SMS: March Madness

The “Dinner Discussion Starter” at the Aaby home a few nights ago: If you had to pick your favorite holiday of the year, which one would you pick and why?

“Christmas!” (with a really quick) “and Easter”


“Umm… Umm”

Halle (9), Audrey (almost 7) and Will (almost 3) respectively. Both Elisabeth and I answered “Christmas,” mainly because this last Christmas was such a special season for us, we really seemed to be in a groove.

I know several people, including myself, who would like to to see “March Madness” and especially the first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament be declared a national holiday. Two days that every workplace should shut down, since most slow to a crawl anyway. I love March Madness. It’s the only time of the year that most find ourselves excited that James Madison, Butler or Princeton is about to pull-off a win!

Real holidays, like those mentioned above, or fake ones, like March Madness got me thinking about Youth Ministry Madness. What is it that gets you pumped up in Youth Ministry? Today’s Student Ministry Stuff addresses the broad-stroke areas of youth ministry that get me the most fired up during the Youth Ministry Year.

Small Group. Any given Wednesday! If you had to strip everything away from me and I could only do one thing in Youth Ministry I would lead a small group of guys for several years. I loved my small groups. I always chose to go through a book of the bible, verse-by-verse with the guys. Along with a co-leader, I would grab the group as fr Though the Bible study portion was important, doing life together was what made the Bible study so great. These are guys that are still near and dear to my heart!

Mission Training/Trips. I emphasize the word “training” in the training and trips. I really struggle with those who don’t put time into training students for more than just a mission. Obviously it’s why Youthmark exists, but even while serving as a Youth Pastor, I didn’t understand the “sign-up and show-up” mentality that some YP’s had. To me it just feels manipulative in some ways. Some YP’s just want to give students an experience outside of him or herself. Without roots firmly planted (Psalm 1, Jeremiah 17) I feel like we’re teaching students how to be blown and tossed by winds of emotion. I loved gearing up for a trip by getting grounded in the things that we need to be practicing all the time, not just “there.”  This included time in the Word, fellowship, practical service training, gaining support/networking, etc. I COMPLETELY understand the motivation that a “trip” provides and I believe we should simply take advantage of that motivation by using it to do it now, not just then!

The mission trips themself were an absolute gold-mine for service, evangelism and discipleship. What took place on the field typically accelerated the growth process in individuals tenfold (it seemed). I loved the intense times with students and leaders! It’s great looking back at the places served as well, we always left feeling mutually blessed (sending team -us, and receiving place- them).

Camps/Retreats. Because I didn’t overdue the “program” side of the weekly ministry (not a huge “hoops and whistles” guy) I would try to do at least one or two events (including a camp) that was really more programatic. I really geared up for these and though it was a lot of work the culmination of the event felt a little like “March Madness” to me! These were typically outreach events and we really saw our students respond to the opportunity (especially in response to the mission training and trips they had been a part of). But, like a mission, a camp is only “great” if it has proper roots and proper foll0w-up strategies and structure in place!

I can think of a ton of other things that I’d love to list (one-on-ones, staff retreats, even a Sunday School structure we implemented), but for now I’ll call these my Youth Ministry Madness evoking events!

What Youth Ministry areas get you jazzed?



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