One responsibility I’ve taken very seriously in youth ministry over the years is leadership development and oversight of our volunteers and leaders. My favorite part of the whole process is the face-to-face, one-on-one conversations I get to have with many of our volunteers. I love helping them discover how God has created them and how they can uniquely put their gifts in play.
Being that we are right smack dab in the middle of the ministry year there is no better time to get some face time with some of the leaders in your ministry and see how they are doing. The question is, how do you dig in deeper and get past the simple, “so, how are things going?”
One of the strategies I use is simple, yet profoundly effective. Think about it this way, when you think of a scale of 1 to 10, a ten is always the best, right? Not so fast. What if a ten wasn’t the best and quite frankly not even the goal at all?
Here’s how it works. What I do is I simply ask people to tell me where they are on a scale of 1 to 10. But listen carefully because this is what the numbers signify.
1 – “I am so glad we were able to meet. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know I really don’t like working with teenagers. They are crazy, loud, disrespectful, smelly, and quite frankly I don’t even think they are human. This is my resignation.”
5 – “I am right on the money. I am serving the right amount and I feel like I am doing what I am good at. I think I found my place. Teenagers are crazy, loud, disrespectful, smelly, and quite frankly I don’t even think they are human! And that’s why I love working with them!”
10 – “I have more time on my hands. My job is flexible, I can lead, I can do things outside of programmed nights. Teenagers are crazy, loud, disrespectful, smelly, and quite frankly I don’t even think they are human! And I want to invest more of myself into this ministry. Give me more! Use me!”
It is my goal to help all of our volunteers be a 5.
If someone is below a 5, how can you help them scale back or find another ministry in your church to serve in? Or maybe you need to be the one to look at them and lovingly help them take a break from serving for a season.
If someone is above a 5, and they are a trusted person on your team, how can you help them step in further? Is there a leadership opportunity for them? Can they help you launch something you’ve always wanted to launch?
See, being a 1 is all too common in ministry. We get consumed with doing ministry, dwindle down the scale, burn out, and end up a 1.
But being a 10 for too long can be just as destructive as being a 1. There are people in your ministry ready to be called in deeper. The kingdom advancing is too important for us to allow people’s gifts to go unused.
I love it when I get to help people scale back or step out because they are being healthy and wise with their lives. I also love it when I get to help people jump in even further.
Happy New Year! Now go love on some of your volunteers.
ROB BERGMAN is the Pastor of Youth Ministries at The Crossing, a multi-site church in St. Louis, MO. Rob has served in youth ministry for 15 years and has a passion for leading, strategizing, and teaching students, volunteers, and other youth pastors. Through those passions he has had the privilege of writing, speaking, and coaching through various national and global youth ministry organizations. He is married to Rachel and they have two elementary aged kids, Caden and Claire. You can keep up with him online on Instagram @RGB.3 or twitter @ROBBERGMAN.
If you have worked with young people for any amount of time, you’ve learned that, well, they’re pretty selfish. No, not all of them. There are a few rarities that have a heart to give, sacrifice and serve. But let’s be honest, that’s not the norm. At least it wasn’t in our group. Years ago, we had the typical group of teens and pre-teens who, for the most part, thought only of themselves. We knew something had to change if we were serious about recreating the heart of Jesus in a, “What about me?” culture.
The final straw for me came right after a disappointing response to a back-to-school supply drive. Despite the heavy promotion and “change the world” presentation, the result was the same as past missional attempts… poor. I was deflated. Why don’t these kids care? Where’s the desire to impact the world? So, I did what any good leader would, or should, do. I quit blaming the kids and evaluated our program. I mean good, thorough, scary, HONEST evaluation. What we saw wasn’t good.
Here’s what we found.
Our past projects primarily revolved around the obligatory giving holiday times. What happened was that we ended up with, “Seasonal Givers,” which taught kids to give only during the holidays. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Jesus didn’t wait until His birthday to fight the crowds to give that perfect gift.
Our other attempts were sudden, rare and HUGE! We would hit them out of nowhere with a cause bigger than the world itself. We would give an inspiring message, show frightening stats, sad pictures and then announce a “Spirit-led” goal that was bound to fail. Before you start to write your, “Why do you have such little faith?” reply, let me assure you that yes, we are an Ephesians 3:20 church. We believe God can do far beyond what our little group could imagine. But, we also didn’t give reality a fair place in our plan and left kids with another, “We fell a little short” experience.
So, one day, God sparked an idea in my heart. Baby steps! It was so simple, so elementary that I almost refused it. In fact, when I shared it with my team some of them actually suggested it would never work. They felt even in its simplicity, kids would never do it. But, we knew we had to change the DNA of our ministry. We knew we had to do something, so we tried it. And it worked! I mean REALLY worked!
Ready for this? Here’s all we did.
We gave it a title.
It needed to be simple so kids could grasp it. So, we just called it the “Help Ministry.” Yep, that’s it. We made a simple logo and had it printed up on small tithing envelopes. We bought a clear plastic bin with a slot in the top and put it on the stage. And here was our profound introductory presentation: “Every week I want you to put just one dollar in an envelope and drop it in this bin. We have “X” amount of kids every week. If each of you give just one dollar, at the end of the month we will have “X” amount of dollars. We’re gonna take that money and give it to someone who needs our help.”
That on-ramp was the start to one of the biggest programs our group has ever created. It quickly went from one dollar to two. Eventually, we started seeing fives and tens. Parents were telling me that their kids were asking them for chores to raise money for the “Help ministry” (and asking if there really was such a thing). Kids were bringing me stories of people that we might be able to help. It was happening!
Keep Students Informed
One of the ways we make this effective and exciting is by keeping them informed. Every time we deliver a check to a family, without naming them, we stand on stage and say “This month you helped a family keep their electric on, buy school clothes, etc.” At times we’ve read a note the recipient gave us to share their gratitude. It’s an amazing feeling to watch formerly selfish kids cheer and clap when they hear what they have done to impact real lives. Oh, and another thing is, we prefer these families or individuals not even be part of our own church or even a believer! We don’t want our kids to think, “Church people” are the only ones deserving of church compassion.
We’ve even begun a spin-off ministry called H.O.T.R (Help On The Road). We’ve taken funds and gone out into the community to physically work with Habitat For Humanity, purchase materials and work on someone’s aging home, and provide bikes for a small housing area. Everything has changed for us.
Demonstrate the Collective Power of the Church
In my opinion, one of the greatest things this ministry has done is teach them the collective power of the church. We’ve shown them what happens when God’s people come together to live out the Great Commission in Matthew 28. We’ve shown them how simple, how exciting and how contagious a selfless heart can be.
I can’t guarantee this works for your group. In fact, not every single kid is on board with us yet. But we can smile at the progress we’ve made and how God has begun to change these young hearts. We just had to meet them where they were and go back to baby steps. Sometimes the “Simple” will be the biggest difference maker. It was for us.
Earl Henning has spent the last 15 years at Cypress Point Community Church in Tampa, Florida as the full-time Youth Pastor, Young Adults Pastor and leads the Care Ministry. He has been married to Nicholle for almost 23 years, has 2 amazing daughters who are attending college, and a brand new mini-Dachsund! He’s passionate about family, playing music, gym-time and has a Converse collection that’s borderline “obsessive”.
We want the absolute best for our kids, don’t we? We want them to be happy, to be well-adjusted, to find loving friends and spouses, to find meaningful work, and don’t forget- to pay their own bills.
But how confident are you that your kids are headed in the right direction?
I remember the first time I felt like a real adult— it was when my wife (then girlfriend) and I went to a jewelry store to look into buying an engagement ring. We were only 22 years old, and I was convinced that someone from the back of the store was going to confront us and demand to know why we thought we belonged there.
There were other significant moments, too: the first time I rented a car, the first time I signed loan documents, and the first time my wife had an ultrasound. It was a weird feeling- I knew I was doing adult-like things, but inside I still felt like I was playing pretend.
What defines an adult?
Is it someone who is over 18 years old?
Is an adult someone who has graduated college?
Are you an adult when you can pay your own bills?
The judicial system says you’re an adult at 18, the car companies say you’re an adult at 25, and the airlines say you’re an adult at 2 (they make you pay for your own seat, at least).
But just because your age has crossed a threshold, does that mean you’re a true adult?
We’ve been paying a lot of attention over the past few years to learn about the process and developmental thresholds that define adulthood. Whether it’s students in high school making life decisions about what to do after they graduate, or college students taking steps towards a career, or even transitioning military redesigning their lives post-service, the struggles through those transitions are really hard to get a clear glimpse of what life could look like. Ultimately, all those life stages are about growing up, something few people are taught how to do.
We’ve put together a checklist of internal and external attributes someone needs to master in order to grow up well. The items on the list are meant to define what a successful, happy, healthy, and thriving adult looks like.
Parents and educators are using the checklist to get feedback for progress.
Young people are using the checklist to see where they still need to grow.
We’re using The Checklist to design our program- the items you see are the outcomes we see after students finish the YouSchool.
Take a peek at THE LIST— do a self-evaluation. Ask some friends what they think about you. See where you might still need to grow. We know, implicitly, that most people don’t yet have these qualities or attributes. We also know that our young people today will NEVER be able to grow into these things until and unless they have those qualities demonstrated for them by people they know and observe.
I would love to have a conversation with you about the checklist, how we might be able to help your kids (or students) grow up into the kinds of people we all hope they become. Give me a call, shoot me an email, or comment below.
Scott Schimmel is a master at helping people grow. As President & Chief Guide of YouSchool, he is responsible for leading the charge, ensuring that everything we do delivers on our mission and vision. After spending over ten years in a non-profit helping college students become world changers, Scott is deeply aware of the challenges students face when stepping into the professional world. This is why he’s invested his time guiding young people.”
I can remember back to my high school days when we would go to Prom or Homecoming dances, and you would always see those poor teachers being roped into helping by “chaperoning” the dance. They would stand off to the side while all the students had a great time dancing and having fun. Unfortunately, their concern (at least the way it appeared) was that they were forced to be there, and they just made sure you didn’t do anything illegal. I fear that chaperoning has made its way into youth ministry and infected good ministry philosophy by becoming “normal” or “common” amongst youth leader expectations. The biggest focus as a youth leader should be sharing your life with students, not sitting on the sidelines making sure they just don’t do something bad. It’s distant and doesn’t provide any merit to speak into their lives.
1. Stellvertretung – a crescendo of youth leading
In Andrew Root’s book, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker he discovers and illuminates this word called “Stellvertretung.” In his words, it means “place-sharing” in German. It was a quintessential piece to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s youth ministry philosophy. Root shares in this book the action of this word. To share your life of Christ with others through the way you live. That you would engage and love people in a way that was “viciously” emulating Christ. Bonhoeffer spent a fair amount of time in a city where he was teaching some young boys catechism related material. He decided to move to this side of town, which was rather ghetto and dangerous so that he could be around his boys more. He even left his apartment open for the boys to hang out in after school. This was Stellvertretung, he was creating a space in which he could share his lives with these students. They were able to not just laugh but cry with him, as he was immensely a part of their lives. I have learned very quickly that unless your ministry has a sense of Stellvertretung, you aren’t really developing meaningful relationships with students, you are just yelling concepts that won’t have any weight to them because you are lacking an intimate relationship with them. I have been incredibly passionate about teaching the youth leaders to model this idea of Stellvertretung. That in order to be a fantastic youth leader you have to be integral to their lives, not just a “chaperone” on the sidelines.
2. Belonging > Believing
Rich Richardson wrote a book called Reimagining Evangelism. It’s a phenomenal book in which he argues that our philosophy in ministry, especially in youth ministry, should model that we focus more on belonging to a community than just believing. That we would inculcate a community where students want to be a part of it, regardless if they believe in Jesus or not. It focuses on building bridges instead of walls and encourages instead of ostracizes. When a student is able to feel like they belong to an authentic community, it helps them be much more receptive to what we believe and experience about Jesus. We start to see people as people, not just salvation projects. When youth leaders model this, they create intimacy in relationships where they can share their humanity with others in a way that reveals not just their triumphs but their struggles and weaknesses. It illuminates the authenticity that we have in following Jesus. That we would attempt to reveal God’s community in their lives by caring for the actual person, not just their salvation. If a youth leader focuses their energy and diligence on creating a community with both believers and unbelievers, it encourages us to share our problems and brokenness, not just the facade we often present to the world. This tears down a lot of walls and allows us to just love people for who they are. Believing can come later.
3. People > Program
Relationships, or should I just plainly say people, are the quintessential piece of the “why” behind our calling as youth workers and volunteers. I had spent a fair amount of time in internships where I was a part of some pretty awesome programming. We would do big scale events, plan like crazy, get the t-shirt and the hashtag and spend a ton of time and money on (usually) a one-day event. I got caught up in the push for programming and so did the youth leaders. It is so easy to just start doing and stop asking “why?” Sometimes the most joyful and successful ministry I have been a part of was the simplest, or even most unorganized programs.
It is so easy to foster an identity of yourself that is based upon your ministry. When this happens you become dependent on programming instead of people because programming is easier to evaluate and see simple numbers of success. Whereas relationships are hard, sometimes they actually take 5 steps backward before they even take 1 step forward. But relationships are worth it. People are worth it.
When youth workers and leaders become obsessed with programming (and just doing) over people, we start to think of relationships as projects, not people. We start to be disillusioned to our mandate as Christ-followers to foster authentic community where students can be themselves and learn from other youth leaders. Where they have someone to listen to them, that they would be heard and have a voice. I constantly have to pray and quite frankly preach to myself that students are more important than the awesome event I throw. It’s easy for a youth leader to come to a mid-week program and just sit on the sidelines. It takes work to engage with students because we are messy people, and have a ton of dirt to deal with. But I assure you that is what youth leading is about. It’s about creating an environment for them to be heard, to grow, and to be loved by someone who is willing to share their lives with them (Stellvertretung).
Most people may only see success in numbers or in the performance of programs. But true success is entering into lifelong relationships with students. To walk alongside students, to show Christ through the way you love them. To go to their soccer games, or drama performances. To wake up at 2 am to pick them up from some stupid party they went to. Or maybe to spend an entire event listening to a troubled teen instead of leading the event. To meet and shepherd the students God has entrusted you with. To motivate and inspire them to be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.
So move from the sidelines to the game. Students need you…. Will you fearlessly enter into their lives with them?
TREY GILMOREis the Pastor of Students at Vail Christian Church in Tucson, where He is currently working through his first year of full-time ministry. He seeks to empower students to become lifelong Christ-followers and to teach, write, and inspire in a way that exhibits the gospel in a profound but simple way. Apart from ministry, He loves fly-fishing, Taco Bell, and thrifting. You can follow him on Instagram, @TREEGILMORE.
Each day is a new day with new possibilities. I know it’s easy to get swallowed up in a million little details and issues, but I need to ask you: are you thinking big enough today?
Our mind and our attitude carry so much weight in terms of potential positive outcomes – it’s amazing! We put our trust in God, get up and jump in.
I just read through John Maxwell’s little book called, The Power Of Thinking Big. Here are some ways you may want to think bigger today:
TRUST IN CHRIST
“The chief way you and I are disloyal to Christ is when we make small what he intended to make large.” – E. Stanley Jones
TRY SOMETHING NEW
“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” – John Maxwell
TAKE A SHOT
“Safe living generally makes for regrets later on.”
A BIG DAY FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES
“The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb it’s routine.”
LOTS OF POTENTIAL IN PEOPLE AROUND YOU
“See your people as they could be, not as they are.” – John Maxwell
WHAT IS YOUR CAUSE
“People will work eight hours a day for pay, ten hours a day for a good boss and 24 hours a day for a good cause.”
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Phil 4:13
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22
Tim Price is the Director of Harvest Ministry Teams, a non-for-profit equipping ministry for young leaders. Based in Troy, IL, Harvest is involved in worship ministry events and training events for students and leaders all over the Midwest. He also serves on staff part-time at Troy United Methodist Church. Tim writes at TIMPRICEBLOG.COM sharing ideas, clarity and insights to help others confidently lead the church they serve. @HMTRESOURCES.
What impact does social media have on youth ministry? Is it something we should use? If so, what social media platforms should we use? Should our youth ministry have it’s own Facebook page? What about Twitter? Or Instagram? Dare we use Snapchat? How can we manage all of these at the same time? It seems like a full-time job to keep track or to take pictures and post them. Who should own this and take the time to make it good? Should we do it if it’s going to be a mediocre effort to connect? Should we just focus on in-person connection? Is social media for connection or information?
If you are reading this right now, the chances are good that you’ve spent some time thinking through the impact that social media has on student ministry. There is really no getting around it. We are social beings, created to be in community, and today that community is increasingly finding itself online. I had a conversation recently with an adult over the age of 50 about the use of Facebook. The response really made me understand the significant difference in generations and the use of social media. This particular individual did not consider community or information or discussion to be online, but rather should happen in person. I was slightly taken aback, because I personally, as a 27-year-old, have had significant interaction and even started friendships and certainly continued friendships through an online community such as Facebook.
The questions at the beginning of this article may not find their answer in this post, but I want to share with you three principles to keep in mind as we approach social media and student ministry. I call them the “ABC’s of Social Media Use in Youth Ministry.”
Assess your situation
Before deciding how or what to use, you have to determine where your students (or your target audience) are. Are they using social media? Do they even have smartphones? In our youth ministry, there is actually a large number of students who don’t have cell phones, let alone smartphones. But then, of those, there are actually a decent amount who have iPods that can do essentially just as much as a smartphone.
What social media platforms are most popular in your student ministry? Many of our students aren’t on Twitter, but most that are anywhere on social media are on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
Are you able to use social media platforms well to increase the Kingdom Impact of your student ministry? This is a question we must ask. If your youth ministry is going to be on social media, it must be done well. Chances are good that your social media presence will be the first thing that a new student sees before they visit. What impression will that give?
Budget your priorities
All of us have certain priorities in our youth ministries. For some, it may be reaching the unreached through a talented band, lights show, performance, and strong, biblical teaching. For others, it may be fellowship through a meal. Much of the budget goes toward providing a meal for students to come and connect. Still, for other ministries it may be having the latest and greatest technology or the best games. All of our ministries have priorities that are hopefully geared toward reaching the lost.
We must budget what is most important. If social media is not a vital or integral aspect of reaching the lost in your community, don’t use it and don’t budget for it. BUT, if it is a huge benefit to getting students to connect with your ministry, for getting students sharing Christ with others on social media and in person, then make certain that it is something that finds its own line item in your youth budget. We all have limited budgets, which is why we must budget our priorities (whether that is social media, technology, meals, curriculum, staff development, student leadership development, etc.).
Consistently do what your students will connect most with
Our ministry is not big enough to employ a youth ministry office coordinator or to be able to have more than one person for the middle school and high school ministry. I am it, other than our great volunteer team. What that means is my time is limited with what I am able to do. If we are unable to use social media well, to enhance rather than hinder our youth ministry, it is not worth the time or the distraction.
Whether social media or not, we must consistently do what students will connect most with. Consistency develops trust, a greater level of engagement, and more buy-in from students. This can happen on social media and it can and should happen person-to-person. If you decide to use social media, determine to use it consistently well.
BEN MARSHALL has served as a Youth Director in Holland, MI since 2014. Prior to that, he served with Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) doing college-age ministry, and worked in a residential psychiatric facility for two years. Ben has a passion for discipling youth and young adults and helping them realize their God-given potential. Ben is married to Connie, and have a baby on the way. He loves playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow Ben on Twitter @BENMARSHALL3 or on his blog at FAITHLIVEDOUT.WORDPRESS.COM.
We must allow teens to fail. Don’t do anything for a teen that they are capable of doing themselves otherwise you will make them emotionally immobilized, always relying on you and not on God.
Failure in the Bible
It is a Biblical principle that Jesus emphasized many times. When Peter asked if he could join Jesus in his walk on the water, Jesus encouraged him to jump right in! (Mathew 14:29). We don’t know exactly what happened next. Maybe Andrew yelled out “Watch out for the wave on the right, Pete!” But for some reason, Peter took his eyes off Jesus, got scared and began to sink. Jesus allowed Peter to learn through failure. Through his failure, he learned to keep his eyes on the Lord.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), the father allowed his son to fail. The father knew the boy would waste his money in riotous living, but he also knew that some things can only be learned through failure. When the son came to his senses, the father was waiting with open arms.
Failure Isn’t Fatal
We need to teach teens that life is not a game with cheerleaders yelling, “Go, Christian, go!” but rather a battlefield. Better that teens fail in the youth group and succeed in the world than vice versa.
Failure is usually not fatal. I think too many times we are too quick to rescue the perishing instead of helping them learn how to swim.
It begins in the elementary years. When a child goes to school but forgets his lunch. What do we do as good parents? We bring them a lunch. Listen, it is a scientifically proven fact that it takes 71 days for a child to starve to death (I just made that up). But it takes a long time. That child is resourceful. They will figure something out. This is called weaning and it is not fun for the weaner or the weanee but we have to do it.
Working Through Pain Rather Than Removing It
We often overreact to pressure in a teen’s life. Especially pressure that is causing pain and we can relive it. Instead of helping them work through the pain we too quickly try to remove them from it.
Jesus used this principle in developing His 12. After lecturing on the subject of faith, Jesus took his disciples out in a boat to face a humongous storm (Luke 8:22-25). The disciples panicked. Where was Jesus? He was asleep on the bottom of the boat. He knew what was happening. They woke Jesus up, yelling, “We are all going to drown!” (v.24). Jesus then calmed the sea and turning to them said, “Where is your faith?” (v. 25). It suddenly dawned on the disciples why they needed those lessons on how to have faith: They didn’t have any!
Too often we are so anxious to share our great wealth of knowledge with our teens in our group that we fail to help them see why they need the information.
I am thrilled with the increased interest in “stress camping” in recent years. It allows teens to stretch themselves in many areas and to rely on God in times of difficulty. Stress-camping principles can be used with bicycling, canoeing, rock climbing, repelling, solo camping, etc. An important part of the stress-camping experience is the time each individual spends with other group members, evaluating what occurred in her life during the experience—her victories and her defeats. These teens are allowed to fail and yet experience the loving response of the group.
What we can learn from the emperor moth
There is a story of a man who found the cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily.
But the moth had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Freedom and flight would only come after struggle. By depriving the moth of struggle, he deprived the moth of health. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need. If God went through life removing all the obstacles, He would cripple us.
Les Christie has been in paid youth ministry for 50 years. He chairs the youth ministry department at William Jessup University and has spoken at each NATIONAL YOUTH WORKERS CONVENTION for 37 years. He’s the author of seventeen books, including Best-Ever Games for Youth Ministry. Les has spoken in 19 countries and in every state but Alaska. Les loves God and kids and is a passionate, enthusiastic speaker.
In a culture that seems to praise innovation and creative ideas, it seems like a lot of youth ministries can get stuck. Stuck in a routine of programs and events. Things of the past that were once successful, but now seem to be mundane and dull.
As we approach a new year, we have an opportunity to change the status quo. We have the opportunity to bring excitement, energy, and life to our ministries.
New Years always seems to be a time of reevaluating our personal lives, where we are, where we want to be, and setting up goals on how to get there. Why not take some time to do the same for your ministry?
For most, it goes without saying that there is value in taking time to consider the effectiveness of your ministry. But for some, it still seems to be a missing ingredient in their ministry routine.
Why do you do what you do?
A few weeks ago, I was convicted and humbled while listening to Francis Chan teaching about what the church could and should look like. He said something along the lines of “If you had no previous knowledge or experience to go off of, and you simply read the bible, what would a church plant look like?”
This statement was sobering for me. As I meditated on my specific context of youth ministry, I began to ask myself why I do certain things. As I continued to dwell on these questions, I feel like I had a solid biblically based reason for the things our ministry was doing. But what I needed to be careful of was thinking that the way that we were doing things was the best way, or, more importantly, God’s way.
What would a revamped ministry look like for you? What would outreach look like if you could start over? Discipleship? Worship? If you started from scratch, simply seeking God’s will for your ministry, would it look like what it looks like now?
This is a challenging spot to be in. As I found out, there are reasons for the things we do, but I would love to give you some options to help you begin to imagine a new look and feel for your ministry.
Mix up responsibility.
Depending on the size and gifts of your staff/volunteer leadership team, you might be able to redistribute some tasks. I have learned over the past few months of ministry and new responsibilities that I am gifted and excited about some things that I wouldn’t have considered doing previously.
Talk to people.
Talk to people in different ministries about things that are working. Having a network of like-minded people working in a different setting toward the same goal can give you insight to the culture, what type of ministry events are being effective in other areas (CAUTION: You can’t just assume that if it works somewhere else, it will work with you. You must dig deep to find out WHY it is working).
Bring in fresh eyes.
Our ministry recently brought in a consultant to look at our team, how we work together and individually in light of our programming. Having a consultant come in brought about both major and minor changes to our ministry that we may have otherwise not implemented. The most important thing about bringing in fresh eyes (especially if it is a professional, i.e. someone you are paying), you must not only hear what they say but be ready and willing to make the suggested changes.
This should be an obvious step, but I know that I am guilty of not praying about the structure of our regular programming. I know that we have done things a certain way for a while, so it doesn’t even cross my mind that I should change it.
Get the students involved.
Ask them what they love about your weekly programming. Ask them what they would change if they were in charge. Ask them what their least favorite aspect of your programming is. Ask them for permission to change things. Obviously, you are in charge of a lot of these aspects of your ministry, and you make the call as a leader, but students are usually hesitant to change, especially if they are not a part of the process.
These things may be some good first steps. Be careful not to over correct by making sudden, large changes. This may cause confusion and pushback among students, even if it is a good change. Make smaller, more subtle changes in which the end result is the large change you are looking for.
For me, the key is remembering that obedience is the key. Being prepared to respond to the voice or promptings of the Holy Spirit. We have all been entrusted with a great responsibility to lead and shepherd these students toward the heart of God. Let’s do that with excellence.
Tyler Suplee works with Junior High Students at Grace Fellowship UMC in Katy TX. He is married to his wife Christina, and they have one dependent, their dog Buster. You can find him on Instagram @TSUPLEE.
Why do I do ministry?
It is a hard question to pinpoint sometimes. Usually, we are just led by the Holy Spirit in that way or maybe we have some deep interaction with God. However, I find myself at a crossroad, where I need to remind my own spirit, Why I do Ministry.
As I was preparing for my sermon this past Sunday morning, I prayed that God would not give me a hard topic to preach. I did not want hurt feelings or for anyone to “feel” that I was preaching at them. But I was reminded of what a good friend told me, “It’s you and God, not you and the congregation”. So in preparing, I kept reminding myself of this and God asked me “What are you investing in?”
Why I love being a youth pastor
As a youth pastor, I love the teens I minister to. They are like my own family, nieces and nephews; actually one of them really is blood family. I am accountable to them and they are accountable to me. If we look in scripture, James 5:16 says,
“Confess your faults to one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
I pray that my relationship with those teenagers is one where they are comfortable enough to come and tell me their problems, that they ask my opinion, and that they know I will tell them the truth but also correct them, as Jesus said in Luke 17:3. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Correction must be done with Love, but correction must happen in our lives.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”
Correction must be done with Love, but correction must happen in our lives.
Why I love being a worship pastor
As a worship pastor, I LOVE music, it has been a big part of my entire life. I enjoy southern gospel, the hymnals and praise and worship! It’s all about God, why should I not enjoy it all? Do I enjoy some songs more than others? Yes, I enjoy coca cola more than I do sweet tea, but they both satisfy my thirst. I could insert hundreds of scriptures on worship here, but one that keeps me grounded is Matthew 4:9-11: “And saith unto him, All these things will I give
“And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
Here Jesus is in the wilderness and being tempted by Satan, to bow down and worship him and he will give him all of the kingdoms of the world. As I look at this I am humbled by Jesus reaction to Satan. You see, we all have been given the opportunity by Satan to have the glory of earthly pleasures, but it’s when we truly realize that the Glory we should be seeking, can only come from the Heavenly Father. That when we come into a true form of worship to God, we will be ministered to and experience God in a way like we never have before!
So why do I do ministry?
Well, hopefully, I have explained myself clearly enough. However, I minister because I am led by the Holy Spirit, because I have had those unexplained, overwhelming experiences with God! Because I want to invest in something other than my own agenda, like my teens and my worship team! There is something incredible in seeing people that you have poured into, experience the supernatural POWER OF GOD. Finally, it’s simply because God told me to, and that is enough for me.
Brandi Lumley is an associate, worship and youth pastor, wife and mother. Her passion in ministry is to empower youth and college students to be bold in their relationship with God.
All good things must come to an end. Whether your intern was so good you wanted to adopt them into your family, or if it’s hard to hide the smile on your face when their departure is mentioned, you still have a job to do as the internship comes to an end. There are a few steps that you can take to ensure a smooth exit process for both the church as well as the intern. Here is how to send out an intern with excellence.
Hopefully along the way you have been sitting down regularly with your intern giving them both formal and informal evaluation. After they have had the opportunity to lead you can give them a few pointers and coach them to do better the next time. As the internship is coming to a close, it would be beneficial to write a formal evaluation of the intern on areas such as; personal work habits, adherence to work requirements, relationships with people, functioning within expected roles, and supervisor relationship. Go over this evaluation and help the intern learn through this process.
Before going into the exit interview determine the purpose. For some organizations, the purpose is to provide feedback to the intern but you could use the exit interview as a means of improving your organization and internship in the future. Ask questions to see if expectations were met. Find out what the interns least favorite activity or experience was while they were with you. Ask, “If you took over for me tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would work at changing?” Allow time for the intern to respond and listen for ways to better serve your interns in the future.
If your company is able to send your intern off with a financial bonus this will communicate the value they were to your team. Do not think of the bonus as a severance package but rather think of this as a blessing for their hard work. In years past we have even given two bonuses to our intern. One bonus we give them for their performance and another bonus we give them to propel themselves into future ministry.
As your intern moves on to the next thing, take a few minutes to write out a reference letter for them. While their work and attitude remain fresh in your mind take the time to craft your thoughts into a reference letter. You could give them this reference to include with their resume or you could just keep it on file for their future employers. You could ask your intern for a reference letter for your organization about their experience in your company. You could also ask your intern for a few suggestions of people you could look into for future hires.
A week or so after your intern has moved on, follow up with them to see how their transition has been going. Ask if there is anything they need from you and if you can do anything to help. This follow up after they have left is a great way to show that you really do care for them and not just the work they were doing for your organization.
With intentionality, you can send out your intern with excellence. This will give you and your company a great reputation and will help you in recruiting the best interns for years to come.
Corey Jones is the lead children’s pastor of Southern Hills Christian Church in Carrollton, Georgia. In his spare time, you can find him at a local coffee shop or fighting crime in Gotham. Corey wants to encourage and equip those around him and can be found on social media at @COREYRAYJONES.