valueBeing in youth ministry I’ve had the privilege of learning a lot. And I can honestly say out of all the things I’ve learned there are some learnings that I feel like I will never stop growing in. Now, when I started this list I easily thought this could be a 10,000 word post, but no one would read a post that long. So here are a few of the things I’ve learned that I believe are valuable. I believe allowing God to grow me in these areas has made me a better youth worker. So are are 6 of 100 learnings I’ve had. haha

  1. Be Flexible. Majority of our day to day tasks in youth ministry are very random. It isn’t uncommon for my day to go from a brainstorm meeting, to a counseling session and then a hospital visit. Flexibility is one of the main ingredients to longevity in youth ministry, and it actually relieves the stress of ministry. Those who are a step by step, can’t miss a beat type of person, usually don’t last long in youth ministry. So be flexible.
  2. Go The Extra Mile. Make things the best that they can be. Consider the task you are assigned as the bottom floor. When given a task or project look for ways save time and money. Sometimes that means making sure you don’t have to make another trip somewhere or completing the whole task instead of just the part you where assigned.
  3. Attitude Is Everything. It is super easy to get caught up in the craziness of ministry especially when you are seeing the less attractive side of ministry for the first time. It’s important that you keep an attitude of thankfulness. This will require you to look past the craziness of seeing the not so attractive side of ministry, and focus on the life change that’s taking place. Also, now that you are on the other side you need to be aware of an attitude of pride and arrogance. It’s impossible to know and learn everything there is to know about the ministry during your time there. Keep a learners attitude of humility.
  4. It’s Not About You, It’s About The Students. This has everything to do with leading from a place of comfort. Serving students from a place of comfort ensures the inclusion of a few and exclusion of many. This is because you will most likely pour into, hang with, and allow to lead the students who you connect with best. The ministry will be all about you, and most likely you will end up with a ministry where everyone looks out for themselves, if it’s modeled in the leadership.
  5. You Are A Leader First. Remember you are a leader first and the authority you have to speak into their lives, is only as strong as your leadership. Your friendship with students is important, but your roll as a leader is more important.
  6. Time With Jesus Is Imperative. Just because you work in ministry doesn’t mean you are automatically being ministered to. You need to be just as active in the local church as the members. You should be serving in some capacity, attending bible study or small group, etc. It is critical that you are spiritually filled. Your time with Jesus will be something you will have to protect.

It is so important that you continue to stay open to a life time of learning and growing in ministry. I think ministering in a way that pleases God takes a complete entire life span. So keep learning and growing.

 

Hopes it helps,

AC  

I love the model of relational ministry. My push is to get the leadership team to stop clumping together in back walls. Youth ministry is not the place for adults to congregate and get caught up on each other’s lives. Get involved people! Yet, there is something that can happen from time to time where there can be “too much” relational ministry. A leader steps up to get to know students and unwittingly creates a “clique” of student followers. It’s rarely intentional. Perhaps a handful of students want to tell you alone about their problems. It could be that others think you are the “coolest” leader in the bunch.

The question becomes at the other end of the spectrum, “Can there be TOO MUCH relationship?” I think so. What are the “over the top warning signs?” Here are a few questions to ask whether you are a paid youth worker or a volunteer:

Are You Creating Cliques?

Has it gotten to the point where students follow you to the detriment of interacting with anyone else? Are they separating themselves from other leaders and students just to be with you? Remember teens like to feel special. The attention you give makes them feel set a part in a good way. However, if they are now standing away from the rest of the group, this could cause division. Most groups have natural lines drawn already with kids from rival schools attending the same group. They don’t need us to help them stay a part.

Are You More Important To Them Than Jesus?

It’s not on purpose, but there are times when we become the “god” to our students. When they text, call or talk to us they hear an audible voice and may even receive a tangible hug. It’s easier to “feel” close to us leaders than the Lord sometimes. We have to remember to not answer every question, phone call or text. They need to know we are fallible, but they serve an infallible God.

Are You Replacing Their Parents?

As youth leaders we like to use the phrase “our kids,” often. This helps others to know we have taken ownership of a particular group of students. However, if a student is talking about their “horrible parents” and we agree with them, a shift may happen in our hearts. We decide we can do a better job than their current care takers. Yet, if there is not a situation that requires us to call a state agency, they will continue to live with their parents. We must be VERY careful before we know it we have added to the issues at home.

Do You Need Teen Friends?

It makes us “feel good” when a student “picks us” as their favorite. We come to believe maybe, just maybe we are doing a decent job at this. Yet, we have to look in our hearts. Before we know it a relationship with a teen can shift to being unhealthy. Are we allowing relationships to get a little closer because it fills a need? If your only “friends” are teens and you are over the age of 21 then you need to take a hard look at your motivation.

Don’t be afraid. Jesus shows us that relational ministry has power. Yet, it’s good to be aware as we embark on this journey at how much is too much.

- Leneita / @leneitafix

P.S. – Need resource for youth volunteers? Check out all Simply Youth Ministry has to offer for developing great youth ministry volunteers!



This is simply brilliant.

It’s called a musicless music video.

It’s a parody video, of course, of the original “Dancing In The Streets” homage featuring Mick Jagger and David Bowie:

I didn’t initially realize it was a parody, though. It felt like someone had leaked old school, behind-the-scenes footage of the two pop legends. The guy who created it (Mario Wienerroither) says he did it “not because he hates music… he loves sound.” His YouTube channel will likely become exceedingly popular as he adds more videos to the few already on it.

It feels like yet another of the everyday parables around us.

mickjaggerOften in ministry we feel we’re sending across a certain message that we’ve spent time creating and producing. Equally as often, people in today’s culture are quick to look past the surface and try to understand what’s “behind the music.” Three things I’ve learned:

  • Let them look without being defensive. Did you play the original video to compare the two? I did, and I shared them both because my first response after watching the “raw footage” (even though it ended up being a parody) was to seek out the legitimate version. The same thing will play out in ministry – even a parody accusation of who you are from a potential critic gives that person a reason to be exposed to who you really are. If you’re being genuine behind-the-scenes in ministry and people see it, they will be more inclined to go searching for what you’re intending to share
  • Let the actual music sink in. I watched these videos and quickly moved on to other things. Guess what song I was humming in the back of my head? It offers another interesting lesson – God can use anything through the backdoor (including your failures, false positives or improvisation) to tell people everything he wants to experience through the front door.
  • Let the whole thing be funny: I have to imagine someone in Mick Jagger’s or David Bowie’s team will eventually hear about this and show it to them. Do you expect either man to curl up in a corner and cry over it, or to say, “That’s brilliant!” I’m reminded of countless times when I’ve learned that dying to my ego in a particular situation was better for the Kingdom of God overall, whether new leadership emerged or everything became less dependent on me. Be willing to be silenced so that others can start singing.

What would the musicless music video of your life communicate?

Uncommon Wisdom from the Other Side by Tony MylesIn my book Uncommon Wisdom From The Other Side,” I wrote a chapter devoted to “Authority, Credibility and the Temptation to Fake Both.” The core concept is when you don’t have credibility, you really only have three options:

  • You excuse it, saying, “Nobody is perfect. Give me some grace.”
  • You fake it, saying, “My life is perfect. Give me some recognition.”
  • You own it, saying, “My life is imperfect. Give me some accountability.”

What’s your takeaway?

I am sad. Not because the stage lights have gone down on one man’s larger-than-life amazing talent. After all, the collective library of Robin Williams will live on for a long time.

I am sad because a man we all knew was so distraught that earthly life no longer felt safe to him. Such sorrow led to the decision that being anywhere else was better than being here.

I am sad about Robin Williams. Not because he was a big star…but because he was a man whose humor came from a deep place of pain, and he died because of that darkness.That same pain has made our family its dwelling place before. Our son, Scotty, was swallowed up by it. 

I am sad…but God is good. 

I disagree with you, Mr. CNN commentator. Robin Williams’ demons did NOT win. That implies there’s a finality to him, and those who suffer have nothing but a doomed fate ahead. Our God has a HUGE mercy for such as these, for such as me, and in the end? “Every knee will bow above, on, and below the earth” to the God who saves in the now and/or in eternity.

Youth worker friends, don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t quit. EVERYTHING you do to show a child, a student that he/she is loved by you, others, and God is a step against this pit of hell. Your efforts may feel like a drop in the bucket…but as my leaky roof can attest to, the drops accumulate.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Him and them. Let’s get going; we have some love work to do.

Stephanie

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“Please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”

Have you ever heard something like this?

Perhaps it was a situation involving a peer in ministry. Maybe you’ve had to do the hard work of sharing it with someone else. It just might be that someone has shared it with you.

How can we be become better at talking about disqualifying behavior in ministry?

PM_FB_400x400Today the Acts 29 Network removed Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from its membership. According to a public statement:

“It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.”

Christianity Today shared a detailed summary of what has led up to this decision. 

Jonathan Merritt offered a different posture toward the whole topic.

Relevant Magazine highlighted the news, adding in the context of some of Driscoll’s old-school blogging banter.

Another blog further listed the letter that was shared with Mark:

Mark,

As the Board of Acts 29, we are grateful to God for the leadership, courage, and generosity of both you and Mars Hill in not only founding the network but also sustaining it through the transition to this board three years ago. The very act of giving away your authority over the network was one of humility and grace, and for that we are grateful.

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior.

In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming. We now have to take another course of action.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.

We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner. Again, we want you to know that we are eternally thankful for what you as a man and Mars Hill as a church have meant to our network. However, that cannot dissuade us from action. Instead, it gives added significance and importance to our decision. We hope and pray that you see this decision as the action of men who love you deeply and want you to walk in the light—for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior.

Shortly after sending this, we will be informing the members of Acts 29, your Board of Advisors and Accountability, and your elders, as well as putting out a public statement on the Acts 29 website. It brings us no joy to move forward in this direction, and we trust that the Lord will be at work in all of this.

In sorrow and with hope,

The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

Before you post a comment, can I share a perspective (and the reason I’m even adding to this conversation)?

excess-baggage-300x1801We all have baggage with our thoughts on this.

It could be any of the following:

  • As aforementioned, you or someone you care about has been on the receiving end or dispensing end of a situation like this.
  • You’re not a “Marc Driscoll fan.”
  • You are a “Marc Driscoll fan.”
  • The idea of church action steps or administration is general is a sore subject for you.
  • This smells too much like the last big thing we talked about regarding ___________ and how everyone flipped out over it.

I’ve been around the edges of this, as you probably have, too. I was once an interim pastor for a season in a church where the senior pastor was removed. There was another youth ministry role I came into right after leadership had been suddenly let go.

So… here’s what I’d really like to know from you (because I need to learn this, too).

talkHow do we talk about this together?

Again, you’ll be more tempted to share your baggage than wrestle with that question. Maybe that’s okay, or maybe we can just wrestle over this question in its purity. What do you think?

And for that matter, what is disqualifying behavior in ministry?

Maybe if we handle this appropriately we can better address why nobody wants to be around Christians anymore?

 

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evil-heart2I’ve just relaunched our student leadership program and it’s been a ton of fun. This is a program designed to help students lead within the ministry. I would encourage you to start something for your students that would allow them to lead in some capacity. I’m definitely not saying you need a traditional leadership program, but it would benefit your youth ministry a lot to have something where students can take some ownership for the ministry.

In the last few weeks I’ve been having a lot of conversations with student leaders concerning the heart of a leader. Because the bible says in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. It’s important that I make sure my students understand that you lead from the heart, and the condition of your heart effects the way you lead.

In Christian culture today you have a lot of people who want to lead, be famous and have influence. We’ve taken on this mentality that says “if I’m going to do something for God, I need it to be big and I need everyone to know about it.” I believe it stems from the condition of our hearts. Now, I don’t think God has any problem with us leading, having influence or fame. I think it’s hard to not have all three at some level when you are leading, but the condition of your heart determines wether you use it to glorify God or self.

I want my student leaders to understand that protecting their heart and continuing to allow Jesus to change their heart is an ongoing process. I want them to be like David. It seems like David understood this concept best. In Psalm 51:50 He writes “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. David was always asking God to do something that had to do with heart, mind and spirit. David was more concerned with who he was becoming then what he was doing. Here are a few areas that David struggled in and I believe these areas stemmed from the condition of his heart.  

  1. Compromise: Having the ability to compromise your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked could wreak havoc in a ministry, and destroy your credibility as a leader worth following.
  2. Abandon: The ability to abandon your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked you could fall for the lie that says “In order to obtain more influence, you must somewhat abandon your beliefs, and come to the middle of the road on certain issues.” This is a lie that unfortunately a lot of people fall for.
  3. Manipulate: The ability to manipulate for selfish gain is a condition of the heart. Left unchecked and you could lead others down the wrong road for a good cause. Probably one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone.

The thing that I want student leaders to know is that we are all capable of doing any of those three things. And so it’s not enough for my student leaders to just know how to speak, plan an event and be relational. They need to understand that we lead from our hearts and out of it is who we are. You can only fake being someone you’re not for a short time, before the real you shows up. My goal is to not just help them do, but also help them be.

 

Hope it helps,

AC



Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 10.50.39 AMJesus announced the Kingdom (or literally, God’s reign) being at hand in Mark 1:14-15. At it’s core, this is simply saying, “You are now seeing God’s reign firsthand in the life of a human being.” According to Jesus, this is the good news (or “gospel”) he declares for the world to believe in. Jesus was the perfect example of a human being showing the world what God’s reign looks like, 100% of the time.

I think it’s safe to say that leaders in the Church want (or at least verbally express) the people they lead to have God reign in their lives. This may be worded in a number of different ways. Leaders say they want people to:

  • “Be on fire.”
  • “Surrender their lives.”
  • “Live for the Kingdom.”
  • “Be gospel-centered.”

Whatever language is used, the desire is to see God reigning supreme in a persons life. As it should be.

Okay, so here are 3 questions I think every leader who has this desire should ask themselves:

  1. How am I allowing people to see God’s reign in my life, firsthand? (following Jesus’ example)
  2. What boundaries do I need to set up so that I am not trying to reign in people’s lives? (avoiding a Messiah/power complex)
  3. Who is seeking God’s reign in their life and who do I know that can learn from that person? (cultivating discipleship)

 

3 Word Sunday!

Struggling to get your students to engage in “big church” (Main service, adult service, sanctuary, etc. whatever it is you call your inter-generational service)? Maybe your students feel like it’s really boring and completely irrelevant. How can you foster engagement in the service?

Talk to your lead pastor and explain that you want/need his help to get your students more engaged in what he is preaching about. Essentially what you do is have the students come up with 5 words. Any words they want. Give the final list of words that they come up with and the pastor will be weaving 3 of those 5 words into his message the following weekend.

Here’s what this does:

1) Students are listening intently to find the 3 words that are used.

2) The pastor (speaker) has fun trying to make it a natural part of his (their) message.

3) It causes your students to believe that the leadership cares about them.

A quick note and rule of thumb. Make sure the pastor/speaker doesn’t cheat and say, “I have to work this word into my message” but that it is made to fit with the message. That is key.