Youth Ministry TV: Coming Soon

I am excited to announce that The Youth Ministry Blog is about to get a whole lot sweeter! In the coming weeks we will launch Youth Ministry TV. The goal of Youth Ministry TV is no different than the blog. We desire to train, equip, and encourage youth workers…while having fun…and conversation.

Take a look at the teaser:

If you want to know what we end up talking about, just click the button below and stay tuned:

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.

 

Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.

Burning Up Grace

Sometimes I try to count the errors within ministry that I have made. I would like to think that I could recall all my ministry mistakes. However, the reality is that there are many I am unaware of. I entered into student ministry fully aware of my reliance on God for life and life eternal, but through ministry, God has revealed to me that my reliance upon Him is much grander then I imagined.

Burning Up Grace

The saint burns grace like a 747 burns fuel on take off. –Dallas Willard

The all-consuming machine of salvation that drives us towards the Lord God is powered by grace, and within this awesome machine of salvation are many gears, one of which being ministry. Left to my own devices I would only serve myself and only in the manner that I desired. However, God has placed His machine of salvation into my very being, and I have now become a living demonstration of His grace. It is the grace of our perfect God that allows me to serve Him in the midst of my imperfection. The grace of our generous God that allows me to be a participant in the good works that He has prepared for me. As the gears of salvation turn transforming me inwardly, my ministry is a reflection of grace outwardly. Or so I hope….

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. –H. Spurgeon

There is not a day that goes by that God does not overwhelm me. He extends so much goodness, faithfulness, and mercy to me… so much grace! If God is the fountain of grace then I am a toxic pool of sin that His purifying waters have flooded into. The fact that I am a pastor does not change that truth. I am man of pride, selfishness, and hypocrisy. So, how is it that I am able to serve God by making disciples? How is it that His Gospel permeates in my soul?

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8

The answer is grace. The very same grace that I burn through every single day as I strive to draw close to Jesus Christ. I hope to do a better job of modeling my reliance on God’s grace to my students. I pray that my students would come to rejoice in the grace of God instead of shamefully clinging to sin in silence. I have both made and will continue to make many mistakes in ministry…. Praise God for His rich love and mercy because I have a grand need for His grace!

Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.

To Die is Gain

Originally I was planning on posting part 3 of the Disease Within Student Ministry, but instead I have felt a pulling from God to write about the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. The recent murder of our 21 brothers is no more evil than the daily persecution that our fellow overseas brothers and sisters suffer through on a regular basis, but still there is something about this that hits a little harder; at least for me that’s the case.

to die is gain

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:2-11

Maybe it hit me a little harder because one of the first things I started to hear from fellow believers is how blessed we are that we can attend church in complete safety. When I heard these statements I was immediately filled with sorrow. It’s heartbreaking that many associate God’s blessings chiefly with convenience, comfort, safety, and wealth. How sad it is that their enjoyment of God is limited to how they experience life and this world. I thank God that Jesus Christ is the supreme blessing to us, and that the life He offers is an overflowing fountain of reconciliation and hope.

“…and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” – Acts 5:40-42

Or maybe it is because the witness of our Coptic brothers is inspiring and convicting all at once. I am convicted by the fact that as I was reading the news of their beheadings, I was sipping on coffee thinking about how much I myself cling to convenience. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to wrestle with myself to meet someone at a time or location that was not convenient for me. This is especially the case when I know that the meeting might require me to expend more emotional energy than I want to. Why would God want to use a selfish man like me? Only He knows, but there is inspiration in how God works through us.

I am inspired by Gods grace and the works of His Spirit as witnessed by our Coptic brothers. Inspired to see the hope of Jesus Christ lead fellow disciples to the revelation of “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Oh how great are the works of our King within us to bring us to such a reality!

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:23-27

Maybe it hit a little harder because later that day I spent over one hour on the phone with a college student helping her make sense of these murders and her personal purpose in life as a college student. She just couldn’t understand how she could do so little for God’s Kingdom while fellow brothers and sisters were laying down their lives for their faith. For a 19 year old who is studying to be Christian Counselor while dedicating her free time to serve on campus and student ministries, that’s a pretty weighty question to engage in. Her passion to see God glorified and others restored in His glory is humbling.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” – John 15:18-21

I want to spend some time teaching my students about the witness our Coptic brothers gave us. I hope to speak the truth of the Gospel into their hearts and minds. I pray that they would come to an understanding of how great our God is, and that His greatness is not dependent upon the condition of their lives. There are very real evils and sufferings going on everyday. It wasn’t the evil of the beheading or the suffering of our Coptic brothers that hit me. It was the inspiring witness they gave me, and the opportunity that I am afforded to minister out of it.

Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.

The Disease Within Student Ministry: Part 2

In last weeks post (The Disease Within Student Ministry) I discussed an unnamed disease that has infected many of our ministries. The disease uses a subtle shift of our focus to infiltrate us, and now it’s symptoms have started to manifest at the expense of our students. Over the next few weeks we will place these symptoms under a microscope to observe their effects and discuss possible remedies.

Disease in Student Ministry Part 2

Symptom 1: The focus of raising-up and building student leaders

I listed this as the first symptom because it was the first one that God made me aware of in my own ministry. In Fusion Student Ministry, stewardship is one of the filters that we run every decision through. It is part of the ministry system that we developed to use as a guardrail against our own selfish ambitions. So, the day the Lord rocked me with the conviction that I had started to focus on building leaders and not disciples was equally surprising to me as it was heart breaking.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. –Romans 12:4-8

One of the problems in focusing on raising-up and building leaders is that we emphasize one gift over another. Remember the commission is to make fully functioning disciples of Jesus Christ who in turn go make other fully functioning disciples of Jesus Christ. A natural part of raising leaders is to lift them up as models within our ministries. This can cripple another student’s desire to pursue Jesus Christ by making them doubt their value within His Kingdom. It can lead other students to compare themselves to the student leader, which often times leads them to a place of feeling inferior.

The hand has a different function than the foot. The eye has a different function than the ear. The knee has a different function than the big toe. Yet, all parts are valued and appreciated. Yes, let’s continue to encourage the growth of leaders, but not at the expense of our other students that are gifted differently. We need to focus on Jesus Christ, His great works, His good will, and our identity as His disciples. Doing this will enable us to better encourage celebrating the diversity of Gods church and our individual roles within it as His beloved children.

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. –Luke 22:24-26

Another problem is that we find ourselves building leaders of worldly principles instead of Kingdom principles. Students often associate leadership with perks, prestige, and greatness. These principles are what the world teaches us, and it takes the revelations of God and the sanctification of His Spirit to break that paradigm. Even so, we can sometimes forget to teach that Kingdom driven leadership is found in serving others with humility, compassion, and mercy. We must stop teaching that leadership is about publicly modeling ministry works and Bible knowledge. We have to get back to teaching about who God is and what it looks like to pick up our crosses and follow Him.

There is so much more to this symptom, I will not even go on to speak of the added stress that we often place on the student leader, or what happens when one of these students fall. Instead, I will remind you that the shift is subtle, and it comes from a place of the best intentions, but it can have retarding effects on our students desire to pursue Jesus Christ. May God bless and sanctify you all.

Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.

The Disease Within Student Ministry

One of the things all Student Ministries deal with is constant change. Every year we graduate a class of seniors and inherit a new class of sixth (or seventh) graders. The reality is we lose some of our more mature disciples, while adding to the numbers of our more immature disciples.

the disease within student ministry

So that would be addition by subtraction…. my bad, I meant subtraction by addition. This is the constant cycle of turnover that we face as student disciple makers, and as the cycle turns it brings a subtle shift to our focus. We position a new class of seniors to take the reins of student leadership, and seek to integrate a new group of sixth graders into our ministry.

In essence we focus on leadership development, and student congregation retention. That makes sense too, because we want the older student leaders to model a mature faith to the younger ones, while trying to make sure we retain all our newbies. After all, today’s newbies are tomorrow’s student leaders within our ministries. So we seek to establish a cycle of continuous leadership development and number retention/growth.

This subtle shift of focus can even occur within the most structured Student Ministry, but I think it is in this ever so subtle shift of focus that a disease has infiltrated us. This disease has distracted us from our mission of seeing God glorified and enjoyed in the lives of our students and youth workers. It’s a disease that consumes every facet of Student Ministries, which includes our volunteer youth workers, how/what we teach, the execution of our small groups, and most importantly our students understanding of the supremacy of Jesus Christ.

I don’t have a name for this disease, but I know its symptoms. The symptoms are all concerned with how or what we focus on. Focus requires attention, applied energy, and an investment of time. What you focus on and how you focus on it will directly impact your students and volunteer youth workers, which in return will create your culture.

Here are some of the symptoms I have observed:

Symptom 1: The focus of raising-up and building student leaders

Do we want student leaders? Yes, we absolutely want them. Are we called to make leaders? No, we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ that operate out of their faith in who He is and His great works.

Symptom 2: The focus of retaining students

Do we want all of our students along with their family and friends to come to know, love, and worship the Lord God? Yes, we desperately desire that. So shouldn’t we focus on doing everything we can to make sure the students don’t just return but return with their friends? No, we should focus on making disciples that go into their peer groups to make disciples.

Symptom 3: The focus of developing behaviors

Do we want our students to behave in a manner that reflects their faith? Yes, behavior is important. Then shouldn’t we teach behavior based lessons? No, the basis of all our teachings should be God, His works, and our new found identity in Jesus Christ.

Symptom 4: The focus of placing students first

Wait, we are a student ministry aren’t we? Absolutely, we love our students and hope to see them saved and sanctified. Then we should place our students first in our ministries? Absolutely not, we are disciples of Jesus Christ, and therefore He always comes first.

Remember the shift is subtle, and it grows out the best of intentions, but it can have retarding effects on our students desire to pursue Jesus Christ. In the coming posts I will further discuss my observations of these symptoms, their effect on our ministries, the Word of God that my views flow from, and what I think we can do to overcome this disease.

Ben Headshot

Ben Fawcett is a six year student ministry veteran, who is currently serving as the Associate Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Texas. He is currently enjoying typing this bio out in third person, and aspires to one day speak in only third person.