’s important to note, you’ll have some parents who legitimately just want information, they just want a calendar and sign the document and move on. And that says nothing about you andBrent Squires: 30:09

be an expert at providing that. Be, don’t fail in that area. Because if you fail in that area, you’ll lose parents.Brian Lawson: 30:17

Yeah, I mean, just one of the best ways is to have some printed information to give to them. Yeah. You know, I think I said last episode that I had a printed handbook to give to parents when they came for the first time. And it wasn’t because I thought it was necessary. It was because I wanted to make parents feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like, I wanted them to feel that we cared, and that we took what we did seriously. And that stability. Yeah, and that was really the whole intent was to help them see that. And so. So if you guys have said, I think sharing them, sharing with them, where you’re coming from, where your heart is, what your passion is, and that you’re there as an advocate, advocate for them to help them and however you can. Oh, and by the way, here’s some important information that you might need. I mean, I think it can be as simple as that. I don’t think we need to overcomplicate it. And you don’t need to feel like you’re there to tell them how to parent, because that’s not not that’s not the point. You’re just you’re just advocating there for them to help them. So if you can go in there with that sort of attitude of I’m just here to advocate for you, however I can, I think that that might take a little bit of the pressure off of feeling like I have to be something that I’m not. Which, which I just I remember, I think I remember every parent meeting. SoBrent Squires: 31:35

yeah, a little more brutal. In the early years. If you start out quoting experts, then slowly gradually start dropping the credit to who the expert was. And then people will just say, like, you know, well, Brian always says, you just take all the credit for like, sure, expert. Legal, butBrian Lawson: 31:58

I don’t know, either.Kirsten Knox: 32:00

Remember that parents are overwhelmed. They are they’re trying to hold. I mean, they’re trying to wrap their hands around everything. And that’s exhausting. And providing a space where they feel heard, they feel like you’re on their team, listen to I think, largely most of us, but particularly parents felt under heard. So being able to create space where they can share that and you’re just to show empathy and understand I get it, it’s hard, right? I don’t have to have been a parent, I don’t have to be a parent to really be able to say, This is hard. I know you love your kid and you want what’s best for them. And making those decisions is hard. And there’s not always a clear answer, and just really be able to create that space for them. And understanding I think will help parents take a deep breath, and realize that we’re in this together and being able to connect and have you which you will be an asset to their life. And you may not always do that. And sometimes maybe they there will be times there’s conflict or hard situations, of course, but by and large, I think they’re looking for teammates, and if you can present that, then that will be very beneficial.Brent Squires: 33:05

Yeah, I always push back to Deuteronomy six, where the burden is clearly on the parents to be the chief and primary disciple Maker of the student, then I go to a fusions and I talk about how the church is really to be equipped. And you know, so you know, I think, you know, you don’t want to you don’t want to shame parents and say, like, well, you should be doing this, like you’re the primary disciple maker like, but but some parents do need to be told like, this is your job, like you cannot stand before the Lord one day, and try to explain to him why you did not prioritize the discipling of your kids. So you did do need to sound the alarm a little bit. But then in terms of taking the pressure off of yourself, your role, our role is to be the equipment. And so some of it’s very practical, like making sure that you have proper information available that you have thought through the calendar, and you have, you know, permission slips and all that type of stuff. And then some of it is a balance of not overwhelming the parents with 30 emails in one week about different things. But you know, one or two clear concise communication methods is probably about enough. And then just telling them how much you care about their kid, they will love you. If you tell them that you care about their kid, you know, like they they will become your best friend and, you know, maybe even volunteer for your ministry. Because what what parent in their right mind is not going to be the biggest cheerleader of somebody that is working hard to care for their kid and point their kid towards Jesus. So if you do those things, I think it will take some time but you’ll grow into it.Brian Lawson: 34:46

Yeah, one of the things I learned for my wife when she was from teaching was that she makes obviously sometimes had to make phone calls to parents that aren’t pleasant. They you know, they have class something called class dojo now, so it makes it easier but there was a time That didn’t exist. But she also made phone calls that were just positive. They were just nothing other than the rave on on the student to their parents. So I think also, if you can extend beyond your meeting and think how can I also rave about their kids to them at other times would also help. And let’s just be real honest, if you get some parents to show up to your meeting, you’ve already won. Sometimes that’s the hardest part is just getting parents to show up. I’m not against bribing parents to show up, I will give away something to get them to come. I don’t really care. But that’s just that’s the way I operated.Unknown: 35:36

So if they’re a difficult parent, just recommend another church in your town. brag about how great that church is, and how awesome their youth ministry is. And then they’ll leave you and they’ll go to that other church, and then you won’t ever have to worry about them.Brian Lawson: 35:50

And that’s a pro tip. Don’t tell your senior pastor. That’s just a pro tip for you.Unknown: 35:54

Yeah, just make sure they’re not that that parent isn’t one of the biggest tither’s in the church.Kirsten Knox: 35:59

servation to know ahead of time. Yep. All right. So we our next question we saw posted recently in a group and thought it would be good to tackle here is primarily focused in children’s ministry. The question is, should you require parents to volunteer? And if so, how do you present that to the families the first time?Brian Lawson: 36:24

My first response is no. I mean, I don’t mean that to be. That sounds a little callous. But I think it’s hard for me to think that I could require a parent to volunteer, but maybe, maybe. I mean, I guess sports teams do that, right. I mean, some sports teams require parents to volunteer. So I think my gut is just just that that’s probably not the best idea. Because you’re also not not only are you going to potentially upset some parents, but you’re also probably not going to have the best volunteers. I would imagine if they’re, they’re out of obligation.Brent Squires: 37:02

Trust me, you don’t want that. You do not want that. Yeah, I would, I would think the word require is probably too strong of a word. Again, I think, I think your church and your ministries have to build a culture where the staff is not seen, like the children’s ministry can’t be seen as like, well, we pay our tides. And so your job is to watch our kids, you know, because then it’s like pay to play type mentality. And that’s, that’s not what we want in the church require is, you know, to Brian’s point, then you get people that don’t want to be there aren’t loving kids and giving their best, or might not even be Christians. So you don’t want to do that. There’s some there’s a space somewhere in the middle, where you want to build a culture where people your ministry is exciting enough. And people see the vision that you’re not just providing daycare on Sundays, you are discipling kids, and you’re not the primary disciple maker, that’s the parents role. But you’re in a quipper. And you’re there to do function in that role on a Sunday, or whatever your context is. And if you can build a culture where people see that you’re really pouring in the children. And, and it takes a lot of people to do you know, I mean, the ratios have to be, you know, such that you’ve got enough adults to cover kids, for a variety of ages. And if you’re, if you’ve done that, then you know, you, you probably will more than likely have those with a heart towards children gravitate towards your ministry, there may come times, and our church has had to shut down different rooms because of a ratio situation. And people show up with their kids. And they can’t check their kid into that room. And it’s like, well, we’re only 106 or one eight, or like, with small kids, like babies that might be I think, one to two or I don’t know what it is that that’s out of my paygrade. But then it’s just then it is practicality. It’s like, I’m sorry, we just can’t take any more kids because our standards are super high. And some parents have walked away really upset and even angry, but appreciative that the ministry has those standards, because nothing will be worse than walking into a two year old room. And there’s 83 two year olds, and like me and Brian sitting there with all the kids, you know, like, parents would be horrified at that. And so they kind of respect the fact that you’ve got high standards for your ratios and all that type of stuff. So, but require Probably not.Brian Lawson: 39:30

Yeah, I think about there’s the heart of this question really is they just don’t have enough people. I mean, that’s, that’s really, I think the heart of this question. Which, which I think I just advise, I think you need to find a new strategy. I don’t think this requires strategy is going to land you where you want to go. If that means you shut down some room sometimes that may be necessary and is to Brent’s point, I think that actually might speak some level of of credibility to You that You take this serious and that you’re trying to protect to make sure you stay safe. And and I think that this is where you need to get real personal in your recruitment. I mean, you really need to be watching people from a distance and having conversations and asking around, and then individually asking people who volunteer and to consider it. And I’ll see why it matters. We call it shoulder tapping.Brent Squires: 40:24

So you actually, we actually have a profile for who we consider to be like the ideal candidate to volunteer. And, and then as your ma forces you to come outside of your ministry bubble and rub shoulders with the rest of the church. Even if the only reason is you’re doing that is because you’re trying to find people that fit that profile. And then you’re, then you’re trying to build some sort of connection. And saying, like, hey, like, you fit this, even, we even said it like that. Sometimes you fit this profile. you’re the type of person that we’re looking for in ex ministry, would you consider sitting down with me and having coffee and learning about how you can get involved and doing a lot more of that, then you attract the right people, if you’re in a church where you’re having to shut down rooms, because you don’t have enough volunteers, then that means that you are probably growing like you’re you probably have a good number of church folks coming. So there is a most likely a big enough pool of people to pull from, you just maybe have to dig a little bit deeper into finding who those people are.Kirsten Knox: 41:30

Mm hmm. Yeah, I think when you require it has the tone of desperate. And I don’t, I’m not usually attracted to help and volunteer and things that feel desperate, because I’m going to ask, Well, why isn’t anyone else wanting to do this? Right? If they don’t have one, there may be a reason why. And people want to be a part of I want to be a part of things that are successful. But I think another aspect of that is, as you’re recruiting, being able to tell stories of wins, and be an excellent storyteller.Brent Squires: 42:01

Yeah, that’s awesome.Kirsten Knox: 42:03

You want those short stories and that stories that someone else could then repeat. So when they’re sitting in their circles, they can say, Hey, did you hear this cool story about this kid or this volunteer and being able to share that so that when people see things are exciting and successful, they’re attracted, I’m a, I’m attracted to things that are successful, I want to be a part of that. Because I don’t want to miss out. So something, something good is going on there. And I can start that with just a few volunteers start where you are, and start moving in that direction. And see that oftentimes is a long game, not a short game of getting where you want. But I coached children’s minister this week, actually, he’s in her first six weeks there. And the culture that she walked into, was that parents had volunteer X amount of times a quarter. And she said, This just doesn’t work. For me, this is how I’ve done it. And I’m like, correct, right? This doesn’t work. And we work through some strategies of how to how to shift that culture and work through that. But she inherited that and she’s like, yeah, this, I can’t do this. And I’m like, I think that’s the good thing. All right, let’s move in a different space so that you can have different volunteers and that people want to be a part of what you’re doing.Brent Squires: 43:18

Yeah, practically, practically speaking, parents do sometimes come to church to get a break. You know, so in other words, they’ve been some, like, when my kids were younger, my wife was a school teacher. And then we had our own kids. So that really the last place she wanted to volunteer was children’s ministry, because then 24 seven, she was with kids. So many parents are like, you know, I kind of need a break. I’m coming to church to be edified, and to be around big people and stuff like that. So I think to a certain percentage of your children’s ministry should be the parents of your kids. I mean, they obviously have a vested interest. But don’t don’t forget to look at other great sources of volunteers. People who are empty nesters, like they’re super smart now they’ve they’ve learned they made all the mistakes on their own kids have a really wise and and probably enjoy the fact that they could be around kids for an hour or two on Sunday and then leave them and go go back home to their own house. It’s like grandparents. So don’t neglect maybe looking at some of those. You know, and then there’s then there’s the young group of college kids who maybe have more energy to be around like those, you know, rambunctious third grade boys or you know, things like that. So, sometimes people only go to that one well of parents, but there are other places where you can find sources of good volunteers.Brian Lawson: 44:47

Yeah, I wonder if they shouldn’t, you know, if I was in their position, I would get my whiteboard. I had a whiteboard in office, and I would just write down every name I could think of, who is even a potential To ask, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the right fit. It doesn’t mean I may find out later, they were a horrible idea. But I would just put every name on the board that I possibly could. And I would look at that list every single day. And I would find every opportunity I could to interact with that person for a couple of weeks, probably. So I could learn more about them and then and approach them. So. So our last question for this episode is all about budgets. So we’re, we’re, I guess, gosh, we’re in October now, I kept keeping, it’s still September. So lots of churches either have already finished their budget, or they’re just starting a budget, depending on how your your year runs. So what’s what suggestions do you have to someone who’s trying to put together their budget request for 2021? And this might feel even more strange, because 2020 was so weird. And so the numbers are probably significantly off. So I’m just curious, what would you guys would say, are some suggestions or pro tips that you’d have for somebody in youth or children’s ministry, when they’re thinking about their budget for 2021?Brent Squires: 46:06

Yeah, that that’s gonna be a tough one, just because like, if somebody can tell me what 2021 is gonna look like, then I can tell you how to budget. Sure. But in react, the reality is, we never know what the next year is going to hold. We typically base our budgets off the previous year previous previous year’s growth, success or failure of an event, you know, how things how we evaluated it. So let’s just look for a minute, and then I’ll pass the baton into 2021, as if it’s, it’s just a COVID COVID year, not just a normal ministry year, but there’s going to be disruptive disruptions and limitations depending on where you’re at. So I would go into it kind of leaving a good portion of my budget with some flexibility. You might not have summer camps next summer, we don’t know that that winter retreat, may get put on hold or might not happen. So I think one side of you has your foot on the gas, where it’s like, we’re gonna treat 2021 as if it’s a normal year. But then another side of you has to have like your foot ready on the brake, because you’re going to make course corrections. It’s probably not the year to start too many ambitious programs, or, you know, to start some, a lot of things that are new, I’m not suggesting don’t start anything new. Because there are some things that are going to be COVID specific, that will be new, like we’re running on on site. High school kids can come to our facility and do their online schoolwork here at our facility. So that’s new, I wouldn’t have suggested that, you know, in a non COVID gear like, Hey, if you’re at home school, and if you’re a homeschool, and you want to come here to study do that. We’ll put staff in the room with you to to monitor TV. So. So that’s something new that we’re doing. But pretty much everything else, we’re leaving very open handed, and not starting very many new things. That’s probably those I know, that’s really big. But that’s probably maybe two big recommendations that I would make.Kirsten Knox: 48:10

I think those are great. And I would also add that talking to your supervisor or your pastor depend on who that is, and really understand what is kind of the tone that they’re looking at for budget for 2021. So that you can align under that would be helpful. They may be asking people, everyone to cut a little bit or they may be saying Nope, we’re staying the same, but just kind of understand what being a team player What does that look like? That’s good feel for what that is? And I think Yeah, having the bigger buckets that you have here are thoughts of how we’re going to spend those little ones, but possibly the bigger buckets helps you to be able to pivot when you have to as things change. And there’s a great tool, a book called youth ministry tool. And it’s like a worksheet work. She used to have a desk that’s there’s the old computer desk. When I first used it, that’s how we did this. But I think now that Brian, I think you go online, and they have a giant app for it now from download, and it has great I mean it just step by step kind of lead you through it and you can customize and put your own stuff in. It’s one thing I’ve used for years of being able to do, and then depending on how the culture of your church, I think also with your budget of putting some of your purposes in there or your strategy, as a part of your budget that you submit it the Why is particularly important, I think, and I think it’s always important. It’s something we talk about a lot, but particularly in this season, when the church may be having to make decisions about where they spend their money and see if they understand the value and the why behind it. And you can do that in short, little ways. It doesn’t have to be something big. I think that also if I’m just glancing if I’m on the finance team, or whoever’s making those decisions and looking at your budget. I can see kind of your purpose and your y as long as with the numbers and a real brief way, I think that adds value. And then when I would imagine for many churches, hard decisions are being made during budget time.Brian Lawson: 50:15

It’s good. You know, I think I think the only thing I would add, I think those that was all great is, if you’re new to your church, or you’ve never done this before, I would ask the question and find out from your your leadership or your finance committee, whoever it is, are they going to look at every category? And how each category landed as an under over or on budget? Or are they just caring about the overall number? And I think that’s a bit that’s significant, because if they only care about the overall number, it gives you some flexibility, particularly going in 2021, with so much unknown. So that I think that would be good information for you to know the churches I served at always just cared about the bottom number, did you stay under the bottom number, and that was all they really cared about. And so I think just just have that conversation. So you know, what the expectation is, particularly next year, and hopefully, they’ll even if they go by each individual line, that they’ll have a little more grace than maybe they’ve had in previous years because of everything going so fluid. So, Brent, thanks for being on and Houston as always so awesome to have have us all here together. So friends, that’s all we have for today. Don’t forget to check out the links in the description for more information about anything we shared in this episode. We’d also love for you to join our Facebook group making sense of ministry group. You can submit your questions on there, but remember, we are doing a giveaway. So if you if you want to be eligible for the the giveaway, send your questions to podcast at yminstitute.com. A d until next time, friends, I h pe we helped you make sense of t is thing we call ministry.Ashley: 51:54

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10: Starting A New Job, Trunk or Treat, COVID Policies and the Church Parsonage

Episode 10 - Making Sense of Ministry podcast

In this episode, Mikiala Tennie joins Brian and Kirsten to discuss your questions! These questions include priorities when starting a new job, Trunk or Treat, COVID policies, and more!

Mikiala grew up in South Florida. She started volunteering in student ministry while still a student herself and hasn’t stopped serving students since. Mikiala works in ministry because of her desire for people to truly know Christ. For six years she has served at First United Methodist Church of Stuart and currently has the role of Director of Discipleship and Student Ministries. She lives with her little Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

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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 : 0:14

Welcome to Episode 10 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 back here again today with Kiersten Knox, Kiersten Say hi. Hey everyone. And we also have today’s special guests Mikiala tennie. Mikiala is the director of discipleship and student ministries at first UMC steward. She’s also involved with us and our work at the Florida annual conference for the United Methodist Church. And that’s how we got to know her and it’s been a real joy working with her. So we’re glad she’s here to share some insights with us and we think you’ll enjoy her as well. Here at the making sense of ministry podcast, we love tough questions. We never shy away from them questions really are a sign of growth. And it’s way easier to hear God’s answers to those questions when we join in others asking those very same things. That’s why today I’m excited to tell you about our sponsor. Be a disciple calm is a great place for you to go when you’re when you’re dealing with spiritual questions, and you need some friends to help you with that. I’d encourage you to scroll through their affordable ecumenical accredited short term online courses, all taught by content experts. Here you’ll be in the company of others where it’s safe to discuss hard questions. If you have questions, and are looking to grow enrolling course today and ask away at BeADisciple.com Okay, let’s get started. Welcome back again to kearson. And welcome Mikiala. It is so good to have you both here today. So Mikiala, you serve at first UMC Stewart and we found out something interesting right before we started, we found out you live in the church parsonage which is right there on campus. So what is that like? What’s the good and what’s the bad? And what’s the weirdest story you got?Mikiala : 2:06

Oh, man, I don’t I don’t know about the weirdest story. I know that. I mean, it’s obviously a blessing. And wow, the commute you cannot beat that for sure. But yeah, it’s definitely interesting to live in the parsonage. My My house is right next to the church preschool. And so some days I wake up to children screaming. During Christmas, I wake up to Jingle Bells at 7am being screamed at the top of their lungs, speakers, you know, why wouldn’t you scream on the playground? That early in the morning? So yeah, so it’s very interesting. You know, seeing my coworkers the maintenance man walking by when I just want to walk my dog haven’t even had my coffee yet. You know, I call it camp FOMC sometimes because you step outside and you’re like, Oh, hey, boss, oh, hey, coworker, oh, everybody. It’s just like, you know, you’re at summer camp, but forever. So.Brian Lawson : 3:03

So so I have to ask you, because this is this is really important. I think this is important for all of us in different ways. But maybe especially for you. How do you set the boundaries in that kind of environment? I mean, I would, I mean, because I imagine church members just pop by or think, you know, in some ways, their mind is probably like we pay for that parsonage. So we own it. So we can just stop by right.Mikiala : 3:22

There’s definitely some bits of that. But what I found works is really just ignoring, you know, that’s the best way for vendors, like I love you in Christ, my brother or sister. But today is not the day where I’m supposed to answer the door. Especially because I’m in my pajamas. And only I should be seeing me in my pajamas right now. So you know, I’m just gonna stay in my room. My daughter might Mark her head off at the doorbell. But we are in fact not here because we are unavailable to you in these moments.Brian Lawson : 3:59

Yeah, and I think that’s so important for people to know, right to infer ministry leaders, it’s like okay to not always respond when it’s appropriate, you know, when it’s your day off or when, you know, those kinds of things.Mikiala : 4:12

So appropriate. I remember. We were We were planning for our annual pumpkin patch. And somebody’s like, well, since he was so close, why don’t we just put some of the pumpkins on your back patio? And I was like, absolutely not. You will not be putting pumpkins on the back patio so that anytime you need to sell the extra ones. You have to come to my pet. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not gonna work.Brian Lawson : 4:38

Kirsten you have some some parsonage experience, right?Kirsten Knox : 4:41

I did. I grew up in a parsonage and most of the time it was right on campus. But I was the kid so I don’t think like the boundaries part are people coming up? We did have people that would stop by at different you just never knew different times. You never know when someone was gonna stop by but that didn’t bother me then. So I think as an adult, that would be a lot harder than it was But I just remember like, I wanted to paint my bedroom. And my mom’s like, well, we need to go through the trustees and get that done. And I’m like, Yes. was always the process. But those other things. Yeah. Was it? Did you grow up Methodist? I did. Yeah. So I think I’ve learned because I grew up Baptist. I’m like, Oh, so they really do take that whole method thing very seriously. There is a method, there is a process. And that’s how it’s done. So I keep learning about that.Brian Lawson : 5:28

Yes, there’s a method to form the committee, yes, to form another committee. SoMikiala : 5:36

to talk about the method.Kirsten Knox : 5:40

My mom always used to say to us that we had to be a good steward of the church’s money. So like, turn off the lights when you leave the room or just be responsible, and I always liked it cooler. So in the winter, I would like to crack my window. And I grew up in Indiana and put my fan in my window and blow it in at night so I could snuggle in the blanket. And my mom at some point be like, Kirsten, you have to close your window and take the fan out. And I’m like, why she’s like, cuz you’re causing the heat and oh, how to kick on. And I’m like, like, like, that was a problem, right? I’m like, what makes me so sad? Yeah, she’s like, we have to be a good steward of the church’s money. And I remember thinking as a kid, I don’t know who the Stewart person is, but I don’t like. I was like, she always said, we got to be a good steward. And I’m like,Mikiala : 6:26

who is the steward is not helping us.Kirsten Knox : 6:31

I don’t like to keepBrian Lawson : 6:33

Kirsten, You’re calling me out on being a bad steward here. You know, I’m like, let’s crank the AC down real cold.Mikiala : 6:40

Listen, I’m all about it. I run hot already. So I’m like, I need all the fans on the AC because your girl struggling? I get it. Yeah.Brian Lawson : 6:50

Okay. I’m wondering like, how long have you been there? And and I wonder if you just briefly could tell us a little bit about, like, how you got involved in in ministry? Or how you felt called to ministry?Mikiala : 7:01

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m sitting at my church for six years now. And which has been a huge blessing, because I was just able to graduate the sixth graders that were there when, when I first got here. So that was a huge thing for me. Um, and I would say that, I mean, my call has really just been something that God’s been working on throughout the entirety of my life that I just really didn’t realize at the time. But I’ve been a nanny for as long as I can remember. And I started leading Bible studies in student ministry when I was 16, in student ministry, as well. And so God just kind of was working that out. And I’m always everybody else’s children’s perpetual onto like, that’s my role in life. And I love it. I have like seven nieces and nephews, and God children that I’ve just adopted into my world, because my family taught us that we love big, and we’re just always adopting people into our family. And so to me, you know, that’s ministry as well. And that’s just how my personal life has always been. And so it only made sense for that to take root in my career as well. And so, when I was at summer camp, when I was at the very end of my senior year of my undergrad, that was when I felt the Lord calling me to go back to school, get my master’s in youth ministry so that I could have the tools that I needed in order to minister to the best of my ability to the kids that I was already serving, you know, I was on T to somebody and I was a youth leader to somebody throughout my entire life. And so God really just impressed on my heart to make sure that I was doing the best that I could in those areas. So So then I did it. And then there was ministry. SoBrian Lawson : 8:53

yeah, I love that. I love that. That’s excellent. I love that whole philosophy. In fact, if I guess it was probably about two years ago now, I’ve had one sermon in my whole life where I had a standing ovation at multiple services, which was weird, right? That doesn’t happen in church. First off, so it was strange. But the whole concept of the sermon was about stewardship, ironically. But, but it was about that, that we should constantly be inviters. All right, and that there’s always an invitation, and we’re always pulling up an extra chair to the table, and that we should always had the philosophy. And so that’s kind of what I was hearing describing, and that’s fantastic. So I think we’ve got some questions to tackle. Some of these questions are questions that people have sent us directly. Others are things that that I have just seen in groups, and we’ve heard a question we got from Kyle and he says he’s from New York. I’m not sure if that’s upstate or the city. But he asked a question about starting in his at his church. This is his first full Time position. And he just started, which, you know, first off go you call for starting in the middle of pandemic, you got this. But his question really was like, What was he need to do? Like what are some of the first things he needs to think about? and prioritize is really what his question was? And then I have a follow up that I thought of after I read his question. So here’s what you guys think what would be some of the first things that you would say Kyle maybe needs to focus on or prioritize? I know, kearson, you led a workshop specifically about this. So I don’t know if you have some insights to share?Kirsten Knox : 10:38

Yeah, I was thinking, what I tell people oftentimes in that season is to spend time very intentionally about getting to know people. So to build relationships. In that year, I did teach a workshop on at root and and we talked about prioritizing people over programs. And I think when you first start in a place, you have such this internal drive, to be results oriented, and to do things and to change things. And that makes sense. Because that’s kind of how we are wired. And we want to do that. But always say, hold off on that. And really spend time getting to know people, I would identify groups of people like in your church, your parents, your students, children, who are the influencers in those circles, and really spend some time getting to know them, and asking questions and listening to understand the second part of that is really to understand the culture, I think the gift of being new to places, you have an objective perspective, and you’re not as emotionally attached to all the things that they are. And that’s a gift. But also you have to be careful in that and really try to understand the culture and the whys. And all of how people are attached to the activities, the events, the program, whatever that looks like for them. So really asking questions and listening, I think and showing empathy to wherever they are. Because if you’re new, and that’s difficult, that transition, but it’s also very difficult for them as they transition into a new leader and getting to know you. And they’re really giving them space to feel that in that transition. But I would say build relationships. And even outside the youth ministry be intentional about that, I’d even make the list like Who are those people that I want to make sure I spend time to getting spending time with them, getting to know them asking questions to do that. So they have some kind of strategic plans to do that. And then also, just to be a student of the culture, and getting to know them and their church and all of those things. And I would read this making big changes for the first year. And, as always, that’s kind of why might as a rule of thumb that we tell people I’m like, let’s there’s a safety issue, then right there. There’s some immediacy there that you have a judge into. But other than that, to be real hesitant about coming in and making changes, but more coming in and listening and building relationships.Brian Lawson : 13:00

Yeah, you know that. I mean, that’s kind of you kind of touch base a little bit on my follow up question, because I think we all probably agree that being very careful. And making those changes that first year is really, really important. Because you don’t know what kind of landmine you’re going to lock into. I mean, you may accidentally change something that someone that was beloved six years ago brought in, and it’s been held on to for all that time as if you’re holding on to that person, you may actually walk into that, I walked into a situation where I played a game of bill of a beloved youth minister who had passed away while doing the job. And I played that game, not knowing that I was actually bringing up wounds. And I was only there for three weeks, you know, at that point, so I then had a lot to deal with. So you never really know how something got to that point. But the quite the question that fall of that I have is how do you gauge when it’s appropriate to make a change, particularly like in that first year? Because we all know, we probably have lots of things we want to change, like, Oh, yeah, that this would be great to change. And this would be great. But we have to hold off on those. So how do we how do we gauge when it actually is appropriate to make a change within that first year? Mikiala, I don’t know what would? What do you think about that?Mikiala : 14:17

I think, um, I agree with Kirsten, in that, you know, that first year, try really hard not to touch anything in that because my thing is, you have to go through as many first in a season as possible so that you just have proper context period, about what you’re dealing with. And so we always try really hard in our lives to make sure we have as much context as possible before we make decisions and that that goes towards ministry too. And so for me, the only reason you should make changes is if you just do not have the resources, if whatever is happening, and is just not long term, and sustainable for you as a ministry leader for The volunteers who are trying to help make it happen, then go ahead and make that call. But at first, as much as possible, try to just keep things rolling, because people are going through that transition, because you do need to learn what’s going on and how people feel about certain things and where they’re at spiritually, like, there’s so many things that go into that. But I would say you want to still set yourself up as a new person for success as much as possible. So if there’s something that’s completely draining you as a resource, if you can’t be in two places at once, which is my constant struggle in ministry, then make a call, so that you can actually pour as much as you can like, to the best of your abilities, you know, don’t, don’t shoot yourself in the foot right off the bat. So that would be the only guidance I have in terms of making one call.Kirsten Knox : 15:50

I think that’s so good, right? Like if it’s about resources, I remember when I one of the churches I served in, I was there only a few weeks. And before I got there, they were in the process of renovating the youth room. And one of those steps was getting new carpet. And I mean, and they had very old carpet, and had some rat issues. So like changing carpet would be very important to know. And so we’re in the midst of doing that, but I came in like, as that was happening, it was already set to happen. Like I didn’t make any of those decisions. But the carpet got changed in the youth room, after I started just a couple weeks. And I remember this Sunday after we had high schoolers very upset about this change. And I like I really didn’t anticipate at one because it wasn’t a change that I a decision I made. But I think they were just so sensitive to change in their fears of what might change. And this is the real safe place to them and a place that they value and they got disrupted, even on a very minor, it was a safe place to put a lot, I think a lot of that anxiety and those feelings. But I remember that just as I was like, I didn’t see that coming. And so we had to have that comfort, but you should know about the carpet. And I’m like, I really don’t think your value is on the carpet being changed. And so set up that opportunity. But I think there’s those things really to be aware of, and if if there’s something a change that has to be made, I mean, I think working with your team, and then if they feel motivated to make that change, or if it was a change that was already in process, and you come into it in a place they were already moving in that direction, then I would think you can walk through that. But even that to be very careful. And doing that. And communicating would be very helpful as you walk through that.Brian Lawson : 17:38

And so many interesting stories are wrapped around the flooring of places, right? I went, we were doing a renovation in one place I was and and I went on vacation. And when I went on vacation It was supposed to be there’s like a cafe area and it was supposed to be like the concrete stained floor. I come back. And a trustee had made a decision to put down like this tile laminate stuff that looked like cheese it. I mean, it really looked like cheeses. And his response was, well, it’s the same color as what you were gonna get with stained concrete. I’m like, No, it’s not. I was gone for like a week and I come back. And it’s completely different. The plan is completely different. And so then the teenagers all walked in, and I called it the cheese at floor and assumed I picked it and I was like I had nothing to do with.Mikiala : 18:24

That’s what you get for leaving. How do I tellBrian Lawson : 18:26

you? I tell you? Yeah. So I, you know, I think you got you guys were right on and really maintaining consistency that first year to understand the culture. But there are moments where change is necessary. But you need to make sure that it’s not just you making it because you want it. You know, it needs to be something that actually has a legitimate safety concern, or serious reason behind it. And I would say pull the team behind the decision. And if you can get your team to make that decision rather than you. That’s always better because then it’s it’s a collective group that they decided that you support. particularly early on that’s that’s really important. I know I had an issue with some bands. When I first got a church, there was two bands, and they were competing together. And I found out that they were separate band worship bands because the brother and sister weren’t getting along. So they started to separate. So it was toxic from the beginning. And the whole thing. They were like one band thought they were better than the other and it was just not at all the culture we wanted to create. So So we, we in that first year, merged them into one band, and I did get some pushback. And if I were to do that over again, I think I would do some better communication and pull in the team a little bit better on that decision. But so a few weeks ago, we hosted some more digital gatherings. Those, for those who don’t know are where we basically host zoom calls for youth and children’s ministers where we provide some encouragement and a place to ask questions and community And in case you don’t know, we are starting some cohorts, these are eight week intensive cohorts that will start on the day, this releases will start two days after. So, if you’re hearing this on the first day or so this is released, I’d encourage you to check out those cohorts, we’ll put the link in the show notes. But anyways, during the digital gatherings, particularly with the children’s ministers, trunk or treat came up. And then I think that the CDC has also come out with some guidelines, saying that trunk retreats are sort of high risk events. For whatever reason, I’m not going to sit, argue whether it’s right or wrong, I’m just just telling you what, what they have said. So I’m curious if you guys know, like, what what are your churches doing? Are they doing this event? Have you heard of any churches who are looking at alternatives? Just curious what our thoughts are on this group about about that? Yeah,Mikiala : 20:55

it’s definitely a tough spot to be in, you know, just being in the middle of a pandemic. But I know that churches in our area are looking at doing more drive thru type of things, where you know, you invite families to still decorate their cars, and then they can have the kids drive through and see the trunks. And then at the very end is when they’ll get their treats. Like in a goodie bag, they can pass that over without too much physical contact, and all that stuff. So I’ve heard of that being done. And others just having families decorate their cars at home, and then send in videos and pictures so that they can be put in the Sunday worship experience so that everybody can see might just be a fun family activity together. But then the church gets the benefit of seeing the different ways that people are creative. I think for student ministry, one of the things we might do is just maybe an outdoor Movie Night, something like that. I haven’t told my kids that yet. So nobody tell them because I don’t usually like to say things ahead of time. But make sure we post this on your ministry page. So they see Yeah, thanks for that. Right. So, so yeah, we’re just trying to think of different ways to remain safe, but still try to celebrate the season and have a little bit of fun. It’s definitely a hard spot to be in, though.Kirsten Knox : 22:19

Yeah, so true. I heard this one idea at our digital gathering that I thought was really good. This children’s minister talked about, they were still going to have their congregation decorate their trunks and spread the cars out. But then they’re going to take the students or the children, and they were kind of like a parade or like a like kind of like a runway, they would walk down in their costume one by one, and people could see them in their costumes. And then they still have that. And I was like, that is so cool. Because they get all that attention. And here, I’ve had this costume and everyone gets to see it. And then at the end, they would have their goodie bag that they got to have, which I was like, that was really cool. When I heard someone talk about also, like, oh, if you could add, like a place where people could get pictures, and be able to add that to decorate it so they can take some pictures with their costumes before they walk through the parade runway of decorated cars. I thought that was a really good idea.Brian Lawson : 23:16

Yeah, I remember that one that was stood out to me, Kristen. And I think I think you can do that in a safe way. I mean, I think that so I tend to be so I was joke that I was a germaphobe by the students. They all said I was germaphobe. to them. I was I think maybe the most adults, I’m not that much. But to them especially I was well kearson might disagree. But um, so this obviously whole situation puts me on high alert. But but so when I was thinking about that i thought you know that in concept is so great. But how do you do that with people screaming? So because right, the screaming is part of the issue, potentially. And so I thought, you know, if you space the cars out, well, like you mentioned kearson if you really make sure that they’re spaced far enough out both directions, and between vehicles. But then potentially you also could give them like little cowbells like I give everybody count some other noisemakers that’s not screaming. And then then here’s the clever part, I think, put speakers out with crowd screaming from the speakers behind the cars. So it sounds like people are screaming and then they’ve got all these, you know, noisemakers so and then you just send kids down, you know, with space between them. And I think you could totally do it and would fill like, I mean, just like the NFL and like the sports are doing where they’re putting in fake audience noises. I mean, we could you I think you could totally do that. And kids, I think would love that. So yeah, that parade stood out to me too. When I heard that.Kirsten Knox : 24:43

That’d be great. Yeah. And then I also heard, I was looking on Facebook and someone had talked about the Great Pumpkin parable. It’s a book for how to research that cuz I’m like, I don’t know what that is. And so they talked about doing storytime and creating that space for that and an evening or maybe watching In the Great Pumpkin movie into an outside movie, like you had mentioned. So like, I think there are a lot of different ideas to think about what to do, I would just say, talk to your leadership. And each church is navigating this differently. And make sure whatever you do is really communicated well to your supervisor as you’re thinking about it, but also works within the guidelines that your church has set up so that it’s consistent in whatever you do.Brian Lawson : 25:26

Yeah, yeah, that’s great. That’s great. So I would say if anybody knows some great things they’re doing for trunk or treat, or they’ve seen some great ideas, maybe they’re not doing it, or even for student ministries. I know lots of people do pumpkin patches, and people are trying to think through that. I would love it if you guys post that in the making sense of ministry group and share that because I know there’s other people who could really use your ideas. And we think that collectively, as a community is where the best ideas are found.Mikiala : 25:54

Absolutely.Brian Lawson : 25:55

Yeah. So this next question, I actually saw this posted in a group that I’m a part of, you know, we’re all part of these different ministry groups. And I thought this was a great question for, for people to hear answered. And the question was, do you keep notes after each week’s lesson or gathering about, like, what could use improvement? And also, do you keep notes about the kids or students? And so that was the That was the question. I don’t know the full context of the question. But that’s what they were asking. So. So What do y’all think? What do you do?Mikiala : 26:30

Yeah, I am, I, I’m more so keep mental notes in terms of like the lesson after teaching one, we’re always our own worst critic. And so that kind of just sticks with you, you’re like, well, that bombed That was terrible. So just keeping that in mind for the next time that you have a speaking engagement. So I don’t necessarily keep written notes about that. But I definitely keep notes on my students. And one of my favorite parts of a meeting that I have, is when I sit down with our ministry, small group coach, her job is to, to encourage our volunteers and our leaders. And so she helps in that regard. And so we sit down together, and we look at the list of students that we have in our ministry, and we just talk through them, you know, what’s this kid got going on? How do we be in prayer for this student? And, you know, what? How long has it been, since we’ve seen the students face and what’s going on in their life? What can we do to reach out to them, and I love that because it it, it makes the ministry smaller in the sense of you getting to know what’s going on with your kids. And when you can write those things down and keep track of different things that are going on, then you’re able to, to build on more of that relationship. Versus You know, when you have youth ministry, and everybody’s coming at you at once, it’s really hard to keep track of what’s going on with everybody and all that. But if you take the time after the fact, once the craziness has died down, and really sit down and think through and remember different things about different students, and even what’s going on in the lives of the leaders, and how we might need to offset some of the leadership help, because they might be going through something at home, you know, just really trying to help make things work? Well. That’s a really important part of what we do.Brian Lawson : 28:11

Yeah. So you said you have a ministry, small group coach, is that right?Mikiala : 28:14

Yeah. What is what isBrian Lawson : 28:16

that role? Is that a volunteer? Like, how did you get to that?Mikiala : 28:19

Yes, it’s a volunteer role. So our ministry is, is small group lead. And so when you ask the question, Well, how do you disciple students? Our answer is always well, we disciple them via small groups. And so our small group leaders are the most important part of our ministry. But when you get to a point where you have 13, small group leaders, we know that it’s impossible to really be a great mentor of more than eight to 10 people, you know, so I have my admin volunteer who’s fantastic. I don’t know where I’d be without her. But she kind of took on more of a role of pouring into those leaders, as well, so that those leaders can pour into the students, we have to be very intentional about how we disciple our leaders. And so we work together to make sure that we do that to the best of our ability, so that that’s modeled for them. And they can in turn, do it for the kids. So Wow,Brian Lawson : 29:15

excellent. I love it. That’s a great position. If you don’t have that. You should get that. Yeah, it’sKirsten Knox : 29:20

so good. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about I don’t think I’ve ever written them down like cat notes. Afterwards, I did a lot more of the mental notes of after teaching the lesson. But I also would say, asking some of your small group leaders or whoever has other adults, that’s been a part of you teaching that lesson and getting their perspective is always helpful when you’re trying to decide what what really well, what could we do differently and their perspective because, yes, I think we are our own worst critic. And so getting other people’s perspective can be very helpful. Sometimes it takes some courage to ask that question to other people, right? Like, you got to be ready for that. But I would say if you’re a note taker, and document kind of stuff documented and all that stuff is kind of the way you are wired and would be helpful, then, yeah, keep those notes. But yes, the most important part is then communicating that with the people that are there serving those students. So how you do that, we oftentimes, I would do one on ones with my small group leaders. And that would be a time when we would talk through those kinds of things with their students. Because there are times I received information or new things that were going on that they may have not always gotten, or that they did in small group that I didn’t know. So being able, there are different ways to do that. But creating an avenue where you can share that information before and after, even before programming or after, for us small group leaders were there and having that kind of time to touch base with them. And communicating with them was always helpful. But having that, but I’m with you, Brian, I love this coach idea. And being able to do that. That’s great. Yeah,Mikiala : 30:54

I would also add, Kristin, you just reminded me now that we are trying to figure out how to do ministry in the pandemic. And with COVID. Our ministry, we’re working really hard at trying to do like hybrid ministry, kind of like the school systems where you have online ability to come to youth group and in person ability to come to you through. And so what that means for me is that because we do that via zoom, I now have a recording of the lesson that I’ve taught. And so it’s really painful. But it’s also really helpful to just watch your lesson and go Okay, so I can work on that I can work on that. So yeah, it hurts, but it’s good.Kirsten Knox : 31:32

Yes, I would say too, and there were times that they would pick out things that went really well, that I wasn’t really always good that scene because I could tend to see where I thought I could do better. And the critique part and missed the part of what was really good. And what really went well, and having them speak into that off the created space for that. For me at times, it was also very helpful.Brian Lawson : 31:56

Yeah, I think for for me, so I didn’t take notes weekly. But I would say probably every month or every couple months, during our leader meetings, we would ask, Hey, how are things going and do a sort of informal evaluation. And then, at the end of every school year, we did a really significant evaluation for primarily as we were thinking about the next year. And so we would do that every year. And then when we would have big events, so like, let’s say we had a fall retreat, or if you had like trunk or treat, you know, you have a folder with all these files, potentially in it, maybe it’s a digital folder, or maybe it’s a physical folder, I would go through within just a couple days after it was over. And I would write down all of the real wins. Like all the things that we love that went really well. And then I would also write down the things that were opportunities, right things that could use some improvement. I stole that opportunities, language from Target years and years years ago when I worked there. But But then I would just, I wouldn’t even think about anymore, I’d write it down, put that piece of paper on top of the folder, in it. And then so when I open it the next year start planning, I’ve got that those notes to look at from the previous year, because I know I won’t remember unless I have those notes. So that’s what I would do for for events. The depending on the number of students, I think you have or children. The how you do notes about kids or students specifically may change, you know, when you have only 10, it’s pretty easy to kind of keep track of that yourself. When you get to 2030 4050, whatever number, it becomes significantly more difficult. And so we we invested in Planning Center, which I know lots of people are familiar with. And we we ultimately started using that for notes on students. The kind of notes that went in, there were things that we thought that their next leader might need to know. So when they transferred to a new leader, also in there were significant life events that we thought were important to remember. Or if there was an incident or safety issue, we also would put that in there. And then also if we had to contact the parents for both positive but also negative reasons, that was all in there. And that was really helpful. I think the important part of that is that our leaders had access to most of that information, at least the people in their small group. So you really have to train your leaders on how to use that information and how not to use that information. And I also I think we had this may not be the right term, I’d have to look back but like a nondisclosure agreement or like confidentiality agreement that that they signed every year that says you got to understand this information does not leave these circles in these places. So I was that’s how we we ultimately ended up doing it. Just we got to a place where we felt like we needed to have it in a database somewhere. So that’s that’s how we did but however you find the due notes, I do think having notes are important. Just however you go about doing that I think can can vary. Because, as the other two have said, it’s, it’s you guys have said it’s important to, to evaluate, even if it means watching yourself from a zoom recording. painful as it is.Mikiala : 35:11

struggle is real, my friend.Brian Lawson : 35:13

Yep, yep. Okay, so the last question I actually receive from autumn and Jonathan, but also other people, and I’ve seen lots of people asking this question. And it’s about COVID policies and waivers. So should they have COVID policies at their church? I’m assuming about the youth or children’s ministry specifically? Do they publish them? Do they not? And do they need waivers for the kids and students? First off, I’ll say before we answer, we’re not lawyers. So don’t this is not this is not legal advice. And we don’t pretend to be that, but what do you guys think about about COVID policies? And do we publish them or not? What are your thoughtsMikiala : 35:59

with them with that disclaimer, like I’m gonna circle back to at the beginning of this conversation, we started talking about our friends, the trustees, and all the different committees that churches have. And so as a ministry leader, I totally feel like this is an opportunity to lean into exactly what those committees do best and what they are there for. And so whatever denomination you are, whatever your church has set up, lean into those leaders who work in that, you know, they want to make sure that the church is safe as a whole. And therefore, your ministry as a whole is safe. And so if there’s a way for you to ask those questions to them, I know because I work at a church that falls under the United Methodist conference, we get a lot of our guidance from the conference. And then it goes directly to our senior pastor who answers for I our entire church. And so I’m constantly bending his ear and saying, Hey, what do you think about this? Like, those decisions are not just me and my volunteer team? We do the ministry side of things, and how do we have a great event? And how do we minister to students, but when it comes to those safety issues, I need to hear from those people who do that on a larger scale. And so you know, find out what those rules are. And then you ask them, Do we post it, do we not because they have to figure that out for the overarching church. And so whatever the church is doing as a whole, that you guys come as a ministry, you fit in within that, and you make sure that you’re doing everything that you can to stay safe. So, so yeah, I would just kind of like, get in line with whatever the church is doing, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, or be the one that has to be at the forefront of making those decisions. Find somebody who can make those decisions with you and for you in that regard.Brian Lawson : 37:47

Yeah. And that really shows support of the church as a whole, right? I mean, when you do that, you’re saying you’re also submitting to authority of other leaders in the congregation, which then also makes you seem as a team player, as well, absolutely. You know, which is always good to project to the other people on staff and to the other leaders in the church. AndMikiala : 38:05

safety is too important not to be a team player about, you know, we don’t want to go Freewheelin and, you know, get into trouble, because we didn’t think about something, we got to have so many bases covered. So it’s important to ask all those people about those things.Brian Lawson : 38:19

Yeah, absolutely.Kirsten Knox : 38:21

And I think what also would be helpful to I would add is that your different age levels are doing it the same? I realize in all contexts that might be difficult in some places more than other. But yes, lean into your church leadership. And that’s the decision that not just you make the off though, it would be helpful if everyone was doing that the same way. And so that families who had children and teenagers knew what to expect and can navigate that and some cohesiveness would be helpful.Brian Lawson : 38:51

Yeah, yeah, we had a lawyer. Well, so he’s, he would not fall under this type of law. But his recommendation was always don’t publish a policy, unless you are 100% gonna stick to it. You know, it’s better to just not have it published. Now. I’m not sure how we all feel about that, how leaders feel about that. But from a legal perspective, he said, it’s better to have nothing published than to have something published and not follow it. And so I would say whatever you’re going to do, if your church publishes it, and you publish it within your ministry, just make sure that that whatever that is, that it happens. And to be honest, that’s really great for communication and for people to feel safe and to trust your leadership anyways. Right? When you do what you say you’re going to do, it really makes a significant difference on how how people feel about you and the ministry and the trust that they put in put in you. Do you guys think? Yeah. Do you guys think waivers are necessary? I mean, what are your thoughts on waivers during COVID? I mean, I personally think that maybe it falls under your general waiver.Mikiala : 39:59

For part I mean, I think it depends on what we’re talking about, like we as a church had to have waivers for our volunteers for those who would be coming on to the church campus, specific to COVID. But that was just something that came straight down from the conference. And we just had to abide by that. They didn’t give us instruction in terms of waivers for the students, I’m sure if we wanted to, we could implement something, but we just kind of took that direction. And we just had our leaders sign those. So it depends on the context and what you’re trying to accomplish. I feel likeKirsten Knox : 40:32

I’ve known churches that are doing waivers and churches that aren’t. So again, I would say, lean into your church leadership and let that be a decision that they make and that you are in line with. But also, I mean, personally, I think COVID is something right, we’re learning to live in, I always wanted to say when it’s over, I’m not sure that’s ever gonna happen. So being able to put it in your waiver with all the other stuff that you have in there that releases the church of liability, there might be some simple ways of doing that. I mean, I know for us, when we would have those waivers we use that when we went off campus, we didn’t always have a waiver for anytime, right? Someone showed up for a program that they had that. So I think there’s some logistics, to like, work through and think through, but as long as you’re, I would say, be in line with your leadership and then create a plan that’s workable, and that everyone is on the same page would also be helpful as you work through that.Brian Lawson : 41:28

Yeah, you know, I bring up Disney again, because you know, my family’s slight Disney fanatics, but but when you walk on on their property, they just have a sign out. I mean, it’s just, you know, basically, it’s the waiver published on the sign that you acknowledge these risks just by being here. And so maybe it’s as simple as your church just puts out a puts out a sign somewhere that says, By being on campus, you understand these risks. And, you know, we’re working hard, obviously, to mitigate them, but at the same time, they’re still there. So, yeah, like these two have said, just think about, just think about your church leadership. And what it is that they would, would have you do, I think, working together, and being cohesive in your communication, and what you follow is really important. So I think we’re kind of closing up our time together. Do you guys have any kind of last thoughts that you want to share? Before we close out this episode, with our listeners,Unknown Speaker : 42:24

I got just brought one of my favorite verses to my mind. And so I would just love to share that for everybody who’s listening. It’s Romans 15:13. And it says, “may the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” And that’s just my prayer for all the listeners. We are operating in very strange times, but we serve a God who gives us hope. And that’s what we can operate out of. And so that’s my prayer for everybody as well.Brian Lawson : 42:56

Excellent. That’s beautiful. Yeah,Kirsten Knox : 42:59

I would say what I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, shared a little bit about it at rooted is that God isn’t wasting your efforts. And that has just been something I have been meditating on and thinking a lot about. The things look differently, not being in person or as we used to be, I think sometimes we don’t see the fruit or it doesn’t look the way we would always like but just to remember that the the care, the compassion, the love, that you are giving students and families that God’s not wasting that and even if you don’t see the effects of that God is using that. And that is powerful.Brian Lawson : 43:35

Excellent, thank you both so much. Well, friends, so that that kind of brings us to the end of today. One thing we’re going to put I’m gonna put down the show notes as we were talking, I thought this was important. Our friend Kelly Minter has written several articles for us that we’ve posted about mental health. And she also played a significant role in the workshops at this last conference. But she’s also taking new clients and she’s been in ministry, she’s been in youth ministry, so she understands a lot of what you’re facing, and may be a good person for you to reach out to. So we would strongly encourage you, anytime, but especially during this season to reach out to a counselor of some sorts during the season. If you don’t know one, I’m gonna put a link down to where she’s at. So that you can look look her up and, and I know she can take clients no matter where they’re located because she can do this on zoom. So we would love for you to check that out. Also down in the description, I’m gonna put a link to our Facebook group, which is the Making Sense of Ministry group. Really love to have you in there and involved and sharing your ideas and comments. But also, you can submit questions for the next podcast episode. And I think soon we’re going to do a giveaway for people who we choose your questions for. So watch out for that. And until next time, friends, I hope we’ve helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.Ashley : 44:53

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3 BIG IDEAS FOR CONNECTING WITH YOUR STUDENTS

If you’ve listened to your students for any length of time, you might easily feel that you don’t have anything in common with them. You might find connecting with your students difficult. And, as quickly as youth culture is changing, it’s really hard to keep up. I mean, did anyone ever fully explain what the word “yeet” meant? By the time you figured it out, no one was saying it anymore.

If you’re focusing only on cultural trends, then it will feel impossible to keep up. But, fortunately for us, there are lots of different ways to establish connections with our students. Here are 3 big ideas for connecting with your students in meaningful ways.

3 Big Ideas For Connecting With Youth Students

BE WHERE STUDENTS ARE

Your students are definitely going to notice you going out of your way to see them and spend time with them. So, as you plan out your schedule, be intentional to spend time in the spaces that students are already occupying. Here are a few examples.

School Lunchrooms

Depending on school policies in your local area (especially with regards to COVID), this can be a very easy way to connect with students. When students interact with you in their school, it helps them see that you care about them beyond their participation in youth group last week. You are also more likely to meet some of their friends you have not met and gain a better sense of what’s really going on in their lives.

Extra-Curricular Activities

This goes beyond showing up for a lunch because you probably have to take the time out of an evening or weekend to show up at an extra-curricular activity. A lot of students will recognize that and be sure to come talk to you if they know you are there. And make sure they (and their parents) know that you are there. It also gives you an onramp into a future conversation with them – “Hey, your team was great at the game last week! How long have you been playing basketball?”

Social Media

As an adult, I feel like I spend a lot of time that I’m on social media rolling my eyes. But it is so helpful for me to see what my students are into and how they express themselves. It is also really helpful to be able to send out a reminder about an upcoming event. They are a lot more likely to see it than they would an email. But, be sure that you’re on the right platforms – think Instagram and not Myspace.

Ministry Relationships

Youth Ministry Coaching Ad

You cannot pour into all of your students equally. But you can invest in a few students at a time in very meaningful ways, so it’s a good idea to create a space to do that. Choose some to join your student leadership team (even if you do not have one yet). Take one or two students out to lunch 2-4 times a month to work on discipleship. Form a creative team to help you brainstorm event ideas or set design for an upcoming sermon series. However you do it, invite students to participate in ministry.

BE AUTHENTIC

Students may not be great at remembering to shut the van door even though you have already told them 8 times, but they can definitely tell when you are not being authentic. So don’t put pressure on yourself to be something you’re not. They do not need you to act like them; they need you to show up and be real with them.

Make sure to talk about some of your struggles when you preach. If you have small groups in your ministry (and you totally should), that is a great place to be a little more vulnerable than you can be in front of the whole group. I’m not telling you to share every struggle you have, but make it clear to students that you don’t have all the answers and need the Lord just like they do.

BE INTENTIONAL TO INVOLVE OTHER ADULTS

You only have so much space in your life to connect with students. But even if you have all the time and space you need, you’re just not going to connect with some students. Odds are, though, that there is another adult in your ministry who might be able to.

A great way to begin creating a culture where your adult leaders connect with students personally is through small groups. This helps adults take ownership of particular groups (middle school boys, high school girls, etc). Having a system in place like this helps naturally connect new students with an adult other than you right away.

Developing positive relationships with your students’ parents will also help you better connect with your students. When you connect with parents, they tend to tell you when their kids are struggling and need prayer in certain areas. They’re also going to be more likely to send you a text message about an upcoming extra-curricular activity in their kids’ lives, or a problem at home.

Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of connecting with your students. You don’t have to be a cultural expert or even listen to songs in the top 40. Connecting with your students isn’t difficult – just be sure that you are doing some of these things and you’ll definitely see some of your relationships with your students strengthened. And, strong relationships help lay the groundwork for trust and the important kingdom-work you are trying to accomplish in your ministry.


Skylar Jones serves as Youth and Family Minister at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, FL. He has worked in many different capacities since he began serving the church nearly 20 years ago. Skylar is married and has a son. He met his wife at Berry College, in Rome, GA, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys sports, music, long walks on the beach, and anything made by Reese’s. Click the social links below to engage with Skylar.