I am a man that loves to further my education. I know that I do not know it all and have weaknesses and have found that education in some form or another has enabled me to improve on those weaknesses as well as further my strengths. Yet, many would say that they do not need it or simply do not have the time. Unfortunately, with stagnation can come “pond scum” and getting stuck in ruts that can make our faith bland or seemingly fake. We need to keep ourselves on our toes and challenging ourselves.

 

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford

 

This week I will be headed to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference for the central states. While here, I will be able to hang out with like-minded people who have a unique perspective on youth ministry and Christian faith. In this time, I hope that I will be refreshed, renewed, and learn a few things.

Continued Reading

I don’t know about you, but my stack of “need-to-read” list of books is immense and I’m constantly reading something. Currently, I have three different books I am going through at one time: The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson, and Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation by Jonathan McKee. Keep reading to be inspired, encouraged, and learning for your own faith and your ministry.

Professional Classes
I am in my first year at Denver Seminary and loving every minute of it. Honestly, in the last twenty-one years of my life, I have not been in class for one year. This education is not for everyone, but the teachers and professors that challenge your thinking and community of learners to grow with is inspiring and spurs on creativity and passion. If you have not been in a classroom as a student for years, it might be scary. But do not let that scare you and prevent you for at least looking into this adventure.

Professional Conferences

Conferences are a great idea for those that can only commit a week to their professional development. It provides the community and courses for those that are willing to take the four to seven days and invest in the events. As I shared before, I will be going to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference along with our biennial national conference’s MidWinter in February 2012. Two great conferences for youth workers are Simply Youth Ministry Conference and Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention.

Mentoring and Accountability

While all of these things are great ideas, they should all be done within accountability. This might be in the form of other youth workers or a mentor that is investing in you. In the end, learning does have great benefits but is still work. We need to have people who are our cheerleaders encouraging us on and at the same time a coach pushing us when we do not want to go any further. This encouragement and support can only make us better and improve our ministry.

Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.

I just finished reading “The Contemplative Pastor” by Eugene Peterson.

Whilst speaking about the nature of pastoral work, the author makes the significant point that a difference exists between a job, a profession and a craft.

  • A job is just that… A job. An occupation. Something you do for a pay check. You find out what is expected and you do it. You don’t extend yourself beyond what is anticipated.
  • A profession is beyond a job. In a profession you’re working for and towards something. Behind a profession there is a driving force, be it rising up the corporate ladder or something more profound.
  • A craft is undertaken amidst a medium which you honor through your efforts. You want to make your desired outcome significant.

What happens when we hold up these three terms against the backdrop of youth ministry?

There are parts of youth ministry which aren’t glamorous. Doing attendance spread sheets isn’t something highlighted on too many youth ministry recruitment posters, but it’s a part of the job.

But youth ministry is more than merely a job.

We all know, in ministry, you should be working with something bigger in mind. We want to reach teenagers for Christ. We want to see young people develop their God given talents and skills. We want to see the Kingdom grow.
In youth ministry we are driven by more than the desire for a wage at the end of the month. Just as a lawyer should be driven by the desire to see justice, or a teacher driven by the desire for others to learn, we are to be inspired by the Spirit of God and given the example of Jesus to follow. We are sent out with the words of the Great Commands and the Great Commission ringing in our ears.

But… Is youth ministry beyond a profession?

Is youth ministry a craft? I think so.

We work in the extraordinary mediums of young people and life change. We want to honour those who God has placed in our care. We want to allow God’s Spirit to transform the lives. Do you look at your ministry as a job, a profession, or a craft?

Graham Baldock is a Youth Pastor from Sydney, Australia and has a youth ministry blog worth checking out at grahambaldock.blogspot.com



A few weeks back I was sitting down with the director of Youth Ministry at the college I am going to be teaching at and he was telling me that Duffy Robbins himself was going to be coming in October to do a one week intensive course which amounts to much of the content that him and Doug Fields teach in their speaking to teenagers series.

I couldn’t believe it, Duffy is coming to the college, for a week in a class of only forty students, to which I replied what most people would ask, “can I sit in on the class?” I mean after all, this is a tremendous opportunity to hear from a great mind in YM and I ask a lot of questions so this is going to be great. He said of course I could attend, and I asked could I invite some of my youth pastor friends from the area to which he replied with something I did not expect.

He replied by basically saying that he had offered in the past and none would come because many Youth Pastors are only interested in professional development if it means traveling to a conference on the Church’s budget. I’ll be honest, I don’t completely disagree, I recently went to a training event that advertised $5 for youth leader training, and it that cost included all course materials, a thumb drive, a keychain and a speaker flown into town. I packed up our team and got there to find a total attendance 30 people in the auditorium of a church that held 1200. The event was well advertised and lots of calls were made, but no one showed up.

The brightest people I know in the youth ministry world are the ones that read the most, and take every opportunity to learn more and if we are serious about growing as leaders its starts with saying I don’t know it all. There is so much quality training out there, take advantage of it.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.