Gears

You’ve been there. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. “There” is that moment when you admit, and determine to do something about, what you’ve already been sensing for a little while: Things in your ministry just aren’t clicking. You’re frustrated. You’re stagnant. You’re hitting the gas but can’t get traction. You’ve quit hitting the gas and are idle. You know something isn’t quite right, but can’t put your finger on it.

What do you do when things aren’t clicking? Here are a few places I’d look at first.

The Structure:
Oftentimes the various structures we have in place are like old wineskins, unsuitable for the current realities of our ministry. “structures” that may need to be reexamined might include your budget, your schedule, your ministry paradigm and strategy, your physical meeting space, etc.

The Team:
Ministries with healthy structures aren’t always healthy! Because ministry is “of the people, for the people”, the team leading the charge is usually highly instrumental in whether things are clicking or not. And, when looking at the team, the question isn’t, “are things clicking?” so much as it is, “Are we clicking?” Are people being used in their areas of giftedness? Do we trust each other? Can we disagree without being disagreeable? Are we all pulling on the same side of the rope? Do we have a clear sense of purpose? Is anybody a continual source of frustration and conflict?

The Leader:
This may come as a shock, but you aren’t a perfect leader. And your weaknesses affect (and sometimes infect) your ministry as much as your strengths. Because leaders are influencers, a ministry that isn’t clicking requires you to take a look at yourself, too. Are you spending time with the Father? Do you still have a passion for the movement you are leading? Do you still feel called to it? Are you pursuing a life of health (personal, spiritual, emotional, relational, financial)? Do you feel supported by your supervisor(s)?

When a ministry feels stuck, there’s rarely a silver bullet that will get things moving forward again. But I’ve learned over the years that the answer oftentimes lies in the structure, the team or myself.

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1This week we continue with 4 tips on growing your youth ministry!!!

Here are a few things we want you to know.

  1. Kurt and I are committed to keeping the show around 20 minutes in length.
  2. Subscribe to the Let’s Talk Youth Ministry YouTube channel and check out other episodes that you may find helpful.
  3. Email any questions you may have to talkyouthministry@gmail.com.

 

Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Ever thought how do I grow my youth ministry? Well, Kurt and I will spend the next few weeks discussing some ways to grow your ministry. So tune in!!!

 

Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt

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Andy Stanley recently said something to the effect of, “The church should be the safest place to talk about anything.” I’m no Andy Stanley, but the other day while talking to one of our interns I said something that I thought was equally brilliant: “Always make extending the conversation one of your goals.”. Now, if you combine these two thoughts, you have a golden nugget of wisdom for youth workers!

“Church should be the safest place to talk about anything, and once a student opens up about something, don’t shut them down with easy answers or judgmental proclamations…instead, extend the conversation!”

Some related questions for you to ponder (and feel free to answer in comments if you’d like!):

- If students think there are taboo questions or topics at church, where will they go to talk about those things?
- Do you trust the input they will get from the other sources concerning those questions?
- How much pressure do you feel to always have an easy, confident, answer for every topic a student raises?
- Many questions deal with doubt…can helping students embrace doubt be a good thing?
- Where does that pressure come from: Self-imposed? Parents? Your church culture?
- Why is the art of “extending the conversation” so vital for youth workers?
- when scripture doesn’t speak clearly or directly about a topic, how do you address it with students?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being best) how “safe” a place is your youth group for students to ask honest questions and express
doubts and struggles?



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