Tag Archives: discipleship

My Youth or Student Ministry Philosophy

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:

philosophyYouth Ministry Philosophy

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.

Evangelism

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.

Assistant Coach

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.

Discipleship/Mentorship/Relationship

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.

Equip/Service Training

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.

Worship Opportunity

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.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

What Happens When You Turn 30…

This past year, it’s true, I turned 30.  And for the 3 or 4 of you that actually read this blog, I know my secret is safe with you.  Turning 30 is pretty important.  It’s not because you get your driver’s license, or you can get in any movie you want, or you can rent a car (which I believe is 25, kind of a weird rule).  It’s something much more spiritual, monumental, and reflective…30zone

30 years old.  Wow.  Some may call it young.  Some may call it old (Like my students.  One of which asked me about the 70’s…he was serious, and I was serious when I told him I was born in 1982).  Nevertheless, turning 30 is significant if you are a student of Scripture.  You see, according to Luke 3:23, Jesus was 30 when he began his public, earthly ministry.  It was the year the Messiah started his ministry career, gathered 11 young men and Peter for discipleship, and began teaching, healing, and doing miracles.  The Christ was about to make His name known, all the while knowing, that in 3 years’ time, He would willingly give His life, and completely transform the world.

Now you see why it is signficant?  Now, I certainly have very few things in common with the perfect Savior.  But turning 30 is something we both have in common.  Sure, it’s a small straw to hold on to, but it does cause one to reflect how much my life resembles the Savior’s at 30.  Here are some things that come to mind:

  1. Follow Me?  Christ began to assemble 12 disciples that he mentored, challenged, and developed spiritually.  These were the men (sans Judas) that would eventually establish the early church.  Am I taking the time to disciple the younger generation?  Do I realize these are the young men that will be the next generation of the Church?
  2. An Ounce of Teaching.  Never could I ever approach the skill, the duality of simplicity and depth, the sensitivity, and the insight of the master teacher.  However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to improve my craft of teaching and preaching.  Some goals I have is to read books like Excellence in Preaching, Speaking to Teenagers, and Hearing God’s Word:  Expositional Preaching.  Eventually, I’d like to take some homiletic courses.  In the meantime, I make it a point to glean knowledge from veteran preachers like my senior pastor, and listen to other skilled communicators at least once a week.
  3. More Public.  My risk is nowhere near the risk of Jesus’ public ministry.  Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the anointed one that the Jewish nation had been waiting on for hundreds of years.  However, it’s still time my ministry becomes more public.  That means being a witness more often, recognizing needs of my neighbors and community, and not shying away from gospel sharing opportunities.

Sure, I’ll never perform miracles at weddings this year, raise someone from the dead, and probably won’t be preaching from a boat anytime soon…but I can still make my earthly ministry significant, and after turning 30, there’s no better time.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Evangelism & Discipleship – Is it really both?

I love to fish.  For me, the best part is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait and reeling that sucker in to see how big it is…so I can be sure to add a few inches in my fish story.  Catching the fish is fun, but reeling in the fish is a huge part of it.  That’s how I feel about evangelism & discipleship.  Evangelism is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait (not saying the Gospel is the bait), but is exciting that someone accepted God’s free gift.  But if you don’t disciple that new believer…it’s like just leaving that fish out there on the line…you’re missing a huge part of the experience!

Read these verses:  Matthew 28:19-20

Okay, now read them again and circle the first 2 verbs in that passage – Go & Make Disciples.  I think we often emphasize the Go part (and with good reason, we need to go and share the Gospel with others), but we also often forget to mention, implement, or dig into the difficult work of discipleship.

You see, discipleship takes time, it takes a great deal of effort, it takes patience, it takes spiritual maturity…are you still with me?  Discipleship is hard!  You may not even see the results until much later in life…anyone involved in youth ministry knows how true this can be.

We live in a world of instant gratification.  Minute rice, instant video download, fast lane on the freeway…there’s even instant underpants (just add water!).  But discipleship is just the opposite.  There isn’t instant gratification.  Sure, there will be victories and joys of Jesus coming and changing one’s life.  But there will be many battles of the old self, old life, and old habits.  Those will drain you, disappoint you, and want to defeat you.

But, take heart.  The time you spend in discipleship is worth it…Jesus chose 12 disciples…and 11 of those men set out to change the world.  Who knows what may happen if you choose someone to mentor & disciple.  Watch this video, and see what kind of impact you can have…you too can change a generation!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Double Book Review: Visit the Sick & Impacting the Next Generation

Book:  Visit the Sick, by Brian Croft.Visit_the_sick

The Good.  I may surprise you with this statement, but I have never underlined more in a book than this little book.  I’m serious.  I learned so much about the ministry of visiting the sick.  Maybe it is because this does not come naturally to me.  Maybe you go to a hospital, and it is your element.  It doesn’t matter if it is a heart attack or a broken leg, you know what to do, what Scripture to read, and what to say in your prayer.  Or maybe you are more like me, and you could use some help in these areas.  Well, this book goes above and beyond the call of duty to help you visit the sick.

The Bad.  The only thing this book is missing is a CD where you can print off the appendix materials.  Or maybe a small printable bookmark/pamphlet you could put inside your Bible to help with visiting the sick.

The Grade:  A+.  That’s right, a perfect grade.  Maybe because it was just what the doctor ordered (get it?).  But mostly because it provides a perfect balance of practical and Biblical advice on how to visit the sick.  Every pastor should read this book.  As a youth pastor, I don’t have as many hospital visits as other pastors, but when I do, I want to have an impact on a hurting individual, I want to bring the gospel to room 221, I want to lift up someone’s broken spirit…well, I learned “I” can’t do those things.  But God can through me, and this book will help you accomplish those things.

 

Book:  Impacting the Next Generation, by Mel Walker.impactingthenextgeneration

The Good.  Where was this book 6 years ago when I started in youth ministry?  Seriously.  These are lessons I had to learn the hard way.  I found myself saying “Now you tell me” many times as I read.  Not your fault Mel!  But realy, this book provides practical ways to truly impacting young people in the short time you have them in your ministry.  Another good is each point is taken directly from Scripture.  I’m a big proponent of the line of thinking – if you are going to convince me to implement something in the ministry I serve, it better be supported in God’s Word.  And each point had that backing.  Well done.

The Bad.  I’m the kind of guy that enjoys personal stories.  There was some ministry stories within the book, but would have enjoyed more.  The 2 Timothy 2:22 principles were repeated several times, and could  have been consolidated in one section…but maybe that was the author’s point – that this verse is pretty important.

The Grade:  A.  Like Staples has an easy button, I needed an “Amen” button for this book.  This is how I do or want to do youth ministry.  I loved the points and was totally on board with the practical applications of Scripture.  In my opinion, this must be in the hands of every youth pastor, especially those beginning their first ministry.

**Special Note from the Author Mel Walker:  If any of your readers would like a copy of “Impacting the Next Generation” – they can get copies from me for only $5. Take a look at: http://www.intergenerationalyouthministry.com.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Who Was the 1st Mentor?

god-touches-adam1 Who was the first mentor in the Bible?  Answer:  God.  Yeah, the Sunday school answer would have won the contest.  It’s true.  If there was ever a mentor that we should model, it would be God.  And the very first discipleship process is found in the Garden of Eden.  So how was God a mentor to Adam, and what did He do in the discipleship process?

1.     Spiritual Guidance – Genesis 2:16-17

It didn’t take long for Adam to receive spiritual guidance from his mentor.  They are pretty clear instructions – don’t eat from this tree.  Let that be a lesson to you in your discipleship process.  Be clear in your spiritual guidance, and help those you are mentoring to not make the common adolescent mistakes.  Impart wisdom and guide their decisions.  Should I go to this party?  Is it OK to date _____?  Help them!

Your job as a mentor is to help that young person make decisions.  Partner with parents and help them on the right path, help them use the Bible as their roadmap, guide them in godly decisions.

2.     Help Solve Problems – Genesis 2:18

God saw it was a problem that Adam was alone, and He fixed it.  He provided a helper for him.  Sure, we are not God, and we cannot solve all the problems of our young generation, no matter how much we would like this to be the case…but we can still help.

Help students find solutions to their problems.  Listen, suicide is the second leading cause of deaths in teenagers.  It is the fourth leading cause of death  in ages 5-15!  We need to help them find solutions, because they are finding the wrong answers all too often. Answers can be found in God’s Word.  Some have parents that will lead them to those right answers, others do not.  Let’s do our part as mentors, and help students solve their problems with God’s Word and prayer.

3.     Give them responsibility – Genesis 2:20

Our motto this year in our student ministry is “Student Takeover”.  My goal is to have students take over multiple ministries.  Sure, it will start small with things like:  announcements and running PowerPoint.  But so far it has evolved into leading prayer groups & small groups, or leading the praise band.  We have even taken it to the point of having the students plan and execute an entire Sunday Night youth group by themselves.  How cool is that!  They are learning ministry.  What’s next in the takeover?  Planning and executing a Community Easter Egg Hunt.  Do I help?  I try not to as much as I can.  You may think that is cruel.  I think it is empowering, teaching, and mentoring!

Keep finding ways to plug students into ministry. Let me give you an example.  There was a 9th grader who was somewhat shy.  So, did I make him be the “announcement guy” or lead a Bible study?  No.  I saw his gifts were in technology and computers.  I talked to his parents and mentioned the idea of getting him plugged into the sound/multimedia team at church and in youth group.  Now he runs PowerPoint for the main service and helps with sound on special events.  How cool is that?  He’s serving!

Sometimes all it takes is recognizing a student’s abilities or gifts, and plugging them in a service opportunity.  God gave Adam the task of naming the animals.  Well, that’s already been done, so find something for the teenager or child you are mentoring to do for God!

Who can you mentor today?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Disciplines of a Godly Young Man

Disciplines of a Godly Young Man – By Hughes & Hughes

The Good

If the purpose of the book is to lead a young person through the disciplines of the Christian life, and use this book for the purpose of discipleship…then this book hit the ball out of the park.  There is another version for adult discipleship (found heredailydisciplines), but for mentoring or discipleship of young men, this ranks at the top of my list.

Not only does it provide a great tool in discipleship, it also is challenging for the reader as well.  It provided Biblical and practical methods for achieving the disciplines of the Christian life.  It leaves very few stones unturned and is not afraid to challenge the reader to reach for greater heights in their spiritual walk.

If you are a teacher, preacher, parent, or mentor…this book is loaded with illustrations that drive the importance of daily disciplines.  I was constantly underlining the stories and illustrations.  If anything, that is worth the price of admission.

The Bad

There were some demonstrative and wide-sweeping statements that were made a few times.  Although, for the most part I agreed, it was a little dangerous.  For example, words like “never” and “no way” come often and with great weight.  I would take note of this in discipleship, and talk over these absolute statements together.  You may find they need to be stated this strongly to drive home the importance.

The Grade:  A.

You heard me.  I give it the highest grade besides perfection.  For discipleship, there are few better.  If you are a youth worker, parent, mentor, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent (do I need to keep going) of a young person, buy it and use it to disciple.  Many chapters can be used for young women as well.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Discipleship – 4 Keys to Student Discipleship

What are we discipling our students into?  My answer is found in Colossians 1:23…that type of faith!  Discipleship is developing a faith that sticks, a faith that is their own, a faith that is their foundation, a faith that is boldly shared with others…a faith that is at the heart of a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the thing, and I think you probably realized this, was that there is no 10-step process or whatever to producing true disciples.  However, I do think there are 4 key concepts in discipleship of young believers.

Discipleship requires:

  1. Knowledge – Proverbs is clear that we need knowledge before we can capture wisdom.  Therefore, there needs to be Doctrinal/Biblical/Theological training, which can happen in small group, Sunday School, and youth group arenas.
  2. Relationships – There needs to be mentoring outside the context of the family.  This is something that must happen, and is most commonly found in the small group structure.  Chap Clark in his research for the book “Hurt” claims that each student needs 5 positive adult relationships to influence a young person spiritually.  That is where youth leaders/sponsors can take their place…we are not asked to take the place of the parent…but I do believe we have value in being that assistant coach that helps the parent in producing Christ-followers.
  3. Connection – Do not neglect the importance of inter-generational ministry.  While I do believe youth ministry needs to do a better job at allowing the family to be the voice and equipping the parents, but there is no need to abandon youth ministry all together (see movie “Divided” to find out more about this movement).  However, I do think there is great value in integrating the students in the church:  worship, children’s ministry, mission trips, older generation connection, etc.  If there is a connection, a feeling that they can be used, and an understanding of how they can use their gifts in the church – then I feel they are more likely to stay.  Say it with me…Connection!
  4. TIME  – This is maybe something that we all miss.  We’ve all heard the expression of how you spell LOVE is T-I-M-E.  And although it is very corny, it is true.  Very rarely do our students remember our lessons, but they do remember the time we spend with them both in church and outside church…that informal and formal time that I was talking about.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Is your church a movement or a museum?

Good reminder of the importance of discipleship and godly leadership.

Tagged ,
Advertisements