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Think back to that person that invested in you. Where would you be without those late night conversations, the advice over a milkshake, or the shoulder to cry on.
Take this man named Myron. An ordinary guy who decided to invest in the next generation. And now, while in the midst of a difficult time, he is reaping the reward of all those hours spent helping young people.
Mentoring is a process that comes with a lot of meat on the bone. It can be overwhelming to know where to begin and how this mentoring thing works. Well, these two videos are a great place to start. One is how to find a mentor, and the other is how to be a mentor…
Has this ever happened to you in the summer? You plan a canoe trip and three teens show up? Or you put together a whiffle ball home run derby, one guy shows up, and is automatically declared the winner? These are true stories from my ministry. Summer events can be frustrating. Whether it is the different schedule of summer, vacations, or sports camps…it proves to be difficult to host a successful summer event. So, over the years, as I have evaluated the summer ministries, I have found two effective ways to do summer ministry.
#1 – Scale Down
Take a breather. Listen, with week-long mission trips, camps, mission projects, Vacation Bible School…your attendance at weekly meetings will begin to dip. The philosophy of scaling down in summer youth ministry is highly debated. You will find the “summer is the best time to do ministry” crowd. And if that works for you, Praise God. But, in my experience, keeping the normal ministry schedule has resulted in low attendance, picking and choosing of ministry involvement, and tired leaders.
Instead, we put our energy and passion into the other events of the summer. We serve together for big children’s ministry events. We build our efforts towards mission trips and projects. Our leaders recoup and find refreshment. And you know what happens when fall rolls around? They are pumped and primed for ministry! The summer builds up that opening night of the school year schedule.
#2 – Summer Hang Out
The summer schedule is unpredictable. So, as Kevin Durant would say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Use informal time to build into the students. Take a few guys out for ice cream, babysit for your wife to take some girls out for coffee, or invite some teens over for a ministry project during the week. Use this time for some informal discipleship, catching up, and building unity over the summer.
We posted an announcement on Facebook to let the students know their leaders were available to hang out sometime this summer. Some girls called my wife to have dinner. I was able to have lunch with a few guys the last few weeks. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but the conversations have been priceless. What I want to happen at events (informal discipleship) is happening in this brief get-together.
What about you? What works for you in the summer? I’d love to hear your secrets to a successful summer.
Book Review: Mighty Men by John Crotts
Leadership Inspiration. As a man, you don’t walk away from this book with your head down and wallowing in your “I can’t do this” pity. It gives you a little pep in your step to get the job done. This book provides you practical steps to accomplish leadership in the family.
The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me. Love when a book has a solid foundation in God’s Word. Well, this book’s foundation, walls, outlets, and ceiling fans are all rooted in the Bible. Every subject, heading, chapter is firmly supported by God’s Word throughout the book.
Just My Size. This book packs a punch is only 37 pages. For a slow reader like myself, it was a refreshing change to provide valuable information in a book that didn’t take a while to read.
Do-it-yourself Design: If you are into glossy pages, clever font, and perfectly structured chapters…keep moving along. The book is very rudimentary in design, especially the pages within. But if you are able to move past that, the value is in the words.
The Grade: A. Husbands, fathers, men…you need to pick this book up. Sure, some of this may be review, but it needs reviewed. Better yet, read it, then find someone you can mentor and give them this book. Take them to Bob Evans a few times, get the Farmer’s breakfast, put some ketchup on those home fries…and build mighty men!
Give Me Your Heart. Right off the bat, the author goes after your heart. This is not a surface “how-to” leadership book. It truly follows the title and goes deep into the heart issues of leadership.
Are You Talking to Me? Application is heavy in this one. My goodness, the pages are full of tasks for any leader. From personal exercises to interaction with staff, this book covers all bases of leadership, and provides practical tasks to make it happen.
Listen up Leaders. This is a true leadership book for those in ministry and in the workplace. It holds great value for those that want to leave an impact on those around them for generations to come.
Multiplication. I caught myself saying YES when I consistently heard motivation for discipleship. This is how it should be. There needs to be a call for more discipleship and influence of others. This book does a fantastic job of pleading for more discipleship AND showing the reader how to accomplish it.
Me, My, I. While it comes close to arrogance at time, the author tends to talk about himself and his position of leadership a great deal. While I like personal stories, it nearly becomes boasting at times. The amount of personal pronouns in this book gets to be a little much at times.
Made Me Feel Bad. OK, so this isn’t really a bad thing. When you read a leadership book you should walk away challenged and with the realization that you need improvement. This book will convict you. You will find something wrong in your leadership, so get ready.
The Grade: B. Providing practical, deep, and influential practices of leadership, this book should be picked up by any leader seeking to improve. Not allowing even the most successful to gain a feeling of arrival, anyone, at any age or accomplishment will find great value in the principles this book’s challenges and practical steps to better leadership.
I needed help. I needed a mentor. I needed discipleship. Let me start off by saying this…I had the blessing of growing up with two devoted Christ-followers as parents. They led me to salvation, brought me to church, loved me, and cared for me with selflessness and unconditional love. But, a good parent understands that their child needs more than just themselves to continue to grow. When other adults take a spiritual interest in a young person, that additional support goes a long way in their spiritual development. And I had the blessing to have many mentors and adult support (youth pastor, pastors, teachers, youth leaders, and the list goes on) willing to disciple me…I probably needed more than most to get me going in the right direction.
But one particular couple stands out. They had 5 children of their own, so I look back now and am amazed they had so much time to help me. The husband, a sharp man, was never afraid to tell me the truth, and providing sound Biblical advice. The wife was so caring, kind-hearted, and full of grace. You could call them a couple with truth and grace.
When my mom passed away, they constantly opened their home, fed me loaded nachos, and played games with me. They provided a home away from home when I was really hurting. The wife would provide me advice that I needed from a mom including “don’t be kissing till you have a ring”, and filled my belly with additional snacks that I also needed from a mom. The dad would scream laugh at my jokes, listen intently to my stories from the golf course, and be a sounding board for my career aspirations.
But one day stands out. My mom had just passed away in early May, and I needed a suit for my high school graduation. I had no clue. I never had owned a suit in my life, and didn’t know the first place to look. So I asked if this couple would meet me at the mall and give this sad kid some fashion direction. I needed a mom to stop me from picking a leisure suit, and guide me in the right direction.
We met at JCPenney. This couple helped me pick out a solid black suit. A suit I wore to my graduation from high school. A suit I wore to my graduation from college and seminary. It also became the suit that I wore on my first date with their daughter…I think you know where this is going.
This couple was always like a second father and mother to me. Now, they truly are. I fell in love with their daughter after that first date. (And no, I didn’t kiss her until she had the ring!) The mentoring and discipleship that I received in high school, still continues to this day. My father-in- law continued to disciple me as I became the primary caretaker of his daughter, just 5 years after they helped me purchase my first suit.
15 years later, they gave me money for my birthday. And after 15 years, I needed a new suit (the wife/mother-in-law’s daughter also makes a really good loaded nacho – hence needing a new suit). So with the birthday money, I decided to go to JCPenney with my wife and kids, and purchase a new solid black suit. It reminded me of that special day, and the many other days this couple disciple me patiently to help me become a better follower of Jesus.
So, pastors, youth leaders, parents, teachers, friends…what does a mentor look like? What does discipleship look like? It looks a lot like life. A mentor is someone that is willing to sacrifice their time and energy to provide godly wisdom to everyday life. Sure, this couple may have had 300 other things to do that day, but they knew I needed help for an important day. And there had to be times they wanted a quiet night when I rang the doorbell, but the nachos and “take two” game were ready for me every time without a complaint. Life and time. You put those two things together under the precious wisdom of God’s Word, you have discipleship.
Take time to be a mentor. Take time to disciple a younger person, or a younger believer. Treat them like family, because one day they just might be.
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.
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!
This philosophy of ministry has come with learning some things the hard way, from valuable mentoring from veterans in the ministry, and reading many youth ministry books...but the most important factors in determining my philosophy of ministry…God’s leading (you will notice each point is supported with Scripture) and what developed true spiritual life change in teenagers. After reading, would love to hear your reactions, and also what you have in your philosophy…always willing to learn from others. Here is my philosophy of ministry:
Spiritual Growth – REAL Faith
Colossians 1:23 – If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
There is an epidemic of students graduating from High School and from the church. What will keep the students in the faith? What will keep them interested, involved, and in the church? The cure is the development of a faith that is grounded, settled, and not easily moved. The goal of youth ministry should be to assist in the development of the student’s faith (notice it is the student’s faith, not their parents’ or pastor’s faith) to where the entrance into adult life, the arguments of secular professors, and the tragedies of life will have no affect on the student’s faith in their great God.
Romans 10:13-14 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Every believer and follower of Jesus Christ has been called to reach the lost. Youth ministry has a responsibility to enable, encourage, and exercise evangelism. The largest mission field in the United States right now is on the high school campus. There needs to be training for these students as they enter the battle. These students need to be taught how evangelism works. Evangelism is not something that comes easy to many students. They need to be encouraged to share their faith with others and bring their friends to church. Finally, the students need to have opportunities to exercise evangelism. Whether this is through specific outreach events or mission trips, the students need to put their faith into action.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
“The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents…the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family. This is not a job for specialists. It is a job for parents.” (George Barna, Revolutionary Parenting).
The goal of the youth pastor and his ministry team is to be an assistant coach to the head coaches, the parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to raise the children, and the youth ministry should assist with that goal in various ways. This assistance occurs through the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual counsel and encouragement, and prayer.
Alongside those essential spiritual actions, there are practical aspects that need to be brought to the table. A good assistance coach will help in game planning, go to the coach when they see a player struggling or injured, and help inform the coach where they lack the knowledge. Youth ministry is no different. The youth ministry team should help the parents game plan. In other words, they should help them develop the spiritual goals for their child and allow the programs and teachings to aid in reaching those goals. Also, it is imperative for the youth ministry to go to the parents when a student is struggling spiritually. There will be times when behavior is inappropriate, words throw up red flags, or things are said in small groups where the parents need to be made aware. Then, the youth pastor can aid in the recovery process. Lastly, there needs to be parent meetings that include youth culture updates, upcoming event information, discussion/advice from other parents and other essential communication that will act as support in the parenting process. After all, it is the responsibility of the coach for the team’s behavior, but the assistant coach has a vested interest in the outcome of the game.
Matthew 28:19-20 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
The Bible does not say to have many programs and hope disciples will result from each event. While there are programs that are effective in that respect and reaching young people, youth ministry can easily miss the target. One significant determining factor of young people leaving the church is relationships. Recent research has supported this claim (Group Magazine, March/April 2010 & Essential Church, 37, 64-65). Teens, sadly, will not remember each Bible study and Sunday School topic, but they will remember the times where a leader or pastor discipled them, mentored them, and built a relationship that helped them grow spiritually. Discipleship, mentorship, and relationship are at the heart of youth ministry. These methods are a replica of the ministry model that Jesus Christ established with his disciples. If youth ministry focuses on the next big event and neglects the discipleship and mentoring that could be happening, it is simply spinning its wheels. The youth ministry team must establish a plan of discipleship where the leaders are forming and building relationships where discipleship and mentorship can happen.
Ephesians 4:12 – to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV)
If there is no equipping the saints for ministry, the ministry can go only as far as the pastor. Equipping should happen in multiple aspects of youth ministry. In other words, the equipping should not stop at just the students, but should extend into church members, parents, and youth ministry staff/volunteers. The students need to be trained and given opportunities to serve. It should be a priority of the youth ministry team to help the student discover their spiritual gifts and talents that can be used to build up the church body and give God glory. These students need to be connected in ministry within the church body, and not just participate in ministry exclusive to the youth ministry.
Similarly, the youth pastor should continually find ways where others can be trained in ministry, used in ministry, and can grow in their love to serve in ministry. The youth pastor needs to see potential in the people around him and provide opportunities for service. Also, the process should intertwine with the mentoring/discipleship process where those in ministries are consistently training and encouraging the next generation.
Psalm 100:1-5 – Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The youth ministry needs to be an environment where the Creator of the universe, the Almighty God, the Savior of all mankind can be worshiped. Therefore, the music, teaching, conversations, social interaction, small group time, programs, and leadership team all need to advance and promote worship and not detract from it. The youth pastor is responsible to maintain a spiritually healthy environment where reverence, respect, glory, and praise is given to the Father.