Resources

Student Ministry Resources: 5 Ways To Serve Your Small Group Leaders

When it comes to student ministry, some of the most valuable people on your team are the small group leaders and adult volunteers directly serving your students each week. You couldn’t do what you do without them, and, because of that, you want to do your best to love them well while they’re with you. It’s your job to do what you can to serve and support them to succeed.

So how can you do that? Check out a five quick thoughts from our dedicated and servant-hearted Intern Director, Larissa Capps, on how you can best serve your leaders.

5 Ways to Serve Your Small Group Leaders

  1. Be personable.
    Just as your leaders are one of your most valuable resources, you in turn are one of theirs! It’s so important to be personable and available to your leaders while they’re serving with you. You are the one they’re going to turn to for advice, direction, encouragement and prayer, but they’re only going to do that if you’ve made a point to be friendly and help them get comfortable with you beforehand. Simply being personable and trying to know your leaders will go a long way in pouring into and developing them as they serve.
  2. Be honest.
    While honest sometimes isn’t the easiest, it’s so important for you to always be respectfully honest with your leaders. Honesty has the power to open hardened hearts, create trust and form the foundation of a relationship. Try being honest about both the good and the bad with your leaders. Not sure where to start? Determine their strengths and weaknesses and speak honestly with them about both, highlighting and encouraging their strengths while guiding and building them up in their weaknesses. Practice what you preach and try this exercise on yourself and then be honest about your own experience with your leaders. Your transparency will open the door for honest conversation and camaraderie.
  3. Anticipate conflict.
    When it comes to working with other people, conflict is inevitable. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, and we’re all bound to find ourselves in conflict at some point along the way. But before you panic, trust me when I tell you that not all conflict is bad. In fact, when facilitated and approached appropriately, conflict can actually be healthy! Pray through your approach to conflicts with your leaders and approach them in love and encouragement rather than anger or defensiveness. Most of the time, you’ll be surprised by the way addressing and resolving conflict can facilitate growth in the hearts of your leaders.
  4. Show grace.
    Gosh, I can’t say it enough—grace upon grace upon grace! We must always show grace to the people we’re leading in the same way God’s grace has been so generously shown to us as we’ve served and led others. One of the best things you can do for your leaders is simply to show them grace. You cannot truly love them at their best if you aren’t willing to show them grace when they’re at their worst. That grace will go so far for your leaders because His grace is sufficient for all.
  5. Be a fan.
    When you’re in a position to lead others, you have to be for others. Choose to champion your leaders over yourself. Celebrate their wins. Encourage them in their accomplishments. Cheer them on as they serve. It’s so important in forming a relationship—especially one of leadership—that you be genuine in your love and support of others. Be their biggest fan!

We hope these tips inspire you to serve and support you adult leaders and volunteers!

Have a great week!

 

Resources

Student Ministry Resources: 5 Ways To Engage Students With Music

Fact: the average teenager’s attention span ranges anywhere from eight seconds to about five minutes. That means that you as a student leader have just a measly eight seconds to get your students’ attention and only five minutes to figure out how to hold on to it! Talk about a challenge!

One of the best ways we think you can quickly and easily grab the attention of your students is with music. There are so many ways you can utilize music to excite and engage your students. And to give you some tips, we turned to resident music expert and world-renowned rap artist, our very own Joseph Sojourner. Check out Sojo’s five tips for engaging the students in your ministry with music.

5 Ways To Engage Students With Music

  1. Remix It!
    If you’re struggling to get your kids engaged with the music in your ministry, think about remixing some of your songs. Mixing up the arrangement of a familiar song is a great way to reengage and pull your kids back in. If you’ve been playing the same song in your worship set for more than a year, remix it to make it relevant again and reignite the excitement around it for your students. It’s unexpected, it’s new, and it gives them something to be excited about hearing again when they come back next week!
  2. Create walk-in playlists.
    At BigStuf, we always create incredible walk-in playlists to use before each session. It gets the buzz going in the room and gives students something to stay engaged with while they’re waiting for the session to start. Choose music from different genres to capture the different styles and interests of the students in your program. Or let them get involved by giving your students the opportunity to choose songs they’d love to hear in the playlist. If you have local talent that your students are interested in, include them as well! Be intentional about selecting music that’s fun, recognizable, and interesting to your students.
  3. Incorporate openers.
    Start your Sunday nights in student ministry with a fun opening song. Incorporating some familiar, fun songs as openers will get your kids’ attention quickly because they recognize the song and are excited to hear it at church! Just remember to not outkick your coverage here! If you don’t feel like you can do it justice (or do it better!), just don’t do it. Kids will know the original song so well that if your band can’t at least match their expectations for the song, your kids will lose interest.
  4. Ask and research.
    Maybe music isn’t really your thing. Maybe you’re more of a sports or movies kind of person. And hey, that’s okay! Just remember that if music isn’t your thing, you’re going to need to put a little more research and effort into your student ministry music selection. Ask your students who they’re listening to and look those artists up. Turn to your worship leaders and rely on their input for song selection. Let the experts be the experts and trust their guidance when it comes to music.
  5. Your visibility gives you credibility.
    Ultimately, this is true for most any part of your student ministry. The more visible you are to your students off stage, the more credible you’ll be to them on stage. If you’re actively engaged with them before and after your student ministry time, if you’re hanging out with them during the week, if you’re following them on social media, if you’re intentional about showing up in their lives beyond Sunday nights—that makes you visible. And the more they see and know you off stage, the more credibility you’ll have to them on stage—even with the details like music!

We hope you find these tips helpful as you connect with your students through music!

Team BigStuf

Resources

Youth Ministry Resources: How to Start an Internship Program

If you’ve spent any time at BigStuf, then you know that the real all-stars of the summer are the amazing group of college-aged interns working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the camp experience incredible for your student groups each week. They are the hearts, hands and feet of BigStuf every summer, and that’s why we do our best to make the experience valuable for them while they’re with us.

Thinking about creating an internship program in your own student ministry? We’d love to help! Check out some wisdom on how to develop an internship program at your church from the incredible lady taking charge of ours—BigStuf’s Intern Director, Larissa Bright.

5 Tips for Developing Your Internship Program

  1. Prepare a vision. Before you do anything else, start by praying and preparing a vision for the program as a whole. What will this internship represent? What are its values? What do you hope your interns will walk away with at the end of their time with you?
  2. Determine the need. You want to make sure the internship is valuable for your interns. So rather than just placing them in random jobs, determine where your specific needs are and design the program around those needs. Where do you need extra help? What parts of your ministry could use extra hands? Where can you provide opportunities for leadership and growth in your interns?
  3. Set standards. It’s important to set the standards for your internship up front. Determine what you expect from your interns and how you’re going to communicate that to them. Establish boundaries and limits for the program and promote an understanding of why those things are important to maintain. Aim for excellence, humility, passion and respect to be the standards of the program.
  4. Encourage responsibility and ownership. There’s no better way to develop leadership in your interns than by encouraging them to be responsible for or take ownership of different aspects of the ministry. This could be as simple as giving them regular jobs or duties or as large as letting them plan and execute an event. The key is to entrust them to take ownership of something to develop their leadership skills and sense of responsibility in the internship.
  5. Meet weekly.
    It’s important to set consistent times to check in with your interns throughout the program. Meeting weekly allows you the opportunity to evaluate the highs and lows of the previous week, talk through issues or learning opportunities, ask questions and truly listen to and pray for your interns. More than anything, you want them to walk away from the program feeling seen, known and valued by you as a leader. Being intentional about meeting with them consistently is a great way to do just that.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you create your own internship program; or spark your thoughts about how to make your current internship program even better!

Have a great week!

Resources

5 Tips for Creating Your Youth Ministry Budget

It’s a new year, which means that for many student pastors, it’s time to create your yearly youth ministry budget!

We understand that for many student pastors, the process of creating your student ministry budget can be a challenging and tedious part of your job. While you may not get excited for the process of developing your annual budget, we all know it’s not only a necessary part of the job, but also an extremely important part of planning the year for your students. So why not equip yourself to be ready and do it well?

  1. Think cash flow, not just calendar year.

    So many times we talk to youth leaders in October who can’t make their deposits for camp because they haven’t gotten their budgets or funds for the next year yet. Try thinking ahead and budgeting in for those future year items in the current year. This will help you stay ahead of the game and make payments as they are due, avoiding the stress of getting behind! This part of budgeting can be a little bit difficult even for the most math-minded of people so don’t be afraid to consult your go-to finance person for a little help.

  2. Dream big!

    Yes, I’m an accountant, and yes, I’m telling you to throw out the boundaries and really dream big for your student ministry! Dreaming doesn’t cost you a cent so spend a little time really thinking big before you even start your budget. Once you’ve landed on a general vision for the year, share it with some of those on your student ministry leadership team. Invite them to dream with you. You’ll be amazed at the big ideas they bring to the table. Use an idea board to help visualize your year, even breaking it down seasonally (spring, summer, fall, winter) to help make it more manageable. Remember, sticky notes and index cards are your friends in this process!

  3. Break it up.

    Once you’ve got the year ahead of you laid out, break it up into major events and projects. You’re going to want to create a separate budget for each of those things. Tedious, I know, but trust me when I tell you it’s much easier and accurate to add up these smaller budgets when you are trying to figure out your annual proposed budget. Breaking your overall budget up into several smaller pieces will make it a lot easier to plan for those individual events and projects as well as track your spending throughout the year.

  4. Reference the past.

    Let your records do some of the work for you when trying to plan out what everything will cost for the coming year in your ministry. Go to your finance team for a report of all income and expenses from the last year in your department and use this as a reference point to get you started for planning the coming year. It will not only help you see the timeline of big budget items or events, but will also help you account for those boring monthly recurring expenses that are easily forgotten about.

  5. Be flexible.

    So now that you’re dreamed your dreams and come up with a plan, it’s time for some flexibility. We all know deep down that the budget of our dreams isn’t always the budget of our reality. Be flexible and don’t let it set you back when your pastor or CFO says, “Sorry, we just don’t have the money for that.” Focus instead on what you can afford and give those things your all! Can’t afford that new coffee bar you really wanted to buy? I have one word for you to come up with an alternative: Pinterest. Can’t afford that international mission trip to Belize? Find a local mission you can support instead and make that experience incredible for your students. No matter what you’re facing, the bottom line is this: be flexible and willing to make those budget adjustments as they come, focusing instead on what’s really important to you and your team and doing your best to make that happen.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you create your student ministry budget for this year and years to come! We wish you well as you prepare your ministry financially in order to point your students toward Jesus.

Camp

Youth Ministry Devotions | Friends Devotional

Friends. We all want them. Some of us have great friends. Some of us have terrible friends. Some of us are just praying to have one friend. Some of us have more friends than we know what to do with. Some of us would consider ourselves a great friend. Some of us would admit to being a pretty selfish friend. Whatever your friendship status: popular, lonely, some friends or just one really good friend, we can all agree that we want friends. And, we don’t just want friends, we NEED friends. And honestly, the prime life is impossible without friends.

Check out what Paul writes in the book of Hebrews:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Paul doesn’t say let me spur myself on to love and good deeds. He says let us spur each other on. In other words, this life was never meant to be lived alone. It was meant to be done with other people. It not just up to us to make sure we’re living the prime life. Our friends should be looking out for us and we should be looking out for our friends.

But, we don’t just need friends, we need friends who are going to push us to show love to those around us and who are going to push us to do the wise thing. Friends who also agree that fullness of life is found in Jesus and want to help us live a full life. Friends who build us up instead of tearing us down.

Today, if you’re feeling defeated trying to live a prime life, look at who’s around you. Are they the type of friends who spur you on to love and good deeds? If they’re not, think of at least one person you know who could help to encourage you to love those around and do the wise thing. Call them or text that person and ask them to be that friend for you. If you can’t think of someone, begin praying now that God would show you that friend. Talk to your small group or an adult that you trust and ask them if they know someone who could be that friend, or ask them to be that person for you. Whatever it looks like for you, begin take steps to find a friend who will spur you on.

Or maybe you’re reading this are thinking of people in your life that are this type of friend. If you have these friends in your life, thank them and hold on to them. Recognize their value in your life. Then, take it a step further and think of someone in your life who needs this type of friend. Call or text that person and ask them if you can be someone in their life who encourages them to love people around them well and make wise decisions. Be the type of friend that you’re so grateful to have.

Incredible things begin to happen when we’re spurring each other on to love and good deeds. It not only helps us to keep living the prime life, but it shows the rest of the world that a prime life is possible. So, BigStuf, go find a friend and be a friend today, and show the world what a full life can look like!

Resources

Youth Ministry Resources: Social Media Essentials

As a leader in student ministry, you know better than anyone that trying to find a way to communicate information to your students is a challenge.

Have you ever tried…

Sending home a flyer?
Never made it out of their backpack.

Making an announcement from stage?
In one ear and out the other.

Sending a text or an email?
Forgotten as soon as it’s read.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way you could quickly and easily get information out, send reminders and updates and just have a little fun in communicating to your students?

Enter social media!
What better tool for communicating with your students than the one they use all day everyday to communicate with the world?

Developing a strong social media presence for your student ministry can not only help you better connect to the students already in your ministry, but can also get the word out to other kids in your community who haven’t plugged in to student ministry just yet.

We know the idea of building your student ministry’s social media presence might be overwhelming. That’s why we turned to our resident social media guru, Tiffany Andrews, for tips on developing a strong social media program for your student ministry. Take it away Tiffany!

tiffany-andrews

Here at BigStuf, social media is an essential (and growing) part of our ministry and communication. Here are 5 ‘best practices’ that I have found over the years, which allow you to manage effective social media accounts without getting overwhelmed!

5 Social Media Essentials for Youth Ministry

  1. Put someone in charge.
    With so many channels for social media, things can get confusing pretty quickly. Start by putting someone on your team in charge of social media. If no one person owns this part of your program, it will show. Having a person dedicated to developing and posting content will create consistency and intentionality.
  2. Create a calendar.
    Stay organized by creating a calendar to help ensure you post on a variety of topics. Think about what makes your student group special and what things you’d like to highlight online. Schedule your posts around those things-small groups, events, worship, a memory verse, your apparel, meals provided, etc. Planning this content ahead of time also helps you avoid posting the same things each week.
  3. Pick your pictures.
    You only have seconds to grab the attention of the students looking at your post; pictures are the key to using those seconds wisely. Avoid fuzzy, low-quality photos and go light on the text. We prefer to use pictures only and keep our text for the captions, but if you want to lay text over a shot, be consistent. Find an app that works well for you (we like Over and Legend) and use similar fonts or features each time.
  4. Make your bio a one-stop shop.
    Your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter bios should be a one-stop shop where students can go to quickly find the basic information they need to know about your program. Keep it short and include things like who you are, where you’re located and when you meet. Give a quick, one-sentence summary of your mission and include a link to your website where they can go to read more.
  5. Create a hashtag.
    As you begin to grow your presence online, a hashtag will come in handy to help categorize the posts about your student ministry. Make your hashtag short, easy to remember and reflective of your student ministry. As students post about the fun they’re having in your ministry, ask them to use your hashtag, making it easier for you to see what they’re posting, too. If their posts and photos are great, you can even repost them to your student ministry’s account (just be sure to give them photo credit).

We hope these tips help you to increase your social media presence and better connect with your students!

Have a great week and see you this summer!!

Tiffany and Team BigStuf

Camp

Shining the Light Devotional

It’s been a while since we were all hanging at the beach together, signing at the top of our lungs and going crazy during piñata parties. My guess is that you went home ready to make some changes. You made some big decisions and made commitments to do life differently when you got home. And maybe life hasn’t looked as differently as you hoped. It can be easy to get discouraged that life doesn’t look like we hoped it would. That life doesn’t’ feel as full as we’d like it to. And when that happens, we often go searching for things in our life that we need to change. Things we need to do to get more excitement and adventure into our lives. But, what if truly having fullness of life wasn’t that complicated?

Paul writes something to the Church or Corinth in 1 Corinthians that is just as beneficial for us today. What Paul writes should give us both freedom and perspective on how to live our lives to the full. He says this:

 

…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Discovering fullness of life may be simpler than we originally thought. When it comes to living the full life that Jesus offers us, there is no level of excitement or adventure that will make it more full. To have a full life, we’re just called to follow Jesus and glorify God in all that we do. It’s that simple. The prime life is right in front of us at this very moment.

How different could your life look if today you chose to glorify God in all that you did? That test you have coming up in that class you think is pointless. What if you chose to study and take it seriously because of your desire to glorify God with your education? That friend that started spreading rumors about you. What if you chose to forgive them instead of seeking revenge because of your desire to glorify God with your friendships? Basketball practice with that coach that always gives you ridiculous drills. What if you chose to not join in when the rest of the team is complaining because of your desire to glorify God with your words? When your mom turns off your video game because she needs you to wash that dishes. What if you chose to not roll your eyes and talk back and chose to obey because of your desire to glorify God with your attitude?

What if for today you decided to do everything for the glory of God? What if in every situation you asked yourself how to glorify God in that situation? I think you would find fullness of life beyond what you’ve imagined. It would change your attitude. It would change how you approach your day and will allow you to see the fullness that is right in front you. More than that, those around you would see a difference in you. They would see that you live with integrity and joy and honor and courage. They would see that your life is marked by something greater. Because, when you choose to give God glory in all that you do, you live fearlessly and boldly knowing that God is in control and that in him is fullness of life – forever! So today, live full by giving God the glory in all that you do.

Musicians

Molley Moody | 6 Ways to Pour into Student Worship Leaders

We are so fortunate at BigStuf to be connected with an awesome team of worship leaders. Not only are they incredibly talented, their hearts beat to point students towards Christ. They are some of the best people we know (both on and off stage), and we’re so thankful to have them lead your students at camp.

One of those people is the incredibly gifted Molley Moody.

As sweet as she is talented, Molley has a heart to specifically encourage and pour into the students at BigStuf who are just like she was at that age—eager to pursue music and looking for a way to get started in leading worship. Do you have a student like that in your group?

Check out some thoughts from Molley on how you can pour into and develop the student worship leaders at your church!

moody-headshot

6 Ways to Help Student Worship Leaders

1 – Give them a voice.
Start simply by giving them a voice in your student ministry’s worship program. Let them help choose what songs they will lead and take ownership in creating some of the set list. There are always nerves when you’re singing in front of a group of people—especially a group of your peers! Letting them choose a song they love, feel connected to and are confident in singing will help put them at ease and set them up for success.


2 – Encourage them to be themselves.

Empower your students as they lead by encouraging them to simply be themselves. They don’t have to try and sound like anyone else or say the things other leaders do from stage. All they have to do is use the gifts God gave uniquely to them! The best thing they have to offer as leaders is simply who they are.


3 – Sing from the heart.

Encourage your student worship leaders to sing from their hearts. While they are leading other students in worship, they are also given the opportunity to be in worship themselves. Being a great worship leaders starts when you genuinely worship Jesus out of your own heart. What comes from the heart speaks to the heart so encourage your student leaders to start there—with their hearts!


4 – Pour into their lives.

All students need to know that you believe in them and love them, and pouring into them as they grow in leadership is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate that support. Let them know that you are proud of them, not just because they can sing or are a good addition to the team. Show up for them in other areas of their lives and pour into them spiritually so that they can pour out to other students from the stage.


5 – Teach them to be a team.

Teach your student worship leaders and musicians about the importance of being a part of a team. Encourage them to celebrate one another and trust Jesus to use their gifts as a whole to usher their fellow students into the presence of God. Pray with them and guide them away from gossip or jealousy amongst the group, as that will only hinder the worship experience. Teach them to celebrate their fellow teammates when they get the chance to take the lead.


6 – Keep it fun!

At the end of the day, worshiping God should be fun! Avoid putting too much pressure on your student leaders, and instead, make sure they know you want them to enjoy their time on stage! It doesn’t always have to be perfect, and they may not always get it right, but what’s most important is having the heart to lead. Celebrate that heart and make experience fun to encourage your students to continue to pursue worship as they grow.

Camp

Youth Ministry Devotions | Gospel Devotional

For almost a year, you’ve heard us talking about this idea of a prime. We’ve posted pictures, shared videos, and if you were at camp this summer you heard all about what it looks like to live a prime life. And maybe it’s all sounded awesome to you. You’ve heard a lot about this prime life and it’s something you want, but you think it may be too good to be true. You want the prime life, you want to live a full life, but you’re still not sure how to get it. Or maybe you think your life is too far gone to be prime, you’ve made too many mistakes and have too much of a past. Or you’ve been reaching for the prime life, but keep falling short. You see other people who seem to be living a full life and you so desperately want it.

If that’s you, there’s good news:

You can still have the prime life.

Matthew records powerful words from Jesus that lets us know how we can all have access to a full life. Jesus says this,

 

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

In other words, Jesus is saying that if we continue to try and be the ones who control our lives, we will lose our lives. We will miss out on the potential of what could be. We are so concerned with trying to control what is taking place in our lives, that we end up losing the life we could have altogether. And so Jesus says to us, “Hey, if you want to find full life, if you want to live a prime life, then let me be the one who is in control.”

Having someone else in control of your life may seem like the opposite of prime, but it isn’t. We have God who decided to come to earth in the form of man, Jesus, to walk with us and fight for us. More than that, Jesus took upon himself all that we had ever done wrong and all that we will do wrong and declared us forgiven through death on a cross. He died a gruesome death to prove that we are worth dying for. It didn’t stop there. Three days after being crucified, Jesus rose from the grave – he was declared dead, but came to life – defeating death. Because of Jesus’ life, we can know that we have a God who is not distant, but understands what we go through. Because of Jesus’ death, we have forgiveness and salvation. Because Jesus defeated the grave, we can trust him.

We can trust that he understands us. We can trust that what he says is true. We can trust that is he is capable of being in control. We can trust that when he says if we’ll lose our life to him, we’ll find true life.

So maybe today, for the first time, you need to give up control of your life to the only one who is truly capable of being in control of it. Today, ask Jesus to be in control of your life. Today, give him your life, and ask him to show you what it looks like to live a full life.

For others of you, you’ve already declared Jesus as savior and have given him your life, but it’s still hard to give him control. Today, think of the parts of your life that you like to control (your grades, your relationship, your athletic ability, etc.), and give those parts of your life to Jesus. Ask Jesus to show you what it looks like to give him control of every area of your life.

Starting today, daily choose to give control of your life to Jesus. Find freedom in the fact that you don’t have to do it all. You have a God who loves you, knows you, cares for you, and understands you and he is worthy of being in control.

Camp

Youth Ministry Devotions | Circumstances Devotional

When we think of the prime life we think of adventure, splendor and glory. A life full of excitement, one that we love to live. We all want that kind of life, we all hope for that kind of life, but for so many of us, it doesn’t seem like that will ever be a reality.
If we’re being honest, for so many of us life doesn’t feel prime at all. Our circumstances are a major factor in how we feel about life and when circumstances are good, life is good, but when circumstances are hard, life is hard. Circumstances can make life feel awesome, but they can also make life feel mundane, dysfunctional or tragic. For a lot of us, our current circumstances are making life feel anything but awesome.
Maybe your parents are divorced, or your family is having financial trouble, or someone in your family has cancer. Maybe you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere, or you’ve been dealing with anxiety for as long as you can remember, or you’re concerned that you’re not going to be able to graduate on time and go to the college of your dreams. The circumstances you’re facing feel out of your control, and because of that your entire life feels out of control.
Wherever you’re at and what ever you’re going through, no matter how out of control your life feels, Jesus give us hope and says this in the book of John:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When your circumstances make it seem like a prime life is impossible, we can have hope that we have a God who has overcome the world. God’s promise to us wasn’t that he would change our circumstances, but that He can OVERCOME them. God still offers a prime life in the midst of the hard, the disappointing, the tragic and the mundane. We can have hope that God is with us and has a plan for us. In our hardest moments, there is an opportunity for God show up in ways beyond our imagination!
So today if life is hard, if your circumstances are just downright awful, take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. And if He can overcome the entire world — a world full of brokenness, anger, hurt, defeat, tragedy, sorrow and pain — then He can show up in the midst of our difficult times. And He hasn’t promised to just show up, He has promised to be with us, to overcome it, and to offer us life to the full despite our circumstances. Today, ask God to be with you and ask Him to show you what it looks like to have a full life despite difficult circumstances.