If you haven’t been to one, allow our trainer to show you a glimpse.
From the outside:
…through the halls:
…and in the lecture area:
If you haven’t been to one, allow our trainer to show you a glimpse.
From the outside:
…through the halls:
…and in the lecture area:
Whenever I hear this, my mind paints a picture of a bush on fire. That though, is not the extraordinary thing in the passage. A bush being on fire may in fact have been a most common event for Moses who, at this point in his life, had a lifetime’s experience in the desert. What drew Moses near that bush and what I’d like to put emphasis on is that last phrase of Exodus 3:2. The bush was not consumed by the fire. The account goes on to state “And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” Exodus 3:3
I’ve recently been reading through Kenda Dean and Ron Foster’s book “The Godbearing Life” where they bring up this point. And the more I think on it the more I see how significant this account has for our ministry to young people. In the book they state: “This verse implies that if Yahweh is going to use us to get youth’s attention, if the Lord is going to ignite our lives and our ministries in such a way that youth “turn aside” to look, then God is not calling us to identify with Moses. God is calling us to identify with the bush.”
How do we do this as youth ministers? How can we be on fire for God without being consumed?
Feed Your Own Fire
The almost too ordinary yet neglected way to do this is to feed our own fire. Just as a bonfire blazing doesn’t go out if it is constantly fed with logs and fuel so we too will not go out if we keep our souls fed. We all know this but that doesn’t mean it is simple to do. As workers it can get easy to neglect our own spiritual sustenance as we feed others spiritually. Don’t get caught in the deception that giving to others and causing them to grow can substitute for our own spiritual growth. Instead set aside times for: personal communication with God; listening to His word; growing deeper in knowledge and wisdom; and placing ourselves into situations where we can experience His love. Indeed as the work ahead grows in demand let it not be a call to lessen our times with God but rather a call to increase them. Consider Martin Luther’s statement: “Work, work, from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Let Work Become Worship
As I write this the Christmas season is in full swing. Where I live, the Christmas holiday is a great season of celebrating throughout the land and a wonderful pointer to all that Jesus has done. For those who work with youth here, this time is one of the busiest. Due to the workload, the many programs ongoing and events ahead still needing to be planned, the season could become less about celebration and more about fulfilling obligations and doing the work. Work stops being a God-ordained task and starts becoming a requirement of the job or something that just has to be done even if it is hated.
Christmas is just an example; there are many other times where the ministry becomes less about worship and more about work. If you can relate, if contemplating the days ahead fills you with dread or worse, apathy, consider these questions:
What if the work becomes transformed into worship? What if we offer what we do as an offering pleasing to God? Wouldn’t considering it as such make our fires burn brighter and keep the work from consuming us?
Back to the burning bush, and this time think of Moses. His day began ordinarily and probably with the same routine as he has had almost every day. And he spots what might have been the most ordinary sight, a common bush just like any of the hundreds he has seen before. But before this day ends, he will be taking off his sandals in worship.
I’m not sure how common you find your ministry becoming, but if it does allow that historic moment to inspire you. Look to the common things happening in your ministry and allow God to surprise you in them. Youth ministry can do this in many ways. A young person’s vibrant personality could refresh you, teenager will share to you a surprising spiritual insight, the success of the event could be God encouraging you, and a parent’s kind words could be a personal message from the Lord.
So, in all you do for the Lord, take time to pause. Look. Feel. Celebrate. Worship. And a beautiful thing happens when our work becomes worship: it becomes more meaningful to God and man as well. Especially in youth ministry, young people are keen to spot folk who are just doing their job and those who are genuinely enjoying what they do. And they are drawn and grow interested when we are the latter.
Listen for the Lord
Just as God can use our work to speak to us He can also speak to us even when the work breaks down. God could be calling to us not just when an event is successful but even when an event fails. Not only our superiors’ praises but their criticisms could be a personal message from the Lord. Mark Batterson says:
“New chapters in our lives often begin with an orientation. You go through an orientation when you start at a new school or get a new job. But God begins new chapters in our lives via disorientation. Jesus didn’t do orientations. Jesus did disorientations. Doesn’t it seem like His disciples were in a constant state of disorientation? We think it’s because of spiritual immaturity, but maybe it models the way God makes disciples. Sometimes God needs to disorient us so He can reorient us.”
What happened to Moses as he turned aside to observe the bush was certainly far from his expectations. It was a disorientation. And yet from that event his life took an incredible turn in the plan of God. May the same be true of your disorientations. My point is that if we understand it, if we see God’s hand not just in the good but in every situation we will live lives confidently aflame for God. What seems like cold water being drenched on our fires we will understand to be God’s way to help us burn longer or burn all the brighter for Him.
Whatever situation you find yourself in as you read this, may you be encouraged to feed your fires, worship God with your work, and listen for the Lord. This season may you burn bright and be a light for other people. May you “live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Leading games are a big part of what is youth ministry. By games, I include here icebreakers, learning tasks, and various activities of skill, chance, or endurance involving the young people in your ministry. Programs geared toward youth almost always include one or more of these types of activity and I have yet to encounter the youth leader who has not been expected to lead one. What could be so difficult about leading games, isn’t it just as easiest thing to do in youth group? Perhaps. There are those who take to games naturally, but I’ve also met many a youth leader who could do with some help. No matter what category you fall under though I hope you get a thing or two from this article.
Let me start with the perception of handling games. One mentality that could ruin games is that it isn’t important enough. A game could be placed into the program and considered only at the last minute or it is there as a transition to more important activities. The other perception would be that it is all-important to the exclusion of most everything else. The youth camp program or your youth ministry expense for example might reflect this. Just as with most other aspects balance must be achieved. The games and activities have their role but are also part of a bigger goal. For me, leading games is just as important as say, leading the worship songs. Leading games is after all also about demonstrating and participating in the Kingdom of Heaven. And a properly done game can do that in ways that other aspects of youth ministry can’t.
But how a youth group perceives the role of games falls upon the people who handle them. That would be you, youth leader.
So what’s your mentality with regard to games? As you plan, prepare and lead games, a good mentality is one that is less about self and more about others and most about God.
By self I mean that we tend toward the activities that we get the most fun out of or those that we like to do. But what makes the person handling the game laugh might make the participants of the game cry. And not everyone is a fan of your favorite dance game. One way to combat our tendency to be about the self is to consider not just “What activity would I get the most fun out of?” but also “Would this bring gladness to those I intend it for?”
That it be more about others, try to put yourself in their shoes, would you love this activity if you were the one playing it and not running it? Good games bring laughter and joy. Even games that don’t end up so well because of disagreements, emotions or misunderstandings also show us areas that the individual or the group need to improve on in fellowship. And great games show how good it is when brothers and sisters interact and live together in harmony.
Finally, as you consider your game mentality, don’t leave God out of the equation. Again, the best games reflect or point to the Kingdom of God. How do your games do that? Continue reading A Theology of Games
This is a post from Arfaith Miranda from Cebu, Philippines who tries to live out the principle of meeting youth where they are.
“Nganong mata paman ka Paul?” I asked.
“Kay magbantay nila,” he replied gently.
(“Why are you still awake Paul?” I asked. “To protect them.” he replied…)
These were the stunning words I heard from a new friend, whose name is quite biblical: John Paul. His crib is in Looc, Mandaue, but his home is on a street together with his “homies” who have houses but chose to be “at home” with other thugs on that street. And he loves it. His eyes speak.
It is still fresh and clear to me how I met John Paul and his homies in their public ghetto–Citra Mina. It was September 15, 2012, on a silent and calm dawn of Saturday–a moment of time when a radical perspective of mine towards street kids was turned into compassion. I and my classmates had come upon a place where we saw some street kids lying down across the street. We crossed towards the other side to see and meet them. I bore with me a sort of fear and hesitation. Upon reaching them, my eyes drew me directly to the thin, blonde, good-looking guy with his transparent eyeglasses. We had a meaningful conversation, knowing his whereabouts and understanding his “whyabouts.”
The entire chat we had can be summarized with a stunning point I cannot forget–he was wide awake at 3:00 a.m. to protect his slumbering friends from other thugs who might ambush them at that time. He is 14 years old and he loves to live out that purpose to show to them how much they mean to him. I see that as a sacrifice, a risk, a delight to accomplish the honor. It removed from my thinking that I’m better and more fortunate than a guy lying down on the street. He has a quality that I don’t have. He lives to protect; I live to be protected. O foolish filthy guy that I am!
Am I really worth helping with others’ protection? Doesn’t John Paul and his friends need more help with protection than I do? But I wonder, am I doing something for them? Is the church doing something for them to make the very words of Jesus a reality, “Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). This was a loud-speaker call for me. A call to think about them once in a while. A call to talk to them for a moment. A call to intercede for them. A call to provide them opportunities to be joyful. A call to extend a helping hand towards them. And a call to reach out to them with the Gospel with the hugs and kisses of God’s love. If we will not, who else will do it?
I’d always thought that they were a threat to us, but I admit that I was wrong and judgmental. Looking at their potential and character, they can, as a whole, protect the community while we provide for them their basic needs—food, shelter, and clothing. I call it a “two-way collaboration of helping hands.”
As I was about to leave their ghetto, I said, “Adto nako, Paul, kita ta sunod panahon. (I’m going, Paul, see you next time.)
“Sige, Kuya Rex,” he answered. (Sure, Big Brother Rex)
“Kuya Ar ko oi,” I countered. (Oh, I’m Big Brother Ar)
I left carrying his real smile with me.
Since it’s Buwan ng Wika in the Philippines, I thought you might enjoy this Tagalog post by Jon Singua (There’s a translation at the bottom if you’re not a Tagalog reader). Jon is one of our GYMN grads, he’s got a great heart for youth and is himself a parent of a teen.
Ilang paraan upang maiwasan ang problema sa pagitan ng Youth Minister at ng mga magulang… ito ay mula sa aking personal na karanasan:
1. Isipin mo na isa sa mga kabataan ng inyong simbahan ay iyong anak, mula doon ay mas madali mong mauunawaan kung ano ang hinahanap ng magulang sa kanyang anak lalo na sa mga responsibilidad nito sa loob ng tahanan na minsan ay hindi nagagawa dahil sa gawain sa simbahan.
3. Palawakin ang iyong ministry, sanayin ang sarili sa tamang pamamaraan ng pakikiharap sa mga magulang, makakabuo tayo ng maayos na communication sa mga magulang, at mas madali niyong mapag-uusapan ang magandang bagay o problema tungkol sa kanilang anak.
4. Isama sa programa ang pagbisita sa mga magulang, doon ay maaari mong ibahagi ang anumang ginagawa ng mga kabataan ng simbahan at kung ano ang layunin ng inyong samahan. Mas lalalim ang relasyon dahil gusto din ng magulang na kilala nila ang mga taong sinasamahan ng kanilang anak. Mula dito ay posibleng makapag-simula na tayo ng Bible study sa loob ng tahanan.
5. Laging ikunsidera ang araw at oras ng kabataan, magkaroon lamang ng limitasyon sa oras sa bawat gawain upang hindi naman sila magkulang sa kanilang atensyon sa kanilang pamilya, pag-aaral o trabaho. Sa taunang pagpaplano, mag-adjust ng schedule kung may gawain ang ating kabataan sa simbahan na tatapat sa mga okasyong pang pamilya tulad ng father’s day, mother’s day at iba pa na ipinagdiriwang ng lahat, mas makabubuti na tumatatag ang relasyon ng bawat pamilya dulot pagsisimba ng bawat kabataan.
Here’s the editor’s attempt at a translation: Continue reading 5 Ways To Avoid Conflict With Parents
We’ve said it since that first day of our training: making parents our partners is crucial to our youth ministry strategy.
That does not mean we abandon our role as youth workers but it rather means adjusting and making sure that our ministry is working alongside and not against the role of parents. In this and the next post taken from our YC I’ve asked two youth leaders I know with much experience in dealing with parents. Here’s some insights from Ethel from her ministry as a youth leader:
In our GYMN material on family we say that “God created the family before He created the church and the youth ministry” to emphasize the role and authority of the parents over their children.
Youth leaders (myself included) have the tendency of becoming idealistic in handling sensitive matters that involve conflict between the youth and especially non-believing parents. We have to be careful how we influence the youth who is struggling with ‘obeying’ his parents. Examples of these are when parents won’t allow their child to go to youth activities, and/or get baptized. Whatever you suggest to your youth will play a great role on how they will decide on such matters.
In our exposure to different churches and places, and when teaching on family in the GYMN seminar, this question is asked regularly, “How do we respond to our parents who do not want us to continue to get involved with the church?” Some of these leaders are honest enough to tell us they ran away from home, some gave advice to their youth to continue despite the parents’ disapproval because “it is Biblical that we get persecuted, even Jesus said to deny our family to follow Him.” Situations like these could lead to broken relationships with the family, and the youth gaining loyalty and identity in us and in the youth group instead.
Through our own set of mistakes, we have also learned to give weight to preserving relationship within the family at a cost, even if that means reaching the point of youth not being able to join our youth activities anymore.
We should also learn to trust the parents even those outside the faith, seeing their heart in being protective, especially when the youth start to show independence. Our role as youth minister is also to encourage the youth to live a life and make decisions that would honor their parents. At the same time, we meet and talk with the parents informing them of our objective to help and involve their kids in our youth group. We continue to communicate with the parents in any way possible to let them know what’s going on.
We become more aware of how we schedule our meetings, and how much time we demand from the kids, making sure we do not compete with their family and/or study time.
We also teach the youth to honor their parents, and respect their belief. We help the new believing youth how to respectfully respond to his parents and how to behave in such a way that they won’t be viewed as arrogant and disrespectful. Let us guide the youth not to be assertive of their new found faith, reminding him that the most effective way of conveying faith in Jesus is by showing it. Leading the youth in a godly and family-oriented perspective will help them avoid tension and increase their desire to pursue quality relationship with their family (especially if there is none). This will help our youth ministry as well, in avoiding or at least minimizing conflict between parents and church.
How the youth pastor and youth leaders give value to their own family is also a huge example for the youth of how they will honor their parents regardless if they are believers or not.
Linking youth to Christ—that’s Portal in a phrase.
Starting with Word of Hope’s Youth Ministry, our Saturdays mean crowds and crowds of people from High School to College. You can imagine the atmosphere: teen spirit, energy, talent and passion.
Realizing how much Youth Alive teems with artistic kids and how undermined they were, we sympathized with what an un-appreciating culture we have towards art.
So, we started with what we have. For the record, the team is not made up of professionals, but we do have an inclination towards media. In fact, the early members are degree holders of courses far-fetched from art. But despite that, we continued. We only needed what we had, and that seemed enough.
Alongside worship, we aim to attract people towards Jesus and disciple them. But we have to start with meeting them where they are. I’d like to think that Portal is home for artists—professionals or not. If you should know, some of our crowd have trouble fitting in, all because they behave differently, dress differently, and think differently. Labeled as rebels, non-achievers and held out as goners.
But, if given a chance to show their light, these guys are geniuses. It’s just that their medium is not the ‘normal kind’. They are just misunderstood. Why don’t we see their worth just as God sees them? They could be a handful at times, but aren’t the more conventional people the same? Don’t they need Jesus too?
OK, so it’s not just two birds with one stone. To tell you honestly, I agree with my department head. We don’t know how many birds we’re hitting. But that’s us. Portal. Linking youth to Christ.
This post was written by the one and only Abigail Felix, a youth worker of the Youth Alive of Word of Hope in Quezon City, Philippines.
The young people of today are exposed to problems resulting from too early romantic relationships. An example of this is the alarming increase in the incidents of teen pregnancies every year. According to a report by the United Nation Population Fund Agency, the rate of teen pregnancies in the Philippines increased by 70% in the last 10 years. In addition, young people are vulnerable to the growing negative influences of media and worldly ideas on sex and sexuality (even the young people in Christian churches).
It has been a tradition in churches to conduct seminars on love and waiting every February. Since it has been a long time since Ikthus Iligan gave such a seminar, the Youth Core leaders made a bold decision to conduct a seminar this July. The material used for the seminar is based on Jim Burn’s The Purity Code. It is a six-session curriculum focused on discussing God’s plan for healthy sexuality. Ablaze Youth, the youth group of Ikthus Iligan, designed the seminar for three Sundays (July 8, 15 and 22, 2012).
The topic outline of the six sessions is as follows:
The seminar will culminate on July 29, 2012 with the signing of the Purity Code pledge card and the ring ceremony to symbolize a commitment to wait for the “right one” for marriage and to continually honor God with their bodies.
If you’re interested in something similar, as of this writing The Purity Code can be downloaded for free on this website. This post was written by Mark Plaza of the Ablaze Youth of Ikthus Church in Iligan City, Philippines.
Youth ministry by nature is usually loud. As a youth ministry leader you are most likely looking for exciting things to do for and with the youth. That is a great approach, especially for those non-Christians or outside the core group of youth. In addition, many of us as leaders enjoy fun and activity—nothing wrong with that at all.
Not only are many youth ministries loud and active for good reasons. We as leaders may be that way as well. This is part of the reason why we are in this ministry. However, I know some great introverted and quieter youth workers as well.
Apart from the noise and busyness of ministry there is a loud cry being sounded. This call however is from God. His voice through His Word proclaims the need for silence. This does not mean that we have quiet youth groups. But what God is seeking is a group of leaders who are willing to set aside their overly busy lives and ministries so that they can hear from God. Continue reading The Hardest Part of Youth Ministry: Silence