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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Fix The Well Not The Sink

I heard the phrase “Fix the well, not the sink” the other day on The GaryVee show. I thought the phrase was worth exploring.

We all have a well, a depth of heart and spirit where everything we think and say draws from. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “Why did I say that? ” or “Why do I have this mindset? ” . My mouth and my mind are the sink and they were not my was problem.

Jesus said,

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

So, how does one fix the well?

Here are a few questions to start with?

What is the earliest memory of hurt in your life? How did that negatively impact you?

How have those hurts shaped who you are today?

Because of hurts and damage done,  what do you think you’ve entitled yourself to because of those hurts?

Do  you think it’s ok to hurt others? Do you think it’s ok to focus on self rather than to serve?

Who’ been poisoning your well? Who have you been hanging around or listening to that has dripped unhealthy philosophies, ideologies, negativity or bad habits into your well?

Moving forward after a hurt is hard especially if its shaped who you are, but change is possible. Jesus also said,

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22,23

Jesus was more than likely talking about our physical eyes, but it is not too far a stretch to say that He also was warning against what our “inward eyes”, our conscience, focuses on.

Jesus say that we need to have clear eyes.

What issues do we need to clear up? Externally? Internally?

Where we place our outward in inward focus will determines the healthiness of the well, and ultimately, what comes our of our sink.

 

 

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I Didn’t Go To College For Youth Ministry, But Here I Am 26 Years Later

In fact, I did not gain a degree from any college. I am one class (Math) shy of an AA from my local community college. So, what’s a guy with no college degree in youth ministry busy doing creating his own courses on youth ministry? Before I answer this question, let me give you a little background.

When I was 18 I thought I had to ship myself off to college and get a degree in order to be a youth pastor. Three months in, I discovered something, I hated school. I hated doing things on someone else’s terms. My mind was abuzz with sermon ideas, programming ideas, and a whole lot more. So, I dropped out. Two years later I shipped myself off to a one year discipleship school that focused on practical youth ministry, and that is what I needed, hands on experience.

So, let me answer the question, “What’s a guy, who doesn’t have a youth ministry degree, doing making courses about Youth Ministry?” Because, I think most youth leader in my position want practical hands on advice, just like I did.

It’s for this reason I wanted to make courses for bi-vocational and volunteer youth workers who struggle to do what they feel called to do but have no time for college; as well as for those who did go to college, but walked away with out the arsenal of practicality they thought they’d receive.

So many youth workers spend hours searching on the internet to get by meeting to meeting  and piece meal a program without any cohesive plan. I want to change that. I want youth workers to save time and money and feel confident that someone is in there corner rooting them on.

The first course I’ve created is called Discipleship Foundations. In this course, I teach a biblical foundation of discipleship that will give you a stronger grasp on where you want to lead your students and give kids a picture of what it means to following Jesus every day.

Included in the course are downloadable pdf worksheets for each segment of the course, audio of each lesson, questions to answer for each course, and access to community message board.

I’ll hope you will check it out and receive the training and support you have been looking for.

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Is Your Youth Group A Life Changing Community?

I recently watch Katy Perry accept an award from the LGBT community, and what she said in the the first 30 seconds broke my heart. As one who has served the church for 27 years, I would have loved if Katy was talking about The Church.

There’s no other community that has done more to shape me

 

The two comments she makes, in the first 30 seconds, are indictments of the Church as a whole and youth ministry specifically.

Let’s begin with the first

There is no other community that has done more to shape my life

Community is supposed to be life changing, for the better. Unfortunately, the Christian community Katy grew up in did not have a positive impact on her. I do not want to point fingers, but someone dropped the ball on what a positive Christian community is supposed to look like.

As a youth worker, I want every young person to have a positive experience with the church community. Every year, my wife puts together a Youth Of The Year Banquet for the Boys and Girls Club. Kids get up and share stories about the positive impact the club has had on them and and many of them credit the organization for turning their life around.

How many of the kids in your youth ministry could say, “this community changed my life for the better?”

Can you imagine Katy Perry saying, to a packed room of youth workers, “This community change my life”? If we can’t imagine it, we should, because maybe if we asked these questions,  we’d re-think how we are doing community and what our community is producing.

Our youth ministries are life shaping communities, for good or for ill.

There is no other community I believe in more than you.

Jesus changed my life along with a community called the church.  There is no other community I believe in more than the church. This is what someone says when their

community embraces differences

community loves the outcast

community helps rather than hurts

community builds trust for a lifetime.

I don’t want to romanticize youth ministry or the church. It, like many others is flawed. It’s filled with flawed people. Like school bands who haze kids, coaches who value winning above character, companies who value profit over ethics, all communities can have a negative impact, not just the Church; but all those other organizations are not representatives on God incarnate upon the earth.

No other organization did the apostle Paul say of,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Ephesians 5:25

The expectations are much higher for a community of people who claim to be the hands and feet of Christ. Sadly, we use these hands to punch and our feet to kick others who are not like us. It’s no shock to me that Katy Perry would have someone else to thank for impacting her life in a positive way.

It’s because I have been deeply impacted by His church, His community, that I became a youth pastor so that I may help others discover this life saving and life altering community called The Church.

I am glad that Katy Perry found a community she could unashamedly thank and testify about. I just wish it could have been the church community. It’s our loss.

Is there anything you need to make your community a life giving community?

Can you imagine kids in your group thanking The Church, or more specifically, your youth ministry for having such a positive impact on their lives?

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How To Double Your Youth Group Attendance In One Year

If you are planning on on being at your church for only a year, then doubling it should be easy, but you have to hurry.

Throw lot’s of party’s and events.

Games, more games,  and game nights.

Keep your messages to ten minutes tops.

Do not challenge anyone to serve or lead.

Give away lots of expensive stuff.

Crank up the hype machine.

Don’t mention the cross or following Jesus.

Don’t talk about giving, sacrifice, or surrender.

Have a hot band with shallow worship songs and a worship leader that just wants to be seen.

Make sure you take lots of selfies with the latest whatever and whoever.

At the end of the year, thank them for showing up to all the cool stuff and avoiding Sunday school, Small Group, prayer times, revivals and anything that remotely looks like commitment.

Pack your car and head out.

Sarcastic rant ended.

Granted, a youth group can double in a year minus some of these tactics. Demographics, church culture, and honest moves of God can all play a part, but why the rush to grow?

You want the real secret to growing your youth ministry?

You ready? Here it is. Patience.

If you’re planning on being at your your church for more than three years you have plenty of time to grow numerically. Until then do this

Love kids.

Show up to their stuff.

Build a foundation of identity and community.

Build a reputation of reliability, faithfulness, and godliness.

Serve the whole church.

Teach and preach scripture with passion.

Love and serve families.

Call kids to follow Jesus, not you.

Encourage small groups and small encounters.

Make Jesus the focus of your worship.

and

Love kids.

Everything else is a tactic.

Want to draw a crowd? Tactics will do.

Want to make disciples? Patience is the key.

Watch me break it down  below

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Lent Day 13: Even Now

“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Joel 2:12

Even now. Saying this phrase transports me to the 80’s when I heard Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band sing it. It’s a song about love and about how much a woman has an impact on the singers life, even after so many years.

In my video this morning, I was thinking about the journey we all take ad the amount of “even now” moments we all face. We tell ourselves, “it’s too late”. “it’s over” and “I’ve gone too far”. Israel was notoriously idolatrus and hard hearted, yet, the Lord said, “Even now”.

Watch the video and ask yourself if you’ve had or are having an “even now” moment. My desire is that the video will fill you with hope to come back to the Lord from wherever you’ve been. He’s waiting for you.

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Invest, Invest, Invest and Then…

Many try to withdraw from bank accounts where they have not invested and wonder why they’re told “insufficient funds”. It’s simple, we haven’t invested or haven’t invested enough.

What do I mean by invested? I mean we haven’t given enough encouragement, worth, value, love or upside to the individuals around us. We haven’t given others the motivation or inspiration that would give us the results we are looking for when we need it most.

We need to invest physically with rewards for accomplishments and rewards for absolutely nothing, other than we knew they liked a certain kind of something, we saw it, and bought it for them.

We need to invest emotionally with our time, our words, and our care. We have to give, care, and love deeply to receive deeply. We need to be generous with our encouragement even when (or especially when) others do not perform to our standard.

We need to invest spiritually with prayers and listening. We need to be there for others during their tough times and show grace upon grace. The measure with which we give is the measure with which we will receive.

Start today. Start investing in those around you, not for today but for a year, five years, ten years from now when know you are going to need to

  • Have the hard conversation
  • Ask for more, ask for change, ask for commitment
  • Discipline someone.

Who do you need to invest in today?

What do you hope to withdraw a year from now?

Students? Parents? Your Boss? Family?

Invest, Invest, Invest, and then…

 

 

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The Anxious Rantings Of A Burnt Out Youth Pastor

“I just want to get out alive” I told myself before a recent youth meeting. That’s when I knew it, I mean I saw it coming, I just couldn’t stop it. Burn out.

I had yelled, “Why does any of it matter. ” towards, not at, my wife that morning. Is there a difference? Not to her. I said,, “Sorry, I was letting out some repressed feelings.” My comments  sounded like the incoherent babbling of an insane person.  I mean, I am a youth pastor, is this much of a stretch?

I’ve had several of these moment in the past few months, mostly alone. God just sits, nods His head a lot, and listens to my rantings until I wear myself out. He’s there to help me, but He’s left me some options to choose from. There is no one right answer and so He leaves me to choose. Yeah, thanks God.

This  blog is not just about youth ministry tips and tricks, it’s about the life of a youth worker, this youth worker; and if you’re cringing at the fact that I choose to be this honest, look away, go back to watching cat videos. Only the brave may read on.

Let me be clear, I don’t hate my job or the people I work with, but I am asking whether full time church work is still for me. I mean, 26 year is a long time. Burn out isn’t about hating what you do, it’s about the feeling that you are sued up, that you do not have enough left in the tank. I have moments of great energy and vision but I cannot shake the over-all feeling of either wanting or needing something different in my life.

I am not on suicide watch. No has had to take my shoelaces or sharp instruments from me. And, you happen to be a young person in my group or a church member who may read this, I am not unhappy with anyone  or quitting tomorrow.. This post is shared in good faith as I work through my journey with some kind of honesty, something many ministers lack because they are afraid they will not be seen as perfect or that something is wrong with them.

If you know me you’ll read this in the context of the relationship we have, if you do not know me, welcome to what it feels like to be me.

I was, I am, burnt out, but what am I to do? Youth Ministry is all I know and I still have to supply for my family. I am, as I heard Gary Vaynerchuck say recently,

“Fixing the plan as I fly it”

There’s really not any time to pull the plane in for a full inspection. I can only fix “the plane” in flight, as many people do. This leaves me with simply weighing options.

Here’s what I feel my options are and they may even reflect your options as well. Feel free to offer you suggestions in the comments.

Option One: Quit

Just quit. Just walk away. Leave full time youth pastoring, never to return. This begs the question is whether I can live without it or not. I have no idea. Several years ago I came back to youth pastoring from being fired. I was doing camp ministry at the time and decided that I should write the ending of my youth ministry career and not someone else, so I went back with God’s leading.

Quitting full time ministry is never an option because our lives are full time ministry, but quitting church ministry certainly is an option.

Option Two: Quit To Serve In Something Besides Youth Ministry

I could stay in church ministry but quit youth pastoring and move into a different kind of ministry, maybe discipleship, small groups, community outreach, all of which I would be qualified for. My fear would be that I would be sneaking over and hanging out in the youth pastors office and giving advice he didn’t ask for.

Option Three: Quit and…Part 2

I could quit church ministry and do some work in a community that is underserved and doesn’t have many youth workers. I could work in an inner city ministry, etc.; there are plenty of ideas but I have to let my heart simmer on those things for a while.  Any ideas you have are welcome.

Option Four: Take A Sabbatical 

In many churches, Lead Pastors can take an extended amount of time off to think, pray, write, serve etc. It’s possible that in taking this option I could try a few of the ideas I mentioned above but not many youth workers are offered this option. May be I could take my day off and try out a few things. It’s certainly and option.

Option Five: Go on my own and do more training of youth workers 

I have struggled with this option for quite some time.  To be honest, I don’t think youth workers, or potential supporters think this is a great need. I recently updated my Patreon page and offer s some cool benefits to those who pledge as little as $5.00.. You are welcome to check it out and see what I offer and then offer me feedback on what I could change that would inspire you to support this option.

I have to say, this is my preferred option because I would love nothing better than to walk along side youth workers and offer resources and through my Youtube Channel and the Youth Ministry in  Motion podcast.

Only time, prayer, and the market (you) will decide if this option is viable.

Option Six: Find a life coach or someone to talk it out with

This is easier said than done, but I am wide open to talking with someone who understands careers and not just my current moment. I am looking long term and I need someone for the journey. Ministry, like other jobs, is about hiding our faults and doing our best to look perfect and competent. Ministry, unlike other jobs is hyper secretive because in saying you are a Christian, and especially a minister, that everything in your life is supposed to be ok because we serve God. That’s just stupid. In fact, many times it is quite the opposite.

If you know of someone, feel free to recommend someone who is not half my age and looking to make a quick buck.

Option Seven: Sit, Wait, Pray

This is the hardest option, yet the most viable. Quitting is much easier. But, when I think of the kids and families I serve,  it’s the right choice. They mean the world to me and it’s the tension may youth workers who are in this thing for any amount of time live in. We love the kids and work, but we reach a point whether we believe we are giving them our best or not  and are better served by someone else.

For now, I’ll continue to pray and give my best. It’s what God would have me do until my next step is clear, or at least clearer.

This morning I was listening to classic rock radio and the song The Question came on by The Moody Blues. The line which grabbed me and reflects my heart at this moment is

I’m looking for someone to change my life
I’m looking for a miracle in my life

Your prayers are welcome as I continue this journey of life and ministry. If you are on the same journey, feel free to leave a comment below.

Here is my video breakdown of this article

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Some Advice To Young Youth Pastors

My friend Patricia asked these questions on FB

“Folks, if the following situation happens to you, you really need to think:

1. Do you want to work for a boss?

2. Are you happy with where you are right now?

If not, what is your plan?

This simple question got me thinking about deeper questions and arriving at  disturbing answers, or rather, realizations.

My plan? Always hustle, whether you work for a boss or not. Hustle for yourself first and you goals. I was told, “help people get what they want and you will get what you want.” I don’t know iif that is true anymore.  I don’t think I got what I wanted from those I served except a paycheck, and although grateful for it, it’s not all I wanted.

I still think we should serve and help others; but long the way, I forgot what I wanted. I have to get back to what I want and help others along the way.

Now, I love my job. I believe my pastor loves me and he blesses me every chance he gets, but he does not have my best interest in mind concerning my future.  I know he wants me to have a great future, but he can’t help me get there, only I an do that.

When I was younger, I used to think Senior Pastor’s had my best interest in mind. They did not.  They have the whole church in mind and  I don’t blame them, I blame myself for putting more trust in them than in God or myself to get me where I wanted to go.

When I was 29 all I wanted was to reach young people. At 49 all I want to do is reach young people and  position myself to be happy when my time as a youth pastor is over, which could happen sooner rather than later. I wish I had added the second part when I was 29 but I was too idealistic; I trusted the system and men. Bad idea.

The difference between 29 and 49  is, today, I look out for myself along the way, I don’t count on any pastor or leader to make my way for me, it is my way and I have to hustle for it.  I am documenting my life and ministry, with the  future in mind,. I am keeping in mind the life  I want with my wife for the next 20 years.

My faith is strong and is firmly placed in all the right places, first in God, second in myself, and third, in others.

I know all this sounds super cynical. it’s not meant to be, it’s simply a truth I have ignored for too long. The “sleep” started waring off a few years ago. It happens with age and this  truth is often met with great despair, a “what have I done!” moment. Thankfully, I am grabbing the steering wheel before I find myself in a place I did not want to be.

If you’re  29 and  love God and teenagers, Let me give you some advice.

Write your book now.  At least start it.

Don’t let group-think tell you what your hobbies should be. If you don’t like golf, don’t play it.

Use the tools at hand (like the internet, a tool I didn’t have) to find your voice.

Share what you know with those who need it. There are no secrets to be kept.

Be generous, but take care  of your self., no one will do it for you.

Do what you love and try to make money at it even if it’s a side hustle.

Don’t just work hard for others, work hard for yourself.

Don’t let religion rob you of small pleasures.

Quit following the system. The system will not love you back.

Follow Christ, He loves you and has your back.

Youth Ministry is, and always will be a worthy cause. The youth ministry you currently have is awesome, but transient. A moment in time. Another worthy cause is the life you want to live now and after youth ministry. Keep that in mind as you serve.

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