Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I Haven’t Quit Being a Youth Pastor

It was five years ago that the Youth Pastor sat me down and asked me if I would be willing to take over the Youth Pastor job, as he was going to England to be a missionary. Five years later I am still the YP. Here’s why I am still involved in the youth ministry and why I still enjoy it:

1. Students worshipping the Lord

What an incredible experience it is to go into a room full of teenagers and see them worshipping the Lord and encountering the presence of the Lord in their lives! I never get tired of seeing them pondering who God is and seeking Him for their own life.
2. Teens owning their faith

To sit with a teenager or hear them share with the entire group how they are sharing their faith or living out their faith is incredible. I love to hear it. It challenges me in my own faith to grow more and more with the Father.
3. Longevity as a Youth Pastor is critical in the lives of teens

I see each year as a YP that the more I grow in relationships with the teens, the more I gain their trust. I can’t imagine staying as a YP for a year and then going to the next church. Teens want consistency. I want consistency. Consistency as a YP is probably more important than what is taught. Consistency = faithfulness.

4. My free time is all about the teens

Being a YP demands that I use my free time to build relationships and grow in my own relationship with the Lord. I am constantly thinking about how I can use my free time to benefits the lives of my teens.
5. A Great Pastor and Elders

Having a supportive Pastor and Elders makes my position as a YP enjoyable. I could not be the YP I am without their support.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teen Perspectives

This week I’ll be interviewing….

Stella Cordova

She loves music, reading, writing, meeting new
people, and talking with hurting people to bring them comfort.

Let’s see what she has to say:

1. Looking back, what things do you wish your YP focused on?

I wish he had focused more on the hardships that we dealt with. It’s not common to talk about saving sex for marriage, or depression, or drug abuse, but it’s destroying our generation and killing our youth. The church isn’t talking about it even though it’s something we are really struggling with. We need someone to tell us about it and help us fight it.

I also wish that he had been more open and welcoming to us and that he worked harder at building relationships with us. That’s crucial to the youth. If someone is in their youth group for a month or two and all they know is their name, that’s really sad. My YP never really talked to us individually or tried to get to know us. He was kind of a “Wednesday-night” Youth Pastor, he’d show up for his half hour and that was it.

2. Did your YP have any policies on secular music or dating?

No. I wish they did though. Many of the youth leaders would listen to secular music on a daily basis and you could see that in the way they lived. A lot of them ended up being asked to step down because they had become pregnant or had gotten someone pregnant outside of marriage. Our Assistant YP actually had premarital sex and ended up marrying the girl because he got her pregnant. Our treasurer married this guy she didn’t even love because she had a child with him but they ended up getting a divorce.

Dating can be a touchy subject but it needs to be talked about; it can save someone’s life – and their purity.

If the church doesn’t speak up, where else are we going to learn about purity?

3. How did it affect you to have your leaders fall into sexual sin?

It really affected us all. The youth group broke up after that. My YP had a good relationship with Christ and then he fell and it was really hard for all of us to handle. A lot of us thought that if he couldn’t do it then we can’t do it. It made me feel like I had no hope or chance.

4. Did your youth group go on any missions trips? If so, how did it impact you and your youth group?

The youth group specifically didn’t have any missions trips, but the church did and they encouraged the youth to attend. Some of the youth went and it affected their lives dramatically.

There was one guy who was very coldhearted and bitter, but he went on this two week missions trip and the Lord completely moved in his life. Before he didn’t like talking to people but after the trip he would reach out to others and talk to them. He had joy and compassion and you could just tell that God had totally changed

5. How did the youth ministry cause you to grow more in love with God?

The worship. My youth group focused a lot on Christian music and worshipping the Lord. Music is such a big part of my life so the worship really helped to lead me to Christian artists and away from secular ones.

The first ATF I went to was with my Youth Group. That was like the first time I had been exposed to Christian music. Since then I haven’t listened to secular music.

6. If you could tell the YP’s of today something, what is it that you think they need to hear?

I would tell them not to lose hope. Stay encouraged and encourage your youth group. Be involved in our lives and in what we’re struggling in and dealing with. We are looking for direction. Help us by taking your place in leadership and becoming the leader that God has called you to be. Your youth group and this generation as a whole are in desperate need of you. And remember that great things always come from things that take a lot of hard work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

David Crowder does Jesus is a Friend of Mine

While the video of "Jesus is a Friend of Mine" went throughout the blogosphere a few months ago, David Crowder decided to do his own rendition of the song.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Encouraging Your Worship Leader

I am privileged enough to have a worship band in the youth ministry as well as an excellent worship leader. I have had 3 worship leaders during my 5 years as a Youth Pastor. Here are some things I have done to encourage my worship leader.

1. Give them feedback

My current leader just started leading a few months ago and several times she has asked me how she is diong. Worship leaders are looking for feedback and looking for it often.

2. Let them see you worshipping
I can't think of anything worse than a worship leader looking out at the crowd and seeing the Youth Pastor looking back at them with no expression or not worshipping with the rest of the group. When your worship leader is singing, make sure you are too. If your worship leader gives direction to the group, make sure you are responding to their direction.

3. Talk about them to your students often
When I get around the students one-on-one, I talk very favorably about my worship leader. When I have had the transition from the old worship leader to the new one, I have always had some of the teens comment about how they like the previous style, how they sang, etc. It is my job as the Youth Pastor to listen to them and then re-focus them on the great gifts our new worship leader has and how God has brought them to lead us in worshipping the Lord.

4. Publicly praise them
Whenever you get the chance, publicly share with the group of teens why you appreciate your worship leader.

Here are just a few ways we as Youth Pastors can encourage our worship leaders so they will be nourished as they lead us into the presence of God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What did they say?

I have a cell phone. It is the kind that receives email so I mostly email people. The problem with emailing is that I mostly email other "30-somethings". Teenagers focus on texting. That is what they do. If you are wondering what all of those texting words and slangs mean, I have the website for you. It will decode all of those texts they are sending you and/or other teenagers. I am going to go and check it out now and learn a thing or two.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Zach's 6th Birthday Party

Here is my son Zach celebrating with his friends at his birthday party.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Teen Perspectives

Today I'll be interviewing

Jessica Scull

She enjoys talking with people and going to the beach with
friends back home in CA!

Let's see what she has to say:

What subjects do you wish your YP had spoken about at Youth Group?

Self Worth, end-times, the church being the bride, and how defeating sin in your life is a process! I wish he taught more about how the devil is real, and has come to kill, steal and destroy! My YP talked about a lot of the things we do wrong as teens in America, and how God feels about it. But it wasn’t effective. He just told us what we were doing wrong, but never told us how to change. We felt really condemned. I wish he would have also explained how to make things right.

Did your YP talk about dating?

No. But they need to talk about it and not avoid it. It’s not just your personal view on dating – we need to know what the Bible says. I have only been a Christian for two years. I was dating an atheist about six months after I gave my life to the Lord – no one even told me that was wrong. I needed godly women around me and I didn’t have that. I needed a YP to talk about godly relationships and dating.

What are some things you'd like your YP to know?

The importance of personal invitations: Some people don't come to Youth Group because they don't feel as though anyone has ever reached out to them. Of course everyone is welcomed if they come, but some people want a personal invitation. They want to feel like they’re wanted.

The importance of loving confrontation and follow up: Some also didn’t come because they were going just to be impressed and entertained , they weren't going to seek God. That’s something our youth group just wasn’t doing – even as individuals. Their hearts were in the wrong, but no one called them out on their bad attitudes either. A lot of them just stopped going - but no one followed up with them.

The importance of peer leadership: I think if the peer leaders were aware of the situations going on in youth group and prayed about it together that they would be really effective. I know the YP can't do everything, so if they helped to address some of the issues I think it would be different. I would have like my YP to push us to be leaders more.

Final thoughts:

Youth groups are very important, and I think they should be taken more seriously. Most churches from what I know have a new YP every year, which shows a lack of commitment. That speaks volumes to teenagers. High school years are extremely difficult and they have a lot of different influences around them! I want people to make a big deal out of them and spend more time in prayer for their students!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Happiest Job in the World

Why am I so happy to be working with young people? This articles proves it.

This new study shows that the number one job in America is...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Curriculum Review

As a Youth Pastor I have read and gone through several youth ministry books and curriculums. I have enjoyed many of them. One that has really challenged me to plan and prepare for the youth ministry that I am part of is the Double Vision Curriculum. This course is written by Ron Luce and chronicles the systems he has used to run the ministry of Teen Mania. He uses his example as an outline for every youth pastor to use as far as the nuts and bolts of running their youth ministry.
The book has so many practical ideas and gives many templates for you to write out your own objectives, goals, strategies, and measures. I went through the curriculum almost 3 years ago, and I really need to go through it again to hone what my ministry is about and what God really wants to do through it. I would encourage you to check it out. It is a valuable resource.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jesus Loves You???

Another round of Christian Music from many years ago...WOW!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marketing Starbucks Like Church

From my perspective as a Youth Pastor, I watched this video thinking over what elements parallel to things I currently do in our youth ministry. I laughed when the couple went up to the cash register and the "barista" asked if this was their first time at a coffee shop. They raised their hand, and everybody clapped.

As I laughed, I considered how I greet the guests at our youth ministry. I have been greeting them primarily the same way for the last 4 years. How do you greet your guests? Is it time for you to start changing the way you greet them? What is the best way you have ever been greeted at a church gathering?

Enjoy the video as you think about your guests.