valueBeing in youth ministry I’ve had the privilege of learning a lot. And I can honestly say out of all the things I’ve learned there are some learnings that I feel like I will never stop growing in. Now, when I started this list I easily thought this could be a 10,000 word post, but no one would read a post that long. So here are a few of the things I’ve learned that I believe are valuable. I believe allowing God to grow me in these areas has made me a better youth worker. So are are 6 of 100 learnings I’ve had. haha

  1. Be Flexible. Majority of our day to day tasks in youth ministry are very random. It isn’t uncommon for my day to go from a brainstorm meeting, to a counseling session and then a hospital visit. Flexibility is one of the main ingredients to longevity in youth ministry, and it actually relieves the stress of ministry. Those who are a step by step, can’t miss a beat type of person, usually don’t last long in youth ministry. So be flexible.
  2. Go The Extra Mile. Make things the best that they can be. Consider the task you are assigned as the bottom floor. When given a task or project look for ways save time and money. Sometimes that means making sure you don’t have to make another trip somewhere or completing the whole task instead of just the part you where assigned.
  3. Attitude Is Everything. It is super easy to get caught up in the craziness of ministry especially when you are seeing the less attractive side of ministry for the first time. It’s important that you keep an attitude of thankfulness. This will require you to look past the craziness of seeing the not so attractive side of ministry, and focus on the life change that’s taking place. Also, now that you are on the other side you need to be aware of an attitude of pride and arrogance. It’s impossible to know and learn everything there is to know about the ministry during your time there. Keep a learners attitude of humility.
  4. It’s Not About You, It’s About The Students. This has everything to do with leading from a place of comfort. Serving students from a place of comfort ensures the inclusion of a few and exclusion of many. This is because you will most likely pour into, hang with, and allow to lead the students who you connect with best. The ministry will be all about you, and most likely you will end up with a ministry where everyone looks out for themselves, if it’s modeled in the leadership.
  5. You Are A Leader First. Remember you are a leader first and the authority you have to speak into their lives, is only as strong as your leadership. Your friendship with students is important, but your roll as a leader is more important.
  6. Time With Jesus Is Imperative. Just because you work in ministry doesn’t mean you are automatically being ministered to. You need to be just as active in the local church as the members. You should be serving in some capacity, attending bible study or small group, etc. It is critical that you are spiritually filled. Your time with Jesus will be something you will have to protect.

It is so important that you continue to stay open to a life time of learning and growing in ministry. I think ministering in a way that pleases God takes a complete entire life span. So keep learning and growing.

 

Hopes it helps,

AC  

evil-heart2I’ve just relaunched our student leadership program and it’s been a ton of fun. This is a program designed to help students lead within the ministry. I would encourage you to start something for your students that would allow them to lead in some capacity. I’m definitely not saying you need a traditional leadership program, but it would benefit your youth ministry a lot to have something where students can take some ownership for the ministry.

In the last few weeks I’ve been having a lot of conversations with student leaders concerning the heart of a leader. Because the bible says in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. It’s important that I make sure my students understand that you lead from the heart, and the condition of your heart effects the way you lead.

In Christian culture today you have a lot of people who want to lead, be famous and have influence. We’ve taken on this mentality that says “if I’m going to do something for God, I need it to be big and I need everyone to know about it.” I believe it stems from the condition of our hearts. Now, I don’t think God has any problem with us leading, having influence or fame. I think it’s hard to not have all three at some level when you are leading, but the condition of your heart determines wether you use it to glorify God or self.

I want my student leaders to understand that protecting their heart and continuing to allow Jesus to change their heart is an ongoing process. I want them to be like David. It seems like David understood this concept best. In Psalm 51:50 He writes “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. David was always asking God to do something that had to do with heart, mind and spirit. David was more concerned with who he was becoming then what he was doing. Here are a few areas that David struggled in and I believe these areas stemmed from the condition of his heart.  

  1. Compromise: Having the ability to compromise your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked could wreak havoc in a ministry, and destroy your credibility as a leader worth following.
  2. Abandon: The ability to abandon your beliefs for selfish gain is an issue of the heart. Left unchecked you could fall for the lie that says “In order to obtain more influence, you must somewhat abandon your beliefs, and come to the middle of the road on certain issues.” This is a lie that unfortunately a lot of people fall for.
  3. Manipulate: The ability to manipulate for selfish gain is a condition of the heart. Left unchecked and you could lead others down the wrong road for a good cause. Probably one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone.

The thing that I want student leaders to know is that we are all capable of doing any of those three things. And so it’s not enough for my student leaders to just know how to speak, plan an event and be relational. They need to understand that we lead from our hearts and out of it is who we are. You can only fake being someone you’re not for a short time, before the real you shows up. My goal is to not just help them do, but also help them be.

 

Hope it helps,

AC



Here is Ep.19 – You can catch the other episodes at the Youtube channel (Let’s Talk Youth Ministry). Kurt and I talk about the Fall, and we both give a few tips on things you should try in the Fall. Check it out!! 

 

Hope it helps,

AC

Conversation_mattersIf you didn’t get to read the first part click here. I just got back from summer camp and I’ve been hearing all week about all of the amazing conversations that happened. So in this post I really wanted to go practical, and give you a few ideas to noodle on. Now, all of these are a work in progress, but the main objective is to get students conversing intentionally. So here are a few ideas I’ve been working on:

  • One-on-one – One of our values in student leadership is that every student is known. Every meeting we take the first 25 minutes and students pair up with another student they don’t know so well. I give them some questions to ask each other and some things to pray about for each other. At first I thought 25 minutes was to long but come to find out, 25 minutes isn’t long enough. I literally have to interrupt their time together. Every meeting they rotate. Goal: Model community for the rest of our youth group.
  • 10 x 10 - Once a month during our large group time we break off into groups of ten for ten minutes. We separate students by grade. We play a fun game that has to do with names and we all share an interesting fact about ourself. At the end if someone remembers everyones name in our group, they win a gift card. Goal: Everyone in the group will know someone by name, and everyone in the group will be known by someone.
  • Meet and Greet – This is an idea for some of your core students. You create a list of core students/student leaders who wouldn’t mind hanging with a first timer or a student who just hasn’t been able to get connected. This is an intentional way to get students conversing and connecting. Remember, we connect through conversations or some form where we have to interact with each other. Goal: Help students feel like they belong and are known.
  • To Know or Not Know – This is a great small group ice breaker. Pair up students with a list of things to know about each other. Give them time to go over and answer the questions. Bring the group back together and then drill one about the other. The winner is obviously the one who remembers the most. Have the two contestants write down their answers and reveal them at the same time. Goal: Just a fun way to get students to know each other.
  • Act it Out or Hum it - It’s like the game celebrity. Gather up the groups favorite celebrities, movies, and songs from the group. Write them down on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar or hat. Create two teams that will go head to head. The deal is you either have to act it out or hum it.  Five points for every correct answer. Each turn you have to choose to wither act it out or hum it before you pick from the hat. 5 points for each correct guess. After each round each student has to say why the choose that celebrity, song or movie. Goal: Help students find some commonality with each other.

I’ve learned that none of these things work without the intentionality of your leaders. Students feed directly off of the excitement and involvement of those leading. So your leaders must catch the vision that conversations matter. The truth of the matter is conversations are born around discussing the normal stuff of life. Relationships are born when commonality is found between two people. Remember these are just ideas made to be picked apart and added to and subtracted from. The goal is to be more intentional about the conversations that are being had at youth group and small group because it matters.

I would love to hear any ideas you may have.

Hope it helps,

AC



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

 

up

Summer is a great season for youth workers. For some, things slow down a bit and you finally get some breathing room while for others, it’s packed with tons of extra events and activities. And even though the ministry I’m part of falls into the latter category, summer is still my favorite part of the year. So whether you are swinging in a hammock a little more often this summer or staying late getting ready for tomorrow’s youth event there are a few things you can do that will “Up” your summer.

“Grow Up”: Summer is a great time to read the latest youth ministry, leadership or personal growth book that’s been sitting on your shelf or taking up space on your tablet. Fall is a great time to say to folks around you, “This summer I was reading and….”

“Show Up”: Where can you show up this summer where your presence would be a welcomed surprise? Can you pop into the senior adults potluck and love on the oldies of your church? Maybe your parents have grown to expect you to miss family stuff in the summer because of your youth ministry schedule? Taking the time to “show up” unexpectedly in the middle of summer shows others that the ministry you lead isn’t the only item of importance in your life.

“Blow Up”: Summer is a fantastic time to make changes…especially changes for the upcoming school year. Far too many youth groups do way too much stuff simply because they are afraid to blow up an older, ineffective piece of their program. Sometime this summer, escape for three hours and make an honest list of the stuff your ministry still does every school year that it really doesn’t need to. Then, mentally light a fuse and blow that sucker up.



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Here is Ep.18 – You can catch the other episodes at the Youtube channel (Let’s Talk Youth Ministry). Kurt and I talk about a few unwritten rules/principles in youth ministry that you should be applying and/or following. Check it out!!

 

Hope it helps,

Kurt & 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