I contribute occasionally to the Slant33 blog where they ask 3 youth ministry voices to chime in on the same topic. This week’s topic is leading from the middle and Kara Powell, Chris Folmsbee and I all discuss it. Here’s a clip from my section, head there for all three takes:

Leading up helps those above see a missing perspective. Here’s why you need to lead from the middle: Your senior pastor isn’t seeing the full picture. He or she has blind spots in areas that your perspective lets you see perfectly. How dare you let them fail while predicting the net failure quietly from the silent middle? I am fully aware of the problem of senior leaders who don’t listen to their people. They exist in every church, and I’m guilty of it too. But that doesn’t mean you should stop leading from the middle.

A few parting thoughts about leading from the middle: It may be interpreted as insubordination at first. In fact, it probably will be. Some people will wish you would take a rowboat back to Youth Ministry Island and never come back. If you bring up problems, you better have some ideas that may work as solutions. Your church will be healthier when you lead up.

JG

As student minister’s one thing we have to always strive for is to be a perpetual student of our craft. We can never know too much about youth ministry. This is one thing that I defiantly do not have a problem with. No matter what I have done in my life I always threw myself into it full force. When I played drums in band in high school I studied, not only in school, but on my own. I listen to instructional by well known drummers at the time, I went to drum clinics, and dissected drums solos by popular drummers. When I joined the Army as a Military Police officer, I took baton instructor classes, correspondence courses, and unarmed self defense training. As youth ministers we must constantly be students of our own art. How do we do that? Here are some quick sources for training!

1: The Bible: I know I know, you’ve heard it a million times but that doesn’t make it any less true. The better your relationship with God the better off your ministry is.

2: Blogs: The cheapest form of training out there! Find a youth ministry mentor such as Josh Griffin at morethandodgeball.com, Doug Fields’ Blog, Stephanie Caro’s blog, or even my own at lifeintheymfishbowl.com. Want find great ideas to try? Read a blog. Want training on ideas to help grow your youth group? Read a Blog. Also there are non blog websites out there that are great. One I love is youthministry.com. Great articles and great ideas.

3: Certificates: Many colleges offer online youth minister training for a small price. Plus you get a handy certificate to hang up on the wall. Another place to check out is youthsphere.tv. This site offers a great certificate and great training under the giants of youth ministry. Use promo code MTDB for 10% off, too!

4: Group Magazine: Some of the best youth ministry ideas delivered to your door once every two months. Nuff said!

5: Other youth ministers: Your local youth minister’s network is a great source of training. You can pick up great life lessons while sitting down for a cup of coffee.

6: Youth Minister’s support networks: many denominations offer great youth minister support networks who can offer great advice and ideas.

7: Conferences: I’ve often heard conferences called the poor man’s seminary. That’s about the truth. With SYMC coming up you have the option of the large conference and it’s many options but also don’t over look the smaller local conferences that are out there, if money is an issue.

8: College: This option is not for everyone, but if you feel like God is calling you for a deeper commitment this is a great option. I’m currently enrolled online for a degree with a Student Ministry emphasis. There are many great colleges that offer Youth Ministry Masters degrees also many Seminaries that offer degrees with youth ministry minors.

9: Books: Some of the best training I’ve ever received was through two books, “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry” and “My First Two Years in Youth Ministry” both by Doug Fields. Books are the best way to glean ideas from well renowned youth ministers. Not just Doug but many giants of youth ministry have published books that are great training resources.

10: Last but not least: This one may strike you as odd…..your senior pastor. I know your thinking “He did not just say I could get training from the old man/woman” Yep I went there! Some of our senior pastors were youth ministers once. They can be great resources for ideas and wonderful sounding blocks. I was thinking about revamping our “Sunday School” class and asked our senior pastor what he thought. Low and behold we had the same idea and he had many small details that I hadn’t pondered.

If you look around there are many great resources out there for youth ministers to learn from. We really have no excuse to not stay on top of our game. You owe it to you church, your kids, and yourself to be the most well trained youth minister you can be.

Kevin Patterson is the youth pastor at Dawson Springs First Baptist Church in Dawson Spring, KY. Be sure to check out http://www.lifeintheymfishbowl.blogspot.com/ to regularly get in on his learnings, too!



Looking to fire your youth pastor? You’ve come to the right place! Did you Google “how to get rid of my youth pastor” and end up here? Awesome, here are three sure-fire ways to make sure they are out the door by the end of the week:

Don’t defend them under any circumstances
They are probably wrong – wait, they are always wrong. Be sure to believe wholeheartedly what that parent said to you instead of saying to them. Leaving them helpless will make sure that you won’t have to deal with their radical new ideas for helping church be more relevant (like updating the 1972 dress code which we hold on to as a symbol of Christian separation). Youth pastors can defend themselves, and they better do it well when you bring them before the holy parent tribunal to explain the damages to the church van last weekend.

Make sure they know they serve you, not God
You’re their boss – make sure they feel their place in this organization every minute of every day. Manage every bit of their time. Heck, ask them to turn in an unsustainable weekly report (in 15-minute increments) just to let them now you don’t trust them in the slightest. Hand them your philosophy of youth ministry from back in the 60s when you were a youth pastor and ask them to run youth group exactly like you did. Make sure the memories of your past successes as a youth worker constantly overshadown any passing success they might be feeling.

Pay them so little they leave on their own
Treat them like you would a servant. They’re cheap and easily replaceable. Who cares about them anyhow?

What am I missing? Leave a comment! And tomorrow I’ll post an article called How to Keep Your Youth Pastor Forever. You won’t want to miss it!

JG

Really enjoyed Benjer McVeigh’s post on the 5 things you should want in any youth ministry when you strip everything else away – some really good stuff in there. Here’s a clip of it, head there for the rest:

1. A great marriage. One of the biggest strengths for me in ministry is my wife, Jennifer. She’s an amazing encouragement, and when I give her, our marriage, and our family the time and energy they deserve, ministry just seems to go a lot smoother.

2. A passionate, visionary senior pastor who is passionate about people knowing Jesus. Thankfully, this one is true for me where I am right now. A lot of youth pastors wish their senior pastor would support them and the youth ministry more. Those are probably good things, but I think it simply starts with a senior pastor who is passionate about people knowing Jesus, which helps determine the direction of his/her church’s youth ministry.

3. A core group of parents who believe that they should be the primary disciplers of their children. Look, we know that this is how it’s supposed to work: parents should be the primary disciplers of their children, including their teenagers. A group of parents who were passionate about this would be a huge asset in helping other parents grow in this area. Of course, not all parents will want to disciple their kids–or will even have a relationship with Jesus for that matter. But it doesn’t mean we don’t set it up as the ideal.

JG



From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor’s wife in this time of crisis:

We’ve been at this church for a year – already longer than the last 2 youth workers! We started with about a dozen kids and now we have almost triple that on Sunday mornings (more evangelistic) and a solid 15 or so during a midweek program (more discipleship). Here’s the problem: our senior pastor just cancelled the Sunday program so we are basically back where we started. We’ve literally cried about this, and was wondering if you had an insight on where we should go from here. Help!

So … your turn. What should they do?

JG

This post from last week got a fair amount of traffic/energy from some youth workers, so thought I would base this week’s poll on the same question: if you weren’t a youth worker at your current church, would you attend there?

JG



I’ve spent 12 years serving as a staff pastor at two different churches. Both experiences have been unique, positive, and challenging. I don’t plan on ever being a lead pastor, so I’ll spend my entire career serving on a staff rather than leading one.

If you are a staff pastor, no job is ever 100% secure. Things happen, economy has its ups and downs but there are four strategic things you can do to make yourself an indispensable staff pastor.

1. Find the most important objective your pastor wants to accomplish and put yourself in the middle of it.

–Volunteer to lead a task force to accomplish the objective.

–Be a good listener. For instance, if you hear frustration from him on why the church has a low retention rate for visitors, make note of it and take initiative to help craft a solution.

2. Make strategic connections for your pastor.

–Make sure these relationships are life-giving and not things that give him more work.

–Make sure they are strategic and contribute to accomplishing his present objectives or future dreams.

3. Bring more solutions than problems.

–When you see a problem, it’s tempting to let your pastor know right away about it. Instead, stop and brainstorm solutions. When you tell him the problem, offer several ideas to solve the problem. And when you offer your ideas, volunteer to be a part of the solutions.

4. Think team, not silo.

–Don’t always talk about your needs or your budget. Instead, offer to sacrifice for other team members or departments. Find ways you can show your ministry is not singular in focus but recognizes it’s part of the whole. For example, your youth leadership team can volunteer to do all the set-up for a children’s ministry event.

–Offer to evaluate other ministries. If you’re a respected youth pastor with good relationships with other staff members, volunteer to spend one Sunday a quarter going to the kids’ church and give tips on making it a better experience.

We don’t become indispensable by jockeying for power or claiming our rights, but by humbly and intentionally serving our pastor and our team.

Justin Lathrop is a youth worker and the founder of Help Staff Me. In January 2011 Help Staff Me and Vanderbloemen Search Group united in an effort to serve the church with all their staffing needs. Whether it is a Jr. High pastor or a Lead Pastor we are equipped to meet your staffing needs.

Was reading an interesting book this week – it said that 90% of employees put themselves in the top 10% of performers in any particular company. Made me realize just how bad we are at rating ourselves. So … as honest as you can be, how would your senior pastor / supervisor rate your general performance right now on a scale from 1-10?

JG