Just a Youth Ministry Geek!

Conversations about modern youth ministry

The Perfect Youth Pastor December 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 4:29 pm
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Today I have the top 10 ways to be the “Perfect Youth Pastor”!

No.  I don’t.  In fact, if I was to make a top 10 list like that–it would more likely be “The Top 10 Things NOT to do”!  But I came across this great post this morning about the myth of the perfect youth pastor.  You have to give churches credit: They want to do their very best in reaching their young people.  But often times they get the wrong idea about who they want to hire for the position.

Well over at Random Thoughts from a Random Man, I came across this great entry about the myth of the perfect youth pastor.  Take some time and check it out.


Most Popular of 2008! December 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 6:01 pm
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Here are the entries that made the top 5 for 2008 here at Just a Youth Ministry Geek:

#5. The Grass Is Always Greener…I wrote this post in the midst of overcoming youth group envy!  We’ve all felt it, that time when you saw that particular church or youth group and wished you were in similar circumstances.  Don’t!

#4.  Youth Ministry on a Tight Budget. Churches today are starting to cut budgets in the face of our economic problems.  So what do you do when your budget is cut and you need resources?  Here are some suggestions.

#3.  Book Review: Youth Ministry 3.0. Mark Oestricher’s book on where youth ministry has been and where it’s going (or needs to go).  If you haven’t read it, get on it!
#2.  What’s the Big Deal About Twilight? Lots of different people have lots of different opinions when it comes to the Twilight series.  It’s a series that we will continue to have parents come and ask questions about.

#1.  Reaching Gamers Part 1. The first installment of my unfinished series.  I still plan on finishing the series!  I promise!  Gamers are a large percentage within students today.  What’s interesting is that it is made of many different tribes.  Here I give an introduction to the whole subject.

That’s the top posts for 2008!

What would you like to see for 2009?


Merry Christmas! December 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 12:00 pm

Have a great and Merry Christmas tomorrow!  Spend lots of time with friends and family and forget the diet for a day.  It’s Christmas!

May God bless you on this glorious day and we’ll see you on Monday!



Crisis Counseling part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 8:02 am
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In our continuation of conversations about crisis counseling (lots of C words in that phrase), we’re going to take a look today about things NOT to do in a counseling situation.

  1. Don’t sit behind your desk. I have a desk in my office and it faces the door.  I hate it.  Nothing says “I’m better than you” than having a desk between you and the other person.  Put a sofa or comfy chair adjacent to your chair so there are no barriers between you.  Think of a desk like a wall.
  2. Don’t take a ton of notes. If you remember from the previous post, we have to do a good job in listening.  If we are taking a ton of notes it communicates we’re not listening to every word.  Take some notes…but don’t spend all your time writing stuff down.
  3. Don’t look at your watch, computer, clock, cell phone, etc…when you check the time you’re communicating a number of things.  First, that you are bored.  Second, they are not worth your time and third, the schedule is more important than the conversation.  Obviously if you’re limited on time, make sure that is communicated before you start talking together.
  4. Don’t think you can do it all by yourself. If you have to get together more than 4 times, you may want to consider referring your student to a professional counseling service.  If you’re dealing with a teenage break up, you probably won’t need to refer.  But if your student is dealing with eating disorders or deep depression, don’t hesitate to refer.  It’s responsible and extremely appropriate.
  5. Don’t counsel a member of the opposite sex alone. If I have a girl in my office, I keep the blinds on my window open.  I let someone know that I’m going to have a girl in my office.  You have to let other people know what’s going on in case, heaven forbid, something is said.  Be prepared.
  6. Never counsel a member of the opposite sex more than 3 times. This is hard, but so important.  Inappropriate relationships are formed by situations between an adult and a teenager where a significant amount of emotion is being expelled.  You may have the best of intentions, but these things have been known to work on even the best of youth workers in a very negative and damaging way.

There are many other things NOT to do when in a counseling situation, but I wanted to leave of these things up for discussion.  What things have you learned to never do?


Crisis Counseling Part 1 December 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 2:19 pm
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For the next couple of post I would like to take the time to look at some of the issues that teenagers and children are facing today and how to deal with them in a one on one basis.

For my first post, I just want to give a bit of an introduction and some small words of advice on counseling.  If you’re a youth worker, chances are you received limited training in the area of counseling/therapy.  I know I did, and most of what I have learned I’ve learned on the fly or by reading some really great books (more on those books later).

Adolescents today face so many issues that you are bound to have to deal with these at some point.  There are many that struggle with:

  • Suicide (attempted or suicidal thoughts)
  • Disruptive Families
  • Sexual abuse
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Eating disorders
  • Death of loved ones
  • Sexual Identity
  • Substance abuse
  • Relational problems
  • Violence
  • Many more…

We’ll look at some of those in depth in the upcoming posts.  But there are some key ingredients that you want to have whenever you’re talking to a young person about some of the above issues.

  1. Be Accepting. If they come to you to talk about something, that means they’re putting a LOT on the line with you.  For example, let’s say that Denise is struggling with her sexual identity.  She comes to you and pours all of this out to you and you instantly start to tell her she’s going to hell–then you’ve ruined your chance at making an impact. Allow teenagers like Denise to come to you and make them feel that no matter what-you love them!  We may not want them to continue suffering with their issues, but we’re going to love them regardless.
  2. Be Reassuring. Let them know that this isn’t the end of the world.  Things do get better.  Pains do heal over time.  They will eventually heal wounds.
  3. Listen. That’s a given!  But use those signs of active listening.  The “Hmm”s and the “uh huh”.  Ask questions to let them know you are listening intently.  Let them talk and refrain from dominating any of the conversation.  The best lessons are learned by self discovery.  You may have the answers-but they need to discover the answers themselves.  You are there to guide them-not to divulge all you know.
  4. Allow Time For Processing. You’re not going to solve everything in an hour’s time.  Let a week go by before you get together to talk about the issue again.  Also, don’t let silence be a bad thing.  Give them time to think things out.  If a long time of silence goes by, ask them what they’re thinking.  Putting it into words helps the processing.
  5. Focus on the Key Issue. Sometimes, key issues spill into other ‘symptoms’.  If Rick is having family problems, a symptom might be about being grounded for a month.  Don’t spend all your time dealing with the symptoms of the key issue.  Deal with the issue itself and often times the symptoms will disappear.
  6. Take Time To Plan.  This works when you have time before you’re going to talk to someone.  If you know Denise is coming in to talk about sexual identity, do some research.  See what others have been talking about with their students.  A little planning goes a long way.

Here’s a couple of books to pick up for further reading:

The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis by Van Pelt and Hancock

Helping the Struggling Adolescent by Dr. Les Parrot

Josh McDowell’s Handbook on Counseling Youth


Are You S.A.D.? December 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 3:23 pm
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SAD or seasonal affective disorder is something that I had never even heard of until I moved to Indiana. But it’s a mood disorder that affects 9% of those living in the Northern US.

SAD, according to Wikipedia: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer,[1] repeatedly, year after year. The US National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and crave sweets and starchy foods. They may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”

How is it caused? Most believe by the lack of sunlight exposure. In the winter time, it’s cold, we bundle up, completely cover ourselves and move outside where there are a lot of clouds. Sunlight does a lot of things to the body chemically, and when the body lacks sunlight–we are affected.

What does this have to do with ministry?

If you’re living in the northern US, chances are there some in your congregation that have SAD. So bear these thoughts in mind as you go through the next several months of ministry and things start to creep up. Maybe there is an unusual amount of criticism. Maybe the mood of your students aren’t as “peppy” as normal. Maybe church events aren’t as attended as you had hoped. There are many other effects that SAD can have on a ministry. Don’t take it personally.

For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, check out some of these sites:




Creating Youth Group/Cell Phone Unity December 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dj @ 8:45 pm
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Remember when cell phones were known as car phones and they were the size of a cinder block?  Those days are long gone and it seems like everyone has a cell phone these days.  We have kids as young as 10 at our church that have cell phones.

So why not try to add some kind of fun an unity with your youth group with having your own ring tone?

Phonezoo.com is a free website where you can 1) Find a whole bunch of free ring tones, pictures and animations for your cell phone but most importantly 2) make your own!

Heres a couple of easy applications:

  • Have an inside joke or phrase that is used in your youth group?  Turn it into a ring tone for your whole group.
  • Easily share phone pictures with the rest of your group.  You can send files to and from phonezoo with your phone.

There are lots of possibilities!  Not to mention it’s just a neat site to check out and see what’s available!