Would love to get your response in this week’s poll – when is the best time for your as a youth worker to spend time with God yourself? Lots of different options for you to choose from – vote now!

JG

Honestly, our ministry is going through a little bit of a crisis right now.

On the surface you wouldn’t see much out of the ordinary – youth group is fun and energetic, small groups are plugging along toward the end of the school year and the last big event had strong attendance and quite a few new faces. My boss seems happy, we may actually come in on budget this year and generally things are OK.

But under the surface, we’re dealing with some serious issues. God is choosing to bring us not 1, not 2 … but 6 big things to the surface right now. Some serious stuff we’ve got to process. Some stuff we haven’t dealt with before. Some difficult conversations that need to be had. Some stuff it is mandatory it be reported. The ugly side of real-life ministry is here in full force this week.

And you know what? God is faithful. God is changing lives. God is giving us wisdom. God is guiding. God is healing. God is providing. God is giving confidence. God is pruning. God is.

It seems like when it rains trouble … a flash flood of tough stuff isn’t far behind. If you are wading in some deep waters or think you may be in over your head, remember that God is there through it all. I know I could use the reminder right now, too.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

JG



 

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Love this new resource that is the discount of the week over at Simply Youth Ministry. 99 Thoughts on Marriage & Ministry - a book that looks to help young couples as they navigate these challenging waters. From the back of the book:

Ministry is such a rewarding experience, but why does it create so much strain on marriages? Jake and Melissa Kircher have learned some valuable lessons (often the hard way!) about building a healthy marriage amid the demands of ministry. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve matured individually and as a couple because of each mess, problem, heartache, and obstacle they’ve encountered. They understand your struggles and frustrations, because they’re their struggles and frustrations, too.

Today only – 58% off – just $2.50 each!

JG

“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”

I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years. A couple days ago I talked about how thankful I am for the supportive role of the former youth pastor at my church, Doug Fields, and how life-giving his role is to me. I hope to be the same way someday when someone succeeds me.

But what do you do when things aren’t so great? What do you do if the former youth pastor is NOT supportive of you or how you run the youth ministry? Glad you’re back for more!

Realize the difficult situation they are in
It is easy to focus on yourself in this situation – but take a second to think about them! They gave up leading something they loved and potentially had some success in. They moved on (maybe promoted, burned out or were asked to leave the role) but a piece of them stayed behind. Maybe they aren’t so happy in their new role in the church, or didn’t want to go in the first place. They are in a tough position and a wise person will empathize with their situation and not just focus completely on yourself.

Involve them in the youth ministry
Consider putting them in an advisory role in the ministry. Consider asking them to “consult” with you once a month over coffee or a Coke. A relationship is key to building a bridge between the two administrations. Communication is critical to head off problems at the pass. Ask yourself what could be done to minimize the competition and comparisons between the two of you?

Ask directly for their support
I think building bridges is key to bringing someone to your side. Someone has to make the first move! If you’re not ready to bring them onto your team (I get that!) at least reach out and ask for their support in where you’re taking the ministry. Remember that reconciling a situation like this speaks volume to your leadership, humility and is certainly going to be eagerly watched and modeled to your youth group kids.

Have the difficult conversation
Sometimes you just have to have a face-to-face dialogue about the tension. You might be a long ways from consulting with them and maybe asking for support has been a dead end. Time for a conversation, possibly mediated by your supervisor or the senior pastor. This is a tough one, but things that need to be said are better said in front of each others faces rather than behind backs.

Honor their legacy
Pay for their kids to go to camp. Give him or her special access and the VIP treatment. Talk highly of them no matter what. Focus on the here and now rather than the old and wrong past. Besides, someone is going to follow you someday, too, and you want them to do the same!

Know it takes time to let go
This is going to take time. There’s no quick fix. Hang in there!

Had a hard time with this? What did you learn? Share in the comments and help someone in the middle of this difficult journey, too.

JG



“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”

I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years.

Sometimes the former youth pastor takes a promotion and ends up as a worship pastor or the director of a regional campus. Maybe they were a key volunteer holding together the ministry during transition until you stepped into the role. In larger churches, he or she might have been promoted to the Student Ministries Pastor and you take over a junior high or high school ministry. In any case, contending with the former head of a youth ministry you are now charged to lead can be unsettling, challenging or even painful.

I wanted to share a few thoughts today to help you as you process and live in this situation:

If the youth pastor is supportive
I had the privilege of serving under Doug Fields when he was the Student Ministries Pastor at our church. Now I get to carry on his legacy as the high school pastor. People always talk about the “big shoes” I had to fill and the pressure of following him. Doug has an incredible intuition – in just a few minutes he can spot weaknesses and offer ideas on how to come up with creative solutions to them. He is honest with me, he loves me and I know he makes our ministry better. That’s why I hang on every word he says – because of that relationship I know he cares about me as a leader, our high school ministry and wants what’s best for us both. At the same time he wants me to break the rules, challenge the methods of the past and move the ministry forward. He values what I value even if it is different from the way he did it.

A supportive former youth pastor who remains engaged can still be intimidating and challenging but it is one of the best gifts you can be given as a leader. Having a cheerleader and a fresh set of outside eyes is invaluable as you rarely look up from the trenches of day-to-day ministry. Being set up to win by the youth pastor who went before you is affirming and legacy-building. Thank God if you have one of these loving men or women in your church today.

If the youth pastor is not supportive … check back tomorrow for part 2!

Would love to know the situation you serve in and ideas you have to thrive in this environment, too!

JG


Enjoying Spring Break this week and wanted to throw out a poll question this week to see what you do for Spring Break, too. Vote now!

JG



Leadership continues to be of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership. Have you ever had to give so much it hurt? Did you give your time, your money, and your left kidney?

My most memorable sacrifice during ministry was to break down the barrier with a kid at camp. We had a student with some mobility issues who just refused to open up. They were angry about their disabilities and would not hear about anything that anyone had to say. Our camp had a huge zip-line that students would love to ride. I noticed that this student with the disabilities really wanted to go on the zip-line. After a long period of “encouraging” the student to actually do it despite their fear, I strapped the student to my back and carried them up a 50 foot tower and then set them up on a zip-line. The sacrifice wasn’t much but by giving up my break and carrying that student’s weight, I was able to help break down their defenses and they went on to engage in a lot of spiritual conversations with their counselor.

I’m sure it won’t take much convincing but Christian leaders need to lead by giving sacrificially. Obviously our greatest example is Christ himself. Two of the greatest examples from Jesus’ life are when we got down on his knees and washed his disciples dirty feet. Then he asked us to follow him when He said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 13-17) Clearly, if Christ tells us that if we should follow him by making a simple sacrifice such as humbling ourselves, we need to do so. The second example is the obvious example of his death. While we may never be called to lay down our own lives as leaders, we can expect to have to make sacrifices regularly for the cause we are directing people towards. Jesus makes it clear that we will need to deny ourselves daily. (Luke 9:23)

I think that if someone really wants to be an excellent leader they need to be willing to sacrifice for their cause.

Do you have any great stories of sacrificing for the people you lead?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

It happens to the best of us. It happened to me yesterday. And if I’m honest maybe the past couple months. Any of these ring a bell with you – some have felt pretty familiar to me in my youth ministry experience!

  • getting paid less than equals
  • little to no website exposure
  • higher expectations of you than others
  • total absence in the bulletin
  • budget cuts … again
  • note getting credit
  • feeling invisible in your church
  • they still won’t let me hire an assistant
  • not getting enough resources
  • spouse expectations
  • we’re growing while the church is dying
  • the scape goat for everything
  • unsupported by the leadership

So we become martyrs. We resign ourselves that these feelings are the underpinning price of being faithful. That doing God’s work just isn’t fair and this is our lot in life. Crybaby. Pity party.

  • Take a few minutes and think about where you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Journal a few thoughts about your fair and unfair comparisons and the trap you have fallen into.
  • The blame game has no winners, only losers.
  • Confess where you are playing the martyr.  Martyrdom will always suck passion and create tension.
  • Believe you are not a victim. Victimization will only give you excuses instead of results.
  • You are not constantly suffering. You are actually alienating yourself from the leadership who is trying to do the best job that they can.

What would you add to either list?

JG