Tag Archives: think orange

Orange Conference is less than a month away!

I can’t freaking wait. I know I am supposed to be a Southern Baptist because I work at a Southern Baptist church, and we aren’t supposed to say the word freaking, but I have been looking forward to the Orange Conference for forever it feels like.

This is THE premiere Church Leaders conference this year, I feel like. Whether your a Sr. pastor, Childrens Pastor, or Student Pastor, this conference will blow your mind. I love that the speakers are all high profile speakers, and the workshops are generally all lead by people I have heard of before.

Specifically for the Youth Pastors, I know that Simply Youth Ministry was great this last year, I enjoyed it a lot. But the number one feeling I left SYMC with was “that was cool, but it got me more excited for Orange.”

If your going to Orange, shoot me an email or a tweet so we can connect, I can’t wait to meet you all in Atlanta in a month.

If you haven’t signed up for Orange, do it now! Rates are still fairly reasonable when you compare it to other ministry conferences, and there is still plenty of hotel space left. Talk to your church, make it happen, this conference will change your ministry for the good, I know it.


Enough with the Pastor Jokes

We all deal with stereotypes in ministry, and we all know it. We all have those middle school guys that play way too many video games and drink way too much caffeine and you want to just ask them to settle down for a few minutes. We all have those girls in our youth ministry that seem to come with a different boyfriend every time they come (whether its weekly or every other month).

And we all have a little bit of tension on occasion with our Sr. Pastor. Sometimes, its just a quick little disagreement, and we move on. Other times it leaves scars. But for the most part, we are all able to laugh it off and move on. I think the majority of Youth Pastors would like a better relationship with their Sr. Pastor, and a majority would like better communication.

But from the experiences we have with our Sr. Pastors arise the stereotypes that we all share. I remember last fall on twitter, there was a user simply called “iamyouthpastor” who primarily did tweets about the dumb stuff pastors say. And they were quite funny because we could all relate. Things like “Will you be using more of that ‘hippity-hop’ music with the youth group? I hear that’s what kids like these days” or maybe “I know you were on that retreat thing all weekend, so feel free to come in a half hour late tomorrow.”

For the most part, we all see the humor in that. For the most part, we can joke about our Pastor because we still respect him and know that he could just as easily joke about us.

In fact, I know that typically they do, which I’m sure isn’t news for  you. Last week I got to go with my Pastor to a Pastors retreat, and had a good laugh along with them all as the speakers continued to poke fun at the youth ministry stereotypes.

But I feel like it can sometimes get out of hand. It’s fun to have a good laugh about these things sometimes because sharing our experiences in a humorous way with others who really truly understand it is a good way of not bottling it up and getting frustrated.

But for those who have been scarred, who are in the midst of that frustration with their Sr. Pastor, these jokes are deathly. It is very fortunate that a majority of Youth Pastors have had just “rough patches” with their Sr. Pastor. But it is also very unfortunate that there are those who are our peers who haven’t had just small rough patches, but have truly been hurt by a boss. The ones who lay awake at night arguing with God because being in ministry wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They knew it would be tough dealing with critics, but they always knew they could take it because they would at least have their pastor supporting them.

And for those guys, these stereotypical pastor jokes are deathly. When they are already licking their wounds, you pouring fuel on their fire does nothing to recharge or renew them.

Unfortunately, I don’t know where we as Youth Pastors go from here. I think to try and say we need to cut all those jokes out is a bit ridiculous, because I think every Youth Ministry should be more Family Centered, but we still have Youth Pastors 20 years behind, so I know the jokes will continue.

And at the same time, those hurting Youth Pastors seldom open up to other youth pastors about it, so we don’t know who we may be hurting with our jokes.

But I know we must be aware of the fact that sometimes our jokes are doing no one any good. If we are aware of the hurt we may be doing, we can change ourselves. And ultimately, thats right where “we” need to start.

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.


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.

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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