sometimes-being-nice-does-more-harm-than-good-26870Have you ever asked yourself “am I doing more harm than good?” As broken people we have the ability to do more harm than good. It’s happened over and over throughout history. I believe that we should not feel bad about asking this question. Because this question promotes humility and demotes pride and arrogance. I’ve added it to my decision making process. I always want to recognize that I have the ability to deceive myself, like it says in (1 Corinthians 3:18) and do more harm than good.

I was thinking about student leadership the other day, and I started to ask myself in what ways can I be doing more harm than good. I thought of 6:

  1. We Think It’s All About Leadership – I firmly believe that the first step to being a great leader in the kingdom of God, is pursuing a life of being a great follower of the King. So helping them grow in following Christ is just as important.
  2. We Police More Than We Lead - I’m all for setting the bar high, but when that bar has you doing more policing than pouring into the students, you may want to revisit the bar.
  3. We Do To Much - You may feel pressure to be visible, and always at the forefront so you pack the calendar with events and serve projects. I believe sometimes we can feel like if we aren’t doing anything, then no ones growing or the program isn’t working. Resist the temptation to do do do, and instead be intentional.
  4. We Don’t Do Enough – Sometimes because we love to teach or hangout, we forget the experience piece to the puzzle. Experience is apart of the growth process. Choose things to do that accomplishes the experience piece, and think of it as a vital part to the program.
  5. We Forget They Are Students – I think sometimes we can have unrealistic expectations of students in student leadership. We create a  program based on where we think they should be, versus where they are. Yes, students are the church of today, but they are still students who are still growing, physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. So think about that as you create your application and program.
  6. We Do It Alone – You have the vision for the program, and sometimes we say to ourselves “I am the only one who can communicate it correctly.” Your voice is important for them to hear, but also are the voices of others. You run the risk of creating a following, detached from the rest of the youth group doing it on your own. Bring others in to help.

What would you add or subtract from this list?

Hope it helps,

AC

Giveaway-EventsGiveaway-EventsGiveaway-EventsHere’s a quick post about something I’ve been thinking about and trying to do in as many areas as possible concerning student leadership. And that something is give away as much of student leadership as possible. In our high school and Jr high ministry we’ve tried to give away as much of the ministry as possible. If you came to our youth service you will see students leading worship, greeting, running cameras, audio, lights, directing cameras, running pro-presenter and sometimes leading a game, sharing a testimony and even speaking.

The benefits of students leading has completely out weighed the adults leading by a ton. Here’s a few of those benefits.

  • The ministry feels more student friendly.
  • Its an easy way to get students plugged in.
  • It brings the “If they can do it, I do it to” attitude.
  • And many more!!

Here is a promo idea my students created:

When launching student leadership I wanted to do just the same. So I asked the question “how much of student leadership can I give away?” I do believe that the answer is different for every ministry, but I also believe that there are areas which are universal. Here are two:

  • Conduct – How students will treat one another in student leadership. I allowed the students to process and come up with a code of conduct that they all would up hold and follow. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t have to guide and facilitate, but what it does mean is that the students now have some skin in the game. I explained that it’s not up to me to make sure you all treat each other right. It’s up to each individual person in student leadership.
  • Areas To Serve – I want to allow the students to lead and implement in this area. If the program, event or project is super awesome it will be because of them and if it fails it will be on them. The outcome either way holds immeasurable value in their growth as leaders.

Giving student leadership away does three things:

  1. Raises the value of the program with students, because of the hands on experience they will receive.
  2. It gives students ownership. They get to leave a legacy and create some traditions within the ministry.
  3. It creates an environment where motives can be aligned. So if you joined for status you will quickly have to align or you wont make it.

Now, I just used student leadership as an example, but this really could be applied to many other areas within your youth group. It could even be applied to the youth group itself. Giving ministry away is never easy, because then you have to trust someone other than yourself to pull it off. I can truly say it’s worth it. In my experience you are able to do more, and even better ministry when you invite students to lead, create, serve, brainstorm and take ownership of the ministry.

Hope it helps,

AC



evil-heart2I’ve just relaunched our student leadership program and it’s been a ton of fun. This is a program designed to help students lead within the ministry. I would encourage you to start something for your students that would allow them to lead in some capacity. I’m definitely not saying you need a traditional leadership program, but it would benefit your youth ministry a lot to have something where students can take some ownership for the ministry.

In the last few weeks I’ve been having a lot of conversations with student leaders concerning the heart of a leader. Because the bible says in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. It’s important that I make sure my students understand that you lead from the heart, and the condition of your heart effects the way you lead.

In Christian culture today you have a lot of people who want to lead, be famous and have influence. We’ve taken on this mentality that says “if I’m going to do something for God, I need it to be big and I need everyone to know about it.” I believe it stems from the condition of our hearts. Now, I don’t think God has any problem with us leading, having influence or fame. I think it’s hard to not have all three at some level when you are leading, but the condition of your heart determines wether you use it to glorify God or self.

I want my student leaders to understand that protecting their heart and continuing to allow Jesus to change their heart is an ongoing process. I want them to be like David. It seems like David understood this concept best. In Psalm 51:50 He writes “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. David was always asking God to do something that had to do with heart, mind and spirit. David was more concerned with who he was becoming then what he was doing. Here are a few areas that David struggled in and I believe these areas stemmed from the condition of his heart.  

  1. Compromise: Having the ability to compromise your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked could wreak havoc in a ministry, and destroy your credibility as a leader worth following.
  2. Abandon: The ability to abandon your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked you could fall for the lie that says “In order to obtain more influence, you must somewhat abandon your beliefs, and come to the middle of the road on certain issues.” This is a lie that unfortunately a lot of people fall for.
  3. Manipulate: The ability to manipulate for selfish gain is a condition of the heart. Left unchecked and you could lead others down the wrong road for a good cause. Probably one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone.

The thing that I want student leaders to know is that we are all capable of doing any of those three things. And so it’s not enough for my student leaders to just know how to speak, plan an event and be relational. They need to understand that we lead from our hearts and out of it is who we are. You can only fake being someone you’re not for a short time, before the real you shows up. My goal is to not just help them do, but also help them be.

 

Hope it helps,

AC

Leadership 8A lot of times when we think of student leaders, we think of the students who are the elite of our ministry. And that is completely false. Student leaders are just students who are committed to serving a cause greater than themselves. My pray is that our students simply learn to serve like Jesus. So here are a few random thoughts that I’ve been noodling on that has been pushing us in that direction.

  • Grow together  – Asking students to do and be things you aren’t doing or being is the easiest road to a revolt within student leadership. Instead, take them as a whole with you included on a journey of growth in serving like Jesus.
  • We are all in the same boat - I got a great idea from one of my veteran volunteers. He gave me the idea to create a struggle sheet. This sheet listed the things that we as christians struggle with. I had them fill it out anonymously. Once they were done I collected them all and shuffled them. Then I passed them back out, with each student receiving someone else’s sheet. I then begin to say “if this struggle is on your sheet raise your hand?” Hands begin to go up with each struggle mentioned. Then I let them know that we are no different than the students we are committed to serving. They struggle with the same stuff we struggle with. My goal was to change their perspective on thinking that we were some how special or better than anyone else. I also wanted to create a level of compassion within them, for the students we will serve.
  • Setting expectations - Not for the sake of having rules, but for the sake of serving others and becoming better followers of Christ. No one is expected to have it all together, but you should expect them to pursue the growth that draws them to serve and be more like Jesus. Set expectations and expect them to meet them.
  • Create something worth being a part of - This generation isn’t just looking for change, but to be a part of a movement. They are looking to be the catalysis to helping the less fortunate or speaking up for the voiceless. Remember “Kony 2012″, “Bring back our girls” or “Blackfish”?I believe students latched on to these causes because of their longing to be a part of something. There is no other mission on the planet like showing, and sharing God’s love to the world. It’s the greatest most important cause/movement ever. I want students to join in on the movement that changed my life when I was 17. This generation is hungry to be a part of something life changing. So make it worth it.
  • Personal growth - Student leaders need to grow as a person and also in their walk with Christ. Even though we encourage getting involved, we definitely don’t want them just jumping on the bandwagon of causes. We want them to understand that their influence is important, but it also can hinder them without personal growth. Growth in influence and authority without spiritual/personal growth leads to ego growth and narcissistic leadership.

My goal is for students to simply serve like Jesus. I want their title to remind them of their commitment to serve and not just lead. There you go, just a few random thoughts. What has been a struggle for you concerning your leadership program for students?

 

Hope it helps,

AC



0e621383_headerevangelismresources13I believe that sharing Christ is our number one responsibility as a believer. When we give our lives to Christ we are commanded to share the good news with others. Now, I know that there are a lot of tools and resources out there on how to share your faith. That’s a good thing because I don’t believe that there is a set way to do it. So whatever you’re doing or using, keep it up.

When I was younger I was taught the Romans Road which was great. However, I was to scared to share in fear that if I ever got off the road, I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. Two thoughts would run through my mind as I shared the gospel:

  1. “Please don’t ask me something I don’t know.”
  2. “Please don’t know more about the Bible than I do.”

Needless to say, I did whatever I could not to share my faith with others.

I know that I have students in my ministry who probably think the same way that I did. However, it’s an invalid excuse not share your faith, because there are no valid excuses when it comes to sharing your faith. We’ve all been mandated as believers to share the good news of Christ. So I decided to help them by teaching them to share their faith through their own experience versus just head knowledge.

Also, there are some things that I’ve learned that really hinders us from sharing our faith effectively. I thought I’d share them with the youth ministry nation. So here they are:

  • We share more than we should -  I think sometimes we can share too much. We want them to accept Christ and stop smoking right there on the spot. Sometimes we trip ourselves up by taking the conversation down roads that lead away from the gospel. You don’t have to prove that you know more than you actually do. Also, you don’t have to explain the flood or Jesus turning water into wine. Just keep it simple and to the point.
  • We use spiritual language - Beware of the words and phrases you use that might be super meaningful to you, but to them are silly talk. Example: “Just run into the arms of the Lord”, “allow God to be your anchor in the midst of the storm” or “let the Holy Spirit move in you”. Make sure the words you use are understandable. Sometimes we get caught up in the spirituality of words and phrases because they sound good, but they don’t explain anything. Just use common language.
  • We get baited into a debate/argument - There are certain people who may want to ask you about your faith, for the sole purpose of debating or arguing about something. These people aren’t looking to dialogue. They are looking for a fight, so don’t entertain them. No one has ever came to Christ after losing an argument about religion. God told us that if there are people who don’t receive the good news, we need to do what He says in Luke 9:5 – “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”  We weren’t commanded to defend our faith. We were commanded to share it. 
  • We have to know it all - This is where I struggled the most. I thought I had to know everything in order to share. I felt like a failure if I didn’t know everything. It’s ok if you don’t know all the answers to their questions. You can say ” I don’t know. Let me get back to you.” Those who are genuinely seeking truth will understand. I will also point out that there are some questions you won’t find the answers to until you get to heaven. So know that it’s ok to get back to them with the answer and be ok with saying, “Because we can trust God concerning what we do know, we believe by faith the things we don’t know yet.”

Sharing our faith should come natural and should be a huge part of what we do. We have the cure to sin, which is a disease with eternal implications. We need to share it with an urgency and not let anything hinder us. What other tips would you add to the list?

Hope it helps,

AC

leader

Wrestling with the idea of student leadership in your ministry? Having trouble landing on a model/strategy that feels right? Here are three possible scenarios:

ORGANIC
Organic student leadership doesn’t rely on a program; there are no monthly gatherings, no “requirements” etc. Instead, an Organic approach is one that simply looks for leaders to emerge and then gives those leaders more ownership, responsibility and input in the ministry. In essence, it believes that the “cream always rises to the top” and looks for those students who, mostly on their own, are setting themselves apart from the pack. In an Organic scenario, leadership is freely and generously distributed to anybody who expresses and interest…because most don’t. There is no formal program, but there is tons of student leadership happening. At Saddleback, we use this strategy within our junior high ministry.
Pros: Student leadership is available to everybody, no program required.
Cons: It lacks formality and structure and is tough to measure

ORGANIZED, BUT….
An “Organized, but…” approach to student leadership is simply that; it’s organized to some degree, but not to an extreme. In this approach there may be meetings, applications, requirements for membership, a set curriculum, etc. But which of those things exist, and which don’t would be somewhat arbitrary and may change from time to time. At Saddleback, we use this strategy within our High School ministry.
Pros: Structure, strategy, measurable results, ability to identify who’s part of program, lots of
flexibility.
Cons: The flexibility may create too much inconsistency, a feeling of “is this what I signed up for?”

ORGANIZED, AND….
An “Organized, and….” approach is simply that; it’s organized, and then some! It’s highly organized, with a well-defined strategy and systematic approach. In addition to meetings, applications, requirements for membership, a set curriculum etc. this model will often include other things such as students being nominated, voted in by their peers, given a large amount of decision making power etc. This model may also toss in some T-shirts and name badges, too. In essence, this model looks very similar to a student government model found in most school settings.
Pros: Student leadership is for the serious! It weeds out the only mildly interested. Those who are in
are usually All-in!
Cons: Can create an elitist mentality among members; a “cool kids” club. Is very high maintenance.

There are lots of ways to identify leadership gifts and develop leadership skills in your youth group. virtually any approach is acceptable. Doing nothing, however, probably isn’t.



imagesI firmly believe that ultimately as leaders we lead by what we do whether we want to or not. We can be leading and speaking in one lane and living in another. And little do we know our that students over time do more of what we do and less of what we say. So it’s important we continue to grow spiritually, following Christ as we lead others. It’s important that we are investing in areas of leadership that we would love to transfer on to our students and allowing those things to live out in our own lives first. Then as we lead, teach and mentor, we will see those things lived out in the lives of our students. So here are a few things I want lived out in my life so they can be lived out in the lives of the students that God has trusted me with:

  1. Perseverance - A lot of times God calls us to do things that challenge us to trust Him. He challenges us to say I can, when we think we can’t. So, we need to model perseverance in trusting God’s timing and calling instead of our own.
  2. Humility - We need to remember that James 4:10 says if we humble ourselves then God will exalt us. We also need to remember that Luke 14:11 says if we try and exalt ourselves we will be humbled. Being humble is a state of being and not a position. Humility is not selling everything you own and living as a poor person. That is actually pride, because you are trying to buy humility by doing something. We need to model humility, which is simply knowing that God’s grace has you where you are and nothing else. We must live that out.
  3. Character – Your character shapes the leader you become, so they need to know that building Godly character is mission critical. You lead out the character you’ve developed or the lack there of. We need to model Godly character.
  4. Patience – They need to understand that patience is more then just waiting. Having patience helps you lead and make decisions with balance. Patience is really a lost art in our culture today. Amazon is the perfect example: They have a button called “Buy Now With One Click.” Just click it right there on the same page and buy it. They want to make sure you don’t have time to think if this a smart choice. They want to help you buy on impulse verses your purchase being wisely thought out. The faster we can have it, do it, use it, own it, see it, take it and eat it, the better. Patience helps you lead and make decisions apart from your impulses. We need to model patience.
  5. Compassion – One reason why compassion is important in leadership is because Jesus modeled it. Matt 14:14 says, “When Jesus saw the crowd He was moved with compassion and healed those who were sick.” There are so many takeaways from this verse, but the one that sticks out the most is that compassion has the ability to move you into doing the unthinkable. It takes a courageous, bold person to be compassionate. I can just imagine Jesus freaking people out completely as He walks through just healing people left and right. We need to model compassion.

We can teach these things a million different ways with great conviction, but the real question is…can we live these things out? It’s not enough to just teach. So what am I missing on this list? Which one is the hardest for you to live out?

Hope it helps

ac

leading-leadersI went to a small private Christian school in Michigan, and for the most part I loved it. One thing I remember happening almost everyday was my principal whistling as he walked down the hallway towards my math class. It was one of the most nerve wrecking things I’ve ever experienced. As he would approach the classroom, everyone would be standing because this usually would happen in the morning as soon as we’ve gotten to class.

He would then go around randomly asking us multiplication problems. We would all be sweating hoping we knew the answer. I remember hearing him firing off questions and thinking I know that one. I should’ve gotten that one. It was the most intense part of my week, but there was one thing that stuck out to me and it has shaped how I lead/counsel/mentor students and volunteers. He would always pick a few of us and ask this follow up question. And the question was “how did you come up with that answer?” I always thought to myself “we got the answer right, what more do you want from us?” haha

Looking back on it, my principal was actually trying to teach us that it was not enough to just know the answer but how you formulate that answer was just as important.

There’s more to the great saying “you give a man a fish he’ll eat for one day, but teach a man to fish he’ll never go hungry.” Because you’re not just teaching him something for the moment, you’re teaching him a life skill that is duplicatable and manipulatable to whatever situation he can use it in. Because the principles of catching fish can be transfered to anything. Giving a man a fish just turns him into a follower who will always be looking for the next person who can give them something. Now, I’m not saying giving is bad in general but it is bad if it is not used properly.

Teaching a man to fish gives him 4 things that he will never be able to get being given everything:

  1. The dignity of not just receiving but being able to contribute.
  2. The confidence that comes with being resourceful.
  3. The value that comes with containing not just information but insight.
  4. A skill to lead and teach someone else so that his contribution out last him.

I would rephrase the saying “Give a man a fish and you create a follower, but teach a man to fish and you create a leader.”

I think we do ourselves and our ministries a disservice when we take the easy route and just tell rather than teach or give and not show. If we want to create leaders it’s going to take us caring and being more intentional about teaching and showing. It won’t happen any other way.

How are you training your leaders to lead?

hope it helps

ac