Youth Ministry Reflections pt. 2

2. If it’s not an adventure it’s not youth ministry.

I’m a planner, and a worrier, I like to make sure that all my ducks are in a row before an event or outing, and then I worry that some ducks will wander into the street and get crushed by a mack truck. That’s just the way I am. So when things don’t go right I have a tendency to get totally bummed.

The funny thing is that in youth ministry there are so many variables that something is bound to go wrong. And it’s in these moments of . . . “where are we? what happened to . . .? So that’s how you replace a tire on a people mover.”

So what happens when your plans go to crap? Memories happen. As a youth leader I learned that the most important thing in those “oh crap” moments is to make it fun. Don’t take yourself and your plans so seriously that if anything goes wrong it’s a failure. It’s not a failure it’s a moment to make a memory.

I started serving in a youth ministry right after I graduated from high school, and in the ten years that I was working in youth ministry as a volunteer, part time, full time, I’ve never been wreckless, never lost a kid, never even had any broken bones. But there were plenty of moments where things went against my plans and I had a choice to make, worry, or laugh. And I found the better thing to do was laugh. If I’m worried, everyone’s worried, if I can find joy, then I can pass joy to others.

So remember, if It it’s not an adventure it not youth ministry.

Youth Ministry Reflections pt.1

Last night we welcomed Mike and Lisa Brandow into the student ministry at Creekside Church. I am so glad to have Mike and Lisa on the Creekside team. It’s amazing how God knits things together. But with Mike and Lisa coming on board, I am now able to focus my attentions on leading the Spiritual Growth, Ministry and Serving purpose areas at Creekside.

I thought I would take a little time this week to write some reflections on my time in youth ministry. I’ll try to write one post each day about something that I learned.

1. I can’t fix kids.
This may be the most important and most difficult lesson that I had to learn. No matter how hard I try I can’t actually make anyone behave any differently. I wish I could fix people, because I usually have what I consider to be a pretty sensible solution for people’s problems. If they would only do what I say, everything would be better for therm.

That rarely works however, and if it does work it’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit working in their lives. As a youth pastor (or any kind of pastor) my job is to love Jesus, and love the people that Jesus has called me to serve. I can point people to truth, compel them to trust Jesus and live lives that honor him, but I cannot actually fix them.

It is so hard to let the Spirit do his job, but I need to, and I need to be ok with his timing not mine. It’s incredibly deflating when a parent asks you to fix their kid at a weekend camp. And I understand the parent’s heart for their kids, but I can’t fix a kid. The only response that I can give a parent in that situation is pray while we’re at camp. Pray, pray, pray.

But when you realize that you can’t fix kids it’s also incredibly liberating. I know that I will have multiple opportunities to invest in these kids, and I can begin to invest in them and encourage them and point them to Jesus. I don’t have to be in a sales mode for Jesus, I don’t always have Always Be Closing the deal for salvation. Which is a pretty freeing place to be. Instead of giving an altar call in ever conversation, the focus changes to walking a life long journey of transformation with students.

I Agree with Tim

At the Life In Student ministry blog, Tim posted his reasoning for keeping High School and Jr. High combined.

I agree with his assessment.  I grew up in a ministry that had a combined big group mid week and then more age specific sunday school.  The big gathering on wednesday nights were some of my favorite times as a Jr. Higher because I saw people older than me actively engaging their faith, and maybe our group was unique (i hope not) but I always felt that the older kids were very inclusive with the younger ones.

What do you think?

Success?

I know senior pastors can go through some pretty depressing thoughts on Sunday afternoon, and monday.  Re-hashing what they said, what they could have said, what the church needs to do better or differently, feeling like a failure.

Well youth pastors can go through that too.  I’ve been feeling it lately.  I know that the size of our ministries weekly attendance is small, and I have a certain amount of internal and external pressure to see it grow.  And that sucks.  I try to play it cool, like it doesn’t affect me, but it does.  The frustration grows and the ministry doesn’t.

This morning I started my work week by sending in last nights youth group numbers.  And I commented for the first time on my frustration.  I never do that.  I usually just email in the numbers and move on.   I didn’t know why I did that.  I cleaned out my inbox, and then went to my google reader account to read some of my blog mentors.  I find this is a good way for me to start the day.  Email, check the blogs, and then focus on my projects the rest of the day.  That’s just my process.

The 2nd blog I read was from

The size of your ministry does not determine the level of your success.