4 Levels of Events in Student Ministry

4 Levels of Events in Student Ministry Blog PostBy: Mark Etheridge

When it comes to events in student ministry, it can be a challenge to plan and structure a purpose for what you want to accomplish. When you’re driving in a car, it’s not enough to know where you’re going, but you also have to know how you’re going to get there. I hope to provide a grid that will help you develop a roadmap for events in your student ministry. This grid was first introduced to me by one of my college professors, Dr. Richard Brown, a youth ministry professor at Liberty University, and I have adapted his model into my student ministry event planning.

Every event our ministry decides to undertake always fit into one of 4 categories: Relationships, Evangelism, Disciple-Making, and Service. These are our four levels, or the four purposes we seek to accomplish. I should say our ultimate goal is always the gospel. We want students to receive Jesus through the gospel, and for students to be become more like Jesus because of the gospel. These four levels of ministry help gauge how we are striving to move the gospel forwards in the lives of our students.

Level 1: Relationships

I like to think of ministry events as an upside down triangle. You begin at the top with the entry-level, and seek to take a student further down the triangle on the path of a maturing disciple. The first level is an event that focuses upon relationships. This is a great event to meet new students, and it also gives the students in your ministry the opportunity to invite their friends who do not know Christ. This type of event gives new students the exposure to a Christian community. It allows new students to meet and hang out with your student ministry staff, along with other students in your ministry. Events ideas include: Concerts, sporting events, and game nights hosted by your ministry.

Level 2: Evangelism

Unlike the first level, this level directly proclaims the gospel of Jesus, and gives students the opportunity to respond to this message. This event also gives your students a chance to invite friends who are not Christians. This level builds upon the first, in hopes that students who came to your ministry in the past will now receive the chance to personally meet Jesus. When hosting or attending this type of event, make sure your students know the purpose! Tell the students in your ministry the goal is to see people meet Jesus, and encourage them to bring friends who do not know Him. Event ideas include: Student Conferences, Camps, and customized events hosted by your ministry.

Level 3: Disciple-Making

As students receive Jesus, the goal is to see them become more like Jesus. This level focuses upon students who know Christ, and desire to grow in their relationship with Him. Obviously, students who are not Christians are welcome to attend your disciple-making events, but this event is not geared towards them. In disciple-making events, we seek to intentionally invest in the students who know Christ, and are seeking to make Him known in their lives. Events ideas include: Retreats, Camps, and a disciple-making event hosted by your ministry.

Level 4: Service

The final level focuses upon service towards those in the church and the community. Service and disciple-making go hand in hand, and we desire to see students love Christ holistically, which includes tangibly meeting the needs of those around them. From my experience, students absolutely love these types of events! It proves challenging to get students excited about serving at the local rescue mission, or raking the elderly woman’s yard across from the church, but once students invest themselves in this kind of work, they often find it rewarding! This teaches students that following Christ is not only about going to church and putting in information, but it also about getting out of the church and giving out transformation! Event ideas include: Intentional sharing of Christ with others, partnerships with local Christian organizations, and meeting the needs of those within your church family.

As I plan our student ministry calendar, I always ask myself which of these 4 categories each event falls into. Strive for your ministry to embody both strategy and purpose. If you’re unsure of the purpose for your events, don’t expect your students to know it either. Beg God for guidance, know your purpose, develop a strategy, and pursue that goal as you seek for the gospel to take root and transform the lives of your students.

4 level of events in student ministry


Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.

Book Review: Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason

51DJFTjNf0L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_AA300_Thanks to B&H Publishing for the privilege of receiving an advanced copy of the book Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason. I had reviewed his last work entitled Manhood Restored and I was not going to turn down this opportunity.

Beat God to the Punch is a catchy title that grabs your interest. It immediately grabbed my interest in that I wanted explanation as to what the title meant. It seems like an impossibility from the title, and I needed clarity as to what the title meant. The book is all about living a grace filled life. Personally, the title could have been something totally different, because in the end, I did not get the correlation between living a grace filled life and beating God to the punch. I get the gist of the book, and I enjoyed the brief read, but I could not  adequately explain to you what beating God to the punch totally means. I recognize that it is found in the idea of submitting yourself to the Lordship of Christ, but the title was a bit off in its explanation found within the book. That is my brief criticism of the book.

The brief read is filled with grace centered content. The book is divided into  5 short chapters. 1) Crossing Paths with Grace 2)   Experiencing Grace 3) How Grace Works 4) Grace Recovered 5) Completing Work of Grace. Through these  5 chapters, Mason tackles the topics of Discipleship within the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Here are a few thoughts on the content of the book:

  • The book is a quick easy read – The book only has 108 pages  including notes. It is an easy read that I would recommend for you to pick up. Do not let the title scare you off. The content is worth it. I recognize that many Christians do not  have a great deal of time to devote to extra reading so this is a brief read for you.
  • The book is saturated with grace – If you want to learn more about saving grace, this book is for you. If you want to read more about sustaining grace, this book is for you. If you want a better understanding of demonstrating grace, once again this book is for you. Grace is found throughout the book as you saw from the listing of the chapters above. In fact, you could use this book as a theology book on grace. It carries many of the doctrinal and theological concepts of the grace of our Lord.
  • My personal highlight of the book was when Mason highlights the name for Jesus in chapter 3- How grace works. He lists  the many names of Jesus in the book, and it is quite overwhelming and humbling. You come to the conclusion that Jesus should be everything to us!

35243Eric Mason is confounder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He holds degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (DMin). Eric and hhis wife have two children.

Go Purchase a Copy through Amazon here!

5 Essentials to Launching a Second Campus

5 Essentials for Launching a Second Campus Blog PostAs many of you know, my family up and moved from North Carolina 3 months ago to be a part of launching a satellite campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. You can read about the adventure and decision of going here. Well, we launched this past weekend, and it was a learning experience. This was the first time that Trinity had done this, that I or the campus pastor had been a part of this. So, it was new. Needless to say, we have learned….A LOT! I want to share with you a few essentials to having a successful campus launch. By the way, there are tons more so I recognize there are a lot more, but here are 5 to get you started. These are not in order of importance, but each of them are important.

  1. A Committed Launch Team – Our team has to be the best in the business (I am biased, I know), but seriously, they are! This made our launch successful. Our team is split into different categories. We have the nursery/Preschool, kids department, hospitality, the band, tech team, and parking crew. Each person has responsibilities and duties each week. It is hard work, but at the end of the day, they have the same mission. Teach and train your launch team to get the job done, but at the end of the day, it is all about the people who walk through the doors! Getting your team on mission is so important to being successful.
  2. A Campus Pastor who understands the DNA of the Church – At first, Trinity had looked into hiring someone outside of their current ministry to lead the campus launch. Then, it hit them that they needed someone who understood and knew the DNA of the Church. As I have been the family pastor, I could not imagine being over the launch, because I needed time to learn what made Trinity tick. It is best to find someone on your staff currently to start another campus.
  3. Equipped Ministry Directors – These are volunteers, but we added a Nursery/Preschool director, hospitality director, Elementary Director, Band Director, Parking Director, and Tech Director.  Each of these are volunteers, and over their specific areas as well as the volunteers in each specific area. It is essential to be successful that they are equipped, well-trained, and prepared to do a good job.
  4. A Supportive Sending Campus – This  meant the most to me! I did not know what to expect, but to have a main campus supporting what we are doing means the world! The texts for our services from the staff at the main campus is encouraging. The conversations and interest of the main campus staff is exciting! Our pastor is pumped and behind what we are doing. The main campus scheduled a send service and had our entire launch team come forward to pray over them. This is what it is all about. It is discipling a team of people to go out into a different area of the city and duplicate what they have learned!
  5. A Supportive Location – Many second campus’ begin in portable environments. Ours is currently meeting in a school. It is so calming to know that the school is behind what we are doing. The school  supports us and is working with us. This is important for those meeting in portable environments. It makes life a lot less easier for the entire team.

I am loving being a part of Trinity Oakleaf. I am learning a long the way, and plan on sharing many new exciting finds along the way.

Keep up with Trinity Oakleaf:
Twitter-  @TrinityOakleaf
Facebook- facebook.com/TrinityAtOakleaf
Instagram- TrinityOakleaf

Ground Zero Training Event with Marty Von

helping-handsBelow is information about a counseling conference from my friend, Reba Bowman. I highly encourage anyone in ministry to try to attend this conference if possible to acquire some practical training from some proven counselors. I also would encourage you to consider bringing a few team members that help you in your specific ministry to the conference to get training. 

For several years pastors, youth pastors, missionaries, and many others in leadership positions among the church have been discussing the growing need for biblical counselors. There are many among the local body of believers who need help as they navigate their lives from a biblical perspective. Many churches cannot afford a full-time counselor as part of their staff and many people cannot afford a local counseling service. Is there an answer?

Because Dare for More has always had a strong counseling emphasis because of Reba’s training and the need among women, we felt God leading us to seek God’s face for an answer. The result is Ground Zero Training. As a general rule, most people who want to meet with someone on the church staff are struggling with a problem that can be worked through in one of four ways: counseling, coaching, discipleship or mentoring. Mature believers in the church body can be equipped to come alongside their fellow believers and help. This is the model of the New Testament church we see in Scriptures. By equipping the local body, the pastoral staff can get relief from the sheer volume of counseling needs, and the church can work as it should, each member fitly joined together for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

Ground Zero Training is an opportunity for anyone who has a desire to serve the body of Christ through counseling, coaching, discipleship, and mentoring to get equipped for duty. It is great for church staff and church members. The goal of this training is to:

  • Train mature believers to engage in counseling, coaching, discipleship and mentoring.
  • Provide relief for the local church staff who are overloaded in these areas.
  • Supply support, help, and biblical guidance to the many who are hurting and in need of answers.
  • Advance the skill set of those who are already working with people in this capacity.
  • Furnish a biblical foundation for edification, application, and problem-solving.

In order to cover the needs of both men and women, Dare for More has partnered with Marty Von. Marty and Reba will be conducting the sessions for this year’s Ground Zero Training.

Marty Von

Marty is the founder and director of ChurchCare Ministries. He has spent over 35 years in the field of counseling. He served as the Vice President for discipleship ministries and as campus pastor at Northland International University. There he taught numerous counseling and psychology courses and helped many churches organize counseling ministries. Marty has a passion for helping the local church.

When: March 6, 2015

Cost: $45 (includes lunch and training materials)

To read more about this great conference, you will have to go here!


6 Steps to Improve a Guest’s Experience at Your Church

6 Steps to Improve a Guests experience at your churchBy: Andrew Hale

With a rapidly expanding world population and an ever-growing need for Christ, you’re probably wrestling with how to make your first-time guests feel welcome every week. I have learned several simple strategies that can revolutionize the way your church engages new comers. One thing is for sure – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Consider implementing the below strategies to implement a new welcome ministry or enhance your current welcome ministry.

Change your mindset about new comers

At our church, we are careful to avoid the term visitor. Instead, we typically refer to our new-comers as guests. While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it has transformed the way we view the new people that are attending our church for the first time.

The first time you visit, you’re a guest. From then on out, you’re family. Make yourself at home.

Avoid obstacles that prevent easy access

When was the last time that you went somewhere unfamiliar for the first time? Do you remember the anxious feeling that you had as you attempted to gain your bearings in the new environment? Unless your guests attend with a current member, they may feel awkward and out-of-place.

Make your guest parking easily accessible and clearly visible with appropriate signage. Equip your welcome team with campus maps and thorough knowledge of room locations, teacher names, and service times.  Develop vision to see your church through the eyes of a first-time guest.

Proactively engage with guests

Too often, churches react to first-time guests by frantically scrambling to make them feel welcome. Churches should strive to proactively meet guests’ needs before they even arrive. Build and equip your teams to expect more guests than you would typically encounter. In other words, plan for the amount of guests you hope to reach, not that you are currently expecting. This strategy will ensure that you have enough volunteers to actively meet the needs of the every guest that could come on any given week.

Add multiple layers of greetings

Welcome team, greeting team, parking team, and ushers are just a few different layers that you may want to consider. For example, in our church you are greeted first by the parking team if you desire assistance from your vehicle. Then the greeting team is just inside the foyer and will offer you a bulletin with a smile. Most recently, we have implemented a specialized welcome team. This team covertly disperses throughout the perimeter of the foyer and awaits the opportunity to personally greet the guest and offer to escort them around campus. Finally, ushers greet the guests once they enter the sanctuary and offer assistance with finding a seat when the sanctuary is near capacity.

Recruit the right volunteers

Welcome team ministries require less skills and commitment than most available in the church. These ministries require little to no preparation, basic people skills, and essentially no follow-up. However, this doesn’t mean that welcome team ministries are overly simple or the right fit for everyone. Ensure that you recruit friendly, out-going, helpful, and genuine team members. The last thing you want is a grumpy welcome team member!

Regularly report your progress

Finally, record the number of guests you encounter weekly and share them results regularly. “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” Celebrate what God is doing through your welcome ministries and let them know how valuable they are.  Schedule meetings 2-4 times per year. This will give you an opportunity to hear from your team and implement improvements to your processes.

Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Doctor of Ministry degree program. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.

4 Steps For Planning A Student Ministry Teaching Series

4 steps for planning a student ministry teaching series blog postBy: Mark Etheridge

The teaching ministry of a student pastor is one of the most crucial and challenging parts of student ministry. Not only are student pastors planning events, meeting with students, working with parents and volunteers, or just doing anything else that comes up, most are responsible for teaching the Bible anywhere from 1-3 times a week. It becomes easy to neglect this ministry, or take shortcuts because it consumes time and energy, but this does not negate the responsibility God has called us to faithfully teach God’s Word to God’s students.

With this, I believe one of the most effective ways to teach the Bible week in and week out to students is through a teaching series. By teaching series, I mean a sequential study of one book, topic, or theme in the Bible for any given number of weeks. I hope to provide four helpful steps when it comes to planning a student ministry teaching series.

  1. Pray for God to Direct You to Teach what Your Students Need to Hear.

This first step sounds like a given, but it surprises me often how we can overlook it. Teaching the Bible is not about what we have to say, but what God has to say. Neither is Bible teaching simply about our favorite topics, or sermons we’ve heard from our pastor heroes. It’s great God gives us passions for particular things and gives us faithful men to look up to, but teaching “because John Piper taught it” isn’t a good enough reason. Pray God will lead you to teach what your students need to hear right now. Perhaps there’s an issue your students are asking about or struggling with, or maybe God has spoken to you recently as you’ve studied through a book of the Bible. Listen to and go where God is telling you. Pray for direction and for a humble confidence to faithfully speak what God has spoken.

  1. Capture a “Big Idea” for Your Students to Take Away from Your Series.

As you put together the pieces of your teaching series, make sure you have a clear direction. Avoid trying to find that direction as you teach through the series. From the first night of a new series, I like to tell my students what our series is about, and show them how our series point back to that “big idea” each week. For instance, we are currently in a series called “Metamorphosis: Be Transformed, Live Transformed.” The goal of this series is to see we are transformed by Jesus, and because of Jesus, we live transformed. We go back to this theme every single week as we see how the gospel provides the fuel for us to live transformational lives. Strive for every student who attends your weekly gathering to understand the bottom line of what your message is about, and how it fits into the rest of the series.

  1. Calendar Your Series.

Lay out when and how long your teaching series is going to take place. This is one of the most difficult, yet incredibly helpful parts in planning a teaching series. Plan as far in advance as possible. You likely won’t have every individual lesson planned out when you begin a series, but strive to have the direction of each week set in place. For instance, as you teach through a book of the Bible, decide which text will be taught on which week. Or if you’re doing a series on the parables of Jesus, know which parable will be taught on each week before the series even begins. Curriculum proves helpful as much of this work is already done for you, but don’t be afraid to adapt or adjust your curriculum. If you only use curriculum, I would challenge you to create your own series soon. I personally try to stay 3 months ahead in my series planning, and I try to plan 1-3 series’ ahead of my current series to know what’s coming next and how I can begin to prepare for it.

  1. Promote Your Series in Weeks Leading up to as well as Throughout Your Series.

As your series approaches, promote it in the weeks leading to it. Depending upon your skill set, use where God has gifted you to get your students aware and excited about what you will be studying! This ranges from graphics, promo videos, mailers, dramas, exc. Show your students you have put some thought into what you will be teaching, and more importantly, that you take the Bible seriously. Also, continue to promote your series as you walk through it. Explore how you can coordinate your ministry events with your weekly teaching series. This past spring we went on a retreat that focused upon what it means to be a follower of Christ. As we came back, our next teaching series was geared in that same direction. Think about follow-up opportunities you can utilize to help these concepts sink in to the hearts of your students as well. Ask yourself, “How can I prompt my students to respond to God’s Word both in this series and when this series is over?”

These are a few things I’m learning along the way as I teach the Bible to students on a weekly basis. I don’t claim to be an expert, but these are some things that have worked for me, and some things you can implement into your teaching ministry that I believe will also help you. I hope and pray they are an encouragement to you as you seek to teach God’s Word faithfully and effectively to the next generation.

Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.

Ways to Engage Young People in the Local Church

5 ways  to engage young people in the local church blog postOne major mistake churches make is not engaging the youth. This is one of the reasons college students are leaving the church. They do not feel engaged and involved in the ministry of the entire church. I think we recognize this truth, but we rarely discuss and write about how to change this. If your church is struggling to engage the young people of your church, this blog is for you. I want to share a few tips on how to engage the young people in your church.

  1. Create a regular youth service – This worked at a church that I served at several years ago. Once a month, the youth would direct the service. They would lead the music, preach, usher, etc. They completed directed the service. This allows the teens and college students to be engaged in the church.
  2. Use them in weekly worship  – Create opportunities in the music ministry for the youth to use their gifts. Teens and college students are talented, and many of them are musical. Use that. Find places for them to serve. Add service opportunities for them in the band, the choir, the AV, the usher ministry, etc.
  3. Recruit them to serve in the AV – Teens are extremely gifted when it comes to technology. They can pick up AV as  quick as anyone, but are so rarely recruited to be used in the AV department of the church.
  4. Ask for their opinions – Church leadership should value the opinion of the youth in their church. Pastor, create an event for the church, and ask the teens and college students for advice on how the event should be run. This will energize the young people of your church.
  5. Give leadership away to them – This is the biggest area where church leaders are not willing to budge. Give leadership away to them. Allow them to dream about what they would love to see in their church, and give them the resources to get there.