Take PrIde In What and Who You Lead

 

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It’s easy to think you are failing in youth ministry. If you think

  • My group is not big enough
  • I’m not reaching enough kids
  • Our meetings are a mess
  • My volunteers won’t step up
  • My Pastor doesn’t back me

Then yes, by these standards, failure is easy to embrace.

It’s also easy to take pride in what you lead, If you think

  • We’ve come a long way
  • We are in a process
  • I am learning from my failures
  • These students are still coming in spite of everything
  • Some of these students are getting this!

Tell your youth group you are proud of them in spite of imperfection.

Be proud of those kids who are are taking baby steps in their faith.

Be proud of yourself, because you are sticking it out when others are bailing.

Jesus is proud of you and that’s enough. After all, you’re His kid.

What If We Were Georgia Tech Passionate?

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I saw this video this morning and now want to go to Georgia Tech. I don’t want to go to Georgia Tech to be an engineer. I want to go to Georgia Tech because of this guy who addresses the incoming freshman at Georgia Tech (and maybe because he said I could build an Iron Man suit if I wanted to.).

Can a youth ministry that has money, facilities, and a full time youth pastor fail? They can and it maybe because the person leading it is not passionate enough. There is no substitute for passion. Take my budget, my facilities, and my church credit card, but do not take my passion.

The young man in this video is passionate. As  I heard one newscaster say, “it reminds me of a moment in Revenge of the Nerds where there is this epic moment and then people did not know what to do with it. There are a few claps and then a roar.” Fair enough.

This is an Engineering School. It’s math and science. I hate those things, because I am not good at them, but Nick Selby, (the guy in the video) makes me want to at least try to attend.

The Gospel is filled the passion. Jesus was passionate about life, redemption, and His Father. What if we presented the Gospel the way this young man shared his passion for Georgia Tech. What if we shared our passion for the ministry the way this young man did? You don’t need the music, although it might not hurt, but you did need a strong conviction and passion share it.

Tomorrow: You Can Do That!

Take this test and leave your comments below

On a scale of 1-10 What is your passion level

a) for Jesus Christ

b) when you preach

b) for the ministry

c) for your favorite sports team

Any differences?

What do you do to get your passion level up?

What Kind of Game Are You Playing In Youth Ministry?

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I have been a gamer for a long time. I loved video games growing up but have shifted to table top games and board games. As I explored the world of games beyond chess and monopoly, I learned there were different kinds of games.

There are competitive games like chess and Connect 4 which pit one person again another and there are cooperative games like Pandemic, Castle Panic, and Forbidden Island.

In competitive games there is only one winner. Two teams play, one team wins. There is a losers. In cooperative games everyone plays together to achieve something. There is one goal, one win, and if the group does not achieve the goal, together, the group loses and the game wins.

The church is a lot like tug of war. It’s both competitive and cooperative. There are teams of people pulling and tugging on a rope with a red flag in the middle. That flag could be doctrine, rules, who gets to use the fellowship hall, and how you should do youth ministry. The problem is that the tug of wart is never ending. Each side is always gaining new members and neither side weakens.

The Dangers of Playing Competitive Games                                                        (including tug of war, no matter how many people you have on your side)

  • The risk of breaking community
  • Damaging the Church’s reputation
  • Arrogance if you “win”
  • Bitterness if you “lose”
  • A weary and jaded spirit

There is no win in competitive game mode. Quit that game now. You are the youth pastor. You have little power, or control. What you do have is prayer, a servant spirit, and God almighty to deal with those who turn your ministry into a competition of money, space, or power.

Look at the results of competitiveness in Scripture

1 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”

The Rewards of Cooperative Play

  • Life is good
  • Things get done
  • The majority of people win and win the right way
  • Increased strength of vision

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.  Acts 4:32-35

What Does It mean To Win?

“to win means to accomplish something significant, to purposefully overcome a testing situation and make a mark. It’s to positively alter the state of the game and know that you did.” – TadHD Kelly

Decide, as a person, and as team , on what the “win” is and get rid of anything that works against the win.

Exercise

What is does a win look like in your life?

What does a win look like in your ministry?

What is working against the win in either area?

Where are you playing the competitive game?

What steps can you take to you turn the competitive game into a cooperative?

Want to read the first post in the this series? Click HERE

Youth Ministry: You Play To Win “The Game”

 

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Some people will not appreciate this post because they think I am reducing youth ministry or ministry to a game. That is not my intent but rather to make similarities between ministry and games or gaming. As pastors, (and all Christians) we ought to take the gospel and our calling very seriously, but that does not mean we are aren’t in some kind of game mode at some point in our ministry. The point of this post is to help you decide what the “win” is your ministry and go for that. If you’ll take this post for what is is, the rantings of a crazy man, and not a theological treatise your head won’t explode and ruin your day.

Onward.

It’s Football season. I love football. I love college football. I am an Alabama fan by marriage and a Notre Dame Fan by heart. In the pro’s I am Giants fan. I don’t believe we watch games to see teams tie. We watch to see who the winner will be. If you want to see a game without winners and losers start your own Upward Basketball Channel.

I like winning. It beats losing in my opinion. Herman Edwards says it bests, “You play to win the game.”. The big question in life, as in ministry, is “What is the WIN and how do I get it?” If we can define what the win is over all and the smaller wins along the way that lead to “the big win”, then we will be much more focused and satisfied people and ministers.

This is a longer post than usual so take moment to enjoy this before continuing

This series of posts are inspired by an article I read called: What Games Are by Tadhg Kelly  over on Tech Crunch. I will be quoting some of his article and some of his sources as well.

All this week I will be discussing how to find The Win in our youth ministries. I will be breaking this weeks posts into smaller thoughts?

What is a win in a youth meeting?

What is a win in Evangelism?

What is a win in Discipleship?

Defining the win in life and ministry

Gaming Your Youth Ministry With A Clear Conscience

Today, I want to focus on Youth Ministry as game.

Think about it. Do you count your students every week? Why? Because we’re playing a mental game. More equals better and less than last week is viewed by some as #fail.

Students are not points on a score board, and should never be treated as such, but the weekly head count is one way we decide whether the youth meeting was a win. We often break down that win into smaller wins:

How many visitors did we have?

Did the visitor come back?

Was that certain kid there?

The danger, of a mental game like this, is that we equate God’s blessing with the numbers, derive our self worth by those numbers, or define our competency as a minister by those numbers. Numbers do none of these. Numbers are only one factor in the big picture of the game of youth ministry. But, they are numbers none the less and numbers are a part of the game.

Social Media apps like Foursquare or Get Glue give us badges for checking in or achievements for unlocking certain levels. We’ve been doing this in youth ministry for years. Pack a pew, bring a friend get a __________ ( slice of pizza) bring the most friends get a __________ (car?). Contests, and the like, are part of the Youth Ministry landscape and are neither good or bad, but they are part of gaming in your ministry.

Football, like life, is four quarters. You may be a rookie and working out the bugs of your ministry in the first quarter or you are like me, heading out of the locker room to start the third quarter of life and ministry. No matter where you are in the mix, if you are playing with passion and playing to win, you are playing “the game” correctly.

Tomorrow:  What Kind of Game Are You Playing?

How do you define “win” in youth ministry?

How do you define “win” in your youth meeting?

How do you find yourself “gaming the ministry”?

 

 

 

 

Why I Love Doing You Tube Videos For Youth Workers

 

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If you have never seen any of my You Tube videos let me share what they are about. I have 4 Playlists on my YouTube Channel.

Real Time Training: Tips and Tricks For Youth Workers – When I get an idea or think about principle that may help you, I do a quick video and pass it on to you.

More Than A Youth Room: Designing Your Space On Purpose – Does your youth room need some help? Grabs some ideas from 9 video focusing on youth room elements.

The Tuesday Panic: Ideas For The Less Than Prepared Youth Worker – Over two hours hours of videos offering ideas for sermons, bible studies, game idea, and message illustrations.

Off The Shelf: Reviews and Interviews About Youth Ministry Resources – This channel is focused on bringing youth workers interviews with ministries that could add value to your youth ministry and my thoughts on resources I think are worth using. Close to three hours of interviews with authors, ministry founders, and resource reviews.

Check out a few video and if you like them hit the thumbs up button and then hit the subscribe button so you’ll know when I post a new video.

If you are wondering why I put so much time and effort into these videos, let me start by tell you why I don’t create You Tube videos for youth workers

1. I’m uber-good looking and I want everyone to know it.

2. I have tons of time to waste.

3. I enjoy all the comments, likes, and accolades.

I am obviously not doing it for any of these reasons, so why then?

1. I love to communicate new thoughts, ideas, and strategies to youth workers who can’t get it any other way. 

I don’t know how many youth workers are in Merica’ (that’s America for you who have not seen this video or know the definition) or the rest of the world for that matter,  but my guess is there are a bunch or youth workers who cannot get to a youth conference but still want some training. If a youth worker can easily access a video on their computer or phone and can walk away with one good idea during their busy day, good for them.

2. I enjoy the creative outlet.

I never want to become stale in my knowledge of technology or in my creative endeavors so You Tube offer me the chance to grow in both.

3. It helps me in my communication skills

You may not know this but I used to do radio back in the day. I co-hosted a show called The Saturday  Night House party for six months where we show cased new Christian music in the 90’s. I enjoyed the experience quite a bit but the show was short lived. Let’s just say we were ahead of our time.

If I have a subject and a time limit, I have to cut to the quick and get to the point. Youth workers, of all kinds, are busy people and I want to make the few minutes they do have for training short, simple, stout with tips and information.

How about you, do you look for youth worker training from You Tube?

What videos have you found that have helped equip you for youth ministry/ministering to teens?

Bringing Back Fire To Your Youth Ministry

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On my You Tube show, The Tuesday Panic, I share some thoughts on a message I am going to share tonight about the Fire and  the Passion of the Holy Spirit . You can watch the video below

 

In light of what I said on the show, and still believe, I have mixed emotions and today I want to expound on the subject of the post camp Christian life and ask you a few questions.

Here was my “in house” talk with campers:

Imagine a caveman who hears or sees other tribes of people not only surviving but thriving because they have an advantage: Fire

If that caveman(men) wants the same for their tribe, they must leave their tribe and go looking for this fire.

Failure to bring back fire means

– Their tribe cannot cook their food
– Their tribe has no light at night
– Their tribe cannot stay warm in winter

Bringing back fire was critical for them and is spiritually critical to us. Without the fire of the Holy Spirit and His passion for Jesus Christ, our youth ministry and church:

– Cannot grow because we do not share the fire
– Cannot love each other because we don’t feed the fire
– Cannot fight our spiritual battles because we don’t use the fire.

I encourage kids to bring back fire, not only for them but for the whole tribe.

I don’t think that a kid that comes back from camp and does not save the whole neighborhood isn’t saved or did not experience Jesus. I think there are other traits to the Christian life beside enthusiasm, like a deeper love for others and great understanding of grace and mercy. Enthusiasm for God seems to be the preferred trait among us Pentecostals.

What I have noticed in the churches I have worked in is that the physical, demonstrative, display of the faith is what is valued most, so that is what I tend to encourage teens to do: Show The Fire.

Here come the questions

1. Do we focus too much on getting teens to show an outward display of faith and not enough on the less seen qualities of the faith or are they indistinguishable from one another?

2. Are our expectations of what God does or should do at youth camp or retreat unfair to the teen who must live that out?

Let me know what you think.

 

Hoping Against All Hope Is Not As Easy As It Sounds

 

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  Ready for a little weekend inspiration? I know I am. All people,especially ministry folk, are over-taken by desperate feelings and hopelessness from time time. We hope life will get better. We hope things will change. We hope our families will come back together We hope our kids will return to the Lord. We hope our ministries will grow. We hope we get a raise. On and one this darn thing called hope keeps cropping up and it usually shows up during difficult times. David went through a desperate time as seen in Psalm 3 In Psalm 3, David wrote: Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.Psalm 3:1-3 K.J.V. Moses had to stay hopeful against all hope when Egyptian armies chased after him and   the Red Sea was the only way of escape. Daniel had to stay hopeful against all hope that he would not get eaten by a lion. These guys made hoping look easy, but we know it could not have been easy all the time. We are only human. It’s not whether we experience discouragement or hopelessness, it’s not a sin to experience these things;  it’s whether we remain in that sate of hopelessness that determines our outcome. There is zero guarantee that life will work out the way we thought it should go. In fact, I am pretty sure my life will not turn out the way I thought it should but my hope is not in my life plan, but in God’s plan. Matt Chandler has a funny take on life not working out like we thought it would and I agree. Have you been hoping against all hope lately? What keeps you going? Is life not working out the way you thought? How so?

Life and Ministry: Two Keys To Making Discouragement Tap Out

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Moment of honesty. I am writing this because I am in the octagon with discouragement right now, and he’s known for cheating. The questions is, who will tap out first.

Discouragement in teenagers is not much different from  discouragement in adults; it’s simply amplified.

Teens can become discouraged because they: 

– Don’t have as many friends or enough close friends as they would like

– Their world is out of control

– They feel like they are not making progress

– No one understands them

Adults can be discouraged because:

– Friends moving away dying, or just a lack of community

– THE world IS out of control and we we feel powerless to change it

– Not only do we feel like we are not making progress, we feel like we can’t even get the opportunity to make progress.

– No one understands us. We can’t get people to see our point of view or make the people understand how we feel. We feel like we are not being heard.

Yep, it sounds like we are still teenagers no matter how old we are doesn’t it?

So, what do we do about these recurring daggers of discouragement that stab at our consciences?  There are two principles that come to mind that I have lived by most of my life. They are not perfect because I have seen discouragement win, but if I do not at least try, I lose by default.

Renew Your Mind

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

We have to re-train our brains from thinking discouraging thoughts such as: “God must hate me” and “I am useless”. This is self inflicted discouragement. Renewing our minds means we have to get rid of the old thinking that brings us down. Fighting discouragement is an act of the will as much as it is an act of the Spirit. The Spirit works with out soul, as much as we wil allow Him to.

That’s why Galatians says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

I need to allow the Spit nudge me with positive thoughts and bring to my remembrance scriptures, stories, and life experiences that clear away the negative thoughts so I can see God’s big picture.  The Spirit is my trainer and cut man in the octagon. Between rounds I go to corner and listen. Not talk about my opponent  Not talk about my injuries. Just listen.  He tells me where I am getting my clock cleaned and where I need to improve.

Encourage yourself in the Lord

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” KJV I Samuel 30:6

Most of us will not face the extremity of David’s plight. No one is talking about physically stoning us, if they are, call 911. Now. But, there are people who prepare, some daily, to throw their emotional, mental, and spiritual stones at us. We have to spit in the face of negative thoughts. Some say these thoughts are from the devil, I disagree, I think the devil simply puts a megaphone to our own inner voice and amplifies it to distort the voice of God.

For me, I say stuff out loud. I want me to hear it, God to hear it, and the devil to hear. I have to snatch the mega phone from the devils hand and protest my own discouragement with words, scriptures, chants, songs, and declarations. I feel like this releases a ton of negative energy and starts the renewing process in my mind.

That’s it. Pau’s guide to kicking discouragement in the groin. I don’t think that is allowed in a traditional MMA fight, but it is in the spiritual octagon of prayer.  Now, I am off to encourage myself and renew my mind. I hope you have a discouragement free day.

I share some thoughts on our enemy The Devil in an article about the Steve Pressman’s book Do The Work, where he refers to an invisible enemy called The Resistance.

Oh, and this pep talk from a 9 year old girl may help too.

 

 

Our Call and Response To Youth Ministry

 

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With Mission Week over and our big fundraiser done for our youth ministry, and our week long focus on Fall Planning with guest posts by Ryan Latham,  this week is sure to be slower than last week. Time for reading an reflection.

Onward.

I saw this video this morning and it jostled some thoughts about “receiving our call” .

This little girl’s reaction to her “call” is precious. Sheer joy. But what this little girls does not realize is that she is in for long hours of practice, correction, and “Do it again”.  I have to admit, when I was first called to youth ministry, I had romanticized the whole thing. I wanted the preaching and hanging our with the kids but not the meetings and the boring or painful stuff. This little girl will get her time on stage but it will cost her, but will she be as happy to be on that stage after the up-teenth performance? Maybe, if she feels really called to perform. If not, she will be miserable. Such is the calling of youth ministry.

After a few board meetings, parents meetings, and chew outs, you’ll know whether you are called or not. God calls us not only to the stage, but to the preparation for the stage. If you are not as joyful as you once were for the ministry, of serving, think of the blind man.

“Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”- Mark 10:49

Remember it is He who called you. Not your church or yourself.

Embrace your “call” today. Rejoice, God has called you to great things through humble actions. Jump, shout, and freak out! Jesus is calling.

Do you still rejoice over your calling?

Are you waiting for another call? What call are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer School For Youth Workers: Dealing With Teens In Crisis

 

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I ended Last Friday‘s post by saying this week will focus on summer school for youth workers, and so here we are. This is your syllabus for the week.

  • Show up to class every day and and comment  “Here!” for roll.
  • Bring your Bible, a pencil, and a desire to contribute.
  • Answer the questions given.
  • Do your home work and turn it in by commenting

Oh, and no sticking gum under your computer.

Class Notes

Last week I asked youth workers what youth ministry course they would take if it were available right now and I got some really great answers. Today we’ll focus on the first course:

Ministering to a Generation in Crisis suggested by my friend Georg Lynch

Crisis and teenagers go  hand in hand. Most of the crisis’ are small, to us, but they are huge to them. Feeling like they have no close friends or any friends is a crisis, not having a boy friend or a girl friends is a crisis, not having anything to do is a crisis, but these are micro crisis’. Oh, and every one of teenagers is in a different crisis all at the same time to boot.

The mico-crisis is what we, as youth workers are used to dealing with.  Macro-crisis, or a national crisis, is where most of us scratch our heads and say things like “What am I supped to do with this ?” Like this latest story Adam McClane sent me about smoking alcohol. Smoking Alcohol? Really? Alcohol and drugs are a macro-crises’. Smoking alcohol may just be a micro crisis.  I live and work in a small town, but I bet there are kids affiliated with our youth ministry who are googling this up. Here’s a question:

Macro Crisis’ are things like

Suicide

Bullying

Drugs and Alcohol

Education/Dropping Out

Homelessness

Hunger

Gang Violence

How does a youth ministry (which is micro in nature) tackle macro-problems? How does your youth ministry deal with macro issues beyond teaching about them?

Which teenage crisis, do you think is most pressing on this generation and why?

What are your “go to” scriptures for dealing with teens in crisis?

Home Work

Search for youth ministries that are dealing with the macro crisis in a micro way and come back and leave your comment and link in the comment section. What did you learn? How could you implement a micro-strategy in your youth ministry?

Class dismissed. See you tomorrow. Don’t be tardy.

Oh, and here is my  5 Step Crisis Strategy

On to Lesson 2 : Equipping Parents To Lead