Getting My Questions Answered for Leading Students Today – Panel Discussion

Originally Posted on September 1, 2020

Webinar Transcript

– This will be a panel discussion today. And we have Scooter Kellum, who is our state missionary in the Office of Student Ministries. He is our student youth mission strategists that is leading us in this webinar. So we greatly appreciate him taking the bull by the horns and going with it. So Scooter, introduce who we’ve got with us today and let’s go with some discussion here. Okay?

– Will do. Thank you, Jamie. It’s one of those things where many years I delegated things to do and then they said, I was a volunteer. I think I got voluntold by Jamie that I was gonna do this. But I do use the word getting to, because this is so much fun. And so I’m grateful for the opportunity. Thank you Jamie, thank you for what you’ve meant to me and to the State Board of Missions and Alabama Baptist across the state. And to youth ministry and youth Sunday school for years. Today I am really excited about this panel. It’s gonna be a good time. We get to talk about a lot of things. Right next to me is my beautiful wife, Chelsea Kellum. And she is here to talk all things youth ministry and we’re really excited to have her with us today. I’ve been in ministry a long time. And the best 10 years of ministry, some of the most difficult two were those with her by my side. Because she challenged me, she taught me a lot about youth ministry and challenged me to do things a little different. Also my friend Justin Nelson, who’s in First Baptist, Oxford, and we are so glad that he is here to join us today. He’s been in ministry a long time and a wealth of knowledge. Just a friend and someone that I always get a little nervous in the rain with to be honest, because you never know what he’s gonna be asking or how he’s gonna push in a good way to learn and stretch. And he just thinks about things so differently. And so in a good way, Justin, just because, differently for me, which a lot of people seem to do that and it helps me become a better minister because I learned from all of you guys. So and then. And then Zac, we’re so glad you’re here. Zac is here from Tulsa, Oklahoma and works with LifeWay. And so he works with Youth Ministry Booster. And so we’re so thankful that you’re back with us. All of these panelists, served with us for this week, as we have all trained and taught many things youth ministry. And so we’re so glad to have you back today. Zac, I’m gonna open up with you, real quick.

– Yeah.

– Just as we know that you work with LifeWay and we’re so thankful for that partnership and for your work there but also for LifeWay, we’re just so thankful for them. And I know that y’all talking about youth Sunday school, there’s some curriculum there. And so we want you to talk about what curriculum is there, the big three, I think there’s some new things there. But also, something launched yesterday, I believe.

– That’s right.

– And you got some free training this week. So I want you to tell us all about that. And then we’ll dive into looking at youth Sunday school as a whole.

– Absolutely. Well, and that’s where we’re gonna spend a lot of great time today, asking questions about some of the best practices, some of the implementations and deployment when it comes to student ministry in a COVID and post COVID season. And so the resources or content, I’d point you to our big three curriculum. So at LifeWay students, it’s not just our curriculum but you actually have choice inside kind of our umbrella of things that we have to offer. So Bible Studies For Life, kind of some application heavy, topically focused studies for students. For this season, there’s a lot of great ones to choose from or to subscribe to. Explore The Bible is the one that maybe you’ve seen before or tried before. But if you haven’t recently, you should at least look into it. They got a fresh facelift and design overhaul. And that is our expository book by book study of the Bible. And so that’s kind of the model you’re working with for your Sunday school or small groups. Check it out. If you are a line by line, word by word kind of teacher, an expository preacher turned teacher for your students, it’s a great place to pick up and run. And then gospel project kind of our theologically focused Jesus is the center and hermeneutic for all of Scripture kind of underpinning. That one also pairs really well with the kids and adults study if that’s kind of how your system is set up that way. But the two new things I wanna talk about is that, yesterday, we had a great little resource drop, and it’s the gospel according to Gen Z. And it is a study of Scripture in a really small digestible format with Sunday Cool Carll or Cool Carll. If you’ve been following on YouTube or Facebook, you’ve probably seen lots of posts or announcements or maybe have even used some of his videos either to educate yourself on Gen Z talk, or connect with your students. We love Carll, his real name is Josh. But Carll does this really great fun videos for your students, for your youth group to share and do either now in this little package. And you can get this book for seven bucks, or buy the case load for your students. And there’s Scripture study, devotional practice in here, but also exclusive videos. So if you want your students to learn with both Bible app and phone in hand or Bible and phone in hand, there’s little QR codes to scan for exclusive videos that go with each study of Scripture. It’s a 30 day challenge. You can all run it together. I think it just really times out well for this fall season of students trying to reengage, how do we have those little small conversations over the course of a week and not just once a week. It’s a great thing to pick up and try out. So check it out, it’s on our store. It’s lifeway.com/sundaycool. We’ll post links in the chat as well. And I think actually do if you’re go to coolcarll.com they’re giving away a sample free copy for everybody to check out to see if they like it or not. So check it out, and see it’s small. I know it’s deceptively small, but it’s really good. And the second thing I would share is, if you’re catching this before August 20th, August 20th, a Thursday afternoon from one to 3p.m. Central, we have our launch event. It’s a live video virtual conference that we’ve got a lot of great folks lined up. Some youth ministry favs and some youth ministry like real thought leader innovative folks. And it’s really heavy on practitioners. So we know this fall season is not what anybody had planned. If you’re a heavy planner and you had planned in January for fall, we’re having to rethink. Or if you’re pretty good planner and planned in July for fall, we are all on some kind of contingency. So we wanna jump in and plan together and give you some last minute flight checklist inspection and things to remember before you launch into this fall season, that we hope is also really encouraging time. So we’re gonna cover topics about relating to students, supporting your parents, leading your leaders, and then taking care of yourself in a soul care, self care kind of way. And so we’re gonna jam all that into two hours, and it’s live. And so there’ll be a replay later if you wanna catch it. But all the folks that are speaking, it’s not pre-recorded. Every name you see on that list is jumping on, logging in to share for about seven minutes in kind of a TED Talk format with some q&a at the end. So it should be really dynamic and exciting. You can come shape the conversation, so don’t just watch it. Come be a part of it.

– Awesome, cool. Thanks. So that’s a lot of great things going on. Thank you for sharing that with us. And you know one of the things that I love about Sunday school, is we have always done ministry. Or the cool thing about the curriculum is, I guess, in ministry is that you can use one curriculum for all of your Sunday school. But I’ve also used a lot in doing different of the three different approaches, using all of that for different age ranges. And so, to kind of lead them up to a point to where they’re ready and prepared for the next or just trying to be specific with what we’re trying to train in a two year span. And so I know that y’all don’t design it necessarily ’cause you’re doing it on three year windows. Is that still the case?

– There’s some versions of both gospel project that are like one year kind of encapsulated, but most of them are like a three year cycle. But again, like the Bible Studies For Life, Explore the Bible, I mean, you could just pick a book that you wanna study or you could pick up a topic. So it’s really kind of how you kind of pick and choose. Most are across either a six week or quarterly kind of unit. Yeah.

– I think that that’s really intriguing. In that, Justin, I would like to ask you kind of, what are your thoughts? How do you do Sunday school? How’s it going right now in the sense of COVID? Have you started back? If you have, what does that look like for y’all in your setting? And then Chelsea is gonna talk about our setting and then at Crossroads Community Church. And then we’ll let Zac come back in and talk about what things do look like where he’s at in Tulsa.

– Okay. Our plan for Sunday school before COVID is age graded, of course, and then by gender as well. So we want to have four classes with, and I do something a little strange. I believe and then I’ve led my team to believe the greatest distinction in teenager’s life is that drivers license. So in other words, there’s a bigger difference between someone who has it versus someone who doesn’t have it than any other age factor or anything else. So what we did is we divided it by driver’s license rather than by school. So essentially, and I’ll say if you have it yet. But seventh through ninth grade, our student ministry goes seventh to 12th, seventh through ninth graders are considered junior high as far as student ministry goes. The ninth graders hate that, but, and we don’t call it that really other than in my mind, so to keep them from being angry. But anyway, that’s our division. So we’ve got junior high, seventh through ninth grade, boys and girls and then senior high, which is 10th, 11th, 12th boys and girls. And we’ve got a rotation of teachers who teach in that format. And we since COVID now that’s a lot of change. We meet in our bigger, where we meet for Wednesday night worship, a bigger area where we can socially distance and we just kind of meet together because our numbers are diminished with those who have not been able to return, the families who haven’t returned because of the pandemic. So, we use Bible studies for life in our Sunday school curriculum. And we love it. We love the topical. And I choose that intentionally. The way that I want Sunday school to plug in our ministry is I want it to be a first step into something other than a group gathering. In other words, that assimilation process and is a good bridge from, you get the family who moves to Oxford, then they visit First Baptist Oxford. They’re gonna come on a Sunday morning. And so I want to be able to then funnel that student from that family into that youth ministry. So I think Bible Studies For Life better enables you to have one standalone, although I know all of them can stand alone, but you pick up and you get less. Well, if y’all remember from last week, because it is a new topic each week. So it builds but it can stand alone. So that’s our planning for Sunday school.

– Okay. Chelsea, what does Sunday school look like or life groups or whatever at Crossroads?

– So at Crossroads, a few years ago, they switched from having Sunday school in the traditional sense, and then followed by worship. So now we do worship at 10 and then we have that Sunday school hour that now they call life groups at 11. And the thought was, that life group is where you can really dig in. Sometimes you’re in the middle of a conversation and that can be a pivotal thing. So they didn’t wanna cut that hour short, oh, we gotta get to worship, that we’re all trying to get to the sanctuary. It allows ministers, teachers, students to do life together. Like if that goes longer, it can just do that for all ages. And so life groups this year, they have used it to explore the Bible. That’s my personal favorite even for kids. But they have also used a curriculum called, well, it’s not the curriculum, it’s not Discipler. But Discipler is almost like a right now media account. There’s a yearly or you can buy a twice yearly subscription, and it’s access to all variety of curriculums. So that is what had been being used in the past. But this year, our pastor is walking through Scripture chronologically in his preaching. And we have a five day reading plan as a church that goes along with that. So prior to COVID, and once we start back with life groups, hopefully the second week in September, that’s our goal, to start back with that. What the teenagers have is talk-back sheets. It’s really what all the adults have, teenage and up. And so there is, the sermon that we have all sat in and listened to. And then rather than having a separate lesson, not that there’s anything wrong with that but the idea of continuing that conversation, okay, let’s talk life application. Let’s talk about conviction, let’s talk about, what did you learn from this sermon? And there’s several specific questions and talk back points, if you will, to address from what the pastor has already covered.

– Well, I know that there’s a, we have about an hour after church, after our service to do that, which is your typical time. And I know that Jeremy Jones, our minister of students is kind of going to watch. And I guess in a couple of weeks or in a few weeks, we’re gonna be doing a kind of a master teacher, like just session with youth pastors, then they’re gonna, with the whole youth ministry, and then they’re gonna break off into small group classes with their leaders so that they can kind of dive a little more in depth or be a little more personal in that. So that’s kind of what we do. Zac, what are y’all doing in Tulsa?

– So one of the things that we shifted to in kind of a COVID era, was taking the excuse of Sunday morning being too early away. So we moved our Sunday school small groups from the typical 9a.m. 9:15a.m. Like we say nine, but we start at 9:15, ’cause they’re teenagers. and started having it at 1p.m. So after the live stream at 10:30, after time for lunch. And so that was really kind of an exciting way to have some engagement. It took away the I don’t wanna wake up early. Plans for this fall is to offer a little bit of both kind of the shifting target for us is a lot of what Justin shared of like just getting them in a group, but having lots of group opportunities over the course of a week. And so instead of just that, like this is the hour that all our groups happen, knowing that we’re, and I think this is probably true, at least from the folks that I dialogue with. Everybody is at like a 27 or 30% kind of like meeting in person based on caution and statistics right now. And so knowing that we’ll have 30% of our students meet on a Sunday morning, but that doesn’t discount the other 70% don’t wanna be involved. So having still a couple groups that meet at Sunday at one. And then for us, the Wednesday night time has really been a key group element where our church is located pre COVID especially. We’re kind of on the other side of town where a lot of folks live so we’re kind of in historic mid Tulsa. A lot of folks lives further south in Tulsa. So getting from school to home, to the church on a Wednesday night was difficult. So our Sunday attendance is great. I know for a lot of folks like Wednesday is good, Sunday is low. For us we are very much a weekend church, have a lot of Sunday stuff happening. And so Wednesdays became a lot of group opportunities. Middle school at the church because their parents would bring them and drop them off or be a part of kids ministry. But then our high school groups, actually have groups that meet in houses across Mid South and East Tulsa for stuff. And so for us, a lot of it is the training of group leaders to lead the groups pretty autonomously. I know for some folks, there’s like a master teacher, and to kind of a breakout element. One of the things that we do, now that I get to sit in the seat of volunteer and not youth pastor, is that like, all of our volunteers are trained up with a partner to basically kind of run ten kid youth ministry. And so really having those small groups be, here’s the lesson or an engagement. Again, when it’s on Zoom, we want it to be shorter anyway, right? Like a 30 to 40 minute Zoom feels better than a 70 minute Zoom. And so that’s what for students like. I can do that, like my partner and I can do 30,40 minutes for our ninth grade guys. And so even though they don’t love it, love it ’cause it’s Zoom and not in person, that’s a way for us to offer that on a Sunday afternoon or a Wednesday night to kind of be flexible to student’s schedule. So again, I think kind of the scattershot approach of like, we all kind of get this same material, or at least the same kind of emphasis for stuff, but it’s a way to kind of bind it up together.

– Well, let’s talk about, I heard a little bit of this and all of it because it all is You know, yours is different, by the way it’s set up just in the ages, which is intriguing. And I’ve never thought about it that way. That’s awesome. But then there’s this changing up the time of early morning, getting rid of these hues to one o’clock. Or we do ours, at Crossroads after. It looks different. And so I wanna kind of dig into a couple of different thoughts with those as we talk about this. One, the foundation of Sunday school was evangelism. It was really designed to bring in and share the gospel and lead others to Christ and build some time together. And I will tell you that every student that I’ve ever led to Christ in youth ministry, one of the first conversations I’ve had to have with them was, where were you? Where were you yesterday? Where were you sending water for Sunday school? And so for me, that being a discussion that we’re having to have, every time, that thought of it not being another talking on a Sunday morning, is intriguing, because we’ve all dealt with that. But also at the same time, Wednesday nights, has in some ways become our evangelism time. So I would ask you, has the purpose of Sunday school changed? Do we need to think about how we’re doing it differently, whether that’s time, whether that’s what we’re teaching, whether that’s the teachers we’re getting, or what does that look like? Because for you, Justin, as much as I think about lost students, I also think, I don’t think I thought much about the new family moving to Oxford, or anything like that. Like, I haven’t really thought about that thing because that is the first time. They’re not gonna send their kid on Wednesday night where they’re gonna have to go be with students without them. But then walking them up to a family group where they can meet a group of people their age. There’s something about Sunday school that is smaller and really, really good there. So in that, I know that that’s a lot to come out. But what does that look like in the future? What does it look like? How is it changing just in the way we’re doing things?

– I think everybody’s context is going to be a little bit different. And so for, as we’ve kind of been talking about each of the churches that are represented here on this panel, we’re running multiple ministries within student ministry. You’ve probably got a Wednesday night worship. First Baptist Oxford, we do Wednesday night worship, we do Sunday school, of course, Sunday morning worship, and then we do another D group opportunity, okay? So we really have to work a little bit harder at identifying what is going to be the role of Sunday school for First Baptist Oxford. For a church and so many, the majority, the vast majority of our Alabama churches the Sunday school is their student ministry. And so they may need to look a little bit harder at what does it look like for this Sunday school to be evangelistic? Whereas, if you’ve got those different avenues of ministry, within your student ministry, then you can say, okay, my Sunday school is more for assimilation. And that would be all right. So I think context, who you are as a church, who you are as a student ministry is gonna play a huge role in what Sunday school does. So can it be evangelistic? Yeah. Does it have to be? I mean, everything needs to be evangelistic, but no, that doesn’t have to be the purpose you write down on paper.

– In our context, at Crossroads, Sunday mornings are much more discipleship driven than evangelistic. There might be a new family that visits, as a whole family unit. And so when those students are stepping into ministry, you don’t know exactly where they are, but they come with mom and dad, which probably means there’s at least some foundation within the home. But it’s much easier at the church that we’re at now and in several previous churches that we’ve been at. What I’ve seen across the board is that, if a friend is going to invite another friend to church, that doesn’t start with Sunday school, that starts with Wednesday night. Wednesday night, not that it’s all fun and games, but like, that’s the hangout. That’s the, hey, follow me after school and I’ll show you where it is. You’re not asking them to change their weekend plans or to get up early. It’s just the easier ask for students to say, hey, come to youth group. Another reason that we have seen Wednesday nights be better for evangelism in that context, is with our Sunday mornings. We often divide those up into smaller groups. So by grade and by gender. Well, if you’re a girl wanting to invite a guy, but he doesn’t know any of the guys at your church, then they’ve also said hey, it’s just a whole lot easier because we all meet together on Wednesday night. Maybe there’s some aspect where we split up at the end and talk small group, but we’re all coming together and so nobody feels like singled out or they can sit by their friend even if they’re of a different age or a different gender and feel like they’re a part of the group. And so having more guests than Wednesday night is when the emphasis is on evangelism.

– Zac, what are your thoughts on all of that?

– Chelsea, that’s spot on. I think a lot of times, we don’t always think of it through the eyes of a new student. And I think that’s one of the things that when we are leader, whether that means staff, pastor, minister, or even if you’re volunteering, and you’re serving and leading a small group. If the goal is evangelism, then what you’ve told me is that you are always thinking about somebody new that has no idea what’s going on. If it’s discipleship, you can think about what are we gonna build on. But if it really is about evangelism, I think this is where a lot of Sunday school programs shift or drift into discipleship. Is because they stop thinking about the first time experience. You may do a lot of the same things over and over. You may be overly welcoming. It’s what Chelsea shared, girls can’t bring their friends that are guys if the groups are gendered, because you basically have said, come hang out in a place that we can’t both hang out together. Again, you can have it set up however you want to set up, but just know what you’re asking when you’re asking. And if there are barriers, so let’s say it this way, one of the churches I served at, had this infamously long hallway to get from the main entrance to the youth area. Like it literally, like we used to, because we were young and dumb, we would like, stay late, we’d have like youth nights, we would do like, sardines, hide and seek, ’cause it was like scary in the dark. It’s just a long spooky hallway. There was a mirror at the end of it. So everything was like shifty and whatever. But like that long hallway, like you could just feel people get like suspicious or like worried the longer they went down. Like, where am I actually going? Like, how do I actually get to the place I’m supposed to go? Everything changed when we started putting student greeters at the front door. And literally halfway down the hall to cheer them into the room, because they begin to think, oh, I am going on the right path. And that if you always know where to go, you’re like, yeah, at the end of the hallway, there’s doughnuts, it’s great. But if you’ve never been, it’s just a promise of doughnuts. And I think for a lot of us, we’ve got to think through some of those. Like, if I was brand new, this is where like churches use secret shoppers, or they have you go visit other churches. But you’ve got to see it through the eyes of a 15 year old that’s never been there if you really want to reach 15 year olds that have never been there. Because if it’s always comfortable and easy for the ones that always come, then it’s the exact opposite for the ones that are not there. Like the blessing of COVID, the silver lining for COVID in youth ministry is we had to all rethink what we were doing. Don’t unlearn and just get back to what you were doing. Think about how difficult it was to try to get kids together. Think about how engaging you had to be to connect with students. All of that, that energy level, that thoughtfulness, that innovation, the mindset shift is 100% where we’ve gotta be from now and for always. So again, have it be what it needs to be but think through it when you declare what the vision will be of what we’re trying to accomplish and reach and do. So, yeah, Sunday school is fine. But just like Justin shared, it’s gotta be something like, hey, remember three weeks ago, we talked about this? Nope, I’m new. I have no idea what you’re saying. And then what Chelsea shared is that, is this a space where if they brought friends that were older, younger, guys brought girls, I brought my new girlfriend or she brought her new boyfriend? Like, is this a spot that they can actually do that? Are you gonna invite them in to be separate and segmented the entire time? So again, think through all of those things, think through the ways in which not just what is the content, but how am I creating connection to what’s going on? That’s what we started at the top by sharing some like, here’s some great content to use. But your role for your context is, what are the ways in which you’re making good connection points with the students that are coming or the students you hope will be coming?

– That’s right. That’s great stuff, Zac. Thank you for sharing that. I will say that Chelsea and I are two parents in our home, with four kids. So if one of us gets up, just know,

– We’re coming back.

– we’re coming back, we hope. But, hey, one of the things that I was just, as you were talking about all that, Zac, and just throughout talking to all of this, I guess I think back to all of my ministry experience and in any places that I’ve been, and it is very few times do I go into a Wednesday night service at a youth ministry or as a youth minister, where things are not prepared. Think about it. We’ve got the chair set up, we’ve got the displays ready. If we’ve got a band, we got the band ready. I mean, we’ve got everything laid out. And I feel like for me, personally, this is my confession on camera, is, so many times on Sunday school, I thought, well, as long as I’ve got the teachers and the curriculum ready or whatever we’re teaching, then I’m good. And so I feel like even sitting here talking, I’m like, man, how many kids came into a Sunday morning, Sunday school time with youth ministry and we failed them because we didn’t walk them the way they should, we weren’t prepared the way we should have been. We didn’t do this or do that. Well, what if we had been prepared as if it was a Wednesday night? Could we have reached some lost kids that we didn’t? Could we have made them have an experience to where they felt like it was worth getting up for? And so I almost feel like, what if we took that, and what if we, not that we have to make it Wednesday night, but what if we prepare as if it is a Wednesday night? What if we look at creative ways to do Sunday school, that were innovative, creative and yet stuck with the foundations of what it is? And that’s not just on foundation of evangelism, but also disciple making, which is, evangelism is obviously a part of that. And so what if we were teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you as well as baptizing some along the way because they’ve heard the gospel for the first time and needed that. What if we prepared as if that? I know I’m saying these things out loud as much as I’m confessing and being convicted of some ways that I messed up along the way, and I really wish that I could go back and do somethings different. Maybe one day I will, you never know. I do get opportunities to along the way. So what does it look like in the future? Do we change? What does Sunday school look like after COVID, so post COVID? ‘Cause there is gonna be a post COVID at some point. It might not go away, but the pandemic aspect of it is gonna go away at some point and we’re gonna open back up. Are we’re gonna roll back into what we’ve been doing? Do we change Sunday school as a the purpose of it? What do we do? Or we just answered that and in all of our conversation?

– I think the question that we’ve got to answer, whether that be for Sunday school, Wednesday night, or D group or whatever it is, what is the purpose of it? Why am I doing this? And then how can I best do this, given my culture, my context, my situation? So everything that we do in student ministry needs to have a reason behind it. It’s not just I’m doing this pizza party in order so that we can eat pizza, right? They can eat at home, right? So we got to have a purpose for it. So as we look to the future, and nobody’s got a crystal ball that we can look into. We’re not gonna know, right? But if you and your context you say, my Sunday school, I feel strongly that The Lord is leading that my Sunday school be about, as Chelsea said earlier, about making disciples in Sunday school. We’re learning the Bible where it’s discipleship based, okay? Then, what is the best way, given the circumstances of our world to use this to continue that purpose? And you scratch and you look and you find out what that is for you. And I know that’s not a practical answer as far as nuts and bolts. Because I don’t think it really can be practical. Everybody is in a different place in a different situation. If you’re listening to this, and you’re a 78 year old Sunday school teacher and your grandson has logged you on to this thing, and that’s the only reason you’re getting this, there’s probably another option for you. Or either you gotta get real creative to figure out, get grants on back in there, whatever. Like, for me, I don’t love tech, but I could figure the Zoom thing out. I’m competent enough I could make it happen. So you’ve got to kind of answer that question for your culture and your context. Most importantly, what is the purpose of this? And how can I continue to have that purpose fulfilled in whatever’s going on?

– I think that’s good. I mean, ’cause you may have something different. Otherwise I’ll move on to the next question. I think you did a great job with that Justin.

– jump in if I can there and reiterate what Justin just said. As you know, my boss has this saying and I think it is so true when it comes to Sunday school, about ministry period. You need to understand your why. Why have Sunday schools? Why have small groups? Like Justin said, your purpose. The great commission is go make disciples. So you got your element of going and then making disciples. So we got to reaching and teaching. And we know to do that, you have to have ministry. You can’t reach people if you’re not willing to minister to them. And you can’t make a disciple out of them if you’re not willing to minister. So you got to have those three elements, the reaching, teaching and ministry. And I don’t, yes, they’re all interwoven, but yeah, and of course in the past we’ve kind of had three hours a week with Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, we could focus on this. How do you do that in a day and time when you got one hour on Sunday or Wednesday? A lot of your youth groups, you only have them on Wednesday, you don’t have them on Sunday.

– Well, so Jamie, that’s what I would offer as maybe the biggest thing to kind of unlearn or relearn. We used to only have them for one hour, two hours. We moved from just having Sunday to add Wednesday or to add Sunday night, because we wanted to see them more. But I think what we’ve learned in this season is like, dude, our digital means and cell phone access in the hands of all of our students. This is not a like, I sent a parent email or even I mailed a parent newsletter and I hope that they got it. Like we have direct access to them throughout the course of the week. So don’t feel like if they’re not there on a Sunday night or a Wednesday night that you don’t know where they’re at and you can’t create ways to connect with them. I think that’s one of the things that I hope that youth pastors don’t get back to, that volunteers don’t get back to, well, we’re gonna put all of our eggs and all of our energy into this 50 minute, 60 minute basket. And if they can’t make them, they don’t care. Not true. We know where they’re at, how to connect with them, send them messages, make the phone calls, build the relationship. I think a lot of us maybe had allowed the meeting space, or the meeting time to do some of the relational work for us, where it’s we showed up, they were gonna be there, I was gonna be there. And then just by being in the same room, there was some more kind of connection and relationship. But now you have your list of students, you have your protocols of where and how is safe to communicate with them. Get after it. And so I think that that’s the thing that I would encourage. Is that, like, if they don’t come on Wednesday, it doesn’t mean, well, I guess we have to wait till next week to connect with them. And so I think that’s a shift for us for sure.

– Let them go to church, needs to be their church 24/7, and they can do this. You can interact using yeah, appropriately, you can send the text or whatever. Minister to them in a lot of different ways today. So, yeah, I think this has been a great opportunity to force us out of the box to look at how we can reach and disciple students 24/7. Yeah, very good.

– Okay, so with all that was just said, and has been said throughout the whole 37 minutes or so that we’ve been on, leads me to this question. Are you ready? How do you select the teachers that are gonna lead your Sunday schools? Because, if we’re talking about it not being, one, I think that, I get that in some Alabama settings, Alabama Baptist settings and we’re in a lot of rule, smaller churches, the youth pastor or volunteer youth pastor is doing it all. But some of that’s even because they feel like they have to. But I would say, at the same time, some places are, if you’ll say yes, I’ll let you teach. But then I would say for us that we need to think about how do we select, the people that we just talked about are gonna go and reach. They’re gonna teach, they’re gonna minister, they’re gonna be the ones that are not only preparing the lesson, but they’re gonna be the faces that they see on Sundays, that are gonna reach them during the week. The role of a Sunday school teacher is so much more than a 30 minute lesson, let’s be honest. ‘Cause you got prayer request, you got to welcome, you got all the bathroom breaks, the teenagers are gonna make. You got all those things. So the 30 minute lesson that they’re gonna teach or whatever, what does that look like? How do you select them? Or let me rephrase it, how should we be selecting our teachers that are gonna make that impact in our students lives? Chelsea?

– I think in the past, when I was the one that had the task of trying to find the teachers, I was always worried about being shut down. And so even though I wanted to prayerfully consider it and I wanted to get people in the back of my mind, I was also just trying to find people who I thought might say yes, those yes, people. And sometimes those yes people are already doing 50 million things that they ask them to do one more thing, they can do it, but can they do it well? That has shifted over time. And sometimes people do tell me no. And I have just braced myself for that. But I am more, as I’m praying and as I’m looking around the church for the leader in this capacity, like, who is dynamic? Who is living for Jesus in a way that teaching may not even be their strongest suit? Although they are going to be teaching they’re also like, utilizing hospitality like welcoming kids in, there’s all kinds of other like fellowship dynamics that can go on in Sunday school. And so like who has a life, a walk with Christ that I want these students to see and emulate. Because teacher training can happen and there’s a lot of people who would say, hey, I’m not a teacher, but they had some training or maybe they taught under someone before they went ahead to like want full force into it. And just the fact that they live their life on fire for Jesus teenagers saw the authenticity in that. Because they don’t just wanna be taught a lesson from the Bible, they wanna see it lived out in your life. Somebody who’s willing to be honest, in an appropriate way, but even vulnerable. Like hey, this is how I’ve struggled, and these are the things that God is teaching me in my life. Those people who are already living like that for Jesus and then trying to give them the appropriate training and prayerfully ask them to prayerfully consider hey, would you come model this for students? You have something that they need to see.

– I think also, I agree everything you said Chelsea. If you’re a student pastor listening to this and you’ve come into this church, and you don’t know who to ask, you’re going, I don’t know any of these people, you know. So I would take the recommendations. And maybe not take them just everything everybody said as you know but ask some people, talk to people, who’s a good teacher? who would be a good fit here? And ask around, ask your other staff members if that’s in play. And they may give you even if you’ve been somewhere for 10 years, somebody else may see things differently than you do and may give you some ideas for people to fill that role that you would never think about. I would add, I think training your teachers and making it clear. I teach one of our Sunday school classes. I choose to, I want to. And well, now we got a rotation and I’m on one of those rotations. But what I try to do with my Sunday school teachers in normal times when we have those four classes, I try to say, this doesn’t have to be exactly like I’m not giving you ABCD. But I’m going, this is the general direction we need to go. Like we don’t want our long lectures in our Sunday school. So just some general guidelines, and then allow them to fill it with their personality. So if you can find somebody who you’re looking for people who are faithful, available and teachable, if you can find the faithful available, and then you can teach them you can create a good Sunday school teacher out of a raw material, so to speak.

– That’s good. And I would echo and Chelsea, you said it right. I think sometimes the folks that we’re looking for are the ones that we’ve got to go after. I think for a lot of us, if you’re on staff and church and teaching a leader group, that’s fine. But there are folks that do wanna serve, they just need to be asked. And sometimes it takes a coach, yes. You’re gonna have some that maybe show up and say, I’m here, I’ve always helped, I’m ready to help. But some of your best ones may not see it in themselves. And I think one of the things that Justin shared is true, is that there is some ongoing training for our leaders. It’s not just will you do this, here’s your material? But you’ve got to set the expectations for what you’re asking them to do, and what it looks like to do it well. I think we maybe have dropped the ball by saying I need you here on Sundays to teach. Or if you are a teacher, maybe you can reciprocate this back to the staff person that invited you to help but find a way in the ways in which I know that I’m doing a good job. I think so many of our volunteers would do a better job if they knew what a good job was, right? Not just, hey, I’m here. But no, I actually do want you to call your students or I do want you to share on Instagram about your lesson with your students. Or I do want you to text the parents to bring the kids on Wednesday. Whatever it is, set it up for them and make it really clear. Like part of your training is not just how to like teach. I think teaching is such a limiting like word sometimes when we’re looking for volunteers or ministers in training or I have a friend that all of his youth volunteers are called lifeguards. Because they literally are the ones like at the edge of the pool, like helping to make sure that students are either like they’re like looking for incident or they’re like going to rescue in case there is incident. And for him that reshapes it because the content is there. And that’s why you bought the curriculum, bought the book. Have you bought the material, to take the teaching pressure off, so they can be the relational person, the mentor, the coach, the lifeguard, whoever? And so, yeah, you’re gonna have to go ask them people and you’re gonna get some no’s before you get yeses. But don’t be in a way in which you have no responsibility to train up more leaders and teachers. If it’s just you and your spouse, that’s an unnecessary and unfair bottleneck for the person who is 27 or 72, that wants to volunteer in your ministry. Like there is room and space for multiple generations to serve, if they know what they’re getting into and how to do it well. And those are the things that are up to you that are kind of leading in this. And then as volunteers, to make sure you keep your inviter, your staff boss in check by saying am I doing a good job with what you asked me to do? And all that again, has a minimal amount to do with the actual content but the way in which we’re connecting them with God’s Word and the way which we’re making a disciple. It really is the ways in which we structure the relationships for them to succeed.

– Well, and I would like to say, just as, oh, that was outstanding and great and people are gonna do it. But, and very practical, all of that is very practical and very good. What I would say is, don’t forget to pray. I get that all of that is important and I’m one who for me, I’m looking for all the right people. But oftentimes, I get yeses more whenever I have prayed about it. And God has said, hey, go ask so and so then you know what, I think so and so would be a good fit, we’re gonna go get them. Because what I do is I can say, hey, I’ve prayed about this. And I’m asking you not to say yes, I’m asking you to prayerfully consider serving in this capacity, or that Sunday school teacher or whatever because I’ve prayed about it. I know that if I can convince them to prayerfully consider something, God’s gonna tell them what He told me. And so I’ve had great success with that and it doesn’t come easy to me. Prayer does, but not necessarily praying for every position that I’m looking to fulfill whether that’s a teacher or leader in some sort. Is there anything from you guys or Jamie that you would like to just talk about for just a moment, or that you want youth pastors out there, youth volunteers to know, as we close up our time together today?

– I don’t have anything new to add. I think it’s been very good discussion. Good questions, good comments. I appreciate each one of you being on today and sharing a wealth of knowledge with us today. Of course, if you’re watching this, hopefully you will look over in the chat box. And you can see that there are other webinars that have been recorded and are yet to be shown. And you can go to PinnacleAlabama.org and see that list. Or you can go to vimeo/alsbom and you can see the past videos that the State Board of Missions has produced and put out there for you to further the training as you’ve talked about Scooter, they’re very good. And thank you all for sharing the ideas and thoughts there. ‘Cause I just, I believe so often we enlist our headaches by not Scooter, praying First. We just we’re trying to fill that empty spot. We didn’t spend adequate prayer, we sure did not spend adequate training or the expectations. I mean, because if you’re enlisting a worker, they need to know up front what you’re asking them to do. Because the only thing they have to base that on is their past experience. What their former teachers did or did not do to them. And so if you don’t share with them the expectations right off the bat. I’ve been doing that conferences for over 22 years now with State Board of Missions.

– Yeah you have.

– And it is interesting as I talk to people. We’re talking about Sunday school leaders. And I’ll say how many of you were given a written job description of what was expected of you as a Sunday school teacher when you were enlisted? And it doesn’t matter if there’s three or ninety in the room. I have never had over three people at a time to tell me, to raise their hand, I was given something in writing of what was expected of me. No wonder we have some struggle sometimes. Is that we don’t make clear what we’re expecting of our leadership. And so that’s the whole purpose for this webinar is to sharpen our skills and to be better. So thank you all. I appreciate you being on with us today. And Chelsea, thank you for being the rose among the thorns. Girl, we appreciate it so very much there. So any closing words? If not, I’m gonna let Scooter close this up here. Anybody?

– Well, let’s pray. I’m gonna thank you guys as well. Thanks for being here. And good to get to see you and hang out with you and talk youth ministry ’cause it’s always awesome. So let’s pray. Father God, we love you. We thank you for this day. Thank you for the opportunity to talk youth ministry, God. That is something that not only are we passionate about, that we love, but God it’s something that you’ve called us all to in one way or the or another. And Father, I just thank you for letting us all have a chance to worship you today. God, we got to have to experience a living God and I hope everyone who’s watching this got to experience that on a Sunday morning, Father. But also, Father, I thank you for this time that we got to spend together hopefully. Not only did we get to enjoy it by talking about youth ministry, we got to, hopefully there’s something in this that someone can use so that they can be a better youth minister, youth volunteer, youth leader, youth Sunday school teacher or father just a better follower of Christ. Because ultimately, our goal is to make disciples of all nations and that’s through sharing the gospel and baptizing those who have salvation and teaching others to observe all things as commanded. God We love you, and we praise you, in Jesus name, Amen.

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