theCORE – essential values for new ministers

Session 1 – Establishing a healthy CORE.
I remember talking to a athletic trainer several years ago and one of the things he said was, “You have to establish your core before you can bulk up.” As young pastors we have grand visions of the future… big ministries… big churches… 1000s of people falling on their faces in repentance! But the reality of it all is there is no way we will ever experience these hopes until we establish a good core.

  • What do you believe are 4 essential CORE values for any young minister?
  • How do you think these 4 CORE values can shape your future ministry?

(C) Called… Not Convinced. When God called you into ministry he didn’t commit you to the funny farm. Although we might think at times, “God what are you doing!?” His call on your life is not a burden. Never treat it as such. What an honor.

Have you heard Gods call for ministry on your life? What was that like? How does a call defer from having to be convinced? Why does this matter?

There is a strong difference being called by God and being convinced. Being convinced is rooted in selfish motives. Whether we are convinced by the glitz and glamour of the rockstar minister or if one of your friend/ family members said you would be a great minister… either way someone convinced you. We need to be confident in His calling upon our lives because without this calling we would never be able to sustain this life long journey.

(O) Open to whatever. Develop a heart of surrender to the Call. Stay humble, stay on your knees. Your heart reflects your actions. Whatever God has is good… Perfect… And no the grass is never greener on the other side of the fence.

When was the last time you honestly heard Gods voice in your life? How have your responded in obedience to Him?

I believe authentic ministry happens when we are prompted by the Lord. When we stand before the Lord in our private lives in complete surrender, what it birthed in those moments lead to authentic ministry. What would happen if we began to worship with surrender? Preached from a heart of surrender? Left room for the Holy Spirit to prompt us and lead us.

To develop an attitude of surrender can only be known and established in time. Our faithfulness in the Word and prayer is where we honestly hear God’s voice. There is power and clarity when we are on our knees.

(R) Relationships are your job. Your life revolves around the people you are shepherding. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way, people are looking for their pastor to care. No matter what your gifts are, relationships matter. We’ll talk more later about how to deal with hurting people. We are in the business of relationships and connecting with people.
Share one good example of how relationships matter in ministry and one bad example.

***There is a trap here that must be addressed. We must be wise in having close friendships with the opposite sex. Have clear boundaries with the opposite sex is a must. Your integrity and character matter way too much for one incident to ruin what you have worked hard to protect. Establish strong, non-offensive boundaries with the women in your ministry/ team.

  • What are some practical boundaries you can set with the opposite sex in your ministry?

(E) Experience the joy of serving in the overflow. When we establish a good rhythm of getting in the Word, The Lord fills our cups. If there ever comes a time in your life when you have lost the time to intentionally read the Word for yourself… Do yourself and the people you shepherd a huge favor and take a vacation. Burn out pastors lead unhealthy churches.

  • Why is it so beneficial in your ministry to serve out of the overflow? How can you stay fresh in ministry?

Creating healthy spiritual rhythms in your life to allow the Spirit to fill. Get up early. Use cancelled appointments to read. Is there are time in your week for intentional Bible study? Not sermon prep… but intentional study. It’s during these times when the Lord reveals His heart for you… not your ministry. When we are satisfied in Him, He is most glorified in us… and the people in our ministries see it. (Quote from John Piper)

  • What are some spiritual rhythms in your life that keep you fresh?

Have you heard the phrase “leaders are readers?” Reading is one of the best things I’ve done in my ministry. The times when I’m in a good book, are the times when my mind is free to dream and allow the Lord to speak. Read books that have nothing to do with ministry. Read books that lead you toward Godliness. Read books that bring new perspectives to ministry. The point is to read. Different authors. Unique titles. Read about a hobby. Find a way in your week to simple sit and read.

  • What’s the latest book you’ve read? What truth or insight did you gain from it?

Over the years, I’ve missed these moments and my ministry has suffered because of it. It’s not fun to lead when your heart is dry. On the other hand, serving out of the overflow leads to fulfillment and joy. Who doesn’t want to experience that!? We all need to do our very best to fill the tank. It takes hard work, planning and discipline to allow the “filling” to happen.

  • Which one of these 4 CORE essentials resonated with you? Why?
  • How have your noticed some of these core values played out in your ministry context?

Action steps: we don’t progress in life until we take action steps. Thinking is one thing, doing is another.

  • spend some time this week seeking The Lord about your call to ministry.
  • look at your week, when can you honestly carve out intention time to get in the Word? Not to prepare a Bible study, but for your own personal health.
  • Find a good book to read. Goal: 4 books this year.
  • Brainstorm a healthy Spiritual rhythm for this year… a good vacation, weekly moments of intentional Bible Study and daily prayer moments.

Steve Spence is the Student Ministry Pastor at New Vision in Tennessee. He has created more than 10 great youth ministry resources and you can find him on Twitter right here!

Was talking to a youth worker this week about how I was personally called to youth ministry – and thought I would ask you to vote in today’s poll with the answer to how you were, too. If your experiences was one of the choices above select it and vote now – if not, tell us your experience in the comments!


I remember hearing a pastor once talk about his “calling to ministry” — my first thought was how mystical it all sounded; that God would pick out some normal person and make them super special for ministry. Would God’s calling be accompanied by bright light, an audible voice, smoke and lasers? I always wondered what God’s voice must have sounded like (probably like Morgan Freeman’s), and how it must have felt to be hand-picked by the Creator of the Universe for this special job.

And then I felt called, and it wasn’t anything like I thought it might be. It wasn’t super magical, but it was life-changing. Here’s a little from each of us on our calling to youth ministry:

JOSH: My first inclination that God was calling me to youth ministry was through a significant mentor in my life. I was about to graduate my senior year of college and Jerry Dorman told me he was about to leave his current position and become a pastor. He asked me to consider becoming his youth pastor. I couldn’t believe what he was asking (I was newly married and about to graduate with a business degree) but said I would pray about it. Little did I know that this nudge from a caring adult in my life would lead to a lifelong pursuit and calling from God to minister to students.

KURT:Like Josh, the first time I truly felt “called” to youth ministry was through a significant mentor, and it was a fairly powerful moment. I had taken a semester off from college to go on an extended mission trip to England. My prayer before leaving was, “God, I don’t want to return to school until I know exactly why I’m there.” I hadn’t told anybody about that prayer, but one night on the trip while the team was huddled together under Big Ben praying for those we had ministered to throughout the day, my youth pastor pulled me aside and said that he believed I was gifted for ministry and should consider changing my course of study when I returned to school. No lasers, no Morgan Freeman voice, but pretty epic nonetheless.

Do you remember your calling? Maybe you were raising your hand to ask a question and someone thought that you were volunteering to work with junior highers. Maybe you accidentally made eye-contact with your senior pastor at exactly the wrong time and you ended up running youth group for the next year. Or maybe you had a very provocative Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus meeting where God shined a blinding spotlight directly at you. Maybe you stumbled into youth ministry and have felt God’s calling over the months of serving and seeing lives changed and hearts being drawn to Him (side note: We have learned over the years that this type of calling is the most common).

At the end of the day, you are called. You are chosen. You are one of the few … the proud … the youth ministry nation. We share in that calling and are honored to encourage you, equip you, and hopefully inspire you to keep on serving students today, and tomorrow….and the next day. In fact, that’s why we are so excited about the opportunity to write this little column a few times a week!

So think about your calling this afternoon. Thank God for it and reflect on what He wants to do with and through you. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few reminders of why that’s so important.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

This week I was reminded of one of the most important things God has ever shown me in my life: my calling to youth ministry. I was reading the book of Joshua, and came into chapter 24 with more than a little expectation, seeing that my life verse (v15) is contained therein. As I read the chapter, something new and powerful stood out to me like never before. It was just what I needed to hear, especially in a season of being OK with being OK and honestly, coasting a little in ministry here at the end of the school year.

In the passage, God says, “I gave you Abraham (v2) … I gave you Isaac (v3) … I gave you Jacob and Esau (v4) … I gave you Moses and Aaron (v5) … and finally, I brought you (v8) … Joshua, to lead Israel.

In that moment, Joshua must have had this realization that HE is part of Israel’s incredible legacy. He looks at the past and realizes he doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned with those people, much less leading their followers. He gulps with humility at the weight of this realization.

God used all of these incredible people … and now He has chosen you, Joshua.

That’s what I needed to hear. God used all of these incredible people … and now He has chosen you, Joshua. When I look at the legacy of youth ministry at our church and across the world, I realize that I don’t deserve to be a footnote on their Wikipedia page. But God has made His choice. I’m supposed to lead. He’s prepared me for this moment. My job is to invite people to choose their path (v24) – to serve the gods of this world or to serve the God of the Universe. Every so often I seem to subconsciously test my calling to my church and test if God is finished with me in the place He last put me. I heard from Him loud and clear this week … I am CALLED. Even though there may be more wins than losses this past season (there have been). Even though I don’t always feel like being a pastor (which I have felt too much recently). Even when I screw things up and have to own it (did that, too). I. Am. Called.

And so are you. God has used amazing people in your church to lead students to Him. And now God has chosen you. You are the next person to carry the mantle of leadership to your people. He has called you. Don’t know what you might face this weekend or are battling in your spirit – but please realize you are CALLED by God to do His work. He could have chosen anyone! He chose you. He brought you to that church. He brought you here for this moment. He wants you to rise up and lead the people. Just like Joshua.

Honored to share in that amazing calling with you, my friends.


New youth ministry poll of the week – this time wondering what you would do if you weren’t called to youth ministry. I would leave youth ministry today to be a stadium announcer at Angel Stadium or the Staples Center. Just kidding… sort of.