Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win

Welcome back! This is my fourth post in my attempt to convince you that you’re an artist. You may be a youth pastor, a small group leader, a                         bi-vocational youth worker who does plumbing on the side, or a volunteer youth worker. You are all artists in your own way.

You can read my premise for you being an artist by starting at Real Youth Workers Don’t Starve. This series is based on the book by Jeff Goins called Real Artists Don’t Starve that helps creative people, like youth pastors, embrace the the artist title.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book and read along with me.

Let me clarify my title: Stubborn Youth Pastors, Who Are Stubborn About The Right Things, Always Win.

Stubbornness is not obstinance. Youth Pastors should not be stubborn just to be in the way to be a block to progress. Youth Pastors should be stubborn on principles things and flexible on details.

We all need the ability to persevere and maintain passion for long-term goals despite adverse circumstances—or what Angela Duckworth calls “grit.” – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

We have to be stubborn when it comes to working with teens because, well, teens are stubborn bunch and we must match their stubbornness with a stubborn kind of love.

“No matter how much you miss youth group, I’ll always save a sit for you”

“No mater how much you resist me, I will always be welcoming”

“No matter how much you choose the wrong thing, I will love you and help you choose the right thing.”

This is the same kind of stubbornness parents have with their kids. As youth workers, we should match our teens stubbornness with godly stubbornness. the Bible called this long-suffering.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed,“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and egracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6

God stubbornly, puts up with our mess and  loves us still.  This is a youth workers kind of stubbornness.

What does all this have to do with me being an artist Paul? Simple, we design programs that give us the opportunity to connect with students so we can show teens this kind of stubborn love long term. We have to be stubborn about the principles of youth ministry, not the details.

Here are a few examples  of where my stubbornness comes in when designing   any youth program.

I am stubborn about who is on my team

I don’t let adults just hang out (other than parents) because they don’t want to go got Wednesday night service. I they are downstairs with me, they have a purpose or they are not there.

I recently had to tell an adult they could not come downstairs any more because they were avoiding all the parameter set to be a volunteer for me

  • Be in the adult service on Sunday for x amount of time
  • Be in the adult Wednesday night service for x amount of time
  • Go through our partnership class

There are a few other standards we have,  but the point is that we have set up standards to first keep students safe from just anyone being a part of the youth program. Second, I want to make sure the leaders we have are mature enough to lead kids into faith, If an adult cannot go through a class, come to service on Sunday morning consistently, they I do not feel they will be a good fit on our program that expects them to lead kids by example.

I am stubborn on discipline

I knew I shouldn’t have let this kid come on the retreat because of his age, but his mother sweet talked me into it; I felt I had to give him chance. I have him Several chances but after having him make a few calls to his parents, I had to ask his mom to come pick him up.

Things like camp, missions trips, and even the weekly meeting only go well when we are all on the same page, or at least in the same book. Sometimes we all have to pull a kid aside, have the talk, and most of them time that settles it. There are other times when we have to make the phone call, send. kid up to their parents, tell a kids “no, I don’t think you’re ready for this.” . All of this discipline is designed to help kids grow in character and faith and secondly to keep the program or trip on track.

Stubbornness like this is a stubbornness that my Pastor, my parents, and even the students appreciate because they know I will do my best to help the kids who need help and make event worthwhile for everyone. A lack of stubbornness on some things, like discipline, causes an unease and a mistrust of our leadership.

I am stubborn on keeping the door open 

When a kid leave my youth ministry, its not the end of ministry with that kid. I have launched out students to go to other youth ministries because those youth ministries offered them opportunities that I could not.

These same kids who leave or that I launch, I’ll run into at the store or they may hit me up for advice online. I am stubborn on this because it’s easer to just close the door and pretend like those kids don;t exist any more, but they do and God may not be finished with me and them yet.

We have to be stubborn because the opposite of stubbornness is complacency, weakness, and irresolute. I always want to be stubborn about the things that matter not the details that don’t. We can be stubborn and flexible.

Steve jobs was stubborn on design.

Edison was stubborn on the creating the lightbulb

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon,  is stubborn about the culture he creates.

We are creators and creators but must be stubborn, not about everything, but about the right thing.

When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.  – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve 

Our stubbornness, about the right things in our youth ministry, will only lead to the right people taking notice and supporting what we create; and isn’t that what we want?

Catch the fifth post over here: The Creative Church, The One Every Artist Wants To Be A Part Of 

 

What are you stubborn about in your youth ministry?

Why do you need to be more flexible about in your youth ministry?

 

 

 

 

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3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You Looking For A Master

photo credit

This is day three of my twelve part series, using Jeff Goins new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, to convince you, the local youth pastor, that you are an artist. You can catch up by starting here and then here.

Why not grab the book and read long with me?

Little did she know, how- ever, her first career was just preparation for what was to come. – Jeff Goins

Tip #1 Consider Everything You’re Doing As Practice For What’s Next

The story goes that Tia, the one Jeff references in the quote above, did not know where to go or what to do with her life after High School, so she followed in her friends steps and went to law school at Stanford.  She wound up working at a big firm, but became tired of the grind. Little did she know that she was practicing for her next career, as an actress.

When I read the the quote above, I was floored. I’ve been feeling this way for some time; like I have been practicing for something else, I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe, by the twelfth post, I will have discovered it.

Because I’m in the position I am in, I have both the time and the permission to practice. I have done the social media for our church, written copy for big events and for most of the written marketing we produced. I used to gripe about my place in life, now I am thankful and consider it all practice, and joy, for what’s next.

What can you practice where you’re at?

Tip #2 Stop Waiting For the Big Break

Starving Artists wait for their Big Breaks. Thriving Artists become apprentices in their crafts. – Jeff Goins

For the past seven years I’ve worked in a small church, in a small town. Not a lot of elbow rubbing and networking with big dogs in a town like this; but I have reached out via the internet. I connect with Jeff on FB and Tada! I’m on a book launch team.  Big break are what we make, not some random Big Bang that happens to us.

Tryst me, I’ve struggled, bitched, and moaned as much as any ambitious guy  in a small town will do, but all the while I’ve tried to keep my head down and put one foot in front of the other, slowly making progress, to creating my break(s)

If nothing else, I’ve consistently honed my skills in both youth ministry and other fields such as blogging, networking, and technology. Ready to serve the cause, idea, or person I choose, or that chooses me, at any moment.

Tip #3 Consistently Practice While You Wait 

The marks of a good apprentice are patience, perseverance, and humility. – Jeff Goins

In a way, I’ve chosen to serve Jeff, the author of the book, by doing these blog posts and by sharing his  book on my social, etc.. I expect nothing from Jeff (I mean, he already gave me a free book, what else could I ask for?).

I try to apprentice things, ideas, and people (like Jeff) I believe in. I show my value by using my skills to further these ideas and causes and I hope, in the process, to be found a good apprentice.

I’ve been patient, I’ve persevered and, whether I like it or not, have been humbled. All of these traits are critical for the apprentice (and the master of that matter)

The best thing about these traits are that anyone can have them and practice them. You don’t have to be pretty, strong, or popular; you just have to show up.

If you’re in a job or place that is suffocating you, find a way to apprentice. Apprentice for your church or another ministry in your church that’s struggling. Don’t waste the time or the opportunity you’ve been given.

Since Tia’s jump from law to acting has done a few tv shows and commercial. Modest, but progress none the less. She Tok advance of what she learned as a lawyer and put to work in acting. What skills can you hoe right now for what’s next?

For now, I’m still practicing, waiting patiently, but not idly.

I’m focusing on serving in the role of both apprentice and master.

When I do reach that place I want to be, I’ve imagined it will look something like this. vvv Who’s the master?

Be sure to read the fourth post in the series : Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win 

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The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry

I was at a Youth Specialties NYWC and I was sitting in a Doug Field’s breakout session  and he said, “You don’t have to be original, beg, borrow and steal.”

Wait, I didn’t have to come up with all this stuff myself? It was ok to steal ideas from other youth pastor and youth ministries? This was pre-internet so stealing wasn’t as easy as it is today. I had to wait for the pony express to arrive to get the latest youth ministry ideas via magazine. I actually had to go to other churches and actually talk to other youth workers about stuff they were doing. Barbaric, right?

The internet has made it much easer to steal ideas from others. In Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve , he says

The starving artist strives to be original,                                                          the thriving  artist steals from his influences.

In the first post of this series, I tired to convince you you were an artist and not just a youth pastor. I hope you’ve since added the word artist to your vocabulary and your resume. What we do requires prayer, wisdom, and a whole lot of creativity. That last one is where we can get stuck.

I have heard many people, even youth workers, say they are not creative. What? Youth Pastors, above al things are creative. I mean, youth ministry is creativity gone wild.

We have to be creative with our budgets, our games, our themes, our messages, and our programming. We ooze creativity. Creativity is almost mandatory if for no other reason than survival.

The God we serve is creative and by His Spirit in us we have access to al the creativity we need to make our youth ministries work. We don’t have to be original, we just have to steal creatively.

I would never suggest that we steal someone’s message, especially verbatim. I would never suggest we not give credit where credit is due when we use someone’s idea. There must be honesty in our thievery.

We should steal from other youth ministries, but only if it serves our kids. We shouldn’t try to steal an idea and then cram that round peg into our square hole. We can, and should,  adapt it , change it, and refine it to fit our ministry uniquely.

We should steal from culture. God is not absent from our culture. He certainly has bee maligned and obscured but if the scripture says that His glory fills the whole earth, that means God is present in our culture and we have the opportunity to bring him to the front.

I “steal ideas all the time. I “stole” from The Hunger Games when I created my best selling Hunger and Thirst Games outreach/curriculum

I “stole” from Star Wars when I created a similar outreach called Soul Wars: Winning The War Within 

I “stole” from the TV show Top Shot when I created a series of small group lessons for guys called The Apostle Paul’s Guide To Living A Top Shot Faith

I “stole” from Playstation when created a message series called Greatness Awaits

I did not “steal” creative license or content from any of the notable  intellectual properties that I mentioned. I as influenced by them and turned them into useful things for my youth ministry. You probably do the same.

As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the son.” All  good ideas and inspirations come from God. You have access to the same God I do, so you can take the influences around you and put them to work in your youth ministry just like I did mine.

Jeff Goins says,

If we want to become artists, we are going to have to break some rules. We cannot do just what is expected of us. At some point, we must break away from the status quo and forge a new path. As it turns out, this is how creativity works best.

Stop killing yourself, as I did, in an effort to be original. To be the first kid on the block with a new toy. It will never happen. “Steal” from those around you, give credit where credit is due, and put your your own spin on things.

Creativity works best not when we are trying to be original but when we are “stealing” from others. Break a few rules, do something unexpected, and you may find that creativity comes more quickly.

BTW, feel free to steal as many games and ideas from my Youtube channel. That’s why I put them there.

I hope you’ll grab Jeff’s book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, and dig a little deeper Into your creative and artistic nature.

Check out the third post in the series:  3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You Looking For A Master

 

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Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve

About a week ago I was asked by author Jeff Goins if I wanted to be on his book launch team ; I said sure. I was familiar with Jeff through some videos and his book The Art of Work so I was excited to jump on board, and I am glad I did,

Jeff’s new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, has hit me where I Iive. God knew what he as doing when he connected me with this book.

I can’t just read a book, though. I read a book like a butcher cuts meat. I trim the fat and cut the book into chunks for easy digestion. Here are my goals

    Let every youth worker know they’re an artist (who happens to play dodgeball).
    Share some thoughts from each chapter of the book to help you become a thriving artist in your ministry.

Let’s start with the fact that you, the youth pastor, are an artist. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof.  Many of you, weekly

    craft messages
    design slides
    take photos
    edit video
    There’s an art to all this. I know the care you put into all of these things, so why sell yourself short? Say it with me, “I am an artist”.
    I take my messages and post them up in my store at fair prices. You could do the same.  Anyway, you’re an artist and you shouldn’t be starving, you should be thriving . Let’s get into where we start doing that.
     Back in the day, youth ministry had it’s now version of the starving  artist. The youth pastor had to have a crap car, we had to share our room with the kids church, all the furniture in the youth room was donated crap, and our offices were the old  janitorial closet. I am familiar with all of these and at some point I thought I was super holy to live this crappy. That is until I changed my mindset.
    Many of you chose to go into youth ministry young and have grown in it. Some of you have entered youth ministry later in life and I salute you. All of us brought skills into the ministry and some of us learned them along the way.  Some of us are musical, some of us are graphic designers, and others us are amateur carpenters. Don’t you dare say you are not an artist.
    In the book, Jeff says,

Thanks to the power of this myth, many of us take the safe route in life. We become lawyers instead of actresses, bankers instead of poets, and doctors instead of painters. We hedge our bets and hide from our true calling, choosing less risky careers, because it seems easier. Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.

You became a youth worker because you love teens. Many of your teens are blooming artists, we owe it to them to hold our profession in high regard even if no one else does. We should model to our kids what it means to boldly display our art and give them a peek behind the scenes of how we do what we do.

If you are just getting started, take Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and document your journey in front of your kids. Share your message prep on Instagram and show them the slides you’re creating (and ask for their advice) on Snapchat. Show yourself setting up for the outreach on FB Live.

The first step to changing your mindset from “I’m just a slob who works with teens because no one else will” to “I am a youth ministry artist, creating the atmosphere for kids to know God every week.  No one can do what I do like I do it.” is Jeff’s first point

The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one.

No one is born a good youth pastor. No one gets a special kiss from God to be one. We all work at it. If you don’t think you’re an artist now, stay in youth ministry long enough and you’ll become one, if you want to be.

I hope you’ll purchase the book for yourself and get the full context and all the great stories Jeff uses to deliver his points.

Check out the second post in the series: The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry

 

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We All Used To Think This Way, Until…

We thought we were unique, we weren’t

We thought we were original, we weren’t

We thought we were the first, we weren’t

We thought we were going to change everything, we didn’t

We thought we had what it took, we didn’t

We thought we were equipped for anything, we weren’t

We thought we had the best idea, we didn’t

We thought we were ready for the next level, we weren’t

We thought we were better than everyone else, we’re weren’t

We thought we were bulletproof, we weren’t

We though we were immortal, we aren’t

It’s not if you think these things are true or not, it’s what you do next when you discover they are true.

Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth”.

What do you do after you’ve been punched in the mouth, when your plan is destroyed, when things don’t work out, when you discover the truth, that is  the moment you discover who you really are.

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5 Tips For Talking With Teens

I guess I never real thought about it, I’m not a shy person. As a youth worker I saw other youth workers who were outgoing and up front people. This style of youth work seem to fit my personality and I thought it as the way all youth workers were. I soon discovered that not all youth worker were the same.

Some youth workers have to force themselves to be outgoing when they would rather just work behind the scenes. Teens can be a loud and scary bunch sometimes, so, if this is you, I don’t blame you for being shy or even intimidated by them sometimes.

What can we do to break the ice with teens and get those relationships rolling? Let me offer a few ideas

Invite them to a game

One way I’ve found to break the ice with teen is through play. Maybe I’ starting a game of Ninja or showing kids how to play Munchkin. Either way, when teens are active, engage, and laughing, they tend to open up and allow us to ask questions and be more personable.

Become the student

If kids are doing something interesting, like playing a game on their phone or   taking about something you’ve never heard about, show interest and ask them to teach you something new.

Look for cultural clues

I always have my eyes open for cultural clues like band shirts, tattoos, shoe styles, etc. and if those subjects are in my wheelhouse, I share my love for X with them and show that we’re not that far apart.

Grab My 7 Secrets For A Successful Youth Ministry 

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Invite them to do a task with you

If it’s a Wednesday night, I usually leave a few tasks  undone so I can ask kids for help. I have not problem asking a new kid to help because they show up and wonder what we are about. Well, if they’re helping me get ready for service, the find out real quick what we awe about. They made their first meeting happen and I can thank them for their help.

Food

Simple, if teens and grown-ups don’t have anything else in common, we both eat. We have a cafe in our youth room and I always reserve food for guests. If it’s a teens first time with us, their food is on us and I try to eat with them if I can. Whether it’s sharing a meal or a piece of gum, sharing is a great way to start

Got a favorite tip? Leave a comment below.

Here are my go-to books to get kids talking in small groups.

Would You Rather 

Have You Ever

What If 

The Complete Book of Questions 

 

 

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3 Ways to Spice Up The Boring Grad Gift

You Still Have Time 

To make your grad gifts shine! Whether you are a youth pastor prepping for Grad Sunday or a parent just want to make graduation a little extra special, here are three ways to spice up the boring grad gift.

I just finished the video that shows my completed grad gift boxes (or suitcases) and I hope it will give you some last minute inspiration.

Let me offer three ways you can still make your grad gifts excellent and memorable.

1. Change the experience

You may have no control over what you are giving to your grads, but maybe you can change how they receive them. I made suitcase but you could create a different kind of experience.

Lock up each gift with a combination lock and give each grad one or two numbers (depending on how many grads). After service they have to trade numbers to get the right combo to open their gift.

Hide one gift and, after service, give them a clue sheet to go and find it.

2. Change how many senses are involved 

Use all your grads senses, not just sight and touch.

Connect a smell and/or taste to a place you have all been. Put some coconut or fruit with your gift to remind kids of that mission trip the Caribbean everyone went on.

Put together a Spotify playlist of all the worship songs, retreat songs, etc. for their last ride out of High School and that also reflects their time in the group.

Record individual audio or video messages to each student and text it to them after the grad service.

3. Change the packaging 

What did you get your kids for Grad Sunday? How can you change the packaging to make it more special or fun? How about wrapping them in fast food bags to represent all the times you went out to eat? Or put their gifts in a their favorite pizza boxes.

I hope these last few ideas stirs up some inspiration and will make your Grad Sunday or Wednesday the best it can be,

You can also check out my Graduation Playlist on Youtube for some extra ideas.

Have an awesome Graduation Sunday Service!

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How Come No One Told Me?

Growing up…

No one told me that I’d be second guessing everything at 49

No one told me it was ok to switch directions.

No one told me its was ok to pursue something different.

No one told me it was ok to have many dreams, not just one.

No one told me that it was ok to let go.

No one told me it was ok to fail.

No one told me life could be more flexible than rigid.

No one told me that loyalty wouldn’t get me anywhere.

No one told me my mentors would be authors and YouTube personalities.

No one told me, “Just wait, the best is yet to come”

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Maybe they did, and I just wasn’t listening.

I’m listening now.

 

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We Do Have A Choice

“One of the consequences of sin is that it makes the sinner pity himself instead of causing him to turn to God. One of the first signs of new life is that the individual takes sides with God against himself.” ― Donald Grey Barnhouse

Jesus challenged his disciples:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

We have to choose a side. There is nothing in me that wants to take up a cross or follow Jesus. It is God who impresses on me the necessity of this things, like another waking up their children for school. They would much rather stay under warm covers and sleep than to be obedient.

We have no problem choosing between

fear and faith

joy or sadness

salad or dessert

We know which is in our best interest. It is when Christ offers us

a narrow road or a wide road

a narrow gate or a wide gate

seek the Kingdom or seek our own fortune

The Apostle Paul tells us there is a  choice between feeding and leading from our  Flesh or Spirit

We can choose, but most of the time we choose in our own best interest.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

Knowing the end of one of our choices should makes our choosing all the more easy.

 

 

 

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11 Worship Resources To Help Teens Embrace The Quiet

If I took away your band (if you have one), how would you invite your students to worship God?

Can you worship God without a band? Blasphemy to think such a thing, but many of our students don’t think so because youth workers, like us, say, “Its time to worship” and then the band comes up.

I had a talk with a youth worker the other day and, both being Pentecostal, bemoaned the fact that our kids want (sometimes demand) an experience with God and if they did not have an experience with God, then worship or the service was null and void. We’ve conditioned our kids to believe that worshipping God is a  little one note (pun intended). How do we undo this?

First, we must help kids understand the object of our worship is God not our worship experience.. Worship by definition is

show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

Worship is about the heart not about the mouth. Singing is one way, albeit the most popular way, of worshipping God. but it’s certainly not the only way. There must be other ways to show reverence and adoration to God without singing, right?

Although I am Pentecostal, and Pentecostal’s love loud, the exuberant, and sometimes the wild, I also have had the benefit of growing up Catholic and understand the need and joy of silence and reflection.

Teaching Pentecostal students the joys of practices that run counter clockwise to their ideas of worship is a challenge but a challenge worth taking as I have seen the Spirit of God do tremendous things in the silence as well as the loud.

Here are  a few books that helped me introduce different practices of worship to students as well as inspired me to write some of my own resources.

Books 

Sacred Space: A Hands On Guide To Creating Multi-Sensory Worship

The Book of UnCommon Prayer 

The Book of Uncommon Prayer 2

Worship Feast: 100 Reading, Rituals, Prayers, and Guided Meditations

Praise Habit: Finding God In Sunsets and Sushi – David Crowder

Worship Feast Ideas: 100 Worship Ideas For Postmodern Youth 

Prayer Stations

Easter Prayer Stations 

Three Cups 

Humility Prayer Stations 

Ideas

The Lord’s Prayer: An Interactive Guide 

I love a good, Pentecostal experience with God. But a Pentecostal experience, as I understand it, is one where the Holy Sprit is present and active, and it does not always need to be loud. Loud and exciting is not a doctrine, it’s a preference.

Don’t be afraid to slow things down and challenge kids to reflect on the goodness of God in their lives. These ideas and practices may sound foreign to you, but feel free to add your own ideas to them to make them work for your groups.

If you happen to be Pentecostal, like me, let me encourage you to slow things down a bit. Let’s teach our students, as God taught Elijah, “I am not only in the loud, I am also in the whisper”.  Let’s make sure our band isn’t louder than His voice.

 

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