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

Mihinthalaya StepsI was just at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference and sat through a workshop by Shawn Harrison, the author of Ministering To Gay Teenagers. I would definitely grab his book, it’s a great resource. The workshop was great also, but revealed that the silence of the church on this topic has placed us at a disadvantage in many ways. I would also say that because of our silence we have generations that have no idea how to handle it. Students know more about what the world says concerning homosexuality than what the bible says. This must change. For that to happen, we have to see and do things much differently than in the past.

Here are a few practical things we can begin to do:

  • Be on the same page as the church you’re working for. – As a youth pastors we need to know where our church stands on the issue and create a plan as a church in how we all will deal with members, leaders and students who are struggling. We want to make sure that however we as youth pastors are handling it, the church can back us up 100%.
  • Talk about it. - Everyday the world is finding ways to normalize sin. Our students need to hear where we stand and our hearts on the issue.  If we never expose it, our students will never seek help.
  • Be prepared for the conversations. – We should be prepared for the conversations we will have with our students. Whether you read through Shawn’s book together with your leaders or bring in the head pastor or elders, there should be some training so everyone is on the same page.

When speaking to students I know the easy answer is to call it sin and tell students not to engage in it, but we have to be careful when making statements like that. Because if that’s your main focus, then you are preaching that behavior modification equals salvation. In actuality, harping on behavior modification only leads to a secret life of the sin they are fighting against. So we must be careful that we don’t treat any sin as a mere change in action…because sin goes deeper than that.

So here are a few things to think about when speaking to students:

  • God’s view - A lot of times students are struggling with the temptation, but also God’s rejection that they believe comes with the temptation and lifestyle. It’s important they understand the difference between God’s love and view of us and his approval or disapproval of our actions.
  • Temptation - Being tempted to sin is not sin. It’s what’s done with the temptation that can result in sin. You may have students who are being tempted by this lifestyle and are tortured by the guilt of just being tempted. The world is calling it denying your true self. Well, they need to hear and know from us what the Bible says about it.
  • Life is complicated – We all have different stories that are layered with not just our own experiences, but generational experiences that affect us just as much. That’s why we need more people caring for the lives of students, and not just harping on their behavior. If you care about their life, you will affect their behavior. We need to minister holistically and not departmentally-especially in this area.
  • Their struggle is not their identity - Just because you struggle with sin, doesn’t mean you have to be defined by it. When we reinforce the labels of gay, lesbian, etc…we continue to identify people by their struggle. If you’ve given your life to Christ, your identity is first and foremost in Christ. Now, you still may struggle, but understanding your identity gives you power over your struggle. It’s the beginning of the road to deliverance.

I really hope that you didn’t hear in my post that this should be easy, because it’s not. What I do hope you’ve heard in my post is that our students need to hear from us. We can’t stand on the side lines any longer. I also think we all have something to add to the conversation. So what’s missing from this post?

Hope it helps,

ac



god-is-in-control_4534_1440x9001. It’s all ministry.

2. God’s in control.

These two phrases have had me thinking a lot about how little I have to do with how God uses me, and how there ‘s more to ministry then what we traditionally understand. God has been showing me that there is no limits to what He can do in us and through us. I’ve had situations where a student shared with me that 8 months ago that a hug I don’t remember giving was the catalyst for his life change. I’ve also received text messages about how something I said in passing changed a students life for the better. I had a conversation with a student about an invitation they casually received from a leader to go to summer camp. Well, that ended up kick-starting the students walk with Christ. I’ve had students share their testimony with their parents, and their parents come to Christ through it. This is why the phrase it’s all ministry and God’s in control exists. And if you think about your ministry I sure you can think of some stories of unorthodox life change.

Sometimes when we don’t recognize these two phrases, we run into issues and begin to think:

  • I need to make this program, message, song, conversation and event perfect because that’s how students come to christ when things are done right and perfect.
  • Let’s make God do more by praying harder.
  • If only I can put the right words together they will change.
  • It’s just a conversation, smile, high five, coffee, remembered name, hug, ride, invite, or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram post of encouragement. None of that is real ministry.

When you understand that everything we do as youth workers is ministry and God’s in control you begin to think:

  • I’m going to be intentional about the small things because I know God uses them.
  • I will strive to do my best and allow God to do the rest. It may not be perfect, but it will be worth it, If I serve from my heart.
  • God is not a genie in a bottle. So I won’t petition HIm as if He is.
  • The Holy Spirit will give me the words to say. I just need to surrender to him and allow him to use me.
  • God help me see every opportunity I have to share my faith and your love.

I used to think that God worked in a certain way, because of tradition, I used to believe that ministry was confined to a certain area of life. I was sadly mistaken. God wants to use every part of our life. He wants use our strengthens, weaknesses, failures and wins. He won’t let anything go to waste. Also, we must come to terms with the fact that ultimately God is in control. I would even say rest in the fact that God is in control, because it’s a good thing. Would love to hear how you are stretching yourself to think outside the box when it comes to ministry. Also, what does (God’s in control) mean to you?

hope it helps,

ac

bleeding woman touches jesus

Every year our junior high, high school and college teams sneak away for “Staff Camp”. We jam-pack the 36 hours away with training, dreaming, planning, laughing, playing and eating…lots of eating.

It’s at Staff Camp that I introduce the area(s) of our ministry that I’d like us to give extra attention in the upcoming year. Usually, I pick aspects of our ministry that have tangible, measurable results affixed and challenge our team to give these areas a little boost in the next 12 months. But not this year. This year I decided I wanted our team to focus on ourselves instead of on our youth ministry. Granted, as we boost these two areas personally, it will impact our ministry but that wasn’t the ultimate goal.

So this year, I’ve asked our youth ministry team to strive to be more faithful and faith-filled. Here’s how I hope that plays out:

FAITHFUL: A big part of being a youth pastor is simply showing up; being faithful to your role….making the donuts. Knowing your spiritual gifts and using them faithfully, being consistent in the little things, refusing to bury your talents, etc. are some of the ways we can be more faithful in our roles as youth workers.

FAITH-FILLED: One of my favorite Jesus encounters in scripture is when the bleeding woman reaches out to touch his robe as he walked by. Her “If/Then” faith is astounding. She didn’t know much about Jesus…mostly stuff she had heard through the grapevine, but she had the faith to think, “If I can touch him, then I will be healed”. I want our team to have that kind of faith! I want our team to do youth ministry with an “If/Then” mentality! What might it look like if we minister in a way that assumes Jesus will show up if we give him the chance!

Chances are you and I haven’t met. I don’t know if you are full time or part time; the leader of your youth ministry or part of the team. I don’t know the size, style or denomination of your church; if your youth groups meets in a spacious youth center or in the janitor’s closet. I don’t know the challenges you’re facing or the victories you’ve won.

But I do know that you can be faithful and faith-filled….and if you were on my team, that’s what I’d be hoping for you this year!



help+wanted

Recently in a youth ministry seminar the presenter asked the question, “How many of you feel like you have enough volunteers in your ministry?” One guy raised his hand. The rest of the room wanted to punch him in his smug, little, “I’m awesome” nose. Because almost nobody who leads a youth group feels like they have enough volunteers, a popular discussion when we get together is sharing ideas to help persuade/recruit/guilt-trip/trick/entice folks to join our youth ministry team.

I’d like to share with you the world’s easiest way to get new volunteers: JUST ASK.

Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask. And when you get rejected, ask.

* Bulletin announcements are fine, but not as good as an ask.
* The senior Pastor pleading from the pulpit is great, but not as good as an ask.
* A youth ministry booth at the annual ministry fair is fun, but not as good as an ask.

Who should you ask? Everybody. If there is an adult who loves Jesus and likes teenagers, ask.

Who should do the asking? You, your current volunteers, your students. Believe it or not, the most effective asks usually come not from the “paid spokesperson” (you), but from the “satisfied customers” (current volunteers and students). When a teenager approaches an adult and asks if he/she would be willing to help out in their youth group, it’s tough to turn down! when a current volunteer tells a peer that serving in the youth group is rewarding, and worth the time commitment, it makes a powerful statement.

Don’t say somebody else’s “no”. I first heard this from Bill Hybels. Too often we assume somebody is too busy, uninterested etc. so we say “no” on their behalf without ever actually asking them to serve. Don’t assume. Don’t say somebody else’s “no”.

There are probably more people in your church willing to work with students than you think. You just have to ask!

In my next post, we will take a look at some strategies that will help make “making the ask” a little bit easier.

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference is coming up March 7th-10th and you do not want to miss out. Register (here) Check out Kurt and I as we discuss what makes SYMC so great!!!! You will also learn of our great love for dates!!!! ha Enjoy!!

 

kurt & ac



One of the things I love to do, is share what I’m learning in ministry with other youth workers and volunteers. With this post I wanted to share something that I need to remind myself is the better option. I’m always thinking of the person who’s attending my workshop and I always want them to get the most out it. So my first thought is to allow questions during my session because it’s important that they leave feeling like they’ve gained a new perspective on the topic in some way. Also, I don’t want them to forget the question so I allow Q&A during the workshop. Then immediately when I’m done I regret it. Here’s why:

  1. I’ve just valued a few over everyone - By the end of the workshop I’ve spent more time answering questions for the few, then sharing the material I prepared for everyone.
  2. Random personal rants - Every person in my workshop is there to get what they need. They are not thinking about everyone else which is natural and ok. The flip side to that is they begin asking questions as if they are the only ones there.  
  3. A question becomes the workshop – I’ve just taken 15 minutes to explain something that has nothing to do with the focus of my presentation. All because someone asked a question that needed background info on the answer. Now I have question on the answer I just gave.
  4. The workshop was highjacked – I’ve just went back and forth with one person who has a rebuttal to every answer I give them. We’ve now frustrated the whole workshop and have created an angry mob. Now I’m looking for an exit. ha
  5. I ran out of time - I had to rush through the rest of my material which makes me look like an idiot, because everyone in my workshop is thinking that I should of managed my time better. I have to make the embarrassing announcement about skipping portions of the material so they can make it to their next workshop on time. Or I “Jesus-juke” everyone and say “I feel led to stop here and dig deeper” when in reality I just don’t have the time to go any further.

QA

Now, I’m a firm believer that a Q&A within a workshop is necessary. I’m also aware of the fact that some of these things that I mentioned above can’t be avoided, but they can be managed. So here are 5 ways to do a Q&A right!

  1. Write it down. - I will let them know that there will be a Q&A at the end and that they should write their questions down as they come to them. So they don’t forget them.
  2. Set a time limit. – This help’s me manage my workshop time schedule. Also, it helps me keep track on how many questions I can take. So as the time comes to a close I can say “we have time for three more questions” or something like that.
  3. Preference the type of questions you want asked. - I will usually preference by saying “if it’s a question that you think would help everyone”. I will also say that I’m free afterwards to answer more specific questions that may not be helpful to everyone.
  4. Go off-line. - Don’t be afraid to take some questions that need more elaborate answers to email. Nothing kills Q&A time like a question that takes the whole time to answer. Let those people email you, that way you don’t subject everyone to a question that effects 5 out of the 25 people that are in your workshop.
  5. Take polls. – Some of the questions you get may be on the minds of everyone. Take a poll if you think that the question may be universal. The people in your workshop need to know that they are not the only ones struggling in that area or have that problem. Also this is a great time for them to help each other. Be cautious that no one highjacks this time either.

Answering questions that I’m covering in my presentation before I cover it is counter-productive. And that’s exactly what happens when I do a Q&A during my presentation. On the other hand, you are not going to cover everything about the topic in your presentation. So you need a time of Q&A to maybe catch somethings you didn’t mention in your presentation that the people need to know. So for me Q&A’s works best at the end where it can be managed and utilized to it’s fullest potential.

Let’s help each other out. What are some other helpful workshop tips?

Hope it helps

ac

epic_fail_new_years_resolution_post_cards-rb0055f24b83b4a4c93c79fca74d2918c_vgbaq_8byvr_324I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions because it seems like they only produce guilt. Everyone that I know who sets a new plan for the new year starts strong and then fades off into the abyss of nothingness. They end up never fulfilling the goals for the new year and it all fades because they never set themselves up to win in the first place. So I thought I’d share a few things I do at the beginning of the year. I can honestly say that this has helped me a lot over the years.

Spend time seeking God.Now, this is not bible study or quite time. This is laying your wants, desires and needs out before God in grave detail in four areas of your life.

 

  1. As a Man/Woman
  2. As a Husband/Wife
  3. As a Father/Mother
  4. As a Youth Pastor/Volunteer/Youth Worker

I know how easy it is to forget that even though we are in ministry, we are still growing. And no matter how many times we preach, teach, encourage and be used miraculously by God we need to remember that we haven’t arrived yet. We need to be pursuing a Christ centered life just as much as those we minister to.

Start new habits. – Here’s a question to ask yourself: What are somethings you think would enhance your life if it became a habit? There a three things that should shape the habits you start.

  • Should be realistic. - The habit should be something doable to some degree. It should also stretch your world in some way. My wife and I started praying for one another before we left the house. We would just take a few seconds and recognize God as the protector of our family and ask for his traveling mercies. We started this a long time ago and now even if my wife or I forget one of my kids will come and pray for us. Even my 18-month-old will pray and the only word she can say is amen. My kids will even remind and/or initiate the prayer. So it was a stretch because it was something we had to start but it was also doable and it has become beneficial in more ways than one.
  • Should challenge you. – In order for the new year to be better than the year before you must step your game up. Especially when it comes to personal life and ministry life. When Paul talks about qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 he talks about qualifications for an overseer, but as you can see they are pretty intense. I definitely think it should be the type of life anyone in ministry should exemplify. So you should ask yourself, how can you challenge yourself to grow in light of scripture, also, just life in general.
  • Find accountability. - Take the power to anonymously quit away by telling someone. And let that person hold you accountable to change.

Switch up a routine or two. Force yourself to think different in the new year. In order for that to happen you will have to stimulate the brain differently then you did last year. I believe our creative muscle must be worked just like our regular muscles. If you keep doing the same workout your muscles will become immune to it. If you switch it up you burn more fat and build new muscle. If you continue to work your creative muscle the same way, you will get the same results. Switch it up.

  • Instead of it just being you coming up with ideas, grab some volunteers or students and let them throw some ideas out there.
  • Meet at a different place that could possibly get your creative juices following.
  • Maybe you need to be more strategic in how you brainstorm.
  • Instead of working in the office, maybe work from Starbucks or find a way to work from the park for a day.
  • On Fridays, let each family member pick a restaurant. Write it on a piece of paper and then draw from a hat the winning restaurant.
  • Start family movie and popcorn night in stead of just watching TV. Make it an event.
  • If you are a runner, run a different route.
  • etc…

I hope this encourages someone who struggles with new years resolution like I have in the past. Now, I just follow this formula and it has helped me tremendously. I don’t see it as a new years resolution anymore, but more of a new years new perspective. I hope it helps you the same. So how do you handle New Year resolutions?

hope it helps

ac