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  • Re: Retreats - Phones or No Phones?

    I'm all about encouraging our teens to be off their phones during retreats, but I have never been the youth minister that collects phones during a retreat. I try to do my best to set ground rules and give the kids the freedom to make a choice. If they do end up bringing their phone on the retreat, I encourage them to leave it in their backpack and have it turned off for the remainder of the weekend unless it is an emergency. I definitely agree with what others have said regarding the notion that more often than not, phones take away from the experience. Although, depending on the type of retreat I have been known to encourage teens to bring their phones to take pictures and post them to social media at specific times throughout the weekend. This is a fun easy way to have some free marketing and publicity for certain events throughout the year.

  • Re: Database? Organizing member info?

    Min Hub Youth. It's an app that you can download that help you to organize student info, event tracking, stats and trends for each event, connections between Core and students, and individualized texts to students. It's a lifesaver and its cheap.

  • Re: Hot button topics

    I think that it's important to address hot button topics in a very blunt, honest, straightforward, and vulnerable way. Testimony is 100% necessary to let teens know that they aren't alone in their struggle. We need to relate all of these topics back to Christ. Teens should leave the talk or discussion encouraged to invite Christ into their struggles and to rely on the accountability of others. If it is a more sensitive topic, its important to consider inviting a Christian counselor, priest, or mental health professional to come and be present. Its also necessary to provide resources for further discussion. Prepare your Core Team so that they are able to address issues that might come up in small group. Lastly, provide resources for the parents to continue talking about these issues with their teens as a family.

  • Re: Relational ministry

    I'm all about the notion that as youth ministers we're called, not simply to offer events at our parish that impact youth, but to meet young people "literally" where they are at. One of the ways that I try to do this regularly is by scheduling time for sporting events, plays, musicals, concerts, etc that the youth at my parish are involved in. Also, I take the time to visit various schools throughout the year (including our parish school) for lunch with the teens. Outside of that I try and schedule a time once a week to meet at a coffee shop with a group of our teens to hang out in an informal setting. By taking the time out of my week to implement these small practices, I've seen the depth and breadth of the relationships that I've built with these young people change in a way that I didn't know was possible.