Arise: Encourage One Another
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25
As I left the National Youth Workers Convention this year, full of new ideas and relationships, renewed passion and focus, this verse kept coming to my mind. This conference was good for me in so many ways, but maybe the thing that stuck out to me the most was the community. People of various walks of life, denominations, personal experiences, and opinions all coming together for a common cause- our call to love and minister to students. It was so good to be around others who love and care for students the way I do and to know that I am not alone in what sometimes feels like a fruitless endeavor. I was encouraged, challenged, affirmed, and loved by those I encountered. In a calling that can often feel isolating and misunderstood, at NYWC I found myself connected and known. To worship in community that God that gave us all life and our callings is a powerful experience and one that brought me to tears each time.
I am still processing all that I heard and saw during the event, but there are a few additional things that initially have stood out to me as I reflect upon the conference.
“You must do the worship before you do the work.”
Speaker Albert Tate’s challenge hit home for many including myself. It’s a powerful and convicting reminder that before we are youth workers we are followers of Jesus Christ and praising and spending time with Him is our first and highest calling of all. Do be most effective in our calling we must spend time with the one who called us. It is easy to get caught up in the machine that is youth ministry and neglect the Lord in the process. Praise must come before program.
The focus on Parents.
So many of the workshops I attended included pieces on the importance of working with and ministering to parents. For so many of us in youth ministry our logical focus is on our students, which is should be. However, we sometimes overlook the parents and the opportunity and duty we have to connect, encourage, challenge, and partner with them as we minister to their kids. We need to remember that parents have the most time and influence on their kids in their overall life choices, including those of faith. Within a healthy and appropriate partnership, we must do what we can to help parents guide their kids in spiritual matters. As youth workers we must make sure our scope of ministry includes parents.
How can we be involved with and support the local schools?
This is a great question and I appreciated the various speakers and organizations who spoke on this topic and encouraged by the tremendous impact they are having in schools across the country. It caused me to think about my own ministry and the multiple school systems our students are connected to and what our relationship is like with them. How often am I on a school campus at a sporting event, musical, play? How many of the local teachers, coaches, and principals do I know and know me? We often challenge students to be Jesus to their friends at school, but how often do we grace those same hallways and fields to support them in that endeavor? What do we do to support our local schools and those who work there?
I greatly appreciate the YS staff and volunteers for hosting a great conference. From the great speakers and worship leaders, challenging workshops, and the availability of the staff to come along side youth workers to support us in what we feel God calling us to do. I look forward to deepening the relationships that I started at the conference and inserting the new ideas that I gained into my ministry this year and for years to come. I plan on making YS an annual event for myself and my youth leaders.
Already looking forward to Memphis in 2017!
Frank Newburn is a husband, father of 3, and youth director for Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, IL. His ministry focuses include mentoring and discipleship, student leadership, and missions and has over 25 years of youth ministry experience. You can contact Frank at FNEWBURN@WESLEY-UMC.COM or check out his ministry at HTTP://WESLEY-UMC.COM/WESLEY/INDEX.PHP/GET-CONNECTED/YOUTH.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.