“When we’re younger, we adopt the faith of our parents, but middle school and high school years are when we make faith our personal faith,” said Rev. John Britt, who serves Winner UMC in Winner, South Dakota. That’s why he feels strongly about making sure youth programming at his church is top-notch.
In 2016-2017, Britt and seven other youth leaders from Winner UMC participated in the Dakotas Conference’s first youth ministry cohort—a series of gatherings and follow-up check-ins led by church consulting firm Ministry Architects that taught best practices in youth ministry. Ten churches participated.
Several things at Winner UMC have changed as a result. For example, church youth leaders are starting to plan a year’s worth of youth programming as opposed to figuring out lesson plans from week to week or month to month. At the end of each school year, youth leaders are surveying students to find out what they liked and didn’t like about the last year’s worth of programming, and to learn about the topics they most care about; leaders then use this feedback to plan for the next year. The church has also created better check-in procedures by having all youth enter the back door and stop by a welcome table where someone is there to greet them.
Additionally, Winner UMC is starting to create a youth directory with kids’ names, birthdays, cell phone numbers, email addresses, and other contact info. The idea is that if a student misses a week, his or her youth leader can follow up with a text or an email to check in and let them know they were missed. “The youth ministry cohort has given us good insight and helped us be on the same page,” Britt said.
Children and youth ministry workers are at the core of a successful, vibrant youth ministry. The Children’s and Youth Ministry workshops work to strengthen the lay leaders and staff within congregations, by designing a ministry plan and growing congregational support of children's and youth ministry.
Everyone is invited to participate in session two of the Children's and Youth Ministry training, with leader Stephanie Caro of Ministry Architects, on October 13, 2018 from 9:30 am-3:30 pm MST at Storm Mountain in the Rapid City area.
There are four day-long training sessions that Caro presents. Each course is divided into two topics that include:
You do not have to attend all four of the trainings. Join the sessions as you are able. Get the details for the workshop on October 13, at Storm Mountain, here.