Top 10 ways to get the most out of the Orange Conference #OC17

Top 10 ways to get the most out of the Orange Conference  #OC17

Can you believe it? It is finally here. That most amazing gift a church can ever give to their youth worker, a youth ministry conference!! Your bags are packed, your room is booked, and it is time to go and get some freebies. For one weekend we get to take off our mantle of responsibility and leadership, and become participants, students, and receivers. Whether it is Youth Specialties, Orange, Simply Youth Ministry, or I Still Do, a youth ministry conference is the one time a year that us youth workers get to actually go to camp, and not just put it on. And like camp, there are some things that we need to do to prepare ourselves so that we can have an amazing time and get the most out of our time away. Every year before we take students to camp or on mission trips we give them a little pep talk, so here is yours :)

This week we are the Orange Conference.  Here are the top 10 ways to get the most out of your conference experience.

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Top 10 ways I want our youth ministry to be more like the Ellen Show!

Top 10 ways I want our youth ministry to be more like the Ellen Show!

A couple of years ago the day time talk world was rocked at the retirement of Oprah. Her show was enormous in its power and influence and, if we were honest, we would all love to have the "reach" that her show had. But in the 4:00 vacuum left by Oprah, I have come across another, and better, day time talk show vice; Ellen! But unlike the cult following that Oprah attracted, or the crazies Jerry Springer attracts, or delinquents Judge Judy attracts, Ellen has managed to put together a show that is relevant, fun, and making a genuine impact on the lives of people. The more I watched, the more I am convinced that I want my youth ministry to look more like the Ellen Degreneres Show. Here are the 10 reasons why:

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10 easy steps to make your pastor love student ministry!

Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Pastor into the Biggest Advocate of Student Ministry: The truth is that very few senior pastors are passionate about student ministry. If they were, they would be student ministry pastors. God has given them a heart and calling to shepherd the entire church, in which student ministry is only a part. If you want them to become a big fan and advocate for student ministry, then it begins with having them become big fan of you. Here are 10 practical ways to build heart strands with your pastor and helps them become a fan of you and student ministry.

 

10: Remember, They are the boss!

9: Don't be a liability.

8: Professionalism is key.

7: Clean your office.

6: Love their kids.

5: Don't forget to love them too.

4: Be teachable.

3: Document everything!

2: Keep your ego in check.

1: DO A GOOD JOB!

Ok, there is the complete list. Like all things, it is much easier to understand then to do, but when our actions match these values we will be the smell of perfume to our pastor, a blessing to our church, and you will be surprised by the amount of support your area of ministry will get. Get after it!

top 10 ways to turn your pastor into the biggest advocate of student ministry.4: be teachable

kung fu panda

Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Pastor into the Biggest Advocate of Student Ministry: The truth is that very few senior pastors are passionate about student ministry. If they were, they would be student ministry pastors. God has given them a heart and calling to shepherd the entire church, in which student ministry is only a part. If you want them to become a big fan and advocate for student ministry, then it begins with having them become big fan of you. Here are 10 practical ways to build heart strands with your pastor and helps them become a fan of you and student ministry.

4) Be Teachable: We all love the opportunity to impart our great wisdom and insights to others.  Remember how great it felt when someone genuinely wanted your opinion.  You didn't have to muster up something fake to impress them, they were already impressed and wanted your wisdom.  It builds you up, it connects you to them, and is such a gift.  With your pastor the same is exactly true, but this time you get to be the one seeking wisdom and insight.  When you do this, their confidence grows and their heart strands for you grow as well.  For you to do this well, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Own your own junk:  You are the smartest person in the room and you have very little to learn from someone who is so old and has sold out to the bureaucracy of the church. You may not respect them or their leadership.  You have absolutely zero desire to learn about anything except the things you are passionate about.  We have have garbage we bring to the table and why we don't want to take on the position of a learner with our pastor.  But that is our issue and we need to figure out what it is and then die to it.
  • Be the Grasshopper: If you can get your head around the idea that they are the master and you are the student, you will end up being the one who is blessed.  Your pastor wants to disciple and wants to impart wisdom.  They have been doing this a long time and have thought and prayed and wrestled through a lot of stuff.  If you place yourself in a position to learn, these are mistakes that you won't have to make someday.  I admit, sometimes it is rough when my pastor gets all excited and begins to "teach" me something I already know, but those experiences are dwarfed by growth in our relationship.  All it takes is simply asking good questions and then keeping your mouth shut.
  • Learn about things not specifically in your area:  Your world is student ministry and that is great.  Their world is larger church issues, polity, budget, raising older children.  They have very firm convictions and thoughts about baptism, worship styles, leadership strategies.  They have to come up with a fresh and life changing sermon every single week.  You get to do it a couple times a year and think about how much time and effort you put it in.  Pick their brain about how and why they preach on what they preach on.  When new staff is hired and fired, ask questions, learn how to be a supervisor.  These are all important nuggets for you to grow as a pastor plus there is a benefit of building friendship and loyalty with your pastor in the process.
  • You will not be doing youth ministry forever:  When you are done with student ministry and if God happens to call you to lead a church, wouldn't it be great to have thought about, wrestled with, and have resources regarding all the issues that will surface in this new position.  By being a learner you will be 5-15 years ahead of the curve if you have positioned yourself to be teachable and learn about things besides your current position and passions.  If you do this well, you will also have a life long friend and companion in ministry, the old guy or gal who you can call in a pinch and who will give you wise counsel and care when you need it the most.
What are some things you can learn from your pastor this week?

top 10 ways to turn your pastor into the biggest advocate of student ministry. 9: don't be a liability

liability

Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Pastor into the Biggest Advocate of Student Ministry: The truth is that very few senior pastors are passionate about student ministry.  If they were, they would be student ministry pastors.  God has given them a heart and calling to shepherd the entire church, in which student ministry is only a part.  If you want them to become a big fan and advocate for student ministry, then it begins with having them become big fan of you.  Here are 10 practical ways to build heart strands with your pastor and helps them become a fan of you and student ministry.

9)  Don't Be A Liability:

Student ministry is a complicated job with many moving parts.  Even the most veteran youth workers among us are bound to make mistakes and create messes that are in desperate need of cleaning up.  Making messes is par for the course.  But when we don't clean them up and those messes move up the chain of command, we are bound to be in some big trouble.  If you want to make your pastor a big fan of you and student ministry then don't be a liability.

Understand The Two Unstated Goals:

As I have done this job for 15 years and have worked for several pastors and supervisors, I have realized that outside of the job description there are actually two unstated goals that are of supreme importance.  It is too bad that they are unstated, but they are real, and can not be taken lightly.

1)  Your number one unstated goal is to make your pastor and the church in general look good.  Who you are and the job you do is a direct reflection on your pastor and their ministry.  When you do a good job, when you defer to your supervisor, when you speak well of the church, good will flows like water falls in spring.  The second goal is simply the inverse.

2) Your number two unstated goal is to make your pastor and the church not look bad.  This may seem like the same as above, but it is not.  Building good will takes time, effort, and consistency.  Doing ministry well day in and day out builds your trust and credibility.  But one dumb mistake, one black eye to your pastor or to the church and it is all over.  Nobody likes to look bad, and I have found lead pastors to be at the top of this list.  Almost every lead pastor I know lives with this low level fear that the youth worker they hired has the potential to torpedo them and the church.  When we remove the worry of being a liability, we allow space for them to begin to trust, love us, and advocate for us.

So, how do you not be a liability?  Here are two simple solutions.  

1) Clean up after yourself.  You will make mistakes, you will break things, and you will upset people.  That is the cold hard truth.  But to not be a liability, you simply need to fix it.  When you make a mistake, own it as quickly as possible and get a head of it and put in the hard work to fix it.  Do not let angry people get to your pastor and complain about the poor job you are doing.  If there are grievances about you and your ministry out there, you should be working double time to win them over, solve the problem, and mend the broken bridge.  It is on you and you alone to make it right.  Everyone else in the church as the luxury to be pissed and talk trash.  But you do not.  If you expect others to stand up for you and defend you, then you will quickly be like the cheese and stand alone.  If you don't want to be a liability, clean up your messes, own your garbage, and fix whatever the problem is.

2) Don't let your pastor be surprised by your screw ups.  When you do screw up and can't fix it, you better be the first one in your pastors office asking for help and maybe even forgiveness.  The truth is that your pastor wants you to succeed, they want you to do well.  And when they are taken by surprised it crushes them.  Unhealthy pastors will throw you under the bus, and healthy ones will protect you but die inside to you a little bit.  But when you bring it to them first, they have an opportunity to help, to mentor, to protect.  Believe it or not, pastors became pastors because they love people and want to help them grow and mature, and when you allow them to do that for you, they become that much more invested in you and your success.

Hiding messes always leaves mold, decay, and death.  Bringing them to the light allows for freedom and growth.  May we live into our unstated goals and do ministry in a way that elevates our leaders and the church and not give them any reason to think of us as liabilities.

top 10 ways to turn your pastor into the biggest advocate of student ministry. 10: they are the boss

best boss

Over the next few weeks I am going to share the top 10 ways to turn your pastor into the biggest advocate of student ministry.  There is a lot here and instead of one massive post, I thought it would be helpful to break it down and then give you an opportunity to actually try to put some of this into practice, a little bit at a time.  Here we go: Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Pastor into the Biggest Advocate of Student Ministry:

The truth is that very few senior pastors are passionate about student ministry.  If they were, they would be student ministry pastors.  God has given them a heart and calling to shepherd the entire church, in which student ministry is only a part.  If you want them to become a big fan and advocate for student ministry, then it begins with having them become big fan of you.  Here are 10 practical ways to build heart strands with your pastor and helps them become a fan of you and student ministry.

10)  They Are The Boss:

As a youth ministry professional we have been told by everyone that we are living into a calling, a calling to ministry.  We have a passion for students and for ministry, we love dreaming up strategic plans and vision statements for our ministry.

But the truth is that a youth ministry job is a job.  You are a hired staff with a boss and expectations, and the pastor is your boss.  It is ridiculous when youth workers, the bottom of the church staff totem pole, pay zero attention to the politics of this work place and spend zero time and effort seeking to please their boss.

The church you work for is under the leadership of the pastor.  It is their church, their vision, and their plan.  Instead of fighting this and competing with your boss.  Live into their vision, their mission, their plan.  When you are supportive of their dreams, their trust and respect for you will grow.

You were hired because your church values the care and discipleship of students is part of the overall plan of the church.  Your job is to do that and do that well!  You were not called to be an independent agent caring for the students of the world, you were hired to do student ministry within the context of the church in which you were hired, under the leadership and direction to do a specific job.   That specific job is spelled out in your job description.

The more you respect your boss and treat them like they are actually your boss, their respect and affection for you will grow.  If the don’t have to compete with you, or discipline you, then they are free to advocate for you.

Do something specific to bless your boss today.

the top 10 media that shaped my 2010

with 2010 wrapping up, i thought i would add my little nugget to the overwhelming verity of top 10 lists.  unfortunately i am not clever enough to share the top 10 quotes, or savvy enough to share the top 10 youtube videos, or hip enough to share the top 10 songs. thankfully, there are plenty of those people out there in the world.  but it was an interesting exercise to think about the top 10 media that has shaped me this year.  these are the books, movies, commercials, websites, etc, that have actually impacted my thinking and therefore impacted my actions throughout the year.  some of these media have dramatically altered the course of my life, and others have simply  brought joy.  but no matter how significant they are in the grand scheme of things, these are the 10 media that has shaped me over this past year.

1.  outliers: the story of success by malcolm gladwell:  if i could be anyone, other than my handsome self, i think i would choose gladwell.  he is one of the most interesting and thought provoking writers i have ever read.  the unique way he approaches the world is amazing.  he can see the big picture, he understands the systems, and describes culture in a clever and thoughtful way.  outliers is not a new book this year, but it was new to me.  he dismantles the story of success.  our story is that if you work hard and apply yourself you will succeed.  but he unpacks this story and highlights how there are unique cultural stories that shape what success means and then adds historical, social, and economic factors that play into how successful someone can be.   it helped me understand some of my professional angst, as well as helped me come up with a plan for change.  (if one can actually break out of their historical, cultural, and social settings)  we will have to see how this goes in 2011.

2.  sustainable youth ministry by mark devries: i loved this book!  as someone who has been doing youth ministry for 15 years, i wasn't sure how i was going to take another "how to" book for youth ministry.  but for the first time i read a book where the author calls out our profession and the need for real and healthy systems to deliver an impacting message.  in his forward he describes how many books talk about the treasure in the jars of clay, but this book was about developing our jars.  for me, this book came at just the right time and gave me a fresh picture of ministry and challenged some of my systems which both added life and freshness to this calling into student ministry.

3.  harry potter (the movies): i know i am a late comer to this harry potter deal.  but as i have re-engaged my calling to student ministry and challenged to re-engage the ever changing youth culture, i have finally gotten around to watching these movies.  although the movies themselves may not have rocked my world, the refreshing work that god has been doing in me to get to the point of actually wanting to watch them is significant, and therefore worthy of the list.

4.  modern family: this is hands down my favorite television show.  every week i come home from  youth group and laugh out loud and all of the antics in this show.  for the first time in a long time there is a show that represents real life and doesn't take it too seriously.  it is a true situational comedy.  as someone who needs to laugh more, this is a vital part of my media diet.

5.  why we love the church by kevin deyoung and ted kluck: i came across this book last christmas and spent the early part of the year digesting it.  i have spent the last couple of years reading through the many "we are pissed at the church," "we love jesus, but hate the church," and "if only the church didn't screw everything up" books.  this book was a fresh departure from that genre.  this book is a thoughtful, biblical, and theological argument for the institutional church.  and since 99% of the christians i know participate in an institutional church and 100% of the youth workers i know are employed by one, it was nice to read a book that affirms what we all do, and gives hope for moving forward.  say no to angst and bitterness and yes to hope.

6.  affirming the apostles' creed by j.i. packer: as i have come to a re-found respect for the institutional church, i have also come to a re-awaking of some of the history and traditions of our faith that are the foundation of who we are and what we believe.  the apostles' creed is one of the foundational documents for the church, and packer's book on them was a refreshing and convicting devotional.  packer challenges the reader to understand that the continual dilution of the gospel and our history is bad for our faith development and for the church.  at some point we need to step up and do some of the hard intellectual work to understand the deeper things of faith.  and this book, for being a quick read, gave new life to an old document.

7.  realclearpolitics.com: in case you were living under a rock  2010 was an election year.  no matter where you land on the political spectrum, you have to admit that this was the most important election EVER!!  actually, i think that is said about every election.  i think the political process is so interesting.  it seems that politics is less and less about governing, and more about battling for the hearts and minds of the electorate.  it is a grudge match between two opposing teams, who actually hate each other.  it is sad how divided we are and how much weight political party identification shapes our presuppositions.  for the past few election cycles i have enjoyed playing the devil's advocate in discussions and debate.  and i have found this website to give me plenty of ammunition for both sides.

8. rei commercial:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXOMQMcFfPg]

i watch this commercial, and i want to get into my car, drive to yosemite, hike through the wilderness, and even have small, meaningless conversation with people i meet.  rei has captured the longings of this suburban man.  thankfully i have finally gotten the church credit card to be and rei card, and this march i will have almost $500 in dividends to spend, and will be spending this spring and summer using my equipment to live out my less handsome version of this commercial.

9.  All things apple: as you could probably tell from #8, i am weak minded when it comes to the power of advertising.  because of commercials i have bought scarves from gap, speed reading programs from informercials, and even a kriby. i admit it, i have a problem.  but one problem i don't want to be cured from is apple.  their commercials speak to my soul.  i actually stop our tivo just to watch them.  i will sell everything in my garage, save up for a year, whatever it takes to buy the next product.  right now i am saving up  for the april launch of the ipad 2.  let's facetime!

10.  red: this was an amazing film.  the cinematography , the screen play, the special effects, and the acting are all worthy of . . .  ok, the movie red is not worthy of any special honors.  but it did have bruce willis in it.  so how did this movie round out my top 10 list?  one of my favorite rhythms of this year has been to wait until the wife and kids are asleep, grab some guy friends, and go to the movies.  as a man, i like simple movies where things blow up.  i pretend to like the academy award movies so i have things to talk about in social gatherings, but the truth is i want to see action.  this shameful vice has been great for my soul and for my male bonding.  (crying during small groups is great, but awful action movies are need too)

we are shaped by so many things, it was interesting to reflect on what shaped me.  what shaped you?  i wonder what will shape me this next year!  happy new year!