Tag Archives: High School concerns

Weekend in Review volume #5

Series: He Said What? A look at the words of Jesus Christ, wk. 2

Sermon in a sentence: Christ offers us full life in him, we can be fully satisfied in Christ

Understandable Message: John 10:10 tells us that the thief comes in the night to steal & kill & destroy, but that Christ came to give us life and life to the fullest. Really, we all face two choices, the choice to continually be seeking more, the next best thing, going down paths that lead to destruction, or we can put our faith in Christ and be fully satisfied by him.

Element of Fun: We played a few games from youth leader stash this week, head catch, which the girls at least all loved and got really into , train wreck, and best of the best.

Music playlist: Until We Feel Alive by Lybecker. I love this band. Sure, I may be partial because im good friends with them and the bassist is my brother, but they are legit, check them out on itunes. My brother was a youth pastor and gives great prices to youth groups for concerts and what not.

Memorable Moment: I gave a bit of a testimony last night about a friend of mine from high school named Jenna, one of my friends who had my number for emergencies, who knew they could call me anytime they were in trouble and needed a ride and I’d come help. Jenna got in a lot of bad situations but I was always trying to show her God’s Love, and for me remembering her and just wondering where she is now, kind of broke my heart a bit. It was a good part of the sermon, but  I hope these students know how much I love them and how much God loves them, because I don’t want them to turn out like Jenna, who felt so unloved by people she got into those situations.

Up Next: He Said what? wk. 3


Oh, You have experience?

I love Youth Workers, we are a great gang of people, a special breed. And so I loved this past weekend hanging out with 3,000 of us.

One of the things I loved doing this past weekend was sitting on the sack chairs people watching. You notice the classic stereotypes of Youth pastors, and you see how they interact.

What I love about stereotypes is that for the most part, there is usually truth to them. If someone is stereotyping you as Lazy, what truth is there in that? What are you doing that would give them the hint of being lazy? It’s somewhat of the whole “Be above reproach” thing, that a lot of us youth pastors need to remember.

Having said that, I sterotyped a lot of youth pastors this weekend, and it kind of goes back to what I talked about in this post and this post at the beginning of the year.

There were some Youth Pastors who have been in youth ministry 5 years, and some Youth Pastors who have been in ministry 35 years who I would want to learn from, because they have GOOD experience. They have adapted, they have evaluated, they have seen what wasn’t working in their ministry and lives and changed it, and you can just tell. These guys are constant learners. They read books, they read blogs, they interact with other Youth pastors. They are life long learners and are therefore great teachers and mentors, and again, I have met Youth Pastors with tons of years of this as experience and Youth Pastors with 5 years of experience of doing this. And even though both of those have a lot to offer, neither would say they know everything about Youth Ministry.

But I also have met many Youth Pastors with 5 years or 35 years of BAD experience. It’s like these guys came out of bible school or seminary with this idea of how Youth Ministry looks, which is great, we all do, but then they get into ministry and they strive to get it to look like that picture of a perfect youth ministry they have in their mind, and they fail. But they keep trying it. They keep doing the same thing. And then they go to a conference and expect to find the answers to solve the problem as to why they can’t get their ministry to look how they want it to. And so you see these guys who sure, they have been in ministry for years and years, but they don’t have experience that really counts for anything, because they aren’t learning from their failures.

Why? Most likely, because they aren’t willing to take risks, they aren’t willing for failure to be an option. Further, even if they can say “failure is an option, its ok” they most likely aren’t willing to admit it when they do fail. And I don’t think its because of pride, (sure pride comes out in that, but thats not the root issue).

I can’t sit here and tell you what makes one  Youth Pastor have good experience and another Bad. I don’t know the answer to why some of us are willing to learn from our mistakes and seek to improve and others of us are fighting so hard to get this one, broken system to work.

But I know we need to change. Our Churches deserve better. Our students deserve better. God deserves better.

So really evaluate, however many years of experience you have, are they good years of experience? Or do you have 10 years of the same year, because you haven’t changed or adapted.


Is this a good problem to have?

Our youth group has a problem of consistency, but thats not what good problem to have. However, as a result of that, we scaled back our wednesday night Sr. High night from trying to put on a full service, never knowing who’d be there, to just a small group that met at my house.

When we started it, one of the things I told the kids was “Don’t invite anyone.” Which at first, seems like an odd request. I know they were a little taken a back for a bit. But my purpose was so that we could really make it a small group, and so we could just grow this core group of students to be the leadership team when the Sr. High Ministry grew.

Now we have added to the group since that first night, but we usually wait until a new study starts and we know the person is committed and has a relationship with the rest of the group, that way the chemistry isn’t thrown off.

But last night, due to a miscommunication with myself and one of our volunteers, we had 3 extra kids show up that no one knew. Great, I loved having them there, I really did. But at the same time, there was a look on the faces of all my group of “this isn’t ok.” It was rather conflicting for me to see the group growing, but also to see these kids so out of place with the newcomers.

One good thing is that as I talked with the kids after all the other adults and visitors had left, they really understood why I had at first told them “Don’t invite anyone” and thats a positive because I hope to use them to talk a little bit about the importance of Core groups (our Life groups, if you will) this sunday as we do a big push for sign ups for the rest of the year (why in the middle of the year? More on that later.)

But it also made me aware of a problem, one that could be a good one or could not be a good one, it all depends on how the kids are going to handle it.

The problem is, in essence, the age old problem of cliques.  On the one hand, I want the kids to have ownership of their group and to feel a sense of belonging and community, which I know they do. But I also had to take a step back last night and assess “Are these kids not welcoming in the newcomers?”

But I know that to not be the case. All last night during the actual study time, I was kind of worried that our group was being cliquish.  But talking to them after word really showed me the maturity of some of these kids. They were thrilled to see new faces, but they got it, they said exactly what I said at the beginning of launching this group, that they want to know the kids on Sunday Nights before they know them on Wednesday Nights.

I could go on and on about how mature my group showed themselves to be after our study time, and it really showed me that last night was a great “problem” to have. It gave our kids more ownership of the Wednesday Night, showed them the difference between a small group and big group service, and I think they did a great job of getting out of their comfort zone and being welcoming to the new kids.

What Youth Pastors need more of…

Today is supposed to be my day off. Funny. Not really, its Sad. I need to be better at taking a day of Sabbath every week. But usually things get piled up. I’m still taking a few bible classes online through Liberty, and adding the work of those on top of the full work week of Youth Ministry, on top of renovating a house with my wife, it adds up. I’m in my office right now because being at home was getting my mind going on too many other projects, and I’m more relaxed here right now, as sad as that is.

I have heard it said that the only way to truly take a break from everything is to be on a beach for several days. I think that that really is true, I mean if you go visit a city, your doing too much stuff, spending too much money, walking everywhere. If you go to the mountains your still busy.

But just relaxing on a beach, thats where its at. I would love that right about now. And really, I don’t even feel that stressed.

But thats not the point of the sabbath. It’s not a “Im feeling stressed, need to take a day off” kind of thing. Rather, its a day to remind us that God created us to be Human-beings not Human-doing’s.

If I’m honest with myself, perhaps the home reno’ is the best thing for me for right now. Seeing results is an amazing thing, specifically in ministry.

You see I count myself to be extremely blessed, I come from a line of people in Ministry, including me and my two brothers now in this generation. Some of the greatest advice to come down from previous generations was when my Grandpa taught my dad handywork, namely, painting, for the reason of Sabbath. As he put it “In ministry, you hardly ever see results, and that gets discouraging real fast. So find something that you can see a thing in this bad of shape at one moment, and looking like this another, because it will lift your soul.”

So my dad learned to paint, and he taught his Three sons how to paint. It’s why I paint the youth room every few years. Why I enjoy working on our house so much. Because I can see results happen in a matter of hours, and see that I’m making a difference.

And I know that that sounds like an odd way of spending a sabbath, but the point of the sabbath is to replenish our souls. For the longest time, I thought it just meant to relax, and so I was lazy all day on Mondays. But in the end, that wasn’t replenishing. There had to be more. And maybe your at that point now. It may not be painting for you, but find something that replenishes your soul, before you reach the point of exhaustion.

Small Town Benefit #1 – It’s Small

So the last few months, I have had my friday’s frustration about serving in a small town. But last week, as I laid out my schedule of posts for the next few weeks, I decided to do some benefits of small town ministry before I got into any more downsides.

One of the best things about serving in a small town is just that, its a small town. For many in the town, there is a real sense of community. When my Wife and I were looking at houses, it was amusing to hear Trenton Natives tell us every family that had lived in a particular house, and that they knew all that was interesting, and really made us feel like we were moving to a good ol’ little All American town, the kind of place where you picture they would film leave it to Beaver if they still filmed that show.

The real benefit is the closeness of all of the kids. To be able to ride my bike to the houses of 90% of the students in my Youth Ministry has been great for building relationships with them and their parents.

Further, I love how safe I feel in the town. One of my favorite parts of my day is close to 11 p.m. when I take Max, our black lab, for a long walk. I love it because its a time for me to just talk with the Lord, pray, worship, or listen to the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. There have been many times the past few months where those times have kept my sanity in tact.

And this comes back to the closeness of the students. I can spend just an hour walking, and pass by the houses of again, almost 90% of my students. I love the ability to stop in front of their house and say a little prayer over them and their family and move on. And I love knowing that at most I’m only going to pass 2 cars in that whole hour. The quietness and stillness of it all is something magical. The views are breathtaking. Yes, its very flat here, but not being in a populated area, I can see millions and millions of stars. Any time I start to feel arrogant I can go out that night and be humbled of how small I am, and I love those conversations with God.

And thats what I love most about living in a small town. What do you love most about serving where you are?

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