Almost every day I hear a different youth worker complain about a parent who doesn’t really “care” about their child. Have you ever done that? I know I have. The “untraditional” family has become the norm with divorce rates continuing at 60% (in and out of the church), parents cohabiting, and grandparents raising grandchildren.

Then there are the struggles our students are facing.  Bullying, abuse, and identity are universal.  However, there are also drugs, violence, eating disorders, cutting, and just generally being a teen.  We keep saying it’s “harder” for this generation.

Why do we think that? 

There was a time when truthfully by looking at someone’s fashion, taste in music, family make up, or “issues” it was easy to identify where they “lived.” There were definitive “sides of town,” with the particulars of what went on there. Now we have come to live in a “mash-up” society of culture, challenges, and tastes. Our idea of who is sitting in our pews, attending our youth groups or living in our community is no longer easily defined by how much money they make, location or the color of one’s skin.The other side of the tracks with their common misconceptions and problems are moving, and reaching each of us in ministry in some way.

Regardless of where you are currently located, I would venture I could place you in a room with 50 other church leaders from anywhere in America and there would be common stories to tell.

As I have had the opportunity to speak across the country I often talk with youth pastors who have students who have some families they struggle with. Everyone has a different “label.” Here are some of the labels I have heard:

Inner city- at-risk-urban- unchurched-spiritually immature- dechurched- and “The Community”Everybody's Urban

The common threads I hear are families living in some form of “survival mentality.” They just are trying to get through the day and “live their life.” You might choose a different term, but my ministry partner Jeff Wallace and I use the term, “new urban.” It does include demographic area, culture, multi-ethnicity, social ills, and socio-economics. However, we would argue, in terms of the Christian community, this title blurs those lines and moves beyond them. Families are dealing with deep-seated issues all around; honestly, some are just better at hiding it than others. Our book Everybody’s Urban can help you delve more into this idea and on how to reach your “new urban” students who are in a survival mindset and quite possibly stuck there.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop making assumptions. It doesn’t matter what we label we give, or what we see with our eyes; too many are stuck existing to survive the day when they need to know Christ wants them to thrive.

The question we must ask ourselves is will we stop thinking “those problems aren’t ours” or thinking some families are just too broken, and instead intentionally let compassion move us to action?

This is why Jeff Wallace and myself are partnering with LeaderTreks on April 29 – May 1 for a “Refuel Retreat” at Pawley’s Island in South Carolina. We want to help you embrace and support who is in your group. How do you partner with a generation of parents that seem more distant than ever?  How do you help students genuinely step up and know what it means to belong to Jesus? (For more information click here.) (It’s alright if you don’t want to talk to us just enjoy the free time and being at that beach.)

Won’t you join us in the conversation?

How To Grind It Out

Chris Wesley —  February 5, 2013 — 4 Comments

There are those days in youth ministry where it feels like you are running through mud.  They are slow, there is no significant progress and the only thing moving is your blood pressure rising from the frustration you feel.  I can’t tell you when these days will come, they just seem to emerge and when they do they are awful.  So what do you do when ministry is mud?

YOU GRIND IT OUT

That means having a plan that is going to help you move forward, no matter how hard it is to be creative or productive.  To develop that plan means:

Setting A Firm Schedule: A framework to your day will make sure you aren’t wearing yourself out.  That means start time and stop times.  Breaks and times when you just sit back and learn.  During the times that you schedule for writing, creating and developing you may notice little fruit; however, having the framework will make sure you aren’t dwelling too long in the frustration they might bring.

Fuel And Rest Up: Just like an athlete when the days get hard you need to make sure your energy level is at it’s highest.  That means not staying up later, eating right and taking care of your body.  Sometimes the writer’s block that you feel is because you are tired or not feeling well.  It’s at these times when it’s important for you to focus on your health and not your productivity.

Become A Learner: You could simply be out of ideas.  Taking the time you would usually write and create and devote it to reading, watching podcasts or meeting with other youth workers.  Listening to others and reading their thoughts will sometimes kickstart the productivity engine.  Just make sure anything that develops you write down.

Spend Time In Prayer: When you are in a void of ideas it’s easy to feel disconnected.  The best way to reignite this connection is to talk with God.  I find that quiet time in scripture calms me down and takes away the frustration that I may feel when it comes to a writer’s block, lack of ideas or a hard day at work.

Youth ministry is just like any industry where you’ll find moments where you just need to grind it out.  Do not stress, just go to a plan that will help you move forward.  Stay focused, put your head down and lean in.  Remember these seasons are temporary.

What would you add to the plan?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



We have 2 new bundles to help you same coin and get some great resources to help you get ready for Summer:

Simply Summer Bundle: Includes 1 year subscription to Group Magazine, New Sermon Series Refuel from Doug Fields, New small group curriculum Inked, and a Special pack of summer games.

Click for More Info.

Junior High Bundle: Includes the new Middle School Ministry Made Simple, Active Bible Studies, 10-minute Moments: God’s Story, My Faith, Bible Stuff 2, Race This Vol 1, Game On Vol 1, and Throw and Tell Storytellers Ball.

Click for More Info.

Doug’s Bloopers

Tyler Shick —  March 20, 2009 — Leave a comment

Doug is going to be teaching a 3 week series on his new book, Refuel, and they put together a website and small group resources for it. If you haven’t read the book yet, it’s great. You can find out more about it and look inside the first chapter HERE.

I thought you might like the Blooper reel they posted from their video shoot. Enjoy:

Link: Refuel