One of things I am learning in my first student pastor position is the value of saying no to certain things. For ministry leaders, and student pastor like me, simply saying no can be one of the hardest things to do in ministry. In his book, What Matters Most, Doug Fields says, “While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for most ministry-minded leaders to utter because their ministry culture values yes.” A lot of times student ministry culture says “you have to do more” and student pastors are falling for that lie left and right. I’ll admit, I’m not an expert at this. Being fresh out of college and in my first student pastor position, it’s easy to “always make sure I have enough on the calendar.” I’m in the process of learning how to say the word no. I am learning that there comes a time, usually it’s a lot of the time, when I need to say no because there is more important stuff to focus on. Here are some times to say no in student ministry.

1. When it takes the place of your own personal relationship with God. In a post awhile back called The Hardest Person to Lead, I quoted Chris Finchum as he said, “It’s easy to fall in love with the work of Christ rather than the person of Christ.” Student pastors must say no to something if it will get in the place of their personal walk with God. Doug Fields said this about his early years in ministry: “Because in the busyness of my first decade of ministry, I abandoned my first love (God) and developed a love affair with doing ministry.” The number one key to successful youth ministry is being a student pastor who is in love with Jesus and walking consistently with Him. Many student pastors are missing this important key because they are too busy with youth ministry to invest in their own walk with God. Revelation 2:4 says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Say no if it will get in the way of personal walk with God.

2. When it puts your character and integrity at stake. Another time we need to say no in student ministry is when it puts your personal character at stake. The first qualification for a leader given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 is to be “above reproach.” As student pastors, we must guard our character. From example, don’t say yes to taking a student of the opposite sex home if it’s only going to be yourself and the student in the car. Your personal character is more important than a ride home. Some may disagree with me on this point, but I believe a student pastor’s personal character is more important that ministry to teenagers. We are called to be holy and must say no to whatever puts that at stake.

3. When it gets in the way of your family. I remember listening to a Perry Noble leadership podcast as he talked about the topic of putting your spouse before ministry. One statement he said that stuck in my head was “Jesus will take care of His church.” God called student pastors to be pastors to their spouses and children first. We are to be leaders at home, before we are leaders at church. At the end of the day, Jesus will take care of your youth ministry. God has called us to be pastors of our home before pastors of the students at our church. Don’t sacrifice your family on the alter of student ministry, it’s unbiblical and not worth it. Say no if it gets in the way of your family.

These are just a few times I believe we need to say no as student pastors. You may have noticed, I didn’t say anything about programing or even the student ministry, I focused on the leader as a person. I believe building a person is more important than building a ministry. Ric Garland says, “Build the man and God will build the ministry.” When student pastors focus on growing in Christ as a person, God will grow the ministry.

Austin McCann is currently the student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church in Yadkinville, NC. You can find his blog online at

I liked these 7 questions over on Perry Noble’s blog today. He goes into lots more detail there, but here’s the list before you make the jump. Been thinking some about these in regards to our church, more specifically HSM:

  • #1 — What do we need to stop doing?
  • #2 — What bothers us about our church?
  • #3 — What bothers us about our community?
  • #4 — What bothers us about the world?
  • #5 — How can we do things better?
  • #6 — Who do we need to be talking to?
  • #7 — What’s next?


Enjoyed reading the sometimes painful blog 15 Signs a Church is in Trouble by Perry Noble this morning. Good stuff in here, hope it stings us a bit so we fight against it! Here are a couple of them before you head there for the rest:

#2 — When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!

#9 — The church is reactive rather than proactive.

#10 — The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”

#11 — The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are…to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone…especially the big givers!

#15 — When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.


Loved reading Perry Noble’s post about serving in his youth ministry this morning (a senior pastor from SC) – he’s figured out one of the most amazing joys of youth ministry – when you serve students, you grow so much yourself. I feel it myself, I see it in my team – and small groups leaders tell it to me every week. Here’s a clip of his full post, head over there for the rest:

About three or four months ago I really felt the Lord impressing upon me that I really needed to spend more time investing in our teenagers here at NewSpring Church…which was weird for me because I feel that we have a pretty incredible youth ministry going on and the last thing they needed was me getting in the way.

So…I fought this urge for a while until it became so strong that I was just about to bust.

What came out of me praying through this was God leading me and Lucretia to spend this next school year pouring our lives into 12 or so students (juniors and seniors) that are currently involved in the youth ministry here at NewSpring.

I met with some of our youth staff here at the Anderson campus and asked them to prayerfully select this crew…and they put together a team of teens that have so much potential that it blows my mind.

And ‘Cretia and I are FULLY INVESTING in the lives of these young men and women. I meet with them at least once a month for the purpose of seeing what Jesus is doing in their lives…and asnwering any questions that they have came up with in regards to Scripture, the church, leadership and life in general.


Loved that Perry Noble addressed a really tough ministry question today on this blog. “What if I Have People on Staff That Don’t Like the Church?”. Here’s an excerpt of his answer that might be helpful to you in your ministry:

#2 – WHAT is going on in this staff members life? Pastors–remember, we are called to lead people–NOT DRIVE THEM! And quite often hurting people hurt people. One of the things I’ve discovered is that sometimes people say things they don’t mean when their lives are seemingly hitting rock bottom. MAYBE it isn’t a church issue…MAYBE it’s a personal issue that is spilling over into this area in their lives.

#3 – WHY is the staff member feeling this way? The only way you can answer this question is through a conversation. If a person claims they would not attend the church if not on staff then they have GOT to have a reason (or reasons) why. SO…ask them! Sometimes leaders will avoid this because they fear controversy…or maybe because they might hear what they don’t want to hear…but…if we truly value the contribution the staff member is making to the team then we should pay attention to their concern.

#4 – Is the staff member being divisive? If the answer is “yes” then the issue must be dealt with as quickly as possible. I have often told church leaders, “satan is way more passionate about dividing your staff rather than your church!” Staff unity MUST be protected…ALWAYS! PLEASE note I did not say, “Staff Uniformity,” people can have different opinions…but Jesus said something about a Kingdom divided against itself will surely fall!!!


Book Review: It

 —  February 18, 2009 — 4 Comments

It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel is a fantastic book on leadership and the local church. We’ve all been to churches that have “it” and visited some that clearly didn’t. From the first page of the book to the last I was nodding my head in agreement with’s pastor as he journeyed me through what a church must be and it’s leaders have to become.

He boils down the modern church with all of it’s trappings to come up with a description of what a healthy “it” church looks like. He focuses on walking with God, failures, teamwork and other classic leadership teachings. He profiles maybe a half dozen churches (Granger, NewSpring, etc) that have “it” right now and warned everyone that “it” comes from God and isn’t because of personality or performance. Groeschel borrows from tons of other leadership books and teachings but frames it in such a way that you can intuitively see whether a church gets “it” collectively or not. The best part of the book aren’t specific principles, but in the way Craig details how they do and don’t do those things. Brilliant transparency about the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here’s the challenging part – as you read the book, you’ll throw what he says up against your church. You’ll question whether your church has “it” or not. And I think that’s the point – he is giving a friendly reminder to all churches and church leaders, like yourself, to strive for what God intended the church to be, not what it has become.

Next year, I want you on the “it” list. A


I think it is uncanny how Perry Noble clearly identifies the 4 types of staff people. Here’s a clip, very much worth the read over at his place:

#2 – The “Can Do” Staff Member
The one thing that has to be addressed on a staff is competency level. Because, while you may have someone who loves what they do…they just might not be able to do it. (And…in my opinion, the church should hold a higher standard here than the business community; after all, there is a lot more at stake.)
Can the person doing the job do the job? OR…has their skill set and ability been maxed out? It’s a tough call…but one that must be made in order to protect the church and the staff member.
AND…let me say that the first option should always be to move the staff member to another job…because if they are a “Love To Do” staff member then they will thrive!

#3 – The “Should Do” Staff Member
This is the person on staff that gets to the office 3 minutes late and leaves 5 minutes early. They are gone a really long time for lunch…but no one ever really knows why. They spend a lot of time on their facebook pages (that are completely not ministry related) and often talk to their friends and waste time.
Sure, they get their job done–barely…but their hearts are not into it. They do what they “should do,” nothing more, nothing less!
AND they have to go! You can’t afford this kind of dead weight in your church! God’s kingdom is WAY too important to keep these kind of people around. They are not doing what they are doing because of passion but rather a paycheck. NOT GOOD!


Very excited about this – made it on AllTop! They just opened up a church channel this past week and I’m (undeservedly) right next to Perry Noble. Oh man! If you don’t AllTop, you’re missing out.