The Unpardonable Sin In Youth Ministry?

What do you do when a  kid (or kids) from a fellow youth workers youth group comes to your youth ministry?

If you’re in a small town, like mine, you’re going to have  kids church hop. Kids will make the rounds from youth group to youth group. You know those kids, they come for a few months and then they’re gone,. Trying to get them to commit is like trying to nail snot to a door.

Then, there are those times when a  kid who attends. another youth group regularly shows up at your youth meetings. This can be a little awkward if you’re friends with the youth worker of that church. It’s even more awkward if you’re not friends with them.

So,  do you tell that youth worker their kid was in your youth group the night before?

I have a standing rule, if I know the youth pastor, and I know one of their kids has attended my group,  I give them a heads up the next day. It’s what I would want them to do for me. I would want them to tell me if one of my students was at their group because

  • That student may have a personal issue with me and is avoiding me
  •  I may be doing a poor job of helping that student plug into our ministry
  • I would want to know the kid is at least going somewhere

I consider it a professional courtesy to let the other youth worker know that their kid has been showing up to my group. I believe that youth worker needs the chance to investigate why their kid would be checking out other youth groups, especially if that kid is a leader.

I would not say that snatching other kids from other ministries is the unpardonable sin of youth ministry, but if you believe in reaping and sowing, I’d watch how you handle other church’s kids.

What do you think? Has someone ever stolen one of your kids and never told you? Would you (have you) stolen someone else’s kids and never told the other youth pastor?

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I Don’t Want You To Be A Better Youth Pastor

Making life-long followers of Jesus. It’s kind of the point of my blog here. Every idea, video, etc, is meant to encourage you to think long term. To change something about yourself, your program, or even your theology when it some to making disciples.

I want you to become life-long disciple makers, not just more creative youth workers. Playing better games is a means to an end.  Being an awesome communicator is not the end game . It’s not about tactics, it’s about the lifestyle.

“But making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker.”
― Francis Chan, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

My hope is that every post, every video, every resource, leads us all to becoming lifelong disciple makers and not just better youth pastors.

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Sorry, You’re Not A Member? Are You Kidding Me Church?

Just had a conversation with a friend of mine. Her and her husband wanted counseling to work on their marriage. As many of us, who wanted help I our marriage, we’d look outside of our church because we might think the people in our church were too close to the situation.

She told me she went to another church, who has  counselor on staff, but because her and her husband were not members the sessions were to cost $120 per hour. This made me just sick.

Church who have this “members only” attitude  are why many churches are struggling to have any members at all. I can understand paying for a counselors time but $120 an hour? For people who just want to help their marriage?

Here’s a few suggestions for you “Members Only” Churches

  • Create a fund or a scholarship to help these non-members at least receive one meeting with a counselor.
  • Have the counselor do a Facebook Live or other online consultation that does not have to last one hour.
  • Have the counselor create a series of videos with a comment section or a downloadable pdf where couples can answer questions together.

Yes, there are a few things that should be members only:

  • Voting in business meetings
  • Leadership Roles (Teacher, Deacon, etc.)

I just don’t understand the the arrogance of a church today to look at people and simply refuse to work with someone who is actually trying to make things right in their lives.

When people price something astronomically high, they do it on purpose because they do not want to work with you. This is how people are vetted and are declared unwelcome.

I understand, commitment is a two a way street. We want the people to commit to our congregation, pay their tithes that underwrite the counselor, etc. but for heaven’s sake, let’s make room for those who cannot do anything. I’m not saying we have to do it for everyone, but let’s make room for those Non-Members and at least treat them as fellow believers.

Remember, Members Only belongs on jackets in the 90’s, the past, not on today’s churches.

Are you a members only church? What can only members do?

Is there room for non-memebers, who are looking for help, to participate?

How do you do this?

 

 

 

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The Best Summer Job Ever!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time you know I love camp, and not just any camp, Life For Youth Camp to be exact.

They’re looking for summer counselors and, if you are a youth worker,  I’d like you to consider sharing this post with your college students and graduating seniors as a possible place of ministry this summer.

I took to Facebook Live the other night to share my testimony of the camp. Take a listen and if it sounds like a great place for your students to work, please let them know. Here’s the link to apply. 

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Don’t Be Surprised

Christians under daily punishment flourish all the more. This is the high rank to which God appointed them; and it is not permitted to seek exemption.  – Ignatius

Ignatius seemed  kind of obsessed with martyrdom, at least according  to his writings,  and being torn apart by wolves and such. Let’s us just stay I’m not as excited for martyrdom as he was. Nevertheless, I agree with the last part of this statement that comes from his Epistle to Diognetus.

We cannot seek exemption from times of persecution because exemption shall not be given. Yet, in our entitled society, exemption is the only thing many believers seek.

We pray things like”Why me Lord?”, “What did I do?”, “Whys is this happening to me.”, wen trouble comes to us.

Even the early Christians understood that exemption was a ridiculous thing

I John 3:13 says

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

and

I Peter 4:12 says

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Ignatius saw persecution as a high rank given by God. Today we see trouble and suffering as something to be prayed away rather than accepted and prayerfully explored, and even pursued  as the Apostle Paul was

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:10

When I see Christians in Syria killed, I am saddened but not surprised.

When a church is bombed in Africa I am saddened but not surprised.

and when I see this stat

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends in Christianity, estimates that between the years 2005 and 2015, 900,000 Christians were martyred — an average of 90,000 Christians each year. – via Fox News

I am saddened, but not surprised.

If I have a choice between being persecuted or not being persecuted, I (in the flesh)  choose not to be persecuted, but if I am, I will  not be surprised by it. Will you?

 

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Audit Your Circle

If you’ve kept up with this blog you know there are a few people I like to quote, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk (where I got audit your circle), etc. and none of them are Christians, let alone Pastors. “So, why do you quote them Paul?” Because they’re saying things in a fresh way that I do not hear Pastor’s saying.

“You’re not listening the right Pastor’s Paul” maybe not. The deal is,  I’ve audited my circle. There are people I could listen to, good dudes who love God but they’re not winning like I want win. They’ve accepted the status quo and preach it like it’s something new. Not my style.

They, like many Christians I know, have the same tired platitudes to offer when times get tough like “Just have faith” etc. I have faith, now I want action to match that faith. Very few preachers, I know, are action driven. Knowledge, learning, systems, are great, but they don’t move the ball down the field, advancing the Kingdom.

I listen to voices outside my circle because they’re doing what I want to do. I want to say things in a fresh way to a generation who has given up on God and even the concept of God because they were spoon fed these same platitudes for years that were suppose to sustain them and they did not, not because the information wasn’t good but because there was so little action to match it.

For those looking for any kind of scriptural reference, let me point to

“Bad company corrupts good morals”  I Corinthians 13:33

Hanging around people without dreams, visions,  imagination, or passion is as equally corrupting as hanging around with drunkards, criminals, and devil worshippers.

Any circle you’re in, religion, business, sports, etc, has it’s own language. You get to know it pretty well and then you start throwing the words around your self. This kind of insulation can stifle true action, true creativity, true “this is scary” kind of dreams.

People like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and others like them , are not Pastors, but they are preachers, and I am listening.

If you’re wanting to learn more about Seth Godin I recommend starting with his book Purple Cow.

If you want to know more about Gary Vaynerchuk I recommend The Thank You Economy 

Who’s  in your circle? Are they winning the way you want to win?

Who do you need to get out of our circle?

Is it possible you need a whole know circle? Who would be in it?

You can catch more of my thoughts in the FB Live Devotion

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I’m A Youth Pastor First

I have been cranking out quite a bit of content lately and boy is my throat and fingers tired lol. In case you did not know, this is what my schedule kind of looks like in an average week.

Up at 6:00 a.m. (most days)

Morning Facebook Live Devotion (10-15 minutes)

Create a 2-3 videos a week of YouTube (almost to 1300 subs)

Write 3-4 Blog Posts

Work on message series

Work on podcast

You may ask, “Paul, with all this, how do you have time for youth ministry?” That’s easy, I’m a youth pastor first and foremost. The needs of the kids in our ministry come first. There have been weeks where I haven’t posted anything, anywhere, because I was 100% focused on the church and our youth.

You see, I’m a youth pastor who happens to make videos, write stuff, and make podcasts; not the other way around.

My passion for other youth workers and their needs is somewhere around 9-10 in a top 10 list. One day that may change, but for now, I minister to teenagers and my community full time and create on the side.

I’m not going to lie, creating, speaking, to youth workers, etc. is very tempting, especially if I am not liking the direction of our youth ministry or I just don’t want to deal with an issue.; but when kids hug you before leaving the youth meeting, get inspired and tell they want to start a drama team, and laugh at your lame jokes, it’s easy to know where my treasure is.

Scripture says:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34

Where is your treasure right now?

Is there anything competing for your heart? What?

How do you deal with the tension?

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New Resource: Follow 5

This is a blog about discipleship, so it’s natural that I create curriculum, lessons, and retreats around the subject. Today I offer Follow 5. Follow 5 is really my manifesto on discipleship. It’s takes students past the “pray, read your bible, come to youth group, be a good kid” track that many youth workers have their kids on.

Follow 5 is based on five characteristics Jesus used to describe his disciples and, unless anything has changed, are still the standard for those who would follow after him today.

The material can be used as a retreat, as I used it, or as a five week teaching or even a camp. Here’s how I described it on Instagram

If you’re looking to lead your kids into the deep end of the pool, check out Follow 5. If YOU want to get into the deep end of the pool check out my new course called Discipleship Foundations which covers how to integrate these characteristics into your youth ministry DNA.

Got questions before you buy? Hit me up at thedproject@me.com

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5 Options To Consider Before You Go Nuclear

In light of the United Airlines debacle, I thought we should talk about how we should respond to the occasional obstinate teenager without losing our minds and reputations.

If you’re not aware of the United Airlines incident, it’s simple, United Airlines flight was full, they needed passengers to voluntarily leave. When no one volunteered United used force to remove a passenger and it was a bad scene. Hello? People? Cell Phones? Documenting everything?

There were, sadly, too many times where I confused action and force.  Although I’ve never man-handled a kid, I’ve used force in different ways including yelling, arguing, and stand offs. None of the were great options.

Thankfully, through the years, I have learned some other options before choosing the “nuclear option” as way of getting your students to comply.

Incentivize

One of my first options is to make whatever I am asking a teen to do seem to be (or actually be) worth their while and in their best interest. Some might call this bribery but bribery is “I’ll give you this if you do that”. I see incentives as rewards for good behavior not bribery to do good behavior.

United Airlines tried to incentivize for people to give up their seats but to no avail. United has enough money, they could have given away much more and should have, to avoid the incident that took place. A youth workers budget is a bit more meager but that does not mean we can’t sweeten the pot a bit more.

Compromise

I have to admit that there were times when my requests were either unreasonable or sounded unreasonable to the teenager I was talking to. United had to get people off the flight because they overbooked the flight.

There are times when teens have to do what I say because, if they don’t, more trouble will ensue; but there are times when its o.k. to compromise instead of choosing a hill to die on.

Wait It Out

I was always too quick the draw to address a behavior issue. I wanted control and my authority to be accepted. I remember one time at camp I yelled at kids who rage quit during one of the competitions. I screamed “You have no character.” #IAmALoser

Thankfully, we worked it out later which means I apologized, he accepted and we moved on, but I wish I had simply waited on him to calm down before I addressed the issue. My yelling at him only escalated the situation and I regret that.

Just Listen

Usually, the teen’s issue I am addressing is never the issue. If a student is being obstinate, there’s a reason for it and it’s not always the reason they tell me. So, what to do?

I Just listen. I listen for voice inflection, emotion, and content. Is the student more mad than sad? Or vice versa? Do I know the students background and is this issue to do with that? Taking

Listening to teens and discerning, in the moment, gives us some clues on how to address the blow up or the challenge that teen is presenting to you or the group. Me yelling gets me no where and further away from the reason  this teen is having an issue.

Raise the Bar

I do this mostly with guys, but it’s effective. If I know the student well, I just tell them, “I expect more from you.”. Normally this get the guy thinking about his example in front of others. This tactic at least allows me an open to why the student is behaving the way they are.

If I do not know the student well, I tell them, “Hey man, super glad you’re here, but we have a high standard on this trip and that behavior is just not going to cut it.” I say this with an even tone and allow the student to respond anyway they like and then I respond from there looking of any connecting points.

Hopefully, this puts a few more tools in your conflict resolution toolbox.

What are your favorite tactics for de-escalting a problem?

 

 

 

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