The Pain of a Great Event

It’s Sunday afternoon and God has just moved in incredible ways in the youth ministry I pastor, so why do I feel so awful and dejected? How can I not hear the encouragement from others and find myself planted on the few things that did not go right? Is there something wrong with me? Does this have anything to do with me?

The feeling at the end of a great weekend retreat, Disciple Now, camp experience, mission trip, or any of the other events we do can be exhilarating. The group feels a sense of camaraderie and the spirit of the group has completely changed from when you arrived or started. We all love events for this reason (it’s definitely not for the planning). An event can accomplish some things that a weekly service can’t. The part that’s not talked about and that those outside of student ministry don’t get is what I like to call “event lag.” It’s the negative feeling or happenings after an event that just can’t be shaken. It threatens to ruin the whole experience or make us doubt what God has just done.

Often, the problem with “event lag” is that it makes us immediately look towards ourselves. We’ve (hopefully) spent an entire weekend talking about how it’s all about Jesus and within a blink of an eye it’s back to being about us. It is hard not to take the parent gripping about something, or the young person tweeting something dumb, personally. We’ve invested so much into the weekend and we want everything to go smoothly. Part of it is because we want the students/parents to think they have the best youth pastor in the world, but another part of it is that we want to honor God in what we do. How do we respond to criticism? How do we react when things don’t go the way they are planned?

Sometimes events do not work out the way you planned and situations go haywire. Don’t take it personal. Imagine Robin Williams holding you right now saying “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault.” At our fall retreat, my worship leader messaged me two hours before we left to tell me he couldn’t make it because he has diverticulitis… two hours! Diverticulitis! Who’s ever even heard of that?!? I went into a mini-panic, but then I realized that my freak out was not helping anyone. God worked it out when a buddy of mine stepped in to lead worship. Worship was amazing that weekend and it was not something I planned. At the end of the retreat, we planned more than enough drivers to pick us up and we had 4 or 5 that didn’t show up. Just…didn’t…show…up. There are certain things that are within your control, but you can’t control everything. On a side note, if you are a lazy planner or unprepared then you need to repent and get on that grind. Your students and God deserve better.

God can use these hiccups to remind us to trust in Him. It’s easy to slip into a mode of trusting in our own understanding and not His. God will accomplish His work and use every event as a teaching moment for our benefit. Do not let “event lag” come and steal your joy, remember that it is found in God and not in events. Talk it out with a buddy in youth ministry… gain some outside perspective. It’s good to know that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Open up to your spouse, use this as a point of intimacy. Most of all, when your soul feels drained, tired and beat down after an event, be still, and listen to God’s voice. You are a child of the King above being a pastor.

[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.”

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What Do You Do All Day?

Every week people spend countless hours behind a desk doing things that get very little attention or appreciation. It’s no different in Student Ministry. In fact, many people ask me the question, “What do you do all week?

Fair question. After all, when they see me on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s I’m giving a sermon, leading games, or giving announcements. How hard can that be? Surely it doesn’t take a whole week to do that?

When a student asks me what I do all day, it usually has no effect on me. I simply reply, “I play Bop-It all day waiting for you to get here.”

But when that question comes from an adult, parent, or volunteer…the depraved, needing of affirmation side of me wants to sit them down and walk them through my weekly schedule. Show them the time that takes me away from my wife and kids. (Meetings, emails, meetings, sermon prep, vision casting, volunteer recruitment & training, school visits, bible studies, football/volleyball games, choir concerts, care visits & meetings, service planning, discipleship, emails, meetings)

Apart from wanting to “prove” our worthiness, I feel that Youth Pastors must ask ourselves this question: “What do you do all day?

Are we being faithful in the small things, the unseen things? Or, are we only being faithful with what is seen, what happens from the stage?

What do you do all day?

Yes, you are preparing a sermon, but are you letting the Holy Spirit lead and speak to you? The fact that you are writing a sermon or Bible Study, does not mean you are being faithful.

Shoot, I’m guilty!

I’ve prepared last minute and given awful sermons. Ones where I felt completely fake. And you know what? They were awesome! You know why? Because I’m REALLY good at winging it! And you probably are also.

So let’s pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz and see what’s really under the surface.

Write down everything you do during the week. Where are you wasting time? What could you remove from your schedule in order to be more faithful in your writing and preparation? Are you spending time on your knees? Are you spending time in the commentaries? Do you know how to say “no?” Do you know how to delegate? What small things are taking a back seat? These are just a few of the questions we MUST answer in order to be faithful with the time He has given us.

You may be a good speaker, team member, small group leader, youth pastor, mom, dad, husband, or wife. But what would happen if you started being faithful with the small things?

“‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” –Matthew 25:23

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava, 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, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

Keep Going

Ever feel like GIVING UP in Student Ministry??? You need a FOLDER!!!

Lets face it Student Ministry isn’t the easiest thing in the world! Sometimes, a student will get on your nerves or you get that parent email that makes you just want to throw in the towel. It’s not easy because we are sinners dealing with sinners.

But we ALL NEED to REMIND ourselves WHY we do what we DO!!
“To BRING students to JESUS who can CHANGE their LIVES!!”
There is MORE JOY in that than anything in this world!!

No student is ever worth you quitting over!!
No parent is ever worth you quitting over!!
No leader is ever worth you quitting over!!
No email or text is ever worth quitting over!!

 

SEEING one STUDENT meet JESUS for the FIRST TIME is worth years of MINISTRY!!

 

In times that you feel like giving up in Student Ministry, do this!!!

-Start a folder where you can collect emails, tweets, Facebook posts, notes, and cards of how God has changed lives in your Student Ministry

-Pull that email out from the parent who emailed you saying how God changed their student’s life!

-Pull out that hand written card a student wrote you saying how much of a difference you have made in their life!

-Look back at your Student Ministry and see what God has done and rejoice!!

-Pull out that tweet and Facebook post of how a student’s life was changed!!

You will encounter times of wanting to give up and when you do PULL OUT that FOLDER and remind yourself of why you entered ministry in the first place!!

This suggestion came from Doug Fields book, “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry.” It is a must read!!

[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

 

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Do Something (Part 2)

We recently made some videos to highlight how our students are using their time, talents, and resources for the glorification of His kingdom. Adrian is a rapper, and Matthew is a singer. Both only Sophomores they know why they have been gifted. Check it out:

Adrian Stresow from LifePoint Plano on Vimeo.

Matthew Berry from LifePoint Plano on Vimeo.

Reunioned or Ruined

Last weekend I was fortunate to go to something very unique, my youth group’s reunion. That’s right, some 15 years after many of us graduated 50 of us gathered together for a night of reconnecting, dinner and worship. Some of us traveled great distances to be there, including my own youth pastor. We even had our old worship band play some of their old tunes. Singing those songs in our old youth room with my old friends really brought me back to those formative years in my faith.

As I was interacting with my friends I was reminded that one day my current students will graduate, get married and become adults just like we did. Through the conversations I was hit with some themes that made me reflect on how I do youth ministry.

Theme # 1 – Special Ingredients.
Throughout the night people kept talking about what made our youth ministry so great. They talked about how everyone was welcome, no matter who they were and what school they went too. They talked about how everyone experienced God’s grace at a deep level. This is what drew people to our youth group. I hope I never take for granted how powerful a warm, accepting ministry can be for a growing ministry.

Theme # 2 – Life after youth group.
Many of my friends had found it hard to connect with the church and it wasn’t because they didn’t try. The community they found so compelling in high school was lacking as an adult in the church. Some had even experienced deep wounds by church leadership. I was reminded that the faith formation of teenagers requires that we help them connect in the larger church body. It also requires that we prepare them for the inevitable reality that they will be disappointed by the church because it is filled with broken people just like you and me.

Theme # 3 – Life will get hard.
So many of my friends shared about how they “needed” our reunion. There were those who had gone through divorce and others who lost parents. I heard about shattered dreams and broken hearts. For many, these wounds left them disillusioned about God’s presence in their lives. Our reunion was an opportunity for them to be reminded that the God who worked in their hearts as teens is still with us today. I think most youth ministries fail to adequately prepare teens for the reality of living in a broken world. We paint the picture that if we follow Jesus, life will be rosy and fun. When life gets rough, they question their God because we didn’t do a good job of helping them encounter Jesus in the midst of their pain.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to have a reunion with any of my youth groups, but I hope that I lead mine knowing that I will leave a legacy. I hope that our ministry will be known for displaying Jesus’ amazing grace and helping teens embrace Jesus through the ups and downs of the rest of their lives.

[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]

Emotional Boundaries in Student Ministry

Have you ever felt sleepy driving on the interstate? It’s the moment when your tires start to “humm” as they roll over the small ridges on the side of the road that becomes a warning sign and wakes you up! It is only when you realize you are headed off the road that you can make a correction to stay on track.

In ministry and in life, we must set up boundaries.

Emotions are powerful. Emotions are a part of our makeup as human beings. God created us as emotional beings. The first step in breakdowns in boundaries is allowing emotions to be the driving factor to leadership.

Emotions left alone will lie to us most of the time. A lot of people think that sexual temptation is simply physical, but it truly begins emotionally.

5 Emotional Boundaries Every Leader Needs to Build: 

 1. Avoid talking heart-to-heart with other women besides your spouse.
I will talk and encourage girls but then connect them to a trusted female leader for further counsel. As leaders, our heart should be in pursuit of our spouse with reckless abandonment. Build healthy boundaries that support your families, especially your spouse.

2. Avoid the pressure to make a quick decision based on momentary feeling. 
Emotional decisions are usually fast. They are impulsive and without discretion that take a long time to clean up.
I try to ask the questions, “Is this worth spending my emotional energy?” or “Will I regret what I’m about to do, in an hour?”

3. Stop worrying about things we cannot control. 
Emotional conversations are usually without thought and usually include gossip and slander. Control is an illusion anyway.
When I feel the urge to complain or become angry, I’m trying to learn to surrender it to God.

4. Ministry does not define me.
We all want to succeed in ministry. But, at the end of the day, our identity is found IN Jesus and not through our ministry job. I’m a follower of Jesus first, then I’m a pastor. This truth helps me process the good or bad days of ministry.
If someone praises you, let it go to God and not your head. We are the instruments of God, and He deserves praise.

5. Always Forgive.
In ministry, we will face hurt. Jesus taught us to forgive and through His strength we can live free of bitterness. Bitterness eats away our passion for people, because we are reliving a moment in time over and over in our mind. A lack of forgiveness in a leader’s heart eventually saps them dry and leads them to look for sinful choices to fill the hurt. Forgive no matter what someone has said or done to you. Remember, we will never have to forgive anyone more than how much Jesus has forgiven us.

When our emotions and thoughts are in line with the Holy Spirit, then you will see clarity and peace.

How important do you think emotional boundaries are in ministry? In your life, where have you set emotional boundaries?

I’d like to hear your thoughts! 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/joshrobinson.png[/author_image] [author_info]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[/author_info] [/author]

Give Up

My favorite movies growing up consisted of some form of Karate. I loved the never say die attitude in them, the fighting and the sound effects. One thing you learn quickly in martial arts movies is that you “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.” While this makes for a thrilling movie, it’s not consistent with life, especially in ministry. Many pastors take these unrealistic expectations with us into ministry. We bring a refusal to give up or trust anyone mentality with us into ministry.

When I say “give up”, I’m not trying to get you to quit your job. I mean doing your job better. I mean giving up on your ego and trusting God. It’s a better way of doing ministry when we trust and know Jesus. Here’s a few things I’ve given up on in my three years of doing youth ministry.

1. Give up on changing students lives’ 

Realize that it’s the Holy Spirit that changes lives and not your words, actions, or power. I’ve spent much of my young ministry trying to be the difference maker. I thought if I phrased things perfectly or spent enough time crafting my message that it would change lives. In reality, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change lives… not yours. If I’m not connecting with Jesus then I’m trusting my own power, strength, intelligence, ideas or words to change students’ lives. This is a lonely road that ends with many youth pastors trying to grow their own ego, quitting when they see little fruit, and moving on to something else.

2. Give up some of your power

Empower your people! I know it will take a lot of time and training, and sure, they won’t do it as well as you (or so you think), but you need to trust them. Ministry can’t be done alone and sometimes an effort you deem as “B team” is actually better for your ministry. It gets people bought in, and gives your ministry multiple voices. When people are bought in, they will devote more to a ministry. Multiple voices are needed for your ministry, and I don’t just mean from the “pulpit.” When people are invested it gives them a fulfillment and you shouldn’t hold back that joy from people.

3. Give up your need to be “right”

This mentality infiltrates every area of your ministry. You work with students, and guess what??? This means they are going to make mistakes. How you love and guide them through this has a profound effect on the rest of their lives. I find myself being too judgmental and not showing grace or love often enough. We love to hit students with rule following, but how do we show grace?

Needing to be right, hinders our ability to listen when others are critical of our ministry. That parent or other staff member might be right… It hurts our pride when we’re wrong and often we take it personal when others are critical of our ministry, but what if they’re right. If you don’t always need to be “right” then you might get some valuable information for your youth ministry. I’ve been guilty of getting so fixated on doing ministry my way that I’ve missed out on opportunities to grow.

Giving up takes confidence in what Jesus is doing in you and your ministry. You have to be able to hear God’s voice in it or it can wreck your self esteem. All of that said, it’s a better way of doing ministry. It requires you to find the gifts of those around you and bring them out. It means not getting offended by the fact that someone in your ministry might be better than you are at something. It means loving others enough to give them a shot. If we never give up, we’ll never see what all God can do through us.

[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.”



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TYMB 004: Interview with Josh Evans

[powerpress url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/theyouthministryblog/04_TYMB_004__Josh_Evans_Interview.mp3″]

On Session 4 of The Youth Ministry Blog Podcast, we welcome Josh Evans of Union Grove Baptist Church who discusses the ups and downs he has seen in his Student Leadership Team. In addition, he discusses interesting ways he is reaching the schools in his area.

Summary

– Use your Student Leadership Team to develop students who you want other students to follow.
– Where there is no leadership, there is no direction.
– We must call leadership OUT of students, not just expect them to stand up and lead.
– Inviting students into our homes is a great way to break down barriers and build trust.
– You won’t know about the needs of a school until you ask them!

Way too much to summarize in a few lines, click Play below!

Also, go to iTunes and give us a rating and review. We want to hear from YOU! (You can give us a ranking & review from the iTunes application. GO HERE then click “View in iTunes,” then “Ratings & Reviews.” We appreciate your feedback!

Want Students To Read God’s Word?

Many students see the Bible like they see a Stephen King novel. They look at it and think there are so many pages with no pictures. They think to themselves I have no clue where to start. They think there is no way I could tackle such a massive book.

If we want students to be passionate about Jesus, we have to get them in the Word.

If we want students to begin to walk, talk, and think like Jesus we must get them in the Word.

Gods Word is what changes us from the inside out so we must get students in the Word!!

So how do you get them to into the Word??? BUY DEVOTIONALS!!!!!

-Include Devotionals in your cost when you go to Summer Camp or go on a Retreat and hand them out to every student. Have them begin to start their devotional at camp and encourage them after camp to read their DEVOTIONALS!!

Make reading Gods Word EXCITING by asking your students to take pictures of their daily time with God on instagram and twitter, then BRAG on them!! Get the WHOLE STUDENT MINISTRY in on it!!!

-Send out daily texts, tweets, instagram posts encouraging them to STAY in their Devotional. Challenge the parents to challenge their students to STAY in the WORD and hold them ACCOUNTABLE!! Some parents can even do the devotional with them!!

-Make getting a DEVOTIONAL EASY by purchasing some for your Student Ministry and asking parents to buy them!! Then they don’t have to go to Lifeway and its right there for them!

-Make sure to GET a 60 day Devotional to start out so they can see a goal and feel like it can be accomplished!! Here’s a strong recommendation for a DEVOTIONAL http://www.christianbooksbibles.com/product-p/9780310730040.htm

I truly believe you can get students EXCITED about Gods Word!!! Watch God transform their lives right in front of you as they ENJOY reading GODS WORD!! Watch them HUNGER and THIRST after Gods Word!!

Get DEVOTIONALS next time for CAMP or RIGHT NOW for 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





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Physical Boundaries in Student Ministry

We all need boundaries in our lives, especially in ministry.

Nobody starts out ministry with the mindset of dropping their guard and cheating on their wife, church or family. Without a clear set of boundaries, a leader becomes blind to fade of their character.

The reason to build healthy physical boundaries is to avoid distracting people from the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

What we surround ourselves with will have an influence upon our actions. A leader who has a lack of physical boundaries is setting themselves and their ministry up for failure. Too many leaders have traded in character for a moment of pleasure. Never before has character and integrity been more needed in today’s church leaders.

3 ways to build impenetrable physical boundaries: 

1. Never be alone with a student of the opposite gender.

– Students of the opposite gender expressing the need to talk should be encouraged to talk to their small group leader. If you have to talk with them, it must be in a ministry setting in public.
– Make the hard choice to walk out and away when alone. What we do behind closed doors is just as important as what we do outdoors. In today’s world, an accusation is one step away from destroying character.
– Transportation: Do not drive them home alone.  If a student of the opposite gender is last to leave an event, ask a leader to stay until they are picked up.

2. Avoid counseling students of the opposite sex.
– Focus upon helping guys if you are a guy and vice versa. It is healthy to help, listen and encourage students of the opposite sex.
– Choose not to prolong counseling with the opposite sex, because it creates an unhealthy emotional bond. Make the wise choice, and urge guy leaders to counsel guys and girl leaders to counsel girls. I usually praise them for their decision and say something like, “I’m so grateful about you taking this step towards God, so I have a great leader that can help encourage you further” and connect them to the leader.

3. Maintain healthy physical touch.
– Help students feel valued by showing that you love them.
– Start giving high fives, side hugs and fist bumps. Physical touch should only happen in a public space, never in private.

Character is who we are when no one is looking and how we act when everyone is looking.

How important are physical boundaries in ministry? What would you add to the conversation? 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/joshrobinson.png[/author_image] [author_info]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[/author_info] [/author]