I love to read blogs and listen to podcasts regarding culture, ministry, marriage, and more. But I’ve been exhausted at people pointing out and highlighting that youth pastors struggle with;
- Too much on their plate
- Stressful relationship between the senior pastor
- Struggling marriage
- Worried about what you did to the building in fear of being fired
- Find it hard and difficult to find volunteers
The list goes on and on.
Yes, ministry can be hard. And since church is full of messed up people (like me and you), there is bound to be some difficult times. But it’s time to keep your eye on the ball and get to the end zone.
- If there is too much on your plate, then take something off. I understand that decision might be hard. But learn to say no and you will be happier in the long run. Make a list of things that MUST get done and things you WANT to get done. Is there anyone in your church that can give you a hand? A parent you don’t see very much, a student that wants to hang out.
- The relationship I have with my current pastor is awesome. I consider him a friend. He is consistently affirming the youth ministry and my leadership. I go to his house for dinner. We laugh. We talk. It’s good. If there is tension between you (staff member/youth pastor) and the senior pastor TALK ABOUT IT. Not over e-mail, text, or phone. Schedule time to chat about you. Maybe if you cleared your plate a bit, that would release some tension??
- Bottom Line: MARRIAGE COMES SECOND (Jesus MUST be first in everything). Your ministry, your students, the parents, and the church comes AFTER marriage. If you’re struggling, take some time off. Talk to your Pastor and ask for a month off. Do something to strengthen your marriage. Maybe if you cleared your plate a bit, that would release some tension??
- The building/church is a resource for ministry. We need to be worshiping Jesus, not the building in which we worship Jesus in. Listen, if you are part of a church that is so concerned with stains on the carpet and “misuse”, then need to possibly find a church that is more concerned with breaking outside the walls instead of maintaining the walls. This is not to say that a youth pastor can treat the building anyway they want. We need to be good stewards of our resources.
Youth ministry can be challenging, but don’t let the challenging parts dictate how you operate and the passion that Christ has given you.
There are several ways to coach. But here is the format I use to coach my leaders in our student ministry.
1) How are you?
2) What are you celebrating, where are you winning, and what are you most excited about?
3) What challenges are you facing?
4) How will you tackle those issues?
5) How can I help you, what can I do to help?
6) How can I pray for you?
One of the lessons that God has been teaching me is about timing and preparation. I feel like I am a strategic guy, but sometimes I feel like I move to fast. Which, I don’t think is essentially wrong, but there needs to be a balance.
I am a fast acting guy. I feel strongly about my ideas and can see the vision before me with clarity. But how do I execute that vision and those ideas into a successful life and ministry? Too often, I can easily walk over people with the zeal of my ideas. But as of late, God has been using the words Timing and Preparation.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” Hebrews 11:7
Champions never hurry.
The quality of preparation determines the quality of performance. Great concert pianists invests hundreds of hours of practice before a concert. They know that the quality of those many grueling hours of practice will prepare them for their greatest performance. The world champion heavyweight boxer knows he cannot get into the ring with his opponent without preparing first. It would be too late, not to mention no fun to watch. For many weeks before the great fight, he toils in his morning workout, running, and exercise program.
Champions do not become champions in the ring. They are merely recognized in the ring. Their becoming happens in their daily routine.
Jesus never hurried.
Jesus did not begin his earthly ministry until He was thirty years old. His ministry was a short 3 1/2 years.
His preparation time was thirty years.
Jesus was very sensitive about timing. When His mother told him that the people had run out of wine at the marriage of Cana, He replied, “Woman, what have I to do with that? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) By the way, I don’t recommend calling your mother woman. But it does show you his confidence.
Obviously, God was planning a public introduction of Jesus’ ministry, but Jesus saw a need and responded to the faith Mary expressed when she said, “Whatsoever He says unto you, do it” (John 2:5).
Something good is happening every moment of our life. It may be the seed of patience or a new friendship just birthed. It may also be that the weaknesses of your plans are being revealed. Whatever it is, each season is producing some specific result from your efforts.
Look for the reward of the present season (reward = success points), regardless of whether it appears to be success or failure. Preparation chapters in your life are not delays in your future success. Each chapter and season has a benefit and a product, if you will take the time to look for them.
One of the things I’ve learned about attending new churches and/or ministries as staff is the vitality of taking the time to learn the details. I often, speak of an idea or vision before giving a lot of time to learn the details of the idea or vision. I don’t apologize for my passion, but I do apologize for my learning to be slow to speak. If you will take the time to prepare, your presentation of your ideas and visions will have believability. The people will will have confidence in becoming a part of the plan. You may not learn all the details the first night you hear them, but don’t worry; set aside a few hours each week to begin to prepare your presentation.”
Preparation time is never wasted.
Think about the life of Jesus. He saw hundred around Him because of the sickness and disease, but His time had not come. He saw thousands warped with the traditions and legalism of religious systems, but He knew His Father was growing Him up. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Jesus was willing to wait.
He prepared Himself.
In what ways can you prepare yourself to be more effective in your ministry and/or work during the next 30, 60, or 90 days?
Those who know me have a slight understanding of my thought process. I love to think outside the box. I am an idea guy, and I only like tradition if it brings life. I don’t like tradition just for the sake of “something we’ve always done.”. As a ministry, it is critical to always evaluate what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it.
I’m not a big fan of the traditional side of church. Traditional church reminds me of something my parents went to and the church I grew up in. But the older I get and the longer I’m in ministry, the more I realize that some tradition is healthy. As a matter of fact, there are some traditions I think should come back!
What are your traditions you think the Church should bring back?
I am doing an 8 part blog regarding the reasons we possibly have faithful people, but not fruitful. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.
The second reason people are unfruitful is because they are controlled by the desires of the flesh. It might be the inability to control sexual lusts, compulsive behavior, laziness, etc. (Romans 8:5, Psalms 63:1-3, 1 Cor 10:11)
If we chose to live by the sinful desires, than we have literally set ourselves up for failure. If we want to give ourselves to such desires, we have no life to give to people. If you are serving in ministry, be aware that a compromised leader creates a compromised church. A compromised church leads to a compromised result.
Have you sat down recently and examined the fruit of your life?
There are so many people that are faithful but unfruitful when it comes to ministry/leadership. Showing up is great! Being there when you have that commitment is awesome! But I think we have lumped being faithful with being fruitful.
When I was growing up we had a grapevine in our backyard. It provided shade, it was an awesome plant. But year after year we never had grapes. The plant wasn’t dead, as a matter of fact you would think it was thriving. But a thriving plant doesn’t mean it’s a producing plant. I later found out that it’s because you have to trim and prune the plant in order for it to produce fruit, thus being unfruitful. Producing fruit takes work.
So why are there people that are faithful, but unfruitful? I believe there are 8 characteristics of an unfruitful soul.
1) Having a lack of knowledge of the Bible (Hose 4:6)
When we have a lack of knowledge of the Bible, we have a lack of knowledge of who God is. The Word is one of the many ways that the Lord will speak to us, and if we ignore that, we’re ignoring the very person that will help us grown in our faith. It’s a compromise. In vs 7, The Priest exchanged God’s Glory for something disgraceful.
It becomes dangerous when we start trading what God wants for our lives with other things. We get comfortable with putting something else in front of Him. And the end result is we’re thriving in action, but unfruitful in growing and producing. Jesus wants to be what we want, and He does not want to be our #2.
What are your thoughts?
For the last several weeks our student ministry (Ignite), have been talking about people who have interacted with Christ and how their lives were flipped because of it. I felt it was a solid series but the last part has stuck with me. Jesus wants to be what you want.
Are you like me in that you want to find something that makes a difference. That contributes. That allows you to put some kind of mark on this world. Because isn’t it true, most of the time we feel like what we’re doing doesn’t matter? And where we live doesn’t matter? And what we say and think doesn’t matter?
In fact, I want you to ask yourself this question: what matters most? And then I want you to ask yourself Why? How did you come up with that answer?
I love the story of the rich man mentioned in the book of Mark (chapter 10:17-22). Here is a guy that has everything, everything anyone could ever want, and above all else the guy was super rich. But he felt the need to go up to Jesus and fall on his knees to Jesus because he wanted to make sure that He and Jesus was all good. And Jesus’ response to him was that he lacked one thing. How can a rich man that has everything lack something?
Mark tells us the man left sad. Which makes sense. He had lived his whole life believing if he followed the rules and chased money, his life would count for something—that he would matter. Jesus wasn’t saying that following rules and making money is bad. But above all of that, Jesus wants to be what we want. He wants to be the thing that fills that greater, deeper need in all of us. And that was a change that the rich young ruler could never make.
In student ministry, I see time and time that the family unit is breaking down. Why? We blame our schools that there is too much homework, we want to blame everything but we won’t stop and evaluate what we are involved in. We place more value on sports and other extra circular activities that we start to lump church events (including sunday and youth nights) as “extra”.
God wants our #1. He wants what to be what you want. The danger of students walking away from church is really not the churches fault, we’re creating opportunities for Him to be #1.
Is your #1 ahead of Christ?
I don’t like the word tradition. I’ll admit I have traditions, but when it comes to church stuff I can’t stand the word. Throughout my ministry life I’ve met too many people who love their traditions no matter the cost. Tradition is comfortable. Tradition is safe.
I believe that churches that are not married to traditions of yesterday are paving the road for success tomorrow. And before you get angry let me say I actually have a few church traditions that I love that I grew up with. But I’m not sure they relate to the generation of today. For example:
- I grew up with a Sunday Night service. It was a smaller service (“Venue” is what it’s called in post modern churchology)
- Wednesday night family night. I loved have youth as a teen and the memories of my parents talking to people after church (especially in the summer) brings back happy thoughts.
- Potlucks: Who doesn’t love to eat?
But the danger in our churches becomes when we make our childhood traditions the norm for the next generation. What worked back then, may or may not, work now. I understand there are some churches that still have family nights once a week, still have potlucks, still have sunday night services, but they’re all typically smaller congregations.
So then, do you believe traditions of old has their place in the church today? Why or why not.
There is a common myth in the church community that those of us that are involved in student ministry, whether it be a pastor or volunteer, are in it because we love EVERYTHING about it.
Let me be perfectly honest with you, I don’t love everything. I am not a fan of super loud music (but I love feeling the base at concerts), I am not a fan of Pokeman, not a huge fan of staying up all night, not a fan of………
After several years in the ministry there is one thing that proves true again and again. I love young people. I love hanging out with them. I love pointing our conversations towards Christ. I love seeing them grow (both in stature and in Christ). I love their ideas. I love their creativity. I love seeing them serve. And I love them shocking the older adults, proving hat everything and anything is possible for those who love Christ)
Yes, I am slowing down a bit and now they’re starting to be able to catch me on the field whenever we play soccer or tag. And no, I can’t keep up playing Halo with them or any video game for that matter.
Last night, I went to a concert featuring several bands. (Jamie Grace, Vertical Church Band, The Neverclaim, Soulfire Revolution, Royal Taylor, We has human, Andy Mineo, Third Day, and Skillet) I only knew about 2 of this bands and I study youth culture! I even had to explain who Third Day was to some of the teens. As a matter of fact, when Third Day took the stage it seemed everyone 32 and up stood up cheering. Skillet closed it out.
Skillet (love their heart more than the music), played and loved seeing the students respond, I think most of my students are rockers.
I don’t love everything. But I love the student. And because I love the student, I love everything. In other words, I am not a fan of Halo, but I will play it and do my best and try to win. I don’t like Skillet (screaming metal), but because I love the student, I am standing, raising a hand like a 6th grade rock star. I don’t love staying up all night, but I will because I love the student.
We don’t have to love everything. And let’s be honest, a person in their mid 30’s (ok, late 30’s) won’t love everything that a 7th grader will love. However, it’s not about what we love, it’s about what they love. It continues to amaze me that I often find myself having fun with something I don’t’ love because it’s not the activity, it’s the person.
The priority is not the activity, it’s the person. And when you feel called to student ministry you need to lay down you selfishness and begin to love what they love. Not because you love what they love, but because you love them. This is the first and foremost priority in discipleship.
In what other ways can you love a student with the the things you don’t love to do?
I often wonder if Jesus is happy at the way church culture has progressed from the beginning. We have set up independent institutions (organizations) that would fit our culture. But I wonder if the term “fitting in our culture” is a cliche we use or is it purely a justification to do church the “way” we want. I don’t know if the church itself is to blame. After all, each one of us who believe in Christ make up the Church.
So this appears to be the Church:
- When someone attends a church but they don’t like the worship, they leave to find a church that has a “better” worship. (Keep in mind that worship is of the heart and not nearly what you hear on a weekend, but that’s a different topic and I’m not saying we don’t have to be excellent in all that we do)
- When someone doesn’t like the message that is being taught whether they are too convicting or not convicting enough, they leave to where there is a “better” communicator.
- When the church down the street has a great coffee shop like atmosphere that is more comfortable, they wonder if they should check it out.
- When someone thinks that the other churches children’s ministry or the youth ministry is deeper, louder, bigger, smaller, more relative, they leave for the “good” of their family.
- When someone thinks they are not getting anything out of the current church even though they don’t attend a small group, bible study, or serve they begin looking to somewhere else where they could find fulfillment.
If you want a true account of our church culture, it doesn’t sound pretty. We have become a selfish group wanting what’s best for us. Is that wrong? What is your motive of attending church?
As believers, we have lost a sense of community. We have lost our sense of community because a real community sticks together and fights together to make the community a better place.
What are your thoughts and feedback?
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