Thought this post by Doug Fields was worth reading (and rereading when you have time to process it fully) – he talks a little bit about caring for your soul, perfect for us youth workers. Here’s a clip, follow the link for the rest:

Imagine that one side of the scale has all the stuff you already have or are trying to gain. Tipping the scale would be all the possessions and activities you typically view as benefits—houses, cars, boats, vacations, swimming pools, stock portfolios, job titles, reputation, college degrees, iguanas, all the toys you’ve ever bought, and karate lessons.

Then, on the other side of the balance is simply…your soul.

It would seem obvious that the side with all the stuff should weigh down the balance, right? Wrong! In God’s divine measuring system, stuff always loses to soul. Yet, when was the last time you stopped long enough to even consider your soul?

If you need some soul care, here’s a great resource to check out, too!

JG

When I was a kid, I remember making my parents pretty frustrated from time to time and they would say many different things as a result, but not one of those words had more impact than the big D and I don’t mean Dallas (country music joke) I mean DISAPPOINTED. That word just seems to cut so deep and I just hate disappointing my wife, my family, and my students. Its unavoidable but being proactive to manage the expectations that students have of you will go a long way to feeling the wrath of the D word.

Here are a few areas that you can help students to develop reasonable expectations of you and the youth group so that we can under-promise and over deliver.

Time: Believe it or not, you do sleep, and you do not sleep at the Church. There is a limit to what you can do and how much time you have to spend with students and leaders. We probably all have what you can bluntly refer to as a “time suck” student who would love to spend every possible moment hanging out. Students in general covet face time with their leaders. The thing we need to help students understand is that they are unique, awesome and fearfully and wonderfully made, but so are the other 50 students in your group. Helping students realize that they are important, but are also 1 of your ___ students is important. Make the most of the time you spend with students but manage their expectations on how often and for how long you will meet.

Teaching: After disappointment, the next scariest D word that I have heard from a youth is “Deeper” — the magical land of greater knowledge, that is completely relative to each person’s own lived experience and previous learning, YIKES! We have our students for about 1/200th of their waking hours in a week, so its imperative that we help them realize that there is a limit to what we can teach them, and the limit to depth which we can go with such a narrow window of time. Ultimately they need to own the frequency and value of their spiritual disciplines and through that come depth of relationship with Christ. Having reasonable expectations of this will help them see that they own this process more than they are owed this process.

Taste: Try as you might, you are never going to make all students happy with your youth program. One week might be too fun, the next too serious, another might have too many new worship songs, or not enough small group time. I have heard every complaint known to youth pastors but here is the way we are trying to explain it to our students who express a dislike for what ever we served up that night. Imagine you are hosting a dinner party for 100 people, and you have to feed them something. You plan the meal, with foods that you feel most people would like, in fact 80% will probably really enjoy. It’s fresh, well prepared and good for you too! But the truth is that 20% of the people might not like what you are serving and some might not say, and others might flat out tell you. What we are trying to build into our students is that even though you might not like what was served, how great is it that 100 people are eating together and how amazing is it that for some, this is most nutritious meal they have ever had.

Helping your students have reasonable expectations of you and the youth group will go a long way to building a new generation of adults in the Church that are focused what they can do to invest in their relationship with God instead of placing blame on the Church for short comings in their faith.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.



I’d like to take a guess and say that administrative work is NOT topping the “My Favorite Things” list for most youth pastors. We do the paper-pushing because it seems like we have to; like it’s a “necessary evil” of our job description. When I started out in ministry, I was anything BUT organized. Because of that, I often found myself less than prepared for stuff I “coulda, shoulda, woulda” seen coming. Years ago, I created a skeleton that I hang every workday on (especially workdays in the office). You may hate acronyms, but this one has served me well: D.R.O.W.N. And the great thing is this works no matter what size church, paycheck, or office you have–even if you don’t have of those things!

D: Desk surface. Having a desk surface you can actually see is step #1 in having a smooth(er) day at the office. I’ve learned that the condition of my workspace is usually pretty indicative of the condition of my brain. So, the first thing I do is make sure I start the day with at least a semblance of order on my desk. I’m a “piler” by nature but I’ve gotten pretty good at limiting myself to one pile and actually knowing what’s in it. That helps my mind stay clear and uncluttered.

R: Respond to emails and voicemails. Let’s face it, nobody likes to wait. And whether you consider yourself someone who likes making calls or writing emails, the fact remains that the sooner you get back to people, the less they’re going to draw horns and blacked-out teeth on any picture of you they come across. I make it a rule to start with the most difficult/uncomfortable/awkward calls first. Putting THOSE off will only make things more difficult/uncomfortable/awkward later.

O: Objectives for the day. I married a list maker. Ipso facto, I have become a list maker. Whether you’re a hipster with an iPad or someone like me who still loves the feel of paper and pen, make a list of what you’d like to accomplish. Your emails/voicemails you just dealt with might add/change/take away from your objectives for the day. Then, there’s the wonderful feeling of crossing things OFF the list! The most important nugget of advice I can share about lists is BE REASONABLE. Writing “Create a 6-year curriculum plan then write every week’s lesson” on today’s list might seem ambitious, but it’s not. It’s insane. Keep to things you can realistically get done today.

W: Work. Yes, I know we all know it’s a calling to be in ministry, but let’s face it: there’s work to do! So, once you’ve got your objectives for the day set, go after them like you go after that middle school kid in dodgeball; the one who threw up on your sleeping bag at retreat. Among all workers–paid or volunteer–Christians should exhibit the greatest work ethic and the highest quality work out there.

N: Next Day. Start this one 10-15 minutes before you PLAN on leaving for the day. Do whatever you can to get set for a good start to the direction for tomorrow, whether that’s a jumpstart on a clear work surface to start the day with or jotting something down on tomorrow’s objectives list, be it something you didn’t get to from today’s list or something that the SYM podcast inspired you to do.

While administrative work might be as much fun for you as Chubby Bunny is for me, I hope that you can find a new level of productivity and efficiency during your time at the office.

Jerry Varner is the Student Discipleship Pastor at Southside Church in the Richmond, VA area and has been in full-time student ministry for 16 years. He blogs sporadically at jerrythinks.wordpress.com.


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Every week we have the opportunity to impact the lives of the teenagers that step through our doors. Let’s make the most of it. Their view of God is often shaped by what we say, how we respond, and what we do. Are they getting a clear picture of the God we are in love with? A few things that have been floating through my head lately:

- How well we listen to and engage our kids will have a great impact than how well we speak or talk.

- Somewhere in your youth ministry is a teenager who need to have a conversation with a caring adult. Will you be that adult?

- Sometimes you may only get 30 seconds with a teenager. If so, let it be 30 seconds where they felt absolutly cherished and treasured.

- You have one shot to be the youth pastor God has created you to be. One shot. Don’t get distracted by your insecurities or by the numbers or by what the other person is doing down the street. Focus on what God wants to do in YOUR ministry. Follow His lead.

- Don’t over entertain but under challenge.

- Be willing to call greatness out of your kids.

- Don’t give out of an empty tank. Nurture your relationship with God. Nobody should care more about your own spiritual growth than you do.

- If yo’ure frustrated because your kids aren’t doing something … lead them to do it. It’s not that “My kids won’t do ______________.” Rather it’s “I haven’t led my kids to do _____________.”

- Be positive. Start talking to yourself rather than listening to yourself.

- Let your kids know that you are proud of them. Teenagers don’t hear that enough.

- Your story may be exactly what they need to hear.

Every week we have the opportunity to impact the lives of teenagers. What an awesome priviledge. Let’s make the most of it.

Rich Yauger is the pastor to teenagers at Grace Community Church and believes in teenagers.You can check out his blog right over here.



As I have grown up, I have learned many things about myself, that I love people, love Jesus and that when it comes to being loved, my primary love language is physical touch. I have been in Youth Ministry for 10 years now and as all of us can agree, if there is one thing students love to do it is flirt and hug each other.

Students respond to physical touch, but of course it needs to be done in an appropriate way. I have always been a fan of High Fives, fist pounds, and “Christian Side-Hugs” as a way to make a student feel welcomed and valued. What I didn’t understand was that there was even more value to these gestures than I realized.

Last week, a member of our congregation pulled me aside; she had seen me high-fiving students on Sunday morning and told me about a recent study she read. The study said that the brain receives and processes physical touch affirmation (high fives) faster than a spoken affirmation, which means that a high-five from me is received faster and more positively than a quick verbal affirmation.

As our student ministry starts to pick up momentum this fall: the reality is that there is less of me to go around to each student. It is good to know that I can communicate value to a student through a quick gesture that will mean something to them right away. We all know that a student is likely to make Youth Group a commitment as long as they feel valued and they belong. And for that reason – its High Fives All Around.

Geoff Stewart is the Youth Pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church.

Each summer I examine what we are going to teach the students. Not sure what your ministry does but we deliver most of our teachings through message series in our worship and small group programs. I’ve tried creating my own stuff, only to find that I’ve wasted months writing something that’s not useful.

When it comes to curriculum or resources there are millions of options out there, some from reputable publishers, others we aren’t so sure about. There seems to be a definite challenge to find something that perfectly fits the way we do ministry, while staying true to our faith. That’s why I’m constantly looking at what I can adapt. So instead of trying to create my own I spend more of my time and energy on adapting what’s out there. So, why should we adapt?

It’s easier, it’s saves us stress, time and energy. When it comes to writing curriculum we need a jumping off point, a good resource is an excellent foundation to creating something that will fit your ministry. I think we feel as if we have to have something original, because original means new and new means hype. But adapting something, putting your twist on it will make it fresh and produce the same results with less work.

Now I know the pushback might be we don’t want to plagiarize and there is the pressure of being original. So some of you might wonder, “How do we borrow without stealing?”

Look for the resources that give you permission. Believe it or not there are a lot of publishers and authors that encourage adapting. Next look at taking pieces of the resource instead of changing around the whole thing. Many publishers will encourage taking pieces of what they produce and using it in the context of your program. There have been many times I’ve used a video but not the discussion questions, or I’ve taken an exercise but not the teaching. As long as you are borrowing and not stealing it’s fine. A lot of the resources I use are from out of my denomination (Roman Catholic); however, I’ve found a positive response by taking pieces here and there and adapting it to the context of my faith.

It’s hard being original all the time, some of us don’t have the time, some of us aren’t shaped to design, create and write resources, but that’s okay. The great thing about being a youth minister is being a part of a community that shares with one another and offers resources.

Blogs like this are a perfect place for sharing ideas, so I would encourage all of you who read this to share something that you’ve used and adapted for your ministry.

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his blog Marathon Youth Ministry (link to http://blog.youthnativity.org)



A lot of the things Jesus taught the disciples and some of the miracles He performed were on the way to somewhere else. The majority of the learning and ministry moments with your students may not necessarily be with in the small group time, but on the way to and from your group. Recognize these moments and make the most of them.

Compliment in Public / Correct in Private
Complimenting is important but easy. Celebrate and share their successes with others inside and outside the group. Correcting is equally important but NOT near as easy. Don’t shy away from a learning and growing opportunity for both you and the student. If a problem arises you may have to initially diffuse it in public, but address further in private. Don’t just correct, but also discuss the motives behind the offense, how a repeat offense can be avoided, the personal leadership potential in the student, and the influence they carry with others even if they don’t recognize it.

Challenge the student to step up (their influence outside the group)
As the relationship and trust grows with the student, take the opportunity to address weaknesses that you’ve noticed and current mistakes they’ve made. Don’t berate them about , but don’t completely ignore the situation, it could be the very conversation that creates a turn in that student’s life and it is a growing opportunity for the both of you. Refer to the last bullet for Correcting in Private.

Challenge the student to step out (of the boat)
If your group is doing a silly challenge, answering a tough question, or telling portions of their story and you have a quiet one continue to encourage their involvement and stress the value of their contribution to the rest of the group. Try to notice a student curious about stepping out. Look and listen for a growing interest and feed it.

Be inconvenienced
Anytime Jesus traveled, people met him on the road wanting Him to heal them. The disciples often saw these folks as an inconvenience and wanted to pass them by and keep moving. Students will often wait until the most inconvenient times to talk. While you are working on something else, talking to someone else, when it’s too late or too early. They’ve worked up the nerve to ask/talk about something; sacrifice the moment to listen and pray with the student for a possible life changing conversation.

Steven Moore serves at FaithPointe Church in Adamsville, TN. 6 years … still as his first church. That’s awesome!

Enjoyed reading Jeremy’s post over on REYouthPastor talking about burnout and youth ministry. He asks some good questions, and I’d love to read some of your thoughts on the subject or burnout. Here’s a clip of his stuff, head over there to read the whole thing and comment if you would like:

Pain is part of the youth pastor job description. Does experiencing pain and exhaustion season a youth pastor? One of the biggest negative aspects of being a youth pastor is that working with students stunts our emotional and life growth.

Many youth pastors try so hard to dodge the “burn out” bullet.

We try to take more days off, vacations, see a psycho-therapist, take a monthly spiritual retreat, and pursue spiritual formation but it seems like we are only left with more exposed pain, exhaustion, and burn out. There is this belief that if you burn out, you are a bad youth pastor because apparently you didn’t take enough days off or establish healthy boundaries. I think the exact opposite is true.

America’s best youth pastors are the youth workers who have learned and persevered through their many painful and hurtful church experiences. The youth pastors that persevere make it, but the youth pastors that live in the past and become jaded don’t make it.

My point — the best youth pastors are the youth pastors who burn out or get burned because very early on they learn to forgive and to let go.

JG