08 | Creating healthy rhythms in ministry (and in podcasting)

Welcome to the Thursday Morning Debrief with Ben and Ryan.  

This is a podcast where we seek to leverage our friendship to maintain a soft heart towards Jesus and towards our ministry.

In this weeks episode:  Creating healthy rhythms in ministry (and in podcasting)

  • This is the end of another calendar year
  • The need to take a programmatic break
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • Take advantage of this break by:
    • Resting
    • Grow in compentancies
    • Reflect on the past year
    • Develop friendship with students
    • Prepare and plan another amazing year
  • Breaks are hard, but needed.  So we are taking one with our podcast as well.  
    • See you in the fall
    • Have a good summer
    • Keep in touch!

This weeks musical selection, Drift Away by Uncle Kracker chosen by both Ben.  At the end of our youth group we play songs that feel both campy, and encourage our students to head home.  This is one of my personal favorites :)  Have a great summer!  

Blessing for the Youth Worker

May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord lift His face upon you and be gracious.  May the Lord lift His countenance up on you and give you peace!  Amen.

PS: Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and check out our blogs at ryanreed.me and averageyouthministry.com.

PEACE!

Fundraising Sucks! So why not get some help?

Fundraising Sucks!  So why not get some help?

Quit writing checks your body can't cash:

It is a sad story I hear way to often.  Youth worker loves students and sets up a trip.  Says yes to every sob story in her ministry, only to come up short.  Thousands and thousands of dollars short.  So when the trip is over, and the kids share their testimonies and the church is left crying because of God's faithfulness to show up spiritually, this poor youth worker is crying because she has been shown the door for bankrupting the church.  (Ok, there might be a little hyperbole here, but not as much as you think)

There has to be a better way?  In fact there is, Team 316

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Is it possible to go deep without leaving students behind?

Is it possible to go deep without leaving students behind?

If your students are anything like mine, then they are all over the spiritual map.  I have kids who love Jesus, kids who want to know more about Jesus, and kids who could care less. I also have kids who are apathetic spiritually, but they love our community.  And they are the engaged kids who will play ball.  I also have kids who are forced to be there by their parents.  These kids are totally opposed to all things Christian, and kids who simply want to find a way to make out with their crush.  

Within this broad spectrum of our student ministry, two questions arise: “How do we speak in a way that challenges our students to grow spiritually? How do we speak in a way that doesn’t alienate the other students on the opposite end of the spectrum without watering down the message?  

Great Question!  The answer might be easier than you imagined.

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A killer way to run a "Hot Topic Night."

A killer way to run a "Hot Topic Night."

Once a year in our youth ministry curriculum we make space for students to ask the hard questions regarding faith, scripture, doubt, theology, church, and how that impacts life and culture. This means that just about nothing is off limits.

There have been a number of ways in which I have done this.  At best, I give the students a piece of paper and pen and let them ask away, collect them, then the following week I take the cleaned up list that has been organized to my liking, and answer away.  This is alway really fun and I totally control the evening.  (Even better)

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07 | Are conferences worth the time and expense?

07 | Are conferences worth the time and expense?

Welcome to the Thursday Morning Debrief with Ben and Ryan.  

This is a podcast where we seek to leverage our friendship to maintain a soft heart towards Jesus and towards our ministry.

In this weeks episode:  Are ministry conferences worth the time and expense? 

  • Do you budget for them?
  • 3 ways to approach your conference experience:
    • Don't be a chafer
    • Be Colegial
    • Be a Learner
  • Do whatever you must to stay inspired!
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Auditing your calendar

Auditing your calendar

One of the worst things I have ever gone through was an audit by the IRS.  Yikes!!  There is one little problem that raises a red flag, and then it is game on.  You would think the IRS would simply say, "Hey, I notice there is a discrepancy here, can you explain it?"  Then you say, "Totally, look here."  And that is the end of the story.  Instead, the IRS notices a discrepancy and then proceeds to pull back every deep and dark corner of your finances.  Its the worst!

In a similar way, I have noticed that there is a discrepancy in my work hours.  I have a job description and I have what I actually do.  The longer I am at my job the distance between these two things has gotten further and further away.  And now, I am at the point where I am entrenched and very full.

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5 key ingredients for a thriving student ministry

5 key ingredients for a thriving student ministry

Youth ministry is actually the best and easiest job on the planet!

I know many of you singed up for this gig because you love students and you desperately want them to love Jesus.  And while this initial passion will get you started down the road of student ministry, there are some other essential ingredients that are vital for a long term, sustained ministry.  Here are the 5 basic pillars for a sound infrastructure for your student ministry.  And when you put these in place, you can get back to the thing you were called to do! LOVE KIDS AND HELP THEM LOVE JESUS!

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Top 5 ways to become "Christian" famous:

Top 5 ways to become "Christian" famous:

There have been several studies lately that have shown that more and more being famous is the goal for many millennial and young people.  With the rise of social media, and youtube sensations, it seems like we are all just an epic fail from being the next big thing and enjoy our 15 minutes, I mean seconds of fame!

No matter the cause, it is firmly rooted in the DNA of young people and has some how found its way into the DNA of youth ministry.  Every youth worker I know, including myself, is striving for significance, and that combined with the need for fame, more and more of us are reaching for the stars.  

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The Old Testament sucks like Episode I, II, and III of Star Wars suck

The Old Testament sucks like Episode I, II, and III of Star Wars suck

Do you remember watching Episode 1 of Star Wars.  It was the worst!  

For people with zero touchpoint with the original trilogy, it was a poorly done movie that relied too much on CGI and cheesy characters.  You had no emotional connection with the characters and the poor acting was a total put off.  

The entire point of Episodes I, II, and III was to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and his transformation from child slave to infamous Darth Vader.  The movies did just that, but in a totally un-compelling way.  And because of that, anyone who's first taste of the Star Wars franchisee were these movies, they walked away with a limited understanding of the total story and didn't get to experience the emotional payoff of episodes IV, V and VI.  

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A post-Christian Gospel

A post-Christian Gospel

It is overwhelmingly obvious that the landscape in which we do ministry has changed.  The values, morals, expectations, and biblical understanding have been completely turned on its head. If we continue to do ministry the same as we have always done it, with the same assumptions then over the long haul the Church is going to find herself in trouble. 

A while agoI wrote a little about how the gospel is really not good news at all this this current generation of students.  And while many of our students "play ball" for us while they are under our supervision or while they frequent our programs, who they are in the rest of their life has little to no reflection of traditional, Judeo-Christian, ethic, values, or understanding.  If this assumption is correct then the penal-subsitutionary atonement brand of Christianity with the discipleship bench marks of shutting down sexuality or not drinking have to change.

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Want to grow some good will at your church?

Want to grow some good will at your church?

This last week I was with some fellow youth workers and we started sharing stories about times we should have, or at least could have been fired.  In fact at every youth worker gathering I have been to, this has been our go to ice breaker question.  "When was a time you should have been fired."

But what was interesting about this conversation was not the silly stories about all the dumb things we have done throughout our ministry careers, but the reasons why we dodged the bullet, avoided the ax.  And the common denominator was simply the amount of good will you have built up with parents or with your boss.  

So, if you don't want to be fired anytime soon for some dumb thing in your future, then now is the time to put some money in the bank and start building up your cash reserves of good will.  Here are three really easy ways:

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The secret to connect with any student

The secret to connect with any student

Who are the students you naturally connect with? Chances are they are students who share similar stories, experiences, or interests. If you expand the circle even larger, I bet that most of the people in your life are also people who share similar stories, experiences, or interests. This is just part of the human condition. 

There are people that we just naturally click with. We get used to hanging out and joking with people like us, which is great for building friendship among our peers, but means that we are a little out of practice when it comes to getting to know new people, especially people who we have nothing in common with. Because we are out of practice, it can be really intimidating to try and connect with students who are nothing like you. For me, it often feels like the less I have in common, the harder it is to connect. But I think the inverse of this rule might actually be true. The less you have in common with students, the better chance you have to make a genuine connection.

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How are you managing the 3 P's of power politics in your student ministry?

How are you managing the 3 P's of power politics in your student ministry?

While student ministry may be an incredible job and an even more incredible calling, there are so many hidden land mines that have caused untold damage to the life, heart, and even careers of some of the most gifted youth workers I know.

At the same time, with the right tools, (i.e. mine detector) one can learn to not only navigate these dangerous terrain, but actually thrive.  

What are the land mines?  What is the mine detector?  I am glad you asked.  

POWER is the hidden land mines, and your position relative to that power is your greatest tool in surviving and thriving in ministry. 

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A spiritual formation plan for our students

A spiritual formation plan for our students

I think we are in agreement that the world of behavior management is the Church is coming to an end.  For too long the Church has sent out a rubric of behaviors that would be indicators for the rest of the Church and would qualify people for full inclusion and even leadership.  This rubric included our language, music, politics, modesty, abstaining from alcohol, sexuality, and sexual activity.  

But as our students are becoming more and more amoral (or maybe they have always been, but are now free to express that in public) a behavior rubric doesn't seem to be a good fit for the faith development of our students.  

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Inviting students into the Family of God

Inviting students into the Family of God

Yesterday was Easter and part of our Easter message was to have an invitation, an invitation for people who are not that familiar with Scripture and for sure, don't speak Christianese.  I had the challenge, and honor to do that part of the service.  This was my attempt:

(I would also love to know how you do this in your context.  What do you expect people to know or understand when you have an invitation.  What are you inviting them into, what level of commitment are you expecting?  You know, the usual debrief sort of questions.)

Ok, here is my stab at it:

EASTER MEANS YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  BECAUSE JESUS IS ALIVE YOU HAVE FULL ACCESS TO GOD AND ARE INVITED TO BE PART OF HIS FAMILY

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2 more years

2 more years

"How much longer can you keep doing this?"

It seems like I have been getting this question a lot lately.  And by lately, I mean the last ten years.  As someone in their early 20's, student ministry was a great fit.  As I rounded the corner into my 30's I became a respected veteran and expert.  Now that I am in my 40's it just feels a bit awkward to me, and apparently to others.  So, with regular frequency, when I meet with parents, the questions always seems to come up.

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Who is holding up your hands?

Who is holding up your hands?

I love, love, love student ministry.  But if I am honest, it has got to be the hardest and most difficult thing I have ever done.  Not the tasks, not the actual job that I get evaluated for, but that subjective, spiritual, unspoken work of pouring your entire being into the life of students.  

Most people love to "invest" in the lives of students.  

But to be honest, most of this investment seems like the Farmer who is not only scattering seeds, but wasting good seed on miles of path.

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Top 10 ways to stay hip and relevant

Top 10 ways to stay hip and relevant

The number one question I get asked by people young and old is, “Ben, how do you stay so hip and relevant?”  People look at me and watch me in action and they can not believe a man in his early 40’s is so cool and has such a bead on the youth culture.  Just to prove it, I downloaded Rebecca Black’s song from iTunes way back, when there were less than  1,000,000 hits on youtube.

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