Suicide

suicide picWhat are we doing about Suicide?

Suicide is one of the biggest issues in the world today and most importantly in Student Ministry! We must do everything we possibly can do to be prepared when a student is struggling with suicide and suicidal thoughts. To be honest, two months ago, we were completely unprepared.

We have already had two students attempt suicide in the last 4 months and have ended up in the hospital. We have also had several mention they have thought about it.

We must know what to do. We need the right resources. Lets take action!

We can’t mention enough in our sermons that Jesus cares about them and their needs and would never want them to take their life! He came that they may have life and life to the full!

We can’t allow students to make a permanent decision with a temporary problem! 

Things we must do!

-Give them a wallet size resource card of what they can do if they are struggling with suicide.  Hand them out to every student. Example below.

suicide card

-Have a night dealing with Suicide. Have a student share their testimony and then have leaders for them to go to.
-Encourage students to talk to their parents about their life and what they are going through.
-Have a counselor they can go to if its something serious they are going through.
-Take your students seriously when they talk about suicide.

One of the best movies dealing with this topic: “To Save a Life.” If you haven’t seen this, it’s a must!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Michael-Hux.png[/author_image] [author_info]

Michael Hux is the Student Pastor of Team Church in Matthews, NC.

Connect with Michael on Twitter or Instagram: @_Hux

 

[/author_info] [/author]

What You Really Need

Finish the following sentence: “What my ministry really needs is…”

Did you answer with a new sound system, another paid staff person, more supportive church leadership, or a  ministry lake house (that was mine)? In ministry, we like to focus a lot on what we DON’T have. We dream of  the day when we will have what we really need in order to accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

As someone who works at a large church, let me burst your bubble. It will never be enough. There will always  be something else that you will want that will make your ministry complete.

My prayer for you this week is that you would be empowered in the sufficiency of Christ in your ministry. The ministry you’ve been called do will not be accomplished through more ingenuity, resources, creativity and personality.

Check out what Peter says: “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT).

He doesn’t say that God has given us “some” of the things we need. No, EVERYTHING we need for the God-life is already supplied by Jesus. This is easier said than believed. We must admit that there are times when God’s promise of provision and sufficiency isn’t enough to move forward in faith.

Think of the Israelites leaving Egypt. Right after walking through the Red Sea on dry land, they are complaining to God for not providing for them. How quickly they forgot. How quickly we forget! When we forget that in Christ we have all we need, we are really forgetting that the God we serve has not left us high and dry.

Jesus did ministry without a budget but God still provided a temple tax from a fish’s mouth. Jesus did ministry without a building and slept with rocks as pillows. Jesus certainly didn’t have support from leadership yet he reached thousands.

What did Jesus have? Jesus walked each day knowing His place as a Son of the Father and in the power of the Spirit. That’s what he needed to accomplish his ministry.

These same resources are given to you. In Christ we are made sufficient because the God who calls you is sufficient. Jesus has given you all you need for your life.

You may need to get creative. You will most likely have to get on your knees. But you will never be ill equipped for the ministry to God has called you to.

So let’s go back and review. Finish the following sentence: “What my ministry really needs is…” I hope you have a new answer.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]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. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

Banqueting Table

It’s Thanksgiving and my stomach is beginning to prepare for the feast that lies ahead. I woke up at 5 amto put the turkey in to be sure that everything would be ready on time. I’ve lovingly basted that turkey multiple times over the few hours it’s been in the oven. I love a good feast and Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite days of the year.

Last night, my wife needed to pick up some last minute things (there always seems to be last minute things for a feast of this magnitude), and I offered to go for her. She has a lot on her plate and any way I can help I should. Offering to go to Wal-Mart is a big deal for me. I HATE going to Wal-Mart… I have a touch of social anxiety with large crowds and chaos, which only seems to get magnified as I get older. If you know me, this probably comes as a surprise because I seem loud and extroverted, which is true in most situations. My anxiety makes it tougher to go to concerts, sporting events, etc. Strangely enough, I work at a decent sized church and it does not bother me there.

If I’m honest, Wal-Mart is extra-difficult because of the many types of people who go there. Sorry if my honesty offends you, but many people that frequent my Wal-Mart are loud, don’t understand personal space, and can be rude. This is exacerbated by the fact that if I’m looking for something specific, it takes me an awful amount of time to find it. I end up walking around the store multiple times and it’s not like you can ever find an employee there. I find myself oscillating somewhere between anger and feeling overwhelmed almost the entire time I am there. Wal-Mart and I are not friends.

As I came home exhausted and feeling like I was about to explode, I began to process. I love to be in control and in that entire situation, I was not in control. I found myself praying and asking God to give me insight. I began to ask God to give me a heart for the people of Wal-Mart. I know weird…

I’m reminded of Jesus going to back to Matthew’s house after he’s just asked him to “follow him.” Jesus sits down for a feast with Matthew and some of his friends. Matthew’s friends were not highly regarded, to say the least. I imagine the people of Wal-Mart being the type of people Jesus would invite to a feast at His house. He would have loved them well and enjoyed their company.

There’s a section of the Ragamuffin Gospel where Brennan Manning talks about this very dilemma and our prejudice. He says, “A friend of mine once told me years ago that the one thing that made her uneasy about heaven is that she won’t get to choose her table companions at the Messianic banquet.” That’s a pretty interesting thought huh? Republicans sitting next to Democrats, religious people next to criminals, uneducated with the educated, the uncool next to those infatuated with their image, all different kinds of people….sinners next to sinners. This feast will be unlike any other.

The image of a feast is a perfect image for this Kingdom Truth. Typically, you only choose to eat with people you like. Sometimes, you are forced to eat with others for meetings etc, but if you had your choice you would probably pick someone who’s company you enjoy. I wonder if in the Kingdom we’ll enjoy people more. The way we’re designed to. To recognize differences and enjoy them. If not, Heaven’s gonna be an awkward place. The Bible never says that there will be no more awkward. The Kingdom is a place where everything is as God has designed it, and He designed us to love others, even in our differences.

I continue to pray for God to soften and change my heart towards others. It’s hard because of my prejudices and anxiety. I don’t want to make excuses for the Kingdom not being lived out in my life. Maybe I need to spend some more time in Wal-Mart. Today, we are having guests at our house for Thanksgiving, some we have never even met. It might get awkward and we might disagree on some things (as long as no one roots against the Cowboys we’ll be fine), but we’ll feast. It’s probably not the Thanksgiving I would have imagined years ago, but God has a funny way of bringing the unexpected when you seek Him. It’s a refining process for me. It’s preparing me for feasting in Heaven. I long for a feast the way God intended it to be. It’s going to be an outrageous party.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”

[/author_info] [/author]

Awakened

Great post by my good friend Jules Weir at RebelBlog.org

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”

Ephesians 5:14

Eight years ago I stepped on Texas soil for the first time in my life. I flew to San Antonio, Texas with a group from my church and was promptly met with 100 degree weather, country music, cowboy hats, Texas BBQ on the Riverwalk, and the most mesmerizing sunset I had ever seen. One visit and I was smitten. When I began to apply to colleges the following year I couldn’t imagine a better place to begin my adult life and journey of self discovery than the Lone Star State. So I packed up my bags with everything I could squeeze in them and moved 2,000 miles from Brattleboro, Vermont to Waco, Texas to attend Baylor University.

      The Lord has given me a spirit of adventure and an insatiable love for new experiences, new people, and new places. This passion has led me to travel abroad to Costa Rica, study abroad in Europe, and take frequent and spontaneous road trips all over the United States with whoever I can coax to come along. While I typically consider myself a creature of habit and a lover of tradition, I love exploring the new and the unknown. Even so, when I moved to Texas seven years ago I had no grid for the culture shock I would face. I left my hometown in Vermont convinced that it was slow and…maybe a little boring? and that surely more exciting things lie ahead for my future – Texas was the answer. And it was for a while. But now I have lived here for seven years and that restless itch has returned to go and see and absorb and be transformed by a new place. The temptation before me is to let the new to become the old; and the old become mundane. This is because it is hard for me to be content in the now. It is hard to be fully engaged in the present moment.  And it is hard to ever feel like you are completely at home when your soul is longing for an eternal other.

     But here is the real danger. In the same way that I can easily become accustomed to and bored with my physical environment, I can just as easily become complacent or bored in my relationship with the Lord. A life lived in the Spirit is supposed to be one of endless pursuit, adventure, opportunity, and transformation as we are changed into His image “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). The Lord is an everlasting spring of refreshment and joy. So why do I so easily find myself in the wading pool, knowing that there are greater depths but abiding in the shallow end?

     God has called us to be His children. He has called us to know Him and to abide in Him. As St. Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” God has created us to live in relationship with Him, not to simply know about Him but to know Him. What this shift looks like is not necessarily more information but more experience. We need to see God as He is and for who He is in order to be broken by our sin, healed by His forgiveness, and sealed by His love. The call to unbelievers is that you would be made aware of the need within your own heart; that you would begin to desire to know the One who is the way and the truth and the life, and that you would place your trust in Him. Similarly, for others who may have been walking with the Lord for many years, the call on your life is that you would be reawakened to the power of the gospel. That you would beg God to reveal Himself to you in a fresh new way and that He would reignite passion within you for Himself.

READ THE REST HERE

Get Excited

If you’re not EXCITED, why should students be?

As Student Pastors, we have something to be EXCITED about…and that is putting it lightly!

Our God is not DEAD but ALIVE!!
God has RESCUED us from HELL!!
Jesus has paid the debt for our SIN!!
The Enemy has been DEFEATED!!
We have a GOD that is always WITH us!!

If that’s not enough to get you EXCITED and ESCTAITIC, I don’t know what to do. The students we serve and parents we serve should see that EXCITEMENT each week.

We should be way more passionate about our GOD than our SPORTS TEAM!

Your SPORTS TEAM might give you SATISFACTION for a WEEKEND but GOD gives us SATISFACTION for a LIFETIME!

This should be evident in our social media and how we WORSHIP. This should be evident in how we preach. We are preaching the GREATEST NEWS that has changed us so we should preach with EXCITEMENT. We know the BIBLE ain’t boring!

Your students can tell if you are excited about Jesus or not!
They can tell by watching you if JESUS really is a BIG DEAL or not.
They can tell by watching you if JESUS really is the RISEN KING to you!

Encourage your leaders to be passionate about Gods Word and coming to church. If the students see that your leaders have excitement just like you do imagine how excited the students would be!

Be reminded today that you have been SET FREE! You aren’t who you use to be! Be EXCITED and keep serving JESUS!

Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Michael-Hux.png[/author_image] [author_info]

Michael Hux is the Student Pastor of Team Church in Matthews, NC.

Connect with Michael on Twitter or Instagram: @_Hux

 

[/author_info] [/author]

Quit and Go Home

The other day Bekah called me while I was at work. She needed me to come home. Not that it had been a particularly rough day, or that she was feeling sick. She just needed me home.

I had a million things to do.

I’ve never been able to look at my desk/computer/to do list at the end of the day and say “Well, that about wraps it up. I don’t have anymore work to do!”

It’s always some form of “Well, this will have to be where I stop today. I’ll pick it back up tomorrow.”

When Bekah called I had more than one thing I was working on finishing from the day before. I was getting swamped and a big retreat was coming up in the next few weeks.

But I went home anyways.

Did it mean I had a lot of catching up to do the next day?

Yup.

Did it mean that I would be staying up late after everyone had gone to bed to try to work some after hours?

Yes sir.

Did it mean that I would be worrying if I was actually going to make the deadlines I needed to?

You bet.

I showed one of her texts to a friend, the one that came before the call, the one that said “Please come home. I just want you home.”  What got me out of my office chair and into my truck were his words: “You don’t know how lucky you are man. I’m not getting those kinds of texts.”

My keys were in my hand and I was out the door.

To all youth pastors and other husbands out there:

Make your wife your number one priority. You’ll always have more work. You’ll always have another deadline. You’ll always need to get just one more thing done.

But you’ll never get another chance at making your wife feel loved and special TODAY.

Grab the keys.

Head on home.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/RonaldLongpic.png[/author_image] [author_info]Ronald is a follower of Jesus who’s married to Bekah, father to two beautiful girls and a chronic writer. He blogs at ronaldlong.org and tweets from @ronald_long. When’s he has free time, he plays with his kids, goes for a run, or plays video games. If you’re interested in some of his bible study material, check out 128ministries.org. [/author_info] [/author]

Seasonal Youth Ministry

I grew up in Southern California where, for all practical purposes, there are no seasons. The weather doesn’t change much. Sunny and 75 most of the time. When I moved to Texas I anticipated that I would get to experience seasons like fall and winter. The difference is that the weather changes wildly here. It’s unpredictable. Today it’s 75 and sunny. By Friday the high is supposed to be 33. When the seasons are unpredictable, it’s hard to get your bearings. Just as you’re about to get out your winter gear, it’s shorts weather again.

It’s the same way in ministry. We need to understand that we have seasons in youth ministry. The more we understand our seasons, the better we can see the big picture.

God sets this precedent. He rested on the seventh day. He created a world where there are times of planting and times of harvest. He commanded his people to celebrate in certain seasons. He even commanded the Israelites to rest the land for a full one year out of seven.

Our ministry slows down during three key times (Christmas, May and August). Our ministry ramps up during the summer, spring and fall. Different seasons fulfill different purposes in our ministry. If we went full speed all year long we would wear ourselves and our students out.

There is a method to our madness. You need to think about your ministry seasonally because of what it can bring to your ministry.

Seasonal youth ministry gives rest to leadership. Your leaders spend a good portion of the year pouring into students. They need times where they can take a break and recharge. If you go full speed all year long, you will wear them out. Eventually they won’t want to come back. Give them rest and they will have longevity.

Seasonal youth ministry gives room for planning. If you are busy all year long, you won’t have time to adequately plan for the future. I’m not just talking calendars. You need to create space for creativity, to pray for discernment, and to think intentionally about what you will be teaching.

Seasonal youth ministry blesses families. We slow down in December because of all the Christmas parties, travel and shopping. We slow down in May because many families are pushing hard through finals and graduations. We slow down after summer because families are getting ready for the school year. Gearing up in the summer helps our families that have middle schoolers with lots of time on their hands. Our ability to plan seasonally will help families during their seasons.

The key is this: slowing down actually makes our busy times more effective.

If you aren’t thinking seasonally in your ministry. You’ll probably see less fruit and will have a higher chance of burn out. Every ministry is different, your seasons may not look like mine, but you need to embrace the seasons of your ministry.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]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. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

 

Guest Post: Give God My Morning

My pastor slipped by my office a few weeks ago and handed me an article. It was about a pastor who shared his morning routine. All I remember was he said he wakes up at 3am Sunday-Thursday.

That’s when I almost checked out.

He was challenged several years ago about giving God his mornings. Yes. God deserves every area of our life. But I often give excuses rather than make changes to have solid time with my Lord. This pastor spends time in the word, prayer, study, and exercise in the morning. That’s crazy! But I am learning to enjoy the quiet mornings before busy starts. I rarely make time after I get to the office. That’s another blog post.

I have had to make adjustments. I have a 45 minute drive to the office and need to have solid time before I leave. If I want to run, I do it after prayer and Bible study. I want to engage my family in the evenings when I get home.

I have not done this every morning but I am striving to be consistent. I want to be fueled and focused as I start the day.

How do you manage your mornings?

What works best for you?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Matthew-Sawyer.png[/author_image] [author_info]Matt Sawyer is the student pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Dothan, AL. (www.sbcdothan.org) He loves being a husband and father of two girls. You can read more of Matt’s stuff at www.matthewls.com. We are excited to share his wisdom on The Youth Ministry Blog![/author_info] [/author]

Are You Not Entertained?

There is no doubt that we live in the most entertained generation in the history of the world. People don’t just watch television anymore; they sit down with their iPad, phone, and/or laptop while they “watch TV.” We are multi-taskers by nature now. When I sit in a Dr’s office waiting for an appointment, the first thing I do is pull out my phone and check Twitter. We get on YouTube, read blogs, or watch movie trailers for hours before we even realize it. A lot of our time is spent connected to technology.

Now here’s the part where you expect me to complain about how much time we spend on these things. I’ll let someone else write that blog. The reality is that this is the world we live in. This is the world that most of our students participate in and have grown up in. Elementary school kids have phones with internet on them. Some schools give kids iPads to work on. Toddlers know how to use an iPhone. As pastors and youth ministries we are fighting for the attention of these kids from a thousand different things and this will not change anytime soon. And if we are going to hope to engage them then maybe we need to consider reaching into their world. The church has often failed to recognize, engage in, or address culture , let alone be on the cutting edge of it. We can sometimes be the most resistant to change. Actually, that’s most of the time…

So what does this mean for us? It means that the way we communicate has to
be mindful of this and we have to continue to grow as ministers and ministries. The message of the Gospel does not change, but the way we communicate it must evolve. Jesus used Parables that were relevant to the people of his time to communicate the Gospel.

When I first arrived at my ministry, I was foolish enough to think I was simply entertaining enough to hold their attention. I realize now that I was stubborn on some things. The Truth of Jesus cannot be compromised, but if I can more effectively communicate this, then why wouldn’t I try. The truth is, very few people want to listen to a boring communicator and if the heart of the Gospel is Good News, which it is, then this should be exciting for people to hear.
Here’s some tips to continue to evolve:

Ask people – Ask your students and adults what they remember from your sermon. Ask them what they liked about it. It will help you understand what’s sticking in their minds

Don’t be afraid to use media – I love the spoken word and I hope that pastors never lose their ability to paint a picture through words. All of that said, there’s a reason students love GIFs, Instagram, videos. A video or a GIF will draw students in and can paint a picture better than words SOMETIMES. If you’re not a funny communicator or a great story teller then these can help you along. I spend a lot of time on Vimeo, Infinity List, and blogs finding ways to better illustrate points.

Work on it – Are you “fine” with how you teach? If you communicate in front of your students a lot, you should never stop working on your communication. Work on your pace, rhythm, volume, and pausing. It will start coming more natural and will make you feel more confident.

Say less, mean more – It’s frustrating listening to a communicator dance around the point, when a concise well thought out point would have made it more powerful. This takes time and crafting of the message.

Let students communicate – I get it… they’re not seasoned communicators. Yes, they may say something wrong. But it’s powerful when students hear from their peers. We let our students share about their experiences after a week of prayer and fasting, and it was the most powerful part of the evening.

Find your voice – You are not *insert your favorite preacher’s name* and you never will be. Stop trying to copy their voice. Definitely stop copying their sermons, it’s just lazy. Have you ever thought that listening to so many different podcasts might actually hinder your ability to find your own unique voice? I get it, there’s nothing new under the sun and we all use things we hear from others, but do not get in the habit of solely leaning on the thoughts of others. You need to hear from the Lord about what He wants to speak to your group of students.

Powerpoint can help – Our worship guy told me I should use Powerpoint more often and I told him he was an idiot… haha well maybe in not so many words. I was completely against it, but it’s hard to dismiss the value of it. It does not have to be used all the time but it can help those points really sink it.

Teach the Bible – Students find it interesting when they learn something. Many of them have very little knowledge of the Scriptures and we are called to teach them these truths. Students will devour the Bible, if it is taught correctly and interesting. It’s God’s Word and is meant to be buried deep within our hearts.

Redeem it – As the church we tend to be hestitant about initiating change due to the culture. And we should be. But maybe instead of avoiding or resiting cultural shifts we should aim towards redeeming it. Technology can be used and abused many different ways, but it can also be used by the Redeemed to advance the Gospel. Let’s use this as an opportunity to teach our students that we don’t avoid everything in the world, we just use it differently.

I would be the first to defend that our primary purpose as ministers is not to be entertainers. I am not a standup comedian or an actor. I am a minister of the gospel who eagerly desires to communicate God’s Word well. Let us not forget that what we are teaching has great power when it is infused with the Holy Spirit. “…grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30)

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”

[/author_info] [/author]

Fun is Not Your Enemy

We all want a Student Ministry that is deep and not shallow. We all want a Student Ministry that is all about Jesus and worship, but do your students see JOY in serving JESUS?

FUN is not your ENEMY! Your students should LOVE to come to Small Groups or Wednesday night because there is an aspect of FUN! One of the biggest reasons that I LOVED Student Ministry when I was younger was because it was FUN! I knew I was going to have FUN!

Don’t take out all of the FUN in Student Ministry. There is a reason why students love to go to Theme Parks and Arcades. It’s because it is FUN! Students love camp because it is FUN!

I had to remind myself of this over the last several weeks as our small groups have been all serious with NO FUN! We need a LITTLE FUN even with the seriousness of following JESUS!

Here’s a few ideas:

Throw in ICE BREAKER questions to open up.
Throw in a game that lasts 5-15min to add in some FUN each night!
Throw in a worship song that is FUN and not so serious.
Throw in a video to add some fun!
Throw in a skit to add some fun!
Throw in JOKES during your sermon!

LOST people need to see that CHRISTIANS have FUN too! Christians should be the happiest people on the planet and ones who show the most JOY and EXCITEMENT.

BRING some FUN to the TABLE!

How do you bring in the aspect of FUN in your STUDENT MINISTRY?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Michael-Hux.png[/author_image] [author_info]

Michael Hux is the Student Pastor of Team Church in Matthews, NC.

Connect with Michael on Twitter or Instagram: @_Hux

 

[/author_info] [/author]