A Leadership Lesson From A Youth Ministry Veteran: Part 1

Last weekend, I was honored to attend and speak at a celebration for a good friend and youth ministry mentor, Byron Porisch. Byron is the guy who gave me my opportunity to come the States twelve years ago; to work and study in youth ministry.

Byron has an agressive form of brain cancer… His church (the same church I interned at with Byron), threw him a incredible celebration that he could enjoy and experience. As I considered what I would share at this celebration, it was not hard for me to focus on Byron’s standout quality as a leader. It’s a quality you and I should strive for, and one that you and I should ask God for.

Youth Ministry Leadership

People will follow a leader who lives out an audacious faith.

In our world today, we often over calculate and underwhelm what God wants to do through us. Instead of faith, fear can often drive our decisions and reasons for what we do in our ministries. If there is one thing I have learned from Byron, it is the way he lives an adventure of faith with his students and leaders…

While I described some of his ideas as “crazy” yesterday at his celebration, I have never forgotten his incredible belief to see me come from England to live in the United States… We had two months to pull together visa’s, tuition, a place to live, and transportation. (If you know anything about visa processes, you know it can take a long time and can be very frustrating). Byron did care about details like this, he just assumed God would come through… I remember thinking to myself,

“This crazy American actually thinks we’ll get all these details ironed out in two months… I know God is big, but…”

However, despite my cynical outlook, it was Byron’s audacious faith that inspired me to begin to glimpse and see God in a different way. Over four years of working alongside Byron, I found myself continuously challenged, inspired (and sometimes frustrated), by the way this man lived his faith adventure. As I watched his life closely, I saw others drawn to his audacious faith and his “let’s take on the world,” approach to ministry.

Youth ministry can be challenging and it’s easy to default to our well planned youth ministry skills and practices when we are trying to push people forward in their faith walk. However, I have seen first hand that people will take giant strides in their faith when they follow a leader with audacious faith.

It no longer is about careful calculation and precise practices, it becomes about a GREAT BIG GOD who brings life change.

Yesterday, minutes after speaking about this leadership quality I had learned from Byron, I received a call from a good friend who needed help. God reminded me of what I had just spoken about, and called me to drive a twelve-hour round trip to help a brother in need. I don’t share this example to say, “look at me.” I share this example to simply say, “look at Christ.” This is the way He led. This is the way we should lead.

What about you? As a leader, I urge you to consider your model to others. Do they see someone who is great and youth ministry practitioner, or do they see a leader with a wild and audacious faith that is magnetic and worth following?

The Key Question? Are we able to sincerely say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 11:1)? Now don’t get me wrong here, youth ministry has often been accused of not being planned and professional. I am not proposing we use audacious faith as an excuse to drop our plans and processes, for the Holy Spirit works in the planning just as much as he does in the last-minute changes and circumstances.

The big question is, are we leading people with an audacious faith that inspires them to grow in Christ and follow His example?

Phil <><

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  • David Grant

    “Do they see someone who is great and youth ministry practitioner, or do
    they see a leader with a wild and audacious faith that is magnetic and
    worth following?”

    Love this and am convicted. Thinking and praying about that statement this morning. Thank you.

  • philbell

    David, I am so glad to hear this. This is a challenge for me too. I’m joining you in thinking and praying about this. Phil <