Archive for the ‘Youth Ministry’ Category

This morning I had the opportunity to preach at my own church, and the passage of scripture was on Nehemiah 8.  Although I’ve often times found sermon prep and delivery to be challenging, I found that this morning was more convicting on me personally than most I’ve preached.
The idea today was rediscovering the Word. That in Nehemiah 8, the people stand and hear the Law of Moses and stay there for 6 hours, weeping and rejoicing. They have been so far displaced, that they forgot the importance of the Word.
I find myself there right now.
As a youth pastor, as a seminary student. I’ve found it easy to write off my personal time reading the Bible because I do it so much for school and work.
What area in your spiritual life do you find most difficult?


What’s within…

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Life, Youth Ministry

What if the information you contain, the wisdom you hold, the experiences you’ve had could truly help others? 
I’m struggling with this today and I have been for a while as I’ve dreamt of writing a book. I feel that I have a story to tell
, but in doing so I know that I would be putting myself out there, completely vulnerable to critics…but what if what’s within could make a difference for someone else? 

finishing a night right…

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Youth Ministry

If you work in Youth Ministry, how do you finish off your busy night?  When the students have all gone home, when the youth space is somewhat cleared of all the chaos, what’s your process for wrapping things up?

We’ve all been there, the day goes bad, the lesson bombs, students are driving you crazy and all you want to do is scream or turn in your resignation letter, but honestly there has to be a better way of dealing with life in Youth Ministry.  Here’s my way of dealing with it, definitely not a perfect way, but a way to not let it drive you out of what God has called you into:

Let it out:  Every Wednesday night, (the night we do our Sr. High large group) I get in my car and drive the 25 minutes home.  This is a great time for me to be able to start to process the night, to unwind, but also my time to make sure that I’m letting out whatever went on that night, both good and bad.  Here are the couple of people that I call:

  • Jaimie, my wife.  She is the first one to hear from me, not just so I can let her know that I’m on my way home but also so she is involved in my ministry.  I’ve never expected my wife to be a constant presence in my ministry, and luckily my church doesn’t expect this either.  But I can be honest and say that she is the most important person to my ministry.  Her love, support and encouragement is necessary for me to be able to do ministry.  I call her, let her know I’m on my way and give her a brief summary of the night.
  • Aaron, my brother.  Aaron has worked in ministry, both as a Youth Pastor and currently at a church camp in Minnesota.  It’s great for me to be able to bounce off ideas to someone who has been there, to vent about the craziness the night was, or to shout out with excitement with God had done that night.
  • God.  Of course this is a given, but I take my time in my drive home to make sure that I call out to God for what had taken place that night.  Sometimes it’s a call out, other times its a crying out to God.  Either way, my time with God is vital to ending my Wednesday nights right.

Evaluate– I’m lucky to have a schedule that allows me to work from home on Thursdays, and this is the perfect time for me to evaluate how the previous nights gathering was.  I love to be able to sit down and go through all that took place, to follow up with those who helped, our I had conversations with that night, or followup with those who weren’t there.  It’s important to be able to evaluate while things are fresh.

Remind- This one has become more and more important to my life in ministry.  Lately we’ve seen a lot of great things happen in our group, and some changes that we’ve needed to address.  Our group has been growing like crazy, both numerically and spiritually.  It would be really easy for me to seek ways to continue this growth numerically, to amp up our draw, to seek ways to entertain more, but this is my time to remind myself of my calling.  It’s easy to lose sight of your calling in ministry when things are changing.  When a student is upset because they think you are showing favorites in the group, when the leadership continues to pressure so you continue to grow the numbers, when you dive in immediately to start planning for the next gathering instead of taking time to seek God, this is my time to remind me of my calling so that I can stay true to that.

How do you finish your night right?

when to say you’re done…

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Youth Ministry

i’m sitting here on this beautiful January day in South Dakota listening to newest and last release from the David Crowder Band, and as I hear the praise that rolls from their music I can’t help but be a little selfish in thinking that they can’t be done…I love their music too much.

i have a lot of respect for these guys, having followed their careers since early 2000’s when i saw them lead worship for a group of Youth Pastors at the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry conference at Saddleback Church, and i must say that although i’m not ready for them to be done, I respect the fact that they know they need to be done.

it’s crazy when you hear them speak, that although they know it’s time for them to call it quits after a decade of doing ministry together, they don’t know what they will be doing next.  they just know that they are done… how do we know when we’re done?

this is a question i’ve often asked myself…when am i no longer relevant to doing Youth Ministry?  When do i need to seek other ministry opportunities?  will I know when I’m done?

how do you know when to say you’re done?

Giving the Bible Away…

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Youth Ministry

I always look forward to the New Year, for the ability to start over on areas that maybe I didn’t excel at last year, to begin something new, but for the last 10 years or so I’ve started this little tradition to buy a new Bible shortly after the New Year.  I started it when I was in Bible College, and for some reason it’s become something I look forward to.

There’s something refreshing about being able to start new in my notes, to discover passages of scripture that maybe I’ve lost in between highlighting areas, and to discover parts of the Bible that I’ve read many times before but for some reason they leap out at me from the nice white crisp pages.

But honestly, here’s the real reason I love getting a new Bible, it’s because for the last 10 years of doing this I’ve been able to find someone who wants my old one.  I love being able to hand off my Bible from the previous year in hopes that they can benefit from the notes and underlinings that I’ve put into place.  That maybe the way that a certain passage struck me can be something the new owner of that Bible can relate to.

Wrong Message…

Posted: January 5, 2012 in Youth Ministry

so yesterday I was talking about God’s call, and lately I hear more and more people using it for their benefit, to get what they want, and honestly I’m wondering if its a nice little scape goat to help us get what we want.

here’s my most recent experience with hearing God’s call on my life:

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference in South California, and it was at this conference I felt God was speaking to me, to leave my current position as a Youth Pastor to approach the more prestigious position of that of a Senior Pastor.

Here’s our current situation:  The church where I am has had the same pastor for 18 years, he’s done great things, but the church and the pastor know that the inevitable is going to be taking place in the near future, he’s going to retire.  The church is good, but there are definitely more than a few who have gotten comfortable.  With that being said, word started floating around about me becoming the next Sr.Pastor when the retirement took place.  It was at this conference in CA that I felt that God was calling me towards this.  I returned home, talked with a few people about it, and even began dressing more like a Sr.Pastor (okay maybe not completely, but atleast button-up shirts).

But then it happened.  As we began talking more and more about the retirement that was going to be taking place, I decided I needed to take some time away, to think, to pray and to listen.

It was during this time that I discovered that God wasn’t calling me to the better salary, the housing allowance, the pension plan.  God was calling me to stay put!

This was a hard realization for me.  It took a lot for me to hear what God was really saying, and not what myself and others were trying to convince me of.  It was in the silence, that I truly felt God calling me to do what I was already doing.

I definitely don’t doubt that God could call me to become a Senior Pastor, but he’s not doing it now.

I conveyed this message to the leaders at my church, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in ministry.  In doing so, I was telling them no to more money, more stability, and also to my egotistical thinking that I could have do some great things for the church as their next Sr. Pastor.

God doesn’t always call people to the next biggest and better, He can also can you to suffer, to stay, to rely on Him.

(by the way, the week before I went to the church to tell them that I was going to be staying in just as the Youth Pastor, my wife lost her job.  Never before did a better salary and stability seem more tempting)

Don’t get the wrong message…

God’s Call…

Posted: January 4, 2012 in Youth Ministry

Ever wonder why God’s call always seems to be in the persons best interest receiving that call?  You know what I mean, the pastor just feels like God is calling him from this church to another church that just so happens to be offering him a better salary, better benefits and is simply way better…

I think we have gotten to this point where it’s easy to put the “God’s Call” stamp on anything that helps us make a decision.  “I felt God calling me to do this…”  Or “God’s really calling me to say this…”.

When was the last time you heard someone say that felt God calling them to something that was the best option at the time? I know that there are some who totally get this, but I feel there are too many of us that use this as an easy way out.

A friend who feels God calling them to do missions in a third world country – Good!

A friend who feels God saying he needs to leave his wife because he doesn’t love her anymore – Bad!

A friend who feels God calling him to sell everything and give to the poor – Good!

A friend who feels like God is calling them to leave a church that his gifts are needed, to go to another church that is bigger, newer, better, oh and they offer a house and BMW – BAD!

How do you discern God’s call?  Do we hear it? Do we allow ourselves to hear it?

(more tomorrow about my most recent calling from God)

family is your #1 ministry…

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Family, Youth Ministry

if this statement is true, which i believe it is, what are ways that you make the effort to keep this the focus in your life?

i’m asking because i struggle often with this, making sure that i spend quality time with my wife and boys… so what do you do?

here’s some of mine….

wrestle play read run dates eat talk surprise drive rest communicate renew football swinging parks walks trips laughter church …

the sudden explosion…

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Youth Ministry

we’ve been up and running with our regular weekly youth gatherings for about 3 weeks now and to see what God is doing is simply astonishing…

over the last 3 weeks we’ve seen students gathering to the point of overflowing our meeting space, and not only are there great numbers showing up they are also seeking out and striving to understand this God that I’m trying to introduce them to…

i can not think of anything that i’m doing outside of what i’ve always done, it’s simply that God has brought about this change, this movement that has students excited to enter into this space on Wednesday nights, eager to learn and grow.

i’m praying that God continues to move, and I don’t get in the way of the great things He is already doing in and through the students He has put in my care…

back in early July I had the opportunity to take 7 of my students out to LA for a week to experience the Student Leadership Conference at Azusa Pacific University.

as we boarded the plane in Sioux Falls four half-way cross country flight, anticipation was high, mainly for the couple that had never flown before, who by the way were the only ones to get pulled aside for separate screening at security.  a few hours later, arriving in SoCal my students were amazed by the sights and sounds, mostly because their first experience of Huntington Beach was some dude in a g-string rollerblading by.  the rest of the first day was filled with lots of sun and sea as we soaked up the 4th of July on the beach.  little did I know that those that are locals don’t even go to HB for the 4th because of how out of control it gets.

with the first day getting us rolling right, the conference got kicked off Tuesday night and we were amazed, inspired and challenged for the next 4 days.  listening to speakers from Dough Feilds, to Jim Burns, to UFC fighter Mark Munoz and so many more.  we walked away that Friday with students who had received a glimpse of God they had never seen before, being challenged to be the student leaders that they had never thought possible.

the rest of the trip was filled with times to debrief, to relax, and to continue to experience much of God’s love and grace.  we took in Saddleback Church’s HSM with Josh Griffin on that Saturday night, and left that Sunday night to return home to SD.

since then, our students have continued to be challenged, being thrown back into their world and fighting to make what they learned a reality.

i can’t wait to see what God has in store for them in the coming year.