I’m a student ministry conference junkie. I love attending conferences for student pastors and youth workers. They are always a great place to meet new friends, be challenged spiritually, be refreshed, and get a ton of free stuff! One of my favorite conferences is the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Sadly I will not be attending this year. After four years of attending I’m taking a break because let’s face it, conferences take money to get to and be a part of. I hope next year I will be back and hit up other conferences in the near future.

Getting the most out of a conference begins before you even get there. You must prepare well. Here are a few thoughts on how to prepare for a student ministry conference.

Prepare yourself spiritually. Even though free resources, new friends, and workshops are important, you need to be ready to hear from your Savior and be ready to be challenged personally in your walk with Him. Take some time to pray and ask God to give you opens ears and an open heart to whatever He wants to do with you at the conference.

Bring your best note-writing device. Your going to hear a ton of information at the conference so have something with you to take good notes with. Whatever is your go to gadget for note taking bring it along. Make sure you take whatever device works best for you. If you still take the best notes with a note pad and pen then bring it! It may be an iPad for others. Whatever is it, bring it and be ready to take good notes. Whatever doesn’t get written down will probably be lost after the conference.

Have the right gear. Bring the right gear. Your going to probably doing a lot of walking and receiving some great resources so wear comfortable shoes and have a decent sized bag to pack full of youth ministry goodies. I usually do a book bag that I have throughout the day and then keep some extra suit case space for received resources. Also, make sure to bring things like chargers for your iPad or laptop and simple stuff like that.

Be ready to communicate to your pastor and volunteers what you have learned. This may not be strictly a “pre-conference” thing, but it needs to happen both before and during the conference. Before you get to the conference remember there is probably a pastor and volunteers that are ready to hear what you will learn at the conference. If anything, take good notes so you can pass the knowledge and ideas along to them.

These are just a few thoughts on preparing well for a conference. Conferences are awesome, but to get the most out of them you need to prepare well. Go, have a blast, and come back ready to point your students to Jesus!

Austin Mccann is the student ministries director at Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus) in Northeast Ohio. He also blogs about student ministry, leadership, and culture at www.austinmccann.com. He loves his Savior, his wife, and the students God has placed in his community.

One of things I am learning in my first student pastor position is the value of saying no to certain things. For ministry leaders, and student pastor like me, simply saying no can be one of the hardest things to do in ministry. In his book, What Matters Most, Doug Fields says, “While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for most ministry-minded leaders to utter because their ministry culture values yes.” A lot of times student ministry culture says “you have to do more” and student pastors are falling for that lie left and right. I’ll admit, I’m not an expert at this. Being fresh out of college and in my first student pastor position, it’s easy to “always make sure I have enough on the calendar.” I’m in the process of learning how to say the word no. I am learning that there comes a time, usually it’s a lot of the time, when I need to say no because there is more important stuff to focus on. Here are some times to say no in student ministry.

1. When it takes the place of your own personal relationship with God. In a post awhile back called The Hardest Person to Lead, I quoted Chris Finchum as he said, “It’s easy to fall in love with the work of Christ rather than the person of Christ.” Student pastors must say no to something if it will get in the place of their personal walk with God. Doug Fields said this about his early years in ministry: “Because in the busyness of my first decade of ministry, I abandoned my first love (God) and developed a love affair with doing ministry.” The number one key to successful youth ministry is being a student pastor who is in love with Jesus and walking consistently with Him. Many student pastors are missing this important key because they are too busy with youth ministry to invest in their own walk with God. Revelation 2:4 says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Say no if it will get in the way of personal walk with God.

2. When it puts your character and integrity at stake. Another time we need to say no in student ministry is when it puts your personal character at stake. The first qualification for a leader given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 is to be “above reproach.” As student pastors, we must guard our character. From example, don’t say yes to taking a student of the opposite sex home if it’s only going to be yourself and the student in the car. Your personal character is more important than a ride home. Some may disagree with me on this point, but I believe a student pastor’s personal character is more important that ministry to teenagers. We are called to be holy and must say no to whatever puts that at stake.

3. When it gets in the way of your family. I remember listening to a Perry Noble leadership podcast as he talked about the topic of putting your spouse before ministry. One statement he said that stuck in my head was “Jesus will take care of His church.” God called student pastors to be pastors to their spouses and children first. We are to be leaders at home, before we are leaders at church. At the end of the day, Jesus will take care of your youth ministry. God has called us to be pastors of our home before pastors of the students at our church. Don’t sacrifice your family on the alter of student ministry, it’s unbiblical and not worth it. Say no if it gets in the way of your family.

These are just a few times I believe we need to say no as student pastors. You may have noticed, I didn’t say anything about programing or even the student ministry, I focused on the leader as a person. I believe building a person is more important than building a ministry. Ric Garland says, “Build the man and God will build the ministry.” When student pastors focus on growing in Christ as a person, God will grow the ministry.

Austin McCann is currently the student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church in Yadkinville, NC. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.



In the past five years I have had the privilege to see a lot of different student ministries and work along side of many different student pastors. In each ministry I have seen different approaches to student ministry, but in every student ministry I have seen three things that I believe are a must for every student pastor. Whatever your doing in student ministry, I believe you MUST be doing these three things:

1. Teach students the Bible. The most important thing student pastors must do is teach students the Bible. The Word of God is the only thing that can truly change their life and help them follow God for the rest of their life. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: I believe students need to hear good, solid expository preaching and teaching whenever they come to a youth group meeting. I’m all for small groups, which I believe are vital in student ministry (click here to see my thoughts on this), but student pastors need to teach the Bible in an expository manner to their students. Not only in large youth group gathers, students need to be taught the Bible within small groups that I believe should be a vital part of student ministry. Whatever way your ministry is set up, students have to be taught the Bible. I’m all for relationships and creative styles of discipleship, but I believe solid, Bible teaching is a must for all student pastors.

2. Train and build adult leaders. If you want a growing and healthy student ministry, you must have a team of well-trained adults to do ministry along side of you. Students pastors must spend much of their time recruiting adult leaders, training and equipping them, and giving them opportunities to serve students. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland points out that one person can only disciple 5 to 6 students effectively. That means if your ministry has six or more students in it, you have to have adult leaders helping you. Student pastors need to spend the same amount of time building and training leaders as they do spending time with the students.

3. Minister to the parents. I believe a student pastor is not just called to serve the students, they are called to serve the parents as well. The parents are responsible for the spiritual growth of their own students so student pastors must never take that place. We must partner with the parents as we point their students to Christ. Many student pastors spend little time with parents outside just giving them information on events and activities. We as student pastors need to spend time building relationships with the parents, teaching the about the culture of their students, and equipping them with resources to train their students.

These are three things you must be doing as a student pastor. Other things are great and have their place, but we cannot allow these three things to be put on the back burner. Student pastor, teaching your students the Bible, build a healthy leadership team of adults, and always serve the parents.

Austin is currently a pastoral intern at Weymouth Community Church in Medina, OH. He just finished his Bachelors degree from Piedmont International University in Christian Ministries with a student ministries and pastoral studies minors. He is now working on his Master’s degree, got engaged, and is looking for his first-full time ministry position in the area of student ministry. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.

Looking for reports, insight and observations from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012? You’ve come to the right place – here’s a list of the bloggers that will be updating throughout the coming weekend. This is a first pass at the list -I’d expect to add a few dozen more. Check them out!

You coming, too? Let me know on Twitter (@joshuagriffin)and I’ll get you added right away!

JG

 



As leaders, I am specifically speaking to church leaders in this post, we are called to be good stewards of the integrity of our church and the Gospel. This is why moral failure, which happens too often today in our churches among leaders, is such a devastating thing. It not only hurts the leader who has failed, but causes damage to the church involved and the message of the Gospel. Recently, Crawford Lorritts, said this in the Elephant Room about leaders and moral failure: “What you do when a leader fails morally happens before the fall.” Too often we wait until a leader has fallen to deal with the issues. Unfortunately, leaders tend to wait until they fail morally to deal with the issue. I believe church leaders today need to take whatever steps necessary to prevent moral failure before it happens. Here are three practical things a leader can do to prevent moral failure before it happens:

1. Have a consistent time with the Lord each day. I cannot stress the importance of having a personal devotional time with the Lord each day! A leader who is not having a daily devotional time with God each day is asking to be taken down by a moral sin. The battle with our flesh and the Devil is too real to not spend time with God each day for the strength we need! Crawford Lorritts also said this: “I have never talked to someone who has failed morally that was not consistent in his time with the Lord.” Consistency with the Lord is they way we grow spiritually and a strong, growing spiritual walk with the Lord is the only thing that will prevent us from moral failure (read Greg Stier’s post called “Lust Will Pick the Lock”). The first thing a leader can do to prevent moral failure is having a consistent time with God each day.

2. Have a strong relationship with your spouse or significant other. Usually before a leader experiences moral failure, his marriage or relationship with his significant other will start to struggle first. Not only should leaders have a consistent time with God each day, they must also have a growing relationship with their spouse. Leaders, stop coming home after work and spending more time on the computer, or Twitter, or checking e-mails. Turn that stuff off and spend time with your spouse! You need it, they need it, your ministry will be more protected when you spend the right amount of time with your spouse! This is so simple, but leaders fail to do it too often. Have a date night each week and never let the love between you and your spouse go downhill.

3. Always have accountability in your life. Leaders, don’t wait until your mess up to get an accountability partner. Seek out accountability relationships even when things are going well. If your married, I believe your number one accountability should be your wife. Then you should have Godly men, or women if you’re a woman, to keep your accountable and ask you the “tough questions.” In a recent post called “3 Ways to Handle Personal Sin as a Leader” I said, “The leader who does not have accountability in their life are asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position.” Don’t be an open target for your flesh, have accountability in your life!

These are just a few ways to prevent moral failure in leadership before it happens. Pray and ask the Lord to help you protect yourself before it happens and costs your leadership position.

Austin is currently a pastoral intern at Weymouth Community Church in Medina, OH. He just finished his Bachelors degree from Piedmont International University in Christian Ministries with a student ministries and pastoral studies minors. He is now working on his Master’s degree, got engaged, and is looking for his first-full time ministry position in the area of student ministry. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.