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Generation to Generation: New Year’s Resolutions

Each week we’ll be writing about different ways that we, as leaders, can effectively be examples to our students, and we’ll discuss different topics to talk over with our students. These topics range from relationships to being active in a small group. All of these topics are nuggets every leader can apply to his or her life. It’s our hope that you’ll check back to see what next week’s topic is, and that you can apply what we’ve learned in your own life as a fellow volunteer youth worker.

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.” Psalm 79:13

Renew your Student Ministry in 2011

With the new year just around the corner, one of your New Year’s resolutions can be to take your student ministry from successful to significant in the new year. Steven and Matt offer some tips to jump start your ministry in 2011.

Steven: Be more intentional. Those are the words that I wrote on the white board in my room a while back to remind me every day when I wake up. It seems a little vague, but that was on purpose, because then it applies to many different situations. I’m the type of person that needs to be reminded of EVERYTHING. I have possibly the worst memory ever, so I leave notes for myself all over the place. I have a calendar on my computer and my phone that tell me where I need to be everyday (otherwise I have no clue), and if I didn’t have these things I would probably get lost somewhere in Mexico and wonder how I got there, and I wouldn’t remember how to get back home. Because of my horrible memory, I tend to think about what’s happening NEXT, not four days down the road. I put that note in my room to remind myself to spend intentional time with people. I’m around people all the time at school, work, and church, but I’m usually doing something and I’m not spending intentional time on that person.

My New Year’s resolution this year is to be more intentional, especially with students. I love doing one-on-ones with my guys, but with the hustle and bustle of my life I have to be reminded to set up lunches and coffees, otherwise I lose track. It’s not that I don’t think and pray for my students all the time, it’s just that I’m human, I see something shiny across the room, and I get distracted. Try this for yourself: leave a note somewhere you’ll see it every day to remind you to spend some conscious time with your students. You’ll be glad you did.

Matt: I’m not big on making resolutions on New Year’s Eve. Like most of you, I’ve made a ton of them, work on them for a few weeks and then by the end of February or middle of March they seem to be gone from my memory. Last year, however, I decided to add another element to my resolutions…prayer. I put my resolution on my prayer list (yes, I’m so “Type A” that I keep a prayer list!) I made two last year that I’m still working on and have had success. You read one of them each week (this blog), and the other was to begin writing a book on how to work with students and make your student ministry explode with kids truly searching for Jesus, and ways to help them with their day-to-day problems. Once you introduce prayer to anything your chance of success goes through the roof. I’m living proof of that.

This year think about making a resolution in the following areas:

1. Get to know your students. You may think you know them, but do you know them beyond saying hello each week, asking how their week was? Do you know what’s going on in their home life? Do you know their interests, sports, hobbies, etc.? Do they have a hurt they would love to be able to talk about with someone they trust? How do they deal with the daily temptations that all teens face? Don’t keep your relationship superficial, get below the surface!

2. Is there an area that the majority of your small group needs help with? Make that a priority this year to work on with the group.

3. Are you training leaders in your group? As much as I’d love to, I know I won’t always be there for the students in my small group. I need to pass on what I know so that they in turn, are able to help themselves, help their friends, grow in their relationship with God, and also become leaders and pass on what they have learned with me from generation to generation.


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Dennis Beckner has served in youth ministry leadership for Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA since 1999. Dennis is a contributor and speaker to youth training events, writing projects and other engagements. Contact him at his blog, VolunteerYouthMinistry.com.