I remembered the strange spelling of my biological father's name from the birth certificate. You see I had never met Toney. He and my mom had a very short term relationship. As a result she got pregnant. When he found out, he got transferred (he was in the Army.)
When I talk to many youth leaders about their outreach efforts they immediately start sharing with me about their latest monthly or quarterly outreach meeting. And therein lies the problem. Our outreach efforts should not just center around meetings where unreached teenagers are invited to attend.
It's the secret youth leader battle that's not so secret. All of us know down deep inside that the pot of hormones simmering underneath can turn into a boil in a micro-second. Given the right conditions any of us could fall, not just into lust, but into moral sin with someone we are ministering with or to in our youth groups.
After I prepare a sermon there are 5 pre-sermon rituals I go through before it's "go time." Here are the five rituals I do before I preach:
The youth leaders with longevity and impact are not always the flashiest but most have at least 3 common disciplines they consistently exemplify:
Paul's bold claim gives us three challenges as youth leaders to take both in our lives and ministries. Let's take a look at each and how they apply to us.
If you're dead set on shrinking your group then refuse to intercede for the teenagers in your youth group and community. After all it's God who produces the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6.) Stop talking to him and it will shrink for sure (in all the wrong ways.)
This breed of church flies into town and announces their arrival with a flashy marketing campaign and an entrancing stare (Lights! Camera! Action!) Then they steadily, and probably unintentionally, sink their fangs into the necks of the smaller churches in that community and drain them dry. The results are church members, offerings and involvement sucked away from these smaller churches and the vampire churches increasing their own size, budget and strength.
But, when it comes to evangelism, a mission statement can turn from big black letters on a church marquee to a little, white lie that the church is telling the community. Strike that … it's a big lie. If a church claims to be making evangelism a central priority and the people in that church are not actively sharing their faith then the mission statement of that church is not just a joke, it's a lie.
Right now there are over 300,000 Protestant churches in America. Think about it this way: there are just over 10,000 Starbucks and well over 300,000 churches! So Starbucks can saturate the United States with caffeinated drinks but almost 30x's more churches can't saturate the United States with the Living Water. Seriously?
As I travel the nation I meet a lot of young people (high school/college age) who are thinking about going into youth ministry as a vocation. I also meet a lot of youth leaders who wonder if they should have chosen a different ministry career path because of hassles and heartbreaks they have endured in their current season of ministering to teenagers.
I don't pay much attention to Christian theories of social justice that minimize the Gospel message in the whole process of ministering to the poor. I would guess that many experts who've been perpetuating these theories have never been poor themselves.
When you seek to build a youth ministry that advances the Gospel deeply into the heart of your community (and in the process, deeply into the heart of your teenagers) you will face roadblocks.
In light of Tuesday's school shooting in New Mexico, last month's school shooting in Colorado and the long string of school shootings which have buffeted this nation since April 20th, 1999 (the Columbine massacre) it's time for the church to act decisively, strategically and effectively.
She's sweet, frank, oh yeah and did I mention sweet? Margaret, with full support of her husband Larry, is like a super hero for the kingdom. At times she is the Hospitality Manager for Betenbough Homes. But at other times she she is doing stakeouts, finding sex trafficking spots and rescuing victims who are trapped in "the trade."
On January 1st my home state of Colorado will allow recreational marijuana sales and usage by anyone 21 years of age or older. Although this technically doesn't include sales to teenagers many in our state (including me) are bracing themselves for the inevitable normalization more and more teenagers smoking weed.
This short video is part of a podcast series we did at Dare 2 Share called "Live THE Cause." Put simply living THE Cause is taking the mission of Jesus to "go and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew 28:19 personally and seriously. The goal of this series is to help you and your teenagers share the gospel with impact so that disciples can be made and multiplied.
Humor is a great tool to use when communicating God's Word to teeenagers (or anyone for that matter.) It breaks down barriers, captures attention and gets the audience's adrenalin kicked into high gear. As a result, teenagers are more ready to receive what you are seeking to teach them from God's Word.
Over the last 25 years or so of ministry I've had the privilege of being a youth leader, church planter and preaching pastor. So I've been in the shoes of a youth leader working under a pastor and a pastor having a youth leader work under me. In other words I attack this challenge with a history on both sides of the ministry fence.
What do you think of when you hear the word "worship"? K-Love? Your church's Sunday morning praise team? Classic hymns? What may surprise you is that evangelism is a form or worship as well. Worship directed upwardly is praise (proclaiming to God how holy, just and loving he is.) Worship directed outwardly is evangelism (proclaiming to unbelievers how holy, just and loving God is.)
Brent Lacy, a blogger, author and Lead THE Cause University alumni youth leader, shared with me a strategy he is piloting with his teenagers to reach their community for Christ…9 blocks at a time. What I love about this plan is that it's not a "hit and run" service project.
10 Things I Do to Stay Spiritually Strong, Somewhat Sane, Happily Married and Kind of Fit While on the Road
Right now I'm right in the middle of a 16 city Dare 2 Share youth leader training tour. But I'm taking a short break to go and do some training at Youth Specialties. In between (and on the road) I'm writing, fundraising and creating stuff, stuff and more stuff that helps energize a generation to evangelize their world. Did I mention I'm a husband to one very patient wife and a father to two very high strung children? Here are ten things I do to stay spiritually strong, somewhat sane, happily married and kind of fit while on the road:
Evangelism Discipleship = Evange-cipleship. Okay, the word is kind of corny but it communicates my point. And what is that exactly? Simply this: When teenagers are equipped and unleashed to share their faith it is the ultimate discipleship accelerator.
This Wednesday "See You at the Pole" will kick off the school year for two million Christian teenagers from across the United States. See You at the Pole was inspired by the initiative of one youth leader in one youth group in Burleson, Texas, early in 1990. Since then it has exploded into a prayer movement, not just across the nation, but in twenty other nations across the globe!