Tag Archives: Family Ministry

My dad

This post will probably not get me any traffic, but I dont care. Im not in it for traffic, I blog because it sharpens me as a leader.

And I know my dad most likely wont ever see this, because he never visits my site. But I dont care, because I’m not writing it to please him.

But we all have that one person we look up to more than anything, whether its for advice, as a role model, whatever. And I consider myself the luckiest person in the world that that person for me is my father.

Tonight I spent a great deal of time watching videos from his church on youtube, and I am blown away by his heart for people and ministry and God. I remember when he was candidating for this particular job several years ago, and the search team called me in for an interview, and how later they said that one of the main reasons they hired my dad was because of me, because they saw that since I seemed so clearly Christ centered, it spoke volumes of the character of my dad (which is why I still feel today that the most important trait of an elder/overseer/ pastor is the point Paul makes about managing his household well).

I remember back then feeling super arrogant about that, as though it spoke about my character. I teased my parents for a while, since I had no car, that since I got my Dad the job, in essence, the least they could do was to buy me a car.

But that statement/sentiment had absolutely nothing to do with me, but had everything to do with my parents. It spoke nothing of my character or leadership, but spoke volumes of theirs.

When it comes down to it, this should be an accurate portrayal of our relationship with our heavenly father. I believe it was Spurgeon who once said “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” People we lead to Christ should be led to Christ because they see his beauty shining through us. They should think that since we so clearly love the Lord, the Lord must be great, because in the end, he is. I dont want to lead people to the Lord because I have a great life and if they become Christians, they can too. I want to lead people to the Lord because they see him in me.

To close it up, I pray that some day I can be as great as a Father as my Dad was to me and my siblings. I look at my siblings and am utterly amazed that of the 5 of us, all have served or are currently serving in ministry. Thats rare. I don’t say that to show off about my family, but to say, my Parents were amazing Parents. I pray I can be a fifth as effective as they were in ministering to my family some day. I know I married a woman just like my mom, I just pray I can someday be just like my dad.


Quick Poll about Youth Ministry Position

Evaluating Youth Programs

When was the last time you did a thorough evaluation of your Youth Ministry?

For some, it could be almost a year since you last got away to spend a few days evaluating the the purposes of your youth ministry, the vision, the direction, etc.

Others do a quick evaluation after each service.

I think both have strengths, but both work best when your doing both. I think it’s very healthy to once a year take a few days retreat by yourself or with a team to really evaluate. But waiting a year to evaluate isn’t healthy, you should be evaluating a lot more often, whether its a quick little 5 point check after each service or a bit lengthier of a process once a month with your leadership team, evaluation is a must in ministry.

I’d like to say the most important question a Youth Pastor can ask himself when it comes to evaluation programs is “Does it accomplish our purposes?” but firstly, I hate making such bold claims, I’m sure someone else could come up with a more important question to ask, but I will contend that this one is up there. Secondly, though, in order to ask that question, a Youth Pastor has to know what his purposes are first.

If you don’t know what you want/need to accomplish, then your not going to have any idea on how to judge whether an event is helping our hindering your achievement.

I read a phenomenal analogy in the book ” 7 practices of Effective Ministry” by Stanley, Joiner, and Jones, in which one of the authors described talking to his son about his batting average in little league, how just because he hit the ball didn’t mean his average was going to go up. All baseball players know, the point of hitting the ball is progress either yourself or a teammate from one base to another and, eventually, to home plate. You can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if it doesn’t result in advancing you or a teammate to the next base, its ineffective and pointless.

A lot of Youth Ministries live in the mindset of “I’m hitting the ball, were doing good!” Its awesome that your having great crowds come to your services, its awesome your building great friendships with the students, but if its not advancing them further in spiritual maturity, whats the point?

It’s so easy to miss the purpose. We can hide behind the “traditional” Wednesday night youth service and others can assume we have purpose, but I hope more youth pastor’s will open their eyes and see that there is so much more. Don’t equate busyness with purpose. Your students deserve more than that. Your students NEED more than that.

Feeling at Home

One of the biggest things I have missed about Lynchburg, VA compared to Trenton, IL is the quantity and quality of book stores.

I’ve always been a big reader, and Lynchburg was FULL of book stores. They had several great, large Christian book stores within a quarter mile of Liberty’s campus, and on top of that, there were the two Liberty Bookstores, and even the Barnes and Noble close by had a “Christian” section that took up a giant chunk of the store, and in all honesty was larger than many other book stores.

Needless to say, there was quite the selection. Of all the stores, two stand out to me as being my most favorable. One was local to just Lynchburg, and it was more a coffee shop that sold books. It was run by this old guy who was in love with the Inklings. The Inklings are near and dear to my heart Authors. The Inklings is the name given to a group of men, friends of C. S. Lewis, who met together in Oxford, England to read and discuss one another’s literary creations. These meetings usually occurred either in Lewis’ residence in Magdalen College or in the Oxford pub called the “Eagle and Child,” or affectionately, “The Bird and Baby.”

Because I am a huge fan of the Inklings, I loved everything about them, the White Hart kind of felt like a home away from home, some place you could escape to and feel like you were surrounded by the inklings, part of their conversation, as you sipped your coffee and read their works.

I have missed that. I have craved for that the last year since leaving Lynchburg, and just haven’t found it. The closest thing would be starbucks at Barnes and Noble, but even that is so far away, both in distance and in relation to what the White Hart was.

Today I took a trek to Missouri, to the closest LifeWay book store, my other favorite store from Lynchburg. It was all so familiar, it felt like I was back in lynchburg, and it was just a refreshing time for me (which I know is weird, its a bookstore).

But I know I’m not alone in this idea. I think each and every one of us have a certain place, a coffee shop, a book store, somewhere that we feel at home that isn’t our home. For some it could be a particular church sanctuary, others it could be the corner booth at a restaurant down the road.

But my hope is that for the youth we Minister to, they would feel this connection with our Youth Room. I want them to feel at home, in their environment every time they come to church.

I remember this past summer taking a group of our student leaders up to my fathers Church in Northern Illinois, and the first night a few of the girls couldn’t stop commenting on how homey it felt. They had never been there, but they felt at home instantly. I’ve thought long and hard many times on how that could be accomplished in our youth room, or in our church. Because those same girls also said how they didn’t feel like our church was “homey.”

So its just something I think about. It felt good today to feel at “home” for a bit.

Why Orange?

Why am I so excited about the Orange strategy? Whats so great about it?

I think it goes back to when I was in High School. I know I have probably shared this story before, but it’s true. It’s shaped my philosophy of Youth Ministry, and it made me Orange before Orange even came about.

I lived in Central California from my sophomore year in High School until April of my Sr. year in High School, and during that time, was a part of the greatest youth group ever. We had a whole mess of kids coming on Sunday Nights and Wednesday Nights for Sr. High and just as much on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights for Jr. High.

The Sr. High had a student leadership team larger than many youth groups, and we were a super close knit group of kids. Most of us did practically everything together. Most of us only dated within the Leadership team (even though, technically, that was against the rules if I remember? Oh well, nothing new that High Schoolers break rules).

I say all this to say, I look back on those friends I had, and sure, a Handful of them still are connected to a church, but I also know that many of them aren’t. Many of those students could care less about God or Christianity.

And it has been super tough for me since I started working with youth as a part timer almost 6 years ago. I’ve often struggled with the question of what happened? I mean, I know that several of the guys, specifically, had the same small group I did, same small group leader, same Youth Pastor, same Lessons Sunday Night and Wednesday Night, same one on one times with the youth pastor, same leadership team. We had the same training and up bringing in that youth group, yet what was the difference that kids who , Honestly, were far more on fire in High School than I was are now so disconnected from church/God, and I’m in youth ministry. And please dont hear me wrong, I am not saying “Oh look at me I’m in Youth Ministry and they aren’t” but I truly am burdened with that many nights.

The only answer I know of is the parents. I know that many of those kids parents went to church, but I also know many of those parents considered the discipleship making of the Youth Pastor good enough.

I know that for me, it was always far more my Parents teaching and Discipleship that was then echoed by my youth pastor in a lesson that made the difference.

And thats why Family Ministry has been so important to me, and thats why I love Orange. Orange is so much more than just a book telling you why Family Ministry is important. Ultimately, you need to realize that on your own if its truly going to change the way you do ministry.

But for me, I love Orange because it takes this simple idea I’ve had since high school and gives me so much practical stuff to help in Family Ministry. The tools they offer, the curriculum they offer – its just phenomenal. I know I have talked it up a lot this week and its probably getting old. But Honestly, if you have never looked at their website, DO IT! It won’t take long for you to see how great their stuff is.

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