Why Be a Team Player

 —  October 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

Matt McGill (who has been on a blogging streak lately) posted some great reasons why your youth ministry should be aligned with the whole church and not just a siloed ministry. Here’s 1, 3 and 4 – head there for the rest and be sure to subscribe to his blog, too:

1. The youth ministry is not the church–it may be the best part of the church, but it’s still just a part.

3. Greater alignment usually means greater impact. Being a team player increases your alignment with the bigger picture.

4. Lead by example. You know how friendship works: if you want a friend, be a friend first. There will be days when you need help from the rest of the church. Be the first one to serve so that they are more eager to serve you. Obviously, this can be twisted into a game of politics, but you don’t have to go that far with it.


I’m a huge Matt McGill fan (tell me you subscribe to his youth ministry blog) – and today I discovered another timeless video of him giving the camp rules that you have to see. There’s simply nothing like this guy. Genius.


  • What is this BURNING I feel in my chest?
  • Why are my teeth clinched and my fingers balled into a fist? Is this a brutal, but necessary, surgery? Or is it a brutal, but avoidable, violation?
  • Is this a bullet being removed to save my life or is someone looking for an internal organ to sell on the black market?
  • Is this the what it feels like to give up my pride? Or is this the sinister, sinking feeling that follows the surrendering of my passion?

Of course, Pride and Passion are so very different. Passion leads to serving others and Pride leads to serving self. Giving up either feels the same, even if the results are different. Loosing Pride creates dependence on God, losing Passion creates an apathetic life.

The world is filled with fuel for the fire of pride: “Look at what I have done! This is what I deserve! Here is where I am great!”

The world is also filled with leeches that drain passion’s power: “You are no good! You have no value! Know your place, don’t step out of line! Be afraid and be little!”

I have seen the passion fade, and there are few things more terrible than apathy. I have seen the sprinters stop running. Giving up their joy in order to take a seat on the sideline. It is not long before they roll over, and play dead or even just simply be dead.

Giving up pride is painful. Of course, it’s the only path to spiritual growth, to intimacy with God. Humility frees us up to stop managing our sin, accept grace, and move forward with trust and surrender.

These feelings and thoughts are the same, (at least they are for me): surrendering pride and giving up passion. Am I enduring hardship or caving in? Am I giving my heart to God or selling out my soul?

I have seen the zombies shuffle. The thing I fear most is becoming one. Zombies create more zombies. Administrators create more administration. Zombies can’t create life, and neither can micro-Administrators create leadership.

  • When I’ve lost my pride, I feel like lashing out in attack.
  • When I’ve lost my passion, I feel like laying down forever.

And perhaps here is where the knot is thickest: maybe loosing pride and passion often happen at the same time. The difference is not in the moment that it happens, but in the moments and days ahead. Which is it that we choose to add back into our hearts, pride or passion?

Perhaps there are times when we loose pride and passion at the same time, and our goal is to restore the passion without puffing back up with pride.

Pride is about receiving glory, being admired, understood, and respected. You can loose these things and still operate out of passion.

When the grinding moments come, step into the pain.

Suffer the indignity if you can stuff serve with the same fire that got you serving in the same place.

Matt McGill blogs a ton about youth ministry over on Love God, Love Students and was gracious enough to let me post these words here on MTDB. Check out his site and be sure to subscribe!

I was asked recently why/how I got into youth ministry. I told him clearly it was for the money!

After we had a good hearty laugh (sigh), I described how my great youth ministry experience as a student and in particular thinking my youth pastor was super cool got me thinking about getting into the ministry for myself. Besides giving him the Sunday school answer of “because God told me to” these were definitely catalysts the Lord used to make his calling me into ministry much more clear as I graduated high school.

This answer, however, spurred another question. He said, “You seem like a guy who students would think is cool, but you’re also a young guy. Will your coolness expire as you get older?”

I told him confidently that love, care, presence, and availability for students and a passion for God will always make me cool. It’s not about my clothes (lame), my knowledge of Justin Bieber or Kate Upton trivia (lacking), or my taste in movies and TV (vastly superior). It’s about pursuing God and being willing to engage students so they can do the same. I told him there were tons of youth pastors in their 40’s and 50’s and even more volunteers that age and older. It was a great opportunity to share the awesomeness of youth workers, especially the veterans!

I only hope I can be an effective youth worker 20 years from now and not take the sucker bait to accept the demotion to adult ministry… Well, unless God tells me to.

Matt Johnston is the High School Pastor at Journey of Faith in Manhattan Beach, CA. If you’re into it, you can check him out on twitter here and he blogs occasionally here. Also, be praying for him as he’s a Dodgers fan and baseball season is about to start. It will be a rough 6 months.

One of the best summer camp rules videos I’ve ever seen. Matt McGill in rare form – how did I just stumble across this now? Genius.


I love watching my 2-year old daughter play and marveling at how amazing her imagination is. She’s capable of creating entirely new cinematic scenes involving VeggieTales characters, Disney princesses and Pixar creations. It’s truly unbelievable.

Where did my imagination go? Why don’t I play like that anymore? Why don’t I create like that? Sadly enough, I’m perfectly aware of the reason. I’ve convinced myself that I’m not very creative and thus I often don’t even try. I’m perfectly content with running the exact same youth group night week in and week out. Attempting to bust out of the creative rut means switching up the service order a bit. Hold onto your hat.

As I reflect on this, though, it’s entirely and completely not true. It’s actually nothing less than insulting to my Creator. God is infinitely creative and aren’t I made in His image? To convince myself that I’m not creative is to trash on the person that God has made me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Mozart, Picasso, Martha Stewart or Bach (there I go again) but I am capable of creativity. How can I push myself to be imaginative? How can I test the limits of my own creativity as I love on students? What areas can I be creative in?

1) Be imaginative in how you love students
Show up unexpectedly at their bedside…at 5 am and then take them to breakfast. Take out an ad in the paper telling the world how awesome they are. Deliver balloons during their lunch period on their birthday. Make a T-shirt that you wear around telling how impressed you are with their faith in God. Use their names and stories as illustrations in your message.

2) Be imaginative in how you love your leaders
Plan a surprise date night for one of your leaders, complete with youth group kids providing table side entertainment. Organize youth group kids to meet a specific need that a leader has. Take youth group kids on a tour of your leaders houses and wash the leaders car. Say thank you once in awhile.

3) Be imaginative in how you love Jesus
Create an entire program around highlighting different ways students have expressed love towards each other, your leaders, you and Jesus. Create a gigantic mural with letters from students, leaders and yourself expressing thanks for what God has saved you from. Take one night and focus on who Jesus is and what He’s done as opposed to what you think you need to get done.

Don’t limit yourself by your own fear and insecurity. Be creative. Be imaginative. Stretch the edges and be who God has made you to be!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Buz is a special education teacher who passionately loves his ladies (wife and 2 daughters). They live in Spokane, Washington and you can check out his blog right here.

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Matt McGill over at Love God, Love Students had a great post about the discussion he leads with his small group guys. Thought some of these tips might come in handy for a volunteer training in your future:

  • I don’t ask questions because I know there are “three or four” correct answers…who knows what insights will emerge?
  • we can’t interrupt one another, cause it’s hard to share and harder when we’re interrupted
  • there will be silences…you may feel it’s awkward
  • I’ll be learning along side you, and sometimes I’ll be quiet after a response trying to understand it better, I’d rather understand a new thought than have my next “agenda item” ready to fire off
  • Some thoughts will be half baked, and sometimes we’ll start taking and then not know how to end the thought
  • I don’t answer very many questions…I don’t really need to because usually we come to the right answers together…this is really frustrating for some


My friend Matt McGill, podcast co-host and great youth ministry friend, has a great new blog called Love God, Love Students that is going to soon become another youth ministry daily stop for many youth workers. His site’s just coming online now, with some GREAT content, including this post about insecurity in youth ministry. Here’s an excerpt:

Insecurity is inescapable for youth workers.

We’ll never be cool enough. (If you think you are, just wait a few years.) We revisit our leadership decisions. We wonder if people like us. And the deepest bowel-shaking, fear-spawned question: Am I spiritual enough?

Insecurity is debilitating fear and doubt. Some fear and doubt is good (hungry, angry bears will maul you). Too much fear and doubt will ruin a person’s life (for example, believing there is a hungry, angry bear around every corner).

The opposite of insecurity is confidence, which is the attitude that comes from an accurate understanding of what we can control and the faith that God controls everything. “Too much” confidence is pride which says, “I don’t need God.”

Insecurity has a million different shades of meaning. So you and I can be on the same page, I’ve tried to establish a clear definition: insecurity is too much fear and doubt.

Living with deep insecurities isn’t God’s design for our lives. Fear makes it impossible to be experience the joy and significance we can have in Jesus. Also, God is calling us to be more like him, and that often means leaving our comfort zones. We can’t take these risks if we are filled with too much self-doubt. In the tough times and wild seasons of life, we can’t rest in God’s peace if we don’t trust him. We know all this, we teach it to the teenagers in our youth groups.