Funny Things People say to Student Pastors

If you serve in any capacity in student ministry, you understand that students say funny things. You also know that adults say funny things. I thought I’d share some of the top things people have said to me over the past 10 years of being a student pastor.

  1. “What other job do you have besides being a student pastor?”

Student ministry is a multifaceted job. You have to learn how to plan events, write sermons, develop leaders, help parents in crisis, counsel students, edit videos, create graphics, update websites, plan events and more. It is a random ministry position that includes a lot of fun and creativity! But most people do not understand it.

  1. “When will you become a real pastor?”

I heard a friend of mine say that once he knew a guy that was a youth pastor. He was amazed at how fast he became wise, in one day, when he accepted a senior pastor role. All of a sudden people listened to what he said and wanted his advice on everything. Student pastors are pastors. A lot of what we do is shepherding students and their families.

  1. “I am amazed that someone would WANT to spend time with students!”

People don’t know how encouraged I am by students and their desire to serve God. I believe that students ARE the church, not just the future of the church. The energy and openness to God is what makes student ministry special to me.

  1. “My child doesn’t want to come to church, can you get them to come?”

Usually the student can tell that even the parents don’t want to be at church. What you see in a student’s life mirrors what happens in the home, especially their attitudes. Parents are the biggest influences in the lives of their students. I usually talk to the parent about how to influence their child to see God working in their life.

  1. “If we can keep the kids busy, we will keep them out of trouble”

Busyness doesn’t help students. Focused discipleship helps students grow alongside relationships with others. Busy calendars alone, as the focus, usually can lead to distracted people.

If you are in student ministry, I’m sure you can add to the list! We have an opportunity to invest and influence this generation. As hard as it can be at times, we focus upon the spiritual investment of the gospel into their lives.

People will always say positive and negative things about student ministry. The enemy hates that you are investing in this generation! Stay focused upon why you are doing what you are doing. Live for an audience of One as we all seek to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

David Headshot

Josh is the student pastor at Church @ The Springs in Ocala, Florida (www.thesprings.net). Josh has served in student ministry for 9+ years and has a passion to lead students to imitate Christ and influence the world! He has a personal blog at http://joshrobinson.cc

 

Cliques are Sinful

If you’ve spent any time in youth ministry, then you’ve exhaustively encouraged students not to form cliques. It usually comes in the form of: “Let’s be sure to include everyone!” or “Make sure you don’t leave anybody out!” or “This weekend everyone is your BFF!”

But apart from “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), have we ever explained to students WHY we use these cheesy one-liners to encourage inclusivity?

Try this one on for size:

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. -Matthew 2:2-4 & 8-9

Cliques are Sinful

I would bet that most students have no clue that their “cold shoulder” is an act of sin. Furthermore, most students have no concept of sins of omission.

Sins of Commission – knowingly doing something wrong.
Sins of Omission – Not doing what you know you should do.

If James were talking to a group of students today, he might say:

“My brothers, show no favor as you follow Jesus, the Lord of Glory. For if a cool kid wearing the latest clothes with the nicest car is walking down the hall, and the stinky annoying kid who nobody likes is also walking down the hall, and you pay attention to the cool kid, have you not shown favor to cool kids?…If you show favor to people you like over people who you deem “unimportant,” you are committing sin.”

Our emphasis on inclusion is not merely an attempt to foster community, it’s a battle against sin.

How do you help foster community and fight against exclusivity? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Videos That Teach

I love seeing students connect the dots. More specifically, I love seeing students grasp grand narratives of Scripture. Remember when you first learned that Jesus was the answer to Adam (sin in/sin out), or that Jesus was the final sacrificial lamb to passover your sins?

While these may be old hat for veteran believers, it’s awesome to see students make the connections! I recently came across this “sermon jam” of a Tim Keller sermon that will help your students make those connections:

We used this as a bumper video and did a whole series entitled: “Jesus the True & Better _______.” How could you work this into a lesson?

If you want another video that teaches, go read this recent post & video that gives an Overview of the Whole Bible.

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Hard Conversations, Don’t Avoid Them

Hard conversations. Every ministry leader has at least one that they need to have soon. It could be that you have to say no to someone important at your church. You might have tell a leader to step down. There may be a person in your life who you need to confront about their sin or confess your own. Some people find it easy to have these conversations. I am not one of those people. My tendency is to avoid having them and suffer silently on my own.

Joseph Grenny defines a crucial (hard) conversation as “A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.” *

This summer it seems that I have had to have more than the usual number of tough conversations with students, parents, and co-workers. God has been challenging me to stand courageously as I open my mouth. It’s honestly been one of the most challenging seasons in ministry. But through it all, God is teaching me that through these tough conversations there is blessing. I’ve also learned a few lessons along the way.

Lesson # 1 – Having the conversation is better than avoiding it.

If you hate conflict like me, then you avoid conflict because you fear the worst possible outcome will actually happen. The reality is that avoiding the conversation will NOT solve your problem. The relational tension will still be there and your issue will not be solved until you sit down and have the conversation. The longer you avoid the conversation the more the problem will intensify when the issue finally does come to a head. If you have that hard conversation, the worse might happen. If you avoid it the worst possible outcome will happen.

Lesson # 2 – Believe the best in the other person.

When we have an emotionally charged conversation coming our way it’s easy to paint that person in the worse possible light. We start to believe that they have completely impure motives while you have completely pure ones. This is almost never true. You will never be able to get inside someone else’s mind and truly know their heart. Make the conversation about issues, not motives. When you believe the best in someone else you allow them the opportunity to surprise you with their flexibility and reasonableness. You also allow yourself to see things from their perspective.

Lesson #  3 – Don’t be afraid to be firm on what matters to you.

This is a hard one for me. I want people to like me. I worry that if I stand firm I’ll lose the relationship. Giving in becomes my strategy. If I follow this route I end up resenting myself and that other person because I didn’t fight for what I believe to be important. You can be firm and still communicate that you care about the other person. Standing firm and showing care not mutually exclusive. Most of the time being firm will NOT harm the relationship as long as you affirm the relationship at the same time.

What hard conversation do you need to have this week? Will you prayerfully consider taking a step of courage and have that conversation before it’s too late?

*Want to dive more into how to have hard conversations? Read Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.

Kevin Headshot

Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Kevin loves to connect with and empower youth workers. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick

Sovereign in the Storm

Developmentally, teenagers have a hard time seeing the “big picture.” Rather than seeing the culmination of various circumstances that led to a bad day, they think their world is ending and the sky is falling.

As Youth Pastors, we must speak truth into these circumstances. We must preach a Gospel that does not promise freedom from these hard times, but rather a message of hope in Christ that supersedes any bad day or circumstance.

My students are going through Mark 4:35-41 this week. This is the story of Jesus calming the storm after being woken from sleeping on a cushion. The verse in this passage that gets the most attention is verse 41 where the disciples proclaim, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Much is then made, and rightfully so, about the sovereignty of Jesus over the created order. While this does make Jesus look awesome and an awful lot like Captain Planet, we can’t miss the fact that the disciples were also acting an awful lot like the teenagers in our ministries!

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Sure, these were experienced fishermen who had probably faced a storm or two, but Jesus was sleeping, how bad could it have been?!

This is exactly what I do with students. I hear about the different circumstances and situations they are facing and think, “how bad could that really be?” To state the obvious…I’m low on compassion.

But on the other side of the coin, Jesus is with them! Rather than telling students “it’s going to be okay,” or “you’ll get through this,” we need to remind them, “Jesus is with you!” Yes, it might feel like He’s asleep right now, but He’s with you. Yes it feels like the world is ending but you have a relationship with the ONE who will cease time and usher in eternity!

Is this easy to teach or easy to understand? Absolutely not! But we have Paul to show us the way:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” -Philippians 3:8-9

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:11-13

May we preach a Jesus who is with us through “all things” including the storm. Jesus never said it would be easy. He never offered a golden ticket that would free us from suffering, but He did promise to be with us:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 4:16-17

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Overview of the Whole Bible

The staff at my church is currently going through a semester long training program led by our teaching pastor. At a recent training, he showed us this sermon by Dave Allgire at Late Church. It is a MUST WATCH if you want a succinct overview of the entire Bible narrative.

Spoiler Alert: There are hand motions to help you remember all of church history!

A few weeks ago, I showed the hand motion portion of this video to students going through one of our discipleship programs. It was a hit! Students expressed how awesome it was to see the entire Bible laid out before them. They were baffled at how busy God was during the “silent years” before Jesus.

This is Youth Ministry GOLD, and I highly recommend:

  1. Showing this to students
  2. Recreating it on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning

When students better understand the overview of the whole bible, Jesus wins!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Youth Ministry as Family

Is your youth ministry a group of six or seven grades each filled with cliques, or, is your youth ministry a family? As Youth Pastors, we must be intentional in fostering community and a group identity. We must take students from various grades, schools, backgrounds, and talents, and show them how they are part of our youth ministry family.

As a child and student at First Baptist Church of Amarillo, I still vividly remember Sunday’s where someone would join the church. After coming forward during a response time, the pastor would introduce the individual or family joining the church and everyone in the congregation would collectively say, “Welcome to the family!”

I loved this! I still love this idea! In a world where students face adversity and exclusion almost daily, their youth ministry should be a place of inclusion and acceptance. Their youth ministry should be a loving family.

Here are 4 ways to make a youth ministry a family:

1. Preach it early and often from the stage.

Students need to hear this concept from you! It WILL NOT happen naturally. They need to hear that everyone is invited, everyone is accepted, and that NO ONE is excluded from gospel community.

2. Get upperclassmen to mentor underclassmen.

We do this in two ways:

  • Upperclassmen lead guys & girls groups
  • One-on-one mentoring (by selected students only)

3. Occasionally integrate older and younger Small Groups.

If you do Small Groups on Wednesday or Sunday nights, think about occasionally mixing a couple of the grades. (Seniors with 8th graders, Juniors with 7th graders, Sophomores with 6th graders)

4. Get upperclassmen to serve the ministry at large.

Encourage your upperclassmen to come to church with the intent of building relationships and “looking for loners.” When upperclassmen lead the way on inclusion and intentionally find ways to bring the outsiders in, the ministry becomes a family.

How are you making your youth ministry feel like a family? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Launching Students on Mission

This past weekend, we had our annual Launch Conference where we exhort students to live on mission in their schools, among friends, and in their families. It went AMAZING!

We are in the third year of the Launch Conference and have seen some amazing initiatives birth out of teaching students how to live on mission for Christ everyday.

It is imperative that students renew the way they view school. If you are anything like I was in jr. high & high school, then you viewed school as a burden, as something that had to be endured. But I’m certain this is not what Christ intended. The Great Commission calls us all to live on mission as we “Go therefore,” or “As we are going.”

This is why my staff and I are bent on helping students understand how to live on mission each day in their schools. We want to see students so amped up about Jesus that they take what was ordinary and mundane and make it a matter of eternity. We want to see students embrace daily ministry, so that they become adults who carry this daily mission into the workplace.

In a world where teenagers seem to be apathetic about everything, we want to see students living on purpose! And they are!

  • We have one student feeding fellow students who have no meals on the weekends. She has never met the people she feeds, but continues to provide meal packs!
  • We have students hosting Bible Studies IN THEIR SCHOOLS on a weekly basis! (We did a breakout session at Launch and had even more students step up to begin these!)
  • We have students initiating prayer times before their respective sports or activities.

How are you helping students live on mission? How have you seen students stand up and embrace our collective mission to make disciples? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

“Meeting is Ministry.” I recently heard this saying and it got me thinking about the number of meetings I attend per week. When I say meetings, I not referring to one-on-one discipleship or counseling time, but rather meetings scheduled with the intent of making ministry decisions (ie. Youth Staff Meetings, All-Staff Meetings, Service Planning Meetings, Event Planning Meetings, etc.)

So I ask you the question: How many meetings do you attend per week?

Summer Blogging Sabbatical Over

Whew! I don’t know about you, but Summer 2014 has been a whirlwind of youth ministry activity! Camps, mission trips, lunches, hang outs, discipleship, multi-site, etc. It has been nuts, and I am stoked to get back into a routine…if that exists in youth ministry! I am also excited to get back to blogging. It is downright impossible, at least for me, to prioritize blogging during youth ministry summers. Something’s got to give and it sure isn’t going to be my family time or ministry time! I’m only human people! But here is what I’ve been up to…I’m sure you can relate!

1. Preacher Man – I began the summer by preaching at a camp for FBC Amarillo. I had a blast getting to exhort students at “Breakaway” at Camp Table Rock in Missouri (beautiful place!). If there was ever a student ministry that I was prepared to speak to, it was this one. This was my home church for 18 years, so it was an honor to join them and Bradley Maybin who has faithfully pastored the student ministry at FBC for 10+ years! (Side note: Go check out The Gladsome Light if you are looking for a band. They are fantastic!

2. Camp Time – A week after I returned from preaching at a summer camp, I took my students to summer camp. We have attended LifeWay’s Fuge Camp for the past three years in Glorieta, NM. This year was the best yet! The folks who run Camp Eagle bought the camp grounds in Glorieta from the SBC, and have really invested in taking the camp grounds to the next level. (Side Note: Go to camp with your youth pastor friends and their student ministries. It makes camp THAT much more fun! I went again this year with Brandon Weir, The Fellowship Round Rock, and Kyle Ogle, Champion Fellowship.)

 

3. Haiti – Our student ministry sent two teams to Haiti this summer to visit an orphan village that our church, LifePoint Church, supports. It was extra special because these are OUR kids. In partnership with The Global Orphan Project, our church has “adopted” a church and orphanage in Haiti, so it was special to see 1) our tithe money at work, and 2) orphans I’ve prayed for before ever stepping foot in Haiti.

4. Discipleship & Fun – The summer has also been filled with a weekly discipleship program we have titled “Infused.” We brand it as as seminary for teenagers and are relentless in our attempts to take students deep. We spent an hour and fifteen minutes in teaching and discussion, and students kept coming back! We know that investing in the maturity of our students will pay out greatly in the long run. And sure, we played a little 4-Square Volleyball and Spikeball afterward, it wasn’t ALL business.

It was a GREAT summer! And now I look forward to the start of our weekly Small Groups and our back to school conference we put on every year entitled “Launch,” where we amp students up about living out their faith on the mission field they know as school. (You will see more posts about this in the near future.) Until then, you can go check out my Instagram if you want the play-by-play of my summer, @davidhanson1.

I pray that your summer has been full of His presence and the expansion of the kingdom!

David

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.