Refreshing Your Youth Ministry: YS Idea Lab with Virginia Ward

Jacob Eckeberger
December 30th, 2015

It was a real privilege to interview Virginia Ward on the YS Idea Lab stage at NYWC Louisville. Virginia has a long history in youth ministry and she shared some key ideas for youth workers thinking about refreshing their youth ministry.

There is a ton of wisdom in this YS Idea Lab, but if you don’t have time to watch the entire thing, here’s one big idea that Virginia unpacked for us:

Refreshing a youth ministry is a 3 step process.

  1. Review
    Virginia outlined some really great ways that she invited her young people to be a part of reviewing the current state of their ministry. She surveyed students who had graduated, asking how youth group had helped them and blessed them. She also constructed focus groups with her current students and gave them permission to be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those two groups gave her a ton of insight into the young people’s perspective about the ministry that she wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  2. Realign
    Once you’ve done a thorough review of the ministry, you’ll start to see elements or programs that have gotten off track and that need to be realigned with the original mission of the ministry. You’ll also find out what is right on track and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate those things with your leaders and students.
  3. Refresh
    This is where the action items come in. Virginia pointed out that it’s incredible important involved students in these action items. This helps you create a ministry with them and not just for them. In her own church, Virginia started a Peer Leadership Training program that equipped students that have been showing leadership qualities to take ownership of some of these changes. Some of the changes were more on the surface like painting or redecorating, while others involved an entire shift in programming. Having the Peer Leadership Training team involved in the process helped to make sure that the students were all on the same page with the changes.

The YS Idea Labs are filmed on location at the National Youth Workers Convention. Check out more YS Idea Labs HERE and register early for NYWC to save BIG:

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JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Content and Community Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.