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.

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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

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The Toughest Leadership Challenge

If their was every going to be anything that would get in the way of all God wanted to do through your leadership what would it be? The Devil? A difficult church member? Council blocking your permit? Or could it be something much closer to you than you ever thought?

I’ve learnt in my life that the greatest challenge to my leadership fruitfulness is ME.

courageous-leadership-bill-hybels-hardcover-cover-artThe toughest challenge I’ve found in leadership is the art of self-leadership. The person I should be leading first isn’t my teenagers, my youth team or even my family. The person I should be leading first is myself. To be the man God desires me to be, the husband and father my wife and kids need me to be and the pastor and I must learn to lead myself first. Every month I grab a coffee, sit on the beach and spend an hour with Jesus reflecting on where my life is at. I use the following a list of questions Bill Hybels lists in his book Courageous Leadership to help me grow in my self awareness, but also in my own leadership.

  • Is My Calling Sure?
  • Is My Vision Clear?
  • Is My Passion Hot?
  • Am I Developing My Gifts?
  • Is My Character Submitted To Christ?
  • Is My Pride Subdued?
  • Am I Overcoming Fear?
  • Are Interior Issues Undermining My Leadership?
  • Is My Pace Sustainable?
  • Is My Love For God And People Increasing?

I want to encourage you to spend some time with Jesus over the next few days reflecting honestly over these questions and allowing Jesus to transform your heart, life and leadership to be more aligned with the Gospel.

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.

Soul Searching

For the past few weeks I’ve been doing some very intentional and deliberate soul searching. I’m constantly checking my heart motivations wanting to ensure the reason I do and say the things. I do is motivated with a Gospel focus.

These are the questions I’ve been using:

What areas of my personal life needs to be greater aligned to the Gospel?

Where in my life am I waiting for someone else to do something, that I could do?

Am I allowing the fullness of God’s spirit to overtake and rule in my life?

What am I making a major, that to God is only a minor?

What am I making a minor, that to God is a major?

Why do I withhold things from God that I know he desires from me?

Do I truly believe that you could you use me to advance the Gospel?

Is my hope based on my circumstances or in my trust of Jesus?

Where have I made things about me, that are ultimately meant to be about Jesus?

Which of fear or faith is more powerful and directive in my life?

Be Blessed, Your Life Matters.

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.

2 Favorite Words

As your fairly aware right now I’m currently tracking through the book of Ephesians with the teens and twenties of my church. I was told this week that a number of church including Mars Hill and Discovery Church are doing, or about to do something very similar. It’s exciting to hear this, as I love the book of Ephesians  and would encourage every Christian regularly to read and meditate on, its brilliant.

I want to tell you what my two favorite words are in the bible. They come after these few verses in Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

What are my favorite two words in the bible?

BUT GOD

Ephesians 2:4-5 reveals “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”

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This tells me that even if your at the lowest point in yourself, feel broken, trapped and locked up in your sin and feel as though their is no way out for you, no hope for you, the bible has some amazingly good news for you… BUT GOD!

I know you can feel like sometimes your sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven. That that choice you made cannot be undone. The decision to do or act on the temptation can make you feel like you are done for and that your now stuck in a hopeless pit of sin and self destruction. I want to remind you… BUT GOD! There is a BUT GOD moment for you than can come to pass in your life.

You are never too far gone! You’ve never “done to much”! You are loved, grace, love, forgiveness and mercy are available for you… But the only answer is found in him. Not in your good deeds, your attendance, your acts of mercy. These are all good things, but the answer isn’t within yourself or what you can do. The answer to your sinfulness and mine is found in no other… BUT GOD!

BUT GOT

10 Commitments Leaders Must Make

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1)     I will move slowly

Proverbs 14:15-16 says “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.

Don’t be reckless, but wise…

2)     I will regularly check my motives and evaluate my heart

Proverbs 20:8-12 tells us “A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes. Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.”

3)     I will steer clear of the numbers’ game

Matthew 18:12 challenges us “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?

4)     I will not criticize the past

Philippians 3:13 says “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

5)     I will avoid the comparison trap

Galatians 6:4 instructs us to “let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.

6)     I will focus on priorities

In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus shows us his priorities. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

7)     I will pace myself

A Challenge for many of us, especially me. But Hebrews 10:36 says “for you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

8)     I will serve

Matthew 20:26-28 explains true leadership. “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

9)     I will be a learner

Proverbs 4:5 puts in quite bluntly “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.” Also in Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Leaders are learners.

10)   I will pursue contentment

Easier said than done, but the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:11 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Go well, live well… Your Life Matters.

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