Archives For January 2013

sams small groupIn your ministry how are you equipping your leaders to handle and recognize abuse?

Last week we had a great opportunity for our newer youth leaders to be trained by an amazing organization called Darkness To Light. The over all aim of this group is to equip adults to recognize and be aware of childhood sexual abuse. Our hope and goal is that all of our leaders young and old end up going through this training.

For me it’s a very tangible equipping of our leaders to bring the light of Christ into the darkness. D2L is an international organization and facilitates their “Stewards of Children” training for all groups both secular and faith based. The nature of youth ministry is one where deep issues are often brought up and students seek us as leaders to ask some of the hard questions about life and faith issues. Here are some of our structures to help ensure that both leaders and students can answer these questions in a safe environment.

  • All conversations between students and leaders are done in an observable, and interrupt-able  situation.
  • Leaders never lead alone. All of our small groups have two leaders. This is not only for safety but also the sanity of a leader. Going as a team helps the leadership burden be shared.
  • We background check all our paid and volunteer leaders. This is not a silver bullet but it is part of a chain of safety.
  • Develop some great relationships with local Christian counselors.  These people are a great resource and the time to build these relationships are before you need to refer to them.
  • Walk with volunteers and leaders through an awareness program such as the above mentioned Stewards of Children by D2L.

If a student doesn’t feel safe then their ability to hear the gospel is diminished. We must remove any and all hindrances as we bring this life changing message of Christ to hearts of young people.

Do You Like Me?

David —  January 17, 2013

BASIC YWP 11 08 of 47 Hey, my name is Phillip Holladay. I am the middle school minister at St. Andrews church in Mount Pleasant, SC. Every time I mention that I am a middle school minister people give me a look of pity and normally say something like, “That must be hard,” to which I respond, “I love working with middle school students!!” People don’t see how easy it really is to work with middle schoolers. They walk in to the midst of chaos during our middle school program and think that’s all there is to middle school ministry, but it is not. There is an absolute thrill in sharing the Gospel with middle school students.

Middle school youth group is easy, and here is why: As my youth ministry mentor once told me, a middle schooler is only asking one real question. That question is, “Do you like me?” This question is easy to answer and it is always “Yes, I do like you, because you are a child of God.” As we go about doing middle school ministry, we always look to answer that question. For instance, we concentrate on learning names of students. There is nothing like seeing a student’s face when you call his name from across the room and say “It’s good to see you this week,” especially when the last week was his first week of coming to youth group. We also have small group leaders who are looking to sit and talk to students to help them get acclimated to the large group and to invite them to their small groups. Each step we take tells a student “we care and we accept you.” And when middle schoolers feel wanted and accepted, they are more open to accept the truth of the Gospel. And at the end of the day, that is what we really want to accomplish: spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Show up, Plug In, Rock outAs we launch out into a new semester both direction and discipleship have been on the hearts and minds of many of our leaders. If we can’t articulate a clear path it’ll be very hard for our students to follow. Author and speaker Andy Stanley, whose leadership skills and communication are excellent, made a good point in his book “Seven Practices of Effective Ministry” that a leader must first clarify the win and second think about steps not programs. The challenge that lay before us is that we needed to distill out the stream from the marsh.

Out of these thoughts we developed three points that we encourage students to live into.

  1. Show Up: Showing up can be hard, it can be awkward, it can even be inconvenient but it’s essential for growth. We make jokes about bedside Baptist, or blanket revival because it takes energy to get up on Sunday and show up at worship. For new students or volunteers in our ministries this is a huge hurdle. How are you helping them with this?
  2. Plug In: The first step is big the second step is also critical. We encourage students, our leaders, and each other to plug into two core places. First we want to feed on God’s word. Scripture will reveal Christ to us so we want our lives to be saturated with it. Second we want to be plugged into a small group or life group as we refer to them as. A place where we find encouragement and challenge.
  3. Rock Out: No not with leather pants and hair bands but out of Matthew 16 where Peter proclaims Christ as Lord and Jesus replies “on this rock I will build my church.” As we make that same proclamation massive power is released. It is the gospel that transfers people from death to life and as a result we are sent out. We want to see students not just sitting on their faith but also allowing it to carry them into places where God will use them to spread the gospel in amazing ways.

We live in Charleston South Carolina a city surrounded by some of the countries most scenic marshlands. When the tide is in the place is flooded when it goes out however you can clearly see the deep streams teaming with fish and birds.  In our ministries (and probably our lives) we have lots going on. The question is where are the places we know flow with life? Where are the areas we want students to engage and feel the current pulling them into a deeper relationship with God?

Dear Volunteer Youth Worker…

David —  January 10, 2013

Volunteer Leader Turkey KidsDear Volunteer Youth Worker,

Let me let you in on a little secret. You got this. How do I know? Because you care enough to search the internet, click on links, and desire to share the gospel with students. You got this.  Discipleship isn’t rocket science. However I know it can feel that way sometimes. It’s merely caring enough to put up a sail and let the Holy Spirit fill it. Here’s three sails I’d encourage you to raise….

  • Longevity: Not forever but commit to a season then stick it out. For me it looks like 5 year blocks. For you it may just be committing to a small group for a school year. Whatever it looks like the Spirit can fill it.
  • Vernacular: Big word that just means common language. Learn the language of your students. Is it time spent? Is it sports? Is it trust? Is it fun? Whatever it is learn it and use it to share the Gospel.
  • Personal Study: Pour into scripture and prayer. Just like a cup overflows your life will too and the students you invest in will get whatever is spilling out of your life.

So youth worker… You got this.

Devotional studyIf you don’t intentionally work on the ministry you have you will always be working in it. I got this advice years ago and the longer I work with teenagers the more I find it to be true. There are so many good ideas, good programs, good resources, and opportunities that many youth workers drown in the sea of the next best game, teaching, or book. My teammate Phillip is known for saying “You don’t drive a car by looking at the hood ornament. You drive it by looking down the road.” Here are some ways to help you not crash and keep your ministry to young people on the road and moving for years to come…

  • Sabbath: GUARD IT if you are tired rest. That “go until you drop” crap is straight from the devil. You’ll be no good to anyone if you burn out and you will burn out.
  • D.A.W.G.:  I require my team to take 1 Day Alone With God a month. Out of the office and away from students. This allows time to recharge, listen, read, refresh, pray, and plan. It’s not a time to goof off but a time to really look at the next month or two and walk things out.
  • Goals: Set them and shoot for them. They need to be measurable and timely.  A good goal would be: I want to keep my rector aware of what we’re doing in the ministry so I’ll schedule one half hour meeting a month with him and fill him in. A bad goal would be I want to let my rector know what’s going on. Visit your goals often and refine if needed.

Tim Keller on Catechesis

David —  January 3, 2013

Old Church CatechesisTim Keller wrote a great piece over on the Gospel Coalition website about the importance of catechesis. Catechesis is a method of teaching where students memorize questions and answers on a subject. Here’s Tim Keller in his own words…

“Catechesis is an intense way of doing instruction. The catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts in deep, encouraging meditation on truth. It also holds students more accountable to master the material than do other forms of education. Some ask: why fill children’s heads—or for that matter, new converts’—with concepts like “the glory of God” that they cannot grasp well? The answer is that it creates biblical categories in our minds and hearts where they act as a foundation, to be gradually built upon over the years with new insights from more teaching, reading, and experiences. Catechesis done with young children helps them think in biblical categories almost as soon as they can reason. Such instruction, one old writer said, is like firewood in a fireplace. Without the fire—the Spirit of God—firewood will not in itself produce a warming flame. But without fuel there can be no fire either, and that is what catechetical instruction provides.

Catechesis is also different from listening to a sermon or lecture—or reading a book—in that it is deeply communal and participatory. The practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning. It creates true community as teachers help students—and students help each other—understand and remember material. Parents catechize their children. Church leaders catechize new members with shorter catechisms and new leaders with more extensive ones. All of this systematically builds relationships. In fact, because of the richness of the material, catechetical questions and answers may be incorporated into corporate worship itself, where the church as a body can confess their faith and respond to God with praise.”

To read the rest of the article click here.

As Anglican’s we are no strangers to this form of teaching. The Book of Common Prayer contains an Outline of the Faith in the form. (page 845) There are others that I’d recommend such as the Westminster Confession of Faith which was written to “amplify the Thirty-nine Articles, and most of its framers were Anglican clergy.” J.I Packer Concise Theology This year we intend to work in some of this teaching style into our confirmation class to help better hit home some of our core points.