Monday, August 24, 2009
This is it! Students go back to school this week all over the country - the unofficial signaling of the end of summer, but the beginning of a great adventure. Teenagers see the new school year differently - for some it's a new football season, for other it's time for a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and for still others it's the beginning of a new prison sentence. We are challenging Christian students to see the new school year as a 9 Month Mission Trip. Think about it - transportation is already provided, students still get to eat strange and exotic food, and the people there already speak their own language. Our schools are a great mission fields and Christian teenagers are the best missionaries to that field. A girl from a local youth group (Lia Fischer) posted on her facebook status this week - "I'm dedicating this school year to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ! Who's with me!?!?" Please pray with me that God will raise up many more students like this in the days and weeks to come.
Find others going on the 9 Month Mission Trip - www.facebook.conm/9monthmissiontrip
Find upcoming Back-to-School events - www.teensforchrist.org
(Unleashed: Student Evangelism Conference, Ignition: School Year Kick Off event, and Connect: School Year Kick Off event)
Read our new resource - 30 Ways Adults Can Have a Spiritual Impact on Schools - www.teensforchrist.org
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Just read a great blog post this morning from Neil Young, a youth worker in Ireland, on Morethandodgeball.com. He's talking about what our attitue should be toward other churches in our communities. Great stuff! We all need to see the BIGGER picture!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
For all of you Youth Pastors, Youth Leaders, or Youth Workers of another kind, I want to invite you to check out the National Network of Youth Ministries' updated www.youthworkers.net. The new format makes it easier than ever to connect with fellow youth pastors in your community and around the country.
Our local youth ministry networks here in Pennsylvania are affiliated with the National Network of Youth Ministries, an organization filled with people passionate about building the Kingdom of God by connecting the Body of Christ.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Nine years ago, I attended a conference for Youth Ministry Network Coordinators (people who help churches connect and work together) sponsored by the National Network of Youth Ministries (www.youthworkers.net). One of the key things we learned was this: an effective network of youth pastors carefully balances strategy and relationships - like the two rails of a train track, they keep a network moving smoothly. You can't run a train without two rails and you can't lead a network of youth pastors without strong relationships and purposeful strategy.
I've seen this principle play out many times over the years since then. Sometimes you have a group of youth pastors who are all business - they want to get something done. I'm all for that, but without the trust and camaraderie that relationships provide, heavy-strategy networks seems to only last as long as whatever event or project they are doing and they leave people feeling drained, not refreshed.
I've also seen networks of youth pastors who were all about connecting and not much else. Those groups are a lot of fun, but I believe that they are missing out on so much that God could do through them. A relationship-only network becomes a little too me-focused (Am I getting something out of this? If not, I'm outta here). The strategy element keeps the relationships purposeful and missional.
One group of youth pastors we work with plans two events a year - the events are strategic and exciting (a school year kick off event attended by 700+ kids, and a baccalaureate service for graduating seniors). But the events really just provide an excuse for the guys to get together and hang out - and they have a GREAT time together. No notes are taken, no minutes, no agendas handed out. We just work on our projects as we can fit between joking around.
Another group of youth pastors we work with has several big events which they do together throughout the year, but all of that was born out of friendships and sharing the same passion for teenagers. That group of youth leaders also throws baby showers for each other, has dinners together, and constantly keep in touch via facebook and twitter. They make their work a lot of fun.
The two rails of relationship and strategy (or maybe they're more like the two ends of a balance pole carried by a tightrope walker) exist in a sort of tension, but carefully balancing these things makes working together work well.