The 3 F’s of Youth Ministry

I’ve been in youth ministry for over ten years! WOW, I just scared myself… In that time I’ve been blessed enough to see God at work in a number of churches across several different denominations. In that time I’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Youth worker you could probably do the same, so rather than doing that (plenty of blogs, websites, conferences and mentors can help with that) I’d rather like to share so you 3 ingredients I believe must be apart of every time you gather together with your teenagers.

20131022-105450.jpg

FUN

If I’m honest this was probably that hardest one for me. I know for many youth pastors and leaders that may be the total opposite. I can so focused on Discipling young people, making sure they are hungry for God and are carrying the gospel that I forgot to even enjoy the ministry God had me doing, I quickly realised that fun is not contrary to gospel living. Jesus had fun, he enjoyed life and our youth ministry must have adequate doses of fun scattered throughout our nights. And don’t limit yourself to thinking this must only be in games. Have fun in groups, in your sermons, wherever. Fun, energy and passion are huge culture and atmosphere change agents.

FRIENDSHIPS

We want our youth ministries to be a place where young people can come and experience genuine friendships, not only with their peers but also with leaders. Relationships is the currency of teenagers, and if you have no relational connection with them you’ll find it almost impossible to be able to communicate anything of substance to them. Your young people are not a Missional tool or evangelism target but rather peoples whose lives matter to God. We must invest relationally into them, but trust and respect and love them because God does.

FAITH

If we don’t communicate Jesus we are nothing more that a cute little gathering of teenagers who entertain themselves with games and various outings. The youth ministry I inherited nearly 18 months ago was phenomenal at these first two F’s. I’d never seen a group of leaders so devoted to creating great moments in youth nights and so good at investing relationally in teenagers,seriously one if the best I’d ever seen. Over the past year our team has gone on a journey ensuring we are not just stopping there but are speaking the truth of Jesus (in love) and giving our young people an opportunity to experience, process and journey with God. Teach them the scriptures in a way that cones in with their world, let them dialogue, process and even wrestle with it

20131022-105704.jpg

Church for the Duckless

Earlier today on my Facebook, I posted this Judah Smith quote which is an excerpt from his Jesus Is Book.

I am advocating a church that reflects real life, a church where people with real problems can come and find hope and joy. I want people in my church to welcome everybody. The gay, the straight, the rich, the poor, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want my church to be a place where people can come in from all kinds of backgrounds and issues and shortcomings and addictions and bondages, and we don’t have to get them all fixed up before they sit on the front row.
That’s the gospel. It’s good news for everyone. Its not good news just for people who are already good, for those who are self- controlled and disciplined enough to have all their ducks in a row. It’s good news for the people who can’t even find their ducks. They haven’t seen some of their ducks in years. Their lives are a mess. But they can come to Jesus and find instant acceptance. They belong long before they believe and long before they behave.

This thought (Thanks Judah) was met with a flood of comments and likes. Honestly, not many Christians would disagree with such words. The current reality of many churches (for whatever reason) doesn’t always as a whole community reflect this being an accurate reality.

As I’ve reflected and meditated on this the past few days I began dreaming of how incredible it would be to actually be apart of a church that fully preached the gospel, believed the gospel, embodied the gospel and live the gospel.

Rather than idealise or look to the ‘greener’ grass on the other side, I’ve committed in my spirit to ‘green up the grass beneath me.’ To put it another way, rather than wait for someone or somewhere else to be this, I’ve decided to be this for myself. Change begins with me, not finger pointing at others.

Will you join with me in this? Maybe you were one of those who liked or commented on Facebook (Thanks), but let’s not just be ‘likers’ of the word, as James instructs us in James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Lets be the church for the Duckless.

20130612-110101.jpg

What are you going to do with the life that you have left?

540722_483809528339438_1833240444_nLast night I sat listening to Andrew Newbold Lead Pastor of Freedom Revolution Church in Doncaster. He was sharing at the launch of our new Young Adults gatherings. As he spoke he opened up with this question:

What are you going to do with the life that you have left?

Life is all about decisions, we make thousands of these every single day. Some are as simple as to whether we’ll have a shower before work? (I suggest you do) what we’ll do for lunch? Right through to will we marry that person? Will we accept that job offer interstate? Life is all about decisions! We make our decisions, and our decisions make us.

Andrew shared with us 5 key things to do when making decisions.

1) Try to never make important decisions when your tired, drained or being unreasonably pressured.

2) Know your Options (get all the information you can)

3) You actually need to make a decision.

4) Good decisions have a time limit.

5) Decisions are the pathway to your destiny.

Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
(Psalm 25:8-12 ESV)

God says, “Ill show you, the path but first humble yourself.” Our prayer should be “God, Show me the path!” If you want his results, you’ve gotta live his way.

But what about if God is silent in the decision making process?

gps-unit-lgeWe can often perceive the silence of God as us heading in the wrong way? But have you ever used a GPS when driving to Sydney or Adelaide? The first 20-40minutes their is constant instructions from your GPS telling you to turn right here, left here. However, once you get on the freeway for a long time their is nothing. Does that mean you are heading the wrong way?

Absolutely not, rather its the complete opposite, because you are heading the right way on the correct road their is no reason for the GPS to speak. The same could be true in our relationship and communications with God, perhaps the silence could actually mean that I’m heading in the right direction and their is no need for further instruction until a change needs to be made.

Luke 22:42 says “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Rather than praying for God to endorse your decision on a destiny decision (like marriage, which job offer you’ll take, or if you’ll move overseas) Set aside what you want… Not my will, but yours be done!c Remember, Gods will for your life is always the best thing for your life!

If you could choose one…

Have you ever played the game Desert Island? It’s often played on long car drives or some kind of getting to know you activity. Basically, the idea of the game is you are trapped on a desert island, through some strange forfeit, but you get to choose several things to bring with you. So It could be a person, a CD, book, TV program etc.

I was thinking along these lines, If their was only one sermon you could ever listen, what would that be?

For me, it’d have to be a sermon I’ve heard 3 times preached live and watched and listened to several dozen more times by Judah Smith Lead Pastor of The City Church. Everytime I listen to listen to this message I find myself falling more in love with Jesus, desiring to get God’s perspective on my life more, a hunger and a passion for lost people and to grow in my call and grace as a leader and preacher in my church.  I’ve shared it with you here:

What about for you? If you could only ever chose one sermon, what would you choose? And why?

Your Life Matters

Where is my Value?

I’m a Performance Addict

To be honest I’ve always known it, I’ve always seemed to care too highly about what others thought and truly believed that if I succeed in things (work, radio, ministry, sport, friendships really everything) I thought it’d make me a better person & more highly valued to others and ultimately to Jesus.

During a pretty dark period in my life a few years ago I processed a lot of these thoughts and felt like God did a great work in my heart & motivations. However, as you probably know their is always MORE God wants to do.
This week after hearing a message by Peter McHugh during a Pastors Retreat I read Luke 10:38-42 in fresh eyes, it says:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

As we look to the 10 commandments we see two very important things. The first commandment points us to intimacy with God. The second commandment speaks of involvement. The order is important. We need to find our identity in Christ not in our activity. We need to be more aware of what God is doing for us, rather than what we are doing for God. However its;

Acceptance before performance BUT not without performance.

Change your belief not just behavior. If you do it the other way you become a moralist. I must change my belief systems (by being renewed in my mind by the Gospel) about who God is and how he really truly views me and what is of greatest importance to him! Ministry to the Father comes first. What’s the father doing? That is the great question I must always ask myself.

We know all fruitfulness comes from the place of intimacy with Jesus John 15:1-17 tells us that.

Before I finish it’s important to notice one thing within the story of Mary & Martha. Jesus says “Mary has chosen the good portion” it isn’t the only portion! Doing things, leading serving are all important, it’s not the only portion, It’s just the intimacy with Jesus, finding our identity, security and value in Jesus not in what we do.

Behavior is an echo of belief.

Jesus, help me to see my value and worth is in you and that in you I am accepted and loved unconditionally And let me lead and do things from that place of acceptance.

What happens at home really matters

If our theology isn’t practical it isn’t true biblical theology. That being said, you can be practical & not biblical.

I’ve been really challenged lately at the call husbands have to their families. As a Pastor I must lead my families well. The church is the new family of God and the correlation between the church & the family.

My marriage must reflect the covenantal relationship between God & his people.

God’s design for marriage
Genesis 2:18-25 says “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Love our wives sacrificially
Ephesians 5:25 speaks into this by saying “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Be faithful to our wives alone
Luke 16:18 states “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Titus 1:6 adds to this biblical call to faithfulness “if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Understand our wives
This can be so tricky for many men. but 1 Peter 3:7 says “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Nurture our wives
The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 5:28-29 “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

Provide for our wives
I know I’m quoting alot of the Apostle Paul (technically its all God anyways lol, but in 1 Timothy 5:8 The Apostle tells his fear friend “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

We are not only called to love our wives, but for those of us who have children we need to bring your family on mission.

Love your kids as the father
1 John 3:1challenges me to the core it says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

Train our kids in the word
Paul writes to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 6:4 urging “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Model Gospel living
1 Corinthians 11:1 tells us to “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Teach our kids to obey
This is a heart issue Proverbs 6:20 “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”

Lovingly discipline our kids
Its not popular, but easential. Hebrews 12:7 says “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Also in Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”

Pray for our kids
Finally Ephesians 1:18-19 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”

I pray the same for you as I do for me, that God would grant you the grace to be the Godly father & husband my family need of me.

11 Leadership Lessons

20130221-115244.jpgLast night I had a leadership training night with some of my youth leadership team. We were very lucky to be able to have Phill Brake senior minister of Compass Church share with our team.

He along with his associate Michael Salisbury shared some fantastic insights from their 15+ years of friendship and ministry together. Last night they shared about things they wish someone had told them at the start of their leadership journey. Here is just a few of the dot point notes I took from last night I found very helpful:

Don’t discount the role you can play in a young persons life.Have Fun!

You’ve gotta enjoy the ministry your doing.

Know what are your drainers & replenishes.

Be true to yourself

You reproduce after who you really are, not who you present to be.

Be servant hearted… But remember, God will do what he wanted, either with us or despite us.

You choose your attitude! You can choose how you are going respond to.

The grass is not always greener on the other side…

Believe Big, even if the last time ‘failed’. The size of your God, will determine the size of what you believe God can do!

Be accountable. Find out Godly mentors, for different areas. You’ll need to go find them.

I fast & I pray, I listen & obey.

I’m so thankful to Phill’s friendship and ministry over the years. I hope these quick 11 points help grow you in your life and leadership.

Your Life Matters.