3 Lessons from 2013

Leneita Fix —  December 31, 2013 — 2 Comments



It’s that time again.  Every tabloid, television special, and post on the internet wants to take a look back at 2013. They want to announce their list of the “best” and “worst.”  We are bombarded with images, thoughts and opinions on what we were supposed to love and hate in the past year.

I look back at 2013, and in all honesty, it is not twerking or Duck Dynasty that affected me the most. I did not “like” the last year and that had nothing to do with pop culture. This was a painful year for me of stretching and trials. 2013 was a year when I “chose” Jesus more than I “felt” Him. Still, I had a mentor who gave me some really good advice long ago. She told me to ask the Lord in every situation, “Lord what are you teaching me?”  So before I run into the coming year I must look back and reminisce about the lessons I have learned.

Here are my top three:

1.  Jesus Wants & Requires My Obedience:

Faithfulness. That’s it. Every day He longs that I will choose Him again.  This year I have had a some friends and acquaintances who made the decision that following Christ costs too much.  In my own life I have realized this year that it “costs” everything that has the word me or mine involved in it.  More than anything I can “do” for Him, He  just wants me to be His.  Everything else is secondary.


2.  My ideas of success are different than God’s:

I wanted to climb the “ministry” ladder. I thought it would include notoriety and value. If you had asked me if I thought this, I would have said, “No way, my identity is in Christ, and I only do what I do for Him.”  However, in the secret places in my heart I also thought that the “blessings” that came from serving Him might include more Twitter followers.  When I show up and am faithful to what He has put right in front of me for today, loving Him most and others second, He calls that “success.”


3.  I adore my family & often underestimate them:

I am beyond blessed to have the spouse that I do. He has more integrity than almost anyone else I know.  He challenges me to grow closer to the Lord and be spurred on in all I am called to do.  My running joke in parenting a college student along with a 6th, a 7th and an 8th grader is that I live with a youth group.  I fear they will walk away from the Lord and make poor choices that will wreck their lives. The Lord has made it clear He is working in each of their lives as well.  In the midst of difficulty this has also become a year when we seek Him together, and that has made it all worth it. He reminded me that none of these people belong to me, and He will not let them go.

So here we are on the edge of the “new year,”  as you look back what did Jesus teach you?



Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 6.57.56 AMWorking in a church where most of your students go away to college can be bring some unique aspects to ministry – especially over the holidays. And even if “most” don’t move away, those that leave will likely be coming home over winter break.

So, what do we do to connect with them while they’re in town? Do we put an event together for everyone all at once or do we just try to connect with a few? Well, I’m not sure there’s a correct answer to that because I don’t think it’s an either-or issue. But, I’m assuming that you would at least be connecting with a few one-on-one. So, I want to walk through a few things we should keep in mind as we reconnect with students while they’re home for the holidays.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the awkwardness they may be feeling in some of their relationships. Some kept their dating relationship going even though they were long distance because they were living in different cities or states. They may be excited to see each other, but it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t a bit awkward. There is a lot that happened in their lives apart from each other that, well, is simply impossible to share.

And this awkwardness doesn’t stop with dating relationships either. It’s often with best friends, parents, and maybe even you. The fact is the last few months were packed with new experiences, new feelings, confusion, and clarity. To try to articulate everything they went through emotionally, physically and psychologically is daunting, to say the least. I would recommend seeking out some time with those coming home for coffee or lunch, but I would also recommend at least four things to keep in mind as you reconnect with students while they’re back home:

Ask direct/specific questions. Asking an open ended question like, “So, how was your semester?” can be overwhelming and lead to them feeling like they can’t connect with you. To think through and articulate everything in that short of time is too much, and your students can leave feeling like their life is too separated from you. I’ve found it’s much better to ask specifically about their roommate, favorite class, closest friend at school, involvement on campus ministry (or lack of), favorite or most frustrating class, or even if it’s a bit awkward for them to come back home…things like that.  These types of direct and specific questions allows you to really connect, on at least some levels.

Next post will list 3 more ideas…


Thought that Greg Stier wrote a solid post to kickoff the New Year – here’s a clip from his post, 5 Reasons I’m Excited About Youth Ministry in 2013 that I think is worth the read:

1. A lack of budget triggers a more mature approach to youth ministry.
The value of a strained US economy is that smaller church offerings can lead to tighter youth ministry budgets. Before you call me crazy remember that a smaller youth ministry budget can lead to less goofiness and more seriousness when it comes to youth ministry programming. And that’s a good thing.

God has blessed me with the privilege of leading a ministry called Dare 2 Share for the last twenty years. We train teenagers to share their faith all across the country. Because much of our income is donor related when “The Great Recession” hit in 2008 we had to cut staff, slash programs and sharpen our focus. While these were challenging times God has used it in powerful ways to make us more serious and strategic about a much more singular mission. The same can happen for youth ministries that get their budget slashed. Sometimes a “fiscal cliff” becomes a bridge to a more mature approach to youth ministry. Less sizzle, more steak.

4. Youth ministry and family integrated ministry find their groove…together!
There is a battle in many churches over the role of the traditional youth ministry model and the family integrated model (moms and dads discipling their own children.) It seems to me that there is a “best of both worlds” solution that some youth ministries are starting to tap into. The power of parents leaning into the spiritual development of their own children combined with a setting where teenagers can relate to other teenagers spiritually could be the model that catapults youth ministry to the next level. The more spiritually mature adults who are willing to mentor their children/teens and other children/teens the better! This should happen at home and church! The youth leaders who are seeing the power of Titus 2 (older women mentoring young women/older men mentoring young men) should do nothing more than accelerate the mission of the youth leader and godly parents. Sure, there will still be the “our way is the only way“ people, but, most youth leaders should be able to merge the power of both approaches into their youth ministry models.


If you are in a working position in your church likely you have some form of yearly review process. Whether you sit down with your board or your immediate supervisor you will get graded in some way shape or form. In some contexts this can be a real pain, others its just sitting down for a quick lunch. No matter what you do, it is a needed step.
But, my question is what review process do you do of your ministry and yourself?
If you are like me you are probably biased one way or the other. Either you think you are doing an exceptional job or you are constantly critiquing yourself. So I think it is healthy to get an outside perspective, but not from your supervisor(s).
This year I decided to ask those close to me what they thought of my ministry. Some where helpful and gave me direct criticism while others sugar coated the whole thing. So I decided to take it to another level: Asking the parents of my ministry.
Now in some ways this is a big risk: I have parents who can be super critical and others who I am pretty sure send everything right to their junk mail. But I put it out there to see their review of our ministry.
  • Here are some questions I asked them:
  • What was your students favorite moment of this last year?
  • What topics would you like to see covered in the 2013 teaching calendar?
  • Are there ways in which we could improve communication with you as parents?
  • Can you think of anyone you think would be a good addition to our ministry team?
So far with the questions I asked I have heard roughly what I thought I would hear back. The nice thing about this system is it gives you a good perspective. It is like grading in the Olympics throw out the best and worst review and you will likely find common ground in the middle.
So what are you doing as a review process for yourself and your ministry?
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

So it’s summer time. That’s a reality that I can get my head around. I like the sunshine, and at this point in my part of the world, that’s starting to feel like a rarity. (Hey there, flooded river due to rain … nice to see you stop by.) But when the summer starts to fade away and students are all busy getting that brand new wicked fresh trapper keeper for school, and parents are loathing back to school clothes shopping, well, that’s when I get all hyped up for Fall Kickoff.

I really feel like there’s a few times in the ministry season when you want to go all out. Like blow the doors off. One is Christmas, because Christmas is awesome. Make your space look like Santa’s elves exploded over everything. Another is the end of the season. You’ve made students suffer through your awkward sex talks, mediocre games and haphazard bible quizzes for an entire season, so now’s the time to redeem yourself with a stellar event for the ages. Forget the party, just head straight to the “After Party” party. Your students need to reason to blow off steam after all the exam anxieties are done and over. Put out a great spread of food, crank up the outdoor speakers, rent a bounce house, and turn on the sprinklers. It will be a great way to say thanks to your students and leaders for pressing forward. It’s also a super way to introduce new students into the mix without them feeling singled out.

But my favourite time to blow the roof off in a ministry season is Fall Kickoff. This is the time when everyone is ready for something different. They’re getting back into the swing of things, and what better way to let them know that youth group is right there with them, than by having a Kickoff event that brings the house down. Go after that band you’ve always wanted to bring in, partner up with some other youth groups, utilize the left over summer weather whileyou still can, and really ring in the new season with a sonic boom. It’s not about how big your budget is, but how loud you can get and how high you can set the bar for the season ahead. It says to your students that they are worth getting excited for, that they can expect big things ahead. Just don’t play all your cards on the first night as depicted in this photo from the 4th of July Fireworks in San Diego this year. 20 mins of fireworks in 15 seconds.

So go for it. Go big. Go for the win. Be loud. Be awesome.
And if you annoy the 55+ bible study going on next door, well then, all the better.


Kevin Downey is a veteran Youth Pastor from Chilliwack British Columbia (this is an actual place) , father, pastor and comic enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter @revkev73.