Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow Changing View

We had a great youth ministry team with about 8 caring adults and myself.  Each adult had a small group of students to minister to.

One night an incident happened and a young student (student A) needed some ministering to.  A group of adults, as well as that student’s small group leader, stepped in to comfort the student. 
I didn’t step in to comfort for two reasons: 
One I’m not a comforting individual.  Just look at me do I look like I bring comfort?  (see picture to right)
Two I was at the same time dealing with a student (student B) who was trying to figure out how to get home but actually a different place to go home because that student’s dad was drunk and apparently rather mean while intoxicated.

I was verbally attacked and raked over the coals for not bringing comfort to student A by student A’s parents.  They were upset at the situation that went down as I would have been as a dad if it were my kid.  The view was “Andy’s the youth minister.”  All the comfort given by the other youth ministers and adults in the church wasn’t viewed as student A being ministered to. 

When you begin to build a youth ministry team, a group of adults who will minister to the students, it may take time for the church to come around to the view that you are just one of the youth ministers.  Why?  Because my best guess is that many Americans, if not most, who grew up in church were taught that the minister was the guy standing up front preaching each Sunday, everyone else were just members.

The view for some (many) may be slow to change.  After years of taking a team approach to youth ministry here is what I see happening in our church:

  • Students view the adult leader that leads their group as their youth minister.  They go to their leaders for prayer, questions, advice.  It doesn’t all have to go through me.

  • Parents are starting to view the adult volunteers as their kids’ youth ministers.  Even talking with them and sharing together about their child.  The more a leader invests into the life of a student the more a parent will lean on them in teaming up to disciple their kid.

  • Volunteer leaders are stepping up to the plate and raising the standard in ministry.  The result is longevity on the team (every wise youth pastor wants their team members to stick around a long time).  Volunteers are also finding fulfillment and joy living out their spiritual shape and ministering to students.

  • I’m not trying to shepherd X amount of students.  My goal is to shepherd the team of adults and to help steer the ship.  I’m finding joy in watching students go to their leaders for prayer, advice, questions, etc.  Better and safer to have many shepherds than just one.

So if you are building a team just keep plugging away.  It may take time but eventually, if done right the view will change and it will go from “you are the youth minister” to “they are the youth ministers”.

By the way, our youth ministry team is made up entirely of volunteers and they rock!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ever Have Students Struggle with Doubt?

I'm always on the prowl for articles to help me and our volunteers to better minister to students.
Here's another good one from LeaderTreks.

“Just have faith.” I cringe when I reflect on the number of times I’ve answered students’ questions of doubt with that seemingly harmless phrase. When broken down, I recognize the ignorance, pride, and ultimately, fear, behind those words—“Just” as if it were a simple solution, and “have faith” as if doubt and faith cannot survive within the same person. I have since realized that faith cannot exist without doubt. It would be meaningless.
READ MORE . . . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Great Blog Post

If you're in youth ministry, or in church world in general, you've read about or heard about the numerous statistics pointing to what some call the "drop out problem." I don't want to get into the numbers. (Lately I am of the opinion that we can get too distracted by them.) But I do want to address something I've observed over the last few years.
 READ MORE . . . . 

The fine folks at YM360 put out some great material and resources. 
Check them out!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where are we going?

After some thought and time spent considering what we want to see accomplished in the lives of our students this year we have come up with our "arc" for the next several months.

September 14 to November 16 - Why am I here?  Doing a series in sync with the Sunday morning sermon series and our adult Connection Groups so we are all on the same page.  Taking a look at discipleship and our purpose.  We will have at least one Outreach Night during the series.  Outreach nights we put an emphasis on bringing friends who don't know Christ and we simply share the gospel, play some games and serve up some great food.

November 23 - Youth Led Outreach Night
November 30 - God's Not Dead - movie night

December 7 - Joseph
December 14 - Mary
December 21 - Bowling (cause nothing says Christmas like a bowling party)
December 28 - No Youth Group Gathering

Joshua Series -
January 4 - Strength and Courage
January 11 - Unlikely Hero
January 18 - Dedication
January 25 - Outreach Night
February 1 - Remember
February 8 - Trust God
February 15 - Confession
February 22 - Friend Night

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Camp in the Books!

Last week our youth group attended Camp Cale in Hertford, NC.  Cale's staff strives to put on a quality camp experience for the campers.  They have it all, skeet, 22 rifle range, archery, rock wall, high and low ropes courses, kayaks, swimming, fun games, recreation area, snack shop and great food in the outdoor pavillion dining area, huge air conditioned conference/worship center.  If your church is within a few hours drive from Cale you should seriously consider attending their camp or renting the facility for your own event.  Check em out!  They can house around 80 campers at this time.  (plans are in the works for nice new cabins to be built soon)  All of this along the shoreline of the Perquimins River, such a great location to have a get-a-way.

The theme this summer was Mission Controlled.  It was all about living life on mission for God.  The highlight of our group's week was when three of our middle school guys put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  We look forward to baptizing them at youth group on the beach in a couple of weeks.

 Low Ropes

 Swimming in the River

 Rock Wall

 More swimming

 Who is that guy?

 Skeet shooting

 NC's best GaGa ball pit

 Did I mention swimming?


Here is the scope of the messages I preached at camp:
PM messages -
To Be On Mission:
Monday - 1st You must be a believer - salvation/gospel message
Tuesday - 2nd You must be a follower - Example that Jesus Christ left us

Wednesday - 3rd You must be obedient - calling of the first disciples  Mt. 4
Thursday - 4th You must be ready to share - Phillip and the ethopian eunich

AM messages - Gonna follow missionary Paul
Monday - Paul’s Conversion - God can use you know matter your past - Acts 6
Tuesday - Paul’s encounter with Bar-Jesus - You will battle the enemy - Acts 13

Wednesday - Paul’s message in Antioch - Share the TRUTH - Acts 13
Thursday - Paul heals the cripple - Be used by meeting needs - Acts 14
Friday - Paul’s hardships - On mission isn’t for sissies.  2 Corinthians 11:23-33

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Just Never Know

In a conversation with a volunteer (which I didn’t respond hardly at all other than a few head nods, but listened to what this volunteer was saying so I could chew on it and think about it a while) the volunteer expressed the frustration of watching current students and past students and the decisions they are making.  Students who have just dropped out because they have decided that something else in life is more important than their faith walk and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are in youth ministry for any length of time you know this frustration.  This frustration can take seed in our lives and then lead us to the question what we are doing and is it worth it.

So I’ve been thinking a few days.  No genius thought here.  Jesus probably got frustrated with the disciples.  Matthew 17:17 comes to mind.  I’m sure there would be a sense of frustration with me because I don’t always make the best decisions or behave in a manner that reflects Christ.

The example who came to my mind was Peter, some scholars say that Peter was the oldest of the disciples and the others were much younger and in their teen years.  Peter who often spoke before he thought or even acted without thinking, the one who strikes me as a person driven by emotions at times, Peter is the one who denied Christ 3 times.

Peter walked with Jesus, Peter ate meals with Jesus, Peter was there to hear Jesus’ teaching and to witness people be healed.  Peter lived a few years with Jesus, twenty-four seven.  Peter blew it.  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been truly frustrated.

Peter later stood before thousands and preached the good news of Jesus Christ.  Thousands put their faith in Jesus!  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been scratching my head and wondering what has happened in Peter’s life?

The answer, Peter had an encounter with the living Lord.  His life was changed.

We don’t know what will become of a student.  The teen who we would have held up as the example of a godly youth group kid may down the road of life be running far from God or even denying Christ in his or her own life.  The teen who we watched struggle and make poor choices may one day down the road bring others to Jesus Christ.
We don’t know when it will “click” and they meet with the living Lord as Peter did.  So what do I do?

I invest in my own spiritual life.  I need to set the example.

I remain faithful to my calling.  God has called me to serve so that’s what I must do no matter what I see as the “outcome”.  No matter how discouraging it might be at times.

I trust God’s sovereignty.  I have no clue what the future will hold for me or for the students I ministers to.  God does.

I lean on the Holy Spirit in my life to give me the energy to stick with it.
I focus on the successes rather than on the failures.  It’s easy to get bogged down and think, “I’ve failed as a minister” when looking at the life of a student who has made poor decisions and is wandering away from Christ.  All we can do is minister to them, give them opportunities to grow their faith.  The student has to become responsible for their own spiritual growth and own their faith.  It’s like putting out the buffet of food but the student has to fill his own plate and put his silverware to use, I can’t force feed him.

So the next time you get frustrated remember to invest, remain, trust and lean.