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.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Three Step Discipleship Roadmap

At some point this month, you likely found yourself evaluating the old year and planning for the year ahead. And like me, you probably pondered, “Where are we at, and where are we headed?”

For my part, I’m somewhat frustrated that we have fewer students than in past seasons, but I’m excited that we do have a great student to leader ratio. And rather than enter the New Year with complaints, I’m headed into 2017 saying, “These are the students Jesus has given us, and these are the students we need to be investing in.”

I want discipleship to be the focus of our 2017 ministry year, and here’s my roadmap to get us there:

Read More HERE

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Are you tired? Exhausted?

Great blog post from Dan Colwin at LeaderTreks.

Take a gander HERE

Monday, January 30, 2017

No Retreat!

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 
 Ephesians 6:12

We cannot back down.
We are in a battle for the  souls and lives of these students God has given to us to serve. 
They aren't perfect, they struggle, they can be apathetic, they can be on fire for God, they can be a baby believer. It's not easy to serve such a broad spectrum but it's what we have been called to do.

If I'm to do battle I must first make sure I'm suited up in the armor of God.  
I must find strength in Him.  
I must allow his Spirit to work through me.

The next time you feel like throwing in the towel remember the battle is not with the apathetic student, it's not with the disinterested parent. 
It's a spiritual battle and you are on the front line. 
No retreat. 
Dig in and stand firm.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Planning a Mission Trip?

We will be returning to the island of Eleuthera in June for our third mission trip with our student ministry.  The majority of our mission team are veterans to the Eleuthera trip but we have a sprinkling of newbies.  To find out more about this great mission trip check out their site at Camp Bahamas Missions.

When I started out planning our first foreign mission trip I wasn't sure exactly how to go about planning and organizing.  I received some guidance from CB Missions but also found some valuable tools here at DYM. 
This kit, Mission Trip Nuts and Bolts had some great resources for planning and organizing.  It only cost $10 and is fully customizable.

I created excel spreadsheets to form the mission trip budget then I created a sheet for each participant to track the funds they turned in for the trip.  I also used a spreadsheet to check off for their passport turned in and each medical release, both our ministries release and Camp Bahamas release.

While on the trip we use devotional journals from LeaderTreks.  You can find the journals here.

We have used these journals which are great because they provide each participant with a morning quiet time and teaches students how to study the Bible at the same time.   There is also room in each journal for reflecting and evaluating each day.

It's vital to used the opportunity of pulling students away from their culture and normal everyday life to get them to go deeper into God's Word on their own and to think about their participation on the mission trip each day.

I make sure we schedule into our day of doing missions time for students to spend in the Bible and prayer.  Yes we are there to serve and do missions but we must also take time to refuel spiritually and possibly help some of our students start a daily discipline that could shape and impact their life.

We have had two great trips to Eleuthera and had little to no drama or problems among our team.  We have meetings several times before leaving for the trip.  In these meetings we cover details, culture, expectations, servant's attitude.  This extra effort before the trip can really help the trip flow smoothly and promotes unity in the team.  Prep before hitting the mission field is a key element to success.

Flexibility!   We can go with out plan and schedule but find out upon arrival that all that is out the window.  Flexibility on the mission field is a must.  Make sure your students understand this.  The two things that are must haves are an ability to be flexible and a servant's heart, willing to do what needs to be done.

Parent's want to know what is happening with the mission trip and mission team.  I include them in all emails to the team.  I also created a free one page web site using Wix and there I have the meeting schedule, the release forms, travel itinerary, supply and packing lists.  While on the mission field when possible and if possible I try to post a pic each day and let the parents and church know how we are doing.

Communication after the trip can boost your support for your next trip.  Create a slideshow or video and post it online, show it church, show it at youth group.  We have made, in the past a short version and a long version.  The church wants to know about the success of their investment.

I don't do this alone.  I've been blessed each trip to have a few adults come along on the adventure with me.  We take adults from our student ministry team.  That's just our preference because the adults and students already have a relationship.  We have also taken an adult or two who weren't on the team.  Our adults are there as advisors and we let the students lead on the field.  Not every adult has that ability so it is good to have conversations with potential leaders and explain expectations and details in advance.  They also participate in all the pre trip meetings.

I'm currently planning my first adult/family trip to take adults and families from our church.  This will be a first for me.  I took our family last August to get an idea of how it might work out.  My plan is to use some of what we use for our student trips with our adult/family team.

Where are you going on mission this year?