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55 Ways To Love Your Youth Group

Compassionate_hands
A random collection of 55 Way’s To Love Your Youth Group – many from ‘Your first two years in Youth Ministry’ by Doug Fields. Use your common sense & have fun with them!

  1. Notice them
  2. Smile a lot
  3. Learn their names
  4. Seek them out
  5. Remember their birthdays
  6. Ask them about themselves
  7. Look in their eyes when you talk to them
  8. Listen to them
  9. Play games with them
  10. Laugh with them
  11. Be nice
  12. Reassure them that their feelings are okay
  13. Set boundaries to keep them safe
  14. Be honest
  15. Be yourself
  16. Listen to their stories
  17. Notice when they are acting differently
  18. Present options when they seek your advice
  19. Suggest better options when they act up
  20. Share their excitement
  21. Notice them when they’re absent
  22. Give them space when they need it
  23. Contribute to their collections
  24. Laugh at their (appropriate) jokes
  25. Be relaxed
  26. Kneel, squat, or sit so you are at their eye-level
  27. Answer their questions
  28. Tell them how fab they are
  29. Learn what they have to teach
  30. Make yourself available
  31. Find a common interest
  32. Apologise when you’ve done something wrong
  33. Listen to their fav music with them
  34. Thank them
  35. Give them compliments
  36. Acknowledge their efforts
  37. Meet their parents
  38. Be excited when you see them
  39. Let them act their age
  40. Be consistent
  41. Marvel at what they can do
  42. Ask them to help you
  43. Applaud their successes
  44. Pray with them
  45. Be flexible
  46. Delight in their uniqueness
  47. Let them make mistakes
  48. Give them immediate feedback
  49. Include them in conversations
  50. Respect them
  51. Be silly together
  52. Trust them
  53. Encourage them to help others
  54. Believe what they say
  55. Involve them in decisions

A Cantankerous Old Man’s Guide To Youth Work

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When I was 15 one of my best friends was a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, called Cliff.

Being paralysed from the waist down after a bad car accident, Cliff hadn’t left his flat in 10 years. He was old, he was moody, he was racist, he smoked like a chimney (not just tobacco!), he swore like a sailor and drunk like a very thirsty fish.

Why on earth was this cantankerous old man one of my best friends? 2 reasons:

1. He just liked having me around!

Cliff took a genuine interest in the things I cared about. He would just sit and listen to me talk about guitars and computer games. He even bought me a large power kite one day after hearing me rave about them. He didn’t try to be like me, or pretend to be ‘one of the guys,’ he just genuinely cared about me and really did like spending time with me.

When I had major surgery, he got Iceland Home Delivery to send six large crates of junk food to my hospital bed (which fed all three Children’s wards in Blackpool Victoria Hospital). When I turned 16, he paid a taxi driver to bring a magnum bottle of champagne to my front door. What a freaking legend!

2. He gave me responsibility.

Cliff allowed me to rebuild his computers, cook him meals and do his shopping. I would tidy his house, sort his mail and charge the batteries in his wheelchair. I never had any doubt that I was valuable to him.

By the end of his life Social Services would no longer work with him. He would rage and throw things at them. I had the keys to his flat, became his next of kin and his sole carer. When Cliff died I organised his funeral – at 17. His estranged family didn’t come.

Short Safeguarding Note: For those of you with Spidey senses tingling (rightly so), my parents kept up a relationship with Cliff themselves and kept a closer eye than I was aware of.

 

Cliff’s Guide to Youth Work

In terms of healthy boundaries, this might not be the ideal job description for a youth worker. It does however, give us two very clear principles for youth work:

1. Show young people that you genuinely value your time with them.

Don’t fake it, don’t milk it and don’t try to be one of them. Just like them, and like hanging out with them. Show them extravagant acts of love. Don’t know how – here’s 55 ideas!

2. Give them clear genuine responsibility.

Young people don’t want to be consumers, they are wired for producing. Simple entertainment-driven youth work is now going to way of the dodo – and good riddance to bad sugar-fueld nonsense!

Get them to run things, to work on things, to lead things, to learn things, to research things, to design their own programs, to tell you what they want to learn about and to help teach each other. Let them know that they’re valuable because they are valuable, not because they boost your youth group numbers.

Let’s learn from Cliff and take the words value, extravagance and genuineness to their youth work ideals.

Thank you Cliff.

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Part 3 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’

 

You can find part 1 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-Dy

& Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here: http://www.timgough.co/the-awkward-bunch-small-group-dynamics-in-youth-work/