What Do You Believe About Teenagers?

What did Jesus believe about his disciples? Look at the tasks He gave them. Look at what He trusted them with. Look at how He spoke to them. Look at  the authority He gave them. Jesus did what he believed, even when it led to betrayal, hurt, and frustration.

What do you believe about teenagers?

  • If you believe teenagers are lazy you’ll feel like you have to do all the work for them
  • If you believe teenagers are dumb you won’t trust them with God’s work
  • If you believe teenager are irritating, you won’t spend time building relationships with them

What we believe about teenagers is how we’ll do youth ministry.

When Your Momentum Takes A Hit

Some of us started out the year with high hopes and have had a few meetings under our belt; things are going great and WHAM! something messes with our Mojo. Here are a few things that mess with our momentum

  • Key leaders jump ship
  • Personal Sabotage (you did something that altars your momentum, a comment or an action)
  • The program you created does not have legs (it does not carry as far as you thought)
  • You miss a meeting or your meeting is interrupted.
  • You change programs or strategies so often you can’t pick up momentum.

Those are some of the causes of momentum loss, but what do we do about it? Here are few suggestion for when you feel that momentum slipping away.

  • Recognize and admit that it’s happening. Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope the situation get better.
  • Talk with leaders, kids, and your pastor to see if they feel the same thing.
  • Get in a quiet place and pray. The Lord knows where the issue is and He can show you whether it is you, someone else, or a an attack from the enemy.
  • Go with what is challenging your momentum. If the kids in your group are snubbing their nose at X, see what they are tuning into and prayerfully capitalize on that.

These are not all the answers obviously, just a few I have found in my experience. What do you do when you sense momentum slipping away? How do you turn the tide and get your Mojo back? Tell me in the comments below.

The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum- Frances Willard
Sometimes being pushed to the wall gives you the momentum necessary to get over it!
Peter de Jager
It is not of importance where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.
Unknown AuthorCommitment is the ignitor of momentum.- Peg Wood

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.- Michael Korda

Why I May Or May Not Kill My Blog

I learn so much when I listen to Seth Godin. I recently heard him on Rise to the Top. I believe in his phrase “Do work that matters.”. I would like to think that is what I do with my blog. Every post is a teaching or thoughts about youth ministry in general. I am not the most  knowledgeable voice or the most influential voice but I am a voice.

So, here is why I may keep my blog

1. I have knowledge to share and I want to share it, if for no one else I share it for me.

2. A way to put my thoughts down with the slim chance it might help somebody.

3. I want an outlet to post my creations in the area of youth curriculum, small groups stuff, etc, stuff I am creating for my group and passing it along.

4. I have a great e-mail list of people called Get It First. They are the first people to receive anything I create and I may just make the list exclusive. In other words I may take all my free stuff down and send it only to the people who care enough to sign up. I can just up my storage on my drop box account and send out files from there,

5. This is the most important reason: I want to build an audience around people working with teenagers that cares more about relationships than information.  Now, blogging may not be the way to do that. I have received very few comments in the past 3 years and I am ok with that. I don’t need a ton of comments to feel good about myself or anything and comments alone do not build relationships but I am grateful for the few comments I have received.

Here are some reasons I may kill it

1. It’s not the best format for relationship building.

2. I am not as a consistent blogger as I would like to be.

3. I may move to something else like You Tube. I enjoy making videos and I think I am a better speaker than I am a writer.

4. It cost me $200-$300 every few years to keep it going, In face, this may be one of those years and since I do not charge for any material, or run ads, etc. I  would rather not financially maintain the website

That’s it. So, pray for me as I debate, reason, and pray though what I should do and we’ll see what happens. You can chime in with a vote or a comment.

You can vote HERE. Don’t worry it’s only three questions.

 

 

Who Should Handle This Problem?

As youth pastors we are faced with handing problems from time to time. The questions we have to ask is

1. Who’s problem is it?

2. Who should handle it?

I was recently dealing with a situation where it was suggested we ask out Pastor to get involved in situation. I replied with, “It’s not his problem”. And it wasn’t. There was no need for him to get involved. One of my roles as an Associate Pastor is to keep things off my Pastor’s plate so he can do what he does.

The case I mentioned above had to do with two families having an issue with their kids outside of church. It has had not impact on our youth ministry or church. Too often, people in the church want the church to deal with issues that they themselves should deal with. That is not to see that we cannot be impartial mediator but if it keeps people from stepping up, praying through the situation, and then being obedient to the Word and the Spirit,  and ultimately doing the right thing, we should let them handle it .

Motto: Handle problems at the lowest level

Small Towns, Big Dreams, and The Struggle Between The Two

I am not from a small town.

I grew up in New York City (Brooklyn) until I was 12 Population 2.5 million people

I also grew up and served as youth pastor in Vero Beach, Fl Population 15,000 +

I served in Panama City Fl. Population 36,686

I served in Port St. Lucie, Florida  Population 166,149

I served in Hueytown, Al. 16,116 Population 16,116

I now serve in Pleasant Grove, Al. (10 minutes from Hueytown) 10,117

I graduated from a discipleship program that was out a church of 10,000.

The biggest congregation I have served as a youth pastor is appx. 400.

My current church is around 200.

I admit it, I have smalltownphobia. I am afraid of small towns. What am I afraid of?

I am afraid to grow old in a small town (Is this all there is?) .

I am afraid my dreams won’t be fulfilled in small town (Jesus could only do a few miracles in His small town of Nazareth)

I am afraid I won’t reach my potential in a small town.(Will I conform to mediocrity?)

I am afraid my passions will be tamed in a small town (this may be more about age than the town)

The one thing I must always remember is my life, my dreams, are not my own. I was bought with a price. I never want my big dreams or ideas or my ego to get in the way of loving our students or my church. I am working my way through all my feelings as I go. I am only just realizing the benefits of serving in a small town, but that is for another post.

Do you have smalltownphobia? Do your big dreams get in the way of serving in the small town where you serve? Does population effect your passion? Feel free to share below.

What Will You Do On Your Christmas Vacation?

I have a few Wednesday’s off and I am thrilled. Our team, probably like yours, puts a lot of energy into our meetings, so resting our brains is priority one during this time. I don’t know how you will spend your time this holiday season, but here are my plans.

  • Catch up on my reading (both Bible and other books)
  • Hang out with the family and play some Fluxx
  • Work on my Squidoo lenses
  • Sleep
  • Be happy (sounds weird, but I have to take time to reflect to do this)
  • Do some writing (I think I am going to go back to my physical journals for a bit)
  • Explore some new opportunities ( I don’t know what this means, but I’ll have my eyes open)
  • Organize and purge my comic book collection
  • Clean my downstairs office
  • Dream about and set some goals (not resolutions) for 2013
  • Connect with students (but that is another post)

That’s it. Down time is awesome and I am going to take full advantage of it.

What will you do with your Christmas vacation?

 

3 Mistakes Made Last Night In Our Youth Meeting (And Why It Did Not Matter)

I have lead roughly over 1,000 youth meetings in 20 years and they all had mistakes and last night was no different. Here are the 3 things I saw wrong last night:

1. We started later than we wanted to.

2. The font size was too small (needed to be 64).

3. The microphone batteries died.

Here’s why it did not matter, God was not dependent on any of those things to move on the hearts of kids. I have made my own mistakes like preaching too long or using a bad illustrations and God did not need that either.

As I worshipped last night in the back of the room and saw the “mistakes”, I caught myself and said, “God, we’ve been here before. It means it’s going to be an amazing night.”and it was.  In every meeting I have one thing down: The Message. I know that if everything else (games, media, etc.) blows up, God will be faithful to His Word.

The result: Kids came up and signed a door with their commitment to let Christ come in and have His way.

thedoor

We can do our best, double check, and things still go wrong. If we have The Word right, God will be faithful. If we are counting on everything else to do what only God can do, well,  we’re on our own.

Your New Leaders Won’t Be Like Your Old Leaders

2013 is right around the corner and some you may be changing key leaders or even changing jobs. This fact makes it really important that we remember who our new leaders are not; they are not the old leaders

  • They won’t sing like the old leader.
  • They won’t play games like the old leader.
  • They don’t have or don’t use their gifts like the old leader.
  • They don’t get your jokes like the old leader.
  • They won’t understand or use technology like your old leader.
  • They don’t lead like the old leader.

We will always have a fondness in our hearts for the students or adults who have served with us. These leaders may leave because of a shift in calling, dropping out, or whatever, and it leaves us hanging emotionally. Let’s not look for someone to replace the old leader, let’s open our hearts to who God believes is the right person to fill those roles. Let’s leave our hearts open to better possibilities.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20

What Is Your Back Up Plan?

What if you lose a key leader? Do you have a back up plan?

We recently lost a student leader who played a key role in our group from a skill level and a social level. It was due to some relational and family things beyond my control. We did everything to keep them and their family. I’ll miss them, but I always have a back up plan: Continuous Mentoring/Discipleship/Leadership Development.

I always have one eye on the present and one on the future; and for this reason we develop strategies that will prepare kids to accept their role/calling when it’s time. Leaders who leave, though not pleasant, is part of the cycle of developing leaders. Steve Jobs passes away, Tim Cook takes his place. A coach quits, an assistant takes his place. If no one leaves, no one can step up. I hate losing leaders, it’s not fun; but for the sake of the rest of the group I’ll hold on to our current leaders loosely and keep developing leaders to one day take their place.

If we are not developing leaders, adult and youth, we don’t have a back up plan. Scary huh?

 

 

Where Did Angus Jones (and Other New Believers) Go Wrong?

To get the context of what I am going to say, you should watch both videos. I appreciate Angus’s heart, I am afraid he did two things wring 1) He did not think through how he should go about making his faith public and 2) He did not entrust himself to people who had his best interests at heart.

I do not doubt Angus’ moment of faith or his passion for Jesus, but, we must remember, he is 19 years old. He is like any kid in any youth ministry who comes to Christ with a few exceptions

1. He is a very high profile person (think Quarterback or Head Cheerleader) so his context is different than most believers.

2. What he says and does has a further reach for both good or bad.

I am talking about this tonight with my youth group from the perspective of what we are wiling to give up for Christ (rich young ruler, Zachaeus, etc.), and it seems that Angus has or will be giving up $350,000 an episode. But here are other themes you can look at

How should we repent?

How public should our repentance be?

Who should you trust as a teacher or guide with your spiritual life? (not a fan of the guy who did the video with him because of his other videos)

What should we be watching, listening to? (Holiness, Sanctification)

When should we give our testimony?

There is a reason Paul told Timothy about choosing overseers ” “6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Although Angus was not trying to an overseer in the church, he did allude to using his high profile influence as a tool to lead others to Christ. This is where the conceit may enter in and unfortunately the video may pushed him into the second half of the verse.

When David penned Psalm 101, he may have meant well, but Psalm 51 came after Psalm 101, in chronological order. What Angus may have not known is that we older believers started out with a head of steam and desire to save the world. It’s too bad none of those older believers were able to share their new believer blunder stories with him

The good news

1. His faith is now out there and ready to be tested.

2. He is learning what humility is in a big way.

3. He is maturing through this process and will be stronger on the other side.

What do you think? Was Angus right or wrong in the way he presented his faith?

 

 

How do you help new believers with making their faith public?