Youth Group from a Student’s Perspective

I recently had the chance to sit down with Alex Burks, one of my former youth group students.  He is now graduated from High School but sticks around to help at his local Church with the youth program.  I asked him some questions about his experiences in youth growing up an he had a ton of good stuff to say!

What was you favorite part of the youth group? My favorite part of youth was probably worship. It was real, even if some people didn’t sing or clap or do anything for that matter, at least it was real. We were who we were with God, and I miss that sometimes.

How many youth workers did you have between 6th-12th grade? I had 4 or 5 youth pastors.
Do you like getting new youth workers often, or do you wish they would stick around? One thing I learned was that the longer somebody stays, the more it sucks when they leave. I wish we could have had a consistent YP, but change has proven to be good in the past. With a new leader comes new ideas that the group can build on.

What are some qualities that you admire in your youth workers? I like how enthusiastic the heart of a youth leader is. It takes a brave man or woman to lock oneself in a church with a bunch of hormonal, irritable, trouble making, or otherwise unruly children. The spontaneity of a youth leader is also a lot of fun.

What are some qualities that you don’t like in your youth worker? I don’t like how youth leaders can sometimes cause their youth to develop bad habits. One of my former youth leaders thought it was perfectly acceptable to listen to negative secular music and watch any kind of television show or movie, “as long as you don’t let it affect your relationship with God.’ Pfft, well that’s impossible.

Anything Else? That’s basically all I can say, I’m still not sure if its what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I do respect youth ministers more than people of any other occupation. The job is not easy, but it is rewarding.

What do your students have to say about their youth workers? If you don’t know, I encourage you to find out! I’ll be interviewing more students over the next few months and sharing the honest feedback I receive.  I would love to hear some of yours, too!

  Alex Burks is a graduate of North Harrison High School in Ramsey, IN.  Alex has enlisted to be a member of the United States Air Force and is looking forward to beginning his career as an airman.

Moving On

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A couple of weeks ago I left my position at Unity Chapel UMC to take a full-time position at West Market Street UMC.   This move has been hard for a few reasons:

–        I moved from Southern Indiana (Hoosier!) all the way to North Carolina.

–        I will be apart from my wife (who is beautiful and awesome) for a while as she finishes up her degree.

–        I had to leave my first YM position and a truly wonderful group of youth.

The moving is tolerable (assuming we can find a good apartment in the near future – they all look the same after you see 10 or so…). 

Being apart from my wife will be difficult (remember the beautiful part?), but the new Church is being very flexible and allowing me to go back to Indiana one week every month to visit with her (giggity).

The most difficult thing is moving on from my first youth group.  Moving past the relationships I’ve built, the ministry I’ve established, and the Church I had come to love. Here are some helpful tid-bits I’ve come to learn only a few weeks after making the switch:

–        Moving on is difficult, yes, but it’s essential.  We will all move on at some point or another.  Always trust God’s plan for your life and look to Him for encouragement during these times.

–        Keep photos, notes, and gifts from your former youth group – they’re reminders that you can have a HUGE impact on the lives of youth (just make sure you’re not staring them for hours at a time, crying, and listening to Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt).

–        Keep in touch on occasion, but make sure you allow time for the youth to move on, too.  I have yet to contact any of my kids.  If they contact me, heck yes I’ll respond! Just remember to be careful and let them let go of you.  I know I’m an awesome/hott/swag-filled person (humble, too!) but I’m nothing more than a vessel that God used to reach the lives of youth.  

Moving on is tough.  I’ve had a lot of nights where I stayed up late questioning whether I made the right decision.  I worry about the youth at my old Church and wonder if their next Youth Leader will be able to relate to them like I did.  I worry that they’ll get someone better and forget about me. 

Just remember the bottom line – God is in control.  Not me.  Not you.  God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28