Mark Hall shares ideas!

Yesterday out at Six Flags St. Louis, JoyFM held a lunch for youth pastors in the STL area. Casting Crowns was playing a concert that evening at the park, and the radio station put the lunch at the same time so that Mark Hall, the band's lead singer, could speak to the group and share some of his insight into youth ministry.

One of the reasons I respect Mark so much is that he's a youth minister on top of being a musician, and his commitment to the youth at his parish strongly influences the way he handles his touring and performing schedule. Sunday through Wednesday, he told us, he's at the church doing youth ministry; Wednesday night he and the band lead their Wednesday program, Refuge, then get on the bus and drive to their next venue. On Saturday, they perform the show, then get on the bus and drive back to their church in Atlanta just in time to lead small groups that afternoon. This is a guy who is seriously committed to preaching the Word to the students God's given him to care for.

A few of his ideas jumped out at me.

An email team from the youth ministry sends email to every student every day of the week. One student is the "Monday guy" and on Monday, sends a short note to the whole youth group list. It's on the order of "Hi, how's everyone-- remember, this event is coming up and it's so-and-so's birthday. Check out this verse I read this week in the Bible." Tuesday, Wednesday and so on do the same thing. Every member with an email address gets a message from someone every day.

This may be a no-brainer but I've never done it, on purpose anyway. On trips to retreats or camp, Mark's church uses separate buses for guys and girls. He says the youth group took a couple of months to realize they liked it that way, but now wouldn't want to go back.

Lots of programs focus on having everything perfect; video, music, drama, etc. Mark's philosophy is a little different-- what matters is that kids are doing it, not that it's flawless. His video team is made of students who are still learning all their video-editing skills; it's not the guy from the band who knows how to do everything professionally.

When you have the chance to see the band and/or hear Mark speak, it's well worth it!

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