“Nothing.”  It’s the answer we spoke of  when some students are asked what they want to be when they grow up.   Not,  “I don’t know,” or  “I’m figuring it out.”  ” Nothing.”

The other answer we often get from students who are stuck in this place of survival are,  “Professional athlete,  singer, model, actress.”  Recently one of the smartest young women in my ministry pulled me aside to tell me a secret.  “I have applied to colleges, however,  I don’t think I am going to go.  Instead I am going to pursue my dream of  being on American Idol.”    I never tell students these type of dreams are “unattainable,” instead I ask what steps they are going to take to make it happen.  She had no plan.  As a matter of fact when I pressed her it was fear of failing, of being the first generation to go to college in her family,  of financial aid not coming through that caused her to back out of her college aspirations.  I said,  “You know you can go to college and get to American Idol too. ”    This is a variation of something I have witnessed many times.  There are two extremes that equal the same answer: No dream.  This time you put something out there that is so big you know you won’t really attain it.  So whether you answer “nothing” or the “big thing” you never believe anything will really happen.

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When your hope has been deferred or “put on hold,” you forget what dreaming feels like.  Perhaps you are afraid to dream at all.   The exciting piece of Proverbs 13:12 is that “Dreams fulfilled are a tree of life.”   This is a picture of the cross and resurrection.  In other words Christ is how we overcome a sick heart.  He is the reason we can dream.  He is the hope.  The problem is how do we best help students who want “nothing” to understand it isn’t about “something,”  but the “one thing” that will renew and bring relationship.

Where can we start?

Truth: Students are hungering for the truth.  They want to wrestle with the hard stuff.  They want to know beyond our opinions of life,  but also who Christ is,  really. What does this mean to their everyday?

Time:  They want our time.  They want time to ask questions.  They spell love T.I.M.E.  In a hurried world,  where everything is pushed aside our students are looking for us to slow down,  and take “time” with them.   It is also our responsibility to understand that “TIME” means something different to the Lord than to us.  (Remember the whole day is like a thousand years and visa versa to God?)  We must  believe always He is at work in a heart whether we SEE it with our eyes or not.  Jesus is working his concept of  “time,” to move past hopelessness.

Trust:  We live in a society where it is hard to know who we can rely on.  Teaching a student why they can trust Jesus is huge.  This means letting them know sometimes we can make mistakes,  but HE is always trustworthy.  The Lord isn’t one person on Facebook,  another on Twitter and then there is the “real” God.  He is always the same,  and there is freedom in that.  Yet, they need to learn WHY?

Teach:   Bring the WORD before students and help them learn how the Lord is talking to them there.  It may mean starting with “what” the Bible even is.  That is fine. Take it word by word if necessary.  However,  never be afraid to teach students exactly who Christ is and where they can come to learn about Him.

“Nothing” is not an option when it comes to Jesus.  He has an amazing plan and purpose with dreams fulfilled.  However,  it can’t be done on our own.  That is why it is important our students know a “dream fulfilled”  is only ever truly in Christ.

What do you feel helps students to understand hope deferred can be moved to Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

article.2013.03.27There’s nothing more challenging interpersonally than dealing with a serious conflict with someone on your church staff, or a volunteer in a key position in your ministry. The temptation would be to let time heal it, or hope that the tension would simply go away on its own—but fight those feelings because conflict in the church, especially on a team, has to be dealt with well in order for genuine progress to be made.

Can’t we all just get along? Actually, no, and that’s probably a good thing because it forces us to tackle conflict in a God-honoring manner. Here are some steps to move toward resolution when you find yourself in conflict with someone on staff.

Be the bigger person.

Someone is going to have to lead with humility—might as well be you. How would this relationship change if you decided to take action and humble yourself (right or wrong in the matter that caused the division, either way), and begin a conversation to rebuild trust and love? Until someone does this, any progress will just be an outward act covering up a pain-filled heart. Unresolved conflict eats away at your job satisfaction, your vision, and your heart. Don’t let it happen!

Take a small step forward.

A simple note, gesture, or gift can go a long way. Could you find an excuse to give them a small token of your love for them—even if it’s never acknowledged or reciprocated? Continually take small steps forward—mixed with time this is a powerful way to break down walls.

Talk them up to other people.

People can usually sniff out when someone is in tension with another person—in fact, most churches specialize in spreading that information around gleefully, it seems. When you talk positively about the person in conflict, you are disarming the potential for a greater divide in the church, and not forcing people to take sides. Plus, it is surprising (and won’t take long) for word to get back to that person, too!

Pray for healing.

Too often the “right” answer is to pray for the situation—in this case, it’s no different. You have to ask God to mend what is broken and heal what areas are infected. Conflict between people who work together every day can, and has, claimed many churches—don’t let yours be one of them!

Re-read yesterday’s article.
And by the way, a whole bunch of what we wrote yesterday concerning dealing with a disappointed parents can also apply to resolving conflict on your ministry team. Here’s an example:

Kurt: “Josh, I can understand why you FEEL threatened by my physical stature.”
Kurt: “In fact, Josh, other people on our team have FELT the same way.”
Kurt: “Here’s what I’ve FOUND: As long as you don’t tick me off…you have nothing to be afraid of.”

See…It’s simple!

Who do you need to take a small step forward with today?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



article.2013.03.19If you’re like us, it takes you 45 minutes to spill all of the details of the 60-minute workshop you attended that changed your life last week at a youth conference. Inspired by it, you lay out a vision for your youth ministry for the next five years. The volunteers sit there like a deer in the headlights; then one of them timidly raises her hand, “Sounds like somebody went to a youth worker conference last week,” she says.

It happens! Sometimes at an incredible event we come down with a case of Let’s Change Everything Syndrome (LCES). If you’ve ever had LCES, you know the temptation to overhaul every aspect of your ministry in the first five days after you get back. Beware of the side effects: volunteer abandonment, blurry vision and upset supervisors.

Post-conference excitement is natural, and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to make changes when we’ve been exposed to new ideas. But LCES can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to avoid it.

Pray about what God is asking you to do.
Sometimes after reading an incredible book or hearing an inspiring speaker we think about what we want to do as a result or what worked for them instead of what God’s voice is clearly directing. The only way to distinguish between competing visions is to spend time with God and ask for his vision. Usually taking some time to process, decompress, and pray are the best steps to hearing from him after you’ve been exposed to new ideas.

Wait for the right season to change.
The right time for changes is typically not the Spring or the middle of Fall (which, coincidently is when lots of training events happen). Think strategically about when to bring about significant changes to your ministry. Lay an infrastructure for the move to small groups all summer long; then release them in January. Prepare your volunteers for the junior high/senior high split at the start of the school year this Fall, rather than eagerly announcing it out of the blue tonight at youth group.

Start with one thing.
Reflect in your Moleskin journal or iPad app on some of the biggest things you learned at the event, or conversations you were inspired by. Make a list of everything that is considered an “action step” and prioritize them and map out a 1-2 year plan of action. Update it occasionally as you retreat or receive additional training and insight.

Keep a dialogue going.
Don’t make changes in isolation! While the church might not have been able to send your whole volunteer team to an event, take the time to share your “one thing” with your spouse, your volunteers, or student leaders. Once you’ve taken the ball down the court, don’t be afraid to rally support and analyze it to make the ideas better and increase ownership.

Any learnings you want to share after coming home from a youth worker training event?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

article.2013.03.12One of the questions we are often asked is: How do you get it all done? To be honest, no one gets it all done. But, we have come up with a few techniques over the years to help us squeeze more into each day. This week we want to take a little time to help you boost your productivity.

Turn off notifications
Notifications are the derailment of getting stuff done. And while you may pride yourself on giving quick answers and having instant follow-up, what you are actually doing is interrupting continued focused thought in one particular area. Try prepping your next sermon using iA Writer (iawriter.com) and see if the focus helps you prepare faster and more effectively.

Do email in bursts.
Similar to the “turn off notifications” idea: Only check your email a few times a day. This one is harder than ever with that little “new email” icon or unread number calling out your name to check it incessantly all day. Stop the email madness! Do email in the morning, noon, at the end of the workday and just before bed and you can knock out a bunch in one block rather than let it persist all day.

Never eat alone.
Everyone has to eat lunch! So make your productivity matter even over your lunch hour. Spend time with a mentor, a student, a volunteer, your spouse, one of your kids—make every meal count.

Manage your meeting times.
It doesn’t take long for a meeting to turn into a marathon, so master the subtle ways to help move them along. Ask good questions, make sure there is a clear objective beforehand, and don’t be afraid to help bring it to a conclusion so you can be on time for the FCA meeting or volleyball game coming up next.

Get out of the office.

Have a secret location that no one knows about where you go to “get stuff done.” Starbucks by the church is a little too obvious for me—I (Josh) love a little Boba place around here that is quiet, has free wi-fi, and no one has any idea where I’m at for a few hours to crank stuff out. I can be ultra productive there and get totally in the zone.

Open your door/close your door.
I love the “open door policy” of our church, but there are certain times it just isn’t a realistic option. Don’t be afraid to close your door 20% of the time to help you get things done without interruption.

What is your best tip for productivity?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



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Ever wondered what your volunteers really think about you, your leadership, and your ministry?

Get an insider’s perspective from Rick Williams, who has seen it all as a volunteer in youth ministry: futile meetings, weak leadership, disorganized events, lax standards, and even the occasional guilt trip. Yet despite all these challenges, he has remained a volunteer for more than 30 years!

—Order A Youth Ministry Volunteer Speaks His Mind Here—

Your volunteers have feedback and suggestions that can help you lead more effectively. Most of them want to serve in meaningful ways. They want to take ownership. They want you and the youth ministry to succeed. But are you listening and truly hearing what they’re saying?

A Youth Ministry Volunteer Speaks His Mind will help you navigate the waters of engaging volunteers in life-changing ministry to teenagers. Rick’s perspective may not align perfectly with the people who serve alongside you, but you’ll discover truckloads of wisdom and experience from his insights. Leading a team of volunteers isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but they’re worth the effort!

About the Author:

Rick Williams has been a youth volunteer since 1981 in both junior high and high school ministries. A native of Southern California, he has spent the majority of his professional life in corporate sales and currently is a Realtor in the North Orange County Area. Rick and his wife, Melissa, are the parents of three children and live in La Habra, California.

You’ll really like this book! It’s AWESOME- Stephanie

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The word “urban” seems simple to define but “urban teenager” is anything but simple to understand and explain. Even if you’re a youth worker in rural Kentucky or suburban California, you have urban students in your midst. The days of identifying and labeling our teenagers based on where they live, what they wear, or the color of their skin are gone. Today, everybody’s urban.

—-Own YOUR copy of Everybody’s Urban NOW!—-

More and more teenagers are stuck in survival mode, unable to see beyond today. Their dreams have been stolen, and they’ve given up on ever recapturing them.

But veteran youth pastors Jeffrey Wallace and Leneita Fix know there’s hope.

Everybody’s Urban is infused with their hard-won insights into the urban youth experience, along with dozens of real-world strategies for ministering to today’s teenagers.

About the Authors:

 NEWleneita_fix_bw Leneita Fix recently celebrated her 20th year in ministry. Her passion is multiplying ALL youth workers (full time, paid, unpaid, volunteer, or bivocational) by aiding them to become better trained and equipped. She is honored to be a part of a family that ministers together, with her husband, John, a niece, and three beautiful children.

jeffrey_wallace_bw Jeffrey Wallace is the president and CEO of Front Line Urban Resources, Inc, which focuses on training and mentoring urban youth pastors and leaders, and providing life-changing youth ministry resources. He’s also founder of Simply Urban Ministry. Jeffrey serves as pastor of youth development at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.



thisbookgetsaround

THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS? THINK YOUR FRIENDS KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU? THINK AGAIN!

This Book Gets Around is a fun way to learn something new about your friends or family members, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, whoever! (You might even uncover one or two surprising things about yourself, too.)

Pass the book around, let people answer imaginative questions and do some creative activities, and then see what’s written on the pages.

— Buy This Book Get’s Around Now!—

Give the book to specific people or let it follow a random path back to you whatever way you use it is fine. Get the fun started today, and discover something cool, unusual, surprising, or amazing about the people you already know!

Order This Book Get’s Around for YOUR Youth Group Today!

About the Author:

kurt_johnson_NEW_bw KURT JOHNSTON has been in youth ministry since 1988 and currently leads the student ministry team at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. His ministry of choice is the junior high department, where he tries to spend approximately 87.4% of his time. Kurt and his wife, Rachel, have been married for a long time and have two children: Kayla, a college student, and Cole, who’s in high school.

Enjoy!

Stephanie

toby_roweActive in youth ministry for more than 20 years now, Toby has helped lead more mission trips and weekend retreats than he can remember.  Toby has served as a youth pastor and worship leader at three churches, and currently is the Mission Program Manager at Group Mission Trips. You can also find him speaking and teaching at ministry events, and continuing his long streak as a self-titled whack-a-mole champion. Toby, and his wife, Pam, live in Loveland, Colorado, and have four children.

What is the Week of Hope and where did the idea come from? Week of Hope is a week-long community service based summer mission trip that happens in 18 cities across the country. Each location runs for seven consecutive weeks, so in total, there are 126 weeks of youth groups coming together to serve people in need all across America, and at the same time experience a powerful time with Jesus through the worship program and devotions times. And it’s an all-inclusive trip. We take care of all the details, projects, food, lodging, and programming. You just get to show up and have a great week with your students.

What excites you most about each Week of Hope?
I love each Week of Hope because it lets students and adults see people. By that I mean – really see them, and love them, like Jesus did. And in the process, we get to learn a lot about how Jesus sees us as well.

Tell us a funny story about one serve project you were on? The best youth ministry stories come  from things like mission trips. I remember getting a flat tire all fixed on our 15 passenger, and had kept a dozen students from getting squashed on the median strip. We weren’t back on the road 100 feet when the kid that we told to stop eating oranges and hot chocolate all week barfed it all up into every cup holder around him. That was a sight … And smell … To behold. Or the time during a serious part of an evening program … right at the point when the hope of Jesus was being shared, when a jr high kid just stood up, and raised his hand. The program leader couldn’t ignore him, so everything paused and the kid asked (with all seriousness) ” can I please go to the bathroom?” Yes … Yes you can :)

Where do people go to get more information if they are interested – and any chance you will give a couple free registrations away? All the info about Week of Hope – details, available weeks, pricing, and more – is at GroupMissionTrips.com. Just click on Week of Hope. We hope you’ll consider letting us help you have a great mission adventure this summer. Or you can email me with any questions at trowe@group.com

What about the free registrations? Sure. The first 5 new groups that email Brent at bbromostrup@group.com and say that you like Josh Griffin can bring a try-it-out group of four for free. Yep. Totally free. That’s two adults and two of your student leaders to experience it and see if its a good fit for your youth ministry. And if you don’t make the first five emails, we’ll still let you -the youth leader – come for free if you aren’t already registered. Just cause you like Josh.

Check out Group Mission Trips today!

JG