“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.

 

Learned Over Lunch

On Mondays throughout the summer, we have P.I.E. (People Interested in Eating). Yesterday we went to Canes and I had the chance to dine with a group of soon-to-be Freshmen. During our conversations I learned about two things, one serious, one dumb.

1. Parents are tracking students.

I have no clue how we arrived on the topic, but I had a 10-minute conversation with two girls about how their parents track their every move. What was most shocking was the fact that neither were upset with this situation. They both expressed comfort in the fact that someone was looking out for them.

Ways to track students:

Life360 App

Find My Friends App

What are your thoughts on parents tracking students? Is this a way for helicopter parents to thrive?

2. Crack Kid Vine Compilations

I was speechless after watching a few of these…take your pick! But then get back to work.

It’s amazing the things you learn when sharing a meal with teenagers! Try it…weekly…and ask lots of questions!

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.

5 Things To Do While Waiting For Students

We’ve all been there. We tell a student to meet us at a certain time. We arrive early just in case. They arrive late just because. There can easily be 30 minutes to an hour of idle time waiting for appointments in ministry.

My first instinct to to pull out my phone and check my social media feeds (but I just did that 10 minutes ago, so nothing really has happened since then). My second instinct is to play a game on my phone. I tend to lean toward quick puzzles.

What if we turned those idle minutes into productive moments? Instead of turning to social media time wastes we could knock a few things off our to do list. Here are a few things I do when I am waiting for a student to show up:

1. Write a blog post! I’m currently writing this on my phone in a mall food court. With note apps it’s really easy to get some writing done.

2. Do some ethnography. In other words people watch. Thanks to Adam Mclane for challenging me to make observations of the people in my community. What do people wear or carry with them? What shopping bags are they carrying? What conversations do you hear? These are all great tools for lesson illustrations and cultural observation.

3. Make some needed phone calls. Is there an event you need to book for? Is there a person who needs a call back? Use your idle time to check these off your list.

4. Read/Memorize scripture. Duh! This is a no brainer. Fill your time by filling your mind with the scripture. It’s one thing we can easily neglect in our busy schedule, but we shouldn’t.

5. Do graphics work. Last October David Hausknecht introduced me to two apps called Over and Phoster. He uses them to make slides and cool Instagram photos.

There you have it. It’s time to make idle time into productive time. My student just showed up so I better get going…

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

Theology Thursday #3

One of my students and I are walking through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Each week we read a chapter and then discuss specific doctrine and how it is applicable to our life and faith. We are only 200 pages into this 1,200 page beast, but plan to finish before he graduates in 2 years.

Our topic of discussion this past week was focused on God’s communicable attributes (attributes we share with God), and more specifically God’s spirituality and invisibility.

Gruden’s definition of spirituality:

“God’s spirituality means that God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence.”

Gruden’s definition of invisibility:

“God’s invisibility means that God’s total essence, all of his spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us, yet God still shows himself to us though visible, created things.”

These two topics lead to great discussion about how we think of God and how we worship God in his fullness. For most of my life, I just pictured God as and old man with a huge grey beard and an intense look in his eyes. The student I was meeting with admitted that he only thinks about Jesus, and hadn’t given much thought to the appearance of the Father. Which isn’t the worst thing in that “Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and is “the bright radiance of the glory of God” and is “the exact representation of his nature” (Heb. 1:3).”

But it starts to mess with your brain when you think about the vastness of God, how we will never see Him in his fullness, in that we will always operate in one place and time where God is omnipresent and for Him to be fully present in one place means He would not be present in others.

I can tell this idea even messes with a great mind like Grudem. You can hear the wonder in his statement that “…we must say that God is spirit. Whatever this means, it is a kind of existence that is unlike anything else in creation.”

Application to Youth Ministry

So how do we talk about God to students? How do we describe what is indescribable? How do we define what is undefinable or even attempt to convey what is unmeasurable? Answer: Intentionally and faithfully. May we not limit the God we convey to students, but may we be diligent in conveying different parts of his nature, character, and love, that students might see, if only in part, the vastness and greatness of God.

Two ways to talk about God:

1. The names of God: In Scripture we see God called by different names, each of which reveal something about his nature. Here is a great list and study from Blue Letter Bible: Names of God (Also a great resource for studying scripture!)

2. Analogies or descriptions of God from Scripture: (Instead of recreating the list, here is what Grudem gives us in his Systematic Theology)

Descriptions of God

Click to enlarge.

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.

Theology Thursday #2

In this weeks “Theology Thursday” we will be breaking down the doctrine of sanctification (the process through which we are made holy). More specifically, we will be looking at mortification and vivification.

While this sounds like high and lofty language that has no place in student ministry, you will be surprised how applicable the concepts are and, more than likely, you have been teaching these, just not by name.

Mortification

Les Galicinski in his paper, “John Calvin’s Doctrine of Sanctification” puts it this way:

“Mortification is the continual practice of putting to death the old self. Mortification is necessary because man’s nature is corrupt through the fall.”

In this definition, we hear strong ties to Colossians 3:5 that says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Mortification is the process by which we put to death what our depraved nature craves. We are a broken, sinful, selfish, self-centered, & self-serving people. Our actions continually indicate that we would prefer to be god and receive glory. Therefore, mortification is the process by which we battle this inclination.

Mortification is crucial concept for teenagers. Jesus is not just something they can add into their lives at no cost. There is a tangible cost to following Jesus, and those who don’t feel this tension, don’t understand mortification. While the Gospel is more than a list of do’s & don’ts, a heart that understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf feels the impetus to flee from sin, or that which separates us from Christ.

Vivification

Vivification, as defined by Calvin in his “Institutes for Christian Religion“, is:

“the desire to live in a holy and devoted manner, a desire arising from
rebirth; as it were said that a man dies to himself that he may begin to live to God”

Here again, we find ties to Colossians 3:2 which states, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Vivification is the process through which we become the new self “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10). 

Vivification includes pursuing a righteousness that is not our own in that it is not meant for our glory, but for His. Students who grasp this concept understand that we are called to think, live, and act in a way that might not make since to those outside Christ. Faith is not something put in a drawer or on a shelf, but rather something that is lived out by loving God, loving others, and making disciples.

Youth Pastors: May we be found faithful in helping students grasp the two-step process of sanctification. May we faithfully navigate students in the process of putting sin to death and making Christ preeminent.

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.

New Faces, New Names

One of the hardest parts about student ministry is saying goodbye to old students one week and saying hello to a bunch of new ones the next. Last Sunday was promotion week so all of our new 7th graders joined us for the first time.

As kids were streaming into our room I kept thinking “How am I going to learn all these new names?” It seems like every new name I learn pushes out an old nameHello-My-Name-Is-Rupert-icon to make room. The older I get the harder it is for me to learn the new names of students, but it’s totally worth the effort. We can’t rely on excuses like, “I don’t have a good memory.” or “I’m not good with names.” We also can’t rely on nicknames like dude, buddy, and partner. Student’s will pick up on this shortcut really quick.

When we do the hard work of learning names, our ministry will feel more personal and personal ministries are ALWAYS more effective. Here are few tricks I’ve learned along the way to learn names and make them stick.

Rely on other leaders. Some ministries are larger than others and at some point it becomes impossible to know everyone’s name. While it’s good for the lead youth worker to know as many names as possible, it’s not necessary as long as SOMEONE knows their name. Instead of trying to learn everyone’s name, make it your responsibility to make sure every student is known by at least one leader. This relieves pressure on you and gives your leaders ministry ownership. One way we’ve done this is to take a picture of every student individually (or as a group) and do flash cards with leaders. Keep track of how many you get right and do it multiple times throughout the year to see if you are getting better.

Learn their last names and stories. It’s really tempting to learn just first names of students. We think of names as bits of information. If we shorten it to just a first name then we have to remember less. Actually, the opposite is true. You remember information that is relevant to you. Last names help provide context. They help you differentiate one Bobby from the next. Last names also help you connect new students with families. It’s a lot easier to remember Karson’s name if you remember that he is Blake’s younger brother (as I did last Sunday). If you know they come from a particular family you’ve now connected them to several other names that you already know and reinforced their importance, making their name easier to remember.

Make it a priority. Whenever I get on a bus for an event full of students I make my rounds to all the seats and introduce myself. It sometimes takes me a few laps to get most of the names, but it works. This shows my students that I’m serious about learning who they are. Another way to make it a priority is to make a public announcement that you’re trying to learn everyone’s name and you’ll buy lunch for anyone who’s name you don’t remember. This is called incentive. I don’t want to buy everyone lunch, so I learn names.

Names. Every student has one and they matter. Do the hard work and make sure that every student is known. It’s a simple thing that will keep your ministry feeling personal.

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

5 Reasons for Youth Ministry Interns

Summer is here! With a full summer calendar ahead of me, I was overjoyed to add two summer interns to our student ministry team. Here are five reasons you should hire summer interns in youth ministry:

1. Youth Interns bring a “cool” energy.
Your are middle-aged. They bring the “cool vibe.”

2.  Youth Interns expand ministry.
We needed to focus on girls ministry = Awesome female intern.

3. Youth Interns bring fresh ideas.
Games, music, branding, videos, ask what they would suggest.

4. Youth Interns lighten the load.
Summer is busy, you CAN’T do it alone…enter intern.

5. Youth Interns are often future pastors.
My first ministry gig, and probably yours also, was as an intern. Develop, equip, and prepare them!

What would you add to this list? Comment below!

Theology Thursday #1

Welcome to the first Theology Thursday!

Up first we have R.C. Sproul (in his early feisty days) teaching on Double Imputation. It’s so good, hope you enjoy!

As Sproul says in the video, “…this is elementary, I don’t mean to be insulting your intelligence, but we gotta get this.” He’s right! It’s my prayer that this makes you think about how you talk about Jesus to students.

I like how John Piper puts it in one of his sermons:

“When Paul says in Romans 4:22 (and verses 3, 5, and 9) that “faith is credited as righteousness,” he does not mean that our faith is our righteousness. He means that our faith unites us to Christ so that God’s righteousness in Christ is credited to us.”

Double Imputation points out that everyone got what they didn’t deserve. On the cross, Jesus was imputed our sin (which He didn’t deserve), and we were imputed His righteousness (that we didn’t deserve).

Amen? Amen. Now go preach it!

A Cheap Gospel

I just started a new book that already has me thinking. I’m reading Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean. This book continues the conversations started by the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) and Christian Smith in Soul Searching (also a great read).

Almost Christian has been on the “to-read” portion of my bookshelf, but it quickly moved up the list when I saw Mark Oestreicher’s high praise in a recent post:

“difficult and long read, but definitely one of the most important YM books in the last 5 years.”

Let me also admit…I’m only one chapter in, so I’m in no position to back this claim. BUT, the first chapter already has me questioning the content of my ministry. Under a section entitled “Does Church Still Matter?” Dean offers this nugget:

“…churches seem to have offered teenagers a kind of “diner theology”: a bargain religion, cheap but satisfying, whose gods require little in the way of fidelity or sacrifice. Never mind that centuries of Christians have read Jesus’ call to lay down one’s life for others as the signature feature of Christian love, or that God’s self-giving enables us to share the grace of Christ when ours is pitifully insufficient.”

Ask yourself this question: Are you offering bargain religion? A bargain youth ministry? Does your calendar and the programs that fill it point students toward selfless abandon in favor of a worthy creator, or does is point students toward pointless fun and self-gratification?

Now don’t get me wrong…there is a HUGE place for fun in youth ministry. I’m not knocking fun, but rather a calendar of fun at the expense of anything challenging. Have we become the helicopter parents who are fearful to give any meaningful responsibility or experience for fear it won’t be fun or well attended?

Are we selling students a cheap gospel?

The longer I stare at my calendar the more I question how I am integrating the following concepts into teaching and programming:

  1. God Created
  2. Man Fell
  3. Christ Reconciled
  4. Our Response
  5. Consummation of History

What would happen if we ran EVERYTHING we planned, programmed, and taught through this filter? What would stick and what would be eliminated? We currently do this (to a degree) with our student ministry mission statement that reads as follows:

Fusion exists to see students KNOW (Phil. 3:10), LOVE (Ephesians 5:1-2), and WORSHIP (Psalm 96) God through a TRANSFORMING (Romans 12:2) relationship with Jesus Christ. 

We do our best to ensure that what we plan, program, and teach moves students toward this desired goal. Are we bullet proof? Probably not. It’s amazing how many events youth pastors try to pass off as “community development.”

I can just see me answering to God one day:

God: Do your students KNOW, LOVE, and WORSHIP me?
Me: Nope, but they are a TIGHT community!

It’s getting late (10:19pm…I have kids), and I’m starting to get sarcastic, so I’ll end with this:

How do you decide what goes on the calendar? How do you prevent the student ministry from selling youth a cheap gospel? Comment below!