Thursday, March 16, 2017

Getting in the way of ministry

“What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”

Jethro gave his son-in-law Moses some great advice.  Jethro arrives on the scene and find Moses sitting and listening to disputes among the people.  From morning till night he was a judge, a mediator, and not getting much done because he was only focused on that task. (Deut 18)  Moses was meant to be a leader, not sit and listen to complaints all day.  So Jethro tells Moses to get out there and find some men to help him with this task.

We block the funnel of ministry at the top sometimes.  We get in the way of others getting in there and rolling up their sleeves and serving.   How do we block the funnel?

We think we know the best way to do it.   Maybe you do.  Maybe someone has a better way and more efficient and it would allow them to express their gift and allow you to focus on what God has created you to do.  Maybe they won’t do it just like you but in the end they get it done.

We think we work best alone.  No! Ministry is always better together.  Never serve alone, always serve with others.  People want to serve they just need to be given the opportunity.

We think that only we can do the task.
   Really?  You don’t think there is someone else in the body of Christ who can come up with new decorations for the stage?  You don’t think there is someone else that could write the small group discussion questions?  You don’t think there is someone else that can go grocery store and then prepare the food for youth group?  I love that phrase, “Do what you do best and delegate the rest.”

We think we have to come up with all the ideas
.   I sat last night with ministry leaders from our church and listened to their dreams for Nags Head Church.  They had some great ideas!  Let others dream, let others come up with ideas.  Eventually our brains get stale and new ideas from others can spark great ministry ideas.

We micro manage.  Turn the church loose to serve and don’t constantly tell them how to do their ministry.  Yes, train and equip them.  Yes, give input when asked.  Please step in if something they are doing will cause physical spiritual injury.  Other than that step back and enjoy watching people use their gifts.

Do you see the pattern.  As leaders we sometimes block the funnel of ministry and then wonder why people aren’t serving.  We can have control or growth but can’t have both.  I want to see growth more than I want to control everything.  Growth comes when the church gets to serve and do the ministry.

What are we really accomplishing here?  Why are we trying to do all this alone while the church stands around morning to evening waiting for an opportunity to experience the joy of serving?

Let’s agree to not block the funnel and get in the way of people serving.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Leadership Labratories

Maximizing Your Summer Mission Trip as a Leadership Lab

By Andy Lawrenson February 28, 2017

In 2015, we took our first overseas mission trip to the island of Eleuthera. Our students willingly did everything that we asked them to do, and we considered the trip to be a great success. Soon afterward, I picked up the idea of leadership laboratories at a LeaderTreks Refuel Retreat. I learned that our mission trip could be more than an opportunity for students to serve; it could become a greenhouse of student leadership development.

Read More HERE

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

Busy, I get it.

Conversations with parents and students keep pointing and taking us to the conclusion that students and families are super busy and perhaps even operating on an overload.  So as student ministries we see this affect and impact our momentum.  It’s hard to grow a church when the members show up once a month for worship.  It’s hard to grow a student ministry when students show up once a month.  Attendance has such a big influence on momentum, excitement is generated when students look around and see many more students at worship with them. 

The reverse is true too.  When students show up and many of the “regulars” are missing it deflates the energy and momentum.  If a youth group goes three weeks in a row with 30 students the momentum gets going and then they hit the fourth week and have 17 its like letting the helium out of  a balloon.  Then you are back at square one.

 In the olden days (7 to15 years ago) it wasn’t like this, at least not in our neck of the woods.  I know youth pastors in the Midwest and west coast have shared with me that they have experienced the same issue.

I don’t think it is because Christian students, as a whole, have lost interest in their church’s youth group.  I don’t believe that it is because they have all become apathetic, sure there are a few just like in big church.  Gone are the days of Wednesday evenings and Sundays being protected for worship and church involvement, even in the Bible belt.

Simply from observations, no scientific data to back this up, I think the root cause of this is busyness.  It seems to me that students today are busier than ever.  This translates that parents are busier today as well.

I know, speaking as a parent, we often have something almost every night of the week.  This winter we juggled wrestling practice and matches, ballet/dance class, gymnastics, homework, small group, youth group.  It can be hectic.  As a parent I’ll say that this is the choice we have made.  My kids don’t have to do all those extra curricular events.  We want them to do those things to help them be more rounded.   But at what cost?  

It boils down to prioritizing.  What are we going to cut out of our lives or sacrifice?  Meals together, family time, the ability to just relax those are just some of the few, that’s my perspective as a parent.

From a youth pastor's perspective I have  noticed parents cutting out corporate worship, youth group, small group, family worship, personal quiet times, serving in church.  When we start making the cuts why does it seem we cut the things that will help us and our children grow stronger and more mature spiritually?
What is most important?  What are the goals for my children?  These are the questions I have to ask myself as dad and as the spiritual leader and the one who disciples my children.

In our staff meeting the other day one of our elders made this statement which has been rolling through my mind and this statement was made after I started to write this post:

“God gives you all the time you need.  It is up to you to manage the time He has given you.”

That’s what it boils down to.  How will I steward the time God has given me and my family as a parent? 

Some things to think about as you try to figure out how you are going to get the kids from school to ball practice and find time to cook supper.

What are my goals for my children?

What do I have to do vs. what do I want to do?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Secret to Recruiting Volunteers

My latest blog post for LeaderTreks

The struggle is real when it comes to recruiting youth ministry volunteers. At some point, most of us have felt like we’ve tried everything only to have nothing work.
Our list of frustrations looks something like this:
  • I’ve asked, and no one has expressed interest.
  • Everyone is too busy to volunteer their time to work with students.
  • Our church just isn’t excited about what’s happening in the youth ministry.
  • We don’t have any young people in our congregation who can handle our energetic students.
  • With all that’s on my plate, I don’t have time to recruit volunteers.
In spite of what these frustrations would lead us to believe, “solo youth ministry” is not the only option. Here are five suggestions to help grow your volunteer team and further your ministry’s impact:

Read More Here

Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Team Values

Last Saturday our student ministry volunteer team gathered together for several hours with two goals in mind:

1.  Have fun together

2.  Come up with our team values

We met early afternoon in a vacation rental that had a movie theater room and game room in the house.  We spent the majority of our time together in the game room having fun together.  After we ate supper we moved up to the living room by the fireplace and took some time to work together to come up a with a list of values.

Our values are broken down into two areas:

Team’s Spiritual Values:

1.    Spending time studying the Bible
2.    Fellowship with other believers
3.    A consistent prayer life
4.    Actively involved in Discipleship/growing
5.    Accountability
6.    Serving Christ and the Church
7.    Sharing our faith
8.    Encouraging others
9.    Obedience to God
10.  Corporate Worship

Ministry Team Values:

1.    Dependability
2.    Investment in student’s lives
3.    Praying for our students
4.    Worship with our students
5.    Be an example
6.    Unity/on the same page as a team
7.    Friendly
8.    Build em up!  Encourage students.
9.    Strategic in helping them grow spiritually
10.  Minister to parents

We spent hours playing games and having fun together and spent about an hour working on our values.  Great way to spend and afternoon and evening with those I serve along side with.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The "Catch All". Learning to say "No"

Every home has a “catch all” place.  It may be a desk, table, top of a dresser, a drawer, a place where stuff gets dropped.  Some of those things have a place they should go but the person doing the placing is too lazy to take the extra moment to put the item in its proper place.  Some items we just aren’t sure where to put it so we put it in the “catch all” place.  If you don’t have one of these places in your home I applaud your OCDness.

In many churches the youth pastor can become the “catch all”.  Often youth pastors find themselves doing many things outside the realm of student ministry.  “Oh, you know how to operate a Mac!  Great!  Can you set up the Pro Presenter in the auditorium?”  The guitar in your office gets noticed and next thing you know you are on the platform in big church leading worship and you only know three chords.  You become 411 for the church.  Remember 411?  That was the number you would call to get a phone number of an individual.  So you get texts, emails, phone calls from church members who are looking for another member’s phone number even though all members have access to the church’s online directory.  Why?  You know how to work a computer and you work for the church.

There is a danger when youth pastors don’t learn to say “No”.  The danger is they soon find themselves inundated with tasks that have nothing to do with their position.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t all pitch in and help and think about the team.  What I am saying is when you find yourself so busy doing tasks that are unrelated to student ministry that you don’t have time to actually do student ministry you have become the “catch all” of the church.  It’s no one else’s fault but my own when I end up as the “catch all”. 

Find freedom from the "catch all":

1..Remember your calling.  God has called you to minister to students and their parents.  This is your number one priority at work.  If you become the “catch all” you cannot put in the time and energy necessary to do quality student ministry.  Your position is motivated by your passion.  When you find yourself pulled from student ministry you find yourself no longer serving in the zone of your passion and then you become a miserable.

2.  Say “No”.  Remember your purpose.  Does the request fit the purpose of your church’s student ministry?  If not the answer is “No.”  Learn to say “no” in a kind way.  “As much as I would love to play my guitar on Sunday morning it will pull me away from doing what I need to do to minister to students this week.”

3.  The ministry idea.  When you get approached about a ministry idea you need to have your response planned and practiced in advance.  “That’s an awesome ministry idea, “That’s an awesome ministry idea.I think you would be the perfect leader for that ministry.”

4.  The closed door.  I practiced this yesterday afternoon.  I was working on the message and small group discussion for Sunday night so I closed my door.  I let our volunteer in the office know that I wan’t being rude but needed to work on my message and Sunday night’s youth worship service.  Creating this habit creates a “do not disturb” signal to the staff and members who might just pop in.  When we are planning and working on our student worship service we need to give that planning time our full attention.

5.  Keep office hours.  Make sure there are times set aside that you are in the office and that members are welcome to drop in and see you during those times.  Post it on your door.

6.  Texts don’t have to be answered immediately.  If you are home with your family or during your “off” time you don’t have to reply to the text or email immediately, if it’s an emergency that’s different.   Just because texting exists doesn’t mean that immediate response is required.  Let your voice mail catch the call, listen to the message, if it’s an emergency call back, if not call the member back tomorrow when you are in the office.

7.  Do what you do best and delegate the rest.  I don’t have to be the one that fixes the bathroom stall door, honestly I would probably mess it up more.  There are people in your church who have that talent.  God has equipped your church with all types of gifts and talents, tap into the members and let them experience the joy of serving.

Take some time and evaluate if you are a “catch all” in your church.  What steps can you take to be free from the “catch all”? 

Monday, February 6, 2017


Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

We all, except the laziest of humans, pursue something in life. The wisdom found in Proverbs tells us what to pursue. When we pursue something, that pursuit is in hopes of a certain result. I pursued Misha in college with hopes of a date. I pursued education in hopes of a graduate degree. I pursued the ice cream truck, you get the picture.

Whoever means anyone who wants to pursue righteousness and unfailing love can pursue those things. This pursuit is not reserved for a special group of people. God accepts anyone, the "whoevers", who pursues Him, not pursues religion, not pursues an ideology but pursues the real deal relationship with the creator, the Father.

In all our pursuits in life their is a goal, a result in mind. This verse tells us that if we pursue righteousness, a right relationship with God, we will find righteousness. Some of life's pursuits are a gamble in hopes for a desired result. Proverbs tells us this pursuit's result is a guarantee. 
Pursuit of unfailing love brings life. There is only one unfailing love and that is the love that God the Father has for us. He loves us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for us on the cross in payment for our sins. Something we could not accomplish on our own, none of us, this is for "Whoever". This life is eternal life (John 3:16). This life is overflowing, abundant, beyond satisfying life (John 10:10)

The pursuit of being right with God and experiencing His unfailing love also brings honor. When we truly live out our faith and live in such a way that others notice the difference that come from this life of relationship with God honor will be the natural outcome. Think of the person that you would label the "Godliest person I know" and how much honor you, and others, has for that person.

We don't pursue righteousness and unfailing love because we desire honor. Honor is the bonus in life that comes from a right relationship with our loving God.

What will you pursue today?

(the above was taken from my FB page.  Most, not all, mornings I take Biblegateway verse of the day and type out my thoughts as my morning quiet time.  Below I'm applying it to us in student ministry)

In student ministry, as leaders, our pursuit should not be:
  • Numbers
  • Popularity
  • Notarity
  • Pleasing everyone
  • Greatest Bible Teacher Ever

    Our pursuit needs to be a right relationship with the one who loves us with his unfailing love.  When He is our pursuit there will be a difference in how we minister to students.  We won't be focused on what the elders, deacons, parents, community think about us.  Perhaps the key to success in student ministry is that we first as leaders pursue this righteousness.  When he is our pursuit we won't be led by emotion but led by the Spirit.

    He must be our pursuit then everything else will fall in place.