customer-misconceptions2One thing that I get to do in pastoral care is meet with parents. It is super great when the conversations are awesome, but it’s the worst when tough conversations have to happen.

So I thought I would list a few mistakes I’ve made concerning dealing with parents and my learnings.

  1. Assuming They Know. - I had to learn that parents are learning and growing in parenting, just as much as I’m growing as a youth pastor. They don’t have all the answers, and I can’t just assume they do. I also can’t assume they understand what we are here for and I definitely can’t hold them accountable for something I’m assuming they should know. Example: You can’t just assume a parent understands the importance of presence vs. presents in a child’s life. I had to learn “STOP ASSUMING”.
  2. I Can Help Without Them. - With any pastoral care issue you increase the chances of healing and restoration when the parents are involved. They are still the number one influence in a students life. Now, I totally understand cases where parents may not be there to help, but the idea that I can help apart from them, will in the long run not hold true. You will burnout and eventually leave the student to fighting on their own. Because after they leave the ministry you must move on to the next set of students that are coming in with their own problems. I had to learn to INVITE THE PARENTS INTO THE PROCESS.
  3. I’m Only Ministering To Students. - When you minister to the students you are ministering to the parents. Maybe the message is different, but you are ministering to them as well. A lot of parents stress out and anxiety comes from worrying about their children. Some worry about their kids socially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I know as a parent I’m always thinking “Well, what do my children think about this or that?” When my children come home from small groups or church and they are telling me what they’ve learned or it comes up out of the blue, it ministers to me. I feel super blessed by our kids ministry. We’ve even had parents start coming to church who had given up on it, because their child started coming. We’ve had parents give their lives to Christ because their child started coming to church. I had to learn “THE MORE INTENTIONAL I AM ABOUT MINISTERING TO STUDENTS, THE MORE I MINISTER TO THEIR PARENTS.”
  4. Parents Can Participate If They Choose To. It’s our job to communicate to parents the important role they play in their child’s spiritual development. They need to know Deuteronomy 6 was written to them and not the youth leader. Now, I know some may say well my parents weren’t involved and look how I’m in ministry. And I would say praise be to God for intervening, because that is not the norm. Parents are essential because they are the number one influencer. God created parents with the ability and authority to mold and direct. Do yourself a favor and encourage their participation in the spiritual growth of their child. For some parents you will be confirming some things they are already doing. Others you will be introducing them to something new. Think about how to do this in the context of your ministry. I’ve had to learn “I NEED TO ENCOURAGE PARENTS IN THIS AREA, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THEM THE CHOICE.”

I could go on and on, but I thought I’d share my top four. The key to keeping parents in mind is to remember that you are support and not primary. What’s been a mistake you’ve made dealing with parents?

Hope this helps,

AC

Need to find a way to communicate more effective with parents of teens in your youth ministry? Try PARENT CONNECT, an editable monthly newsletter for parents. 

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I’ve never bought a pair of Toms shoes.
I didn’t wear a Kony 2012 T-shirt.
I declined offers to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
I don’t have a strong opinion about immigration reform.
I’m not actively fighting against the oppression of women within certain evangelical circles.
I’ve never sponsored a child through World Vision or Compassion International.

Why? Because your issues aren’t my issues. And they don’t need to be. Your issues don’t need to be my issues…but I need to have issues because Jesus had issues.

Jesus cared about people with Leprosy, but you’ve probably never supported the wonderful work of American Leprosy Missions.
Jesus cared about Widows (maybe even as much as orphans), but you’ve probably never pledged monthly support to a widow in your local community.

I haven’t done either of those two things, either. Because not every issue needs to be my issue…but I need to have issues because Jesus had issues.

Scripture does point out some specific issues that followers of Jesus should be concerned about, but nobody can actively and effectively advocate for ALL of them…we get to pick and choose, it seems. And hopefully the collective Body of Christ is tackling the things Jesus would want us to tackle.

And Scripture also points out a whole bunch of qualities, characteristics and “fruits” that should be evident in the lives of Jesus followers and it makes sense that these qualities, characteristics and “fruits” would manifest quite often in ways that advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.

I need to have issues because Jesus had issues. But please don’t tell me what issues I need to have. Please don’t make me feel less like Jesus, because I’m not fighting for justice the same way you are.

And PLEASE don’t do that to your students, either. They need to have issues because Jesus had issues…but your issues don’t need to be theirs.



Giveaway-EventsGiveaway-EventsGiveaway-EventsHere’s a quick post about something I’ve been thinking about and trying to do in as many areas as possible concerning student leadership. And that something is give away as much of student leadership as possible. In our high school and Jr high ministry we’ve tried to give away as much of the ministry as possible. If you came to our youth service you will see students leading worship, greeting, running cameras, audio, lights, directing cameras, running pro-presenter and sometimes leading a game, sharing a testimony and even speaking.

The benefits of students leading has completely out weighed the adults leading by a ton. Here’s a few of those benefits.

  • The ministry feels more student friendly.
  • Its an easy way to get students plugged in.
  • It brings the “If they can do it, I do it to” attitude.
  • And many more!!

Here is a promo idea my students created:

When launching student leadership I wanted to do just the same. So I asked the question “how much of student leadership can I give away?” I do believe that the answer is different for every ministry, but I also believe that there are areas which are universal. Here are two:

  • Conduct – How students will treat one another in student leadership. I allowed the students to process and come up with a code of conduct that they all would up hold and follow. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t have to guide and facilitate, but what it does mean is that the students now have some skin in the game. I explained that it’s not up to me to make sure you all treat each other right. It’s up to each individual person in student leadership.
  • Areas To Serve – I want to allow the students to lead and implement in this area. If the program, event or project is super awesome it will be because of them and if it fails it will be on them. The outcome either way holds immeasurable value in their growth as leaders.

Giving student leadership away does three things:

  1. Raises the value of the program with students, because of the hands on experience they will receive.
  2. It gives students ownership. They get to leave a legacy and create some traditions within the ministry.
  3. It creates an environment where motives can be aligned. So if you joined for status you will quickly have to align or you wont make it.

Now, I just used student leadership as an example, but this really could be applied to many other areas within your youth group. It could even be applied to the youth group itself. Giving ministry away is never easy, because then you have to trust someone other than yourself to pull it off. I can truly say it’s worth it. In my experience you are able to do more, and even better ministry when you invite students to lead, create, serve, brainstorm and take ownership of the ministry.

Hope it helps,

AC

valueBeing in youth ministry I’ve had the privilege of learning a lot. And I can honestly say out of all the things I’ve learned there are some learnings that I feel like I will never stop growing in. Now, when I started this list I easily thought this could be a 10,000 word post, but no one would read a post that long. So here are a few of the things I’ve learned that I believe are valuable. I believe allowing God to grow me in these areas has made me a better youth worker. So are are 6 of 100 learnings I’ve had. haha

  1. Be Flexible. Majority of our day to day tasks in youth ministry are very random. It isn’t uncommon for my day to go from a brainstorm meeting, to a counseling session and then a hospital visit. Flexibility is one of the main ingredients to longevity in youth ministry, and it actually relieves the stress of ministry. Those who are a step by step, can’t miss a beat type of person, usually don’t last long in youth ministry. So be flexible.
  2. Go The Extra Mile. Make things the best that they can be. Consider the task you are assigned as the bottom floor. When given a task or project look for ways save time and money. Sometimes that means making sure you don’t have to make another trip somewhere or completing the whole task instead of just the part you where assigned.
  3. Attitude Is Everything. It is super easy to get caught up in the craziness of ministry especially when you are seeing the less attractive side of ministry for the first time. It’s important that you keep an attitude of thankfulness. This will require you to look past the craziness of seeing the not so attractive side of ministry, and focus on the life change that’s taking place. Also, now that you are on the other side you need to be aware of an attitude of pride and arrogance. It’s impossible to know and learn everything there is to know about the ministry during your time there. Keep a learners attitude of humility.
  4. It’s Not About You, It’s About The Students. This has everything to do with leading from a place of comfort. Serving students from a place of comfort ensures the inclusion of a few and exclusion of many. This is because you will most likely pour into, hang with, and allow to lead the students who you connect with best. The ministry will be all about you, and most likely you will end up with a ministry where everyone looks out for themselves, if it’s modeled in the leadership.
  5. You Are A Leader First. Remember you are a leader first and the authority you have to speak into their lives, is only as strong as your leadership. Your friendship with students is important, but your roll as a leader is more important.
  6. Time With Jesus Is Imperative. Just because you work in ministry doesn’t mean you are automatically being ministered to. You need to be just as active in the local church as the members. You should be serving in some capacity, attending bible study or small group, etc. It is critical that you are spiritually filled. Your time with Jesus will be something you will have to protect.

It is so important that you continue to stay open to a life time of learning and growing in ministry. I think ministering in a way that pleases God takes a complete entire life span. So keep learning and growing.

 

Hopes it helps,

AC  



evil-heart2I’ve just relaunched our student leadership program and it’s been a ton of fun. This is a program designed to help students lead within the ministry. I would encourage you to start something for your students that would allow them to lead in some capacity. I’m definitely not saying you need a traditional leadership program, but it would benefit your youth ministry a lot to have something where students can take some ownership for the ministry.

In the last few weeks I’ve been having a lot of conversations with student leaders concerning the heart of a leader. Because the bible says in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. It’s important that I make sure my students understand that you lead from the heart, and the condition of your heart effects the way you lead.

In Christian culture today you have a lot of people who want to lead, be famous and have influence. We’ve taken on this mentality that says “if I’m going to do something for God, I need it to be big and I need everyone to know about it.” I believe it stems from the condition of our hearts. Now, I don’t think God has any problem with us leading, having influence or fame. I think it’s hard to not have all three at some level when you are leading, but the condition of your heart determines wether you use it to glorify God or self.

I want my student leaders to understand that protecting their heart and continuing to allow Jesus to change their heart is an ongoing process. I want them to be like David. It seems like David understood this concept best. In Psalm 51:50 He writes “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. David was always asking God to do something that had to do with heart, mind and spirit. David was more concerned with who he was becoming then what he was doing. Here are a few areas that David struggled in and I believe these areas stemmed from the condition of his heart.  

  1. Compromise: Having the ability to compromise your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked could wreak havoc in a ministry, and destroy your credibility as a leader worth following.
  2. Abandon: The ability to abandon your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked you could fall for the lie that says “In order to obtain more influence, you must somewhat abandon your beliefs, and come to the middle of the road on certain issues.” This is a lie that unfortunately a lot of people fall for.
  3. Manipulate: The ability to manipulate for selfish gain is a condition of the heart. Left unchecked and you could lead others down the wrong road for a good cause. Probably one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone.

The thing that I want student leaders to know is that we are all capable of doing any of those three things. And so it’s not enough for my student leaders to just know how to speak, plan an event and be relational. They need to understand that we lead from our hearts and out of it is who we are. You can only fake being someone you’re not for a short time, before the real you shows up. My goal is to not just help them do, but also help them be.

 

Hope it helps,

AC

Here is Ep.19 – You can catch the other episodes at the Youtube channel (Let’s Talk Youth Ministry). Kurt and I talk about the Fall, and we both give a few tips on things you should try in the Fall. Check it out!! 

 

Hope it helps,

AC



baby

My buddy Matt, the youth pastor at our Irvine Campus, and I just returned from helping launch Saddleback’s first international youth ministry in Manila.

The week was filled with hype, hope, and hard work around the launch. In fact, we were talking so much about “Week 1″ that I finally felt compelled to remind them that we were launching a youth ministry, not just a one-time event. Brittany Hinzo, who helps me with our international stuff had delivered a beautiful little baby girl just a few days earlier so I used her as a launching pad.

“Remember how excited we all were to hear about Brittany’s new baby girl, Navy? Guys, anybody can have a baby! The reality is the birthing process is the easy part; anybody can do that. What’s tough is raising a baby! While I’m just as excited as you about the launch, and largely responsible for creating this excitement, I’m more concerned about week #2 and week #28 and week #84 than I am about week #1″

Youth workers are notorious for new ideas, big plans and fireworks. We love “having babies”! And we are often equally notorious for being terrible at raising them. We have programs we never should have birthed, we are neglecting the health of important things because we are excitedly birthing new things. etc.

We love to ask each other what we are doing that is new, fresh and exciting and rarely ask each other what things we have been doing faithfully for 5 or 6 years that are bearing good fruit.

So while I’m excited about the birth of Saddleback Student Ministry’s addition to the family in Manila, I realize that anybody can have a baby. Can we raise one? I hope so.

Leadership 8A lot of times when we think of student leaders, we think of the students who are the elite of our ministry. And that is completely false. Student leaders are just students who are committed to serving a cause greater than themselves. My pray is that our students simply learn to serve like Jesus. So here are a few random thoughts that I’ve been noodling on that has been pushing us in that direction.

  • Grow together  – Asking students to do and be things you aren’t doing or being is the easiest road to a revolt within student leadership. Instead, take them as a whole with you included on a journey of growth in serving like Jesus.
  • We are all in the same boat - I got a great idea from one of my veteran volunteers. He gave me the idea to create a struggle sheet. This sheet listed the things that we as christians struggle with. I had them fill it out anonymously. Once they were done I collected them all and shuffled them. Then I passed them back out, with each student receiving someone else’s sheet. I then begin to say “if this struggle is on your sheet raise your hand?” Hands begin to go up with each struggle mentioned. Then I let them know that we are no different than the students we are committed to serving. They struggle with the same stuff we struggle with. My goal was to change their perspective on thinking that we were some how special or better than anyone else. I also wanted to create a level of compassion within them, for the students we will serve.
  • Setting expectations - Not for the sake of having rules, but for the sake of serving others and becoming better followers of Christ. No one is expected to have it all together, but you should expect them to pursue the growth that draws them to serve and be more like Jesus. Set expectations and expect them to meet them.
  • Create something worth being a part of - This generation isn’t just looking for change, but to be a part of a movement. They are looking to be the catalysis to helping the less fortunate or speaking up for the voiceless. Remember “Kony 2012″, “Bring back our girls” or “Blackfish”?I believe students latched on to these causes because of their longing to be a part of something. There is no other mission on the planet like showing, and sharing God’s love to the world. It’s the greatest most important cause/movement ever. I want students to join in on the movement that changed my life when I was 17. This generation is hungry to be a part of something life changing. So make it worth it.
  • Personal growth - Student leaders need to grow as a person and also in their walk with Christ. Even though we encourage getting involved, we definitely don’t want them just jumping on the bandwagon of causes. We want them to understand that their influence is important, but it also can hinder them without personal growth. Growth in influence and authority without spiritual/personal growth leads to ego growth and narcissistic leadership.

My goal is for students to simply serve like Jesus. I want their title to remind them of their commitment to serve and not just lead. There you go, just a few random thoughts. What has been a struggle for you concerning your leadership program for students?

 

Hope it helps,

AC