Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catalyst or Crutch?

This past weekend I got to do some training with a couple youth ministries in the area. We were simply going through one session of our leadership training events which includes some teaching & a couple of team building initiatives. After I had finished explaining the rules & goals to the students an adult volunteer came up to them and shouted out that they needed to pay attention to what they were just taught by their pastor & that if they didn't they'd screw up. He proceeded to come up to me and whisper, "You know they can't do it, you gotta give them something." My jaw just about hit the ground.

Perhaps this guys intentions were good & he probably did care about the students, but in reality is that all you need to be an adult volunteer? If we 'gotta' give the students something how about our trust, encouragement or even more difficult, the self control to hold back & let them figure it out. We as adults can be the biggest catalyst for a student's faith or unfortunately we can be one of the biggest crutches for a student's faith. We have to be willing to let go sometimes & trust that as difficult as it may be for them, we have to believe that this is the best way for them to learn, grow & own their relationship with Christ.

Question: What boundaries do you set up for yourself when figuring out when you should challenge or save students?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Disciplined in Service

My fiancee (for only 21 more days) and I have been talking a lot about discipline in our lives lately. We have had very full schedules with school, work, housing, wedding & job searching being just a few of the things that take up our days. We have noticed that we tend to lack discipline in certain areas. However today for just a moment I was really made aware of just how disciplined in service Andrea is.

Today I stopped in at her place of employment, Panera Bread, to work on talk I am giving for a job interview this Wednesday. She sat down with me on her lunch break to chat and enjoy some company. Let me tell you this is some what of a rare thing for her at Panera. Andrea will regularly forfeit her 30 minute break if work is busy or she knows someone else needs a break, so when she sits down for a lunch break I think she really is entitled to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time from work. 

As we were talking about our weekend & the usual wedding stuff she overheard a couple of customers talking about how the man had ordered the wrong sandwich for his significant other. Before I had given it much thought, Andrea stopped eating, got up from her seat & said, "Let me take care of that for you. We can switch your sandwich right away." I think the customers were some what surprised but were definitely grateful for her willingness to fix their error.

Discipline is one of those things that when you ask God for it he really isn't going to give it to you. What he is going to do is give you opportunities to practice it. I know Andrea has regularly been asking God to give her a servant's heart. I am excited to see that her diligence and prayer for it are paying off. My guess is that she didn't even think twice about it and most likely her response to it would be, "It's just part of my job."

Where are you being disciplined today? Are you taking advantage of small opportunities to go the extra mile for someone? Don't worry if they don't recognize it but know that God does, and it is not in vain.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Polluted by the World

I am back! Seems like it's been longer, but I just spent nine days down in wonderful Siguatepeque, Honduras. I had another great opportunity to connect with my friends at La Providencia, play with some children & lead a team of students. Our goal as a team this time was twofold. We needed to build a playground for the children who attended Academia La Providencia & help a local church in the area launch its first Vacation Bible School (VBS).
This is my good friend who always greets me with
a hug & request to ride on my shoulders.
Both provided challenges & obstacles for us as team but in the end we were able to see the hard work we put in pay off as we engaged with the children of Siguatepeque who enjoyed the fruit of our labor. As I engaged with the team & the children there I was struck by a passage I had read several times being lived out regularly by the people there. James 1:27 tells us, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure & faultless is this: to look after widows & orphans in their distress.." La Providencia uses this passage as the focal point of their service & love to the community in Siguatepeque. I have learned this, seen it & even experienced it in my own life. What I realized this past week was in the past I had done a great job of skipping over the last part of James 1:27;

"...and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

This is hit me hard. In a time in my life right now where I am experiencing more change than I probably ever have or ever will I was convicted of how I was being polluted by the world. I realized all these families, employees, children, teachers & people of La Providencia & Siguatepeque were doing a far superior job of keeping themselves from being polluted by the world. Back here I am worrying about what size & color dessert plates I am going to have at my wedding while these people are more concerned for loving the individual next to them regardless of their skin color & regardless of how inconvenient it might be for them.

I was excited when I returned home & shared this with Andrea to find out she felt much the same way as I did. So with that we have been taking a new approach on all this life planning, putting through the lens of James 1:27. We want to make sure we aren't being polluted by the world & getting ourselves wrapped up financially, emotionally & time wise. We know our wedding day is important, but we know more importantly that our God wants us to seek him out in this time of 'joyful chaos'.

You can continue reading about my time in Honduras on La Providencia's blog where I guest posted!

Question: What disciplines do you have in place to keep yourselves from being "polluted by the world"?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creativity & Youth Ministry

Seeing I couldn't say it much better myself, I am going to spare you my poor attempt to put into words what Doug Franklin has already said pretty well. Doug is the President of LeaderTreks (and my boss) & the visionary behind the amazing tools & resources we offer. 

Check out his blog to see what he's saying about Leadership Development. Then follow him on Twitter to get updates on what he's thinking.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Bryan Allain Should Help You Hire Your Next Youth Pastor

Over the past few weeks I have been really trying to figure out what I am going to be doing next after my current role at LeaderTreks ends in August. As I have started searching all over the web I have found tons of postings from churches saying they have jobs available. Now while I am looking at a wide range of job opportunities I am only going to be referring to one: Youth Pastor/Director positions.

I have probably read close to 100 job descriptions that are in search of a youth worker. After reading all of them & applying to only a few I have realized three reasons why a lot of churches need Bryan Allain's help. Bryan is a funny guy I just came across on Twitter & am now hooked on his blog. He combines great whit with honest truth & I think most youth ministry job seekers would appreciate his candor.

1. Be Realistic--Now I know in scripture Paul talks about being all things to all people (1 Cor 9:22), but I don't think he was using that in the context of trying to land his next gig. Churches, most of us looking at your jobs are in our mid to late 20s. It is ridiculous for you to ask for someone who has a masters, five years of youth ministry experience, tech-savvy, able to lead & develop a youth worship band, speak Spanish, oh and somehow be married with all the free time leftover from burying ourselves into the ground trying to do it all.

*helpful hint: we know you want someone who is going to be great for your students, so if you must list all the above requirements, add some humor to it (insert Bryan here).

2. Website--Good grief, whatever currency churches earned with me on their job description, many burned it up when I clicked on the link to go to their church website. If your website looks like it is from 1995 I'm going to assume you are a little old fashioned. Sure it would be nice to think "they are probably too busy in the community spreading the love of Jesus to update their website," but in reality it probably means they're thinking, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Which probably means you want the youth ministry to be like it was in 1995.

*this is probably why you want your next youth worker to be tech-savvy isn't it?
**Elmbrook Church has pretty good website.

3. Expectations--To be honest, the relationship I have with my future Senior Pastor is the thing I am more worried about than anything else. So it often scares me when I read in these job descriptions that I am basically supposed to shut my mouth, get in line with all the other people at the church (staff & members), and do what he tells me. Chances are this guy is 15-20 years older than me. Chances are he has a lot of ministry & experiences under his belt. But if that just equates to entitlement for him, then I will pass. Tony Dungy mentors Mike Vick, & they weren't best buddies or a part of the same team. If you, Senior Pastor, can't promise me a relationship that goes beyond what my budget looks like & how many kids are coming then don't get mad at me when I have "WWEvangelism Night: Wrestling Your Way Through Life".

*if this describes your youth pastor/senior pastor relationship I suggest checking out The Disconnect by Doug Franklin.

What has been your experience with job searching and a church's requirements & expectations?