I was talking to a very frustrated youth worker yesterday and he was lamenting over his so far fruitless job search. Here’s a clip of what he was saying:

I need some encouragement and advice. I have applied to many places, but no matter where I send a resume the response is almost always the same, or very similar. I don’t have enough “experience.” The problem is all I can get are internships and it seems no one values that as authentic experience. I just haven’t had someone be willing to take a chance on me, and I’m at a point in life where I either need to give up on being a youth pastor, or someone has to take the risk. I just am having trouble knowing what to do, or how to take it all in.

This is a tough situation to find yourself in – you need experience, but need someone to give you a job so you can get experience! Feels like the ultimate circular reasoning with a great youth worker caught in the middle. As I was processing this cycle this week, I wanted to unpack a few of the things that might be happening in this situation. Here’s a few ideas:

The church genuinely needs someone with more experience
There’s a chance that the church just got burned by an inexperienced rookie. Maybe they have had a string of short-timers who came in with lots of great ideas and little stamina for the long haul. They want someone they can trust, and you don’t appear to be it. Maybe this isn’t a risk-taking church and genuinely wants someone who is proven previously and chances are will deliver again here.

You failed to sell what experience you do have
In some cases it isn’t your actual experience, but how you pitched your experiences to them. It is possible you actually have the experience in the areas they are looking for but it wasn’t represented well on your resume or in the interview. Reflect on what they might have seen or not seen and how you can better align your resume’s details to what a church is looking for.

They sensed you weren’t a learner
This one is a tough pill to swallow and almost never will they say this to your face – but maybe they caught something you said that told them you weren’t someone who was willing to adapt, learn and grow with their leadership. You wouldn’t have gotten the interview if they weren’t somewhat interested, but something didn’t click after that. Argh.

It is an excuse for something else
Maybe you simply weren’t a fit. Maybe the “not enough experience” line was actually an excuse. Maybe they didn’t think you would gel with their players, or you weren’t what they were expecting from paper to in person.

Here’s the key: whatever the reason, this isn’t the church for you! It is OK to learn what you can from the situation and simply move on. It can be frustrating to be caught in this vicious circle, but God is guiding your next steps and has the perfect place for you, just keep being faithful as He opens and closes doors.

What other options are there in this situation? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments!


Leadership continues to be of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership. Have you ever had to give so much it hurt? Did you give your time, your money, and your left kidney?

My most memorable sacrifice during ministry was to break down the barrier with a kid at camp. We had a student with some mobility issues who just refused to open up. They were angry about their disabilities and would not hear about anything that anyone had to say. Our camp had a huge zip-line that students would love to ride. I noticed that this student with the disabilities really wanted to go on the zip-line. After a long period of “encouraging” the student to actually do it despite their fear, I strapped the student to my back and carried them up a 50 foot tower and then set them up on a zip-line. The sacrifice wasn’t much but by giving up my break and carrying that student’s weight, I was able to help break down their defenses and they went on to engage in a lot of spiritual conversations with their counselor.

I’m sure it won’t take much convincing but Christian leaders need to lead by giving sacrificially. Obviously our greatest example is Christ himself. Two of the greatest examples from Jesus’ life are when we got down on his knees and washed his disciples dirty feet. Then he asked us to follow him when He said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 13-17) Clearly, if Christ tells us that if we should follow him by making a simple sacrifice such as humbling ourselves, we need to do so. The second example is the obvious example of his death. While we may never be called to lay down our own lives as leaders, we can expect to have to make sacrifices regularly for the cause we are directing people towards. Jesus makes it clear that we will need to deny ourselves daily. (Luke 9:23)

I think that if someone really wants to be an excellent leader they need to be willing to sacrifice for their cause.

Do you have any great stories of sacrificing for the people you lead?

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

In your ministry, you have influence. You can use this influence to shape the way each student views learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. You can create engaged and active learners who are eager to learn more. Instilling the love of learning in those you minister to can be done by engaging your students through their creativity and simply by loving them!

Engaging your students through their creativity

  • Look for ways to be a blessing – Take a stuffed teddy bear to someone who isn’t feeling well, bring a copy of last week’s sermon to someone who missed church, smile when you pass someone by, buy someone a Bible. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple is powerful.
  • Build things together – Houses for the homeless, a set for a ministry video, build a new podium for your senior pastor. When you build things together, you are learning about teamwork and about caring for other’s through skills you may or may not have had before.

If you are not so creative, delegate tasks to the students who are, they would love to put their talents to work! Someone great at designing t-shirts, have them design some for a fund raiser. Someone great with woodwork, have them design a set for a play geared toward teaching other’s about Jesus. Someone great with the camera? Have them take some pictures for a new ministry photo album.  Short on ideas? Ask the creative ones, they will have many ideas on how they can use their talents to serve the ministry.

Simply love them!

  • This means showing grace in what may seem to be the worst situation. Things happen. They are here today, done with tomorrow. Loving others should be our focus. Remain at peace through the storm and let God handle the details.
  • Listen – Sometime we are so busy teaching and talking, we forget to listen. Take some time out to hear what they’ve got to say.
  • Be transparent – Be real with them. You have struggles just like them.
  • Spend time with them with no expectations – Let time spent with them flow whether it be into conversation or into a crazy fun game night!
  • Be involved in what they enjoy – When you enjoy being around someone, you’ll make the time to be involved in what they enjoy. It could be you showing up at their soccer game, going to the mall with a group of students or going to the arcade. Spend time in their world.

When you engage your students through their creativity and simply love them, they are actively learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. They will leave your ministry with the tools needed to equip others with the love of lifelong learning as well. Which is so important because this is how we grow in spirit and in stature, we’ve got to be actively engaged and eager to learn more for all of our lives.

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

Learning should not stop the day your ministry begins. Becoming an effective leader requires you to be stretched by shortcomings in order to become the best leader you can possibly be. Lifelong learners become stretched by shortcomings when they become aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves up to correction.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings
It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. That happens when you become comfortable with a certain way of living. Whether your shortcoming is that you jokingly make fun of people or that you are always late, you have first got to recognize the shortcoming so you can get on the right track.

Conscience effort
After recognizing your shortcoming you’ve got to put forth a constant conscience effort into making a change. If you are constantly conscience, you are able to catch yourself before falling. You will catch yourself and be back on the right track. Accountability is very helpful as well in staying on track.

Open to correction
All of us can use a little correction now and then. Opening yourself to correction allows you to grow in ways unimaginable. People who are open to correction are teachable; they are the lifelong learners who are stretched by their shortcomings. Put aside your pride, you do not always know what’s best. Be ready to listen the next time someone corrects you.

Though you may fail at a particular task, it is important you get back up and try again. Lifelong learners are aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves to correction. With a desire, you too, can become a lifelong learner stretched by your shortcomings.

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

Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

When I was in Bible College we took a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a backpacking trip. There were 27 of us in total: 20 students, 4 teachers, and 3 guides. Our goal was to backpack from one side of a mountain pass to the other in 3 days. Before we set out from basecamp we took a vote to choose two students from our group and make them trip leaders. The role of the trip leader was to join the guides in learning navigation and group leading skills. The ‘trip leaders’ were also in charge of choosing when to stop for the night and when to take meals etc. I was selected along with a girl named Courtney. We were chosen because each of us had experience from spending time in the outdoors and we knew how to read maps and use a compass. Off we went for three days; everything went great until the end of the second day when we decided to push forward so we could have a more relaxing third day. A problem arose as we headed towards our last camp we pushed the team too far. We didn’t listen to the fact that everyone was too tired and didn’t want to press on. In the end we had a group of tired and grumpy people; tears were shed, words exchanged and people were just downright miserable.

Fast-forward two years, and I am leading a trip of 16 teens as a guide. We have been pushing forward for a couple days straight and have to choose where to make camp for the night. I turn to my friend and co-guide and we start to decide whether we should push it or just take it easy for the end of the day. Suddenly I stop; it hits me that this could be a complete do-over of my Bible School trip. So I turn to the campers and ask them for their opinion, they leave it up to us guides but I can tell by their reaction that we should take it easy and stop short.

Making the decision to stop was one of the best decisions I could have made on that trip, and to be honest I almost didn’t make the right decision. But I took hold of a lesson I had learned in the past and put it into practice.

There are a number of instances in the Bible where we see God, teaching leaders to become learners. We can see examples in the life of Moses and the life and teachings of Jesus.

Moses was stubborn; God gave him numerous chances to really rely on Him; and Moses pushed back against God over and over. In the end it was his refusal to open his eyes to what God was showing him that prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land. On the flip side we see Jesus; fully God and fully man; even went through a period of growing in wisdom (Luke 2:52). We also learn from the parable of Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27) that God will give us a little bit to start and if we are faithful and learn from that, we will be blessed with more.

What are some ways that you are learning?

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

One of our favorite quotes among our Pastoral staff is, “Leaders are learners—when you stop learning you stop leading.” These words have become commonplace in our church culture, but they’ve never been more true. As leaders, we have to be hungry to learn and willing to humble ourselves to someone else’s wisdom and experience.

So what makes somebody “teachable”?

Someone Who Asks Curious, Thoughtful Questions
Somebody who is curious and asks lots of good questions is hungry to learn. They are processing the information that has been provided, and now they’re seeking clarification for an even deeper understanding. They KNOW they need to learn and use the answers to those questions to propel themselves forward. If you want to show someone you’re listening, learning and leading, ask great questions.

Of the two, this one is easy. Obviously some folks are more inquisitive, and better at asking questions, but almost everybody enjoys learning life lessons and having teachable moments that they initiated!

Someone Who Is Humble Enough To Let Others In
It isn’t easy, but a truly teachable person allows others to speak into their life through exhortation, encouragement, correction, and coaching…even when they aren’t asking for it!

This one…is tough. To be open to correction you didn’t know you needed. To be coached in areas you thought you had already mastered. To be pushed in directions you don’t think you want (or need) to go. To learn from people who don’t know as much as you do. For instance, Josh knows almost nothing compared to me (Kurt…and apparently I didn’t write the “pride” article the other day), but I am shocked at how much I learn from him when I open myself up to his wisdom.

Chances are the older, more experienced, more educated and more “successful” you are, the less teachable you are, too. While this is natural, it doesn’t make sense. In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of ministry leaders simply can’t afford to quit learning. What I’ve discovered about so many of my youth ministry friends…and about myself…is that while we’re quick to ask questions and learn stuff we WANT to learn, we’re sometimes a little slower to become truly teachable.

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.

I went to a local fair and they had an exhibit featuring Star Trek- it had props, costumes, scripts, sets the whole 9 yards everything you could want to see and more!

Now I am more of a Star Wars guy but I do love me some good Star Trek too! Lately, Amy and I have been working our way through the Star Trek movies (Thank you Netflix!). I started to think about what benefits/skills the Captains would bring to youth ministry:

Captain James T. Kirk
GO with the feeling inside- While Kirk went with his gut reaction, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, and if we were smart we’d listen to it.

Keep a diverse team- Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scott and Sulu. This is a team that is made up of people with different strengths and weaknesses. In ministry we often try to do everything on our own, but the fact is we all have weaknesses. We need to find people to work with who can fit within our weak spots and we need to let them shine.

Keep learning- If there was anything Kirk did really well, is he learned from others so he could adapt and be flexible. We need to do this in ministry to keep fresh, otherwise we become stale and less effective.

Captain Jean Luc Picard
Have your priorities in order- Picard always put his crew or the people he was helping before himself. He also made sure to always complete his prime directive of every mission. There is an order of who we need to take care of: Our families and ourselves then others- if we don’t take care of ourselves we will be useless to work with anyone else.

Ask for help- One thing Picard did well was ask for help. When he knew he was beat he would get help. We need to do the same thing in ministry. Sometimes we need to get ideas from other people, sometimes we just need help getting a task done. No matter what you need help with, make sure you ask.

What are some leadership lessons you have learned?

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

I have found that of all of the things that I have poured into my ministry that have had by far the biggest impact on individual lives and on groups as a whole is good, solid biblical teaching of God’s word. That means different things to different people. What I mean is regular (weekly), verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter teaching. Such teaching allows God’s word to teach God’s word, not choosing a topic to teach and then searching for various verses to back up the message you want to get across.

Now there is nothing wrong with topical teaching. I actually believe that a short stretch of a certain topic once in a while that pertains to your students is very healthy. But a regular diet of topical teaching is like feeding your students ice cream week after week. They need the meat of the word. And that means expository teaching.

Many people will disagree with this and I believe they mainly do because they either have not seen this type of teaching over a long period of time impact lives or they are ignorant or even lazy. Expository teaching is, here it is, hard work. It takes much more time and effort to dig for what a passage really means, what it meant for the people that it was written to, and what it means for its hearers now.

You will do your students an injustice now and over the long haul if you fudge in this area. We live in a world of extreme biblical ignorance and I believe that is mainly the church’s fault—starting in the youth ministry. If you focus your attention on developing your ability to teach the word in a way that truly feeds students solid meat, the impact of your effort will be seen in the lives of your students now and in their lives down the road as they continue to crave the meat of the word.

Youth ministry is a wonderful, unique, challenging, often misunderstood and rewarding career. It’s no longer as much a stepping stone to being a REAL pastor as it is a very specialized ministry that requires a disciplined work-ethic along with the ability to learn how to focus on what one has been specifically called to do. This takes years of patience, endurance, faith and heart to get it right. In my experience, more than 30.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.