Tag Archives: utility ministry man

When tool’s are no longer tools

One of my frustrations is that I don’t think I am a good small group teacher. Every week, I pour into a lesson, then the night comes, we go through the lesson, I ask some questions which students give answers too, and thats it. There isn’t a whole lot of conversation that comes from the lesson. But every week, with out fail, we close in prayer and say Amen, and then discussion starts about who knows what.

Last night, we got, somehow, on the topic of tracts. Now I personally am extremely against tracts. I think one of the reasons why I hate them is because of living in Lynchburg, VA the last 4 or 5 years, and just seeing how waiters and waitresses hated working on Sunday afternoons because the church folk would come out and instead of leaving a tip, they would leave a tract.

I think the main reason why I hate them, though, is because to me they symbolize the weakness of the american church when it comes to discipleship, because in essence, when most people give out a tract, they are saying to the person receiving it “Here, Go save yourself. Good luck with the rest of life.”

What’s frustrating about that is that the great commission doesn’t say “Go out and make converts” but rather it says “Go and make disciples.” Handing someone a tract is something that people do if they are trying to just get people saved and then they move on.

So I hate tracts with a passion.

But as I am explaining this to our students, my wife butts in to tell of how her Mother got saved because of a tract. But she also noted that it wasn’t just the tract that saved her, but the people who gave her the tract went through it with her, and invited her to church and to their home.

See for this couple that saved my mother-in-law, a tract served a purpose for their discipleship, it led to a further conversation. But for many who hand out tracts, this idea is foreign.

So it got me thinking about the idea that maybe its not necessarily tracts that I hate, but the fact that people don’t know how to use them that I hate. And that got me going on one of the buzzwords that has been going around youth ministry the last decade or so: Programs.

If you have read anything Youth Ministry related since 2000, you have read how evil programs are and we need to get rid of them. The Pizza nights don’t serve a purpose and aren’t making any converts or disciples. “What you save people with is what you save people to.” You know what I am talking about.

But if my mother-in-law got saved with a tract, shouldn’t she still be only reading tracts?

I get the notion of that saying, I do. But I also think, maybe we are just a little off with that sort of thinking. Maybe we need to realize that there are tools we can use to get people saved. But if something doesn’t have a clear purpose behind it to move that person to the next level, then yeah, we are just saving them to that level.

So if a tract has a purpose of starting a conversation to open doors for other conversations, then it has a purpose. If we just hand someone a tract and walk away praying “God let them see you in that tract” then yeah, maybe we have great faith, but we really aren’t being purposeful.

In that same way, If I am having a Pizza night to bring in students who don’t come to my ministry so that I can build a relationship with them and get them back to a regular youth service, then I think Pizza Nights are great tools. But if the Pizza Night is the end of the line, If I get up and think “this is my one chance to reach these kids, I better preach the heck out of them right now,” then I would say thats a bad purpose. I’m not pouring into them, I’m just hoping to get them to say a prayer and then maybe they will come back.

I don’t know if that resonates with you. But these are just the thoughts I get challenged with after hanging out with my students.


Quick Poll about Youth Ministry Position

The Role of a Youth Pastor

It seems as though most Youth Pastor’s feel like at one point or another someone assumes their job is the equivalent of a day care provider for teens. I know I have, and I know many others have.

I guess thats why I found it so amusing last night when my wife told me how her coworkers have been asking so many questions about what I do for a living because they don’t feel like I really have a job. It was amusing because my wife works at a day care, and so on the one hand, we often have parents who assume were a day care provider for their teens, yet here I have actual day care providers saying I don’t really have a job.

It should be noted, firstly, that none of my wife’s coworkers are Christian, and therefore its  hard for them to understand the idea of a “Youth Pastor.” It’s such a foreign idea to them, that it just doesn’t even register.

My wife was kind of taken aback when they asked here these questions as well, and she got home so flustered at all that could come out of her mouth in a way they would understand was that I’m trying to provide an atmosphere to keep kids off drugs and alcohol in the town. She felt so stupid after it came out, but didn’t have another chance to explain to them its so much more than that.

But then last night it kind of ate at me, what is the role of a Youth Pastor. And I mean sure, all of us in youth ministry can come up with something pretty great to say to that pretty quickly. But, to describe it to someone who doesn’t use Christianese or church-talk, how do you explain what you do?

I mean some of the primary functions of a Youth Pastor include things like  Mentor and teacher, but we don’t work in a school, so we can’t say “I’m a teacher” and I’m not part of the Big Brother-Big Sister program, so I can’t say thats what I do. A Youth Pastor is also a shepherd, and believe me, we do have sheep in Trenton, but alas, they wouldn’t believe me or understand me if I told them “I’m a shepherd.”

And I know how I would answer this question, and I’ll share it later this week or next week, but how would you answer someone who doesn’t speak Christianese as to what you do? Leave it in the comments, thanks!

Virtues of a Successsful Youth Pastor #2 – Be in Sync with the Family

I know this is a big topic right now, Family ministry, and it is, its huge, every blog is talking about it, and with good reason.

I look at when I was in youth group serving on a student leadership team and how committed some of those other student leaders were, and I look at them now from what I see on their facebook page’s. I don’t mean to come off as “look at me and how great I am doing” but I get saddened when I see that they are clearly not living their lives for the Lord anymore.

It’s tough, because I mean I can’t help but wonder what made the difference? I mean, they were in the same youth group as I was, some of them were in the same small group as me, we were all on the student leadership team. We heard the same sermons, the same messages, we did life together. So what happened that I went on to become a Youth Pastor and many of them went on to graduate from church? I mean, honestly, I knew these kids, and they were committed. Some of them often seemed more committed than I did? So what did it?

Here is why Family Ministry has been big to me since I was 18 and first starting out in youth ministry. My parents modeled the faith, they lived it out, they applied what they knew to their lives, and then I would go to youth group, here the Youth Pastor talk, and realize “Oh, thats why my parents do this” or “Thats why they think this way.” I look at my friends who graduated from Church and look at their parents, and their parents were not modeling faith or what it meant to be a Christian at home. It became clear to me very early on that the only effective Youth Ministry would occur where the Youth Pastor was in Harmony with the parents.

Now dont get me wrong, I also know friends who didn’t have Christian parents at all but got invited to church, became committed, and are now Youth Pastors themselves. So Youth Ministry can still be effective without being in Sync with the Parents in these kind of circumstances.

But for the most part, the way you minister to kids who are from the church and the way you minister to kids from outside the church are going to be different, whether you notice it or not. And when it comes to ministering to kids from Church, you don’t have to look far on the internet to see Youth Pastors are starting to really champion this idea that we have to be ministering to the Family.

Odd’s are, your one of those Pastors blogging on this topic, and you already know it. Sweet. But I know for me, its important to evaluate how I’m doing. Because here is the sad thing.

I said earlier this has been my philosophy of ministry since I began, I understand it, I believe in it, I’ve seen it work. But if I’m really honest with myself, as I was late last night, the past few months I have failed at this. Sure, I can pass the blame to the fact that I have taken on so many other tasks with my church including transitioning my Wife into the Children’s Director role to better minister to families, but the fact the of the matter is, I have failed at this important aspect of my ministry.

So how are you doing at it? I have a lot of room for improvement. Do you?

I’m a pastor to youth: take 2

I just posted about feeling for the first time in this ministry like I was the students Pastor, living up to my title of Pastor to Youth.

However, this being a site aimed at those working in the small town with the small church, there is definitely a second meaning to this statement “I’m a Pastor to Youth”.

If your ministry context is anything like mine, you were called to the church as the Youth Pastor, which is great. Then when you got here, they said “Oh, you play guitar? We’ve been wanting to start a worship team for a while, why don’t you head that up?” and then they said “Hey, that Youth Web site you just built sure is nice, and our church’s website could sure use an update, why don’t you take care of that?”

If your like me, your paid to be the Youth Pastor, but you’ve been asked to take on worship, web design, marketing, branding of the church, Sunday School Director, Family Ministry, Missions Director, and heck, even the Association is wanting a piece of the action, recently asking me to take over the Associational Youth Director Responsibilities. And I wont go into much detail about today’s conversation involving me being asked (or strongly urged) to ask my wife to come on board as the Children’s Ministry Director.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy serving in all of these outlets. Had I really had a problem with doing them, I could have said No. My wife and I are extremely excited about the future with the Children’s Ministry with her at the helm. Being in a small church, multiple responsibilities is just part of the game.

But I think its vital for myself to at least once a week take a minute to breathe and remember that first and foremost, Im a Pastor to Youth.

You can read any blog about ministry and see that one of the most important things to know is the Power of saying No. I didn’t say No to taking on these extra responsibilities, but I’m fine with that. However, I do have to occasionally say a temporary No to a task with one of those other responsibilities. It would be irresponsible of me, obviously, to miss spending time with the students because I’m in the middle of adding events to the Church Website calendar. But in the same way, I have to be less of a perfectionist in some area’s so I can be better in my ministry to Youth. If that means I have to cut short Praise Band Practice because I still have to finish prepping for the nights Youth Service, then so be it.

I’m a Pastor to Youth First, and all other responsibilities are just extras.

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