Tag Archives: other responsibilities

Big Church Envy


If you ever have a disagreement with someone and you want to win, just call them prideful. It’s flawless, because from that point on, anything they say is just their pride swelling up. As long as your the first person to play the pride card, you win, every time.

So say your having a disagreement over the vision of a ministry with someone, they aren’t seeing things the way you see them, just blame it on their pride. Case closed.

I hate that. Because unfortunately, more often than not, the person who plays that card is the one who’s pride is really in the way. Sure, there can be exceptions, but if you play that card, you better check yourself.

I got that card played on me a while back and it infuriated me. There was a real issue that needed to be fixed and is still yet to be fixed because of pride. I knew my intentions and motives going in, and they weren’t flowing from my pride.

But it did get me searching for ways I was being prideful, and unfortunately as a Human being, pride is always to be found.

I take pride in my education. I feel this is a good kind of pride, for the most part, because be it as it may, graduates from my school are sought after more than any other Christian college, and so being able to say I hold my degree from there gives me a bit of a swagger, which can be good or bad.

One of the negative ways it plays out, however, can definitely come out quite a bit. I am blessed to still keep in touch with my old class mates and see them in thriving ministries. It’s amazing to me that some of the guys I was in class with have been able to achieve some of the things they have done right out of college. It’s amazing to me how many went from classes and very little experience to big churches in big cities with established healthy ministries.

Unfortunately, I can often become envious of them. Being in a small town in a small church and seeing several of my good friends with less experience than I have graduate at the same time as me and get job offers from great, large churches, where as Im having to build in an extremely small town with what sometimes feels as not the greatest support, it can cause me to be jealous.

But I feel like this is something every small town youth pastor deals with. There is this unfortunate myth that small town student ministry isn’t as good, isn’t as important, isn’t as effective. We may not every even outright say that, but if we looked at our ministries, its being yelled.

I could never do that, my church is too small. I could never make a an atmosphere  in our youth services that beckons for visitors, I don’t have the resources. I could never plan as great of a camp as that church, I don’t have the time. Whatever it is that you feel you can’t do because of your context.

And though some of it may be true, and some of it may be unnecessary (like how I think it would be awesome to incorporate video’s into our pre-message every week, thats not necessarily important, nor do I have the time to invest in that because there are other important things to get done.)

So though that may be true, its also false, because there are things we could do, we just aren’t. We have boughten into the myth that our ministry can’t be as great as first united church down the street, so we stop trying those things and get content with what we have.

This is a very dumbed down sentence to describe it, so don’t hold this against me, but the #1 thing that grows any ministry is its leadership. I say its dumbed down because you could come back and say ” Well what about relationship with Christ, or biblical dependency, etc. etc.”

A real leader in a ministry already has that, its a given. But whats missing from that is the leadership attributes such as Vision, Delegation, Mobilization. A real leader in youth ministry will not only be teaching his students the bible, but also the vision of them mobilized to make a difference in their school. A real leader will give their students a purpose that is more than showing up on Sunday or Wednesday nights.

If you want to see your ministry grow, your students need to grow. And if you want to see your students grow, then you need to grow. Continually.

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Being all alone in Youth Ministry Part 2 – Boundaries


Last week I touched on Loneliness being one of the negatives of being the only person working with your youth ministry. Today’s danger is much like last weeks in the sense that every Youth Pastor/Leader needs to be aware of it, but its especially true in smaller towns where you are the only one working with the youth.

Boundaries are meant to protect yourself, no matter what they are. Whether you are setting boundaries to protect your time, boundaries to protect your relationships, whatever it is, they are meant for your good.

The last few weeks I have explained some of my boundaries to other people, they aren’t really things I felt to go around sharing unless I needed to explain. And each time, they were met with opposition, which was extremely surprising to me. I mean, if there is one thing they don’t tell you in college or in books when they talk about establishing boundaries, its that people will oppose them.

And I mean, these weren’t even harsh boundaries, but things like “I’m not going to be out of the house for ministry more than 3 nights a week, 4 nights on rare exception.” I couldn’t believe there would be people who had a problem with that. But there were. They understand now, after more communication.

They would have, at first, liked me to get rid of that, but I also have seen what can happen to youth pastors marriages when they don’t stick to boundaries.

But those are all issues that every youth pastor faces. What makes it especially challenging working as the only leader is when it comes to boundaries with students of the opposite sex. Because as a guy, I need to have boundaries with the girls in the ministry. Not because I would do anything in-appropriate, but to protect myself in case they said anything.

Something I love about the iPhone is that it records all of my text messages. But I have no way of printing them or truly keeping track of them. So I love Simply Youth Ministry Tools Communicate (formerly Simply Txt) because it does record every text that is sent, and it can be printed. Because again, not that I would do anything inappropriate, but if a student tries saying “He was sending me inappropriate texts” I have proof that I wasnt.

The whole idea here is being above reproach. To naively do ministry without boundaries could be setting yourself up for failure. Unfortunately its the risk that something could go wrong. Most Youth Pastors are innocent and very well intentioned. The sad truth is that there have been Youth Leaders who have made stupid mistakes, and the rest of us have to be aware of those consequences. If you aren’t doing ministry with established boundaries, set some up, and adhere to them.

It only takes one time of not being able to prove you didn’t do something to destroy your ministry. So Live above reproach.

Take time to have spiritual renewal

Rest


Apparently, my body was much more tired than I thought it was from the last few weeks of going, because today I didn’t wake up until 2 pm.

My body needed rest and today it got it.

I find it very interesting that God designed our bodies to shut down when they need rest. Like you can’t stay awake for too long before things in your body begin to shut down and find the rest they need.

It’s amazing, though, that it’s not the sort of deal that you could, say stay up continuously from monday morning until friday evening and then make up for it by sleeping friday evening until monday morning. Our bodies wont work that way, they can’t function that way.

I remember when I was in college on the Debate team, we had tournaments in the fall just about every weekend, and the amount of energy and time the debate team took was just as much as a full time job, only we were all full time students as well. So what would end up happening is that a few of us inevitably would go to the Debate Lab (section of main university building with offices, computer lab, lecture rooms and cubicles) on tuesday after class, stay there all night working on homework/debate stuff until wednesday classes, go back to the debate lab and work until thursday classes, then get on the bus and sleep for the first time since Tuesday morning. I think this is what really instilled in me my addiction to starbucks.

But I remember one time doing this same pattern just on an off week, but extending it a day to friday, and going to sleep friday afternoon with the intent of just taking a nap and getting up in time to go see a movie with my friends. So I go to sleep at about 3:30 pm and wake up and my clock says 6:00 pm. I figured great, I feel so rested with just that, plenty of time before the movie starts. I headed out of my room and discovered my friends getting ready to go…to the football game. It was Saturday, I had slept nearly 27 hours straight!

So whats the point of all of this. And I know its somewhat contradicting because I said we can live that way but I just showed a week where I did. And I hope it goes without saying, you can’t LIVE that way, you can get by for a few weeks, but you cant live like that. It’s miserable.

Well I say all this because I know that many students live this way spiritually, and I fear that many in ministry do as well.

Part of our Sabbath is meant to renew our souls, to reconnect with God. But many times, we are too busy to not be busy. So we push it off to the side, we consider lesson preparation our quiet time, we rush through our prayers, and we don’t take time to really focus on why we are doing what we are “doing for the Lord.” Then, when we do get those moments, we try and get so much out of them to make up for the times we missed.

But this is no way to Live. I wish our spiritual lives would sometimes shut down on their own to get the rest they truly need because we too often ignore the warning signs that our tank is getting low. We need to take sabbath. We need to daily connect with God and be renewed by him. We can’t allow ourselves to be so busy doing things for the Lord that in the end we don’t do anything for the Lord.

I know as Pastors we know this. But we also all know to go to bed every night, but we still get tired.

Quick Poll about Youth Ministry Position


Small Church Youth Group


I don’t like to be told I can’t do something, I feel like when I’m told I can’t do something, thats  the one thing I want to do.

Now obviously, I don’t feel this way about everything. If you were to tell me I can’t murder someone, I’m not going to go out and want to murder someone (though sometimes, we feel that way towards the students in our ministry).

But I think it has been shown for this to be true for a majority of people. I mean how many movies are all about someone beating the odds. In Lost we see John Locke in the earlier seasons repeatedly telling people “Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.” And it brings up all sorts of emotions/encouragement/whatever.

We see it in movies like Miracle, Ray, and even sandlot.

But it seems to me as though Youth Pastors in small towns, no matter how much they feel this way towards most of the things in their life, forget this attitude in ministry.

I’m sitting here in North Carolina at the Transformational Church retreat/conference and am attending the affinity group for Youth Pastors. And I feel like I have over heard a number of them say something along the lines of “We could never do that, were not big enough” or “we could never do that, we don’t have the budget” among other things.

Where’s our sense of beating the odds?

Where’s our sense of trusting God to do the improbable? And yes, maybe I am talking a little bit about things like building a Youth Pastor’s Secret Lair of Awesomeness and youth pastors not thinking they have the budget for those things, or Youth groups not thinking they can do certain things with their group like laser tag trips or missions trips. Those things that aren’t necessarily needed in youth ministry, but things we would love to do if we could.

Like I feel sometimes like some of us Youth Pastors in small youth groups feel we could never have a video ministry. We could never do some of the stuff these other youth groups do.

And part of me wants to say if you only want to do something because you saw another youth group do it, don’t do it. But odds are you wouldn’t be able to anyways, because you don’t have the passion for it.

But if you see something that another youth group has done, and you get its purpose and think “we gotta do that,” don’t let the stigmas of being a “small church youth group” hold you back. Find a way to get it done, because you can. Any youth group can do the things that any other youth group does. And sure, they may not be as good, but we aren’t doing them to try and do them better.

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