Best Decisions I’ve Made in Student Ministry

If you are in a position where you can choose the direction of your student ministry and help guide it, this can be one of the most rewarding and sometimes frightening places to be. You feel the weight of shepherding this ministry you have been entrusted with. In the proper frame of mind, this will cause you to listen, pray, and spend time with the Lord. Sure, there are egomaniacs out there, bent on running the ministry in the way they see fit with little guidance outside of their own minds, but hopefully this is not the common case.

These decisions are sometimes large ones (what programs or services you will offer, vision of your ministry, etc) and sometimes small ones (stage designs, to have donuts or not to have donuts, etc). Some people think through every decision, while other people have more of a “Hey, whatever!” mentality, I find myself in the former camp.

This fall I was working on restructuring our small groups and finding ways for our teaching to coincide with them. In the past, our small groups had been some what autonomous in their teaching, with leaders picking different studies they found intriguing. I wanted to streamline this process, focus in on Scripture more, and really dig into certain passages to help them stick in their mind. Side note: I believe that students will not remember much of what I say in my sermons five years from now (maybe five minutes?), but if I can teach them to study and understand their Word, then this is something they will carry with them for the rest of their life.

I started to feel that I wanted my students to really grasp the Gospel of Jesus in a holistic way. If Jesus is the central figure of Scripture, our Redeemer and Salvation, then I wanted my students to grasp His life and hopefully fall deeper in love with Him. I started to feel pulled towards teaching exegetically through a Gospel and I naturally started to look towards Mark. I say “naturally” because I love the flow of Mark and the straight forward nature of it. A professor at seminary had opened my eyes to Mark in a profound way, and I’ve never thought of it the same since then.

This was a big undertaking though, it meant over four months in the book of Mark to teach it adequately in the way I wanted to. It meant not teaching through some of our regular fall series. What if the students got tired of going through the same book? What if staying in the same chapter all week long meant they would check out of groups? I know these may seem silly to you, but these were my thoughts.

I trudged forward with Mark in spite of my doubts, we are three weeks away from finishing, and it has been an awesome Spirit-led decision. I devoured books and studies on Mark. We didn’t skip over the difficult parts of Mark, but tackled them head on. We asked tough questions and didn’t shy away from God’s truth. Our students have come to grasp the life of Jesus in a way they never have before. They read ahead to get a better picture of what’s coming up. When students have gotten saved over the past few months, I tell them to read Mark, knowing that we have a group of students that can walk and guide them through their readings. It has helped to galvanize our ministry and the adults are learning a lot too.

All of this to say, don’t be afraid to teach God’s Word. Don’t be afraid in student ministry to engage the Word in a deep and meaningful way. Make it fun and ask the tough questions. Our students have gotten the most out of the misunderstood passages like the Rich Young Ruler. God’s Word will change you and your ministry. God’s Word is awesome…

[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 008: Talking Disciple Now & Retreats

In Session 8 of the podcast, I discuss Disciple Now with co-blogger Brandon Weir. More specifically, we look at:

1. Why Youth Ministries do retreats like Disciple Now
2. Where we have found success during retreats
3. Structure of Disciple Now
4. Pro’s & Con’s of Adult Volunteers vs. College Students
5. Thoughts about Branding & Preparation
6. Getting Feedback

Action Items:

1. Give the podcast a Rating and Review on iTunes so that other Youth Pastors can find us!
2. What was the best part of your Disciple Now or retreat weekend? We would love to hear what has worked best for you! Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 

Lead By Example

I’ve thought a lot lately about my example as a Dad. A pastor. A friend.

“Do as I say and not as a I do” is an ineffective way to lead people.

If I want my children to love Jesus, I need to love Jesus by example. If I want students that I lead to share their faith, I need to share my faith. If I want people to be in small groups, I need to be in a small group.

Everything rises and falls on leadership.” John Maxwell
Leadership is action, not position. “D.H. McGannon
Do-so is more important than say-so.” Pete Seeger

People not only want to be taught but they want to emulate. Just as important as our public leadership is the private leadership of our actions.

If our goal is to lead people to accomplish the vision of God, it must start with example.

Practical ways to lead by example:

– Smile.
– Encourage: Give courage to people as they serve. Help them see their God-given potential.
– Listen: When someone talks, listen to them. Don’t talk over them or ignore their suggestions.
– Deflect praise to God: Avoid taking credit that belongs to God.
– Follow through: Do what you say you will do.
– Ask Forgiveness: When you make a mistake in what or how you lead, be the first to admit and ask for forgiveness. Admitting mistakes solidifies leadership and builds trust.

What would you add to the practical ways to lead by example? Leave a comment below!

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

 

Lessons from Nehemiah Part 4

An accurate view of reality.

 Nehemiah had a vision: to see is people safe back at home. Nehemiah had a task: to build the wall in Jerusalem. His vision and his task motivated him to act on behalf of his people.

Nehemiah displayed incredible leadership when it came to actually carrying out his God-given task. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem went to the source of the problem: the wall. In chapter 2 we read that late at night he got up and walked the walls to assess the damage. Instead of relying on other people, he saw the problem for himself. Through his first hand knowledge he was able to come up with a plan to rebuild the wall. 

What would have happened if Nehemiah started work on the wall without seeing the damage? He may have sent workers to the wrong spot, not provided the right resources or underestimated the need. 

In order to be a Spiritual leader, we must have an accurate view of reality. In other words, we have to solve the problems that actually exist. To have an accurate view of reality, we need to see the problem for ourselves.

One time I had a small group leader that I thought was doing a great job. He was a nice guy and was faithful, so I assumed that everything was great in his group, but I never observed his group. I started to hear rumblings of discontent and dismissed them as students being complainy. I decided to visit his group anyways to see him at work. Through watching him firsthand I realized that he was dropping the ball on some key areas. Since I saw him lead a group first hand, I was able to help him grow in these areas and he became a must better small group leader.

When we fail to have an accurate view of reality we start solving the wrong problems and we solve them in the wrong way. We answer questions our students aren’t asking. We fix programs that don’t need fixing. We don’t see the problems until they have become out of control.

Leadership requires that we face our challenges head on and we can’t do that if we don’t know what the real issues are.

Step back and observe – If you are in the middle of the storm you can’t see things objectively. Sometimes you need to let go of some tasks so that you can observe your ministry.

Ask questions from the right people – If you want to know how you are doing ministering to families, then you should probably talk to some parents. 

When you know what’s really going on in your ministry, you’ll be able to make the necessary course changes to solve the problems that actually exist.

[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: Does God Give Second Chances?

John 21:15-17 is one of my favorite passages.

Jesus is alive and well after his crucifixion. He conquered death and Hell!

He reveals himself to the disciples in a way that is very familiar. He tells them to cast the nets and they catch many fish. They finally realize who he is.

Flash back to chapter 18. Peter denies Jesus. He does not associate with him when asked if he was one of his disciples. He hears the rooster crow and then goes out and “wept bitterly”. What kind of friend was he? What had he done?
Would this be the end for him? Would he ever truly follow God again?

This is where 21:15-17 is so beautiful.
Jesus asks him three times if he loves him. And Peter says yes each time. No doubt I believe he did love him. He was at that moment experiencing the astounding grace of Jesus.

Jesus was reminding him of his mission. To “catch people” or evangelize and to “feed the sheep” or pastor/lead the church.

Think about this. Jesus came to them even though they had pretty much forgotten what he had told them. Jesus didn’t give up on them. He didn’t give up on Peter.

Think of how much Peter blew it. Some may say he didn’t deserve a second chance.

Sadly, I can relate with Peter. I am Peter.

I gave my life to Jesus yet many times have denied him, turned my back, chose my own way, and betrayed him. And I have wept bitterly. But Jesus has never left me or given up. In fact, he has remained constant. And that overwhelms me.

Our ministries are full of students who don’t think God even cares or they feel as though they have gone too far. They are overwhelmed with guilt. They don’t fit in.

We MUST preach grace and show grace. We must teach leaders and volunteers to never give up on the students who seem to be gone and hopeless. Or stop fighting for the lonely and broken. God WILL work and move!

God most definitely gives way beyond second chances. His love never fails or gives up!

Matthew Sawyer is the student pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Dothan, AL. (www.sbcdothan.org) Matthew writes his own blog at: http://matthewls.com/

Lessons from Nehemiah Part 3

Work the System

Nehemiah is a tutor of sorts for Spiritual leaders. In the past two posts we’ve seen that he was a man of great compassion and courage. He was sensitive to God and His people.

Nehemiah also worked the system. When Nehemiah saw the need of his people he used his position as a cupbearer to his advantage.

In Nehemiah 2 we see the interaction he had with his boss. “If it pleases the king, send me back home to rebuild the walls.” Well it pleased King Artaxerxes and Nehemiah was released to rebuild the wall. He even got the king to write a letter of endorsement to ensure that he would be able to travel safely back to Jerusalem.

Based on what we know of Nehemiah was able to work the system because he was a trustworthy worker. The cupbearer was a position of trust. They ensured that the king’s drink was safe from poison. More than that they gave counsel and wisdom to the king. My guess is that Nehemiah had worked faithfully for years and because of that was able to cash in his chips so that he could go attend to the wall in Jerusalem.

You may think that working the system is using people to your advantage. This feels slimy. I’ve seen people in ministry to use relationships to get free game tickets, meals and even trips. This is NOT what I am talking about. A Spiritual leader must NEVER leverage their influence and relationships for personal gain.

Working the system ISN’T using people, it’s maximizing relationships. Nehemiah didn’t demand or pressure the king, he asked humbly. He also was’t asking selfishly, he was thinking of the people of Jerusalem.

I’ve made the mistake of not asking before. I don’t want to appear as if I’m using others so I don’t ask. This is a big mistake. If I don’t ask, then others aren’t included in serving the kingdom like Artaxerses did. I need to be more like Nehemiah and work the system.

We can work the system in a God honoring way when we act like Nehemiah. Don’t pressure people to get what we want. Serve others without expecting to get something in return. Ask humbly and selflessly when we know they can meet a need. This is working the system.

What are needs in your ministry that could be met simply by asking? Who are the people who can meet those needs? Chances are they are probably more than willing to help as long as you humbly work the system.

Read Part 2 of Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah
Read Part 1 of Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

[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]

TYMB 007: Students Called Into Ministry

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In Session 7 of the Podcast, David talks about 4 things you can do when talking with students who feel called into ministry. Behind students surrendering their life to the Lord, students surrendering to to a life of ministry is one of the coolest things a Youth Pastor can experience.

After listening to this session, you will be better prepared to walk with students who feel this calling because you will:

 

1. Affirm Their Thinking Process
2. Point Them To Scripture
3. Help Them Examine Their Gifting
4. Help Them Start With Baby Steps

Action Items:

1. Give the podcast a Rating and Review on iTunes so that other Youth Pastors can find us!
2. What else will you do for students who feel called into ministry? Comment Below!

A Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

If you watched the Grammy’s, or if you have paid attention to pop culture recently, you have heard Macklemore’s Same Love. The song was written to make a statement about gay marriage.

As a youth pastor, I just sat there shaking my head wondering how many of my students were watching the Grammy’s when Macklemore and company performed multiple weddings during the song. Many of these unions were between gay and lesbian couples who exchanged rings to the tune of “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.” Macklemore also goes on a rant about the stance that organized religion has traditionally taken toward gay marriage. Take a listen:

While I don’t know where you stand on this issue, I came across a song on SoundCloud where rapper Bizzle responds to much of what Macklemore tosses out there.

Take a listen:

What do you think about this response? Are the issues handled correctly and in a culturally relevant way? What would your students think? Comment below!

[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 & 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, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

Russell Wilson on Jesus

In light of the Seattle Seahawks Superbowl win, check out what Russell Wilson says about Jesus. While I was cheering for the Broncos, I couldn’t be more excited for a stand-up dude, and Jesus follower like Russell Wilson.

[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 & 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, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

How to Increase Productivity as a Youth Pastor

Here’s the sad reality… Many Youth Pastors get a bad rap when it comes to being disciplined, organized, and ahead of schedule. But not you. Not this year! Watch this video where I explain three calendars that will make 2014 your most productive year yet.

Get My Ideal Work Week  (Excel File).

Thanks Michael Hyatt for the new template!

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.