I was watching a children’s ministry podcast this past week and heard a great question – as a youth worker, do you like your children’s pastor/leader? Thought it was an interesting question, watch their podcast for lots more on the subject but first vote in today’s poll!

JG

I’ve seen some people who coast through life, never changing and who continue to live the exact same quality of life as they have for years. As God’s children, we are not meant to live this way. We are meant to be challenged and pushed to newer heights. We should be excelling in ways unimaginable.

At the sign of pressure

Romans 5:8 says “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” You should not be crushed when pressure comes but rejoice because newer heights are about to be released in your life! As a mother who loves her child, when you see your child struggling with something, you do not immediately jump in and do it for them. You allow them to feel the pressure and try a little harder and a little harder…until they finally get it right. You know that feeling the pressure is necessary to becoming a part of society. Same for our loving Father in heaven, he allows the pressure in order for us to become more Christ-like.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” No matter how tight the pressure, God works all things together for our good so next time you are feeling overwhelmed with pressure; choose to trust God and know that He loves you. Know that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and YOU are in His hands

Next week: Pushing Through the Pressure

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.



I was going to start by qualifying myself by saying I’ve been in youth ministry in some capacity for nearly 20 years, but quite honestly you don’t even have to be in youth ministry for 20 minutes to relate to what I’m talking about here: Teenagers are very emotional beings. And it’s not uncommon for those emotions to get the best of them and their decision making.  I’m sure you’ve been there: it’s at the end of your weekend message, or a deep small group discussion, or the famous last night of some retreat when it happens.  The atmosphere becomes electric with emotions.  Tears start flowing, kids are embracing, it’s a seemingly supernatural event.  Our hearts want so desperately to pin it all on an Acts 2 replay of some type, but in the back of our minds we’re wondering what or who is really behind the tears, behind the decisions, behind the electricity we sense in the room.  We want so desperately to know that its 100% Spirit-driven, but we also know (because we’ve been around for 20 minutes) that emotions can play a big role in students’ decisions; whether those decisions are social, mental, academic, sexual, or even spiritual.

But before we call every “mountaintop” experience a fluke based on flimsy and fickle emotions, we need to realize that our emotions have been given to us by an emotional God who created us in His image.  Emotions aren’t bad.  Quite the opposite, really.  Emotions can be powerful and effective gauges that help us navigate spiritually.  When they’re submitted to God, emotions can help reveal our passions, our fears, and even our direction.  Rest assured, I’m certainly not vilifying emotions or their part in the spiritual lives of students we love, serve, and lead.

I simply think it’s important to keep in mind that all students (female AND male) are hardwired with emotions given to them by God.  One of our roles as youth leaders is to help them sort out what’s from God and what’s sheer emotion.  Involving our emotions in our decision-making process is so very natural, but allowing emotions to drive decisions is where we get into trouble.

Some things I’ve done to help student sort out what’s emotionalism and what’s God’s clear directive:

  • Don’t always default to the dim-lights, soft music, and eyes-closed response time at the end of a message.  It’s not that it’s a bad approach, but how hard can it be to take a stand when no one else sees it?
  • Speak clearly with students about what God’s Word is saying.  You can use sensitivity in your communication without adding fluffiness that dilutes God’s Word.
  • Give students questions to consider and/or clearly defined steps to take in the days/weeks after a spiritual decision is made.  Have these ready for students to take with them. This allows the “dust to settle” on the emotions that undoubtedly played an important role in their spiritual decision in the first place.

Let’s face it: working with students means working with people who are prone to allow emotions to rule the day.  And we don’t want to be making disciples who follow Jesus only when it “feels” right.

Jerry Varner serves as Student Discipleship Pastor in the Richmond, VA area and blogs at jerrythinks.com.  If you’re ever in the Richmond area and want to grab a burger, he’s buying.

I am coming to the end of my very first year in paid ministry and, of course, it has been a huge time of reflection. There were so many successes and more than a fair share of failures. While the failures might have sucked in the moment, there have been so many lessons that the Lord has taught me through them. One of my biggest failures (but biggest learning) happened at the very beginning of my career.

My first taste of ministry was interning for one of the guys on the High School team. I learned a ton from him because, frankly, the guy is a legend. He is a logistical mastermind, has a huge heart, and is a total servant. I saw the incredible impact he was able to make not just in our ministry, but our church as a whole. Being so new to the game, I wanted to be just like him.

So when I went out on my own, I tried to do just that, be just like him. The problem was that in my pursuit to be more like him, I lost what made me, me. I smothered the parts of myself that wanted to dress up for events or make a fool of myself on a video in order be just as reserved as he was. I slowly started abandoning the pastor that God created me to be.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one that has been there. So many of us have seen someone that is incredible at what they do and, in hopes of capturing their success, strived to be just as funny, just as smart, and just more like them.

While we might think that we will be more effective this way, we are actually hurting our ministry in the long run. When we try to be more of something we aren’t, we are completely mismanaging ourselves. We try to make our weaknesses our strengths and push our strengths to the backburner. We cripple ourselves.

This stems from the insecurity that makes us believe that we aren’t effective. Whether we are consciously thinking this or not, we are thinking that God can’t use someone like us. But the truth is that God can and wants to use someone like you. Each one of us is an essential part of the body of Christ. If we are using the body as a metaphor, don’t try to be a foot if you are a hand. God placed you exactly where he wanted you. If He wanted another foot in the body, He would have put one there. If He didn’t want you in the position you have, you wouldn’t be there. Trust that God doesn’t want you to be someone else.

In short, your ministry needs YOU. It needs your gifts, your personality, and your heart. Be authentic. Be real. Your ministry needs it.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



sym_logo

Hey Youth Ministry Friends!

Have you checked out the latest SYM Show from Kurt Johnston and Jason Carson?! If not, you need to ASAP! In this episode they were able to shed some light on:

    • Finding a youth ministry job post college graduation.
    • Small Groups: Is it better to have small group at church or in homes?

Check out the SYM Show- I promise you won’t regret it! Jason and Kurt are hysterical as always!

Email Kurt and Jason with your questions at symshow@gmail.com

~Stephanie

 

 

Here’s a highlight video one of our students created from footage he shot at last year’s Spring Break serve project. We started promoting it this weekend – excited to partner with CIY (Christ in Youth) again this year in serving our community!

JG



Volunteer Love

 —  January 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

POSTED BY KATIE EDWARDS

A few weeks ago we gathered all of our volunteers leaders together for training, community, and encouragement. One of the best elements of the night was a series of student videos we showed. I  wanted to encourage some specific volunteers and say thank you for the roles they are playing in our ministry. So, we enlisted some help from their students. Below is an example of one of the videos we shot. It was a quick, easy, way to give our volunteers something meaningful.

Other simple ways to encourage your volunteer leaders:

  • Go old school with a note card. Adults love getting mail that is not a bill!
  • Program cell phone numbers in your phone and send encouraging texts each week.
  • Schedule your volunteer’s birthdays/important dates into your calendar and follow-up.
  • Shoot a 30 second video from one of their students on your phone and send it to them.

As youth workers, we can get so focused on the needs of our junior high students, that we forget to encourage our partners in ministry who are helping us to meet those needs! Your volunteers need encouragement. It can be something quick yet meaningful. Something small yet thoughtful. The way you pour into your volunteers will not only fill their tank, but it will set an example for the way that you want them to love and encourage their students.

Old is the New, New

 —  January 18, 2013 — 1 Comment

I love new. When someone starts a sentence with “We’ve never done this before” or “Here’s a new idea,” I get all pumped up. Yet I’ve been dealing with a lot of old lately.

  • I don’t have the new iPhone yet, and it’s been out for months already. It kills me to be off the pace of the upgrade treadmill.
  • My wife’s beat-up minivan has 171,000 miles on it, and I wish I could get her a 2013 Toyota Sienna tomorrow.
  • I just turned 38, so I’m not a spring chicken anymore.
  • I’m bored with our ministry’s summer calendar, so I’m trying to rethink it, gut it, and make everything brand new.

As we prepare to cross into the new year, I’m having a new thought: Maybe old should be the new, new. Maybe in our thirst for the latest gadget and “next best thing” type of programming, we’re missing out on some tried-and-true stuff that really works.

I don’t want to stand in the way of what’s next for youth ministry, but it doesn’t hurt to ponder some “new, old ideas” as we head into a new year.

1 – Build a team of caring adult leaders. Having the support of co-laborers in the faith has been a longtime tenet of youth ministry. This month, develop your inner circle of leadership—because the need for people who love God and love teenagers won’t ever change.

2 – Spend one-on-one time with young people. At the heart of ministry, past and present, is the individual. The church-growth movement has disproportionately fed the desire for the masses. But while large-crowd programs and events are fun, we must continually pursue and care for each young person.

3 – Rely on Bible-based curriculum and teaching. Styles and formats will come and go, and the size of groups will change. But the Bible has been and must stay at the center of youth ministry, no matter what philosophy we’re implementing this year or the next. Think about ways you can center your ministry more on Christ.

4 – Make sure a devoted follower of Jesus is leading the group. We can talk about leadership and experiment with the latest and greatest gadgets, tools, and core values. But if we aren’t in love with Jesus and devoted to him, our efforts (and ministry) will eventually implode.

Old really is the new, new!

Originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!