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]

Seven Black Friday Deals: Bible Edition

Black-Friday-Phone-Deals

(I wanted to share this post by my Teaching Pastor, Doug Hankins.)

If you are like my wife, then you woke up this morning around 2am, braved the cold weather and long lines, and entered a slew of department stores to find the most valuable items and the cheapest prices.  Along the way, you may have boxed out a senior citizen to get the last water hose storage container, stepped over a fallen customer to scoop up a digital camera, or haggled with a kid over one of the last remaining DVD box sets of Jake and The Neverland Pirates (shout out to TV editor, and my best friend, Brad Rozman).

Congratulations.  And good job on the loot in your car trunk.  I hope it blesses your family and your checkbook come Christmas time.

I want to remind readers of seven amazing spiritual deals that God has made available on Black Friday, as well as on every other day of the year:

  1. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Jesus Christ). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20
  2. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29

CONTINUE READING

Thankful

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the cloud of witnesses who have tread the youth ministry path before me. Specifically, I am thankful for the youth workers who have encouraged, exhorted and prepared me to faithfully minister to teenagers. Here are three youth ministry giants I am thankful for:

Bradley Maybin – FBC Amarillo
Bradley, I cannot even begin to describe the impact you have had on my life and ministry. You were not a youth pastor who prepared me for a lifetime of trusting in Christ, but you also prepared me to work in youth ministry. Thank you for giving me a crash course in student ministry! I still remember calling you two days after discerning my call as a sophomore in college. You opened to me a summer of learning what it means to minister faithfully to students. Thank you for setting the example of longevity in student ministry. The impact you have had on parents and students cannot be measured!

Ronny Higgins – Highland Baptist Church, Waco, Tx.
Ronny, thank you for giving me a chance as your Associate! The time I spent with you prepared me to run a ministry. You entrusted me with responsibility. You allowed me to succeed, you allowed me to fail, and you walked me through both. Working with you while in seminary was instrumental. You helped me discern how to balance high theology with practical implementation. Thank you for being a mentor and friend.

Amy Jacober – Professor of Student Ministry
Amy, thank you for challenging me to think deeper and harder about why we do anything in student ministry! You taught me the why to the what of student ministry. You challenged me to be intentional, thoughtful, and practical. You taught me how to balance theology, adolescent development, discipleship, and fun. What I learned from you in 4 years will be implemented in a lifetime of ministry.

Who are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Who has prepared you for ministry? Send them a word gratitude today!

[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]

Don’t Be Dramatic

Pastors deal with some pretty serious stuff: being entrusted to care for people’s souls, walking them through painful situations, speaking the Word, etc etc. There’s no doubt that most are underpaid and overworked. Also, there’s no arguing that what we do has eternal significance. But let’s be honest, pastors have this way of being over dramatic about some things too. We can take ourselves WAY too seriously. This seriousness is not just limited to the pastors of the adults, it’s a problem for student pastors as well. Our world is filled with drama, just look at the magazines next time you check out at the grocery story. Pastors are not immune to our world’s insatiable desire for drama. We have to guard ourselves from getting sucked in. Here’s a few things to watch out for:

1. Stop telling everyone how busy you are. We are busy, but so are the people in your congregation. They do not want to spend five minutes listening to you talk about how tired and busy you are. If you need rest or a break, go through the right channels and get it, but nobody wants to listen to you complain.

2. Speak life. This is a tough one for me. I get on the negative roller coaster and just can’t seem to get out of the seat. That stinking bar just won’t let me get out. Everything becomes negative. I complain about all kinds of stuff. When I find myself on that roller coaster I need to stop, take a breath, and choose to be thankful. At this point I know that I need to stop fixating on my problems and be intentional to find people to encourage.I text, email, write or call someone I haven’t encouraged in a while. Also, it’s good to keep a Kingdom perspective. What’s really important?

3. Quit over-worrying about the details of the service. If the sound bothers you so bad that God can’t move through it, then either fire your sound person (good luck with that) or talk with them about about it and move on.  Most people barely notice the things we get so hung up on. I can find myself dwelling too long on a mistake in the service, while the service is still going on…yeah that’s not good.

4. Stay out of high school and middle school drama. If you find yourself getting caught up in gossip or constantly worrying about your students then find a way to separate yourself. Maybe you don’t need to follow your students on Twitter and Instagram. You are called to love them, even when it’s difficult. If something is keeping you from doing this then back off. You are called to pastor them, not get mixed up in their drama.

5. Think about the One you serve. We are finite. Our pastoring is finite. God is infinite. Trust that He’s in control and then act like it. Getting too stressed about every detail, or the drama that surrounds us, are two quick ways to burn out in ministry. Stay humble and realize that it isn’t all about you. It is a privilege to serve the King of Kings, so give Him your best. We learn from the Sermon on the Mount that your best is not just your actions, but it’s about your heart. Untangle yourself from any drama that is holding you back and recognize the freedom that comes from living soley for Him.

[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]

TYMB 006: Theology and Youth Ministry

[powerpress url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/theyouthministryblog/06_TYMB_006__Theology_and_Youth_Ministry.mp3″]
CLICK HERE to listen in iTunes!

In this session of the podcast I discuss theology and the role of theology in youth ministry.

While your listening, read this post by Josh Robinson that sparked this discussion.

A Couple of Points:

  • Theology divides
  • Division without love is dangerous
  • Theology in important
  • Theology without action is harmful.
  • We are called to worship God with our minds.
  • Our theology should lead us to further love God and love others.

The Role of Theology in Youth Ministry:

Read this post on How I am training Small Group Leaders in theology and doctrine.

We must transform the way we are training our leaders and volunteers! Don’t just teach them how to “fit in.” Teach them how and what to teach. Here are some good resources to get the ball rolling…

1. Christian Belief: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem – 9 bucks & streamlined
2. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem – more robust but $32 bucks
3. Taking Theology to Youth Ministry by Andrew Root – youth centered & $11 bucks

(Complete Transparency – The above links are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you buy a book. This goes toward keeping The Youth Ministry Blog awesome, so thanks in advance if you chose to get one! I only offer resources I believe will be helpful for you.) 

Action Items:

1. Give the podcast a Rating and Review on iTunes so that other Youth Pastors can find us!
2. Examine your recent preaching and curriculum. What theology or doctrine have you hit? What have you NEVER addressed? How can you become intentional in your theological approach to youth ministry?

Influence Parents

Influence the Parents to have a BIGGER impact on the Students!

Students will most likely become their parents.
Parents have the BIGGEST influence on their students.

What are we doing right now to encourage the parents? What are we doing to help the single parent or the uncle or grandparent with their student? These are questions we need to ask ourselves.

The average church only has 40 hours in a given year to influence a life.

The average parent has 3,000 hours per year to influence a life. (Think Orange)

“The greatest gift a church can give parents is the CONFIDENCE and COURAGE to do what GOD has wired them to DO.” –Reggie Joiner

For the longest time, I never thought about this. I only thought about the students but never realized how much a student could change if their mom or dad loved Jesus more.

Send your parents not only weekly emails about what’s going on in the Student Ministry but send emails encouraging them to continue to love and disciple their students.

Send your parents a mass text each week with an encouraging Bible verse or something that keeps them going!

Do you have a parent resource page on your website where parents can go to know of some websites that might help them disciple their student? Here is a sample one that we are still working on: http://teamchurch.com/pursuitparents/

Have a Facebook group for your parents where you can encourage them daily!
We must realize that if we impact the parents they in return can change their student’s life!

A student might not worship because they never see their dad get excited about worshipping but if you get that dad to see how important worship is then the student will see how important worship is.

We should want the parents to teach their student how to tithe, worship, read the Bible, pray, share their faith, and live for Jesus.

Find ways to constantly encourage your parents. It starts in the home. Students are born into the home not church.

How are you influencing your parents in your Student Ministry? Would love to hear your thoughts!

[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]

I Don’t Do Anything

I don’t do anything.

Most people assume that youth ministers truly don’t do anything. My favorite is when an eighth-grader asks me over lunch, “So what do you do all day? Play video games?”

Well sometimes my job does actually require that I play video games, that’s not really what it’s all about. But the other day a friend told me literally I don’t do anything.

I had a bit of concern for him and the future of his job when he finished his statement: I don’t do anything that I can ask a student to do instead.

That is brilliant!

So often youth ministers get bogged down in details and little tasks that they forget that part of their ministry is empowering students to do ministry!

What are the next five things you have to do for your ministry today? Are any of them things that you could ask a student to do instead?

Now don’t hear me incorrectly. I’m not saying that you should get a student to sort through your junk email box, or deal with an upset secretary, or even make that phone call you’ve been putting off for the last four days.

Don’t give students jobs that you don’t want to do. Instead ask yourself “can a student truly do what I am trying to?”

For a while, don’t have any limits on this. Ask yourself, “Could a student do my next Wednesday night talk? Could a student come with me on this hospital visit I need to make? Could a student write some of the devotional material for our next retreat?”

Don’t hog all the ministry yourself. Instead try to have the attitude of not doing anything.

Don’t do anything that you could ask a student to do instead and empower them for ministry!

[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]

Middle School Guys Have Feelings Too

In the past week I’ve become aware of a few of our students who are really hurting. I spent time with one of them yesterday. I picked him up from school and I immediately knew something was wrong. When I asked him, he initially said that nothing was wrong. When I pushed further, the reality came out. Over the course of the next hour we got to unpack some of his struggles.

It’s not often that we can get a middle school guy to open up. Because of this, many youth pastors believe (wrongly) that middle school guys just don’t have that much going on inside. If you talk to parents of middle school guys they will share stories of their sons’ emotional outbursts and roller coasters. We would describe middle school guys as being unemotional or a-motional, but it’s simply not true.

I want all youth pastors who work with middle school guys to reject this stereotype and help middle school guys express their emotions in a healthy, God-honoring way.

Middle school guys’ emotions are real and intense. Youth workers are adults who survived middle school and face big life problems every day. As adults we tend to think that middle school problems aren’t that big of a deal compared to what we deal with. We easily diminish how intense and real the emotions of middle schoolers are. When middle school guys finally open up you realize the opposite is true. When a middle school guy breaks up with a girlfriend of just two weeks it’s still a traumatic experience that affects them emotionally. We need to acknowledge that our guys have more going on inside than they let on.

Middle school guys need permission to express emotions. It isn’t a new thought that our society pressures guys to hide their emotions. In middle school expressing emotions for guys is seen as a weakness that will be exploited or made fun of. As pastors, we need to remind them that emotions are God-given and expressing those emotions is a normal part of life. Are you giving them that message? Are you providing a safe place for guys to open up?

Middle school guys need help identifying their emotions. Brad, now a 25 year old, was a middle schooler playing in a soccer game. I remember him running off the field and immediately bursting into tears. I could tell this this was altogether confusing to him. Most middle school guys don’t know what they are feeling inside. They just know that they are feeling something intense.

Mark Oestreicher reminds us that in early adolescence our emotional color palette is growing in complexity. Middle school guys need help painting with all these new colors. We need to show them how to tell the difference between anger, frustration, bitterness, anxiety, fear and so on. They can learn how to express them in a healthy, God-honoring way only when they know what their emotions really are.

I hope I’ve challenged you to think differently about the middle school guys in your ministry. They are deeper and more emotional than most people give them credit for. They deserve to be taken seriously.

I am far from an expert on this subject. For a more in depth look check out the book “Middle School Ministry” by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin.

[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]