Monday, August 16, 2010

Basic Student Ministry Tip #45

Parents care less about the decisions you make when you are apart from their students, they care about the decisions you make when their children are with you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Division or Direction?

I recently had the question asked: "Why do we 'separate' middle school and high school and isn't this a form of division in the church." Below is my response to the question.

As a father of a pre-teen and a youth pastor for almost 18 years I love having my daughter around peers while she is "away" from her parents. For me it is not about the economic status or maturity level of students, but rather about the environment which she is in.

We had an all student ministry beach day about a year ago and an incoming 6th grade girl was dropped off by her father. After parking the car and opening the door the car was surrounded by many students who were excited to "welcome" this new student. In the crowd was a couple shirtless, facial hair sporting high school guys greeting her as well. Her father decided that an "all" event would not be the "best event for her to start with" and took her home.

As a student pastor for many years I was able to instantly able to think of many reasons why he should have left her; relationships, opportunity to build trust, the community that would take place, leader connections for future investments, etc. HOWEVER, as a father, I couldn't think of one. A safe environment that involves building relationships with peers who are in a similar developmental stage physically, mentally and socially is very important. I am not opposed to some ministry events and programs being combined if they are VERY intentional about the why and how to ensure that students needs are being met and it's not just a "kill two birds with one event" approach.

Jesus had 12 that were close, and 3 that seemed to be closer. I don't think we have separate age group ministries for the sake of separation, but to meet students, and adults where they are. We can't give solid food when they are only ready for milk... and visa verse.

Student ministry is difficult. I find it more sustainable, relevant, and healthy when we are able to speak to students and parents about the stage of life they are in and encourage them to make healthy choices in the middle of their everyday life that reflect Jesus.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Basic Student Ministry Tip #44

If you didn't show up to your ministry event, would there be panicked or prepared leaders?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Basic Student Ministry Tip #43 - Respond, don't react

When you or the ministry are "accused" of saying, doing or believing something that is contrary to that of your church, and problems are on the horizon, try the follow:
  • Pray and ask for patience (most of us forget patience and just react)
  • Get all the facts, not the "hearsay"
  • Seek counsel from an elder or supervisor and ask them to pray
  • Speak to the source of the accusation
  • If it is just a breakdown in communication, clearly explain and move on
  • If necessary, ask for forgiveness and share the correction you intend to make. Make the "correction" public, this helps communicate clearly the ministries beliefs and direction
ALWAYS address issues that could be harmful to ministry or those that question your ability to lead. Continue to seek God's direction, and the wisdom from those surrounding you who have life experience and a strong relationship with Christ.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Basic Student Ministry Tip #42

Surround yourself not only with people who celebrate and cheer you on, but also those who challenge you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Theology

During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, noted atheist Christopher Hitchens laid down some seriously good theology. Most people recognize Hitchens as the author of the bestselling book God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything. Since the book's publication in 2007, Hitchens has toured the country debating a series of religious leaders, including some well-known evangelical thinkers. In Portland he was interviewed by Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell. The entire transcript of the interview has been posted online. The following exchange took place near the start of the interview:

Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I'm a liberal Christian, and I don't take the stories from the Scripture literally. I don't believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
Hitchens: I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

Sewell wanted no part of that discussion so her next words are, "Let me go someplace else."

This little snippet demonstrates an important point about religious "God-talk." You can call yourself anything you like, but if you don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and then rose from the dead, you are not "in any meaningful sense" a Christian.

Talk about nailing it.

In one of the delicious ironies of our time, an outspoken atheist grasps the central tenet of Christianity better than many Christians do. What you believe about Jesus Christ really does make a difference.

Excerpt from

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Basic Student Ministry Tip #41 - Pride

Take pride in your ministry, don't be prideful because of it. If you aren't finding fulfillment in what God has called you to do, maybe it's your pride not your position that is causing the frustration.