Tag Archives: Leadership

Core Leadership Values

In a vision statement you process what you want to be about as a youth program from a macro level.  Hopefully it will help guide your every move and make you a more effective ministry by giving you guidance on what you commit to and what you say no to.  A few years ago, I had a thorough evaluation done of our entire youth program by 3 experienced youth workers (volunteer and full-time) who took a hard look at our ministry.  As I debriefed with them the evaluation of our overall ministry, it was recommended to me that our Youth Leadership team (staff and volunteers combined) have a core set of values that we commit to.

The purpose of creating these was to identify values that we believe are vitally important in our ministry and commit to them.  It’s important to identify what your leadership team will be because it keeps you focused on what you view as important in your ministry.   As with all things, unless you make it clear what you are striving for as a team, no one will know for sure.  They will just be able to guess that what you are about.

At Cedar Run, we have 4 Core Leadership Values that we strive for.  They are:

  1. Prayer is our work; ministry is merely the fruit of that work.
  2. We can only take others as far as we have allowed ourselves to journey in Christ
  3. Kids remember how we made them feel, and what they saw in us – not anything we taught them up front. Therefore, it is our relationships, not our programs that truly bear fruit.
  4. Work together in unison with team members.  Be encouraging and uplifting at all time.

From my example, you can tell that we value Prayer, Personal Discipleship, Relationships and Encouragement.  What about your Youth Leadership team?  What are you about as a leadership team?  What are your goals and priorities?  Just like mission statements, there are no rhyme or reason as to what your core leadership values are.  It all depends on what you, as a leadership team, deem as important and worth striving for.

TAKE A MINUTE and…

  1. Jot down some core leadership principles you want to be about as a Youth Leadership Team.
  2. When you are done, present them before your volunteer leaders and together come up with your Core Leadership Values.
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Motivating Leaders

I found this article in the Oct. 5th edition of Business Week.  It is obviously geared towards business leaders, but it is a great reminder of ways we can appreciate and motivate our volunteer leaders.  Check it out.  “The No-Cost Way to Motivate”.

If you have any thoughts or comments on it, post it hear and we can get a good dialogue going.

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3 Ways to build your Volunteer Leadership Team

Cedar Run's Leadership Team taken at our Leaders Overnight in August

Cedar Run's Leadership Team taken at our Leaders Overnight in August

When I came to Cedar Run just over 6 years ago, we had a total of 3 leaders including myself.  Now, as you can see from the picture above, we have a total of 13 leaders not counting myself (1 is actually missing from this picture).  This was taken at our annual Leaders Overnight (something I wrote about in my last post).  When I look at this picture, I am in awe how God has blessed us over the years.  After all, as great as our ministry is and how much God has been working in it, there are not people lining up waiting to be a leader here.  So, how did this happen?

I believe this happened for 3 simple reasons.

1. Prayer

I know, I know, that’s the standard answer – prayer.  But, I have to give credit where credit is due.  Without the Lord apart of this and me praying for God to provide the workers, I doubt I would ever have this many leaders.  Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-38, “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Christ himself calls us to ask the Lord for the workers and he will provide.  I’m not saying that he will do this overnight as it took 6 years to get where we are at today.  But, be faithful and keep turning to the Lord and he will provide.

2. Build from Within

As I said above, when I first came to Cedar Run, there were just 2 other leaders other than myself.  So, other than praying, how could I be strategic about recruiting more leaders?  Being new, I did not know any potential leaders within the Church who could help.  So, I began to recruit what my Senior Pastor called “mercenaries”.  These mercenaries were former leaders of mine who did not go to Cedar Run before.  So, I brought them into Cedar Run to help me build the program and to invest in the youth.  All total, for the first 2 years, I brought in 6 mercenaries to help.  It helped, for a time, but ultimately it did not work out.  In fact, of the 6 people I brought in from outside Cedar Run, only 1 is still with me today.

That is when I had to change my approach.  I had to start building our leadership team from within. As I became more and more familiar with the youth and adults at Cedar Run, I started to recruiting them to be youth leaders.  In fact, of the now 13 leaders I have, 11 of them went through Cedar Run’s youth program.  In many ways, it’s an honor them to be able to serve and a testimony to your program’s effect on others if you are able to have former youth serve as leaders.  It was great to see that as I started recruiting people from within Cedar Run, I  started retaining and building upon our leadership team.

The reason why the “mercenaries” did not work out is that Cedar Run was never their home.  They had been going to other churches and felt more apart of those churches still.  They were just at Cedar Run to help with the youth program and never got attached to the Church as a whole.  The leaders who already made Cedar Run their Church home stayed longer because they had more invested.  Not only did they love teens and want them to come to know Christ in a real and personal way, but they had a connection to Cedar Run and felt more apart of the overall Church.

3. Appreciate them

Just like prayer, this one seems like a no-brainer.  But, the more you appreciate your leaders for all the sacrifices and hard work they put into as a volunteer, the more likely they will stay longer and want to continue.  Let’s face it, it is hard to be a volunteer leader sometimes.  You have work and/or school to go to, a social life to keep up with, other personal stuff you have to deal with on a daily basis.  Then, you have  middle and high school youth, who are craving for all your attention calling, facebooking or texting at all times of the day.  It can be very challenging to juggle all these things – rewarding, but challenging.

Therefore, take time to appreciate what they do.  You could:

  • send them an encouraging handwritten note
  • treat them to gift cards from gas stations for all the extra gas they are using shuttling students around
  • buy them lunch to catch up and talk about life – not necessarily ministry life, but personal life as well.
  • gather them together for a leaders meeting. But instead of doing your leaders meeting, take them to laser tag and have fun together

These are just some of ways you can show them that you care about them and appreciate all they do. It is when you take these extra steps with leaders that they realize that they mean more to you than just what they can do in the mission field.

Overall, building a leadership team takes time and patience.  It will not happen overnight and you will likely have some hits and misses.  The key is to be persistent as you pray for leaders, look from within your own church or ministry and  appreciate them.

TAKE A MINUTE and…

  1. Start looking for and identifying adults or former youth from within your own church or ministry to help serve as leaders.  Make a list and begin to contact them to see about their possible involvement.
  2. Write down a few ways you can appreciate the leaders you have.  Then go out and appreciate them!

Like it, hate it, post a comment to share other ways you can build a leadership team.

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Volunteer Leaders Retreat

This past weekend, my leaders and I went on our annual Leaders Retreat.  For the past 5 years, I have used this time right before our fall kick-off for a few different reasons.  For starters, after a summer fill with vacations and trips for all the leaders, I like to get all the leaders together to share about the summer, catch up and develop community.  Building and developing community is very important in a leadership team.  The make-up of a leadership team can be very diverse.  For instance, you have leaders who are college students, in the workforce, who have children and who are single.  When you go away for a day, a night or a weekend together, it provides a great way for everyone to get to know each other on a different level.  Taking some time away with just the leaders is the perfect way to build and develop a bond with each other.  In all the years we have been doing them, it has provided us with a great start to the year with each.

Secondly, it is a great opportunity to focus the leaders for the year ahead.  We do this both in a ministry and personal context.  After a summer of vacations and trips away, it is always good to get your leaders focused on what is ahead ministry wise.  What will we be doing during the fall?  How will we be doing it?  What is needed and what are some of the goals we are striving for?  These are some of the questions leaders need to know answers to.  By doing a leaders retreat with them, you can provide all this information and more all at once.

In addition to focusing the leaders on their ministry lives, we use our retreat as an opportunity to build into them personally.  As you know, summers throw even the most organized schedules out the window.  Any schedules or disciplines you may have get at least a little bit shaken.  Therefore, we try to build into our leaders personal lives during this time as well.   We spend time looking over scripture, worshiping together and going over different life skills that they can develop.  As I have written before, by investing in leaders personal lives, we show them that we do not just care about what they can do for us or this ministry.  We show them that we care just as much, if not more, about who they are as a person and a follower of Christ.

These are just 2 of the main reasons why we have been doing Leader Retreats with others.  But, there are many smaller benefits that we experience by just us being together like great memories share together or you discover a new talent from a leader.

Now, working at a non-mega church, you may not have the resources to pull off a weekend retreat or even an overnight.  So, I have a few suggestions:

  • Plan a day trip away.  There are some great places you could go for a whole day and do a lot of team building and focusing them on the fall.  Most of the time it is very cost effective.
  • See if anyone in your church has a 2nd home or even a connection to a place where you could go.  The place we have stayed at is a second home about an hour and a half away.  The great thing about this is if you can find a place like this, you will save a lot of money rather than going to a retreat center.

If you haven’t planned a Leaders Retreat this year, don’t worry it is not too late!  TAKE A MINUTE and…

  1. Mark on your calendar a good day, overnight or weekend time where you could take your leaders away.  It doesn’t have to be during the summer of fall months to plan a time away.
  2. After you mark a Leaders Retreat down on your calendar, write down your objectives for your time away.  What is the purpose for your time away and what do you hope to accomplish?

As I said in the beginning, I have been doing these Leaders Retreats for the past 5 years and they end up being very rewarding times together.  If you have not scheduled a time to get away with your leaders, do it today!

If you have taken your leaders away on a Leaders Retreat before, share about your experiences and why you do them.

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Getting the Right Students Involved

Years ago, and I mean years ago, like 1960 to 1980s years ago, there was a youth ministry theory called the Key Kid Theory.  Have you ever heard of this before?  Unfortunately, if you try to google it, you cannot find it.  I first heard about it when I was attending classes at Messiah College, working towards a Christian Education degree.

The Key Kid Theory is a strategy that if you, as the Youth Pastor or Head Youth Leader, focus on beginning and developing relationships with the key (i.e. popular) students at the local high school or in the youth program, you would be able to draw many more students to you youth program or event.  It is a theory that requires you to spend most of your time and energy building and developing relationships with these select students.  The benefit is that hopefully you will be able to draw more students into your program because now you have the “cool” factor as you have “cool” students coming to whatever you are doing. It is very controversial and I have found that a simple discussion on this can often turn very heated.

What do you think of this kind of approach?  Do you think this is the right approach to take in attracting key students?  Does this still happen in today’s ministry?

Unfortunately, I believe that many youth ministries still operate on this theory today.  I say unfortunately because I do not believe that this is the right approach to take for a few reasons:

  1. There are no more key kids. Back when this theory was in prominence, you had your all-star quarterback and head cheerleader that everyone wanted to be around.  If you wanted to draw students to an event you were hosting, having them there would cause others to follow.  However, in this day and age, the all-star quarterback and the head cheerleader are the heads of just 2 of the numerous groups in the local middle and high schools.  There are so many other groups in school now that you cannot simply focus on building relationships or winning the right with just a group or two.  If you do, you will miss out on the majority of the students in your school or your ministry.
  2. This theory encourages favoritism. When you focus on a few key students, you are choosing to alienate the others in your program. You are creating a class system – the cool and the uncool, the haves and have-nots.  Sure, you can argue that you are taking this approach because you want to and will reach the have-nots.  But, you focus on them only after you get the haves, only after you win the better students. This is counter to all Christ was about.  He constantly spent time with and won the right with everyone, especially the uncool, poor, desolute and the have nots (Mark 2:13-17). James 2:1-10 also highlights the importance of loving everyone the same, not matter what they look like or do.

Even though I am not advocating a key kid theory, I do believe you can and should surround yourself with the right students in your program.  You need students to help you for a variety of reason.  For starters, it gives them ownership of the program and allows them to use their gifts for the Lord.  Secondly, it provides you with additional leaders to minister.  Working at a non-mega church, it can be hard to find the right leaders to help you minister to your youth.  By having these students involved, you have additional leaders you can use at any given time.  Lastly and most importantly, surrounding yourself with the right students is a perfect opportunity to take students deeper in Christ.

This approach is different than the key kid theory because with key kids you are using the popularity of a few to gain attendance and prominence of your program.  The right student approach is designed to focus on students first, program second.  It is a great opportunity to take your students to that next level.

Who are your right students?

What makes up the right student?  For starters, anyone could be one.  Unlike the key kid theory, you are not alienating anyone because being the right student has nothing to do with popularity, race or gender.  It has everything to do with surrounding yourself with students who are ready to take that next step in their relationship with Christ.  They are the ones that have a desire to go deeper, have a heart to reach others and have the ability to make an impact for Christ!  In the Youth Specialties Artsource Clip Art, they have a clip art called F.A.T.  You may have heard it before, but it stands for someone who is Faithful, Available and Teachable.  Your right students will be someone who embodies these three characteristics.

Faithful: Finding the right student requires you to find someone who is faithful to Christ first and foremost.  In Matthew 6:33, Christ challenges us all to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  When you are looking for that right student, you have to find someone who has a desire to grow in his/her relationship with Christ.

I have encountered a lot of students in my time that have had a lot of potential to do great things.  They are funny and very charismatic, but their desire and passion for Christ is very little.  No matter how much time I spent with them, they just did not want Christ that much.  Unless your potential right student knows Christ and is actively seeking him first, they are the wrong student for what you want to accomplish.

Available: You may have a student who is very faithful to Christ and your program and wants to help out in some way.  However, this student is not always available because he/she plays a sport(s), is highly involved at school, has a job or other recreational conflicts that prevent them from help out very much.  We live in a very busy world where people and programs are tugging on our students left and right.  They are not always bad things as there are many good things for them to do.  If a student has so much on their plate, they are probably the wrong student for you because they have limited availability.

For example, I had this great student a few years ago who was well grounded, had a servants heart and had a desire for his friends to come to know Christ.  The problem was that he was involved in so much!  He had a girlfriend, was very involved in Young Life, played, coached and refereed sports.  Not only that but he was very involved in school activities!  This person would have been great to have serve with us at the Church, but he was never available.  Did that limit what Christ did in his life?  No Way!  God did some great things in his life and the life of others.  But, it did limit what he could do at Cedar Run.

Deciding whether or not someone is available or not is a tough call to make, but it needs to be made.  In the long run, there are few things more frustrating for students and Youth Pastors alike when the desire for them to be involved is there, but the actuality for them doing what is needed is NOT there.  In order for a student to be the right student, he or she needs to be available.

Teachable: Being teachable is key.  Being faithful and available are very important, but if you have a student who fits the first 2 categories but is not teachable, he/she is not worth the investment you will put into them.  When someone is teachable, that means they are willing to be taught and desire to learn.

I have been doing youth ministry full time for over 12 years and following Christ whole heartedly for over 16 years.  I could easily say that I know it all and that there is nothing more for me to learn.  But that is not the case.  As Proverbs 12:15 says, “Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others.”  The moment we think we know it all and are not willing to learn is the moment we lose our effectiveness for Christ.

In order to be the right student, someone has to be teachable.  God has so much He wants us to know and learn that we have to be open to his leading and direction, no matter how well versed we feel that we are.

Once you have set up the criteria, students can decide for themselves if they are ready to be the right students for what you are looking for.  You are not alienating anyone, you are simply taking students who want to, go to that next level.

How to Invest in them?

Now that you have identified the right students, it is important to invest in them properly.  Investing and building into them is very similar to how you invest in your leaders.  You want to give them skills to be successful in ministry, but you also want to help them out with life skills.  What is it they need to hear or know about a followers of Christ in today’s world?   For each youth program, your training time with the students will look different depending on what your mission statement and primary focus is.  However, here are a few suggestions you could use for your F.A.T. Training Times:

  • Spend time digesting Scripture together.  This is not another Bible Study, but use this opportunity to build into your leader students and inspire them to take leaps of faith similar to what is found in the Bible.
  • Give them ownership of your program.  They are available to help, so include them in planning and preparing.  At Cedar Run, we created Ministry Teams for students to serve in.  Having them being able to meet in those Teams during this time is important.
  • Walk through a book together.  There are great books out there that you all can spend time covering like “Improving Your Serve” by Charles Swindoll, “Holy Sweat” by Tim Hansel or “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster.  Reading and processing books like these will inspire your students to take that next step and continue to pursue Christ all the more.
  • Use this time as a way to teach and live out community and accountability.  Over the course of your meeting time, break up into guy and girl small groups where you are getting real with each other.  Break down walls (not literally please) by building trust and support with each other.  It can be a powerful time.

You have an awesome opportunity to surround yourself with all sorts of students when you are in ministry.  But, if you can identify some of the right students to catch your vision and run with you, you, your ministry and most importantly, they will be much better off.  You are going to be training and equipping your students who could have a far greater impact in life and in ministry than you will.  What’s not to like about that?

TAKE A MINUTE and…

  1. Examine if you have the right students in your program.  Are the F.A.T.?
  2. How are you going to raise them up?  Use the summer months to start planning out a fall training and leadership time.
  3. Invite some new students to become the right students you surround yourself with.  Encourage your other volunteer leaders to identify students as well so that you can kick this off successfully in the fall.

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Quality, Not Quantity

“I can’t believe that just happened!” “I can’t believe you all just did that!” Have you ever heard students say that at one of your youth events? I hope you have. When your students express this, they have just experienced the “wow factor”. The Wow Factor is anything (an event, skit or happening) that leaves your students saying, “WOW!” and completely amazed at what they just experienced.

Fun, social events have been apart of youth ministry ever since I can remember. The reasons why Youth Pastors do these events are for a variety of reasons. It could be to build community within the youth group or to reach out to new students or something entirely different. Whatever the case may be, these events normally draw a lot of students because they are fun and usually non-threatening.

In today’s culture, there is not much that our youth have not seen or experienced. Whether it is something they saw on YouTube or MTV, they are exposed to so much. But, as much as they have been exposed to, very rarely will they expect to be wowed, inspired or thrilled like that at a church. After all, what happens on those videos or shows should never happen at Church, right? Yes, but not entirely. This is where a great and awesome opportunity lies for youth ministry.

When I started out in youth ministry, I felt that I had to have as many fun, social events as possible. Whether it was going bowling, playing laser tag, water parks or fun day trips into Washington DC, I felt that the more activities we did the better it was for our program. If we could do more “fun” events, more people would come and want to come to our church on Sundays. Boy, was I wrong! No matter how many times we went bowling or played paintball, there just seemed to be something missing. No matter what we did or how often we did these fun events, we weren’t drawing as many students as I thought we should.

That is when I realized I had the wrong approach to events. Instead of doing more events, I had to do less. Instead of doing the standard events, I had to become more creative. I began to completely change my philosophy of event planning.

The Question We Ask

In evaluating why we, at Cedar Run, do events and how we do them, a friend asked me this question, “What makes this event Cedar Run?” For example, bowling. Anyone can go bowling. But, what makes this bowling outing a Cedar Run event? How are we going to separate ourselves from what everyone else is doing? As I mentioned earlier, there is not much that our students have not experienced. Our youth can go bowling anytime. What are we going to do and offer that makes Cedar Run’s bowling outing different and more appealing to them?

Asking this question made me reflect on Christ and his ministry. No matter where he was or what he was doing, people were always drawn to him. He had that “it” quality about him. Other people were teaching about God as well, but whenever Christ came around, people knew that something great was going to be spoken or that something awesome was going to happen. In the same way, there has to be that “it” quality about our events. There has to be a separation between our events and the events of others.

One example at Cedar Run is our Super Bowl Bash. Most youth programs have a Super Bowl Party. But, ours is a bit different. Our Super Bowl Bash has grown in popularity each year because it is not just another Super Bowl Party. Anyone can watch the Super Bowl with friends. But, what we offer is something for everyone, even those who aren’t football fans. Some of the things we offer are:

  • A free event
  • Tons of food – home made by parents
  • A variety of games such as board games for quiet and reserved students and video games for energetic middle school boys – remember, something for everyone.
  • A root beer keg

Now, these may not seem like “WOW” type features to this event. But, what makes this event distinctly Cedar Run and a “WOW” event is our Half-Time show. Now, in all honesty, we stumbled upon the Half-Time show because of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. Before them, we used to watch the nationally televised musicians perform during this time. But that wardrobe mal-function inspired us to look differently at this time. That is when we came up with our very own Half-Time Show.

Our Half-Time Show consists of two components: fun and serious. For the fun, we go all out and have mixers, games and raffles. This time is all led by our Program Team (volunteer leaders and students) that works hard at creating a “WOW” effect. They want to create an experience that the students have never experienced before. They are very creative and have a lot of fun with it. Each year, the fun component gets better and better as the students have a great time. To see a clip of a video they did for our half-time show, look at this video.

But, the fun component is secondary to our serious time. During this time, we take a few minutes and share about our Church and what we are about. Then, we have a few students share about how Christ has made an impact in their life. Our Super Bowl Bash is an outreach event, so we want to leave students not only feeling that this was a great event because of the fun they had, but also that this wowed them because they saw how Christ could change their life. For some of these students, this may be the only opportunity they have to hear about Christ. It is our hope that after they leave the church on Super Bowl Sunday they will be encouraged to come to Church so they can hear more about Christ and his potential impact on their lives.

Quality, Not Quantity

As I began to ask the question as what makes each event a Cedar Run event, I made another discovery. We have started to do less fun events. This wasn’t because I was getting lazy and didn’t want to do them anymore. Rather, I found out that by increasing the QUALITY of the events, the QUANTITY went down. Our leaders would take that extra step to make the event that we were doing special. Whether it was a video, surprise raffle of an iPod or an impromptu dance party, it became clear that we wanted to do better events. Therefore, we put more time and energy in doing a few excellent events rather than trying to come up with monthly events that are just ordinary events.

The students have really responded to this. We also discovered that even though the number of events we did decreased, the number of students who started coming started to increase dramatically. Again, anyone can go bowling or watch the Super Bowl, but when we started taking that extra step, Cedar Run events became more than just other events. It is known now that when Cedar Run does an event, something special (or crazy) is going to happen. They have become “Can’t Miss” events.

We do other events throughout the year and as long as we are taking that extra step and glorifying God with our creativeness, God has truly blessed us and provided us a clear avenue to reach teens for Christ. He can do the same for you as well.

TAKE A MINUTE and…

  1. Make a list of all the events you are doing. Write down the purpose of each event and estimate the number of students who come out to those events.
  2. Based on your list, are there events that need to be eliminated because they lack a clear purpose or strong attendance? What events can be modified to make this event distinctive to your church or ministry?
  3. Incorporate your leaders and some key students and begin to plan out some WOW events.

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Assessing where YOU are at

I love football. Whether it is college or the pros, I can’t wait for it to get started and to see how my favorite teams do during the course of the year.

At the end of each season, one of the first items of business football teams do is to spend time evaluating how the season went. Sure, they do evaluating over the course of the year and make adjustments as needed. But, at the end of the year, they sit back with all the coaches, players, owners or Athletic Directors and go through the year and evaluate what needs to be changed and what needs to stay the same for the upcoming year.

In the same way, Youth Pastors and Ministers need to be evaluating constantly. Whether you have been at your church a long time or are just now starting, it is vitally important to take an assessment of where your program is at and what needs to be changed. In order to move forward, you have to be able to look critically at yourself and your ministry. That is what I did at each of the ministries I was at. Whether I was just starting at a new ministry or had been there a while, I wanted to either take an initial assessment as to what I was getting into or seek to make changes in what we were currently doing.

This assessment process is divided into two parts – You and Your Ministry (this will be next week’s post).

You, Personally:

In order to take a good assessment of your ministry, you have to first start by looking at the head honcho – YOU! This seems obvious and I hope that this is something you do regularly, but I have found often in my life that I do not do this nearly enough. As a Youth Minister doing this for over a decade, I realize that I can be set in my ways and feel that the way I have been leading myself and others is the right way. Do not get trapped into this thinking as this kind of mindset can do more harm than help.

Take this time of evaluation as an opportunity to examine your heart and open yourself back up to God and his ways. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord”. God’s plan and path are often different than ours. So, how do you align yourself with God’s plan and make sure you are walking down the same path with him? These are some self-examination questions you can be asking yourself (in no particular order):

  • How are you doing with Christ? Are you spending time with Christ daily?
  • Are you being taught weekly (at Church or through a small group)?
  • Are you surrounded by people who will challenge you and hold you accountable in Christ?
  • How is your heart? Are you in ministry for the right reasons? Do you have the passion to take students to that next level?
  • How is the balance in your life? Are you balancing your personal, family and ministry lives well? In order to be truly effective, we have to have balance in these areas.

These are not the only questions you can be asking yourself in your personal, self-evaluation, but it is a start. In fact, these all may seem like no-brainers, but when was the last time you asked yourself these types of questions? When was the last time someone else asked you these questions? Again, as I have found out about myself that when I fail to ask myself these questions, I suffer. When I suffer, my ministry suffers and most of all, the students suffer.

As great as personal evaluation is for us, this can also be challenging. The main challenge I have found is that we are in ministry! After all, we are put into a position of authority and are being paid to do a job – lead others in Christ. Shouldn’t we have our act together? No, we will never have our act all together. But, because you are in this position, you need to be in evaluating yourself and being held accountable just as much as any other. I know this can be hard as I have heard too many times of people in ministry being vulnerable with others and getting burned because of it. But, in order to be effective for Christ, you have to find others you can trust and share openly with.

To encourage me in my life and my relationship with Christ, I began to develop 3 different sets of relationships. They have helped me examine my heart, be accountable and have given me that extra kick in the pants that I desperately needed.

1. The first relationship I developed was with my Associate Pastor. For some, a relationship with your Associate Pastor may not work, but this is a natural person for me to connect with as we have a lot in common. We are able to talk about life, ministry and our relationship with Christ. I would not say that we have the deepest of relationships yet, but by meeting with him in an informal setting, we are able to digest life and ministry issues that push me in my relationship with Christ. The more we meet, the more I trust him and know that he is for me as a person.

2. The second set of relationships is with two other men who DO NOT go to my Church who I am being held accountable to. For the longest time, I did not have anyone to hold me accountable regularly. This was primarily because of the reason I mentioned above – I’ve heard of too many people being burned by sharing with others in their own Church. But, by being working alone in ministry for so long, I have realized that I needed people to challenge me in Christ and hold me accountable. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to form this new group with these two others. It has really helped a lot and I know that they do not just care about me as someone who is a Minister. They care about me as a follower of Christ, a husband and a father and I know that they are going to ask me the hard questions and challenge me so that I can be all that I Christ desires of me.

3. The last set is with some other Youth Pastors in the area. Let’s face it, ministry stinks when you do it alone. I have 3 part-time Interns that work with me right now, but I need to stress Part-Time. That is why developing relationships with these other Youth Pastors in the area has been so encouraging for me. We get together and chat about ministry, but also personal stuff. It is great to realize that you are not the only person who is dealing with or struggling through a certain situation. As we talk about life together, it challenges me to step up my game in areas I may struggle with. The more I meet with other Youth Ministers, the more I benefit.

The phrase I hear all the time is “You can only take students as far as you are allowing God to work in you”. Have you heard that one before? I bet you have. But, it is very true. If we fail to self-evaluate ourselves by looking at our heart and relationship with Christ, we will not be as effective as we need to be. We NEED that encouragement and extra challenge we get when we are being pushed and encouraged in Christ. Are you asking yourself these hard questions and making sure that you, personally, are being objective in your evaluation of yourself? Are you surrounding yourself with others so that you are fit to do the work God has called you to?

TAKE A MINUTE and…

1. Continue to seek Christ! Each day we fail to intentionally seek him and follow him, we fail to strengthen ourselves, thus fail to strengthen others.

2. If you do not have people to hold you accountable regularly, identify people in your life who can push and encourage you in your relationship with Christ. Then, call them up and see if they can get together and talk about life. Do not wait for people to call you, seek them out.

3. Identify youth ministers in your area who you can meet with. Then, set up a meeting. Just because you meet once does not mean you have to be soul buddies with them forever. It may take you a few attempts to build a relationship or for you to find the right youth minister to connect with. But, call some up and meet with them. You will benefit.

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