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5 New Year Resolutions For Youth Workers…

New Year Youth Ministry ResolutionsSo, this is the time of year when many are creating resolutions and reassessing what the next year should like. To be honest, I am not a big fan of resolutions since many of them are made quickly and without an action plan. However, if we can be intentional and specific and plan ahead, it is good to create some goals and standards for the coming year.

Here are 5 areas that I have taken and adapted from by Tim Elmore. I ordered my areas in priority and  have also given some specifics of what I am doing personally.

1. Personal / Spiritual: For me I am planning on getting up 30 minutes earlier to ensure that my devotional time uninterrupted by my early riser 3 year old.

2. Family: We just had our third child and it’s been challenging balancing family time with a newborn in the house. However, we are committed to getting back to a regular date night for myself and my wife, mommy daughter dates, daddy daughter dates, and family nights. We schedule these about once a month. We would like to do them more, (and sometimes we do), but we are in a busy season. I have found that if I do not schedule my family time, it is likely that every last minute ministry ‘emergency’ will take over my schedule. Continue Reading…

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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…

“Why I Suck at Valentine’s Day” – The Perspective of a Man in Ministry

Sorry Guys.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  No, I have no clue what happened to the last five weeks either.  We had sooooo much time to figure it out how to make the day special, but the sand has run out of the hourglass.  All we have left now is candy from the local Walgreens, a teddy bear from Exxon,  and a myriad of excuses.  If we only put as much effort into planning for V day as we did scrambling for valid excuses, our legend would be epic.  You know what I mean by epic.  That idiot friend who makes you look bad because he somehow got a string quartet to play his wedding song at the base of a waterfall last February 14th.  I hate that guy….

Of course we have no one to blame but ourselves.  We were once that idiot friend, weren’t we.  Think about it.  There was a time when you pursued your soul mate full on, sparing no expense or detail (whether you lost your man card or not).  Then it happened….life.  There are a myriad of things to blame it on, but I find that ministry has become a handy scapegoat.  It sucks all of your time, money, and energy.  Scratch that, it sucks all of your time, doesn’t give you any money, and uses your energy for such quality activities as chubby bunnies.  It is a challenge to keep your wife at the top of your priority list, but I know we all agree it needs to happen.

I don’t know about your spouse or girlfriend, but my wife’s top two love languages are Gifts and Quality Time (I blame this on you too Gary Chapman – but that is a topic for another post).  As any ministry veteran well knows, the two things that are most scarce are free time and cash – the very elements that are necessary for a successful Valentine’s Day extravaganza.   Oh how many times I have failed to meet my wife’s needs in the name of ministry.  How many fights we have had because I put more effort into my work and excuses than into listening to her deepest desires (that’s rhetorical dear, don’t answer that in the comments section).  You see, and this is where I hope to help all my brothers in arms, I was missing the point…

IT’S THE SMALL (BUT BIG) THINGS: For a woman who loves gifts, an unsolicited presentation of her favorite candy bar means that you care enough about her to remember to get if for her.  Words of encouragement are simple – a text message reminding her that she is just as beautiful today as the summer you met her is almost (I said almost) as good as a poem or sonnet.  Acts of service – where to start on this one?  Make her dinner or wash her car.  If you are married, for lord’s sake pick up your underwear and vacuum once in a while.

THE KEY: The key to all of this is simply making sure you do the little things every day that show her she is cherished and most important in your life.  Am I good at this?….not at all.  It is a constant effort to make sure I am doing the little things.  But I tell you what, if I would just focus on the simple things that make her feel special everyday than the pressure of Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be so great – and I wouldn’t be fighting with you for the last Hoops and Yoyo card at CVS.    Here’s praying that you have a blessed Valentine’s Day.

P.S. This post has been proofread and approved by my wife.

John Fix

Married In Youth Ministry

So many times we sit with others “in ministry” and we hear the stories of their journey. We heard it said once in every marriage one of you is the plow horse and one of you is the race horse. In other words, one of you is the passionate visionary and the other is the slow and steady planner. Another way of looking at this would be to say that one of you is the pioneer and the other “follows and supports” the lead. Nine times out of ten when we “talk” about the road to ministry as a couple, the “dreamer” is the husband and the “practical” one is the wife.

Not in our marriage. We have had a unique expedition into serving the Lord. Leneita is the crazed overly passionate, “We can do anything” voice, while John is the calm, reasonable, “Sounds good, but how will we accomplish it,”  voice. It used to make us roll our eyes as the husband would look at Leneita and say we are just alike. It made John feel emasculated that he was more like the ministry “wives.”

Ministry is challenging. Then you add marriage to the mix and it simply complicates everything. In our case neither of us even has a “real” job (or so we have heard them called.) to support the cause. Instead, we have walked hand in hand down this road of fully focused, all in, running youth min stuff 24/7 for almost 15 years now.

Here are 3 things that have helped our marriage:

1. We were BOTH called. In our life we have the interesting perspective that our whole family is “in ministry” together. We live in the inner city as missionaries and serve on staff with a ministry. Our lives are immersed into the vision. Yet, we recognize it wasn’t one or the other of us following the other. The Lord made us “one flesh” this means that this call was for both of us. In your life it might look different. One of you may hold down a non “church” job. One of you might stay at home with the kids. However, the Lord wants you unified in his vision for your life. Serving in youth ministry is part of that.

 2. We are called to be who God called US to be. Expectations from others was what brought rifts into our marriage. In the early years we kept trying to make it look like what we defined as the “norm.” This brought a constant sense of uneasiness to our relationship. I’ll never forget the day I heard a young, stay at home, homeschool mom, say to me, “I could never do what you do, I just support my husband as a youth guy.” I told her, “You aren’t supposed to do it our way. You are supposed to do it the way the Lord made YOU as a family.” If you are not sinning in any way and you are happy with the way your marriage is working, stop trying to fix it. It isn’t broken.

 3. “Doing” ministry can never be as important as your relationship. We all say, God first, family second, everything else third. I have also heard it said, “God only.” Our identity can’t be in what you do, it has to be in who you are in the Lord. HOWEVER, when the Lord gives you a spouse that relationship needs care. There is never a “good day,” to take off. There is never a day that the phone calls, text and demands of those you serve will end. If you keep telling your spouse, “they just need to understand this is important,” there will come a day when they won’t anymore. The most important relationships need nurturing. You were called together. Even if your stint in “ministry” ended tomorrow, you will still be together, don’t forget that.

Honestly, when we were both single and “doing ministry” it was relatively easy. The only people we had to care about were Jesus and everyone else. The reality was that the Lord gave us a traveling companion on this life with him. The day we said, “I do” it meant that we would walk it all together, whatever life brings. For today, that means we get to tell kids how to live for Christ… as a couple.

What has helped your marriage in youth ministry? What is essential to continue growing together as one or both or you minister to students? 

John & Leneita

 

Advice For A Newly Wed Youth Worker: Part 2

The conversation still lingers in my heart.  John and I were “getting serious.”  That’s when I got offered a job as a full-time, paid youth worker.   Up until this point I had been either bi-vocational or a volunteer.  I vividly recall telling him why I couldn’t “take the job.”  It was 60 hours a week at least and there was no way that would be good for us when we became newlyweds.   Yet, after praying and seeking the Lord (separate and together), it was clear that this was Christ’s plan, for us.   My world became immersed in youth, and I got “paid” to do it.  As a dating couple it wasn’t that hard to navigate.  Then we got married.  That first year in marriage we learned a lot about what it means to be “one flesh” and  to be a youth person.

1. You are both “called.” I highly recommend having an honest heart to heart about this before the wedding bells ever ring.  Yet, if you have already “said the vows,” you need to sit and talk this concept through.   I am not suggesting that the church got a “two for the price of one,” deal.   You will need to figure out how you will each serve and support  the  other in the actual day-to-day tasks of “ministry.”  Instead, this is a philosophical view.   When you do not have a heart that is united in backing the  “calling” a rift happens in your marriage.  It does not belong to one or the other of you, because ministry is never just a “job.” Continue Reading…

Advice For A Newly Wed Youth Worker: Part 1

So You’ve Just Gotten Married!!

Congratulations!!  Enjoy the honeymoon – your literal one…and the lingering one as you return from your trip and begin the joyous process of learning to live together and love one another.

While you’re doing that, be on the alert.  Because you’re in youth ministry, you won’t just be learning to navigate the toilet paper rolls and toothpaste tubes around your house!

  1. Build some boundaries.  If you have been single in ministry, chances are your students and your church have become used to your availability.  And even if your spouse is ‘all in’ with the ministry, it’s important to incorporate some boundaries so you can enjoy learning to love one another and live together without the constant eye of ministry watching you.
  2. Spend as much time pouring into your spouse as you do (and have) your ministry.  God has blessed you with a ministry partner – but has also given you a new ministry field!  (And it’s one where your example will speak volumes to your students.)  Invest in your spouse – she/he is your first ministry now.
  3. Build relationships as a couple.  Youth ministry sucks a lot of attention and time.  It’s easy to throw yourselves into ministry with teenagers and never build friendships outside the youth ministry.  Consider getting involved in a couples small group or Bible study.  Your marriage will need identity (and friends) outside the youth ministry.

Enjoy being married!  God made you to serve Him together by serving one another first!

Introducing Two New Contributors!

Today I am excited to announce two new contributors to this youth ministry blog! Here’s some info about them:

John and Leneita Fix have been in some form of youth ministry for almost 20 years. In the early years John volunteered and spent his days as a High School science teacher,  while Leneita was the one considered “full time.”  That all changed about 16 years ago when they both came on staff with an urban youth ministry.  They have always approached ministry with a shared vision to see the next generation grow from survival to thriving in Christ.  With the changing landscape of “urban” ministry their heart is for unchurched families.  Together they bring a unique perspective of ministering in  a variety of  settings   from running ministries,  to programming,  teaching,  speaking and simply enjoying their marriage while raising 4  children.  All the while they do this by living in the inner city learning to be a neighbor to those who are there with them.

Too Busy To Breathe?

Have you had those seasons in ministry and life where you just don’t seem to get a time to breathe? The last few months for me have felt that way. Between a constant barrage of family sickness, more ministry “emergencies” than normal, as well as over extending myself in some areas, it has been a challenging couple of months. Maybe you can relate?

In seasons like this it’s time to breathe, time to learn, and time to look forward. 

TIME TO BREATHE: The last couple of months have been very busy, but it means everything to stop and be filled up instead of running on empty. The last two weeks I have had to be very intentional to calve out time to be alone, read God’s Word, and be silent. It’s not easy, but it’s essential. It’s challenging to slow down when there are so many things to get done and so many people to keep happy. However, hanging in the long-haul and being effective in the short-term depends on our dependence on God. We must be ruthless with our schedules and intentional about taking time to breathe with our Father.  Continue Reading…

Balancing Family and Ministry Part 3: Boundaries

In my previous post I looked at the importance of creating a family friendly schedule that is a win for our families and our churches too. Today I want to talk about the importance of healthy boundaries in ministry.

Check out my first post in this series to see how you can enter to win a FREE registration for

When I started out in ministry I wanted to change the world and see students lives radically changed by God. I was younger, single, and I wanted to do whatever I could to make a difference! Today, I am older, I am married, but my passion has not changed. In fact, I feel a greater urgency and passion these days than ever before… And here’s the struggle: Our passion to make a difference in ministry can often create unhealthy boundaries for our families. It’s imperative we set up healthy boundaries that allow us to be effective in ministry and work hard for our church or organization, but also healthy for our family. 

I have made many mistakes with boundaries, but I have learned a great deal too. Here are the boundaries that truly make a difference for me and my family: 

1) The Hours I Work: My church has called me to minister to students and I take my role very seriously. My church trusts me to work the hours in my job description and expect and be a wise steward of my time. But, I find there is always more to do than my hours allow. If I am not careful I could be working unhealthy hours and miss out valuable times with my family. It’s up to me to set up a healthy schedule.

For me, I usually schedule ten hours below what is expected, knowing that emergencies, extra phone calls, and last minute meetings will add another ten hours. It’s also important to realize that there are certain seasons when we work longer hours, but it’s also important to “buy back” family time sometime later. As a steward of my time, it’s imperative that I work smart to accomplish the most important tasks.

2) My Day Off: I work really hard to not answer my phone, check email, or talk ministry on my day off. My voicemail even states that Friday is my day off and “I will return your message on Saturday”. I have come to realize that being available every day is not healthy for me and my family and in the long run will not benefit my church. A day off is imperative. How are you keeping your day off protected?

3) Cell Phone: There was a time when I took every phone call and often missed out on crucial conversations and times with my family. The outcome was not healthy… Therefore, these days my phone gets switched off at family dinner times and usually doesn’t get switched back on until the kids are in bed. It’s then that I return any messages I have. I also avoid taking phone calls while we are driving somewhere as a family. I do this to be “fully present” with my wife and kids. It’s important that I communicate that they are my priority while I am with them.  It might seem that I am making others wait to get to me… you would be right in thinking so! I work hard to return messages quickly, I always communicate that I was with my family when I return a call since it’s important for others to see the priorities I place on family time.

4) Date Night and Family Night. As I discussed in a previous post, I schedule these crucial dates 1-2 months in advance to ensure my calendar is family friendly first. It’s then that I schedule meetings, sports events, and additional events on my calendar…

Well, those are my top four healthy boundaries for my family. What about you? What helps you do great ministry, yet keep healthy boundaries around your family? What have you been learning in all of this? 

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