Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do You Have A Sign?

Information, information, information!  Three words that will make a profound difference in your ministry and how people "buzz" about it. Ministries that are effective in growth both relationally and numerically seem to have cornered the market on informing people about their purpose, vision and in just about every area of the church that they want people to connect.

I was once told about the KISS acronym; keep it simple stupid.  I agree with the concept of keeping information simple, but I also believe in giving as much information as possible in as many ways you can to communicate to a larger audience.

Many leaders I speak with believe there should be a "sample" or a "teaser" without giving away the "answer" or entire story to peak the curiosity of the audience they are trying to reach.  I believe that this is a major disservice to the ministries we wish to promote.  I believe in giving information in abundance, I was hoping to fit the word abundance in a post somewhere.

I recall registering for a seminar that was going to help me grow as a minister and person. The speaker was a nationally know leader and I was excited to attend and soak in all that God was going to say through this person.  The promotion information I received listed what the conference would include: general sessions, meals, small groups, materials and parking.  I registered with a group of people thinking the price was higher than we would like to pay but this conference was going to transform us as leaders and people.  A couple months before the conference we booked our hotel and confirmed our registration at the conference.  We were set! The day of the conference we arrived at the convention center to find that the venue had been changed more than a month earlier.  We traveled to the new location (now more than twenty miles from our hotel) to discover additional conference "changes" that included parking fees, meals were no longer included and the conference would no longer include small groups due to the lack of space in the new location… did I mention ALL of the changes we posted on a sign outside the main entrance?  Needless to say there were some leaders, not just from our team, very upset at the change and additional cost.  The leaders of the conference explained the situation, which was beyond their control, before the first session.  Their demeanor, tone and words were very sincere and aploigenic.  Many people understood the reason for a change in venue, but what people didn’t understand was that more than a month before the conference the directors were made aware of the change and failed to contact many of the groups attending.   

This is a VERY extreme case of failure to give information, however there are people in your church who may feel the same way every time a ministry is promoting another event. They agree to support it only to find little to no information about it and no one place to get answers, things change (sometimes for good reasons) and updates are not posted, or the information given is a "sample" or "teaser" to entice them to look for more. If you want people to support your ministry along with its events and programs, GIVE THEM INFORMATION!  If your program is worth promoting, promote it well and trust that people will give their support because of its quality, focus and information you have provided. Update changes and have contact information to assist people with "general" questions. People don't want a last minute sign to tell them of changes, they want us to be prepared.

Keep people informed and you keep people happy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 5

Get your students out and away from your church campus and watch them grow.  If you have a small group you have an awesome opportunity to take them all at the same time. If you have a larger group, take them in small groups, ministry teams, etc.

Contact local business and ask about "slow-times" and get a deal.  You could also plan a free day trip, like a video scavenger hunt at the mall (call to set this up ahead) or Frisbee golf at a local park.  

Get your students out together and relationships strengthen and grow, for all involved! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Professional Are You?

I hung up the phone feeling hurt, discouraged and a little bitter.  I have many friends who over the years have made a transition from youth pastor to lead pastor and have had the difficult job of hiring staff.  The phone call I received was from a friend and pastor who had just fired his youth pastor of two years.  My friend was hurt and seeking advice on how to communicate the news to families in the church and what steps to take next in filling a much needed ministry position.

The reason for the dismissal (a nice way to say firing) was legitimate and long overdue.  Our phone conversation did not focus on the youth pastor but rather the "position" of a youth pastor and how can a church layout some basic expectations and then have an accountability process. We shared together how many people wonder what youth pastors do all day, why they need to be full time and can we really trust them with our children?  These are all common and all to often unanswered concerns and questions in the church today.

This past year I attended a youth conference where the following questions were asked, "how many of you have been in trouble in the last year?"  "How many of you have been in trouble in the last month?" Then the M.C. asked, "how many of you are always in trouble and you will be called into the Pastor's office when you get back from this conference?"  I was surprised at the response.  People were cheering and standing up "fist pumping" letting others know around them that they were in this category.  Many people were smiling, however they were not smiles of joy but rather uncomfortable ones representing those of us who didn't know how to respond any other way.

Later I shared with the group that came with me how embarrassed and troubled I was at the response.  I shared with them that I would never cheer or get excited over the fact that I was a "rule breaker" or some "rebel" in my church.  I want leadership and parents to trust me.  I want a boss/pastor to be on "my side" and be supportive because I think before I act.  I don't want to be friends with teenage students, I want to be an example of what a Christ follower is.  I want to show respect for time, buildings and people.  

How do you represent the "image" of a youth pastor?  Are others blessed or frustrated by your ministry?  Without respect and trust you can only lead others so far.  Read the following and begin to ask yourself how you can grow as a leader and pastor to students, the greatest ministry position in the church!
  • Have works hours.  Let the security and your boss know your weekly schedule and keep it consistent.  This allows the staff and families in your church to know when it is best to contact you and when you are available.  I used to give a detailed schedule of my hours and I was surprised at how many people respected my study and family times.  Schedules are not the enemy!
  • Be the first one in the office.  Do this at least once a week.  You will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish in the early hours (between 6:00-8:00AM) when nobody else is around.  Coming in anytime after 8:30AM is too late.  You are not in college anymore, get up and get ready for the day.  If you are coming in later due to ministry or personal responsibilities, let the office know.  
  • Be organized.  This doesn't mean clean and neat, it means you know how to effectively plan, communicate, schedule and implement events and the day-to-day ministry you lead. There are many resources available to help you in this area, ask others what they use.  The Franklin planner and Palm are still my favorite. 
  • Dress like you care.  I see youth pastors who work in great churches who couldn't get hired anywhere else because of the way they dress.  There are days you can dress casually, but if you are meeting with parents, leadership, or people in the community you should plan what you wear to match your audience.  Most days I was in jeans and Polo's but I also wore shorts, t-shirts and even suits (when required).  At least give the appearance that you care and respect your audience.  You might not like to dress outside your comfort zone, but we are always telling students "it's not about our rights it's about how we represent Christ." Don't stop the Message from reaching someone because "this is who I am and I don't want to change" (I have heard this more than I would like to remember).
  • Return calls and emails.  Schedule at least an hour everyday to return calls and emails. Use your discernment in this area.  There will be people who will contact you many times a week just looking for conversation or conflict, respond to these with a note and it may save you an hour on the phone.  You will also want to prioritize your contacts, calling back a parent with a question about an upcoming trip is more important then calling a local vendor back who "has a deal" for your ministry.  
  • Return on time.  Big one!  I have an unwritten policy that many of my leaders have learned over the years; upon returning from an event or trip, I would rather wait for parents than have the parents wait for us.  There are times this is unavoidable and parents understand this.  What parents don't and shouldn't have to understand is the youth ministry returning late after every event that takes them off campus.  
  • Meet with leaders one-on-one.  Find the leaders that others will follow and spend extra time with them.  Invest in them, encourage and support them so they begin to see themselves as leaders, not just volunteers.  This is a big step in advancing the ministry and allowing others to begin supporting and multiplying the ministry in a more productive way.
This is a very short list to get the ball rolling for your professional ministry life.  I am not sure who originally said it, but I try to daily incorporate the saying "if you fail to plan you are planning to fail."  Plan your hours, days, calls, events, study time and ministry so that you can be the best steward of what God has blessed you with.  I am praying for you as plan your days ahead! 

By the way, my pastor friend and his new youth pastor are doing great.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 4

Take time to mail notes and letters to encourage your volunteer leaders.  Emails and phone calls are great but there is still something cool about getting mail that's not a bill. Don't forget birthdays!  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Those of us in leadership have incredible responsibilities to the people we lead and serve. The manner in which we lead will encourage others to see more of Jesus or more of us.  We need to be constantly reminded to extend grace, forgiveness and love.

I am sad to let you know that the title of this post, Guilty Until Proven Innocent, began many years ago from conversations and watching leadership respond to problems in the church or community.  The pastors and "leaders" who were suppose to look most like Jesus and reflect His love, patience, mercy, kindness and grace began to look more like Judge Wapner casting a verdict on anything that was contrary to what the Church believed.

The simple fact is that the church will experience problems and will need to deal with them, but seldom will we ever have all the facts and an unbiased group to determine what is the correct course of action.  We are so often reactive to problems that we feel the urgency to respond, more from necessity rather than restoration.   However, to be proactive would mean actually taking the time to brainstorm problems along with worse case scenarios and then prayerfully draft a Biblical action plan to allow forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration.  Leadership that deals with problems "on the fly" usually will receive a great deal of criticism or potentially lose people because of the case-by-case way of dealing with issues that arise.  Children, youth and adults like to know what is expected and what the consequences are to actions that are inappropriate or harmful to others.

I understand that not every issue can be covered with policies or procedures due to the severity. It is during these situations that we need to gather as much information as possible, ask the Lord for guidance, and proceed with the goal of moving all involved closer to Christ.

Discipline is always difficult, but necessary for growth and development.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 3

Email your volunteer leaders, pastor, and staff at least once a week with a rundown of programs, events and what's happening in your ministry area. I would also include a Cue Sheet of the main service including the message, music, announcements, small group questions, etc.  Make your emails informative and ALWAYS encourage your volunteer leaders at the conclusion!

Friday, May 22, 2009

When to Promote Students

Over the years this has been a topic of many time consuming conversations that really has little to do with building the Kingdom.  I understand that it is very important to do everything you can to make transitions smooth and easy, but don't let "secondary" issues take time away from our primary purpose, to reach the lost and equip the committed to continue growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  After saying that, I do believe it is important to establish a transition time that is best for your ministry.  I am going to bullet some ideas of when to consider transitioning and why. When I reference transitions, my focus is the children moving into the youth ministry, the Jr/middle school students moving to high school and the high school seniors moving to the college or adult ministry of the church. Please note: I am pro-fall transition but you need to determine what works best for your ministry area.

  • Transition when you are at your strongest.  Many student ministries "slow down" with weekly programs in the summer and spend time at camps, lakes, pool parties and fun summer activities.  While these are fun to include "new" incoming ninth grade students to, they can also be intimidating because they usually are off site and have a lower attendance than school year activities.
  • Summer camps (unless you run your own) will usually require incoming ninth grade students to attend the camp from the grade they just finished.  It's hard for an incoming ninth grade student to attend a pool party on Friday with a high school group and then head out to Jr High camp on Monday.
  • Think of your high school seniors.  Allow them to finish strong over the summer and enjoy activities with the students they have spent a great deal of time with.  Incoming students tend to be very immature and initially will annoy many of the high school students with their actions just wanting to fit in (ninth grade guys rule in this area).
  • Don't transition to "grow" your Jr/High school ministry.  This is one of the biggest myths in student ministry.  Many students "finishing" their time in a ministry area will often fade out near the "end" due to time commitment, job, friends, apathy, redundancy, and more.  A healthy student ministry is one with vision, purpose, good leaders, and is focused and centered on Jesus Christ.  Students who came to past programs (in a different ministry area) won't necessarily move to the next ministry area because "the church tells them too."
  • Fall vs. summer transition.  The summer is a time when many families travel, camp, take summer vacation, spend time with families and "take a break" from the routine and hectic pace of life.  Students continually say when invited to an event, "I don't know I'm going to see who's coming."  They want to know they will have a friend to connect with.  Students attending an event for the first time as an incoming student is likely to have a bad experience and a poor image of the ministry if they have no friends who attend (remember, summer is when many families are hit-and-miss at church related ministries).  Fall is a time when routines and patterns are established: school, band, sports, extra-curricular, weekend schedules, work, study, etc.  Provide a strong start in the fall and promote heavy over the summer and families will make plans to include your ministry in their busy schedule.
  • Streamline.  It is much easier on the families attending the church to have ONE transition date to remember.  Those of us in ministry have the day-to-day focus of what is happening in the life of the church; we know what's going on.  Believe it or not, many families attending our church have little time to "memorize" what the church calendar looks like.  One date allows families to focus on ONE date, making their life just a little easier.
  • Include non-staff parents.  This seems like a no-brainer, but I am surprised at how few churches actually do this.  When planning transitions, solicit that input and opinion of parents in your ministry.  Do this through phones calls, letters, email, or even a simple one-question survey: would your family prefer to transition students in June or September?  This is also a great way to help families feel that they are part of the process.

Every time you move and transition students, it's a process.  Some of the best-promoted and planned transitions are still bumpy.  Just because you plan doesn't mean it will proceed the way you want.  All change, even good, takes time.

Whenever you plan to transition, please try to take the following steps:

  1. Mail the information out to ALL families.
  2. Promote and communicate the transition date at least two months out.
  3. The week before the actual promotion have the leadership announce it from the front in every service.
  4. The week of promotion have addition volunteers in the halls and outside the building reminding them of the transition.  Have the volunteers trained in where each ministry area is.
  5. Put balloons out.  Not necessary, but it draws attention to the fact that something different is happening today.  (thanks Pastor Tammy)
  6. Have a leader in the doorway greeting new students and one in their meeting area connecting with them so no student feels alone.
  7. Donuts and/or goodies are always a great way to help students enjoy a transition.

Have fun and may God guide and bless you during your upcoming transition.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 2

Find the cheapest cell phone you can (prepaid work great for this) and setup a Parent Information Phone line where you leave messages throughout the week about ministry events and programs.  The only way this works is to promote the number and update is a frequently as possible.  When times are slow; share scripture, prayers and family tips (a good resource would be Family Life, Focus on the Family, CPYU, Planet Wisdom).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Pain You Can Prevent!

Tension, conflict, disagreements, manipulation, etc.  Sounds like I am describing a secular workplace that is in need of some serious help and intervention.  I am actually describing what many church staff will experience in ministry on a weekly basis.  More times than not, we create our own problems and "invite" pain into our ministry and life (stay with me).

There is a toll that is taken over a period of time when those people you pray for and reach out to are challenging and questioning your (or one of the staff's) leadership ability.  It is a sad fact, but often these are also the people who have been in the church the longest and have "invested" the most.  They have a group of people who they will rally and add support to their cause. They might call a special meeting; talk with the pastor or even show up to address the board.

It is during these times that a pastor and staff should have their "ducks in a row" so they have the ability to share the whys and what's that seem to be at the core of the questions and tension.  Many times a meeting will resolve some of the tension; “letting it go” or ignoring it never resolves conflict.  I have faced many conflicts in the last 16+ years of my ministry and I am happy and feel blessed to say that almost all were resolved with great outcomes because of the directness that our ministry took in confronting and providing information with the individuals or groups.

People who have questions need to be respected, provided with clear answers and loved.  Uncertainty while being ignored just raises tension and has the making for major problems down the road. One way to avoid most problems is to be proactive instead of reactive.  While preparing for ministry events and programs ask yourself the following:

  • Have I given all the information necessary to prevent "simple" questions? (who, when, where, what, why, cost, how, deadline, etc.)
  • Have I given enough time for people to respond?
  • Do I have a contract in hand for items needed that I am renting or borrowing?
  • Have I communicated clearly to the parents and given them a contact for questions?
  • Do I have my volunteer leaders confirmed?  It is always a good idea to list the leaders going on trips that are out of town.

ALWAYS have a group of people who can help you plan, promote and proof what you are doing. Please don't use a group of high school or college students, use parents, their children are whom you are trying to reach and connect with.  Using parents might mean more constructive criticism and time, but it's worth it!

I don't believe people who have given their life to Jesus Christ intentionally or maliciously attack church staff.  I believe they are looking for answers.  Give them the information and answers they need before problems arise, by doing this you will find supporters and volunteers for the ministry area you lead.  

Great ministries are blessed… they are also envisioned, planned and prepared!

Basic Student Ministry Tip

When planning a trip with students, always promote the departure time 30 minutes before you would like to leave.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Guest Speakers

If you are planning a camp, retreat, special service or anything that involves a guest speaker consider the following.
  1. Budget for the event.  It was a good idea to put on the calendar and promote, so it's also a good idea to budget for it.  We all want cheap and free, but often you get what you pay for.  My mother is a garage sale "pro" and I learned over the years of going with her that most people walk right by the "free" box to get to the dime and quarter box.  If the event is worth having a guest speaker, it's worth charging for it. Most events that cost usually mean "better" quality to those people who consider attending.
  2. Have an agenda.  Before the actual event prepare what you would like from the speaker.  This could include the topic, message time, any counseling with adults or students, meals, "down" times, tentative cue sheets for service, prayer times, transportation details, and additional information that will help your event.
  3. Speaker Information.  Get information on your speaker.  If you can't get basic information from a website or bio sheet, send a Q&A sheet to your speaker asking him or her to return it to you at least 30 days before printed material is due.  This will help in promotion and allow you to introduce the speaker without notes. An introduction without notes can help remove barriers between the audience and speaker because you appear to have a relationship with the speaker.
  4. Keep in contact with the speaker.  This is your event; you need to be the one making the calls.  Emails are great, but feel free to call and ask them to contact you at their convince.  This is an area that is often neglected.  Don't drop the ball, stay in contact with your speaker.
  5. Housing.  If your speaker does not live in the area, provide housing for them.  Depending on the event and the relationship you have with the speaker it could range from a nice hotel to a spare bedroom at your home.  If the event is more than a day or two, you will need to also consider providing them a place to study and prepare for the next message (hotels work best for this).  Providing a comfortable place to stay can make all the difference in the world to a speaker and their readiness to return.  This is a great time to use those people who God has given the gift of hospitality.
  6. Mileage.  This falls under the first point, but I want to emphasize how important it is to cover cost that many consider part of the compensation.  Find out what mileage your church or area churches provide and do likewise for your speaker.  Don't just pay for gas, this does not include the wear and tear on a vehicle.
  7. Extra.  When speakers would come to our events we would always send flowers or a gift card and a note to their spouse thanking them for sharing their spouse with us.  This was a small jester, but ALWAYS received much appreciation and praise.
This is not a complete list, it's an aid to start you processing and planning for your next event that includes an outside speaker.  I understand that it is always cheaper not hiring speakers or to just use a local person for events.  One major benefit of a speaker is that you can focus on the event and not worry about the message.  When using a local speaker there seems to be a fear of "losing" students to another ministry (I have heard this dozens of times from youth pastors and church leaders).  Consider a guest speaker for your next ministry event.  With proper planning and preparation, you won't be disappointed!

Praying for Student Ministries!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Idiot, the forgiven, the reliance!

"Parents, they are clueless, if they would just listen to my advice then their relationship with their teenage student would be awesome."  One of many journal entries in 1993 that made me sound like, well, an idiot!  Looking back I can't believe the arrogance and "know-it-all" attitude I had as I was starting out in youth ministry.

I had some wonderful ideas of how to work with students and had great relationships with them.  I didn't like their parents very much; they were the "enemy" and something I had to deal with if I wanted to continue in youth ministry.

I remember the many times I thought I could teach parents how to parent. I spent weeks with students on trips, retreats, camps, and more.  To me, this time and title made me a professional. Every parent should seek my wisdom (of almost twelve months) and incorporate my ideas and techniques.  I was an Idiot!

It took almost six years for me to come to an understanding that youth ministry was about ministering to the family not just the student.  I started to look for opportunities to listen to parents not lecture them.  I spent hours eating, sharing and praying for parents as they opened their hearts and shared what they were experiencing with their child.  I heard many times the indirect accusation of the lack of support from the church and it's ministries.  My heart began to soften and then break.  I was guilty of not encouraging and supporting parents in the most difficult time of raising their children.  I asked God to forgive me and guide me in my next steps.  I felt lead to ask for "general" forgiveness from every parent I spoke with who was struggling.  Every retreat, camp and service I was invited to speak at would involve me sharing with parents and asking for forgiveness for the church and youth ministries that were not ministering to the family as a whole.  My ministry and opportunities changed and I grew as a pastor and a parent.  I had been forgiven.

The last ten-plus years of my ministry have been an attempt to partner with families and the ministry they must have.  More than 85% of all our volunteer leaders are now parents of teenagers.  We realize families, parents and students are busy, but we also realize that the "cool" college students don't understand teenagers; they are one or will compete with them (and most college students don't enjoy being "shown-up" by teenagers).  Parents are aware of the constant mood swings and the need every student has to find themselves and push the boundaries.  Without going into a great amount of detail we ask all volunteer leaders to serve in one area of weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.  We also recognize the desire of some students to not have parents serve in their ministry area (we may only have 25-30% of parents serve during the year).  To support parents we have offered Parent Coffee Houses with professional family counselors facilitating, one-day parent retreats, semester classes for parents, house groups, seminars, student-parent retreats, purity retreats (parent and student), family mission trips, family amusement park trips, and such.  

My ministry really began to bear fruit when I focused on partnering with parents not making them targets.  Your commitment to the teenagers in your ministry can only be as strong as the commitment you make to the parents.  If you begin to focus on the family ministry and support parents, you will begin to have supporters and volunteers who really care about the ministry and you!  

EXTRA: Group Publishing has the Parent link Newsletter.  This is a wonderful resource that EVERY student ministry should provide!

EXTRA, EXTRA: when speaking with parents your best response often will be, "I'm sorry you are going through that, I don't have words to help, but I can pray for you," then PRAY for them at that moment.  Follow up with a note and try to find resources that can help.  Check our CPYU for additional resources that will encourage and help parents better understand the world their teenagers live in.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just A Thought

"What keeps people from Jesus is usually Christians"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Where Does Jesus Fit In?

I was recently at a youth service that left me wondering why the person speaking ever chose to become a pastor to students?  The music was great, the games were the best games I had ever seen (really), and their youth area was amazing.  Everything was so impressive, the greeters, concessions, parent information/waiting lounge, skate area, video games, and, well everything... just about.  There was one area of the night that made me question what was the motive behind everything they were doing.  

As the pastor shared a fifteen-minute message I was taken back at the story he shared and the language he used.  There was no mention of God, the Bible or our very reason to gather, Jesus Christ.  I was confused and concerned.  He approached me after the service and asked me "what did you think?"  I paused and prayed, then slowly and carefully choosing my words (which is sometimes difficult for me) I asked him if every service was like this one.  He confessed that they did "crank it up a notch" because he knew I would be there, but that usually the services were just the way I had seen.

I don't know if it was my hesitation or look, but he knew there was something I was struggling with.  At first I was uneasy bringing up the message, or lack there of.  After all, maybe this was a "no Jesus" night, or maybe something had come up preventing him from preparing a message.  Everything in me was saying just avoid it, change my facial expression and move on.  The next words out of my mouth were "where is Jesus in all of this?"  His response shook me to the core.  He began to tell me that the good response to their ministry was primary because they didn't "push" Jesus and really just wanted students to connect with each other.  He proceeded to share with me, very passionately, how the Bible was not relevant and that they didn't want to spoil a good time by making students feel guilty about decisions they make.

I was at a lost for words, I was angry, frustrated, confused and somewhere deep inside, not totally surprised.  We talked for more than five hours carrying our conversation to the local Denny's Diner and finally disagreed to agree.  Not the way I wanted to leave it, but I felt I had said enough and maybe even too much.  My goal was not to cut or wound a brother, but rather to really ask the question, where does Jesus fit in?

Since the meeting I have been praying daily for that pastor and his ministry.  I have also begun to notice in other ministry websites, promotions, and message the "lack" of Jesus.  Then it hit me between the eyes, where does Jesus fit in my life.  How am I communicating and showing Him? People Magazine wrote about the success of Susan Boyle in their May 4 issue the following, "chalk it up to a weary world eager for uplifting entertainment."  The world we live in is not looking for "uplifting entertainment" they are looking for Jesus, they just don't know it.  They are looking for acceptance, grace, guidance, mercy, hope and love.  Sound familiar?  

In your ministry, in your work, in your life, where does Jesus fit in? 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mix It Up!

Have you ever had the feeling that you just don't connect to your students the way you once did.  If you have been at the same church or in the same ministry for any amount of time, this is a normal feeling.  We "run out" of funny stories and use our best illustrations too often leaving us wondering if we have anything left to keep our students attention.

One way to keep things fresh and exciting is to have different adults and students share their stories.  Look, listen and ask others about "life changing" stories they have heard and incorporate them into your student services.  Most people are willing to help but apprehensive to speak in public.  A great way to ease the nerves of those sharing is to have an “interview” time of sharing.  Prepare questions in advance, give them to the person sharing their testimony and have a rehearsal.  Have two chairs and a small table in the front during the actual service to make it a little less intimidating.  If the person is against speaking in public, ask if they would be comfortable sharing on video.

Often, a personal testimony is exactly what is needed to allow students to see that God is doing amazing things in more than just the youth pastor/leaders life.