Is your youth ministry’s future looking any clearer? I hope so. Yesterday we talked about how our attitude could indicate our future and today I want to share the importance of a balanced ministry, family, and personal life as indicators to your youth ministry’s future. Uncertainty is a toil of the minds leading to physical and emotional exhaustion. Balance was one of the missing pieces to my life. I spent too many nights at the church, too much time in unnecessary meetings, and too little time with God and my family. You could have seen my soul becoming bankrupt a mile away but I was too close to see that.
The lack of balance in my life caused friction at home, friction at church, and friction in my soul. There was no release but though prayer as it should be. This chaos was of my own doing and planning and the devil simply took advantage of it. What does my life look like now compared to then?
Balance In The Home
If there is a constant in the Turner homes it is family game night. Many of our funniest memories can be traced to sitting around a table playing Phase 10 or Monopoly and a few other games in-between. I reclaimed this time by not being persistent on saving the world. I thought if I filled my calendar with Friday Night outreaches or Saturday Night game nights for youth group somehow souls that were “won” would balance out the nagging emptiness I felt all around me. My wife told me early on in our marriage that her greatest fear is that I would choose the ministry over the family and for a short time those fears were realized until God’s grace gave me a second chance I’ve never looked back .
My son and I have recently gotten into the habit of staying up later and talking and watching movies. I love those times with him because I am still sowing towards our future relationship where we both will reap. I want all of my three kids to be my friends when I grow older so I have to balance life now to see that future achieved.
Balance In The Calendar
I plan like I eat. I try to make sure the last bite of my main dish coincides with my last bite of my side dish. OCD? May be, but I see it as balancing my plate. I balance my my ministry the way I balance my plate with equal portions of Evangelism, Worship Experiences, Deep Bible Study, and Service Projects. These qualities are important to me and serve as a balanced diet every teenagers should have and I think it’s how disciples grow in faith.
From what we know from the scriptures, Jesus took his disciples through equal portions of the spiritual life.
Small Groups on the Mount of Transfiguration and prayer in the garden of Eden.
Large teaching on the mount with The Beattitudes
Evangelism through sending out the 72
Jesus led his disciples on a balanced journey of faith.
A youth ministry that is struggling may think that doing nothing but outreach/evangelism to reach more kids will work, and it may in the short term hut what of all those kids who prayed a prayer but never received follow up?. What of the youth ministry whose event driven calendar to keep the masses happy but lacks other areas of faith and spiritual growth? The the future of such an unbalanced ministry is at best predictable (when the events stop, so do the kids) and at worse spiritually decaying (they see past the events and smell that the emperor has no clothes). A balances ministry may not lead to quick, steroid like growth but in the end you will have kids who will grown slow and steady in the faith.
Note: I’d love to help you achieve balance in your life and ministry, feel free to send me your calendar ( at the firstname.lastname@example.org) or would like to chat about your goals, just let me know.
Balance In Your Personal Life
Like me, you probably value your personal time. My time is balanced between work, family, play, and solitude. I do my best to leave work at work but ministry is like toilet paper on your shoe, it follows you even when you don’t know it. The older I get the more solittude I need. To achieve the things God has put on my heart I need more solitude not more business. My quiet times with God are so important to me because I know now what I did not realize then, is that He is in control, not I and the temptations to just “phone it in” lurks around the corner.
I recently finished reading a biography of Bob Dylan called Dylan by Dennis McDougal . Although I did not grow up in the time of Dylan, I still appreciate his music. In his book McDougal quotes one of Dylan’s many life partners,
“According to Ruth, Bib dismissed true believers as easily as lovers. All he saw from the lip of the stage was a sea of anonymous faces. He (Dylan) clocked in each night as if he’s drawn the graveyard shift. Occasionally, he played from the heart, but more often he just manufactured widgets on a musical assembly line.”
This could be me. Any of us. Our youth groups and churches becomes anonymous faces rather than people and we can phone in our preaching and our work as if it made no difference at all. My hope is that a well balance life keeps me passionate about what I do and I don’t succumb to “making widgets” when I should be doing my best work. My hope is that the solitude I keep, much like Jesus did, will produce moments such as when Jesus stood above Jerusalem and wept. Jesus cried and declared how much he wanted to gather them (his people) up like a mother hen and protect them.
Is your life in balance? It’s snot too late to take a hard look at it and right the ship.
What do you use to keep your family life in balance?
What tools or practices do you use to balance your calendar?
Draw a circle and divide it into a pie. Now, write down the five spiritual aspects of the Christian life you believe are important to the growth of a young believer. Now, look at your next 6 months of programming and put a percentage next to each of those aspects of how much time and attention you’re giving or plan to give to those aspects in your ministry. What is this telling you about the results you’ve been getting?
Everything In my pie chart does not have to be equal, but it does have to have balance. If I am doing an outreach a month to get kids to come and know Jesus, do I also have a small group to put them in to grow? If I have narcissistic kids how much am I offering service projects? Or outreach opportunities?
What practices do you use to create at time of solitude?