Monthly Archives: September 2013

3 Leadership Principles from Jesus’ Life

Let me set this up for you, and I’ll try to do this quickly, since most of you probably will be skipping this intro anyway, and just skimming down to the bold list below.  Hey, I read blogs too, I’m not offended.

So, here is the breakdown of the story found in John 13:1-20.  Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples.  Peter refused to be washed by His Savior.  Jesus calms Him down, and ends up washed all of the disciples feet (yes, if you know the story of Jesus, that includes the one that would betray Him).

What does this story have to do with leadership?  Well, I am glad you asked.  Goodness, that was corny, but I’m still writing, and unwilling to push backspace.   Okay, no more waiting, here is the list of leadership principles in Jesus washing feet:

jesusleadershipHumility.  This was is pretty obvious, but it can’t be skipped over.  As the ultimate leader, Jesus was willing to do tasks that usually given to servants in the household.  Jesus was willing to clean the filthy feet of those that were about to scatter, abandon, and even betray him.  That takes it to a new level.  Talk about humility.  Jesus was going to receive nothing in this exchange, except rejection.

Service.  No act of service was beneath Jesus.  He was willing to wash filthy feet, and he was willing to give His life.  In terms of being a leader, nothing should be beneath us in service of God and others.  As a pastor, there may not be someone around to plunge the toilet.  As a youth leader, you may have to mop up the vomit.  As a servant in God’s kingdom, you may have to out of your comfort zone for the Gospel to be heard.  Don’t let any service for others, and especially God be beneath you.

Vision.  This was a brilliant move by our Savior.  Jesus was giving a powerful illustration of what He wanted from his followers.  Jesus, by humbly serving His disciples, was teaching the men, who Jesus would leave the Gospel message in their hands, how to be a leader.  He taught them they were not above the message or the subject of the message (verse 16).  Christ saw this as an opportunity to show how them an example of true humble service.  Serve God and others humbly, never thinking more of yourself.  Jesus said if He is willing to do this, as Lord, you should be willing to do it for others.

Humility.  Service.  Vision.  Want to be a leader?  I’d say these three things would be a good place to start.

 

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Mission Trip Responsibility List

misionesAs mentioned in previous blog posts, it is important to give the students responsibility on this trip, and raise the bar of expectations.  After all, it is called a STUDENT mission trip, not a Youth-Pastor-Led Mission Trip or a My-Parents-Made-Me-Go Trip.  It can be done a number of ways, but one easy way is to give a spiritual gift inventory, then use the results to give student responsibilities that fit their God-given gifts and responsibilities.  Before I give you list, keep in mind a couple of things:  Don’t underestimate these students, Don’t be afraid to let them fail (but not fall completely), and put them in charge of something.  Give them ownership…and here are some ways you can do that…here some examples of trip responsibilities:

Communicator/Trip Administrator: Keep the team current on what is needed at the meetings, keep the church updated on the progress of the team, and maintain home contact during the trip. (That was my job.)

Work Coordinators: Make sure all the stuff gets done in order for us to live. Organize efforts for bag lunches, clean-up, and make sure we have everything we need before going to a ministry site and again when leaving.

Team Encouragers: Make sure we “do everything without grumbling or complaining” and be available to team members when needed. Let them know they are appreciated and valued. Guard the morale of the team.

Communication Assistants: Assist adult leaders by leading tasks and communicating for them as asked.

Ministry Coordinators: Make sure presentation and programs are planned and executed in an orderly and excellent fashion.

Photographers/Videographers: Record images that capture the spirit of the team, the people, the culture and the sights of location to help us remember and to share the experiences with those back home.

Prayer Coordinators: Make sure the team is “praying without ceasing.” Take the initiative to bring the team together for prayer. Keep a prayer journal for the team, including requests, praises and answers to prayer.

Public Relations: Make sure we leave a good impression wherever we go. Prepare “thank you” notes for people we visit.

Praise Band Member: Assist the music leaders. Help lead music, teach hand motions, generate excitement for the songs.

Music/Band Leaders & Members: Need to find children music appropriate for program, come up with motions to songs, practice and know songs well, provide upbeat music portion of program.

Game/Prize: In charge of coming up with group games, organizing the materials, running the games, and distributing prizes.

Drama Team: Find or write a drama that fits the theme of the week.  Team members must memorize their lines, come up with prop ideas, and practice their skits/dramas regularly.  Organize dramas and practices.

Teaching Team: Organize supplies, including materials transportation. Make sure everyone has the proper materials, teach others on the team how to lead story, games, check inventory, etc.

Multi-media Team: Oversee sound equipment, including transportation from location to location, as well as projectors, setup, tear-down, etc.  Also will help with PowerPoint and videos when needed.

Crowd Supervisor: When not included in program, sit with the kids in the crowd, encourage participation, do the motions, create energy, and keep an eye on and control kids in crowd.

Hospitality Team:  Leaving a good impression wherever we go – hotel, conference, on the streets/neighborhoods, etc.  Also, need to make sure this is done during training & interaction at church.  PLEASE & THANK YOU’S ALL DAY LONG!

Cleaning Crew:  You are not a maid service.  However, you need to make sure rooms are neat, people pick up after themselves, & put stuff away.  We are sharing rooms, so don’t treat it like a bedroom.  A big part of your job is encouragement for the REAL maid service – leave thank you notes, and keep room reasonable.  (This applies to those staying in hotels, but can be modified to other mission trip locations)

Prop Set Leader:  Oversee equipment transportation, organizing props, setup, putting them away afterwards, etc.

Supply Team:  “Did we forget something?”.  Your job is to make sure we answer “no” to that question, both when we leave Columbus, and each time we leave the hotel.  Also, help keeping track of people.

Trip Mom: Covers what Youth Pastor/Leader cannot…be a mom to the kids.  This would include helping those that are not feeling well, those that get hurt, those that are crying, and other things that your Youth Pastor is poor at doing.

Team Secretary:  Keep track of all this is mission trip.  Help the Team Communicator and other program team leaders stay organized.  Will also help with organization of team meals and help assist the Schedule Administrator.

Schedule Administrator:  Make sure we are on schedule and not late to things.  Will update the team on what is next and where we need to be.  Will need to have a good handle on the schedule to update leaders & team.

 

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Book Reviews: Explicit Gospel & Mentoring The Next Generation

the-explicit-gospel-BOOKBook Review:  Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The Good:  Maybe I should label this category, “The Great” or “The Awesome”, because that would describe this book much better.  It totally blew me out of the water for most of the reading experience.  Any book that makes you love the Gospel more is a must read, but this goes beyond that.  It helps you love, appreciate, understand, and want to share the Gospel more.  It presents a Gospel that is not watered-down, one that needs to preached from every pulpit and spoken by every Christian.  This book takes you on a Gospel journey that you never want to leave.

The Bad:  There were some subtle theological differences that I personally had in the Consummation and End Times discussion.  Not anything that would taint or misrepresent the Gospel.  But found myself raising a quarter to a half eyebrow once or twice.

The Grade:  A. you heard me right, I said an A.  This book deserves it and will be on my favorites shelf for all to see.  I read this book with one of my college students, and we both couldn’t wait to discuss it each week.  It drives a passion for the Gospel within you like no other.  It was written with high academia, yet has well placed humor to keep it light and fresh.  Absolutely loved this book.

mentoringnextgenBook Review:  Mentoring the Next Generation by Mel Walker

The Good:  You know what I love about this book; well it comes down to two things.  One, whatever principle or idea that is presented is well backed with Scripture.  Not every book on mentoring or discipleship can hold that claim, and I really appreciate the research done to make sure the thoughts presented are Biblical.  Second, it is extremely practical.  This is like a mentoring kit in a short book form.  Pick it up, read it, and begin mentoring.  The ideas are practical and logical.  Meaning, they are easy steps to follow.  On a side note, the idea presented in chapter 6, basing mentoring on time availability is pure genius.  There go all the “I don’t have time” excuses right out the window!

The Bad:  Chapter 3 presents some contradictions when presenting the weaknesses and strengths of choosing mentoring partners.  Also, this is at no fault of the author, but there are some areas that can use some updating.  For example, instead of “instant messenger” it would read “Facebook”.

The Grade:  A-.    Put this in the hands of every church leader in America.  I am such a proponent of mentoring/discipleship, and this book allows you to put mentoring in motion.  It gives you practical ways to make discipleship happen, and Scriptural basis for doing so.  What a combination!

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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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How to Plan a Mission Trip Report Service

missions1In most church situations, members of the church contributed in numerous ways to the youth mission trip.  Whether it was being a faithful prayer warrior, donating materials, or contributing financially, the church as a whole was invested in the student mission trip.  Therefore, it is wise to dedicate a service to celebrate what God did on the trip.

Here’s how you plan such a service, and I broke it down into categories for you because I’m such a nice guy:

Music:

Depending on the talent and trip experience, you may not have the capacity of the youth being in charge of the music for the service.  If that is the case, then you simply have the normal praise team sing, play, and lead per the norm.

However, if music was a big part of your mission trip outreach, then by all means, allow the church to participate in what you have worked so hard to prepare and present on the field.  Even if it is children-centered music, so what!  Sing praises to the Lord!

I’ve done it both ways and they both are effective.  Again, it just depends on your circumstances.

Service Responsibilities:

This is an opportunity to teach your teens responsibility and also provide ministry training.  So, go all out and allow the teens to be ushers, door holders, sound technicians (supervised, if needed), lead the opening prayer, give announcements…and the list goes on.  Take advantage of being able to put teens in places during the main service, and hope that it sticks on a regular basis.  I’ve seen teens continue in the sound booth or do announcements periodically as a result of this opportunity.

Trip Recap:

It’s tough to pack in all the details into one sitting, but do your best.  Separate the trip training, the responsibilities and the trip days into smaller chunks.  Allow several of your students to explain each aspect of the trip, both preparation and the trip itself.

Testimonies/Message:

Typically, I say something to the effect of “this was a student mission trip, so you don’t want to hear from me, you want to hear from the students”.  And you know what, it’s true!  So get the students on stage and allow them to give their testimony.  Typically I ask for volunteers, but this year, each of them got on stage and said the following:  Name, Grade, # Mission Trip, Responsibilities on the trip, & lesson God taught them.  The impact this had on the church was astounding!  I’m still hearing great things from this!  Sure, many of the teens will be extremely nervous.  Sure, you may need to help them with their speech.  Sure, you may need to hand out paper bags for them to breathe into…but it’s worth it, and the parents will be thrilled.  If possible include leaders in this testimony time.  (Disclaimer:  I realize if your group is large, this is near impossible, so maybe have them each write/type it out and put in book form & have the older students or those that experience life change give testimony)

As for the message, if you have a student mature enough to present the message, then by all means.  Again, anything you can hand off to the students, then do so.  With this, please spend weeks up to the message helping prepare and craft the message with the teen.  Don’t leave them hanging to prepare for a message.  If a message is too big to handle for your students, then allow some to give short devotionals from the Scripture you studied in training or on the trip.

Video:mission-trip-Video1

Everybody likes a video.  Put some music to it.  And if you’re like me, you probably have students that could do this way better than you, so give them the pictures and video and let them have at it.

Other ideas: Include other summer activities within the time of testimony for those that worked at camps or those that were impacted by camp or summer conference.

There ya have it.  If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear from you.

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