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How’s Your Youth Ministry “Hot Spot”?

Guest Post by Russell St. Bernard

During this past holiday season, people everywhere were trying to sell something. Some of it was stuff we needed. Most of it was stuff we didn’t. For instance, I watched a show promoting a t-shirt that displays the wireless connectivity in the area of the person wearing the shirt. (Seriously?) I’m neither for nor against the shirt, but it did get me thinking . . .

Our ministries are a lot like “hot spots,” aren’t they?

Think about it: Students come to our ministries to get connected to God, to others, and to us. If we take this analogy a little further, we can begin to ask some questions, like:

  • How is our signal strength?
  • What if your students aren’t able to connect?
  • What if our service is spotty or slow?

If our youth ministries are indeed like hot spots, what can we do to ensure that the connection speed and quality are most efficient for the students that we serve?

Here are a few suggestions:

Make Sure Our Connection Is Balanced

One of the things I dislike about using Wi-Fi is when I have to go to a certain spot in the building or room to get a better connection. In our youth ministries are we thinking about providing even access to all our students? Are we teaching in ways that accounts for their different personalities? Are we programming with different families’ needs in mind? Can your students “plug in” anywhere in your ministry? (In our ministry we use the term “plug-in” to mean that students should be able to plug into Christ wherever they are in the ministry, whether they’re on the dance team, choir, media team, coming to small group Bible study, or our large events.) All of these areas have leaders who are ready to engage the students to make a strong connection with Christ.

Make Sure We Have Enough Bandwidth To Support The Demand

Often the connection of a hot spot is strong until more people join in. Then, it weakens. There are simply more people using data than the connection can handle. Hopefully, you are experiencing growth in your ministry. If you have the same structures in place that you had with 20 students, if you grow to 50 students, your connection may not be as strong.

As youth leaders we have to be diligent about building a strong team to ensure that as the ministry grows, we also grow. We don’t want a bandwidth issue!

Make Sure We Check For Viruses

Like any hardware or software, we need to do maintenance and virus checks. When I go to a hot spot, I expect it to work and I expect it to be safe. In the same way, students come to our youth ministries looking for a safe space that meets their spiritual needs. We have to ensure that they get this by running maintenance checks on our ministry and ourselves. We have to check for people or other influences that could be harmful to the students. Adult and student leadership trainings and meetings are essential for youth ministry maintenance and virus checks.

So, what about you?

How is your youth ministry hot spot? What would you add to the list of what we need to do to ensure that our hot spots are working effectively and efficiently?

Russell St. Bernard is currently the youth minister at Reid Temple AME Church’s north campus in Silver Spring MD. He has served in youth ministry for over 10 years, and has a passion to see students and families connected to Christ. Check out his blog at www.afterthemusicstops.net.

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Andy Blanks is the co-founder of youthministry360, a ministry committed to equipping youth workers through resources, training, community, and networking. Andy is passionate about God’s Word and the transformation it brings in the lives of God’s people. Andy is a writer, teacher, speaker, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife and three daughters. Check out Andy’s youth ministry posts on the ym360 Blog (www.youthministry360.com/blog).