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Why And How Should ‘Family’ Be A Central Component To Your Youth Ministry

Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those of us over here in the USA. Even though I am British, I still love this holiday since it brings families together and gives us all a chance to breathe before the run up to Christmas. With family in mind, today I would like to challenge you to consider how the idea of family should be threaded through the DNA of your youth ministry. Let me explain what I mean:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

There is an abundance of scripture that refers to God as our Father, His people as His children, and the many references to family. It is in the very design of every human being to be a part of God’s family and to be in relationship with Him and our family around us. It is foundational design that every church and organization should be fully aware of as they design environments that help people feel a sense of belonging to a family. Doug Fields once said,  “Until a student is environmentally comfortable, he or she will not be theologically aware.” Or another way of putting this: Continue Reading…

Thoughts On Why Youth Ministry Must Decentralize: Infographic

Here’s an info graphic that has been showing up and making the rounds on blogs and Facebook. created this very helpful graphic that gives us a picture of our task to reach and invest in students: Here are a few thoughts I have on it:

1) Paid youth workers are more effective when they build a team: If you are the paid guy or girl and the ministry is centered on you, I would maintain that you are limiting your effectiveness. A team is clearly nearly needed to reach so many students in our communities and churches.  Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Mentoring: How To Help Girls Find Their True Reflection

When one of my daughters was about 3 she used to have this little frilly blue dress that she referred to as her “Cinderella Dress.”  It was her way of being a princess. Twirling she would sing to me, “Mommy don’t I look so beautiful?”

There was a problem though.  As this particular child would get “dressed up”  for a special occasion she would begin to panic.   All of her confidence would drain as she analyzed her hair, and shoes,  certain everything was less than perfect.   Yes, at three.  As a matter of fact her Dad and I started to dread these special occasions.   When she was at home in that blue dress, she was a princess who had just entered the ball.  Anytime it involved going out in public, it had to be perfect to the point of breakdowns and tantrums.

I wondered if it was my fault? Had I so desperately been excited by having a little girl I had turned her into the “fairy” monster?   By the time she was 2 1/2 she had two younger siblings.  Was this her way of being “seen” in the midst of all the others? Continue Reading…

How To Tell If Your Youth Ministry Is All About You…

About 5 years into my official full- time paid youth pastor role,  I decided it was time for me to hit the “speaking “ circuit.  I felt like I had been in the trenches for a good amount of time, and that it was time to equip others.

There was a pretty big name conference for urban youth ministers at the time and I was invited to submit an outline for consideration.  Word came back that it just “didn’t have enough to offer.”  In other words,  I wasn’t quite ready yet.  Needless to say I was crushed.  Truly, I thought the Lord was calling me to share my experiences with the masses.

Still that experience caused me to step back and examine my heart.  Why did I want to teach and speak?  Did I want others to learn?  Did I want the world to hear what I had to say? If I was honest, did I just want to be famous? Continue Reading…

A Good Reason To Cancel Sunday School? A Response From Leneita Fix

Recently Phil Bell wrote an article that considered the implications of canceling traditional Sunday school in order to see students involved and connected with the larger church. Here’s a response I wrote for youthministry.com to the ‘Worship Together’ plan that Saddleback has created. It might help you consider another side to the idea…

I am more than a youth pastor. I am the crazed parent of two current, and one almost, middle schoolers. Not only that, I’ve “parented” my niece who just recently moved out of our home for college. My husband and I were purposed and focused in raising our kids in Christ. We thought we succeeded when all of our children “asked Jesus into their heart” by the time they were hitting kindergarten.

Leneita

A Good Reason to Cancel Sunday School In Your Youth Ministry?

Is it possible that canceling ’Sunday School’ for your youth ministry once a month can actually help your students develop a stronger faith and connection with your church? Well, apparently this is true. According to a gigantic study by , two of the greatest indicators for a life-long faith after high school include: 1) Being a regular part of church worship services 2) Serving within the church. For many of us who have a Sunday morning student ministry program, we are aware that many of our students only attend our student specific programs, and there is the potential that they will hardly ever serve in church or attend regular services.

This could be a detriment to their faith walk… Continue Reading…

How to Recover from a Bad Day in Youth Ministry

Have you had one of ‘those’ days lately in your youth ministry? You know the one… A bad night at youth group where nothing went to plan… A student who made a horrendous mistake that you didn’t see coming… That parent who chewed you out and didn’t give you any grace… Or maybe your leader has not appreciated all your hard efforts…

No matter how hard we try, we can’t avoid having bad days in ministry… Working with people is messy, and we have to admit it, we are flawed people too… But how can you and I recover from one of those days?

Here are some things I have to be reminded of often: 

1) Tomorrow is a new Day: When you and I have a bad day, there’s often the feeling that we will never recover from our predicament. However, God is not done with us and no matter how much we’ve messed up, or how much someone else has hurt us, God gives us a fresh start each day. Seek the safety and shelter of God and discover His fresh start today!
2) It’s not about us: Sometimes we take tough days way too hard simply because we are hanging on too hard and trying to do everything in our own strength. Some of us, if we are honest, have been fueled by people pleasing in an unhealthy way. When a student rejects us, or parent is upset, or a leader in the church is hard on us, we take it too personally. It’s good to remember that our strength, purpose, and affirmation should come from God, not people. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about God, his plans, and his purposes. When you and I get caught up with people pleasing, we begin to elevate others and ourselves above God… Refocus on Him.

Continue Reading…

Too Focused On Numbers?

How do you know if you are too focused on numbers in your youth ministry? Is that even a bad thing? I would says, “yes, and no…” So when are numbers a bad thing and when are they a good thing? Is there a good ‘test’ to tell if we are too fixated with numbers? That’s where we are going today…

Go to a youth ministry gathering and you’ll meet other youth workers who will ask this question over and over as they play the comparison game: “How many students do you have in your ministry?” Or maybe you have met the youth worker who is always talking to others about their numbers and seems to be obsessed with how many show up? Now granted, there are times where the numbers discussions are healthy too. Here’s some of those instances: Continue Reading…

7 Lessons Learned From A Summer ‘Shutdown’

EDITORS NOTE: Comment on this post and get entered to win 1 year of SYM ‘Team’ Tools Access. Winner announced Sept 4th. (Click here for more info)

A while back I posted an article that debated the benefits and downsides to shutting down for the summer. This summer I got to live out one of these perspectives more fully than I would have liked… You see, over the summer months we shut down much of our student ministry program since we renovated our student ministry center called ‘The Warehouse.’ (It is actually a converted warehouse and is now looking pretty sweet)! Because of demolition and permits, we could not meet weekly on a Sunday morning as we usually do. Instead students went to church with their parents…

Here are 7 lessons that I learned from the shut down:  Continue Reading…

Keys To Youth Ministry Longevity: 5 Essential Boundaries

How can you hang in the long haul and be successful in your church ministry situation? If you have been in youth ministry even for a short time, you have likely heard the statistics for ‘youth ministry burnout’ or know someone who has lost their passion for ministry.

Even though youth workers are passionate and committed to their ministries, it’s equally as important that they are committed to healthy boundaries.

While boundaries might sound defensive and rigid, they actually benefit your church greatly, since you will be healthier for your students… And you might just stay at that church longer too…

5 Essential Boundaries

ONE: ‘Devotional’ Boundaries: When it gets busy it’s easy to allow our devotional time to get edged or become a lesson plan. Staying fresh spiritually requires us to have a committed regular time to fill the tank personally. I think this should be a given, but how are we really doing in this area?

TWO: ‘Family’ Boundaries: If you can’t take care of your family first, how can you know how to take care of the family of God? (1 Timothy 3:5). At times I confess I have put ministry ahead of my marriage and family. Of course, there are certain seasons of craziness, but they must only be seasons. Your children (if you have kids), need you to invest in their life and faith. There are many people who can invest in the students you work with, but there is only one person in the whole world who is called to “mommy” or “daddy” to our kids… In the same way, your spouse (if you are married), needs your best, not your left-overs… Continue Reading…

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