umbrella1I realize the title of this post is a bit invasive.

It assumes you’re hiding a particular sin. 

I once worked with someone who thought this way and spoke out often on the subject. He’d say to just about anyone, “I really have a hard time believing that you’re not hiding something sinful.”

Can you imagine what it was like for our leadership team to hear that all the time?

Then again, his candor rallied against the apathy most Christians seem to have toward one another’s secret sins. It almost seems like we have a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in church circles when it comes to the things we struggle with.

Maybe we fear if we hold someone accountable to their secret sins, they’ll hold us accountable to our own.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

John MacArthur said, “Those who sin secretly actually intensify their guilt, because they add the sin of hypocrisy to their offense.” Others have added that who you are when no one is looking is who you really are.

That may all be true, but all those statements seem to do is pile more guilt upon an area of your life that you may already feel guilty in.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

isawthatHere’s what I’ve observed:

  • It’s easier to live life compartmentalized versus integrated: One of our youth leaders mentioned how a particular carload of teens that came each week had two CDs in their car: one CD was labeled, “Wednesday night” and contained Christian music; the other CD had no label and contained songs riddled with with profanity, sex-talk and more. We could assume this is true of students, but the truth is most get their cues on a duplicitous life from us.
  • Intentional sin is more common than we care to admit: In every prayer circle, we hear people generally ask for support with their “struggles.” Seldom (if ever) do we hear someone say, “I plan on sinning this week, despite what God says about it. Here’s what I’ll be doing and when.” I wouldn’t assume (like my former co-worker did) that everyone is out to live like this, but wouldn’t you agree that it’s probably more the case than we assume it to be?
  • Nothing will collectively change unless someone individually models something more authentic: Present your own life on display as someone who is letting God work in areas that you’re likewise resisting Him. Talk about why between the two choices you’re still erring on the side of God’s best versus your mess. You may need to filter some of what you share to students, but make sure there are some peers who know the whole story so they can hold you accountable.

Again, assuming you have any secret sins.

What have you learned about this area of Christendom that we overlook – sometimes on purpose?

Any thoughts?

Sexting-PhoneSexting.

You can talk about this until you’re blue in the face. Still, a large majority of teens and adults see nothing wrong with it:

“Our only way of being alone was to do it over the phone.” – one teen, about why she began sexting

It doesn’t help that people students look up to find a reason to justify such pictures, even in the midst of public embarrassment. Consider Jennifer Lawrence’s response after pictures of here were leaked online last fall:

“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

Toss in a variety of other behaviors…

texting while driving…

pornography online…

cyberbullying…

all of it is contained within this infographic:
teen-online-dangers-infographic

So what do we do?

What about using curriculum, like the Pure Sex materials?

Have you found this can help?

Feeling like throwing in the towel on sexting and more?

Have you had any successes or failures in addressing this with students?



It’s one thing to desire to be in leadership…it’s another to actually lead people.

As I watch other leaders, consider my own life in leadership or think about all the people I have had on my staff, there are some common denominators in those that are effective in leadership. I can also think of a few commonalities I see hindering effective leadership. These are often missed at first glance, but over time they are usually seen clearly by those that open their eyes.

There are many definitions of leadership, but the one I refer to the most is: Leaders get people to do things they never wanted to do, and like it.

This definition has the idea of being able to positively effect someone’s actions AND desires. These leaders can get to the heart of someone in ways that cause movement. From a spiritual leadership position, where we view this as being used by God for His kingdom purposes, this is a lot of fun. Mature leaders are hard to come by sometimes, but we have some phenomenal leaders in the Church today. That said, there are also a bunch of “wanna-be” leaders that inevitably hinder their own leadership potential by thinking wrongly in the following 2 ways:

  1. They take themselves more seriously than their work. Effective leaders take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves that seriously. This allows them to encourage other people to lead and empower creativity/ingenuity in others. If leaders take themselves too seriously, they protect their position and seek to control what other people are doing through either micro-management or overly assigning things to do. This would be, at best, a manager – not a leader.
  2. They think they need a position to lead well. I know a lot of people who think they need to have a position before they can lead effectively. Granted, we do need a voice in people’s lives to positively effect them, but our lives are what give us that voice. If a position is required to lead people, you are not a leader. This mentality will actually hinder your leadership in the long-run.

What do you think? Have you seen either of these characteristics in yourself…?

The big game is Sunday, Feb. 1st. Game time is also when lots of youth groups regularly meet. What to do, what to do?

REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE A YOUTH SUPERBOWL PARTY:

  • You meet anyway. Why not?
  • Its generally pretty low key planning-wise.
  • Students like being invited to a SB Party since everyone around them is having one.
  • It could be a great draw for inactive or guest youth.
  • Lots of opportunity for subtle “this is how we live as believers” conversations.
  • Resources are available to give it a Christian formation component. (edutopia.org, iamsecond.com, fca.org

REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE A YOUTH SUPERBOWL PARTY:

  • Depending on where you live, many students don’t really care about the game themselves.
  • Younger youth get quickly bored with the game/event unless there are other things to do.
  • What do you do about some of the inappropriate commercials?
  • This is often a big family event. Do we want to interfere with that?
  • This is a great church-wide event. Do we want to interfere with that?
  • This is a day you could give your youth adults a “day off.”

I’m not going to give you my opinion because it all depends on your church and your circumstances. I’m just putting this here for you to think about. Either way, if you haven’t decided by now…you need to.

Stephanie



Chameleon Youth Pastor

 —  January 20, 2015 — Leave a comment

Many people have asked me to share with them the best methods of gathering and engaging students in a youth group so that they may come to understand and experience God in a powerful and deeper way. The word that comes to mind here is…chameleon! Webster Dictionary defines a chameleon Ambanja Panther Chameleonas: a type of lizard that can change the color of its skin to look like the colors that are around it.

I always encourage youth pastors to be like a chameleon. Being a chameleon pastor means constantly adapting to the change in students, culture, and society, without compromising your biblical foundation. This means changing HOW YOU DO MINISTRY but NOT WHO YOU ARE AS A YOUTH PASTOR. I believe this idea of a “chameleon mindset” will help you stay true to yourself and help you develop creativity, innovation, and personal growth within your ministry.

Having a chameleon mindset:

1) No need to “Keep up with the Kardashians”or Justin Bieber, but it is important for you to be aware of social media and current events that the students are following. You need to be relevant to relate to your students and to have conversation starters.

2) No need to wear skinny jeans or have Beats headphones. Students don’t want you to cramp their style by trying so much to look like them, but it is important to have a style that fits best for you and your context.

3) No need to be their BFF- do not forget that you are their pastor. But it is important to be connected and build up relationships with the students.

4) No need to be a celebrity pastor, like Kurt or Rick, but it is important to be well prepared and equipped to minister and provide the best culturally relevant worship service or gatherings.

5) No need to look for the “next big thing”…Samsung got that covered. It is important to always search and be aware of the next thing for youth but YOU ALREADY HAVE THE BEST… JESUS! Seek His Word and guidance.

Serving alongside with you,

Estevao “Steve” Yu

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Hey #ymnation Happy New Year!!! This new year we are committed to keeping the show 20min. We are mindful of your time, and love sharing what we’re learning with you. If our show has been helpful to you I would love for you to share and Subscribe!!!!!!

The three principles:

1. Don’t over think, but think.
2. It’s about them, not you.
3. The comparison game is a killer.

Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt



Be a Ghostbuster!

 —  January 16, 2015 — Leave a comment

Let me ask you a question: Are there ghosts in your church? Ever glimpse the fleeting shadow of times gone by flitting through the halls?

I don’t mean ghosts like in Casper or Nearly Headless Nick. Real ghosts aren’t…well, real. What I’m talking about are the roaming, almost hallowed, spirits of “pastors past.” A strange dynamic I see in assessing churches’ youth ministries: There is never a better youth director, pastor, ministry, program, yada-yada than the one that “used to be here.”

The reality? Often the reason why they’re no longer “in the present” is because they didn’t meet the expectations of the church, someone got aggravated, and eventually they moved on. Funny when they leave then, the spectral dust settles, someone new comes in and bam! The former person suddenly had it right. The new leadership takes over and the former becomes a holy memory.

Here’s what I hear when consulting, some “ghosts gone by” statements:

  • “That’s not how he/she used to do it.” 
  • “Do you really think you should change that?”
  • “We’re used to doing it this way.”
  • “We aren’t used to doing it that way.”
  • “Remember when so-and-so was here? We used to have SO many kids then.”
  • “I have been a member of this church all my life. When I went through the youth group, this was THE place to be. (WHEN WAS THAT?) In the 1970′s.”

Today’s truth is that nothing in youth ministry is like it used to be, memories of past programs are generally kinder than reality, and there were problems then, too.

Let me sum this thread up: Focus on the kids your church has today. Remember that the person/programming you have now are “steps ordered by God.” Youth ministry is more than just youth group; its every single teenager who comes through the doors of the church. Each member has a responsibility towards creating a relationship with each youth. In fact, in many of our faith traditions, we took vows at that teen’s baptism or dedication to surround her/him with the example of Christ and to give them what they need for faith formation.

“Forgetting what is behind, we press on to the goal…”

Stephanie

Maximizing Q+A Panels

 —  January 10, 2015 — Leave a comment

It’s been said that this is what happens when you let your group or audience ask questions:

B6tCgG_IQAQXoEn

Can I get a witness?

Even in spite of that, I’ve done several panels over the years in youth ministry. It’s a great way to help students process a theme with a greater degree of interest and ownership, especially with tougher topics like dating/sex, creation, homosexuality and more.

If you’re up for trying one (or making yours better), here are four things I’ve learned about maximizing Q+A panels:

  • qapanelPick a format that works. Decide if this will be an “ask-an-expert-through-a-microphone” forum or something more grassroots. I’ve used all kinds of formats, including having people text in questions via phone. On that note, know your logistics - if you expect students to anonymously text in questions then they’ll need phones to text those questions in. Still, they may worry that you’ll track the number back to them somehow. A good old fashioned “write your question down on a piece of paper, and we’ll collect these three time tonight” may be the way to go.
  • Honor who is in the room. You may have several things you want to say, but you have to balance that with what your group wants to hear. There are also some hidden things to consider, including knowing what their fears, frustrations, hurts and obstacles are on the topic.  Know when to separate students by age or gender to get the most out the chat.  Likewise, let families know the topics you’ll be covering in advance and invite parents to be present (perhaps in their own section of chairs, if needed).
  • panelSelect panel members whose lives are worth emulating. I didn’t initially consider this rule and it bit me a few times. Once when I asked a few young adults to join into a panel on sex and dating, I found that a couple of them were more interested in cracking jokes than in investing into students. I later realized that their life outside of church circles wasn’t consistent with what I saw in church circles. In a social media era, this also applies to how someone tweets/posts, as students will eventually find them online and follow in their digital footprints.
  • Talk, and don’t talk. You may want to go into a “401″ conversation about something that your audience doesn’t even have a “101″ understanding of. The inverse can also be true. Prepare ahead by asking students to submit their thoughts or questions on the topic the week before. You can then help your panel to know what does and doesn’t need to be talked about.

Any tips you’d add?

What has or hasn’t worked for you?