Why every youthworker needs to network…

One of the goals I have this new year is to be networkworking with other youthworkers in my area.

A lot of the time we don’t make time, (or feel like we have time). Sometimes, if we are honest, we don’t want to network with the bigger churches or the ‘competing churches’. Sometimes if we are honest, we don’t want to have to meet with other denominations or get into ‘those discussions’. Here’s why I believe every youthworker needs to network: 

1) It’s about the Kingdom: If we think that it’s all about our church, we are mistaken. God’s plan and purposes are much grander than ours. I beleve God wants us to embrace and enjoy the differences between churches. The fact is, there are so many different kinds of students out there who are not all going to like my youth program. There’s often going to be a church down the road that they will like better… It’s not personal… that’s life! I have to honestly ask myself if my insecurity allows me to stop networking? If I am confident in what I am doing, and I know that I care well for kids, I shoud be secure that kids will keep coming… 

2) It’s about Support: I speak to so many youthworkers who feel lost and alone in ministry. Just this morning I met with a local youthworker friend to encourage each other. It’s these meetings that will often keep us encouraged and seeing the big picture of ministry… 

3) It’s about stealing, (I mean, using) good ideas. I wish I could say that I have lots of creative ideas, but the truth is I don’t. Some of my best ideas come from others. When we meet with other youthworkers, we often get ideas and inspiration. 

4) It’s about Collaboration: If you live in a small town or have a smaller program, sometimes working with others allows you to provide larger events with greater resources. Even if you are in a larger church or city, we should still consider ways to collaborate. In fact, I would challenge us larger ministries to consider our responsibilities to help and support smaller not so well resourced ministries… that’s another way we can be Kingdom minded… 

Who needs to be on your email/phone call list this week? 

Secure?

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This evening as I write this, it is -4 here in Southeast Michigan. (-20c to all my UK and metric readers). For the next few days it’s going to this cold and perhaps even colder. Coming from the UK, I must admit, I am still not used to this kind of weather… The thing I dislike the most, (apart from the bone chilling cold), is that I never know when I am drive on a patch of ice or even worse, walk on a patch of ice I didn’t see… 

So, here’s my question… Do you ever have any ice patches in your ministry? Do you have times that catch you off guard and hurt you? Do you drive or walk in your ministry living in the fear of hitting ice again? Let me explain what I mean better…

Do have those moments in ministry when you wonder if it’s worth it? Do you have those moments when you feel like someone in your church had the inside scoop to your insecurity and went straight for the jugular? Do you ever have those moments when you are rethinking every word of your message after youth group and wondering if the kids ‘liked it’? Do you ever have moments when someone questions your ability to lead and it tears you apart? 

If you have had those moments, you and I are quite similar… It’s been some of those moments that have made me question whether or not I should stay in ministry or not… I guess you know what I concluded :o )

Take some time to read part of an article written by Craig Groeschel from lifechurch.tv wrote today. The only way that I have concluded I can stay in ministry and be truly effective, is to be secure in Christ…

 

People are always watching. Many are full of grace. Many are full of judgment.

As a pastor’s family, you will be wise to prayerfully develop a deep sense of “security in Christ.”

  • When your kids are secure in Christ—peer pressure weakens. When your kids are not secure in Christ—peer pressure increases.
  • When you are secure in Christ, your need for human acceptance decreases. When you aren’t secure in Christ, rejection kills you.
  • When you are secure in Christ, you easily obey the voice of God. When you are not secure in Christ, you constantly fear the opinions of people.

The more God blesses your ministry, the more negative voices you’ll attract. Years ago I was stinging from some painfully false rumors that were circulating. God used Amy  to build my security in Christ.

She asked me (already knowing the answer), “Are the rumors true?”

“No.”

Then she said with deep faith and assurance. “People’s opinion of us doesn’t change Gods’ opinion. Live for the opinion that matters.”

 

Bend it like Beckham meets Michael Jackson

I’m always checking in with my home country of England to see what is going on back there in the news and media. Whenever I go back to visit my mom (or mum, as I call her), she is always watching the latest ‘Britains got talent’. Now, I know that might sound impossible, but there are a lot of great acts from England… The Beatles and Coldplay are just two that come to mind.  Well, check out this video from Britains got talent… It’s what I like to call, Bend it like Beckham meets Michael Jackson… I found it funny. Maybe you will too…. Or you will just think I am a strange Brit who has a weird sense of humor, (and you might be right ;o)

Book Review: Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors

Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors, Mark Riddle. inside-the-mind-final-cover-200x3001

A great book that every senior pastor needs to get from their youth pastor! But, also a book that every youth pastor needs to read to better understand the dynamics of their churches and their senior pastors.

I would also say that this book is an essential book for a youth pastor who is looking to get hired at a church anytime soon. It will open your eyes to how a church thinks and acts in the hiring process. You will save yourself time and pain if you read this.

Mark highlights many challenges that youth pastors face, but also allows them to see the big picture of what is going on in their own minds, as well as the mind of the senior pastor and church. It’s a great ‘bridge builder’ of a book and is very practical and relevant. Mark writes in short chapters,  making it a quick and easy read ADD people like me. 

Buy two copies and see if your senior pastor will read this with you. It’s sure to create good communication and honest dialogue. 

Mark Riddle is a writer, consultant and blogger. You can check out his blog at: 

What really matters

Today  I read a great article from the PDYM Community blog titled ‘What really matters’. Take a look at it and be inspired:

Building a Good Foundation

img_85181My church began just over 5 years ago with 30 people in a backyard of my pastors house. Since then we have met at 4 different locations (one house and 3 schools), as we have seen good growth occur. The student ministry program too has met in 3 different locations (houses and rented facilities), and has had to ‘set up’ and ‘tear down’ every week just like ‘big church’ does. In March, all that changes for us… 

That’s when we get to move into a renovated office/warehouse building that will become our permanent home for church and student ministry. We never originally thought that we would buy and renovate so soon, but, being in Southeast Michigan we have seen many businesses move away and this facility was a great opportunity for us…

As we build and renovate this facility I have learned that 5 years of not having a full-time facility has allowed us to focus more on the people and less on a building. Sure, we have a place to meet and we have to set up and tear down every week, but the reality is that we cannot keep up with some of the amazing things that other churches do. Instead we have been forced to think and act simply. The results are: strong relationships with students, healthy growth in depth and numbers, and many many students who have been recruited to do ministry in a church plant situation. 

Someone once said, (I don’t have much of brain to remember who), that planting a church is like trying to build an airplane as it is rolling down the runway for take-off. I think that is a good analogy! Can you visualize what that might look like? I can right now… a bunch of guys and gals frantically working to put the pieces together that will ensure a safe takeoff… Can you imagine the urgency on their faces as they bolt things together?  

But here’s my question: 

What are their priorities to get done first? 

The most important things? 

Do you think they worry about the video system in the plane, or the comfort of the seats, or the color of the interior? Nope… They are concerned with getting the plane to take-off safely, (and of course), land safely too :o )

Being in a church plant has forced me to consider what matters most as I partner with great leaders to build a ministry. But it hasn’t always been this way… If you are like me, I have ministered at churches where I have got hung up on stuff that was not so important. Stuff that could best be described as ‘youth ministry fluff’. I have to confess that I have often spent too much time comparing my youth room with another church, or wishing I had more stuff or better space etc… Are you like me? Come on… let’s be honest :o )

In my time here so far, I have been blessed to see that ‘stuff’ and ‘facilities’ only go so far to reaching and keeping students coming. What they desire (and need), goes so much deeper. I am so thankful for learning this lesson, and it is my goal to keep reminding myself of this as we move in March. 

I hope this is an encouragement to you as you reach and equip students. I hope you can relax and invest in what matters most and build a solid foundation wherever you are.

How to have Great Leaders

austin-powers11Whether you are full-time and paid, or whether you a volunteer overseeing youth ministry, we all need good leaders to partner with us. We all need adult and students leaders to make ministry happen and to see that lives are impacted for the kingdom. If we think we can be the lone ranger, we are mistaken. Great ministry happens when we are surrounded by great leaders who share the vision and care deeply about students. 

The Big Question: How can I recruit and develop great leaders? 

Of course,it should be a given that it’s about God’s power and providence. There are also many answers to this one question, but I believe and have seen that there is one crucial element and answer that will make the difference between great leaders and average or bad leaders…. Are you ready for it? 

It begins with who you are!

It stands to reason that it’s not a good idea to buy hair products from someone with no hair. It stands to reason that you should not go to a dentist whose has teeth like Austin Powers. It should stand to reason that your leaders and partners in ministry will not partner with you if you are not the real deal. Or, if they do work with, they are likely never to live up to their full potential if you are not living up to it yourself… Here’s how it works: 

If I want my leaders to do the little but hugely important things like phone the kids, or send a postcard in the mail, or take a student out for coffee… it’s important that I take time to call or write… If  I want my leaders to be growing in their faith and always have something to encourage and share with kids, it will depend on how I am doing  in my faithwalk. If I want my leaders to stay cool in high pressure situations, over time it will depend on how I do the same. If I want my leaders to become good listeners for the students, it will depend on how I do the same for them. Bottom line: I can’t expect my leaders to do what I am not doing… My words and training mean little if I am leading by example.  

I meet a lot of frustrated leaders who need volunteers or have volunteers and are frustrated with them. We have to remember that we are all works in progress, and no one changes over night, but over time, our leaders will lead in the way it is modeled for them. It’s painful to admit, but if we can take an honest look at ourselves and allow God to change us, we will have a greater impact when we do the very things that we would like our leaders to do. More people will volunteer and their effectiveness will be greater… so will yours, (and mine). 

You see it’s the idea that leaders will learn leadership better when it is modelled for them. It’s the whole idea that Paul speaks of in 1 Thessalonians chapter 1: 

You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.

It’s the whole idea that our leaders, our partners in ministry and our student leaders will become (over time and not instantly), what is modelled for them. 

So, what kind of imitators are your leaders becoming? Today, take a look at some areas of your leadership and consider what small and important things you can do to model great leadership. What are some of the things you can care well for your leaders so that they care well for the kids you see every week. What phone calls do you need to make? Who needs a note in the mail? What truth does God want to impress on your heart that you can inspire your leaders with?

What is God saying to you today about who He wants you to become? How will that impact your leaders? How will impact God’s Kingdom?

Phil <><

It’s ok to kick back sometimes.

January 4th = The night before school gets back in the swing of things… Or a night when families are not back in the swing of things… 

Every year for the last few years I notice that attendance is down this weekend of the year for our high school program ‘EDGE’. On weeks like this I am concluding it’s ok (and better)  to use this to our advantage.

Rather than have a huge kick off and be dissapointed by turn out etc, I find it’s ok to accept what is going to be, and change up what we do a little. On nights like this we make them a ‘connections night’ where we have extended worship, more hang out time and we are intentional about having lots of varying games opportunities. We also have a message, but brief and to the point.

This is what we find happens:  The students actually seem to make the most of the relaxed atmosphere and  seem to connect real well with each other. But here’s another insight I saw tonight: Since we have less in the program schedule, the leaders have less programming to do and therefore spend more time with the students simply connecting.

In the last 6 months or so we have been intentional about creating these connections nights and it has really paid dividends for us. It has also been to good to mix up the pace for our leaders. They too need a night where they can focus on talking, laughing and praying with these students and not programming so much. As our students get used to these nights, they have also become a place where students know they can invite a friend to EDGE as a ‘first base’ event and then step into the usual program the week after… I wish I could say we planned that… we didn’t. 

Our typical ‘flow’ of what we do looks like this: 

Series kick off (big elements including band covers, videos etc)

3-4 week series. 

Connections Night

Back to series kick off…

 

Phil <><

Charlie bit my Finger!

A while back a student from our youth program emailed me this video saying, “hey phil, is this you as a kid”? I love this video and think it is hilarious. It’s a great video to use for a message on conflict at home… it begins young.

Hope you liked it!

Phil <><

Marriage and Ministry – ABC Dates

Being in ministry does not always create an easy environment to keep romance alive and communication healthy. I speak to so many youth workers and their spouses who share some of the same struggles as Lisa and I: How to make time for each other and how to truly invest in our marriage in a way that will help us more than just ‘get by’… Do you think like that?

For Lisa and I, about 6 months ago, we were given an opportunity to slow down and reflect on how our lives and marriage were holding up. As we talked, we realized that life had become busy and we were surviving, but not growing… We were talking, but not fully engaged… We realized that some changes had to be made. I wish I had time to tell you about all the changes we have made, but I will save that for later… Let me tell you how the ABC dates have been a huge investment in our marriage…

Here’s how they work for us: We plan a month out and plan every two weeks to go out, (that’s 26 a year… yes, there are 26 letters in the alphabet). We put those dates in the calendar and then in order, (but it doesn’t have to be), we plan out the ‘letter’ for that date. We try to do an activity or go to a restaurant that has the letter for that date, (sometimes we eat and do an activity too – sometimes just the activity to keep it cheaper).

Here’s How:  

A – Applesbees and Arcade games, (good old fashioned arcades games too).

B – Bowling (we had not been bowling in years… we were awful, but it was so much fun to laugh at each other).

C – China Chef (a cheap hole in the wall chinese place that we love) and Corn Maze (We walked and talked for a few hours)

“Yeah, yeah… what about Z and Q and letters like that…”? – We have them all planned, you will be surprized how many ideas you get! Try it…

The ABC dates are simple, but creative. They often require you to do activities that you have not done in a long time. They require you to plan and set aside time in advance, but here are the results:

The Results: When we get creative with the letters we ended up doing things that have made us laugh, made us talk more, made us experience more, and made us look forward to dates more. It’s so easy to do the same things all the time and they lose their impact. The ABC dates are never the same…

In the 6 months we have been doing this I can honestly say that this is one significant investment that has brought about great depth of love  for each other. It’s amazing to see what happens when you take time to invest in each other and get excited about the next activity. Something happens, and it makes the difference. Try the ABC’s out if you want, but most of all… take time to plan dates together… no matter how busy life and ministry is…

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