Show Me A Sign

Each year for the last few years, I’ve made a sign for my Life Group. This, believe it or not, has been a great youth ministry tool.

Here’s how I’ve used it and how it’s helped:

  • I put it outside my front door every week for Life Group
    – If the sign is ever not out, parents know something’s different so they don’t drop off their kid and drive off. They probably missed a message and don’t know we’re at the church, or we’re off for some reason
    РIf mom always drops off her son, but dad is doing it one week, it makes it easier on dad to make sure he is in the right place when he comes back to pick up his son. I live in a condo and they all look alike.
  • I take this to any event we have so parents know they’re in the right place
    – This has become a bit of a joke. Parents laugh at how organized I am (in a good way)
    – Parents think I’m more organized because I put out a sign. Hmmm… how’s that for an easy win. We work hard for them to have a good perception of us. There’s an easy one I didn’t have to work hard for.
  • I used it as a keepsake one year for a student who moved away at the end of the year
    – We all signed the back of the sign
    – He’s now in college, but still has this sign in his room. I’ve been out to see him a couple of times and always see that as a youth ministry trophy – we did something as a group that supported one of our own during a difficult time and he still appreciates it several years later

Here’s the point of telling you all of this: Sometimes we stumble across the simplest things in youth ministry that become unlikely, but very helpful, youth ministry tools. What have you discovered that works for you? Share it with us. We’d love to post it on the blog or you can post it in the comments. If this sign idea somehow works for you, please use it. What do you have that the rest of us can think about using?

//Side note: want me to make a sign for you? Happy to help. Just click one of the products below.

Caring for Parents and Students, The Perfect Event

This idea came out of a conversation at our Life Group Christmas party a couple of weeks ago. When a parent dropped her son off, she commented that the parents don’t know who each other are. As I was reflecting on that comment later that night, I thought, “Let’s do something about that.”When a parent says something like that, it’s an invitation to do something about it. She didn’t say it in an accusing way. It was more of a passing comment about something she would value having.

I decided to pull off an event that would be a natural way for me to hang out with parents… watching their boys have a blast. The event: Ice Blocking! So much fun. The boys slid down a grassy hill while sitting on top of blocks of ice. Between the boys and the blocks of ice was a folded towel.

It became a family event. One of the dads parked his car in a way to shine his headlights on the pitch dark hill. Another dad was at the top of the hill coaching them on how to get the best ride and shining a light on them. He even took a ride down the hill once. Parents were gathered at the bottom of the hill hanging out having a blast watching the fun. One of them even brought snacks for the boys.

We made some great memories. The parents know each other a little better. They have more appreciation of me as their sons’ leader. The boys had a blast and got super tired (another plus in the eyes of the parents).

When we minister to students, we win when we remember part of ministering to them includes reaching out to their families.

I Gave Up and Was Better For It

This one was very difficult for me to do. This year I started over with a new group of Freshmen. Their parents were very cordial and involved, in a healthy way. Several of them offered to send desserts or help out in any way we needed.

I absolutely love making desserts. I actually have a philosophy on the subject. Nothing happens in my Life Group by accident, unless it’s a God-thing. I believe desserts should be amazing and homemade because it may be the only homemade dish a student gets in a week. It also shows a level of caring if it gets dished out into a students bowl by a leader. As the saying goes, “The way to a [student’s] heart is through his stomach.”

I very reluctantly took parents up on their offer. I even setup an online calendar they could sign up on for our weekly desserts… hoping they wouldn’t. They did. I haven’t provided any desserts this year.

One week a parent sent 5 glorious dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. All of them got eaten. My boys were bouncing off the walls. Sometimes a well-meaning mom will send store bought cookies. That’s not what I would prefer, but the benefit far outweighs the let down.

Here’s why this is the best thing ever: By allowing parents to have some ownership in Life Group, I have a greater opportunity to get to connect with them and know them better. Youth ministry done right includes not just the student, but the family connected to the student. Knowing the families better means I know the students better.