Jesus Shows Us The Key To Deeper Relationships

Passion is  a surface level emotion that acts like a valve to let off steam. There are terms like “an act of passion” when referring to an affair that just sort of happened or when someone kills someone  due to a” fit of passion”.

Both incidents are  surface level reactions that happen in the moment.  Jesus wasn’t like that. Jesus did not react so much as he responded.; and when he responded, he responded deeply and with conviction.

Jesus lost a friend, Lazarus.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  John 11:33

Such as Jesus’ response to his friends passing, that John, the author, saw fit to mention Jesus’ response again.

[ Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead ] Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.  John 11:38

Jesus was someone who took initiative in his relationships. He invited people into his life rather than waiting to be invited.

He invited fishermen and tax collectors to follow him

He invited Peter to come to Him on the water.

He invited Thomas touch his hands and sides.

He invites all us who are wear and heavy laden to come unto Him.

Jesus lived and open life, inviting all kinds people to be a part of it.

If we want depth in our relationships, we will have to be the initiators.

For all my posting, videos, etc. I am a very private person. I like my world ordered and chaos is not welcome. This is why I, or you, do not like this idea  opening up.

Invitations are not only invites to opportunity but to rejections or worse chaos. Our decision to let someone in, could turn our hold world upside down. Maybe that’s the point, Maybe, in order deepen our lives, a little chaos must come and challenge us.

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? Tony Robbins

No one is going to do it for us. Our initiative is an expression of our love. We have to move, open up, and invite others into our lives if we want to add depth to our days. An open life is an invitation to new worlds, and yes, a little chaos.

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Adding Depth To Our Days: Fleeing The Shallow Life

“People care much more for how things look than how things are.”
Donna Lynn Hope

This quote really says a lot. I’ve worked in a few shallow churches that were all about image and lacked a ton of substance. Shallowness, although, is not limited to the church.

I am disappointed with humanities lack of depth, which means I’m disappointed with my own lack of depth, in some areas. I can talk youth ministry, youth ministry theory, and all things youth ministry programming and discipleship. Poetry, not so much. But here is hope.

I am reading a book by Robert McKee called Story. A quote caught my attention concerning attending movies and it sparked this post (with more to come).

We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh, experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add depth to our days – Robert McKee

I sat in Arby’s the other day, talking with a young man about ministry, when a gentleman from the booth next to us chimed in.

Dan the Carpet Guy: Do you think you can be saved by the Ten Commandments?

Me: No.

Dan The Carpet Guy: What about the fourth commandment?

Me: The Sabbath?

Dan the Carpet Guy: Yeah, I think many churches are disobedient to this.

Me: Well, you could attend a Seventh Day Adventist Church. They meet on Saturday. Where do you go to church now?

Dan The Carpet Guy: Baptist Church.

Me: Well, if it’s your conviction that you ought to worship on Saturday, then I say live your convictions and do that.

Dan The Carpet Guy: I can’t. My wife won’t let me.

Me: (Laughs hysterically)

We went back and forth, sharing scripture and jabs, all with a good attitude. What ensued was a great conversation and it added depth to my life.

We’re so afraid to talk deeply., to love deeply, or to share deeply for fear that we will be found out to be frauds or worse, shallow.

As we go deeper into the things we believe with other’s who believe the same and with those who disagree; depth will sneak up on us and attach itself to us, readying us for the next round of life.

“Maybe a person’s world can grow bigger in all the right ways, not too wide that it becomes shallow, just large enough to preserve its depth.”  ― Deb Caletti, The Fortunes of Indigo Skye.

Here’s my Facebook post where  I share a little more.

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Real Youth Pastors Don’t Give Up Their Dreams

This is the 12th out of 12 posts from my series of reflections on Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. It really hit a nerve in my life and I wanted to express those thoughts to you, the artists, the local youth workers who work so hard to accomplish what God has gifted you do in your own artistic way.

If this is your first time here, and you want to start from the beginning, you can click here for the first post, Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve, otherwise, read on.

Mine is a cautionary tale to young youth workers seeking to please God. I hope, after these 12 posts, you’ve come to realize that you are an artist and what you do is valuable to God. At the end of day, realize that YOU and only YOU,  not the local body you serve, is going to make the best decisions for your life. I almost realized this too late.

Let’s continue with the the tale.

I have never asked how much a job pays until I was hired. Crazy? Maybe. but the calling was more important than the pay check. It sounded crazy even as I was typing it. It may be one of the reasons I’m in the position I’m in financially today.

I’m not broke, but I’m not rolling in money. But, how many youth workers do you know rolling in money? If you see one, call the cops because something bad is going on.

In my 30’s and 40’s I wish I was more ambitious to get paid what I thought I was worth  instead of just taking the job because I thought it was the right thing to do or God’s will. It may have been both or neither, but I wished I had negotiated better or at all.

It’s hard to look back and say I was wrong though. Every place I’ve worked (or the two years I was unemployed) God has taken care of me and my family, but I have dreams and goals now that could have been funded by making better decisions

Money isn’t that important when you are young and stupid. We want the experience, the thrill of the chase. I certainly got that and more but one of the downfalls of youth is its inability to look into the future and see who you want to be and how much you’d like to be making when you get there.

This past Sunday I spoke with a young man who had started a speaking ministry. He then became a youth pastor. After a year he was let go because he was made to choose between the ministry he had started and the job he had. This wasn’t a fair choice, if that’s how it went down. This kid has dreams and was made to choose between them. The money he was making as a youth pastor was helping him build his dream, his art.

In his book Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff shares this principle,

The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art – Jeff Goins

When youth pastoring was my dream it paid the bills, not it funds my next dream of training and coaching youth workers. My job pays for

  • my SoundCloud account where I post my podcast
  • this website to be hosted
  • the store where I post my resources.

It takes money to create and produce. Money serves the art I make not the other way around.

If you have dreams beyond youth pastoring or, like me, dreams of staying in youth ministry without the youth pastoring, it will take money. Consider the money you need to make to eventually

  • build  the boys home you want
  • go on the mission field
  • starts a training ministry
  • open a bakery

Who knows the dreams God has placed in your heart (well, you do) but all those dreams will require money. How will you fund your dream? Here are a few ideas

Care about what a church is paying you. 

As much as you want that job, don’t sell yourself short. Don’t just take the Jon because it seems like it’s the only church that wants you. Be prayerful and be patient. Make sure the church you work at values you and pays you accordingly. Negotiate your salary from the beginning (based on your needs) and then at three, five, and ten years.

Trade money for time

If a church cannot pay you what you are worth (and most cannot or will not) make sure you trade money for time. Don’t let a church pay you part time and work you full time. Make sure you negotiate the time you need to work on the other dreams or passions you have which will either pay your bills or fund your dreams.

If youth ministry/pastoring is your dream, make sure the church understands that and ask them for ways they can help make full time ministry a reality.

Don’t give away your dream for the sales pitch of “experience” or “opportunity”

Start something on the side

Take some something you already love, and are pretty darn good at, and make something of it. Try to do things that are in your wheelhouse and doesn’t conflict with the money making job.

My prayer for you is that you have as long a youth ministry career that you’d want. My prayer also is that that you don’t sacrifice future dreams and goals because you settled. Do all you can to serve the body you serve well but don’t be afraid. to work on your dreams while you do it.

Be prayerful, wise, and prudent about money, salaries, and negotiations. Don’t be greedy or over-inflate your capabilities to get a job, keep a job, or to get more money. Money is simply a means and not the end and money is certainly not worth fighting over.

God has taken care of my needs for 27 years through good decisions but mostly through terrible decisions I’ve made that had an adverse impact on my family. He took care of me and He will take care of you. Just be smarter than I was.

Jeff offers this last bit of advice and it seems fitting to leave you with.

 money is the means to making art, but it must never be the master. – Jeff Goins

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9 Ways You Should Be Preparing For A Life After Youth Ministry

This is the 11th post in my series of 12 posts on the new book by Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve. It’s my attempt to convince youth workers that they’re artists and that their work matters.

Being a youth pastor for 27 years sounds romantic, but it’s also pretty one note. I’m eventually not going to be a full time youth pastor. I’ll always do youth ministry, but not in the youth pastor role. This brings me to the point of this blog, you should be diversifying your life.

Unless you are planning to climb the ministerial ladder (which is not all its cracked up to be), become a senior pastor, and build a large church, you should be diversifying your life/career. The church, that body you serve for no matter how long,  does not and will not owe you anything. They’ll look at you and say, “You should have been making plans.”

When I made a lifetime to commitment to youth ministry 27 yeas ago,  I had no idea what I was saying. My 22 year old self had not idea what was in store. It’s hard to say if I would change anything but I would certainly add to my life more skills, certificates, and whatever else would help me get ready for a time when I would not a youth pastor.

Thankfully, in the past ten years, I’ve been able to adapt to the internet and technology. I’ve been able to use these things as a means to create the life I want in the future which is to train and inspire youth workers, but even that has become diversified between this blog, my store, my Youtube channel and my podcast.

The Starving Artist masters one craft.                                                                    The Thriving Artist masters many. – Jeff Goins

The same is true for youth workers. If you were no longer able to be a youth pastor in a local church,  what would you do? Let’s say, like in the market crash of 2008 where people lost their retirement, etc. you suffered a crash of some kind that left you devastated and you had to start over. What next?

This is why diversifying your talent portfolio is so important. In the midst of your ministry you could be skill building, learning, adapting, and when the time comes, you’d be ready for whats next.

Here are eight things you could be doing to prepare for what’s next

Get your CDL license so you can drive something besides a church van.

Improve your computer skills (how to build websites, fix computers, etc.)

Get certified in another passion (gun instructor, CPR, lifeguarding, etc.)

Improve your writing skills (start a blog, write book reviews, etc.)

Improve your communication skills (Take a class online or off, join a Toast Masters, start a podcast)

Learn a new skill that’s in high demand (welding, car repair, etc.)

Start a side business (catering, dog walking, etc.)

Finish or start your degree

Network like crazy and get to know people in various fields (ministry, business, finance, technology, etc.)

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill. This is the Rule of the Portfolio: the Starving Artist believes she must master a single skill, whereas the Thriving Artist builds a diverse body of work. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

There are thing you are learning in ministry that will help you later on. You also brought some skills into the ministry that are helping you ugh where you’re at. Like home and auto and your internet and cable, you should be bundling those into crafting a life after youth ministry.

You say, “But Paul, I’m 25. I have plenty of time.” Until you look up one day and you don’t. We have a responsibility to our church to do a  good job but we, if we’re married, owe our families a good life. Unless you work at a mega church, with a fantastic retirement package, the local church you work at will be of no help to you one day. You have to help yourself now.

Jeff relays the story of Michelangelo and how he diversified his skills t be become unbeatable. In the middle of his already established career he learned architecture and began designing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

Michaelangelo start with sculpture, moved to painting and leaned new skills as the opportunity arose. Do not say no to opportunities to learn new things, you’re only hurting yourself.

We must realize that each week we teach, preach, do outreaches, etc, that they are not solitary acts, we are building a body of work. If we build wisely,  and  intentionally, “What’s next” won’t be as difficult to answer.

On to the final post: Real Youth Pastors Don’t Give Up Their Dreams 

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Take Ownership Of Your God Given Talents Or Someone Else Will

This is my 10th post, in a series of 12, where I use Jeff Goins book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, to convince and inspire you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist.

This particular chapter deals with artists who give away too much of their art or do not recognize the worth of their work or realize too late.

The church does not own you or your  God given abilities. You are loaning them to a particular Body for a season (or several seasons). I want you to be a smart artist who recognizes what you can do, not in prideful way but a discerning way, otherwise, like many other jobs, your talents will be abused or worse, forsaken.

The church, in it’s call and design, is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus, in the carnal, most church are autonomous organizations that define themselves how they want, feeling their way in the dark, and doing their best in light of God’s word.

This chapter of Jeff’s book deals with artists who wished they had recognized that their gifts and talents were being misspent and the artist himself held back from being all they could be. Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers was such an Artist (band)  and this is what he said after he discovered that the record company had done him wrong.

And when you trust the system fully, there may come a time when the system no longer needs you. “I wish I’d had a mentor,” he told me. “I never picked up on the fact that if you want to get somewhere, look at where you’re trying to get and start by studying the people who’ve gotten where you want to go.”

This is true when we do not take ownership (being good stewards) of what God has given us.

Sadly many youth workers, maybe even you, have told themselves that it was God’s will that you’re supposed to be at the church you’re at, even if it’s toxic. I disagree. This is where the youth pastor job is just a job. There is  call, but you have  choices as to where you want to serve without the fear of God’s wrath coming down upon your head.

This is where a ‘church” is like any other organization. The church is far from perfect and often reflects any other “business” with terrible bosses, underpaid staff, and terrible working conditions and we chalk it up to God’s will. I disagree. I do not believe it is God’s will to be miserable when we have a choice not to be.

We have to own our faith and talent, like a musician should own their songs, and decide what is acceptable and what is not, otherwise the system will dictate that for you.

Owning your faith means you don’t drink the Kool Aid everyone is feeding you. It means, when the orderlies come with your meds you hide them in the back of you mouth between check and gum in stead of swallowing it. It means thinking for yourself, being clear headed and discerning. Newsflash: Your Pastor, board, deacons, elders, are not always right and it’s ok to disagree.

If you continue to go along and believe that it’s Gods will that you should suffer under terrible,

out of context preaching

awful communication skills

a lack of vision for the community in which you live

and

a laychsidaiscial, satisfied, way of how God’s business get done, then you will look up one day ,like Stephen Kellogg, and discover that you gave away a good many years to a system that could have cared less wether you

became your  best

were emotionally/mentally/spiritually healthy

were prepared for the future (professionally/spiritually/or financially)

The “system” will alway carry on, while many youth workers limp away or worse, decay within that system.

I know this sounds like a dire warning, and maybe it is. You are a believer in Christ who loves young people and most of you are like the prophets of old, filled with fire and gasoline to burn, as described by Hebrews

They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword. They went around in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, oppressed, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and hid in caves andholes in the ground.These were all commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.…

Many of the churches and organizations you work for are not worthy of your God given talent. They waste it, abuse, ignore it rather than nurture it and give it opportunity to flourish.

Taking ownership of your faith means not casting off your responsibility to

  • feed yourself from God’s word than take what is said from the pulpit as gospel truth.
  • to better yourself by reading books, listening to podcasts., watching videos, etc. from various disciplines.
  • to look for opportunities, outside the church, that will allow you to shine the way God made you to shine

I can’t tell you whether you should leave your church or not, that’s between you and God, but I would ask that you prayerfully (not pridefully) consider the gifts God has given you and ask yourself, “Am I being used for God’s glory or just being used?”

Tenth post in this series: 9 Ways You Should Be Preparing For A Life After Youth Ministry 

 

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Before You’ll Earn The Respect You Desire, You Must Do This

You must value the yourself and the work you do.

This is the ninth post in my Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve Series,  as I attempt to convince you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist. Each post is my take on Jeff Goins book Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Your work matters. The preaching, the teaching, the meetings, and the interactions all coalesce into a body of work called a a career. We should  respect, and take pride in, our work like a carpenter takes pride in the homes he builds or the chef respects the food he cooks.

Something Chef Robert Irvine used to say on his show, Dinner Impossible, has alway stuck with me, “My name is on this plate.” You name is on the dish you serve whether you like it or not and reviews will follow.

Everything I serve to students is my take, my interpretation, my prayerful offering of what Scripture says and the youth program is the taco shell that holds all the goodness. I’m serving a Youth Ministry Taco and I want it to be good.

the Rule of Value: the Starving Artist works for free; the Thriving Artist always works for something. As artists, we must value our work before others will. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

How can we value the work we do?

Say no to right things 

Being a servant is not being a slave. W are slaves to Christ and not to man. Our lives and our families are worth more than the ministry we serve. We must value the word No for the sake of our families and, sometimes, for the sake of our souls.

We value what we do by staying in our lane, not over extending ourselves, and keeping ourselves emotionally healthy so we can serve students out of a pure and healthy heart.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Now, if you’re a volunteer, who’s the primary youth leader, it’s not a sin to put a price on your time. I know you do youth ministry for the love of kids, but I also know you wish your church or your pastor would appreciate you more for what you do.

Don’t be afraid to turn in receipts and ask for recompense for your gas or taking a kid out to eat. Ask your church to pay for you camp fee or to pay for a youth worker conferences you want to go to. If your church does not step up, they do not value you.

Stop making excuses

Yes, I know you work hard, but part of taking pride in work means not making excuses of why we cannot do our best. Your best is not determined by budget, it’s determined by our will.

God has given us the awesome privilege to serve students. We believe and have faith in God that he will do  a great work in them, but we also must believe He’ll do it through us as a leader.

The respect we give our calling and our gifts increases the respect we’ll receive. If we do not respect the ministry, others will not either. The excuses we make for not doing our best, decreases the value and thereby the respect we’ll receive of doing it.

Your time is worth something. The ministry you do is worth something. Don’t let others exploit your gifts and talents. Serve unselfishly, but serve wisely.

If you’re feeling resentment at all, you’re charging too little. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

Feeling under appreciated can lead to resentment but, by not appropriately valuing the work we do, we bring it on ourselves.

Don’t accept the excuses of

‘this will be good experience for you”

‘you can put this on your resume’

“God will bless you”

Yes, God will bless you, and you should give your church the opportunity to be a vehicle of that blessing otherwise you’re  just being taken advantage of.

I’ll say it again, the work you do with students matters. Don’t let others diminish it with cheap words or cheap wallets.

One final word of advice as you attempt to put a value on what you do, whether you’re a volunteer, part time, or full time youth worker,

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:13

Ninth post in the series: Take Ownership Over Your God Given Talents Or Somebody Else Will 

 

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Maybe Your Job Is Just Practice For What’s Next

This is my seventh blog post in a series about Jeff Goin’s new book and my sixth attempt to convince you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist gifted by God to do what you do. You can start at the begging HERE and I highly recommend you buy Jeff’s book HERE.

I’ve had this nagging feeling that I’ve been practicing for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I love youth ministry and the kids I serve, but everything I’ve done over 27 years has be practice for something else. For what? I’m starting to get an idea.

My second youth pastor left youth ministry and I was pretty pissed at him. I thought he loved what he did and he should have loved it forever. Oh the ignorance of youth.

I had been out of Tom’s youth group for some time and was youth pastoring my own youth group across town when I heard he quit or was let go from His church. He later joined my youth team at the church I was serving at (how weird was that?). Soon after he left youth pastoring completely and started working at a pool cleaning company. He’s done that for over 20 years.

Tom still does ministry within the church, but I couldn’t fathom leaving something God called you to for pool cleaning. I though your calling  was for life. I set out to do what I loved (youth ministry) and to never leave until it was time. After 27 years, it might be time, but what’s next?

For the past seven years I’ve been blogging, creating Youtube videos about youth work, making podcast episodes about youth work and selling stuff about youth work. I’ve picked up and practiced a set of skills for the past seven years that feels like school or training for the next seven years. The next “something” I do I’ll be ahead of the game.

Is there something you’ve been practicing over and over and over again that would fit in another niche somewhere?  Maybe, but the next next thing you’re supposed to do isn’t looking for you, you’ll have to go out and find it.

We want to believe that if we do our jobs well enough that the audience will just find us. But that’s not how it works. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

I believed this until it was almost too late. Thank God I heard a voice several years ago that woke me up that said, “No one is coming to save you.” That scared the hell out of me. I thought it was God or the devil. What I’ve come to believe is that the voice was me warning me that it was to get off my rear end and quit waiting for the rescue team.

Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Tom didn’t idly sit by and think, “well, they’ll just find me if I sit here long enough.” Tom did everything to get off that island.

He made fires so planes could see it

He made signs out of rocks to signal planes

He finally made a boat and went out to look for his rescuers.

Faith without works is dead.

Whether you want to make money or confirm that what you do is what you’re supposed to be doing or to raise a flag and see who salutes it as a way to find out what’s next, your going to have to promote your art, your youth ministry, your blog, for craft, your podcast, etc.

Before art can have an impact, it must first have an audience – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Don’t hide that hobby you love. Don’t hide the ministry you do, promote it, be proud of the work you are doing or the art you are creating.

Every congregation should watch/hear updates about your youth ministry in social media, from the front of the church, from your own mouth. I used to be the “Gosh, I’m just glad to be here” while looking down and scuffing my shoe in dirt kind of guy. No more. I am proud of the ministry I do and the kids I serve and the stuff God is doing in their lives; and the rest of the congregation needs to hear about about it in small and big ways.

I want the next 27 years of my life to make an impact, but I won’t if I hide what I love, even if it’s not my full time job (yet)

I encourage you to put out into the world, your work place, your congregation, your neighborhood “that thing” you’ve been doing. If you feel like you’ve been practicing for what’s next, the only way to find out is to take the art you’ve been working on secretly in your basement or on your computer and put it out there for all to see over and over and over again until you’ve built an audience who can confirm your deepest suspicions about what’s next.

If you want to quit starving and start thriving, grab Jeff’s book HERE

Eight post in the series Before Your Earn The Respect You Desire, You Must Do This First 

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This Is Where Your Best Youth Ministry Ideas Will Come From

I’m in the basement of my church. I can hear the groans and creaks of “the others”  upstairs. They’re shuffling papers, having meetings, dishing out information. I’ve barricaded myself in “the lab”, aka my office, working on Project Q. If people will leave me alone, I know I’ll create “the next big thing”.

I don’t need anyone else. I don’t need ‘the others” do this thing called youth ministry. I’ve been trained by the best.  I don’t need a network, I have skills that would make younger youth workers look like skinny jean mannequins. I’ll outlast them. It’s just God and me holed up here, and I am  going to survive this desolate wasteland, so help me God!

Aaaaaanndd….scene.

So went the inner narrative of my life, the lone survivor mentality of “It’s me and God against the world”. If you are doing youth ministry alone, ask yourself, “Why cut myself off from the very source that could bring life back to my bones and ministry?”

This is part six in a series of posts about Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. I’m extrapolating the information he shares about artists and making art to convince youth workers that they are artists made in the image of The Artist. I want you to stop selling yourself short and use everything that God has given you to succeed in the church you serve and beyond.

Now, back to the bunker I built.

There have been times where I’ve shuttered myself off from everyone and that was a bad idea. I thought I was the smartest person in the room and that there was no room for personal  improvement.  My ideas were the best and your ideas sucked. Sometimes it was true, most of the time, it was not.

Jeff says in the book

The Starving Artist works alone.
The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.

Jeff tells the story of the C.S. Lewis quote that he made about J.R.R Tolkien,

“No one ever influenced Tolkien,”he said. “You might as well try to influence a Bandersnatch.” A Bandersnatch is a mythical creature that appears in Through the Looking Glass. It’s an irritable monster, not a creature you’d want to tangle with and certainly not one you could easily “influence.”

This could not be further from the truth. Both Tolkien and Lewis as well as 17 others met at a local pub for 17 years and shared their idea, their projects, and their dreams. They were dubbed or dubbed themselves The Inklings.

One day, Tolkien became bored with writing about the Hobbit and shared this with Lewis who said,

“The problem,” Lewis replied, “is that hobbits are only inter- esting when they’re in un-hobbit-like situations.” That was all he needed to say.

Tolkien went on to write Lord of the Rings.

If great work and ideas comes from collaboration, why don’t youth workers do more of it?

These were the self limiting beliefs that held me back from collaborating

My idea is the best and cannot be improved upon

I don’t want to work with so and so because we are different denominations

They probably don’t want to work with me anyway because we are in different churches.

They’ll think I’m trying to steal their kids.

I’m in a smaller church, why would they want to work tougher, they have all the resources they need.

God will make this happen if He want it to happen.

The best things I’ve ever created was because of collaborations.

Networking on Facebook,  led me to connect with Ryan Latham who became my co-author for our first published book Prepared for Impact. We collaborated and produced something pretty cool that helps youth workers plan better.

The events I’m the most proud of were the results of a bunch of neighborhood youth workers getting together and deciding that their were no walls between us. By collaborating with other youth workers, we’ve clothed the homeless, fed the hungry, pulled off great concerts and events like See You At The Pole Rally’s.

I met my friend Dave Weiss as part of a collective team called The Write Group. He’s a great artist and cartoonist. We’ve collaborated several times on different project and created Insta-Mission Devotions, a series of devotions to use on mission trips.

Pre-internet, I had to make phone calls to find a network or call some of my youth worker friends to get ideas. Now, I just go to Facebook and join a group  to receive feedback on whatever I happen to be working on.

Let me say it clearly, you cannot do youth ministry alone and thrive. Whether it’s collaborating with other ministries in your church, other youth workers in your area, or with others online to create or flesh out the kind of youth program ideas God has placed upon your heart.

You may get your best idea alone, in the shower, but that idea needs help and that comes from collaborating with others. The final iteration of your idea will become what it should be because of others.

Stop making excuses and go to the network meeting, reach out to others, send an e-mail to someone to get advice, find a group on meetup.com , or whatever method you choose, just don’t sit in the bunker alone for someone to find you with unfinished ideas and suffering for your youth ministry when it and you could be thriving.

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The Creative Church (The One Every Artist Wants To Be A Part Of)

You, the local youth worker, are an artist.  That is my premise as I break down Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artists Don’t Starve and share the principles as to why this is true about you.

In the past, we’ve romanticized the struggling youth worker: no budget, crap car, and low pay. Many people bought into this myth as the way things should be, including me. Not any more.

As I had towards the mid-century mark after 27 years of full time youth work; I am sold on a new reality: I am a youth worker, but I’m also (and always have been) an artist. I create messages, videos, and programs and if you don’t think those are artistic endeavors, you’ve never tried working  with teenagers.

This is the fifth post in a series of twelve and today I’d like to talk about going where the creativity is flourishing versus trying to make creativity happen.

I used to think I could work anywhere, any church and flourish. This is a bold face lie I told myself. Yes, I could work anywhere, but some of the churches I worked at were not only not bastions of creativity they were creativity killers.

Show me a church that rejects creativity (or at least adaptation) in how does ministry, and I will show you a dead or dying church.

The Starving Artist thinks she can do her work anywhere, but the Thriving Artist understands that where we live and do our work affects the work itself. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

If you’re a creative young man or woman looking for your first (or another) church to work at; let me offer a few suggestion on the type of church you may want to keep an eye out for because where you serve matters.

If you’re a church looking to attract young creatives to your cause, pay attention, this is the kind of church I’m suggesting they look for.

The church that documents their journey

I just came back from a mission trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, working with  CEAD church. They had it going on in the tech area. They equipped us with 20 interns (most under 25), most of whom had super quality cameras to record our journey, our journey with them, and as a way to show the their community how their church cared about meeting their needs.

They totally got it. They knew how to document the journey as well as promote the vision of the church. They used Facebook Live in their church to record services and how to effectively use narrative video in their announcements.

It doesn’t hurt that God is doing in their church what God does when you take the breaks off of Him. Many churches don’t  embrace technology or social media because, to be honest, there’s not much to document.

In addition, and most importantly, if a church is not meeting needs in their community, technology is the least of their problems.

Seth Godin talks about the foolishness of a business who tries to use technology or slick marketing to fix their lousy product, when, in reality,  no amount of either can do anything to fix a lousy product. No amount of tech or social can fix a lousy vision.

Look for a church the is documenting what God is doing, not trying to make it look like God is doing something.

The church that’s changing to meet needs, not keeping up with trends 

Every church should know who they are, what their mission is, and who they are trying to reach. The churches who do not embrace this are trying to keep up rather than forge ahead. These churches have a “me too” attitude when it comes to adopting program, etc. rather than, lets do what’s right by the community we are planted in.

The creative church should be asking, “Is this important?” and if is important, “how do we creatively meet this need using the the right people and the right right amount of money, and the right amount of compassion an wisdom.”  Anything less than this, is lip service.

The church that not only embraces artist, but creates them. 

If you want to be in or work at a creative church, look at the kind of people the church is producing. Is the church looking to raise up artists and creatives who are using their gifs and talent for the glory of God? Or is that church stifling the artist and is stuck in one or two dimensional thinking when trying to convey it’s message?

In our church, the ladies get together for Craft Night. Craft night is, as you would thing, ladies getting together to paint and create seasonal crafts, etc. But why is the only kind of craft night most churches have? Why can’t their be a craft night for men to

  • do wood work
  • iron craft
  • model painting
  • drone flying
  • cooking/grilling
  • building
  • car repair/upgrades

All of these could be “crafts” men participate if the church saw and men saw themselves as artists. The same goes for kids and youth. Are we showing kids and youth how not how to get off the media train, but how to discern, harness, and use the tech and media they love to speak the The Word.

In his book Real Artists don’t starve. talk about Hemingway’s journey to Paris. In Paris, Hemingway met all kinds of creative people that made him the creative he was.

Why can’t the church be someone’s Paris. A place where people who understand they have a God-given gift and want to use it for His glory? Why can’t someone with non-tradtional gifts and talents discover how to use them for God’s glory?

Youth workers, if God is calling you to use your creativity, sadly I cannot encourage you to just take any job, at any church. Go where God leads you.

In the end, you have to find your Paris, your scene, where your gifts can be cultivated and grown so you can make an impact.

If you are a youth worker, you are an artist and I recommend picking up Jeff’s book. Pick it up and follow along with me.

Check out the sixth post in the series: This Is Where Your Best YM Ideas Will Come From 

 

 

 

 

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I’m In Honduras!!

Hey, I’m going to be gone all week on a missions trip to Honduras. Sorry to leave you hanging in the middle of my series on trying to convince you that you an artist and a creative force to be reckoned with, but duty calls.

The series is based in Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. Be sure to pick up a copy for more in-depth stories and principles to claim your creative identity.

Be sure to check out the first four posts and you’ll be al ready to catch up when I return next week.

Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve 

The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry 

3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You’re Looking For A Master 

Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win 

P.S. Join  me on my Honduras Mission trip over on Instagram

 

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