Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New Site is up and Running

My new web site which now hosts my blog posts is up and fully functional.
You can check it out at andylawrenson.com .

There is also a monthly email sign up.  In the near future I plan on shooting out a short email once a month with a helpful ministry article and some links to other good articles to read.

Thanks for stopping by the old blog location.  Now cruise on over to my new home. 

Thanks!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Blog has moved to a new home

The ADD Youth Pastor has moved.  Find my future blog posts HERE.

Since coming on board with the Faith in Focus speaker's bureau we have built me a new home at andylawrenson.com .

Thanks for checking out my blog. 


Thursday, September 14, 2017

For the Hurting Youth Pastor (and a few parents)


I woke up this morning with heartache for a brother.  I don’t know the guy, never met the guy.  All I know is this guy’s passion is to see teenagers lives impacted with the good news of Jesus Christ.  He was the first person on my mind when my eyes opened from a dead sleep.

This brother posted on a youth ministry FB group yesterday this post:
“Would you pray for me.  No students showed up for youth group tonight.”


I’m reading into his post.  I don’t know how many students he has in the youth group.  My guess is it is small in number.  If our group had 5 to 10 of our students only I would be in the same boat as this youth pastor.  Our youth group has a certain number of students who miss quite often or maybe attend once a month.  They are not lost and unchurched students but “church” kids.



For the parent who possibly reads this let me explain the hurt in the heart of this guy right now:  (Again I don’t know him but I know the feeling of what he is experiencing today)
  • He hurts because he knows those who could have been there will miss out on a message that quite possibly could impact their lives for eternity.

  • He hurts because he knows those who could have been there will miss out on that opportunity to connect with and be encouraged by other students.

  • He hurts because he knows it takes students to build momentum in a student ministry which helps growth.

  • He hurts because he knows there are students in his community that need Jesus Christ but his church kids appear to be apathetic.
He hurts because he feels it is his fault.

  • He hurts because church parents don’t see the value of their teens being connected to the church.
  • He hurts because travel sports, football, cheerleading, (insert activity here), has taken a priority over the habits that feed spiritual growth.
He hurts because of his concern for your child.


For the youth pastor who might read this:

  • Your value to the kingdom is not based on how many students show or don’t show up to your youth group.

  • You are not alone.  This trend is happening all across America, not in other countries but here in the land of the free it’s becoming the norm.

  • The responsibility is on the parents, not you.

  • You are providing a fun, safe place for students to hear the gospel.  Unfortunately in America our “fun” can’t compete with the technology that’s out there.

  • You were prepared and invested your time, you did your best.
  • 
You will have a lasting impact on students.  One day a young adult is going to thank you for the investment into their lives.  Their time in our student ministry is very short but the investment will reach way into their future.
  In that moment you will see the fruit of your labor.
  • You remain faithful.  Jesus said he would build his church.

  • You are going to have to discover new ways to do student ministry “out and about” where the students are because in the next ten years student ministry will look totally different then it did ten years ago.
  • You are loved by Christ and all your fellow youth ministers serving in the trenches with you.



    My Blog has moved to a new home.  You can find my future blog posts at andylawrenson.com/bloghttp://www.andylawrenson.com/blog

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recharge Your Battery

Summer amps up our busyness as student ministers. It’s packed full of special events, camps, and oftentimes multiple mission trips. I just returned back from my most recent mission trip, which took me away from my family for ten days. Add to that a mission trip at the start of the summer and two weeks of camp, and it shouldn’t surprise you that my battery is low. Maybe, like me, you feel wiped out by the summer summer. But with the need to jump right into back to school bashes and fall planning, most of us feel like we have little opportunity to recharge.


With our batteries running low, it’s easy to get discouraged, frustrated, burnt out, or even depressed. So what do we do? Try a couple of these ideas:
READ MORE . . . .


Thursday, September 7, 2017

New Site

I'm excited to announce I have a new web site.  The site is still under construction but is up and running.  I don't know the technical side of stuff but at some point addyouthpastor.com will merge with Andylawrenson.com.  My blog posts will then be posted on my new site. 
I just posted a new post this morning on the site.  Feel free to jump over and check it out.





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Adventure

For the past few years I have been praying about my next 15 years in ministry.  I have several areas I'm passionate about:
1. My Savior and Lord Jesus Christ
This passion is fulfilled each and every day by my God, spending time with Him in His Word and prayer and watching Him at work in my life and the lives of those around me.

2. My wife and my children, my family
I am so thankful to God for the family He has blessed me with.  My wife is the godliest woman I know and a strong prayer warrior.  My kids are miracles and blessings.

3. The church, the body of Christ
I love Nags Head Church.  It isn't often a youth pastor gets to serve as long as I have in one church.  Sixteen years!  Love being part of a church that loves missions and loves to serve.

4. Coaching/Mentoring student ministers
I'm blessed to be able to interact with several different student ministers.  I love learning from them and hope that I can share a tid bit that helps them along the way as well.

5. Eleuthera/Camp Bahamas
I have been bit by the bug.  I love Eleuthera and the ministry Camp Bahamas is doing in the lives of Bahamian children and youth.  The Bahamas needs a turn around and Camp Bahamas is doing an incredible work.  I'm so thankful that over the past 3 years God has allowed me to be part of what is happening there.  Five trips in 3 years!  Let's see if I can make is seven trips in four years.  If God gave me the clearance to do  full time work with Camp Bahamas I would do so without hesitation.

6.
Helping Christ followers discover the joy of serving in the church
I love to see the church roll up her sleeves and dive into serving one another.  This passion is filled at Nags Head Church in my role as Ministry Team Pastor. 

So back to praying about the next 15 years.  I believe God has given me experiences and I have learned some things along the way that I think would be wrong to keep to myself and our church.  One of the things I prayed about was this question: How can I help student pastors and the church beyond my setting in my own church family?

In late July Alex McFarland had lunch with me and told me that he would like me to come on board with Faith in Focus speakers bureau.  I was very humbled and honored to be invited.  So today I have been given the go ahead to make it public.  Faith in Focus speakers bureau is brand spankin new. 
"The Faith In Focus speakers bureau exists to help churches, schools, and others hear from some of America’s most gifted Christian leaders and speakers. "

This is a new adventure for me.  I look forward to any opportunities that God brings my way in the future.

You can check out Faith in Focus speakers bureau HERE.  Maybe there is a speaker on the list that can help your church, event, conference in the near future.





Monday, August 28, 2017

The Distractions

I find it so easy to get sidetracked.  I sit down to the computer to do write a message for student church then I find myself ten minutes later reading an article about manatees and the Florida Everglades.  How does this happen?

It is so easy to lose focus in life.  We are being bombarded with distractions.

I have found, in my past 25 years of church leadership, that Christians (self included) can get sidetracked and lose focus of what truly matters.  It’s easy to get in debates about things that in the end won’t change eternity.  It’s easy to allow emotions and feelings to move the focus from our purpose of sharing Christ to a self pity-party. 

Christians get side tracked by what this author says or did, by the color of the church’s new carpet, chairs vs. pews, small groups vs. Sunday school, music styles, and the list could go on and on. 

I get quickly sidetracked by complaints that have absolutely no impact on eternity. 

How do we keep from getting sidetracked?


Remember your purpose.  Why am I here?  What has God called me to do?  How have I been uniquely created and equipped by God to do what He wants me to do?  



Regain focus.  Quit looking over there when you should be looking towards Christ.  Satan is going to throw distractions at us left and right because he doesn’t want Christ followers to be successful in reaching others with the life changing good news of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love.  Quit focusing on self and focus on the Savior.

Remind others.  Remind those around you and who you serve with that if something doesn’t impact eternity you are not going to waste your time with it.  Arguments, debates, styles of worship, the temperature of the fellowship hall.  Life is too short and our task at hand is huge.



Robing.  (sorry I wanted to write, “Suit up” but just had to use another “R”.  To be honest I don’t even know if “robing” is a real word)  

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11
The best way to take out the enemy is to infiltrate and attack from within.  The devil is no dummy and he uses this technique to his advantage.  Often I find myself getting sidetracked by other believers, usually it is due to unchecked feelings and emotions.  It’s by not living under the control of the Holy Spirit and the result is living lives that don’t display the fruits of the spirit.  We have to be ready for attack and remember that the attack isn’t on us personally, the attack is for who we stand for and for focusing on our purpose.



What distractions are plaguing you this week?  What steps will you take to remove the distractions and regain focus on the purpose God has called you to?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The House that Personality Built

Everything is going great.  The student ministry is growing, students are getting involved.  Adults are getting excited about student ministry and joining the volunteer team.  The youth pastor is stoked about how well things are going.    Each week he is knocking it out of the park when he teaches.  Daily he is making contacts with students.  His social media posts are killing it.  The presentation slides and graphics he is preparing each week are really capturing attention during his talks.   The four major events he is planning for the coming year are on track as he looks at his calendar and makes the calls, reservations, spreadsheets and writes the curriculum needed for the events.



Then just as things are going great this youth pastor is noticed by another church who is searching out a new youth pastor for their student ministry.  After thinking and praying through the move the youth pastor turns in his two weeks notice and resigns as student pastor.  Now he is excited about the new plans he has for the new church and the move he is about to make.



Fast forward a month.  The church he just left cancels the event for that month.  No one is sure what to do at youth group on Wednesday evening.  No one knows how to plan an event.  Not one volunteer has any access to students contact info so they can continue making contacts with students like the old youth pastor used to do.  No one knows how to log in or use the social media accounts.  The video projector and computer sit unused at youth group because no one is sure how to make the slides.  The four major events are now on hold, no one is sure how to proceed.  

The student ministry goes on “pause” while they wait for the church to hire a new youth pastor to come in and pick up where the old youth pastor left off.  Half the student quit attending because their buddy, the adult that invested into them, is no longer there.

This is what happens when a ministry is built on a personality instead of built on vision and purpose.  This is what happens when a youth pastor fails to bring people on board in leadership and planning and mentoring.  The “do it all” youth pastor who felt successful due to everything on his calendar failed the student ministry by not equipping leaders, by not turning others loose to do ministry.

Steps to avoid the personality trap:


  • Bring on volunteers to the team and equip them to lead.

  • Focus on leaders just as much as on students.

  • Don’t micromanage those who are given responsibility.
  • 
Make sure adult leaders are investing in students lives outside of the weekly youth group gathering.

  • Teach others how to plan and think through an event.

  • Allow others to teach and share the message at youth group.
  • Train and equip students and adult volunteers to minister.

Strive to build a students ministry that will thrive long after you are gone.  When the student ministry is built on the vision and purpose of the church the student ministry continues after the youth pastor is gone.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Chaperone Syndrome

You feel like you just walked into a middle school dance.  You see them lined up agains the back wall.  They aren’t the tough eighth grade boys.  They aren’t the shy girls afraid to dance.  You just stepped into the youth room for youth group and there you see them, the chaperones.  


Here is the mistake that happens often in student ministry: we recruit adult volunteers and don’t cast the vision or make the expectations clear.

 When adults view their role in the student ministry as chaperone they miss out on the whole point of investing into students lives, making spiritual impact.  They don’t need us standing against the wall or in a small holy huddle.  They need us sitting with them, mixing with them and setting the example of what worship looks like.  They don’t need us serving them they need us to be serving along side of them.



I remember I once attended a youth group gathering at the youth pastor’s request.  The room was packed, big crowd.  Youth pastor couldn’t understand why it was hard to maintain some order during the worship time.  I told him, “It’s because your adult leaders are all sitting on the back row together instead of sitting in and amongst your students.”



How do we move volunteers from chaperone to student minister?



Set clear expectations.  What is expected from the adult leader?  How do you want them to interact with the students?  Do you want more than just a warm body in the room?  Do want them texting, calling students during the week to check on them and encourage the students, pray for and with them?  Do you want them sitting right in the chairs with them during the worship time?  Do you want them to take the initiative to take the students they work without to eat or meet them somewhere for a fun activity?



Create a job description.  If adults don’t know what’s expected and what their role is then they will just hang by the wall or in a little huddle.  BUT if the job description is clear up front they will learn and grow in that position or say up front, “Doesn't look like student ministry is my place to serve.”  In fact most people who don’t know what their job description is they end up getting frustrated and won’t last.

Give them training.  Once a year hold a team retreat.  Pass on great articles or blog posts to them.  Sign your team up for some great training like DYMU or watch LeaderTreks new training casts together. Pair the newbie up with a seasoned volunteer to shadow and learn for a couple of months.   Just don’t throw them in with the lions right off the bat.  We can’t force someone to learn but we can give them the opportunities.

Trust them to lead.  When I hear my middle school girls group leader is taking the girls out to a restaurant or our high school guys leader is taking them to top golf I don’t feel threatened in my position.  Repeat after me, “I don’t have to be at every student ministry event.”  Yes, if it’s a total group wide event and you are the point person you need to be present but we need to trust our volunteers enough to allow them the space to branch out on their own and spend time with students outside of our weekly youth group gathering. 

Have fun with your leaders
.  Make sure a few times throughout the year you have scheduled an opportunity to get together with your leaders and just have fun, no students, no talking shop.  Laugh together, share with each other about your lives.  

Shepherd your adult leaders.  Be your volunteers pastor and let them pastor/shepherd the students entrusted to you as a team, as a church.  Pray for and with them.  Invest in their lives.

When I hear people refer to adults volunteering in student ministry as chaperones I cringe.  We need ministers not chaperones.  Students need adults who are engaged and invested into their lives not a group who make sure the rules of the event or gathering are followed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When You Realize You Need a Reset

This morning in my morning quiet time I wrote the following:



Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Fear can hold us back from doing what God wants us to do. Sometimes the unknown of what lies ahead can be daunting. If what lies ahead is from God it sure can be daunting but if it is God's plan for us we don't have to be afraid because he is with us each step of the way.


Discouragement is a fact of life, it comes from different sources in our lives. Sometimes even other Christians can be a source of discouragement because they don't understand God's plan for you or they aren't comfortable with the direction God is taking you. But when someone or something opposes us we need not be discouraged because he is with us each step of the way.


Joshua 1:9, This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Life is busy, life can be draining at times. I have seen many Christians fall to the wayside because they gave up. They felt they didn't have the strength to continue. Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Our strength shouldn't be found in anything we attempt to create in our lives. Our strength should be found in God.


I then get to my office and start thinking about some student ministry struggles and I became discouraged fast.  I’m a passionate person with strong emotions and it didn’t take me long, about a fifteen minute car ride to get discouraged.  If I’m honest I was even a little angry and ready to give someone a karate chop to the thyroid. (not one individual but possibly a representative of a group of people out of frustration and not talking about students here
)



I still don’t have the answer to the problem that caused the discouragement.  But two things happened.  I knew something had to change and took some necessary steps to begin the change journey.  Within seconds, literally seconds, God blessed that decision to begin the journey to change/improve and grow in student ministry, to hit the “Reset” button.  Seconds!  Faster than it took for me to get discouraged, a phone call from one thousand miles away.



Second thing happened about a half hour later.  I went to check a message on Facebook and there my eyes caught what I wrote just this morning around six-thirty.  “Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.”  



Fact number one:  This student ministry is not my student ministry.  It’s not my church’s student ministry.  This student ministry is God’s student ministry.  Belongs to him.



Fact number two:  I can get discouraged, which is my human nature taking over.  This discouragement doesn’t change the fact that the student ministry belongs to God.  So why let it get me down.



Fact number three:  When I start basing my effectiveness as a student minister on situations which I have no control of I am not as wise as I should be after fifty years of living life.



Fact number four:  Sometimes you have to step back , breathe, get with God and find out what direction you need to head next, and the changes that need to be made.  Hit the “Reset” button ;)

Friday, June 30, 2017

I'm Getting Refueled

I have been to the big national conferences. They were fun, I learned some stuff. But Refuel Retreat has been a totally different experience. If you get $$ to go to conferences or continuing ed I strongly urge you to check this out.

Here's why:
As youth pastor you are the point person, in the lead, the buck stops here, in your church's youth ministry. We cannot lead on empty. Big ballrooms full of free giveaways from youth ministry corporations don't matter. Break out sessions are great but not if you have no clue on the vision God has for the student ministry you lead. How can you lead others if you aren't leading yourself? Curriculum based conferences are good in helping you lead the curriculum but what if you are tired, spiritually and physically?

Wednesday I booked my airline tickets and my hotel room. I'm so thankful for a church that recognizes the value of sending staff off to learn and grow and connect.
This will be my third Refuel retreat. Each time I discover something new about myself and my relationship with Christ. Each time I come home with a road map, a plan, some direction where to lead our student ministry.

I have seen a huge shift in student ministry over the past 7 to 10 years.  In days of old to say we have youth group and pizza and students would flock to the church. In the past we would announce "sign up for camp" and students would sign up. Several years ago there were not so many different things vying for our students' time.  Families were not as busy as they are today.

I'm looking at our student ministry. When that 6th grader graduates high school I want him to know how to live out God's word in his life, I want him to understand who he is in Christ Jesus, I want him to realize his connection to the church and serving Christ. That's the kid who will go off to college and connect with a local church and continue growing in his faith.

How is that going to happen? Deep discipleship, someone(s) walking along side of the student challenging them in their faith, investing in their life, holding them accountable. Not every student wants this or is willing to do what it takes to be discipled. But there are some in every student ministry who are ready and those are the students who will be future leaders in the church, serving, on mission, making a difference in the world.  We only get our students for two hours a week at student church.  What are we going to do to make the most of that time?

“But Andy, if we focus on discipleship who students won’t evangelize.”  I agree that their has to be balance in fellowship, discipleship, mission, ministry.  I also know that a fully devoted follower of Christ, a disciple, will share their faith with others.



In order to lead this type of change in student ministry from event driven, youth group hanging out time, to purpose driven discipleship focused I need wisdom and guidance, I need my thinking challenged, and I'll experience this at Refuel Retreat.

Who wants to join me at Refuel Retreat?

New Site is up and Running

My new web site which now hosts my blog posts is up and fully functional. You can check it out at andylawrenson.com . There is also a mon...