Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: Social Media

Staying connected to other people has always been a priority for humans.  Hand signals, written symbols, smoke signals, cups & strings, morse code, the telephone, internet and cell phones are all used to help us feel connected to other people.  Cell phones provide internet access to even the remote places in the world.  Social Media has grabbed the world over and many of us are addicted to it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: Google

I remember many years ago, I was frustrated with the emails programs that were out there. I had a Hotmail, Yahoo and even created my own pop email program. I was very annoyed because they were slow, full of Ads and I would get tons of spam. I was talking to friends and found out that Google had created a email program that was way different than everything out there. I got excited and began begging for an invite into their private beta. I ended up buying my invite into Gmail and the $.99 was well worth it. I have never looked back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: iPad, iPhone & iOS Apps

This tool is probably one that gets me a lot of grief from my other youth pastor friends.  I have had an iPhone since version 3G and I got an iPad a couple months after they came out.  I know that most youth pastors cannot necessarily afford either of these tools but this is what I use.  I use many programs that have PC/Mac versions, so you can take those ideas and apply them how you see.

Tools I Use In Ministry:

I remember back in mid 90's doing youth ministry at a small church in Hollywood, Fl.  I was working there that summer and loving it.  I created fliers using an old clip art book and black&white copier.  I thought I was cool stuff using "hip" clip art.  When I wanted to talk to students, I called them or they called me.  Thinking back to then and comparing it to now, is amazing to think about.  I don't have books of clip art, I just use Google Images.  I don't use an old copier but a very nice color laser printer.  I contact students using Social Media and texting.  The tools of the youth pastor have changed a lot in the last decade or so.  We use tools that make our work easier and more productive.  This week I will be highlighting some of the tools that I use in ministry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tools I Use In Ministry: MediaShout

I love using media in our ministry.  I have used it for the last few years with a program called Mediashout.  Mediashout is like Powerpoint on steroids and specifically designed for churches.  I have been using Mediashout for the last 10 years or so and have seen it evolve into a great program for churches.  I know there are other programs out there but I feel that Mediashout is user friendly and fully capable of doing what most churches need.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My friend Neely McQueen over at always has some great advice on girl ministries and more.  I really liked this post because it always hurts when a students leaves, especially a student we have invested in.

"It’s bound to happen the longer you are in youth ministry…a student that you have invested in will stop showing up. They might slowly disengage from you and the ministry or maybe it happens suddenly. It can be heartbreaking, right?

What can you do?

I am strong believer in a follow up plan. Facebook, email, text, snail mail…a phone call. It’s important to make contact. The point is to follow up on the student – to provide care for them…but it’s easy to make it about their absence from our programs. I believe students can tell if we care about them or if we just care about the attendance."

Read the rest of the blog here

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Giving Away Ownership

I read a ton of blogs from other youth pastors.  Many of them I have met face-to-face, some I have never talked to.  All of them have great advice.  I think on the weekends, I will repost blog posts from my friends.  

My friend Jay Highman has a blog at where he talks about giving your adult leaders ownership of the ministry as a way to build the ministry to be more sustainable.  He writes...

"Tip: Let Them Own It; Leaders.
I am trying something new. This past summer, we made a number of significant changes to our programming. One of the major changes was introducing a redesigned small group ministry. In the redesign, we have handed over the leadership of the small group to the adult leader and the group. What that means is, I am allowing the adult leader to take ownership of what I hope becomes their ministry. As a group, we plan, lead, and love on students together. But in small groups, this becomes the role and responsibility of the leader..."

Read the rest here

Friday, October 21, 2011

Settling Into Your New Youth Ministry Position

Leaving a youth ministry position is hard. No one will ever disagree with that.  Starting a new position, is just as hard.  No matter how the interview goes.  No matter how much time is spent between the applicant and hiring committee.  There will always be some pain to the transition.  This isn't a bad thing.  Actually it can be a good thing.  New starts allow you to take a fresh look at what has been going on.  Depending on the size of your church/group, you might be able to make change right way or you may need to take some time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Landing in Newburgh, IN

As I start this new blog with a new identity.  I figured I would take some time to let all the readers know where I am at in this youth ministry process.  I am sure that some people will land here having never met me or even heard of me.  I am not famous nor do I have any books written.  I am just a youth pastor trying to reach students for Christ.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making Changes...

I have struggled for years on what to do with my blog. I started it as a personal space to write my thoughts and it morphed into a place to talk about ministry with some parenting stuck in but it never really had a unique identity. I want to write more and write on topics that others will want to read but a lot of times I think that so much is already being written by youth pastors all over the world. I asked God to show me what to do. Should I worry about it or let it go and focus on other things. I feel God is calling me to write more and bigger. I have it on my heart to write a book or two (at some point), articles for magazines but all that starts with this blog. This requires me to be more consistent in my writing and more purposeful.

I have said all that to say that I have purchased a unique domain for my blog , This name reflects the username I have been using for a while that has meant something deep to me. I have actually stolen the name from my brother-in-law, Mark.  Mark used to design and shape his own surfboards.  I loved to surf and tried to whenever I went to Florida.  In talking with Mark about the name, he explained the spiritual nature of surfing and how you connect with nature while you are sitting waiting for the next wave.  He felt that by shaping the boards, he was helping others to find that spiritualness.

I took the name a step further and applied it to what I was called to do.  God has called to minister to students and to help them develop a faith in Him. This is reflected in the name Soulshaper.   I am a shaper of souls, helping those to discover who God is and how to have a relationship with Him.  I came to a full realization of this while at Group Publishing with 100 other youth pastors.  We get together each year and Rick Lawrence leads us in experiential exercises.   This year he talked about our names.  We paired up with another person and they were to name us, then later on, we were to ask God what He would call us.  God confirmed the name Soulshaper to me.  I was amazed and blessed.

So with my new found confirmation.  I am excited about this change and the new domain. The look and feel of the blog won't change, just what I write about. This blog will be dedicated to helping youth pastors and parents to reach teenagers. I will also include some personal and church specific topics but it will all be within the context of helping others. I know I am one person among many writing about youth ministry but I believe God has gifted me with a heart to help others.

I am already in the process of queueing up articles for the next couple weeks.  So please, follow me on Facebook, twitter @soulshaper and via the blog reader.  If you have a specific topic you would like me to talk about, leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Divided the Movie - A Review

Over the last few weeks I kept seeing links to this movie coming from my youth pastor friends.  I blew it off for a while and then decided to watch it.  I think the movie was well done for what it was but I believe the message is off.

Here is the overview from the website: DIVIDED follows young Christian filmmaker Philip Leclerc on a revealing journey as he seeks answers to what has led his generation away from the church. Traveling across the country conducting research and interviewing church kids, youth ministry experts, evangelists, statisticians, social commentators, and pastors, Philip discovers the shockingly sinister roots of modern, age-segregated church programs, and the equally shocking evidence that the pattern in the Bible for training future generations is at odds with modern church practices. He also discovers a growing number of churches that are abandoning age-segregated Sunday school and youth ministry to embrace the discipleship model that God prescribes in His Word.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Change is needed...

I have been thinking a lot about the current state of youth ministry and youth pastors within the church.  It seems like almost every week I hear from a friend or two who are leaving their church for any number of different reasons.  Since I resigned my own position in March, I have been thinking about youth ministry in the local church and whether it is really working or not.

The other day I got into a conversation with some friends of mine on Twitter and then eventually Facebook about this exact topic.  I really enjoyed talking and thinking about this and getting confirmation of my own thoughts.  Over the next couple weeks I will be blogging more about it but for now, here are 3 articles written by friends with a couple different view points. 

Tony Myles - Putting Your Senior Pastor in his Place - Part 1

Tim Schmoyer - Youth Ministry is Crippled

Mark Riddle - Change in the Church

Monday, April 25, 2011

Faith in God, more than words

Have Faith

I sat in the Sunday morning service of Tiffany Fellowship, knowing the we were predestined to be there. You see, the pastor was speaking about worrying and using the reference from Luke 12:22-31 plus a few other verses. The pastor's point was that if we worry about what is going to happen, then our faith isn't faith at all. As I sat there, I couldn't believe it. This was exactly what I needed to hear. You see, just that week we had been devastated at hearing from a few churches that we thought we were good candidates for. We were excited that our search process would be quick and painless. We had interviewed with some great churches and we thought we were in the running. Unfortunately, they didn't pan out. We had become frustrated and disappointed.

As I sat there in that service, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cannot say I have faith in God but then question how He does things in my life. We had given this search to God. We knew He would put us in a great place, He had done it before. I was ashamed, especially after the pastor used the term "Practical Athiest" for me. I was someone who believed in God but didn't have faith in Him or I was good as saying but not as good as doing. I was ashamed. I knew better. I knew that God would take care of us. I became like most people and thought it would happen in my time.

Since that Sunday morning, I have thought a lot about what the pastor talked about. I have thought and prayed about how I was and how I was feeling. In the two weeks that have followed, we have talked to a few more churches. We have been turned down by a couple and we have a couple who seem really excited about us. Each day we have remembered that sermon and this verse, Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about to or row, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". I cannot say I have faith and not trust God to do His will. I have to continued to trust Him with my entire life, not just what I have control over.

I have to keep reminding myself that worrying isn't going to help me get a position. I must continue to put my faith in God. How about you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Wife, I love you...

In the writing of a youth pastor there is usually one person who gets left out. We talk about our adult leaders, our students, the church we work at and parents but most of the time we forget to talk about our families and specifically the spouses. This post is a tribute to my wife, Elizabeth.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Retro: He's still working on me...

This was posted on 08/08/06

Over the last few months, God has really been working on me. I have struggled with where my place is in my life. Now, that might seem strange to some of you, but in Roy's world it makes perfect sense. You see, I know that God has called me to be a Youth Pastor. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The question comes when I ask myself if I am doing what He has called me to do. Most of you know I am a Youth Pastor. I have about 30 teens that I am responsible for. I love doing this.  I mean, I truly do Love doing this. My students are great. I have a great time talking to them. BUT, am I doing what God has called me to do.

The Job Process Update...

I just wanted to give all my fans out there an update on what is going on in my job search. I know there are a lot of people paying and wondering what is going on, so I figured I would let everyone know.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going Retro: Stick's and Stones may break your bones...

This was posted on 08/24/06

While leading a tour of kindergarten students through our hospital, I overheard a conversation between one little girl and an x-ray technician.
"Have you ever broken a bone?" he asked.
"Yes," the girl replied.
"Did it hurt?"
"Really? Which bone did you break?"
"My sister's arm."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going Retro: You Can Please Some of the People....

This was posted on 08/21/06

...some of the time, all of the people none of the time. This is something that is painful from some people to grasp. I know lots of people that try to be everything to everyone. I see it at work, in my family and in my friends. In ministry it is equally hard. As a youth pastor, I have to deal with pastors, boards, students, parents and the congregation. You have tons of different opinions of what you should do and how you should do it. For the most part, I haven't had a tons of problems with people and I am usually good at dealing with it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going Retro: Some days your the dog, some your the hydrant.

This was posted on 08/15/06

A nursery school teacher was delivering a van full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.

"They use him to keep crowds back," said one youngster.

"No," said another, "he's just for good luck."

A third child brought the argument to a close: "They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrant."

(brought to you by

Monday, April 11, 2011

Going Retro: Know when to say Sorry...

I posted this on 08/10/06

I messed up last night. And it took a parent letting me know it to realize my mistake. You see, yesterday was my birthday, so instead of having a normal service with the teens, I figured we would have cake and ice cream and karaoke. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We had done this before and had no problems, but we only had Christmas Karaoke music. This time I went out and bought some Cd's. Thinking that they would be the clean versions of the songs, so I didn't worry or review them before hand.

Going Retro, A Look Back

We have two LCD tv's in our house that when they aren't being used act as giant digital picture frames. The pictures are feed from our Google collection of images that go back to the time when Beth and I were kids. We love to sit and just watch. The kids love hearing the stories and seeing how they have changed over the years and the things we have done.

I love to this same thing with my blog post. I have been blogging off and on for a few years now. I was reading some post from a former blog I had and figured I would post them here. I hope you enjoy this look back...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Suggestions for Parents: Building a Family Ministry

I am going to finish up this blog series on Suggestion for Parents by talking about how our ministry (or what was ours) is doing family ministry. The original thoughts on this series came when I was still doing youth ministry, so all the thoughts that follow are based on the ministry at Platte Woods UMC

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Suggestions for Parents: Parent Expectations of Church

As a parent I have learned the value of help. I know that my wife and I don't know everything. We know that our kids will probably talk to other adults more than they talk to us. My kids have had the pleasure of being a part of many different church homes. Some of them with great children's ministry and some with ok ministries. Each ministry gave my kids something different and special. I have seen the benefit the church has on our kids.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Suggestions for Parents: Church Expectations of Parents

They say that hindsight is 20/20. It is easy to look back on what decisions we made and critique them. To look and see what we would have done differently. As a youth pastor, I have the benefit of being able to view many different family dynamics. I spend time researching families and how they should act and then I get to try to help families discover what they should do. I find that most of the times, parents don't know what they should really be doing because growing up they were never shown what to do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Suggestions for Parents: Where does your family focus their time?

Yesterday I wrote the first part of a 5 part series on Suggestions for Parents. You can read the first part called "Faith Starts at Home". I am not here to judge or say that I am better. Most of these suggestions are ideas that I need to implement. I know that we, as parents, have a huge responsibility in developing the faith of our kids. We all need help, me most of all. I get the privilege of working with students being able to take the time to research and learn from others as part of my job. Most other parents do not have that benefit, so I am trying to help them.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Suggestions for Parents: Faith Starts at Home

This week I am going to do a five part series on suggestions for parents. This isn't because I think I am a better parent than others. I know that I still have a lot to learn, especially since I only have a 7th grader. My advice may be more like, do as I say not as I do type advice. Each post is a reminder to me of what I should be doing with my own kids.

Friday, April 01, 2011

My Process of Looking for a Ministry Position

Most of my world knows that a couple weeks ago, I stepped down as youth pastor at Platte Woods UMC. I have begun the process of looking for a new position. I have done this once before, so I kind of "think" I know what I am doing. I know that many of my other youth pastor friends are looking, so I figured I would share how I am looking for a new job with the blog world.

First and foremost, I have been praying about this for a while. Even before we told people we were leaving, we have been praying. No matter what I am looking for, God has a place for me.  We know that all our decisions are what He wants from us, so we have put this whole process in His hands.

What Am I Looking For?
I am a youth pastor. I know this totally, so I am looking for a youth pastor position. I am open to varying this to include young adults or maybe some family ministry but I am sticking mainly with youth ministry.  I am looking for a position that will help me to continue to use the gifts that God has given me to build a youth ministry and the church.

The church I would like to be a part of will be serious about missions, its vision and reaching the lost. l want a church that is fluid in its processes, meaning willing to change what needs to be changed. I want to be a part of a staff that is relational and willing to help each other. I would like to be in a church larger than 800 in worship, but that isn't a big deal.  Size has never really mattered to me.  I just want a church that I can fit into.

How Am I Looking?
I really don't like looking for a new job.  I don't know that anyone really loves it.  I started this search off with having my resume professionally evaluated by an HR Manager.  I also had several of my friends look at it to make sure that I was presenting myself correctly.  I am happy with how my resume reads and what I have accomplished.  I also created a default email that I use as a guideline when sending to churches.  I try to change it up by focusing on what the church is looking for.

The church world is a small world and big combined.  There are tons of churches and different denominations but if you know a group of people, your reach can be pretty big.  I am connected with other youth pastors and churches through the UMC and Nazarene churches.  I have have contacts through the NNYM and my involvement with SYMC as an Inside Track Team member.  I have feelers out everywhere.

I am staying on top of the different job boards out there.  There a few youth ministry specific lists out there, some ministry lists and then the denominational classified listings.  I will list some of the main boards below...

Youth Specialties
Simply Tools
Youth Ministry Architects
Church Staffing

Where Am I Looking?
Moving to Missouri wasn't a big part of our plan when I was looking for a job last time.  God had plans to bring me here and we are happy we did.  This time we are kind of focusing our search on an seven hour driving radius around Nashville (where our families kind of live) and parts of Florida.   We are open to move outside of this range but we would really like to be closer to family.  This search includes the following states: Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

I am excited about the idea of moving to somewhere new.  I know that God has a plan for us and I am glad I get to be a part.  He did some amazing things while we were at Platte Woods.  Platte Woods was my first full-time ministry position and I learned a ton.  I am excited about being able to take what I learned and apply it to another ministry setting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SYMC Conference - Day 3

The second day of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference was a great time of wrap up. We had some amazing worship in the general session with Shane & Shane, Tim Timmons, OC Supertones and Gungor. I loved it and almost lost my voice.

The second half of the Indispensable Youth Pastor was about keeping and loving your job. We started off the second day with a quote from Andy Stanley talking about mediocrity. "Momentum is never created by tweaking something old... get new choir robes. You can't tweak yourself into momentum. New triggers momentum. New is expensive and risky, so we default to tweak tweak tweak. Minor improvements doesn't create momentum. It just takes what's mediocre and makes it a little better." I think this says a lot about how some ministries and churches try to just change up the little rather than taking the big steps needed to reach people.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SYMC Conference - Day 2

This post was started at the Conference but finished a couple weeks later.

This continues my first couple thoughts on the Simply Youth Ministry Conference.

Day two of SYMC was incredible. I started with worship and then moved into my Deeper Learning Track. I was really struggling with what to take and on the advice of a friend, I choose Mark DeVries teaching "The Indispensable Youth Pastor".

This learning track focus on Locating, Landing and Loving your youth ministry position. The first section was focused on the Locating and Landing pieces. Mark and Jeff talked about the following:

  • Find a church that is the right match. This means knowing what you are looking for in a church.
  • The Interview. Once you found that church, how do you make yourself look good on paper and in real life. (I will cover this in another blog series)
  • Making the Move. How will this affect your family? How much time will you need to commit to the church vs your family? What are some things you can do to start the ministry right.

When the track started, I wasn't sure I need to be there and almost left. Even though we had decided to leave, my brain wasn't computer it. I am glad I stayed. I learned some stuff that is going to come in handy as I begin to look for another position.

I day was filled with 4 hours of deep conversation about becoming an indispensable youth pastor. The following awesome points that Mark made that I think really show how to become indispensable.

Moving Toward indispensability:

  1. Your job is to do your job: You were hired to do a job, you need to do it. The youth pastor can sometimes become more than the youth pastor because we normally have other various skills but we need to focus on our job first. You can't complain about others not doing what they should, if you yourself aren't doing your job.
  2. Steward the Church's vision: We all have an idea of how the church should run but you weren't hired to change the church. You need to champion the vision of the church and that pastor. If you try to push your own vision, then only friction will occur.
  3. Kiss the Victim Goodbye: When you are employee, you have to do things you don't want to do. Mark talked about paying the rents in ministry. There are things that NEED to be done to be effective and by doing them and not worrying whether you agree or not is best. Paying these rents are about building trust and enthusiasm in the ministry you are trying to build.
  4. Get More than our Job Done: You need to go beyond what is expected of you. Mark told a story of a Pastor who knew the names of the majority of his congregation the first day he was there because he studied their faces and names. We need to reach out to the parents, leadership and congregation and help them be successful.
  5. Focus on Making Other People Successful: When you make other people in the church successful, you build up more rents. This also makes your ministry stronger by weaving the ministry throughout the church. Encourage your students to get involved and be successful in other ministries in the church. Volunteer your group to help when other ministries need it.
  6. Creativity can be learned: Don't limit yourself. All of us are creative. God created us to be creative. We need to stop worrying about coming up with bad ideas and just let the creativity flow.
  7. Tell the Stories -- Transform the Culture: Make sure others know of your success in ministry. Find ways to tell the good stories of what is happening in your ministry. You can use these stories to show others the excitement in your ministry and it will become contagious.

As I thought through these ideas, I began to think about the good things I did in our ministry and some of the rents that I didn't pay. If you are in ministry, are you paying your rents or playing the victim?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stepping Out..

Do you ever think about the amount of faith it takes to live our every day lives? We put faith in the electric company when we flip a switch. We put our faith in engineers when we step on the brakes for our cars to stop. Our faith is tested every minute of every day, we just never think about it.

What about the astronauts we send into faith? How much faith do they have when they strap themselves into the chair of a rocket with thousands of gallons of explosive fuel. What about the astronauts who were the first to step on the moon. How much faith do you think it took for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to step out of the lander module and onto the moon service. I can imagine the feelings they must have had. The feelings of incredible excitement and undeniable fear. What if their suits were not air tight? What if the ship never started back up to take them off? What if there was a monster on the planet that they didn't know about? There had to be so many questions going through their mind as they stepped off that ship to be the first human to ever walk on the moon. Their faith must have been huge.

Most of our world will tell you that they can't put their faith in things not seen but we do it all the time. They don't believe in God because they cannot see, feel, hear, taste or touch Him. I think even Christians are hard pressed to really put their faith in God. We talk about taking a step of faith but few of us rarely do. We have money in our savings accounts to keep us from getting behind in our bills. We meet new people only when it is convenient for us. Many of our churches are still doing things the way they always have because we are comfortable. We give only when it doesn't hurt us financially.

Our faith is something we say but not something we do. What would happened it we all listened to the call of God and stepped out on faith in whatever God has called us. What if we gave until it really hurt us? What if we reach out to everyone we saw? What if we stopped being worried about what the homeless man did with our money and let God worry about it. What if we quit our current job in favor of doing something God wanted us to? What if churches did whatever was necessary to reach those around them? What if we did everything we could to reach the lost of this world?

If we really put our faith in God, the feelings we will encounter will be so much more than what Neil and Buzz felt when they stepped off the moon lander?

What if???

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Leading vs Doing: Part 2

This was written pre-resignation...

My last blog talked about some stumbling blocks that I encountered when moving from DOING ministry to LEADING others to do ministry. This post is going to talk about my plan to overcome those stumbling blocks.

I believe that if you are doing ministry by yourself, you are wrong. We are designed to be relational people and as youth pastors, we need to work extra hard to make those relationships happen for our students. If you are the lone ranger, you students are missing out on the vast amount of influence they can have in their lives from other adults. I know it is hard to recruit adult leaders. Some churches can do it where others don't seem to have it.

If you have a youth ministry with any students in it, you need to be building an adult leader team. Yes, it may seem easier to do it yourself but you are building for the future and that means multiplying yourself.

Here are some ways that we are changing...

Change #1 Job Descriptions. Each position in our ministry will have a job description that tells the potential adult the time commitment, the goals of the position, what the job actually is and what skills are needed. Job descriptions help the potential adult know what they are getting into and it helps you recruit for that specific position

Change #2 Relational Training. This probably the most radical of all our changes but the most needed. Each adult you recruit is different. (go figure huh). They learn differently, have different personalities and different skill sets. Relational Training is a customized training to a specific individual. When you build the relationship, you begin to understand more about that person and how they learn. In your learning you can begin to help lead them in the direction they need to go in their position. This training goes along with all the other training your doing.

Change #3 Customized Communications. Each of your students has a specific way they communicate, so do your adults. Some might email, others text and other may prefer a phone call or face to face. I need to work hard to make sure I reach all our adult leaders in the best way possible. Example, I have one adult leader who reads emails but mostly on her phone, so I need to keep my messages to her short and sweet. While I can't do this all the time, knowing it in advance can help me to make her life easier.

I believe that if I can make these 3 changes, our adult leader team will grow stronger than ever. There are many more steps to building a strong leadership team and maybe I can post some stuff in the future but if you take the lessons I have learned and apply them to your ministry, you will be better off.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leading vs Doing: Part 1

This blog was written pre-resignation...

I have done ministry in many different settings. Each setting brings with it a different set of challenges. When I was the only adult leader, it was easy for me to do whatever I wanted. When we started a small group program, I was the one leading it. When the students wanted a deeper Bible study, I led it. Easy stuff.

In my current ministry, I am not the only one. In fact, I am part of a team of paid and volunteer staff. I have a full-time assistant. I have a great group of 45 adult leaders doing various pieces of our ministry. I have gone from Doing ministry, to leading ministers. Each adult leader on our team is told that they are the Youth Pastor to their specific group of students. I cannot personally get to know each student on the same level they can. This has changed my entire approach to ministry and caused some stumbling on my part.

Stumble #1 - Doing ministry myself is easy, helping others do ministry is harder. I have learned that how I do things is not necessarily how others will do it. I may be able to look at a page of my notes and know exactly where to go but a mother of two leading a small group of 8th grade girls won't.

Stumble #2 - Being original isn't all its cracked up to be. In our Confirmation classes this year, I was going to write the curriculum because I have done it over the last few years. This is fine when I am looking at the notes but not as easy when I have to give those notes to an adult leader who doesn't have my background in ministry. Sometimes using pre-written curriculum is ok.

Stumble #3 - Thinking everyone is the same, is not even close. Each of our adult leaders learns differently. We have some that are very laid back and won't print out their small group material until right before they meet. We have other who need to have it 3 weeks in advance so they can start soaking in the information.

Each of these stumbles has caused me to really look at how I lead. I am working on becoming better at training and teaching. I am trying to be more clear on my expectations of each position in our ministry. We are now moving into a time of me leading leaders who then lead a group of adult leaders, so I will be switching even more to help our adults lead their peers.

how about you? What are some things that you have learned about being a leader of leaders?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I am leaving Platte Woods

One of the hardest things to do in ministry is to leave, especially when things are going great.  This is the situation that my family and I are in right now.  Last week, I resigned as Youth Pastor at Platte Woods UMC.  I have been in this position for almost 4 years.  In May of 2007, our family made the 500 mile drive from Nashville, TN to answer the call of God.

We have had an incredible time and done some amazing things.  Over the last 6 months or so, we have felt that God was calling us to something else.  We battled and prayed about it and finally made the decision.  We are taking a huge step in faith but we know that He has a plan for our lives.  

Friday, March 04, 2011

SYMC Day 1 - Pre-Conference Track

Each year that I do the SYMC conference, I participate in a pre-conference track on Friday. I did Small Groups with Doug Fields the first year. Last year, I took the Jr High Ministry with Kurt Johnston. Each has been valuable training for me. This year, I did Helping Hurting Kids by Marv Penner and Rich Van Pelt. I wanted to do this because I will be teaching a series on the subject in April and May.

Let me first say, my mind was blown. I have dealt with students who have struggled with all kinds of issues but the stories that Marv and Rich talked about during the session blew my mind. I can't imagine the hurt that our students feel today and most of it is at the hands of family.

The concept that stuck out in my mind was that within all of us, God has planted a thirst for community, purpose and unconditional love. In a perfect world, God would fill us full of all three. Unfortunately in our broken world, we try to fill the void with anything we can think of. As Marv unpacked what this meant in the lives of our students, I was amazed. As a parent, it was hard to sit and listen and to realize the things I wasn't doing with my children. As a youth pastor, I thought through all the lives in our ministry and where each of them might be.

Our students lives are changing so fast and the adults in the lives are not helping them make the transition. Adults are constantly letting the next generation down, and that generation is beginning to show us the damage we are doing. We have become a shallow society that doesn't know how to have real conversations and then we wonder why we have no idea our students are hurting themselves behind closed doors. We have taught them to hide.

I look forward to studying about this more and learning how I can help students struggling with this enormous pain in their lives.

The good part of the day was that it ended on a great night. The first General Session of SYMC was incredible, as always. The worship was led by Shane & Shane and then completed with a short concert by Matt Maher. The Skit Guys and Josh & Jake were funny as anything. I laughed hard. Doug brought us a message reflecting on his mothers voice in his life and the complexities of being in youth ministry.

Overall, it was a great start to what I know is going to be a great conference.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

SYMC and Continuing Education

I love conferences. I love the atmosphere, the friendship, the free stuff and more. I have been to many different conferences over the last 15 years. I have hit all the big ones and even a couple of the smaller ones. I am always on the look out to learn from those who have gone before me. One thing I know about myself, is that I don't know everything. Conference help me to learn a lot in a short amount of time, usually a weekend.

I have kind of settled on the Simply Youth Ministry Conference as my all time favorite. This is my 3rd year attending this conference. I am even a part of the Inside-Track team that helps to develop this conference. I have meet some great people and gotten some great ideas from this conference.

Now, I am not saying this is the conference for everyone but I believe it is a great conference for me. Group and SYM does an incredible job at making this a small conference in a big conference body. You leave feeling like you have met everyone and when you return, it is like a family reunion. I believe this is what sets SYMC apart from other conference. You get more than just learning, you get the ability to network and be a part of something bigger.

Group does a great job of bringing in the best speakers they can find. I have learned that it isn't just people who are good, but people they have relationships with. This means that the speakers will speak and not just try to sell their latest book. I went to another conference where this was the whole goal of each session and it was a big turn off.

I am looking forward to this weekend. I am approaching it with a whole new approach than before. I am looking to build more and deeper relationships with others. I want to meet and help as many people as possible. I want to learn but I want more to have great conversations.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This is what kills me about churches & youth ministry

I have a heart for youth ministry and especially youth ministers.  I cringe when I hear of wrongs being done to youth pastors, especially when their only fault is wanting to do Gods work.

The following is a job posting from a church in Missouri that is looking for a new youth pastor.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE IS BASED ON A 15 HOUR WORK WEEK 1This will include being present at ALL worship services, Sunday School hour, and Wednesday Eve activities. Anytime the church is open to the public, the Youth Director will be there to meet and connect with youth. Consult with the pastor on plans and activities, in order to coordinate with the church calendar. Submit monthly report to the pastor by the first of each month. Attend monthly Ministry Team Meetings. Prepare and lead weekly IGNITE meetings. Coordinate and schedule outside youth events. Plan and coordinate, and lead yearly mission trips. Coordinate with Sunday School teachers to oversee curriculum. Maintain regular correspondence with youth and parents regarding upcoming events and scheduling. Visitation to the youth as needed. Help to identify and encourage youth to consider full time professional service to Christ and His church. Recruit volunteers to assist in meetings and events. Must make sure that all volunteers are Safe Sanctuary Certified. Other duties assigned by Pastor. APPLICANT REQUIREMENTS This person must be a member of the United Methodist Church. This person should have experience leading youth, and youth activities. This person must be a role model for our youth. They must maintain a strong Christian character in all aspects of their lives. They must demonstrate a close relationship with God through personal devotion, worship, and prayer. This person must be passionate about youth. This person must be energetic, a self-starter, and encourager, and a visionary. This person must feel comfortable addressing small as well as large groups. This person must be comfortable sharing the Christian faith and the United Methodist understanding with both Christian and unchurched children and youth.

Before I go on, I do not know this church or their situation.  This church can have a big heart and only want to do what is right.  They may not have that much money and this is all they can offer.  I get all that but it doesn't change the rest of the blog.  

Now, in case you didn't catch the problem.  The hours they want to pay a youth pastor is only 15 per week but the work is really a full-time job.  They want them to be at all church services which is about 5 hours alone and then do the rest of the job description on top of that.  The sad part is, I know the church isn't trying to hurt the incoming youth pastor.  They are like any other church and want t reach youth.  The problem is that they want to pay the bare minimum and get the same as a full-person.  The sadder part, is that some poor person will get this position and will eventually burn out.  If they church is lucky, they will find someone who is coming in with their eyes open and willing to give more time than is being requested.  but more than likely, not.  This position will 
probably be available in a year or so because whoever is hired will burn out fast.

So, how can this be fixed.  Here are a couple of my thoughts for the church:
  1. Know what you want and what is realistic.  Everyone knows that there is no such thing as part-time youth work.  If the church knows the direction it wants to go and hires a youth pastor who can help them get there, that goes a long way.  If you are looking to hire someone to build the ministry without any guidance from the church, that person will fail.
  2. Heap on the love.  When you are only paying a part-time person to do youth work, more than likely they have another job.  Give this position as much leeway and love that you can. Be the biggest cheerleader for the position.  Help them find good adults.  When you hear something good that happened, make sure the whole church knows.  I would also do everything you can to get this position as much training as possible.  There are tons of training opportunities, conferences and networks that a local youth pastor can get involved with.
  3. Squeeze out more money.  15 hours a week isn't enough to live on, no matter the city.  This position will be filled with someone who either already has a job or who just really needs the money.  As a church, I would urge to try to find more money to help this position reach its full potential.  If youth ministry is important to you, see what in the budget can be cut to help pay this position more.
Here are a couple ideas for the potential youth pastor who will take this position:
  1. Open  your eyes.  You should know what you are getting into.  If you aren't clear on everything being expected, ask them.  The church probably has never had a youth pastor besides a parent or local volunteer.  When you talk with them in the interview, ask if the job description can be change.  Help them know what you are capable of.
  2. Set boundaries.  Doing youth ministry in a small church on a part-time basis is hard.  More than likely you will have to work another job in order to support yourself.  Determine when you are actually working and when you aren't.  Let the pastor, church and students know ahead of time.  Set some specific hours when you are open to do ministry and when you aren't.  This will save you and your family a lot of headaches.
  3. Be ready. Part-time ministry is hard work and never really part-time.  The students and the church will always ask you to do more.  Not because they are trying to take advantage of you but because they need your help.  No matter your background, you are the professional youth pastor to the church, students and parents.
I know that with some work, this position can be a blessing to both the church and then youth pastor who takes this position.  I also know that if not done right, we could lose another good youth pastor to the wrongful expectations of a church who really doesn't know what kind of youth ministry it wants.  I pray that the first part happens.

Friday, January 07, 2011

My Daily Reading: 1 Kings 11 - 17

My reading today was short (I am still behind the schedule though). I am

still loving how the story is coming together. I have never read the Bible straight through like this before, so I am really seeing how all the pieces fit together.

The start of todays reading shows Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba. The Queen had heard about Solomon's wisdom and wanted to test it for herself. She found out that he was as smart as everyone had said. Chapter 11 also talks about the vast kingdom that Solomon had including the treasures, wives and servants.

Unfortunately, Solomon wasn't as strong as he needed to be and allowed his wives to turn him toward idol worship. God punished Solomon for it by splitting the kingdom of Israel into 2 pieces, the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. God anointed Jeroboam over the kingdom of Israel, but he too turned from God and did evil.

The rest of my reading with through the different kings that were in charge until we get to King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. This means tomorrow I will be reading about Elijah and Elisha (love those stories).

One interesting piece of the reading today was a chapter on an unknown prophet of God (at least I think he was unnamed). This prophet spoke with Jeroboam about his sin and then was told to not eat or drink and to go home a different way. Apparently, another prophet decided to trick him into disobeying God by lying and using the great phrase "God told me to tell you". The unnamed prophet followed the lying prophet and it cost him his life.

So many questions come up when reading about the kings of Israel and Judah. The biggest being, why couldn't/wouldn't they follow God if they knew that he would bless them for it? I would say we deal with teaching ourselves that same question...

Thursday, January 06, 2011

My Daily Reading

I normally don't do New Years resolutions. If I do, I usually (like most people) never follow through with them. This year, I decided to make two. The first is to lose weight. I am about 80 pounds overweight and want to be in better health. My wife and I have started a diet and I am committed to working out more.

The second resolution is to read the Bible in 90 days, at least once this year. I started using the reading plan out of YouVersion to help me keep track. I actually started the plan at the beginning of December and should be finished sometime in March. I have tried really hard to keep the reading. doing the Bible in 90 days is pretty intense and if you fall behind, it is hard to catch up.

I have decided to help me keep myself accountable, I am Ginger to blogg each day about my reading. The post won't be super extensive but just some notes about what I got out of it. I am also not going to try to go back with what I have already read but just start from where I am.

Today's reading was from 2 Samuel 22 to 1 Kings 7. The reading covered the end of David's life and reign as king and the ushering in of Solomon as king. Reading about David and his life was very interesting and insightful. I loved how he tried to do what God wanted and when he didn't, he would repent and make it right. As a great leader, he had faithful leaders under him who did what he needed when he needed. They sometimes questioned him but still followed him.

Solomon took charge and cleaned up a mess that started before his father passed away. David asked Solomon just one thing before giving him the kingdom and that was that he follow the will of God and do what God wanted. god promised David that if his family followed Him, then God would bless David and his family. Solomon started out right and vowed to follow God. Because Solomon was faithful to God, God said that he would give Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon was humble Nd asked only for the wisdom to rule his people. This pleased God and he gave Solomon the wisdom plus whatever else he wanted.

The last few chapters of the reading were about Solomon building the Temple of God. The description was amazing. The cost and times was enormous but Solomon was able to do what his father was not.

Very interesting stuff. I am enjoying reading the Bible straight through as the whole story comes together with each verse and chapter...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Looking Back

I was going through some videos and thought it would be interesting to put up.  Here are 3 videos from 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Decisions - Refuel 03/22/2010: Lesson starts at 21 minutes

Refuel 2009 from Roy Probus on Vimeo.

Refuel 2008 from Roy Probus on Vimeo.