I have one final thought for you.

First, we asked the question: Should I stay or should I go?

Next, we pondered a couple check marks that remind us what’s most important.

In a moment, I’m going to post some wisdom from the trenches. As far as my contribution, I’m ending on something so simple that it will offend you with its innocence.

Still, it’s truth.

Consider this picture that shows the innovation of man. It’s a way to take an old trampoline that’s lost its bounce and help it to find renewed usefulness.

trampoline

Now… if humanity is capable of that kind of innovation…

what do you imagine God can do in your life today regarding the clash you’re feeling?

Ponder that, all as you consider these thoughts from others in ministry:

If at all possible, “going” should be a planned act not a last ditch effort to maintain sanity or “peace.” Why can’t we leave as well (and as purposefully) as if we stayed, or even as well as when we came in? Leaving shouldn’t be the easy way out, but just as tough as staying because there is still some “umph” left in us and our ministry. We should leave well – not just leave and let some other poor youth worker pick up the pieces. How we leave (and how we stay) is a defining moment in our life, in our ministries life and in the life of the church. – Philip Allen

One thought: How do you help your kids in the process? Seems like they are left to survive or blow up as an after thought. They might not need to know details, but what and how do you include them? - Jon Batch

Family dynamics matter. Every time my dad moved churches as a pastor my parents created it as an adventure. For Chicagoland, it was the Hispanic culture, food and getting to go to Chicago. When we moved to MN they gave us Vikings sweatshirts and hyped up on the positives. They also coached us on how to say good bye to a friend. They definitely gave us time to adjust to the idea of moving and the adventure that was coming. – Kerensa Huffman

The clash can sometimes also be in understanding what your calling is and staying close to that… not that there may be times for that to change. An example is in my most last recent transition, when i went in as the Pastor of Student Ministries. In my second year, the Children’s Director resigned and I was now the Pastor of Children & Student Ministries. For a couple years I struggled through this as I was not wired to be a Children’s Pastor. I found myself treading Tuesday night “AWANA” and trying to survive it, but excited for Wednesday night Student Ministry. After a couple years of this, I felt like I was not doing anything well and that I needed to focus on what I believe God has called me to do and focus on Student Ministries. It was a very difficult decision because I did love the church staff, leaders, my Pastor and student ministry but knew that God had called me to serve full time in Student Ministry. There was not the possibility to stay where I was at because somehow I had proved to the leadership that I could pull off Student Ministry and another ministry so even if I was able to hand-off Children’s Ministry to someone there would be the expectation of “Well, what else will Scott do?”

It took a couple years of praying, looking and church interviews until we moved to where I am at currently. For me it came down to understanding my calling and finding a place where I can be laser-focused on how God has wired me. – Scott Tinman

I have a friend in our youth pastor network who floored me the other day. He said the good stuff happens after year 20. “Twenty?” I shuddered. I had only been at my church a year and 2 months and I was already looking at my watch, thinking “How long was long enough?” His comment made me realize that there is immense value in long-term commitment. Even if I don’t stay in the church as long as him, the commitment he had brought much fruit, and so I should consider this when constantly looking at the grass on the other side.

I told him that I am squirrely. That if things weren’t going quite the way I wanted them I would seek change. There must be “better positions, better churches.” But his comment reminded me that most likely it wasn’t the church that I needed to change, but my acceptance of it, for all it is. My perception was the thing preventing me from closer relationships to the folks I was serving and the commitment required to make an impact in our community and congregation.

I stayed. I still look to the other side of the fence. Not because I want to leave, or the grass looks greener, but I realize in my imperfection I may have chosen a place God wanted me for a short time, and I could also overstay. Only time and discernment will tell. - Ali Petrey

nowwhatAny thoughts?

  • If you stay, now is the time to invest and dig in. What do your goals look like? Is it time to make a new friend, venture into a new place in the community, create a five-year plan for youth ministry… one that you might actually see through?
  • If you go, now is the time to leave gracefully. What does it mean to communicate, communicate, communicate? How do you express your love and gratitude to your friends, volunteers and those who have poured into you? How can you speak into those you’ve had opposition with without bad-mouthing them?

What is your personal takeaway from this?

postcard
Another great guest post from my good friend, Scott Rubin:

I understand that the US Postal Service has it’s challenges these days. But for middle school ministry, taking a few minutes to actually handwrite a postcard to a student or 2 can be a relational win beyond what you might first guess! Here are just a few reasons:

1- Jr. highers don’t get a lot of snail mail… so your note will be special.
2- Who retrieves the mail in most houses? Parents! They’ll definitely read what you wrote, so you kind of get 2 audiences at once.
3- There’s not much room on a postcard – so you don’t have to write a lot!
4- There’s not much room on a postcard – so they don’t have to read a lot!
5- You can point out something specific that you appreciate about them.
6- Odds are high that they tack it up on their wall somewhere, reminding them of your ministry.

A mom came up to me last weekend, with tears in her eyes; one of those moments you’re not sure whether you’re about to hear something awful or awesome. “Nathaniel got the postcard you sent…and it meant the world to him.” Do you think Nathaniel mentioned anything to me about the postcard? Of course not! But I’ve heard from enough parents to know that these short, easy-to-write notes can become super-valuable bits of encouragement in a jr. higher’s life … and one more reason for them to connect with your ministry, where you can keep pointing them to Jesus.

Feel free to comment with other ways that you remind middle schoolers of their value!



Do you remember seeing “Star Wars” for the first time?

I do. I was ten years old. I didn’t get it. I thought the Wookie was cool because he sounded like a whale with a social disease. Yoda was funny because he was a talking malformation of a pistachio. Also the force, as far as I understood it, was strong between Princess Leia and myself. Aside from that, I didn’t understand the plot.

I’m so glad a youth pastor didn’t explain it to me. Because if they had, it would have sounded like this:

1. Luke was a man of small beginnings.

2. Luke was a man who believed.

3. Luke was a man who belabored (you know…with Obi-Wan-Kenobi only for Obi-Wan-Kenobi to die and then re-appear as a talking apparition who warned him against confronting his evil father because he was too emotional but he did anyway and so his hand was cut off and he fell into a vortex but was recovered by his new friends unfortunately Hans Solo was carbon-frozen just after Luke’s sister fell in love with him but Yoda died so Luke had to go free Hans himself but he didn’t fall into the giant spiky-pit that burps instead he was taken captive by the emperor where he faced off with his father and basically lost but when the Empire tried to electrocute Luke his Dad changed his mind and threw his boss into a pit thus restoring the Empire to peace).

Therefore, we should:

1. Be content with the Force’s provision.

2. Be a believer in the Force’s power.

3. Work hard toward the Force’s purpose.

If I’d heard that, I never would have given Star Wars a second chance. I’d be under the impression it was pretty shallow, simplistic, and boring. Why else would someone repackage it into mildly clever alliteration?

And why would we treat the best book ever, full of the best stories ever, like that? Why extract the pragmatics, and push the story underwater? Doesn’t the Bible deserve better than a dissected pickled frog?

The problem is, we let our story (the story of “use the Bible to follow your dreams”) determine the Bible’s story, rather than vice versa. We’re meant to enter Narnia and come away magically transformed. That’s why Jesus taught in parables, not principles:

  • “Some will be eunuchs for the kingdom”; not “Abstinence is something I value!”
  • A Pharisee and a tax-collector; not: “Be humble now, folks!”
  • A run-away scoundrel son; not “Let’s extrapolate the doctrine of God’s mercy, point by point!”

And when all was said and done? He rose from the dead, then told us to read the old stories anew: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27).” My translation: “Now if you really want to know me, get to know these killer stories!”

The point is: if we want people to read the Bible, we need to tell the stories at least as well as our Great Uncle Frank.  Rather than immediately jumping to pithy applications next time you lead a teach on Wednesday night, lead a student Bible study, or meet to study the Bible over coffee, why not stop and smell the ink? Why not take in the scenery? Why not laugh at the punch-lines?

I’ll bet the Story-teller will smile.

Nicholas McDonald is the Youth Director at Carlisle Congregational Church in Massachusetts.

It’s nice and sunny out. You’ve got shorts and sandals on and you kick back and relax with your laptop, some good tunes and a drink from Starbucks. This is your favorite part of doing youth ministry. Summertime Ministry.

Now don’t get me wrong this is me a good number of days out of the summer. I love to work from the park or beach and just relax and absorb some sun. However I think it is important not to get to relaxed over the summertime. Many youth workers come upon their demise during summer. It is either the time when they are fired or it is a time when things start to crumble around them.

I think this is because sometimes excellence can be lost during the summer. Students are off in different directions, many ministries shut down their programs and some youth workers don’t even see a single student during the summer. This to me is a problem. Not shutting down programs, or youth being off in different directions. But the lack of excellence.

It is important to strive for excellence in everything we do. Whether you spend your summer prepping your teaching arc and calendar for the next school year, or you are still running programs full tilt. You need to be doing it to the best of your abilities, which can be hard with the many distractions of summer.

Here are some ways in which I am striving to hit excellence this summer:

  • Meet with students on a regular scheduled basis over the summer. (Might be different students, on different days) I want to touch base with as many students as possible so they know I am part of their life, not just wanting them for their number.
  • Put some creative juices into our fall calendar. I want next year to have some new and fresh events we have never done before. I am also hoping that we teach some things in fresh new ways to kick off the year in an impactful way for our students. And I want to plan out my teaching now to try to carry and build that momentum all through the year. I don’t want to piece it together as I go.
  • Read something for me! I love to read but over this last little bit my reading has been focused on Seminary texts and articles for a class I have been taking and another one I have been teaching. I want to read something that will inspire my creativity and bring a new energy to my brain.
  • Keep my boss and coworkers in the loop. Summer can be a little disconnected for our team here at the church. Different people going on different vacations, running programs differently and it can create hiccups. So my goal is to keep my boss and co workers in the loop with what I am doing and where I am going. And I am even going to touch base with my boss in ways that are meaningful to him (Read here about an article on this)

I hope that you all have a refreshing summer of fun and family. But I also hope that you have a season of ministry excellence whether it is a season of regular programming or slowed down and meticulous planning.

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



Does your life seem to be on autopilot? You may be involved in ministry with like-minded individuals, have a great job as well as a warm and loving family or you may be involved in ministry with others who clash & bang heads, have a terrible job as well as a dark and gloomy home life. Either way, you are not experiencing any growth going on. It seems like everything is standing still and you are coasting through life, stuck. I have been stuck myself. My whole life, I was stuck.  I was left emotionally paralyzed from emotional and verbal abuse from my father then 6 years of every form of abuse from my son’s father. It was not until three years ago when I had a breakthrough and life took off for me. I had an encounter with God and it truly changed my life forever. My senses were heightened, my thoughts flowed freely, my body movements loosened, I began to enjoy the sounds, smells & sights of nature and of life itself!

No matter where you are or how stuck you are, God has plans for YOU. He wants to take you places. Just keep doing what you know to do, keep pressing on without losing hope. When your hope is in the Lord and your faith is in how big He is, your situation begins to lose its power over you. You no longer trust in what the day may bring, you begin to trust in what the Lord will bring. Rather than being content with just a happy-mediocre life, you begin to envision brighter days; days where you wake up to a dream every morning.

God is an amazing God. Loving, patient, kind, good, The Creator of all and He loves YOU. Yes, He gives us all choices of how we choose to deal with the situations we are dealt but He also provides us with His word and offers His love and guidance to equip us with everything we need to live an abundant life. So, “do not let yourselves get tired of doing good. If we do not give up, we will get what is coming to us at the right time.” Galatians 6:9

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

You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.

I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired; for others its situational. No matter what the reason you deserve some encouragement.

I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting no where. You are gifted no matter what your critics say, your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile.

Now for some of you, that isn’t enough. For others that is a good reminder. But I hope no matter who you are you know those things are true.

I also want to share a strategy I learned from someone else to get through discouraging times.

Create a folder in your email that has encouragement emails. Every time someone sends you an email that has some kind of encouragement put it in this folder. Then when you go through tough times you can look in that folder and be reminded of good things.

While it may not fix anything, it certainly helps to be reminded by the voices in your ministry and in your life that you have value and so does what you are doing.

What are some of your strategies for times of discouragement?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



Let’s say you’ve got it going on. You’ve just been promoted within your company, your home life is peaceful with a warming and loving family, you have great friends who you can count on, and your ministry is running smoothly. You are living the good life. Or are you? Too often, it is in this circumstance that we find ourselves forgetting about others and forgetting that we need God. It is also in this circumstance that we experience stunt in our growth.

There are people in this world who are hurting. There are people who have no one. These people get overlooked and forgotten everyday by many. It is time to look outside of your picture perfect world. Step up and be the difference this world aches for! You have been blessed so that you can bless others.

Get this! Even when everything is going well, we still need God. Psalm 36:9 “He is the giver of life.” Without Him, we would simply not be. He knows what is best for us and He wants to lead us and guide us through life. He is with you through darkness and in light. He IS our light. We find comfort in Him, peace and joy. There is nothing we can do without Him, He is our source of life. Let’s not forget that!

When everything on the surface is going well, it is easy to believe our spirit is well. We experience a stunt in growth and begin to coast as we give into that belief. Truth is, “God continues His work in you until the day of Christ.”   (Philippians 1:6)  There is no limit to how far we can grow! When God shows you an area He’d like you to grow in, don’t shake it off and believe everything is great how it is and become content. Take on His challenge because He wants to take you further than you’ve ever dreamed of going!

As we learn to remember others as well as God and continue to grow when everything is going well, we are learning to change the world. We are setting ourselves apart and allowing God to shine through us and into the world. Let’s light up this world!

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

Lev-er-age

Verb: Use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable

  • What are you willing to do to get something you really want?
  • Are you willing to finish a project or lose some weight before the new Xbox one comes out?
  • Are you willing to put away some money now so you can retire later?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice the state of your house, so youth can feel welcomed and loved by you?

My guess is that you have a lot of things you are willing to give that cost a little now, in order to see big rewards later. So why do you think it would be any different with the students you work for.

You want them to read their Bibles more, you want them to pray. You definitely want them to show up to small group, events and services. But what is in it for them? Sure they have a vague idea that God is going to “bless their lives” or “they will be closer to God than ever before”. But what does that look like. How is that tangible for them?

I feel like a big problem for getting students to actually engage with spiritual habits is for them to actually understand in a concrete way what it will do for them. Maybe that is some real life examples through someone sharing. Maybe you need just the right inspiration visually.

I haven’t got this one all figured out just yet. But I know I am a lot more likely to do something if I know what I am getting and I like it, then if not. So I know for my ministry I need to come up with some ways to work on this.

What ways are you leveraging your knowledge for students? What are some ways you show the tangible effects of what devotions can do for your life?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle