imagesI firmly believe that ultimately as leaders we lead by what we do whether we want to or not. We can be leading and speaking in one lane and living in another. And little do we know our that students over time do more of what we do and less of what we say. So it’s important we continue to grow spiritually, following Christ as we lead others. It’s important that we are investing in areas of leadership that we would love to transfer on to our students and allowing those things to live out in our own lives first. Then as we lead, teach and mentor, we will see those things lived out in the lives of our students. So here are a few things I want lived out in my life so they can be lived out in the lives of the students that God has trusted me with:

  1. Perseverance - A lot of times God calls us to do things that challenge us to trust Him. He challenges us to say I can, when we think we can’t. So, we need to model perseverance in trusting God’s timing and calling instead of our own.
  2. Humility - We need to remember that James 4:10 says if we humble ourselves then God will exalt us. We also need to remember that Luke 14:11 says if we try and exalt ourselves we will be humbled. Being humble is a state of being and not a position. Humility is not selling everything you own and living as a poor person. That is actually pride, because you are trying to buy humility by doing something. We need to model humility, which is simply knowing that God’s grace has you where you are and nothing else. We must live that out.
  3. Character – Your character shapes the leader you become, so they need to know that building Godly character is mission critical. You lead out the character you’ve developed or the lack there of. We need to model Godly character.
  4. Patience – They need to understand that patience is more then just waiting. Having patience helps you lead and make decisions with balance. Patience is really a lost art in our culture today. Amazon is the perfect example: They have a button called “Buy Now With One Click.” Just click it right there on the same page and buy it. They want to make sure you don’t have time to think if this a smart choice. They want to help you buy on impulse verses your purchase being wisely thought out. The faster we can have it, do it, use it, own it, see it, take it and eat it, the better. Patience helps you lead and make decisions apart from your impulses. We need to model patience.
  5. Compassion – One reason why compassion is important in leadership is because Jesus modeled it. Matt 14:14 says, “When Jesus saw the crowd He was moved with compassion and healed those who were sick.” There are so many takeaways from this verse, but the one that sticks out the most is that compassion has the ability to move you into doing the unthinkable. It takes a courageous, bold person to be compassionate. I can just imagine Jesus freaking people out completely as He walks through just healing people left and right. We need to model compassion.

We can teach these things a million different ways with great conviction, but the real question is…can we live these things out? It’s not enough to just teach. So what am I missing on this list? Which one is the hardest for you to live out?

Hope it helps

ac

I love new things, and I admire people who don’t settle for the status quo. I highly respect people that push it.

I think this is the way of visionary leaders.

Visionary leaders create new things and show little to no reliance on what other people have or are currently doing. They tend to be a bit rogue…in a good way.

I really appreciate those leaders that push the status quo through their creativity.

This guy is a PERFECT example. This is every bit of crazy, but it’s unique and stretches the status quo…by a long shot. Trust me, watch this.

- Chuck / @chuckbomar



Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 8.41.25 AMWorking in ministry can be a challenging calling regardless of our circumstances. But it is even more difficult when we are working in an environment that is led by someone who has a different ministry philosophy than we do.  In youth ministry, this can often be the point of much friction. I’ve talked with countless youth ministers struggling with the philosophy of the leadership over them. They are not sure what to do. Most feel stuck. Many want to give up.

All ask for my advice in one degree or another.

So, what do you do if you differ in ministry philosophy with the leadership over you?

I will issue a few thoughts, but first let me say that I have been both a youth pastor (in 2 contexts) and I have planted a church of which I still pastor.  So, these thoughts aren’t favoring one side of the coin over the other, but instead my goal is to have them more focused on personal growth. These might seem a bit harsh at first, but here are some of my honest thoughts:

  1. You don’t need to be at the church you are at, so if you disagree with how the leadership leads or the direction of the church to the point where you can’t support it…you should leave. If you stay you will end up being divisive, regardless of how much you try to keep a unified face on.
  2. If you are staying at the church simply because you have no other source of income, I would recommend you seriously consider your “calling” to ministry.  This might be a point to elaborate on in another post, but I would be inclined to say that this is actually the reason you should resign.
  3. If you are staying because you “feel called to the kids in your ministry” then trust the LORD is in control and follow the lead of those over you. And, trust that He is going to teach you some things during your time at the church.
  4. If you think you should stay because you feel like God wants to use you as an agent of change, be careful. I’ve found some to be that agent of change, but it’s definitely the minority. In fact, in my experience, God keeps the youth pastor at the church so the youth pastor will change – usually toward more humility.

Chuck / @chuckbomar

The Productivity Vacuum

Leneita Fix —  March 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I work in what one would call an “open office.”  For some it would be a “good” thing not having walls around their desks, giving them the ability to be highly relational and creatively collaborative all of the time. When I come to the “office,” I am there to get the administrative “stuff” out of the way. I have tasks I need to get out of the way. This would be fine, except I work with others who see “office time” as “connection time.” What this means is that I rarely feel like I can be productive in getting my “check list” accomplished.

Fortunately, I figured out how to remedy this atmosphere that is a “productivity vacuum” for me. It involved communicating with my staff about our different office time needs. I also need to take the time at least once a week with my team, to meet that relational need. It got me thinking about those universal ways we can be unproductive:

Plan Your Work & Work the Plan

A mentor of mine taught me this awesome saying, “Plan your work and work your plan.”  The “plan” is not the accomplishment. We have to take steps to FINISH the plan. Follow through brings momentum. I actually believe that getting the admin stuff under control gives more time for relational building.

 Tyranny of The Urgent:

We are working our plan when BLAM something blows up. All attention is diverted to put out the fire. This is fine in times of crisis.  However, it’s easy to never work our plan and ONLY be a firefighter. Learn the difference between a real and perceived emergency.

Prioritize:

This can be the hardest part of all we need to get done. There are times when we people need us and it’s true that they are more important than the “stuff” that needs to get done. HOWEVER, we also need to learn what should be at the top of the list and order what needs to be done well.

 

Jack Of All Trades and Master of None: 

It’s my job to do it all!  An inability to delegate is one of the worst blows to productivity. No one person can accomplish everything. Nothing is getting done with excellence while everything is a little bit mediocre.  Make a list of all of your responsibilities.  What MUST you do yourself?  What does your leadership say HAS to be in your hands?  Then what is left?  This is what you delegate. You’re right no one will ever do it as well as you do. However, the more you give away, the more others become invested.

There are so many other ways productivity is lost. I can think of times when my vision for ministry wasn’t clear or when I failed to communicate that vision.

The point is to identify what gets you “stuck” and then to work on that ONE thing first…

What is your productivity vacuum?

Leneita



god-is-in-control_4534_1440x9001. It’s all ministry.

2. God’s in control.

These two phrases have had me thinking a lot about how little I have to do with how God uses me, and how there ‘s more to ministry then what we traditionally understand. God has been showing me that there is no limits to what He can do in us and through us. I’ve had situations where a student shared with me that 8 months ago that a hug I don’t remember giving was the catalyst for his life change. I’ve also received text messages about how something I said in passing changed a students life for the better. I had a conversation with a student about an invitation they casually received from a leader to go to summer camp. Well, that ended up kick-starting the students walk with Christ. I’ve had students share their testimony with their parents, and their parents come to Christ through it. This is why the phrase it’s all ministry and God’s in control exists. And if you think about your ministry I sure you can think of some stories of unorthodox life change.

Sometimes when we don’t recognize these two phrases, we run into issues and begin to think:

  • I need to make this program, message, song, conversation and event perfect because that’s how students come to christ when things are done right and perfect.
  • Let’s make God do more by praying harder.
  • If only I can put the right words together they will change.
  • It’s just a conversation, smile, high five, coffee, remembered name, hug, ride, invite, or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram post of encouragement. None of that is real ministry.

When you understand that everything we do as youth workers is ministry and God’s in control you begin to think:

  • I’m going to be intentional about the small things because I know God uses them.
  • I will strive to do my best and allow God to do the rest. It may not be perfect, but it will be worth it, If I serve from my heart.
  • God is not a genie in a bottle. So I won’t petition HIm as if He is.
  • The Holy Spirit will give me the words to say. I just need to surrender to him and allow him to use me.
  • God help me see every opportunity I have to share my faith and your love.

I used to think that God worked in a certain way, because of tradition, I used to believe that ministry was confined to a certain area of life. I was sadly mistaken. God wants to use every part of our life. He wants use our strengthens, weaknesses, failures and wins. He won’t let anything go to waste. Also, we must come to terms with the fact that ultimately God is in control. I would even say rest in the fact that God is in control, because it’s a good thing. Would love to hear how you are stretching yourself to think outside the box when it comes to ministry. Also, what does (God’s in control) mean to you?

hope it helps,

ac

The Pope.

And… here we go.

(ahem)

pope1Not that long ago, I raised a question in another post regarding the implications of the Pope being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” It’s a topic I’m interested in not only as a Protestant pastor, but also as a former Catholic. I once had a lot of baggage in transitioning out of the Catholic church, but now only seem to have a “carry-on” about it I can’t seem to get rid of.

Please forgive me for being honest about that.

Maybe it’s why I was personally saddened by a recent blog post a friend shared with me where Pope Francis denied the existence of hell, declared that “all religions are true,” and other provocative things. Saddened… and yet, I didn’t question it. It seemed to affirm some of my old-school Catholic baggage and fears about how people are just waiting to hear what they want to hear from a religious leader so they can check out of a real journey with God. Here’s a quote from that blog attributed to Pope Francis:

pope3In his latest revelations, Pope Francis said:

“Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.”

In a shocking speech that is reverberating across the world, Pope Francis declared that:

“All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

I came across the news when in the midst of a busy day a friend and congregation member sent me a Facebook note and asked me for my opinion on it. Wanting to honor his interest, I quickly read the article and became broken over it. I feel the tension all the time even as a pastor to honor they trust others put in me, and while I don’t have the corner market on Truth I believe God does and we need to figure out what that means:

  • There is truth: It’s illogical to say “All religions are true.” It’s a lazy cultural concept that does more harm than good, mainly because we’re so concerned about making sure we don’t offend anyone that we fail to realize how offensive that ideal is. People should be offended – laws exist to offend people away from breaking them; homes are built with locks on them to offend potential criminals from invading where they do not belong; Truth exists so that lies do not become dominant.
  • There is a truth about God: Either He exists or He doesn’t. If He does exist, our opinions of Him don’t define Him; rather, His revelation about Himself is what matters most, beyond opinion. No individual (including a Pope) can have the definitive word on this. If you believe God does not exist, you may gain some insight from Pascal’s Wager as a starting point.

Again… not once did I wonder if what the Pope said was actually something he said. He confirmed my worst fears about his potential role in Christendom, just as he would have likely confirmed some people’s best dreams for something he might say.

That’s really what I’m writing about.

francismask-255x144Twelve hours later, I realized that this was all a hoax. According to a Catholic media page as well as Snopes.com, the story was planted into internet circulation by the blogger of the Diversity Chronicle who claims (via a disclaimer) that his content is “largely satirical.”

“Twelve hours later.” Twelve hours. In that time, I’d shared it with my wife, formed conclusions about the Pope, replied by to my friend, entertained a Rob Bell reference, and tightened my resolve regarding what Christianity will look like in the immediate future based on the influence of one man. I had to go back and correct all of that.

I know I could have kept this a private matter, but James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

So I sincerely apologize, and I welcome your judgment – also, your prayers. As you prepare for that, I’d offer my motives:

  • My previously confessed Catholic baggage. I won’t go down that road with you here, but will happily talk with you one-on-one if it’s of interest.
  • The tension in Christendom of witnessing our heroes, frenemies and theological adversaries take a public nose dive that we’re left to sweep up the remnants of.
  • A passage in the back of the Bible (and always somehow in the back of my mind) that “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
  • An egotistical understanding that I am doing my best on a regular basis to be “theologically correct” in everything I do. Again… please note… an “egotistical understanding.” I so appreciate a Rich Mullins quote: “I think if we were given the scriptures it was not so that we could prove that we were right about everything. If we were given the scriptures it was to humble us into realizing that God is right and the rest of us are just guessing..”

worldbrokenThe world is changing… and apparently so is the local church. My wife grew up within the care structure of Christianity (whereas I came into it as a teenager). She once observed how it used to feel like when she was in a church gathering that it was a chance to feel camaraderie with like-minded people. Even if it wasn’t true, it “felt” like people were trying to hold the same Christian worldview. Now in any given church service you might be sitting next to someone who lives/votes/loves/hates completely different than you do – and we truly have to figure out how to forge relationships through tension.

I’d also point out one more thing – someone is waiting for you to say something that affirms their criticisms, baggage or beliefs about you.

Maybe this isn’t about the Pope as much as it’s about all of us. His sound-bytes have a louder echo, but so do yours and mine in our circles. Maybe this isn’t just about my motives for my reaction, but your motives for whatever your reaction might be to that… or even this.

Moving forward, you will have to decide more than which dogmas or religious rock stars you will be inappropriately loyal to or get inappropriately steamed over. You have to decide how you will be loyal to Jesus while giving space for loving others through your own biases.

Again, I welcome your judgment.

I likewise also welcome your confession…

but just so there’s no confusion, I welcome your confession as a Protestant pastor… with a Catholic carry-on that I can’t seem to get rid of.



YM Logo 3886179_origThis weekend I became aware of a few things that makes our youth group night/weekend great. I also can say pretty confidently that valuing these three things change the game at youth group.

Now, these three things can pretty much be talked about in any context, but I want to address them in the context of youth group night, because youth group night is probably the only night you have all of your students gathered in one place (hopefully bringing friends). I would say right after God, your volunteers are probably the next most important people in the room. So I try to remind our volunteers of 3 things very frequently:

  • Their Purpose at youth group – You are not just creepy people holding up the wall in the back.
  • Their Importance at youth group – We couldn’t do youth ministry the way we do it without you.
  • Their Commitment to youth group – We appreciate your commitment to our ministry, and we thank God for you.

Also, as a quick reminder to volunteers, here are 4 things they need to be on youth group night:

  1. Approachable – Be careful not to just hang out with core students during youth group. You can easily become super unapproachable to students who may not be apart of the core crowd. Also, be careful where you hangout before and after service. Ask yourself, “Am I in an area that may make you unapproachable?”          
  2. Available – Don’t allow the program to highjack time you could be spending with students. Don’t get me wrong. The program is super important, but have it dialed in so you can be dialed in to students. A lot of times we are there, but we are so occupied with the program that we end up leaving without making any real connections. When the program becomes the focal point and connections secondary we lose. The program should help foster community not just entertain it. Majority of returners come back because of a connection made. So be available.
  3. Engaged – You set the tone for the ministry. If you’re not excited about what’s going on during youth group, students won’t be excited either. Service starting is not the time for you to sneak off and work on other stuff, even though it is super tempting (I’m learning this myself). Be engaged because students are watching. It’s ok to really worship God during our time of worship. So be active during service as if you were in the adult service. Be engaged.
  4. Intentional – I use this word a lot because being intentional is the game-changer. I can be intentional in the most simple of things, and it makes all the difference. Example: How about circling back to the student you met during greeting time and asking “How was the service and what part affected you the most?” Thinking intentionally is praying for the Holy Spirit’s lead in conversations with students. Youth group with intentionality is next level quality.

My leaders that serve during youth group are on the frontline of our ministry, so it’s important that they are equipped to meet, greet, connect and pray for students. I’m always thinking about their needs and what we can do to help them win. So what would you add to the list or what are you doing to help your leaders win on youth group night? 

 

hope it helps,

ac 

learn

This past weekend I had the joy of speaking at Believe, CIY’s event for Junior Highers. 6,000 students and their leaders gathered in Northern Kentucky for 24 hours worth of music, comedy, video, interactive learning, teaching, small group discussion and more. Because my role was fairly minimal, I had space to engage in some great conversations, observe great junior high ministry in motion and even learn some leadership lessons. Here is a sample:

* After a separate session just for the leaders, A young man pulled me aside and asked for my “top 3 tips” for working with junior highers. He was brand new and feeling overwhelmed. One of my tips was, “Chris, just let them know you LIKE them…look for little ways things that will show them you are interested in more than only being their spiritual leader.” About two hours after that conversation, I got an email from Chris that read in part: “Today at lunch I got spontaneous and bought everybody slushees, I was shocked at how many conversations that little gesture has already led to!”

* A youth pastor introduced a high school senior to me who is considering going into ministry but had all sorts of questions about education, internships, best route to take, etc. It was hilarious because as we started talking, her youth pastor sipped just out of her view and “coached me up” with non-verbal cues as during our conversation. It was obvious he wanted me to direct her in a similar way he had! Very, very funny!

* In the opening session on Friday night, there were some really tough technical difficulties…like sound going in and out during worship, videos not working, my mic popping in and out, etc. I pulled a few of the CIY guys aside afterward to share a few things going through my mind while I observed (and experienced) the situation:
– Even big events like this are really still just youth group. Students don’t care about the stuff we care about!
– It’s easy to be a strong team when things are going well. But the true strength of a team shows up in adversity!
– It may have been a tough night for Believe, but Believe at it’s worst is still the best JH event I’ve ever seen!

* There was a group there with over 700 students in attendance and groups there with 7. I met the leaders from both and was equally impressed! It takes just as much skill, passion, dedication to run a group of 7 junior highers as it does one of 700…in fact, you could make a strong argument that running a group of 7 is oftentimes tougher due to lack of funds, lack of help etc.

* I met two different youth workers…both about my age, both in ministry for 20-plus years and both having served in the same church for most of that time. It reminded me that the #YMNATION is made up of men and women faithfully serving the local church and doing so joyfully without speaking engagements, book deals, blogs and other easily pursued opportunities. These are the true heros of youth ministry!

It’s these types of experiences that make getting away from time to time so important! Do what you can to escape to an event like SYMC or another local training event; partly for the training, but mostly for the chance to be around others on a similar journey. Take your students to a larger gathering and rub shoulders with other youth workers while you are there. Leaders are learners, and the best lessons usually aren’t found in books or blogs.