What’s Working?

 —  September 23, 2014 — 17 Comments

Go-crSo… what’s working?

Jesus gave us the Great Commision. We’ve been stumbling over ourselves since He did, trying to figure out how to be a movement when it’s a whole lot easier to build an organization.

On one hand, we know what isn’t working. There’s the penetrating content from “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore”  as well as articles on why millennials are leaving the church. On the other hand, there are innovative proposals like the approach of Lifetree Cafe or the “orange” approach to some kind of sticky faith. Willow Creek Community Church is trying “A Holy Experiment.”

I think I’ve had my fill of the deconstruction. I’d like to start reconstructing.

helping_hands300What’s actually working?

What are you experiencing?

What are you seeing?

What is the “What if…?” you have started to that you hope will pan out?

What’s the next big idea in front of you that isn’t just a big idea, but potentially the right idea?

What is your church and/or youth ministry doing to create new inlets for lost people to find Jesus and become a part of the Church versus just expecting people to walk through the church building doors on their own?

Please share your best outreach ideas/concepts/dreams.

Too busy to visit a loved one who’s passed on?

No worries.

Try the drive-thru window at the Paradise Funeral Chapel in Saginaw, Michigan.

They’ve installed a window for your convenience to display the deceased body inside the building. Curtains over the window automatically open when a car pulls up, and mourners get three minutes to view a body as music plays overhead.

Saginaw funeral home 3

Ever notice how some “good ideas” leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Of course you have.

The harder part is noting when your “good ideas” leave a bad taste in someone else’s mouth…

especially when our motive was “I was just trying to serve.”

  • When were you absolutely convinced you were onto something amazing, but then later realized you were being short-sighted?
  • Has anyone ever come up to you and tried to put you in your place on something you were absolutely sure was correct?
  • What is something you critiqued in your church… only to do something yourself that should have been critiqued?

Willing to share any experience on either side of this?



Best Analogy?

 —  November 20, 2013 — 6 Comments

How does it go again?

  • “The Trinity is kind of like…”
    • “Water. You can have it in three forms – ice, liquid or steam – yet it’s still water.”
    • “A pretzel: there are three components to it, yet it’s tied together by one continuous thread.”
    • “Hot cherry pie: you can cut it into three exact pieces, but as soon as you remove the knife it all oozes back into each other and is still one pie.”
  • “One way to understand the Bible is to think of it like…”
    • “Star Wars: Start reading the New Testament like you should watch the first three movies that came out… what is known as Episodes 4-6 now. And then circle back and read the Old Testament, like watching Episodes 1-3 to understand the back story.”
    • “Getting to know someone by watching old YouTube videos on someone’s account. In this case, that person is God. The Bible is full of so many stories of who He interacted with.”
    • “A jigsaw puzzle. If you stare at one piece, you may get a sense of a piece of the puzzle. You really can’t see the whole picture until everything comes together.”
  • “Your role in the Kingdom of God is just like…”
    • “A football team. God is the coach, and He put different special teams coaches on the field to help you out. You’re on the team. Suit up and make a play.”
    • “An orchestra. Without your instrument, the song is missing something. You can’t just play random notes, though. There is a song that you get to complement in however you’re wired to do it.”
    • “The guy on the corner advertising pizza. Your life is like spinning the sign around to get the attention of random people. You ultimately want them to taste and see that the Lord is good.”

You probably have a handful of analogies you return back to. It’s what Jesus did when he spoke about the Kingdom of God using farming and wedding analogies.

Do you have any that you don’t mind sharing?

The excitement of fall kickoff has subsided and now you are in the meat of your youth ministry year.  It feels good because most of the rust is off and you are just turning that wheel to keep things going.  Most times it’s easy to think, “Okay, smooth sailing ahead.” But that rarely works because after a while obstacles, responsibilities and distractions will build up.  Ministry will get harder, people will find more reasons to bail and the momentum that was created in the fall will be completely gone.  How do you keep it going?  How do you build momentum in the middle of your year?

Change Things Up – You want to show that your ministry is willing to change without showing instability.  That means changing up the topics in which you talk about, and possibly rearranging the format of your program.  Just as you are supposed to change up a workout routine to stimulate new muscles, you’ll want to change a few things up in youth ministry to stimulate new faith growth.

Pour Into Your Team – Half way through the year your team is going to grow tired and even a little burned out.  Maybe their small group hasn’t maintained the attendance they wanted, or they could be dealing with a teen in crisis.  It’s even possible that a major issue in their personal life is going on.  Even if it’s a one-day mini retreat, pour into them, and cheer them on.  Give them the motivation they need.

Doing Something New – Whenever something or someone is new a little excitement forms.  Whether it’s a new video game in your hangout space or a new speaker delivering the message, take advantage of its freshness by promoting it.  While it might not be the most mind blowing achievement, new always brings about some momentum.

Pace Yourself As A Leader – When the craziness of a season subsides it’s important that you as a leader take the time to cool down.  That might mean revisiting your schedule and working within the limits.  It could mean taking a day of Sabbath to reconnect with God.  If you aren’t ready for the long haul, neither will your ministry.  To maintain momentum you need to be willing to push it when it is needed, so rest up.

Ideally you want your ministry to consistently grow on the same trajectory over time; however, that isn’t realistic.  You are going to find obstacles and distractions and that’s why it’s important to rest.  You will face hitting a rut and that’s why it’s important to shake things up.  There is no exact science to how much newness, change or motivation one should pour into their ministry; however, if there isn’t enough momentum will slide.

How do you build momentum mid year in your ministry?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.