Conversation_mattersMaking connections through conversations is something that I’ve been really thinking about. Every meaningful connection that I’ve made in my life started with a conversation. I think in the past I’ve put more emphasis on connecting, and not enough emphasis on how important it is that we have conversations. The connections I’ve made and the conversations I’ve had are the two things that have shaped my life more than anything else. I can remember getting my first job at Burger King and getting connected to my boss who become a mentor in my life. It started with an interview where we conversed for 2hrs. Another important connection made at Burger King was to my wife, and it started with a conversation at the milkshake machine. I can go on and on and I’m sure if you thought about it, you could do the same.

As I think about this topic I think about the amount of time and resources we put into trying to get students connected. We want to put on the right event, get them in the right small group, give them free stuff or say all the right things just to get them connected. We put on huge outreach events that are great and fun, but maybe only a few students sticks around if any.

Every weekend after service I hang out with students. The funny thing is all they want to do is just hangout. They will even purchase their own food #ptl (praise the Lord) and sometimes pay for mine :) . The intentional conversations that I’ve been able to have with them has connected us more and more. It has helped me truly care about them not just as a student under my spiritual care, but as a person. I believe it’s only at that level that are we able to make the biggest impact. This also got me thinking “what if students got to intentionally experience this connection with each other?” It would change our entire ministry.

Students are attracted to fun and that’s a fact! But that fact doesn’t automatically mean connection. I’m convinced that in order to create a culture of connecting students to leaders and other students, we must create a culture where conversations are just as important as the event, which takes intentionality on our part of the ministry.

We need to start thinking about how do we become more intentional about the conversations that are going on. Most students aren’t thinking “I need to seek people out and have meaningful conversations”, even though they truly want to be connected and have those types of conversations. A lot of times our programs and events leave the meaningful connections up to chance.

Now, in spite of our unintentional efforts, the Holy Spirit comes through and students lives are changed and meaningful connections are made. I believe our efforts will always be flawed and never one hundred percent, and we need to lean on the Holy Spirit in whatever we do. Especially, when it comes to ministry, having conversations and making connections. With that being said, my prayer to God is, “help me be more intentional in facilitating possible life changing conversations”!

In order for us move forward, we must first know where we are.  So here are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are my current programs and/or events fostering conversations?
  2. If they are, how intentional are we about the those conversations?

In my next post I will go super practical in terms of what this looks like in my ministry. I truly believe that students and the ministry grows the same way, and that’s through simple God ordained conversations. I’m still thinking this through and processing it all. So if you are reading this, you have just joined me on a journey that the Holy Spirit has been leading me on.

 

Hope it helps,

ac

 

What have you learned makes a serving experience or camp a great one?

Doug Franklin over at Leadertreks has some great thoughts on how most of this is up to the posture of adult leaders. Here are ten of his observations:

  • Mission_TeamGoing is not enough: “…we don’t just want them to go, we want them to grow.”
  • Be a trip mentor: “A trip is a great place to develop a long-term, life-changing relationship with a student.”
  • Have a purpose for the trip: “What do you want your students to look like when they return?”
  • Inspire spiritual growth: “Students will feel a need for God while on the trip, and this is a great opportunity for you to introduce them to spiritual disciplines”
  • Find teachable moments: “…mix a student’s experience with the truth of God’s Word.”
  • Challenge students: “… [it[ starts with challenging the top performing students."
  • Get sleep: “Trips become increasingly ineffective as team members become tired.”
  • Add value to your adult volunteers: “… the number one problem I see over and over again is adult volunteers who have no idea what they are doing on the trip. They come because youth trips need adults, but beyond that they are not sure why they are there.”
  • Remember Boundaries = Love: “Don’t give students what they want; give them what they need.”
  • Stay connected to God: “You can’t impart what you do not have.”

(Read the rest of Doug’s solid article here.)

I think Doug is spot on. Just last month we had a major difference in a serving camp experience because of the investment we made into our adults, which in turn helped them better invest into students.

Which of his points most stands out to you?

Is there anything you would add or subtract?



Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1

 

 

Show’s Topic: The Gospel!!!!!

Hope it helps,

AC

Led-Zeppelin-fourAs I continue to love on students and family through pastoral care, there are some things that I’ve had to become knowledgeable about. Because students and their families are dealing with these issues and in order for me to really care for them, I need to educate myself. So I thought I’d share few of the issues with you. I am by no means an expert in any of the issues I list. My goal has been to know enough to understand what it is I’m dealing with so that I can respond better.

  1. Mental Illness - There is such a huge stigma when it comes to mental illness, because we automatically associate mental illness with a lack of smarts. Therefore, people are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Well, I had to educate myself on the topic, so I could view and pray for my students struggling with mental illness in the right light. Sometimes I think we can tack on things and misdiagnose students based on what we think we know about the student and what’s really going on. I always push parents to seeing a professional, but that doesn’t negate my responsibility to walk with the student and family through the process. The crazy part is that out of all the kids that are struggling, only 20 percent are being diagnosed and treated. It makes me want to know more, because I most likely have students and families who are dealing with it on their own.(NAMI)
  2. Self-Harm – The Huffington Post came out with an article not to long ago that said Self-Harm was becoming main-stream thanks to the internet. I’ve definitely had more conversations concerning this topic then I would like to in my own ministry. I had to become knowledgeable about it so that I could minister and care for our students who are struggling in this area. Because even though I send them to see a professional, they still need support as they go through this journey of healing. Again, I need to know what I’m dealing with because I want to be able to care and pray for my students very specifically. I created this for my leaders(click here).
  3. Suicide – It’s the second leading cause of death for ages (10-24). And the third leading cause of death for college-age and youth (12-18). There are 5,400 attempts a day by students in grades 7-12. What’s interesting is that 4 out 5 teens who attempt suicide give warning signs. Which makes me want to know what to look for, and have some guidelines on how to respond.(TJF)
  4. Abuse – In youth group a lot of things come out concerning students. I want my leaders to know what to do in case abuse is found out. Even more than that, I want them to know the signs to look for in students who they think may be being abused. There are mandated reports so it’s crucial they understand they are bound by law to report abuse.

I think sometimes we shy away from these types of issues, because it’s like opening pandora’s box. But in Matthew 9:12 … Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Studying Jesus’ ministry here on earth leads me to believe that He was all about blowing the door off of Pandora’s box. He spent more time with those who struggled than any other people group during his time on earth. I had to open my eyes to the fact that the majority of my students are probably struggling with something. And I can’t be so occupied with doing ministry that I neglect those who are in need of being ministered to. I have to care about these students just as much as God does. They need community and people praying for them just like everyone else and maybe even more. Just a thought! What are some other things we need to educate ourselves on so we can minister to our students and their families better?

 

Hope it helps,

AC



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.

Shows Topic:

  1. What is Attractional youth ministry?
  2. Is it Good or Bad?

Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK. 

On Today’s Show: All Things Summer!!!!

  1. Modesty: Dress code or not?
  2. Tips to making summer great.
  3. Growing your core student base.

 

Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Video Blog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK. We’ve added a bunch of great new things to the video blog. One of the things that I’m super excited about is the fact that we are giving resources away. Watch to find out how. Send Questions to: Letstalkyouthministry@gmail.com

On Today’s Show:

  1. Chick Fil a On Sunday?
  2. Who Kicked a Teenage Girl?
  3. Parents: In Or Out?

 

Hope it helps

Kurt & AC

FearThe one thing we all fear is not the devil. It’s change.Throughout history change has never been easy. The Pharisee’s didn’t hate Jesus because He was doing good things.They hated him because of the fact that He came to change things.They were so set in their ways of thinking that they missed the Messiah even though they knew He was coming the way that He did.The pain endured during the civil rights movement was all about certain people fearing change.

I remember when Blockbuster was the largest video rental store in America doing around 6 billion in sales year.Then came Netflix who said “Subscribe to us and don’t leave your home. We’ll send your movie rental to you.” Well, in the beginning Blockbuster could of taken Netflix out by turning millions of their customers into subscribers. But no, blockbuster who was comfortable with their 6 billion cushion, thought Netflix was a fad, and that they would eventually go away. Well, they were definitely wrong, and in 2010 Blockbuster was 900 million dollars in debt and had to file chapter 11 (bankruptcy).

We as human beings don’t like change. I would even go as far as to say we as the church don’t like it either. And if we are not careful we could end up like the Pharisees’ missing out on a great opportunity in advancing God’s kingdom…all because we allow change to scare us instead of motive us. We let our comfort with the way things are dictate how we react to change.

We have to understand change happens all the time. The world we live in now is completely different then the world our parents grew up in. My kids will grow up in a world different then the one I grew up in. Change is inevitable.

I love how Jesus adapted to change in His ministry. He used relevance to be relatable. He related to people where they were. He never told people you must conform to me first, then I will do for you or give to you. He just meets people where they are, and you never see them go back to the way they were before. I have to assume based on Jesus’s ministry 2000 years ago here on earth, that if He would have lived today, His messages would reflect the things of today. I have to assume that His parables could include the iPhone, TV’s, Ford Fusion hybrid, and yes, even Chick-fil-a. Jesus’s ministry was relevant.

Also, many times Jesus did things before He was supposed to. That’s why you see Him many times telling people not to say anything. He knew it wasn’t His time yet. So I can just imagine Jesus saying two things to us that He modeled, “Let’s stay relevant so people will have a interest in listening to us and let’s not fear doing things differently just because tradition says you can’t.” It seems like change gave Jesus a creative license to reach everyone. Now, Jesus didn’t change His message. He just changed the presentation so that He could reach everyone.

We must do the same. We must be willing to change with the times. I was listening to the radio and heard this song from the 90′s and they mentioned Myspace. (HA!) If you mentioned Myspace today, kids would laugh at you or look at you as if you are crazy, because times have changed. Myspace is no longer a cultural norm.

My prayer is that we don’t become like the Pharisees when it comes to change. Where we become so comfortable with the way we do things that we see change as a threat. And we do whatever it takes to stay the way we are, even at the cost of reaching more for Christ. I also pray we don’t become like Blockbuster doing ministry with our heads underground not paying attention to growing trends and innovation, thinking the way we’ve done things for 50 years is the way we can do things forever.

So the question is “Does change move you towards fear or innovation?”

hope it helps

ac