How to Split Your Youth Group

Posted: September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

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My youth ministry coach Kevin Moore has inspired me to Blog on my youth ministry journey so here it goes!

We at Ignite Youth Ministries are experiencing a new season and a great season at that. I have been at my church almost two years come November and it has been a very challenging, yet a great journey so far. I feel like we’re at a place in where the clay is finally soft and ready to be molded into the vision that the Lord has given me.

We are getting ready to step out into uncharted territory in which is is exciting and that my friends is vision unfolding. Vision is stepping into the uncertain place that the Lord has revealed to you and that you’ve never journeyed through before.

We are gearing up to launch our Jr. High service in just a few weeks and we are super pumped for it. We have actually taken this process very seriously and had to develop a year long strategy that would help prepare students, volunteers, and parents for the transition.

The reason that we’re separating Jr. High and Sr. High is because we have come to the conclusion that these two groups are extremely different and are in need of two different approaches that we can’t provide in one combined service. We noticed that we were either going to preach to the Sr. Higher’s and go over the Jr. Higher’s heads or preach to the Jr. Higher’s and lose the Sr. Higher’s.

Of course having a room full of 120+ students is great especially if you’re crammed in there and it looks full. I mean there are so many benefits to this such as serving of ego, great energy, it looks good on the books, but in the end we were not able to focus on the two different groups to the capacity that we wanted to.

In my next few Blogs I will be sharing what steps we took to lead us up to this point and what we’re doing for discipleship in these two groups. I am not claiming to be an expert in youth ministry or a Doug Fields but I thought it might help a few of you YP’s or YL’s who are in youth ministry.

keep it burning…

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My wife Ashley, decided that it would be a great idea to repaint our patio furniture just in time for the warm Spring weather. Obviously this was not on my top “10 things To Do” list, but none the less my wife wanted it done. So, I went straight to work. If you know anything about repainting already painted furniture, then you know that it’s quite a process that involves several steps and patience. Without the patience part you will not get great results.

Of course, I wanted to get the entire project completed in one day because that’s just how I roll. I proceeded to sand down the table to scuff off the original paint and then shortly after that I began to spray a coat of primer. After the coat of primer I waited about 15 minutes and began to spray the color that we selected right over the primer. Everything seemed like it was going well and things looked rather promising, that is until I noticed that the primer wasn’t completely dry underneath therefore I wasn’t getting the greatest results. At this point I realized that I needed to slow my roll and take my time with this project if I wanted it to look great.

We sometimes tackle ministry the same way that I tackled this paint project. What do I mean? Well, when I first came to my new church as the youth pastor I was extremely overwhelmed at the load that was before me. I felt like there were several things that needed to be changed, adjusted, and somethings just placed on the altar of sacrifice. The problem with this was that I felt like everything had to be tackled on my first day on the job. I felt like I had to dive in and start bulldozing right away. Thank God that I didn’t and that He knocked some sense into me.

It’s not healthy to approach ministry from this angle. We’ve all heard it said that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your ministry. Maybe you’re leading or serving in a ministry in where much change needs to be implemented and you feel like you have to do it all now. I urge you to stop and slow your roll. It’s not healthy to introduce more that 20% change into any orginization within a year because if you turn the ship too fast you will lose a lot of people overboard.

Small, subtle, changes lead to big changes down the road, but you must be willing to be patient with change. It’s wise to take your time, gain the trust of the people, and move at a healthy speed. If the people don’t quite trust you just yet then any change you bring right away might create unnecessary waves. Take a deep breath, step back, ask the yourself what are some minor changes that you can make that will lead you to your destination. Great ministries are never created over night, they develop over a period of time and faithfulness.

Allow the Lord to guide you and build the house.

Psalm 127:1 (NIV) Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. 


Almost 5 years ago when I began doing youth ministry, I was getting ready to pioneer a great new ministry concept at my inner city church. I wanted to launch a graffiti ministry being that there were so many taggers in our area and I figured that this was a great way to reach taggers. The first thing that we were going to need was money and a plan so I decided to attend a huge city meeting being that I was also our church’s community liason.

At this meeting, were many dignataries such as the mayor, the police chief, the city architect, and so on. On the agenda of the meeting was the issue of graffiti in the city and I knew that this was going to be my opportunity to pitch my brilliant, (so I thought) idea to the city. When it came time to review this topic I heard arguments from the police department, the city manager, and the mayor and I thought to myself,”these guys don’t even have a clue!” When it came time to open the discussion to the floor I proceeded to stand up and state my case.

Man, I got up there and shared what I thought that they were doing wrong and how I had the answer to all of their problems. I zealously declared my perspective and my vision and I pretty much stomped on their way of doing things. After sharing my idea I sat down and one of the Police officials got up and said “That will never work”. When I heard those words I felt shattered into a million pieces. I mean, what happened? Why wasn’t I heard? Were these people even listening to me?

I was never able to answer those questions up until a few days ago. This was what I concluded about that day and why I wasn’t heard: I got up there and arrogantly proclaimed that their way of doing things was wrong. I had not been diplomatic at all. I was so zealous for what I thought was best that I completely wrote of any of their previous efforts. I was wrong in my approach and because of that they chose not to listen to me. If my approach would have been more humble and diplomatic, then maybe I could have been heard.

Many young ministers complain as to why we’re not being heard by the older generation and I completely understand that argument but I ask this question “Are we being diplomatic about our approach”? If we’re ever going to be heard then we’re going to have to do some things:

1. We’re going to have to respect the older generation and their ways of doing things

2. We’re going to have to earn the right to be heard

3. We’re going to have to be diplomatic in our approach

4.We’re going to have to have some knowledge behind all of that zeal

5. We’re going to have to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit

I think that there is room for us at the table, but the question is, Will anyone want to sit next to you? The way that we conduct ourselves in speech and approach will determine whether or not we will be heard.

Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)-It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way

 

keep it burning…

The Other Side

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Has Jesus ever asked you to go to the other side? Has he ever asked you to jump in the boat and trust that where He was going to take you would be legit? Some of you are like what in the world is he talking about? Don’t worry…I’m going somewhere with this…trust me!

Have you ever prayed that prayer for the Lord to do something new in your life? If you said “no” then you’re lying to yourself and this BLOG. The truth is that most of us in ministry have prayed that prayer once, and if not more than once. What I find interesting is that anytime that I’ve prayed that prayer I have found myself dealing with difficult situations that have tested my faith and dedication. What do I mean? Well, if you look at the story in the Bible  where Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat because He was going to take them to the other side you’ll find that the disciples found themselves on a boat in the middle of a huge storm. This storm was crazy, I mean it was to the point where the disciples thought that they were going to die, yet they didn’t.

This storm really tested their trust and faith in Jesus, who happened to be asleep in the boat while it was being tossed around. There’s a great point in this story and I’m getting to it. I’ve noticed in my personal ministry journey that anytime the Lord has attempted to take me to the other side or to a new place, I’ve had to go through some pretty tough storms. I mean the type of storms that have caused me to question the Lord and my faith. Anytime the Lord is going to take you to a new height or a new level in your life and in your ministry there will definitely be a time of testing on the way there.

I firmly believe that this testing is measure of your faith. It’s so easy to desire great and new things but the real question that maybe the Lord is asking is, “Can I trust him/her with this new thing?” or “Is he/she really as ready as they think they are for this new thing?”.

Maybe you’re dealing with some difficult storms in your youth ministry right now, be encouraged…maybe the Lord is taking you to the other side and this is just part of the growing process.

keep it burning…

Have You Been Comparing?

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was at the gym not too long ago working on my biceps feeling pretty buff. I had 25 lbs. dumb bells in my each hand and I was going to town, so I thought until I looked over to my right. I saw another guy about my age with 100 lbs. dumb bells in each hand going to town like it was nothing new under the sun. By this time I had lost all motivation and concentration as I watched this young buck doing what I was doing, but better , and on a whole different level. I quickly put my dumb bells down and proceeded to find another work out to do which messed up my entire routine for that night.

I feel like there is a definite parallel to youth workers and this story. In youth ministry you can find yourself doing what God has called you to do on your level and doing it well. Then you end up looking at another youth pastor’s ministry who seems to be thriving more than you, growing faster than you, having a bigger budget than you, and then it easily throws you off of concentrating on what God has for YOU. You sometimes even find yourself attempting to mirror that very same youth ministry in hopes of getting the same results, but the truth is that you aren’t that youth pastor and that isn’t your youth ministry.

The truth is that God has called YOU, yup! That’s right, God has called YOU for such a time as this to be right where you’re at to do what HE’s called you to do and not what others are doing. The problem with ministry now is that it has started to reflect this-worldly culture of quick results and if you’re not getting microwave speed results then you must being doing something wrong. That’s a lie! The Bible declares that an inheritance quickly gained will not be blessed in the end. Maybe you’re in a season right now of turning the soil, maybe you’re in a season of planting seed, maybe you’re in a season of waiting on the harvest but wherever you are don’t grow tired in doing good for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.

Here’s a P.S. for you….not every ministry is called to be a Mega Church ministry. Anyone with a big budget and a creative team can pack a building and grow a youth ministry but only a Shepherd can grow people.

I can remember my first day as the official high school youth leader as if it were yesterday. At the time I was in Bible School in the inner city of Los Angeles and I was confident and ready to take on the world. I was ready to let loose and watch revival happen at the sound of the keys being played on the key board. I was ready to reap a harvest like no other.

I wish that I could say that this all actually happened but the truth is that it didn’t. My first day as a high school youth leader was composed of me preaching my guts out to 3 teenagers in a conference room with fold out chairs and a boom box as a worship team. By the way, these teens didn’t listen to a word that I said.

This was my beginning! This was my start! This was my dream coming to reality yet looking nothing like what I envisioned it to be. So many times in ministry youth pastors get this idea that they’re going to graduate Bible School and be launched into a Mega Church with 100’s of youth and the latest technology and crazy fat budget. The truth is that unless you’re the son/daughter of a Mega Church pastor…that ain’t going to happen, sorry.

Lets be realistic for a second. Maybe God does want to blow up your ministry and take you to great heights but before God can entrust you with that you’re going to have to prove faithful in what’s at hand. Paul said that it’s a requirement that we prove faithful with the trust that has been given to us.

I came to the realization early in my ministry journey that I was going to have to learn how to love one student before I could love many. I was going to have to be faithful with what God had given me before I could be faithful in the greater. This didn’t come easy but it eventually came, and we as youth pastors need to be careful that we don’t find ourselves comparing ourselves to others. When you do that you can find yourself competing and doing ministry out of selfish ambition rather than because of your love for God and your love for people. The truth is that you never know the story of another youth pastor and what they had to go through in order to get to where they’re at.

The book of Job says it best in Job 8:7 (NLT); Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Hold on to that truth for your ministry and know that in all things God is working everything out for your good.

To be continued….

keep it burning…

Youth Ministry Health 101

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Here is the typical question that you will hear amongst youth pastors when in  ministry, “So how many youth are you running now?”.

That very question can do either one of two things. The first thing that it can do is cause you to want to shrink your head back into your shell because your youth ministry isn’t in the 100’s or for that matter it might not even be in the double digits. If you’ve ever been here than you know that the urge to exaggerate your numbers has run across your mind before.

Now if you have a larger youth group the 2nd thing that runs through your mind is “I can’t wait to share how many kids come to my youth ministry because we’re BIG BALLING right now”. Whatever the case may be numbers is always a factor, whether the pressure comes from your senior pastor or whether it comes from your own desire.

I have sat on both sides of the spectrum but my goal today is not to focus on how big or how small your group is, but rather to get you to think about something else and that’s “Health”. Many times we in ministry overlook this very thing because the focus is growth, events, fun, not crashing the church van, and picking up pizza off of the floor in the youth room after service. That’s all fine and dandy, but we must look a little bit deeper if we want to have a successful youth ministry.

You see the by-product of health is growth. If you were to plant a seed in the ground, the growth of that plant would be determined by all of the right conditions and of course and most importantly healthy soil. Healthy soil yields great results. In the same way a healthy ministry will yield healthy leaders, disciples, and ministry.

When Jesus was getting ready to perform a great miracle of feeding 5,000 people by multiplying five loaves and two fish He did something very significant prior to performing the miracle of multiplication and that was putting the people in order. Jesus instructed the disciples to place the people in groups of about fifty and after there was order Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish,  looked up to Heaven, thanked the Father, and began to distribute the food as it was multiplied.

The great lesson that we as youth workers can learn from this is that Jesus placed things in order before He multiplied them. We as youth workers must work at setting things in order by nurturing our youth ministries towards health, and as a result the harvest will come. The Lord will not bring growth to something that is not healthy, but remember that health begins with you.

Lets set out priorities on the right things and the rest will follow….