5imagesI had the privilege of hanging out with some our volunteers and doing some training recently. As we were talking and just hanging and swapping stories about students, it really got me thinking about how important our volunteers are to our ministry. We are definitely a million times better with them! Hanging with them got my mind going and I started to think about 5 things I never want to forget concerning them. I want to continue to do these things better and better and better.

Empower - I’ve learned that the more you empower and train your volunteers, the more you can give certain responsibilities of the ministry away. You actually create the capacity to grow healthier when your volunteers are trained and empowered.

Teach to communicate - If your ministry leans heavy on small groups, then your volunteers need to know how to best communicate to students. Your life group leaders will spend way more time with students then you, so equip them to teach well. Now, by no means am I saying that you have to turn them into world renown speakers, but they do need to know what you value when it comes to what’s being taught. Giving them curriculum is not enough. It’s like giving a gun to someone who’s never shot one before, and telling them to shoot a soda can off a roof. They need training and guidance on how to communicate God’s word.

Involve – One of the worst things I believe you can do to a volunteer is under utilize them. I learned that I have to stop thinking of volunteers as hired help and think of them as a part of my team. You will be surprised of the skills your volunteers have and are ready to use, if you acquired about them and used them. I’ve learned that when you are all in with your volunteers in terms of involving them as a team, they will be all in with using their skills, talents and resources to move the ministry forward.

Value – Volunteers stay where they are valued (not just appreciated). The best way to show a volunteer that he/she is valued is not by just simply showering them with gift cards and thank you notes (which by the way are super important and shouldn’t be under valued at all), but you show how much you value them by how much you invest in them. Here are some examples of investing in volunteers:

  • Grabbing coffee
  • Bringing them along to a conference
  • Asking them to share with younger volunteers
  • Training them
  • Letting them run a portion of the meeting
  • Caring about their personal life
  • Caring and knowing their families
  • etc…

The truth is, we invest our time in the things we value. So I’ve learned that if I invest in my volunteers, I’ll see more stick around longer.

Appreciate – While volunteers don’t do what they do to be appreciated, it’s a must that you show your appreciation to them. Your appreciation to your volunteers communicates 3 things:

  • It communicates that they are important to the ministry.
  • It communicates that they are making a difference.
  • It confirms their call to serving where they are.

It’s our job to appreciate our volunteers. Make it a rule of thumb that however you decide to show them appreciation take it up another level.

Now, I know there are definitely more then five so what I’m I missing or what would you add to the list?

hope it helps

ac

STOP DOING GOD’S JOB!!!

 —  December 23, 2013 — 4 Comments

images (1)I don’t know about you but when I think about ministry in the new year I think about setting goals. I want ministry moving forward and so I think about what that looks like. I think about the problem area’s of ministry and how I can make it better in the new year. I think about the students who struggled last year in their faith and the one’s who decided this God thing wasn’t for them. I think about what programs or resources we need to add to help these students. And if I’m not careful (I) can easily become the down fall of my efforts in the new year. An important passage of scripture we must remember in ministry is 1Corinthians 3:6-7.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

If we are not careful in our thinking we can quickly become the solution. Our programs and resources no longer point to salvation but becomes salvation for people. And we have to remember that God uses what we do for his glory not our own. So that is why we must not get to caught up in what we can provide over Who we are pointing students to.

  • Stop Doing God’s Job - I would keep 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 visible so you can stop trying to do work that’s way above your pay grade. Trying to do God’s job in the lives of students will discourage you quicker than anything else. Because if their life change depends on you it will be short lived. Stay in your lane.So no matter what 2013 looked like for your ministry the only question that is relevant is did you point students to Christ. I totally understand the fact that we have to do our do diligence and checklist of how we can do things better, save money and stuff like that, but at the end of the day if you can honestly say that your ministry pointed students to Christ you’ve done your part. We must remember that we are not responsible for life change, that’s God’s job and it’s more important then what we do. 
  • Think Preparation – Our job is to be prepared for the life change God brings. I had to change my thinking on how I was going to get students to retain their faith, think different, evangelize, grow in their faith, love God, love others or grow a heart for serving. I’ve changed my thinking to how can we be prepared so when God does something in their heart towards these things we are ready to help them with what God has awaked in their spirits to do. Example: If a student hears a message on serving and God does something in their hearts to serve I want to be ready to help them carry it out. Example: Maybe a student hears a message on growing in their faith, well I need to think how can I help them grow whether it’s with a program or resource. This is how we should think and this is our job. We are not responsible for stirring/changing/increasing/convicting the hearts of students, we plant, help, encourage.act that pointing students to Christ is my Job. God’s Job Is More Important –  If we are honest sometimes we can really feel like since what we are doing is for God it is just as important. And we may not say that with our words but we definitely say it with our actions. Here is one question to ask yourself to figure out if this is true for you or not. How much time to do you give to prayer for the ministry Vs. meetings for and about the ministry? If God’s job is more important then He needs to be highly communicated with because His involvement is crucial and more important then anything we do at any given time.
  • Beware Of Discouragement - I can tell you that it’s not easy because you can become discouraged when a student doesn’t get it, and falls prey to a scheme or trick of the enemy, and not follow what you’re teaching or trying to show them. I have to be reminded myself that it’s not my efforts but it’s the God I serve that changes lives in His timing and in the way He sees fit.
  • Be Encouraged – The God of the universe is on our side and is close to us. Be encouraged that you get to point students to a God that never fails, never sleeps and will never forsake them. Be encouraged that He allows you to be apart of the life changing process, but most importantly be encouraged because you can rely on Him even with the part He’s entrusted to you.

I pray it encourages you to think differently in 2014. What would you add to the list in light 1Corinthians 3:6-7?

hope it helps

ac



237_many_hatsI had the opportunity to give a few thoughts on discipleship to our small group leaders. So I thought I’d share them with you all.

I’m a firm believer that small groups are messy and not as clear cut as some may make them out to be. Therefore, discipleship within small groups is not as clear cut either. I believe the many hats a small group leader has to wear shows the messiness of small groups, and also presents a reason as to why small groups are messy.

Small Group Leader Hats

  1. Counselor
  2. Teacher
  3. Mediator
  4. Friend
  5. Disciplinarian
  6. Role Model
  7. Support System
  8. Advocate
  9. Many More

Wearing this many hats makes a checklist discipleship system impossible. I’ve worn many hat’s being a small group leader and many of them at the same time. What has helped me the most are the principles Jesus used discipling his disciples. When I look at how Jesus discipled, I see a more patterns of principles than methods or structure. Principles deal with the important intangibles that effect areas of our life long term.

We must understand that every time you interact with your students you are discipling them. Whether you know it or not you are discipling with your life and with the choices you make. How you live and the choices you make effect your students for the better or worst. And that’s why I believe Jesus discipled based on principles. Discipling through these principles has been encouraging and literally life changing for me and my small group. So here are the three principles I feel like Jesus used with his disciples:

 

  1. Disciple Through Relationships – Grow and Build Relationships With Your Students – Jesus was always sharing with them who He was and what what He was here to do. He was growing them closer together but also closer to himself. For the sole purpose of building trust. Jesus knew that there would come a day that they would need to trust him and each other. I can tell you from experience that there will come a day that your life group students will need to trust the wisdom you give and know that it’s out of love and not judgement. They will also need the support and confidence of their group.
  2. Disciple IntentionallyBe Intentional With What You Teach and Do – Jesus was intentional about what He taught and also how He challenged the disciples. When Jesus taught the sermon on the mount He intentionally used verbiage that the people already knew so that His words would resonate with them. He intentionally used those words to relate to them so they would hear him and follow. Think about the ways you can be intentional with what you teach. Don’t just teach, speak intentionally to the hearts of your students. How can you challenge them intentionally? You don’t want to just throw ideas at that wall and hope one stick. Have some intentional conversations with God and also with them so you can challenge them in areas that would benefit them for sure.
  3. Disciple the Potential – I feel super strong about seeing the potential in students, I may do a whole post on this topic alone. I see it as a non-negotiable in youth ministry. Jesus chose the disciples based on what he saw in them. He saw three fisherman and a tax collector as world changers preaching the gospel way before the did any of that. He saw a christian killing machine like Paul as someone who would change the world way before he did any planting of churches or writing of the scriptures. Disciple the potential of your students and don’t allow their present circumstance to sway what you see in them.

I got the chance to let our small group leaders know that how you disciple is super important. And again,  I’m not talking about method or structure, I’m talking about in principle. There are a million methods out there and they are all great in their own right, but Jesus gave us some principles that can be used no matter what the method or the structure looks like.

Would love for the youth ministry nation to weigh-in. What  are some other principles Jesus Christ displayed that we can use to disciple our students?

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



blue-three-300x299I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance offs with students. haha Another element that I love is having one on one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. I think for a lot of youth workers this is an area that they may struggle with or not be as comfortable with as they want to be. I wrote a post a while ago that deals with the importance of why these three things matter to me. Go here to check it out!!! So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that has helped me in one on one situations.

1. Take Control - Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk which is great and sometimes the only thing needed, but sometimes you want to guide the conversation to an area they may need to get some guidance or prayer. I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows, when I show genuine concern for the good and the bad in their life. Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how’s life, I’ll say let’s have a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You will be surprised with the response you get. If they don’t have time I’ll say “great, let’s get together this week or I’ll say “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” I’ll leave a message with specific questions for them to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response. Just a caution: when communicating over social media always think about context. My rule of thumb is “communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

 

2. Use Discernment - Every time you get the opportunity to talk one on one with a student consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push them and when to let it go. Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come to Jesus moment. Like I said, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed and you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when they need to hear the truth of God’s word.

 

3. Pray With Them – I know this sounds like a no brainer but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about them performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all. We need to model that to them. So look in all areas in which you can pray for them. I always hear people say God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than my little situation. I always wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.

 

I could’ve listed more but I really wanted to zero in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students but I also know that they need more than just fun. They need Jesus and that’s the primary assignment God has given me being in youth ministry. So what has helped you connect with students better?

 

hope it helps

ac 

@aaroncrumbeyAC

I surprised Kurt this week with a rapid fire Q&A. I wanted him to tap into his 20 plus years of experience. Here’s the list of questions. 1.Balance ministry and life? 2.Ask for more budget or a budget? 3.New position, new church what do I do first? 4.Staff dating each other? 5.Regain trust after a moral failure? 6.Stress of ministry? 7.Disruptive volunteer/parent/student?

Leave questions or topics you would love to hear us discuss in the comment section or email us at talkaboutym@gmail.com.

hope it helps

ac & kurt



FIVE-682_747448aOne of the things I get to do with being in pastoral care is listen to a lot of what’s going on in students lives. And what I’ve come to realize is that youth ministry compensates for a lot. God has us in a space like no other. Never think that what we do is not needed or insignificant. You are supporting parents who desperately need an outside christian influence pointing their children towards Jesus. I’ve met with students and I would end up saying the same things their parents would try and say to them, they just needed to hear it a different way. I really want to encourage you in some of the ways I believe God strategically uses us.

Stability - You may have students who come from dysfunctional homes where the family is relationally unstable in every way. Also, for students life is always changing because they are. How does He use us?

  1. Youth group meetings every week.
  2. Leaders being there for them each week, ready to love on them.
  3. A program with their best interest at heart every week.
  4. We provide a place to go every week that is safe and stable.

A positive environment - You may have students who are growing up in a very negative environment, where it’s hard for them to see any of the good that is going on in their life. Maybe they are growing up in a home where people speak negatively about them directly to them. How does He use us?

  1. We share and model a hope that gets us through the negative in our lives.
  2. Leaders to see and speak the good about them directly to them.
  3. Encouraging lots of fun and laughter. This is the love language of students!! Fun and laughter creates an incredible positive environment.

Attention - We are in an era where parents are busier than ever. And I don’t mean that entirely in a bad way. Some parents have to work two jobs or single parents have to work. Students are craving for someone to ask a follow up question to “how was your day”. How does He use us?

  1. We listen to things other people would consider silly because we know it’s not silly to them.
  2. We’ve made ourselves available to meet as a mentor or hang as a friend.
  3. We genuinely want to know and will ask the follow up questions.
  4. We make ourselves available to support them however we can.

Unconditional love - You may have students who feel a performance based love at home. How well they do in sports, academics and even with how much they participate in church activities determines the level of love they receive. How does He use us?

  1. We teach, share and model a love that is not performance based. We model a love that says no matter where you come from or what you’ve done or haven’t done you are loved unconditionally.
  2. We create an environment that says all are welcomed and loved not just the students who agree with our religious views. I think a great question every youth group should ask is “if a pregnant girl came to our youth group would she feel loved or judged?” Would she feel judged by our messages or would she feel love and hope?
  3. We teach about Jesus Christ and the unconditional love that He offers to all.

Mentorship - Every year before small groups start we do a meet and greet with the parents and leaders. Last year after we prayed over the year with the parents. I had a Dad approach me and said that he had just became a Christian and was nervous about the questions his son may ask. He felt unequipped to talk about God. It felt so good to help this dad grow in his faith with his son. God used us to mentor a family that is now living for Him. I can give you countless stories of how God has put people in my path to share His wisdom with them. He uses us to mentor students and families.

Know that what we do matters and is desperately needed more now than ever before. God has strategically positioned you to support parents whether they believe in him or not. And of course we are not trying to take the place of parents, but we definitely stand side by side with them in this war the enemy has declared on their children. Would love for you to add more ways God uses us in the lives of students and their families! Let’s encourage one another!!!

hope it helps

ac

 

sph-renewI was at home talking with my wife about this idea of renewing your passion for what you do. She’s a stay at home mom and so I thought she would be perfect to dialogue with about this topic. So out of our conversation I came up with 5 things that has helped us rekindle the passion for what we both love to do.

 

  1. Ask God to increase the desire. – I’ve learned that I lose when I strive for things in my own power. And sometimes I can start off allowing God to do things in my life, but then I think that I have to keep them up. I’ve gotta remember Philippians 2:13 - For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. This verse is saying to me “STOP and let God continue the work He’s started.” It’s also saying, I can’t do it properly with out him, and it becomes work and it drains you when you forget Philippians 2:13. I’m at my best when He has the wheel and I’m in the passenger with duct tape over my hands, feet and mouth. haha Ask God to increase the desire He gave you!!
  2. Celebrate the successes. – Sometimes I can get so caught up with what’s not going right, that I forget the countless times things have worked out for the better even when the situation looked impossible. I forget the blessings that have come out of the times of hardship. There’s an old hymnal my aunt use to sing called “Count Your Blessings”, and sometimes we need to just count our blessings. I have to remember that God isn’t just working in the good in my life but He’s also working through and in the bad. I need to think about those things and celebrate them. Celebrate the successes!!
  3. Redirect your focus. – We can sometimes find ourselves getting caught up in things that distort our focus. Whether it’s a problem with a volunteer, a parent that has become challenging or even leadership. Sometimes those things can sing louder than your assignment to the ministry. And we can allow it to become all about issue and not about what got us in ministry in the first place. We start to feel the weight and it squeezes the passion out of you. Redirect your focus back to what motivated you to do what you’ve been called to do. Redirecting your focus puts God back in view. And it reestablishes the assignment God has placed on your life.
  4. Do something different/new. – Sometimes it can be that you’ve been beating a dead horse. Change a few things up or look for ways to do things a little different. Sometimes it’s just getting excited about doing something different or new that rekindles the fire you once had!! Instead of having team meetings at the office try meeting at a park or try giving more responsibility away. Sometimes we can’t think/dream of what could be different or new because we are too busy maintaining. Look for new or different ways to do things.
  5. Hear and share stories. – Sometimes you can feel like you’re on an island and no one understands what’s going on in your world. You need to be able to hear and share some stories with people that know your world. There’s nothing worse than isolation for someone who has been called to care and be super relational with people. YOU NEED COMMUNITY!! Two years ago I took my first trip to Simply Youth Ministry Conference and it was like a breathe of fresh air. I believe the one thing that SYMC offered that I gained the most from was community. The random conversations I had with people from all over the country were life changing. It reminded me that God is everywhere changing lives and not just in my bubble of ministry. I think I left with more passion for ministry than I started with. I want to encourage you to come, but more so I want to encourage you to find community in ministry.

A lot of times the enemy wants to trick us into thinking that because our passion is not as strong as it was when we started that it means we are in the wrong profession. I had to learn not to make more out of simply needing to renew my passion. My wife and I came to the conclussion that at some point we all need to be renewed no matter what you’re doing. Just because a car needs a tune up every once in a while, does not change the fact that it’s a car. It’s the same with us.

I know there are definitely more than 5, so what helps you renew your passion for ministry??

hope it helps

ac