Thursday, March 24, 2016

Follow Our Mission Trip

I will be posting pics and updates and video clips during our mission trip.
If you do Facebook you can follow our trip HERE

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Don't be Afraid to Say "No"

Don’t be afraid to say “no”.  I’ve discovered I can’t do everything so I have to say “No” at times.  Sometimes I even have to say “no” to things I enjoy doing.

You have heard the saying, “Do what you do best and delegate the rest.”  I agree with this 100%.  There are some things I do really well and I need to focus on those things.  There are some things I can do but someone else can do them as well or even better than me.

What got me thinking about this topic today?  Mission trip!  We leave in just two days to go on a mission trip to Eleuthera.  So I had a plan of attack, a strategy in prepping for this trip.

My strategy was this: Finish all my mission trip plans and projects by seven days before the trip.  The last few days leading up to a mission trip (or any big event) can be very hectic.  Life seems to throw in curve balls at the last minute as well.  So my plan was to finish the week before so I      would have plenty of margin leading up to the trip.  To help me accomplish this  our weekly youth group gathering on Sunday night we simply went bowling while encouraging our students to bring an unchurched friend along as a way to introduce him/her to Student Church.  I also made sure the next two Student Churches after we return are organized and ready to go.

The last few days before a mission trip I’m making sure any loose ends are tied up, packing, making sure the team has their supplies, printing off all the boarding passes, getting a haircut all that busy pre trip stuffs.  I try to spend a little extra time with my family this week because I won’t be able to spend time with them during the mission week.  Without fail someone will come along this week and ask me to do something that can either wait or something that someone else can take care of.  So this week more than any I have to be able to say, “No”.  How does that sound?

“As much as I would like to do that I have a very busy schedule this week preparing for the mission trip and I’m also spending some extra time with my family since I’ll be gone from them for a week.  I hope you understand.  No, I can’t do ___________.  Thanks for thinking of me and thanks for understanding.”

Am I going to write another blog post this week?  No.

Giving away toothbrushes and floss at the park outreach in 2015

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mission Trip Planning Start to Finish

I spared no expense in making the following short film in which I explain the mission trip process start to finish in a nutshell.  Please pour a cup of coffee, pop some popcorn and enjoy the show.
Hopefully this will help someone somewhere in planning a mission trip in some way.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

PACT Ministries

In full time ministry it can be hard sometimes to find someone to talk to, to really share your heart or your burden.  Often church members turn to their pastors in times when they need counsel or someone to speak into their lives but who do the pastors turn to?  I know there have been times in the past twenty one years where I have had to just keep something in to myself because I had no one to talk it out with.  That can be tough and there are times that we all need someone to talk things through or turn to for help.

Last week at Refuel retreat I met Matt and Lee of PACT Ministries.  Super nice guys who invest in the lives of youth ministers.  PACT and LeaderTreks have teamed up at Refuel retreats.  So Matt and Lee were there to minister to us.  They took time to sit with each of us during the retreat and talk with us and speak into our lives and help us.  Best part - FREE!  LeaderTreks was finding there were youth pastors coming to Refuel who needed someone to talk with and counsel them.  Brilliant idea!

PACT is an acrostic that stands for Prayer, Accountability, Care and Training.   PACT's purpose is to further God's kingdom by helping develop mature and complete youth ministers.  P.A.C.T. Ministry provides relationships, training and equipping for evangelical, full-time youth ministers helping them grow in their personal spiritual life, their family relationships and their student ministry through a unique combinations of highly effective, proven educational, relational, and experiential strategies.

 So if you are a youth pastor reading this and you need some help, some advice, some coaching, and someone to speak into your life then go to PACT's website and get more information and contact information.

Monday, March 7, 2016

I'm Refueled!

I had a great time this week at Refuel by LeaderTreks.  When you find a ministry like LeaderTreks that does what they do, and they do it top rate, then grab on and use them.  I know two years ago I blogged about my Refuel experience but I feel I need to do so again.  LeaderTreks isn't just about selling product to us youth ministers.  LeaderTreks is concerned for us, loves us and wants to invest in us because LeaderTreks loves students and wants to see them greatly impacted by the gospel and growing in their faith.

I arrived a little early Monday and was greeted by Doug and Dan of LeaderTreks, these two guys are awesome and wonderful teachers.  I was greeted as if we were old friends getting back together again.  I watched and it wasn't just me, even though we all know how lovable I am, they greeted each person attending that way.  Doug took started off with the intro to the retreat and a glimpse of where we were headed then there was a catered meal.  Guess what?  NO PIZZA!! I had sirloin steak, potatoes, veggies, pumpkin AND apple pie.  Top rate!

That night and the next two days we sat at round tables together and unpacked what student leadership is and how to do it.  I was also invited to sit in and learn about discipleship in an extra session.  Great teaching with a lot of wisdom and experience to back it up.

The two early morning sessions focus on us and our spiritual health.  We did some personal Bible study then came back together to talk about it.  LeaderTreks provided us with a week long quiet time journal and prayer journal.  We also took time to do a life map for the coming year.  So there was an intentional time to help us focus on our spiritual health and to take care of us.

Matt and Lee were there from PACT Ministries but I'll post about them in another blog post.

One of the best parts of Refuel is that it is small.  I have been to the big national youth minister events and they are fun and have great speakers and bands and good break out sessions but it isn't focused like Refuel.  I sat at tables with 15 to 20(?) youth ministers and not only did we listen and learn we were able to talk and discuss and learn from each other.  It was such and encouraging time.  I was able to eat meals together with total strangers.  But it didn't take us long, because of our mutual calling to invest in students lives, to become friends. 

Now what?  As I write this I'm home with my family the next tow day.   Next week, when this post is published,  I will spend some time unpacking what I have learned and to start implementing.

Friday, March 4, 2016

How Dare You!

How dare you!  You teach other people’s messages?  My answer is “yes” and “no”.

I realized a long time ago a few things:

1.  Other people write great messages and have great ideas.

2.  There is nothing new under the sun. 
3.  My time is limited.

I’m not the only one that comes up with great message ideas for youth group.  There are thousands of us out there writing our messages and curriculum for our student ministries.  There are men and women out there writing some great stuff to teach students.  Just because I think “this is original” doesn’t make it so.  If I’m going to teach on stewardship I’m pretty sure there are great messages out there about stewardship.  I created the title “Hang Time” as the time at youth group when everyone just hangs out together.  I thought I created it.  Since then I’ve seen many different student ministries using this term.  Did they get it from me?  No.  They either thought they had an original thought or “stole” it from another youth group.

I never create anything new.

If I do something “new” chances are someone else is already doing it in student ministry and probably they got it from someone else.  There is nothing wrong with learning from each other.  Does this mean everything youth group A does will fit and work with youth group B?  No.  But God’s word appies to all of us.  So while programs, strategies, message deliveries may vary God’s word remains the same.

You, like me, probably sit down each week and stare at a blank page on the computer screen.  You know your topic or you know the scripture you want to teach.  So we start researching.  When we read something in a commentary and use it we are basically doing the same thing we could do with another youth leader’s message.

There are times that teaching a series created by someone else can free us up to do more in ministry to students and with students.

 Does this mean I get to slack off?   No way.  I never just download a message and print it off and then step up to the music stand and teach it.  I always tweak the message and work on it.  I may add some scriptures to it, add a point or two or even delete a point or two.  I don’t use the authors personal illustrations I use my own.  I take the message and make it fit how I teach and to fit our student ministry.  I create Powerpoint slides, student hand outs, small group discussion all based off the message I have tweaked.

When I’m using a series someone else has written it allows me to work on an “original” series of my own, to work on what is coming next.  Example:  While I’m teaching this series we are in now I am actually working on the next series.  This allows me to plan out several weeks in advance the direction we are going.  This coming Sunday, Ramon, one of our volunteers, is teaching on dating boundaries.  I was able to hand him an outline as a starting point and then he will craft the message to fit.  So this week I’m using the time I would usually use for message writing to work on our evening devotions for our mission trip coming up next month.  The combination of a series and someone else teaching this coming Sunday frees me up to get some much needed work done.

If I was a volunteer youth leader working a 40 to 50 hour a week job and then putting in many hours volunteering at my church I would use a “pre-fab” message every week and I would make it fit our context and who we are.

Where do you find these series?  I use the following resources and find them all trustworthy and Biblically solid:  LeaderTreks, Simply Youth Ministry, Download Youth Ministry, Group Publishing and Youth Specialties.

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

My blog made #30 out of the top 40 youth ministry blogs according to I don't know what that means but "thanks!&quo...