I just got back from vacation.  It was amazing.  You should have seen it, you would have been quite jealous.  Beach house.  Coffee shops.  Bonfires.  Parks with the family.  Amazing meals. I even got a date with my wife.  I have very little photographic evidence of it, and if you and I were friends on social media sites you would have no reason to believe that my life was any different than the other 51 weeks of the year.  Why in the world would I not post this memorable week to share with some of my most distant friends?  I wanted this one to be for my family and those I talk to.

If your life is anything like mine, then the world of what is ministry and what is not becomes very grey.  And beyond that, I can’t say I really want there to be lines.  God has redeemed all of me, and I don’t want to live public and private lives.  However, as calls come in whenever, emails are answered always, and my family is my best sermon illustration I often feel that those who follow me on instagram know as much if not more about me than my own family.

So I made a decision that I would go radio silent for the week.  I did pretty good at it too! I liked a few photos.  Made a few snarky comments.  Responded to a few emails from those people that either wouldn’t leave me alone or had the power to fire me. For the most part, I disappeared.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I post like a bad Mama Jamma.  If I have something Facebook-worthy it goes up.  Kids sleeping on the floor, it is there.  Awesome youth group night; I’m your man.  And frankly there are many vacations where I want to show others my version of a family enjoying themselves.  So I do live loudly when I can on social media sites.  To that end, my wife continued to post this past week, in fact she became louder on vacation.  That doesn’t mean I am a better Christian (for the most part).  It was a personal decision and a gift that I wanted to give to my family.  They may not have even noticed.  That is fine with me.  I just wanted to be present.  To enjoy all of them and capture the event, not the event so it could be communicated to others.

I think you should do the same.  Not always, and for me this is the exception and not the rule.  For some it may be that you take a break on dates, on Mondays, or when the sun goes down.  I don’t think there is one version that is better than another, however I would strongly encourage you to find those moments in your life that are only for those you call family and for those who are dear friends.  Not to be selfish or exclusive.  Rather to silently say to those around you that they are your “circle”.  They are your “friends”.  They are true “followers” of you and your life.  Without saying no to others, it slowly communicates that you are more than a public figure to your church body and the students you minister to.  You are a dad, a wife, or friend.  All of which you need to do well if you hope to be called a youth worker in five years.

To finish this post it would be fitting to show you a vacation picture, but I didn’t really take any.  I promise to show you my next youth event, latte art, or when my kid puts their clothes on backwards.

Jeff Bachman is a husband for the past 11 years and a father of three amazing kids.  He is the High School Pastor at ROCKHARBOR Church just up the road in Costa Mesa, CA.   He loves emails at jbachman@rockharbor.org, twitter interaction, and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.

I remember the first time I ever went to a youth ministry conference – I had NO idea they even did things like that! 3,000 youth workers in the same room together? Incredible.

And although I haven’t developed an unhealthy addiction to conferences (like some have, you know who you are hahahaha) I do love getting together with like-minded youth workers who get where I live everyday and challenge me to be better. Here’s why I think you should attend a youth ministry conference in the coming year:

Hang with people who understand your calling
Many of the people in my life are amazed at what it takes to be a youth worker – I smile when someone says, “I don’t now how you do it” but love it when someone says, “I’m going to steal that idea to do with my kids.” Why go to a youth ministry conference? To be surrounded with called people just like you.

Be challenged by people who push us forward
I love reading someone’s book and then hearing them in person. I try to learn from people who I agree with, and be challenged by people who rub me the wrong way. When planning out the schedule, mix it up with some stuff you want and some stuff you need.

Have someone look into my soul and do a tune up
I have sins and secrets that as a pastor I simply can’t share in my context. But finding some Soul Care or pastoral counseling options at an event are important. Don’t just hit sessions and workshops, steal some time away for your deepest heart issues, too.

Get away from it all
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Get in a day early and see the sites or stay a day later and go into a youth ministry escape coma for the weekend. Make sure when you head out to a conference you plan some serious down time as well.

There are a ton of great youth worker events out there on the local and national scale – the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Indianapolis is right around the corner and if you register today or tomorrow, you can get in for $40 off and special gifts if you use the promo code MTDB on the last page of registration. See you there!

JG



For all of you Apple fanboys and girls out there, you know about the free release of iOS 6. Have you downloaded it yet? The newest update has some great features on it, including a new Maps that has turn-by-turn instructions, the Passbook app that integrates your life and phone use better, and Do Not Disturb feature for your phone.

For the pastors with an iPhone that are not sure if it is worth the 15 minutes that it would take to download and install onto your phone, let me tell you that doing so could save your soul. Seems like a bold statement but hear me out.

We need our rest, we need time with family, and we must have those moments with the Lord. It seems so hard to be able to put margin in our lives, to have the solid boundaries so that we are honoring God, family, and ourselves, and it almost seems selfish when so much hurt is going on. Yet, we always regret when we do not do it.

We Have Good Intentions…
We may have all been there, you have the good intentions of taking 24 hours for a Sabbath, not talking on the phone at supper with your spouse and/or family, and going to bed on time. Unfortunately, “important” phone calls and texts come up that really do not seem so important after the fact, we feel guilty for hitting the ignore button, and we use the excuse that we are not doing anything important. Time with God, family, and for self is VITAL! Thus the Do Not Disturb feature becomes amazing!

Do Not Disturb
Check it out now. Serious, download it, install it, and open it now from Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb. I’ll wait.

Okay, you will see the screen below that allows you to turn it on (do it!), schedule when it should block phone calls, and who you will allow phone calls from. I have personally elected to not allow phone calls to come in while I am asleep. My favorites section has family and my supervising pastor only as well as I have turned on the Repeated Calls for those who may have an emergency and call twice in three minutes. No one else has the ability to grab my attention after 10PM and before 7AM.

Why Is This Important?
Too many pastors get distracted because a text message comes up, an email buzzes our phone, or a call comes in from the volunteer of women’s ministry, we take it, and then we undervalue those we are with. To not give your spouse your time could long-term jeopardize your marriage, ignoring your family makes you that father who is there… but not really there, only giving God part of your life is dishonoring.

iOS 6 is the practical way of ensuring you have the boundaries and promoting the priorities you have in life. What other tech tips do you have to ensure you honor the priorities in your life?

Jeremy Smith is a youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years — check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.

 

So you have an iPhone. Congrats! First off, get over yourself (OK, you probably don’t need to hear that, but most do). I hope this post is helpful for you as you think about your time off from youth ministry. I think the new iOS 6 is a game-changer for youth ministry – been using a couple new things from the new update that are incredible. Let me tell you about the 2 features you need to turn on immediately and why I think they’re a big deal for us:

>> DO NOT DISTURB MODE
When you need to get away, or take some time off, slide your phone on Do Not Disturb Mode. It still allows data, logs your calls stays up to date – it just doesn’t alert you to that fact. If you are that person who doesn’t shut down or turn it off easily, let all of the alerts slip by but still have your phone for an emergency and when you’re ready to reengage you’re up to date. Set a recurring “off time” from 10pm-7am and set it manually on your day off.

>> VIP EMAIL
I hate skimming email on my day off – it only takes one lousy email to ruin your time away. That thing you thought was settled, that parent who is frustrated, that co-worker who doesn’t have healthy boundaries either – so take that away and set your phone to not get their emails – actually you’re getting the emails but it will only display the ones you’ve manually put on the VIP list. If you’re looking to limit what you see when you’re off, this could be a great tactic. If you use your phone for personal and church use, use VIP to filter your inbox from work mode to friends mode in the flick of a switch.

What other ways can your phone operating systems help you with your day off?

JG



Plan Your Time Off Now

Josh Griffin —  September 17, 2012 — 2 Comments

This week we’re on the topic of time off—and one of the best ways to make sure you use your vacation time in the hectic youth ministry world is to plan your vacation: RIGHT NOW.

That’s right…put some dates on the family and church calendar today and reserve your right to get away. Look for an opening (if you’re like us there will only be a couple of choices anyhow), and stake your claim.

Plan a weekend getaway.
Weekends off in the church context are rare, so find something fun to do that will really refresh you to keep going in the long haul. If you’re smart you’ll find a 3-day weekend and really make something special out of it. Make some memories in those 48-hours you’re off the grid.

Plan some time with just your spouse.
We’re shocked at how often we hear our fellow youth workers share that it has been YEARS since they slipped away for a night with their spouse… without their kids. Getting alone time isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it (for all sorts of reasons!). Can’t get away overnight? How about a regular date night? Can’t afford a regular date night? Then do it on the cheap (Netflix, anyone?), but DO IT.

Plan something refreshing right after the busiest season.
After summer camp you need to build in some comp time for yourself. Give yourself a day or two break when you come off a big event to acclimate to the real world. This summer we both took some extended time off after one of the busiest seasons of ministry we’ve ever had. And we planned it months ago so our families knew the reprieve was coming soon.

Your context and freedoms are different than ours, but grab your calendar right now and block out something next month and something next year. No joke. Do it right now!

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.

This is my favorite week of the year – I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palm Desert at our annual Student Ministries Retreat. It is a life-giving week that our church gives the people who serve youth workers and their spouses. While we have no formal sabbatical (how do I get in on that, come on!) but this is so generous.

So I’ve got a few blog posts set to land while I’m gone – but thought a quick list of a few past articles about vacation, comp time and retreat might be helpful. Here’s some of my favorite stuff on this topic in the past here on MTDB:

JG



Chances are you are currently in the process of wrapping things up from the year and transitioning into summer mode.  That means camps, retreats, mission trips and planning for the fall.  Even if you are year round with ministry you look forward to the summer because the weather is nice, the days are longer and who doesn’t love ending the day with a barbecue?

And then you blink.  And summer is gone, September is a week away and you find yourself scurrying, flailing and gasping for any margin that might be left.  It’s another summer you blew away because you didn’t:

Maintain A Schedule:  Granted you have more margin in the summer, but you still need to know how much.  In the summer, life is a little easier because there might be less people coming to your ministry, and the trips you planned are set to go.  Just because the summer is planned doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax and forget about it.  By maintaining consistent office hours, and a work schedule you enable yourself to build margin instead of losing it.  Just give yourself thirty minutes to sit down and plan out your weeks and days.

Communicate Consistently:  I’m sure you hate playing that game where you need to guess whether or not certain people will be back in the fall.  You tell yourself, “I need a break and so do they.” And while that is true it doesn’t mean going M.I.A. for the entire summer.  It’s wise to check-in with your ministry team online through Facebook and Twitter.  Gather them together for a cookout or give them a call.  You don’t have to talk to them with any purpose in mind other than letting them know you are thinking about them. Then when the question of inviting them back comes up, it won’t be like breaking the ice all over again.

Rest And Refresh: Whether you break entirely or just slow things down it’s important to schedule a few days and even an entire week of true vacation.  If you can’t get away because of finances give yourself a stay-cation by staying home, sleeping in, plan a fun get together with friends, just make sure you give yourself a break.  Pace yourself and even plan some time to grow individually, professionally and spiritually

Put On Sunscreen:  Don’t get burned, put on a little SPF 30 and be safe.  No one wants to see you red as a lobster with those crazy tan lines.  Plus, as great as aloe is, the burn is always still too much.

Summer is a season to enjoy, it’s a season to refresh and set you in the right direction.  For some of us it’s busier, while for others it’s just a chance to step back.  Either way do not let this season get away from you, plan, and prepare so that you can walk into the fall excited.

What other mistakes do youth ministers make in the summer?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.

Interesting article in USA Today this past weekend about turning off – something youth workers are notoriously poor at doing consistently. Want to get more work done? Work less. Want to be fulfilled in your job? Make it part of your life and not all of it. Want to have longevity in ministry? Get away from it every once in a while. Here’s a clip from the article, be sure head there for the rest:

Do you take your smartphone to bed because you claim to use it as a nightlight, say it’s the only alarm clock you have, or need to make sure you don’t miss a critical text?

Here’s the problem with that thinking: Now that the phone is only an arm’s reach away, it’s easy to check a few e-mails, perhaps sending off a few responses so you have one fewer thing to do tomorrow.

You’ve just stepped onto a very slippery slope that will make it difficult not to be connected 24/7. You’ve become one of those millions of workers who fire off e-mails at midnight or reach for the smartphone before your first cup of coffee every morning.

You may claim that you have to work this way because your job — or your employer — demands it.

Make sure you read to the bottom of the article for some really practical volunteer team tips, too!

JG