9 Ways to Always be on Mission

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately focused on the mission of the church, the mission of our Youth Ministry, and gaining more traction for influence for Jesus in the communities we have been entrusted with. Here’s 9 super simple ways that God showed me, mostly from Galatians 6, on how to stay on mission and always be on mission.

1. Know the State of those around you.

2. Correct those around you who get off course, with gentleness, but staying true to the mission.

3. Carry each other’s burdens.

4. Be burdened by what burden’s God.

5. Carry your own load.

6. Share even the smallest victories.

7. Know what you are sowing.

8. Know what an opportunity looks like, and know what isn’t an actual opportunity.

9. Remind yourself daily that you do all things for the Lord.

Each one of these has been sticking with me as each one holds it’s own challenge, but the one that I have probably focused on the most as of late is to Share even the smallest victories.

I shared with our students this past week that we can often times make it seem like only the big victories are worth celebrating, but even looking at organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous or the like, celebrating baby steps is a huge part of their strategy. I challenged my students to share the smallest victories they have with each other and their small group leader, and I’m challenging our leaders to do the same. If someone has never read the Bible in consecutive days, I want to know when they do so I can celebrate that.

Because for me, as I think on this, I can’t think of a better way to be reminded of the mission than celebrating every step that gets us there.

So I’d love it in the comments if you would share a small victory you’ve had this week, so we can all celebrate together.

Expecting the Holy Spirit to show up at Youth Group

Confession: I’m sometimes very judgmental on Social Media.

When you post a picture of a Bible, a journal, and a cup of coffee and say “LOVE this time of my day” I write it off as fake.

When you post a picture of a Bible verse from youversion, I wonder if you only read the Bible to find a verse to post.

And when you post a picture of students with their hands up in worship and say “WOW WOW WOW the HOLY SPIRIT CAME” I wonder if he really did?

I’ve been wrestling a lot with the expectancy for the Holy Spirit to move at Youth Group. As a Youth Pastor, I’m the spiritual leader of our ministry. As a Father, I’m the spiritual leader of my son. As a Husband, I’m the spiritual leader of my wife and our family. I’ve been wrestling with the idea that the extent of expectancy I have for the Spirit to move in my ministry, my family is proportional to what he does.

Now hear what I’m saying, because as I read that, it seems like it could give the wrong impression. I believe the Spirit of the Lord moves when and how he wants, and no human can tell the Spirit what he can and can’t do.

But I wonder if there are things I do that limit the Power of the Spirit. I wonder if there’s things in my life that cut out room for the Spirit to be at work in my life as much as he could be.

I believe there are a number of ways we can and do limit the work of the Spirit, and I want to get through these things in my ministry. The simple Truth is that the Spirit of the Lord is present in our Youth Groups every week, but too often we get complacent with where we are, and that this complacency crushes our expectancy.

The first way we grow complacent is when we become familiar with what He has already done. If we’ve seen the Spirit work before, we expect him to move in that same way. Many of us have had an amazing night of worship and students just stayed singing and praying and confessing sins to each other and leaders, and lives changed! And now when we have a night of worship, we think we know what God wants to do, and when he doesn’t do it the same way he did before, we get disappointed because the Spirit didn’t “show up” that night. We get familiar with what he’s done, and quit looking for what he wants to do.

We let complacently squash expectations when we get Comfortable. Some of us go to churches that, if someone started praying in tongues during worship, it would be an awkward situation. If a student interrupted your message because they received a message from the Lord, that could lead to a very uncomfortable situation.

Not only that, but some of us have found a great routine for our programs. Doors open, students come in, we sing a song, we do announcements, we sing 2 more songs, we preach the message, and we close. If the Spirit showed up, we don’t actively think, when preparing our services, that God could move in it. We pray for the individual elements, but there’s no real expectancy of the power to be displayed.

I think that last part is directly correlated to the third way we lose expectancy, and that’s the unknown. I don’t know what would happen, what I would do or my students do, if a student stood up with a message from the Lord. When I read about the Acts of the Spirit in the early church, it seems so foreign to me, I wouldn’t know how to react to some of those things.

We lose expectancy because we haven’t seen the spirit truly move in our Youth Ministries before, so we have no idea what it would look like for it to happen.

So I’m praying for more reliance on the Spirit. I want to see crazy things happen in my Youth Ministry. There are students who need healing, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical, and I know only the Spirit can heal them. I want to see my students have hearts that are broken open and set on fire for sharing the gospel with their friends, and no message I preach can cause that to happen, only the spirit.

I don’t know how the Spirit is going to move, but I’m expecting him to.

How Mentoring plays out in Youth Ministry

When I was growing up, God used many circumstances and people to affirm my call to ministry, and one of those people was my Youth Pastor, Aaron. For the time I lived in California, Aaron really took me under his wing, and though he never explicitly said it, I know he was intentionally mentoring me, and I know I was clearly mentored by him.

Truth be told, there were time’s in my walk with Christ during those years that I would not have made it had it not been for the relationship I had with Aaron, and his wisdom, advice, openness, and ability to listen in my darkest times in High School are when God really spoke to me that this is what I was going to do.

I believe that you would be hardpressed to find a Youth Pastor who would argue that mentoring has no place in Youth Ministry, because we all see it, we all understand it, and we all have placed value on it. Most of us Youth Pastors have heard it said that if a student has 5 non-parental adults pour into their lives at church, they will stick around after graduation.

The idea of Mentoring isn’t a foreign one to Youth Ministry, and we don’t need blog posts telling Youth Pastor’s 3 reasons why we need to mentor students. We all get it. What I think we do struggle with is how to carry it out.

First and foremost, we need to quit dumbing down the definition of Mentoring.

We’ve lowered the bar of what it looks like to mentor someone. An adult leader spending time with a student does not equate to mentorship. Adult leaders being best friends with a student does not equate to mentorship. You might be a great mentor at video games, but that’s probably not going to do much for the student in the long run.

There are seasons where I get busy, or where I simply take the easy option when it comes to “mentoring” a student, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. You know, where you simply spend time with them, there’s no real deep discussion, you just sort of fit them into your schedule. If I was to mentor that way all the time, I guarantee my Youth Pastor would hunt me down and slap me. It’s not the example he set, and it’s not mentoring.

Secondly, Mentoring should be the Gospel.

Otherwise, what’s the point? We’re not trying to make apprentices, we’re in the business of making disciples. Teaching students how to make powerpoints, mentoring them on photoshop, all great things, but they should be rooted in the Gospel and using our gifts and talents for the glory of the Lord and expanding his kingdom.

Lastly, Youth Pastors should be Mentor’s of Mentor’s.

Whether you have a youth group of 10 or 1000, one of the primary roles of a Youth Pastor that get’s so overlooked is equipping adults to minister to teens. Want to explode your effectiveness? Stick around a ministry for a few years, through thick and thin, and raise up adult leaders who do 10x the amount of ministry you are able to do on your own.

Building a Healthy Ministry-Esteem

I think there’s a dichotomy of the way youth pastors, or honestly anyone in general, tends to view themself: Either we are incredibly full of ourselves, or incredibly unsure of ourselves. Put another way: Either we think we’re the “poop”, or a piece of “poop.” Either way, it stinks and funks up our ministry.

Prideful people push others away. There are plenty of posts out there on pride, so I want to focus on the opposite.

Humility is great. Humility is Godly. But listen: Humility is not thinking of yourself as lowly and unworthy of love or even praise. Humility is putting God’s agenda above our own and praising Him in successes.

How Low Ministry-Esteem Hurts

Humility is not low self-esteem. Low self-esteem hurts ministry because the minister second guesses himself. It hurts because the minister isn’t confident in the choices he makes, the lessons he teaches, or the students he lead.  In other words, it is:

  • Lack of confidence in decision-making abilities, so he often second-guesses them and loses respect of those who watch him make the decisions.
  • Lack of confidence in ability to bring the Gospel, so he downplays it and doesn’t deliver the Gospel message aggressive enough or convicting enough.
  • Lack of confidence in ability to draw students with Jesus, so he has trouble developing events and programming.
  • Lack of confidence in the students’ ability to reach others for Jesus, so he doesn’t put in place the appropriate programming providing missional opportunities.
  • Any others? Put them in the comments.

 

Building Balance

We are depraved, there’s no doubt about it. Yes, we are helpless (Romans 5:6). Yes, we shouldn’t think we are better than we really are (Romans 12:3). And yes, we are not to boast or be arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4). And of course, we are to think of others as more highly than ourselves, for even Christ emptied himself and humbled himself to being a man dying on a cross…for us (Philippians 2).

But look at that: Christ saw us worthy enough to die for us. God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us (John 3:16).

So even if we are nothing compared to Christ, that doesn’t mean that we are nothing to Christ. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1). We were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). God gave us a spirit, “not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). God gave us each a very personal gift from his Spirit to use for his Kingdom, and he expects us to use it. Paul says to the Thessalonians (2:4-5):

“And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do all the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Humility is denying personal sin, regarding others as God sees them, and knowing that we are loved.  And you are loved, dear friend and minister of young people.

Live a redeeming and affirming life knowing this.

The epidemic of Immaturity or what Pride can look like

I pray the Lord would use this post to bring revelation to anything in our lives that is holding us back from walking in fullness.

It scares me to look back six months ago let alone six years ago and see how immature I truly was.

I don’t like failure or going through hard times. I have had the Lord bring me through schools before. I’ve gone through the school but failed the test at the end and had to go through the school again. That sucks.

I have learned now, a “Kingdom of the Heart” means God is looking at my heart constantly. As a jealous God, he cares if something is between He and I, just as I care if there is something between my wife and I.

So here I am writing about immaturity or aspects of pride. I’m beginning to see it as an epidemic among leaders and that scares me. The more I see it, the more I run back to my prayer closet and ask the Lord to sincerely search my heart because I know what a trap it is to “think of myself more highly than I ought to think” as Paul puts it in Romans 12.

Immaturity is such a subtle sin – in our minds anyway. We think we are doing great, but it’s because we don’t honestly evaluate ourselves.

Here is a real life example: I know of a group of zealous lovers of Christ who moved into a distressed neighborhood on the word of the Lord. They came in with the best of intentions and were so ready to hit the ground running. They knew that other Non-Profits had been working in this neighborhood for decades and that one church had been working in this neighborhood for over 30 years. The group chose to not talk with any of those non-profits or the church because: “If they’ve been here so long, why has there been no impact, they obviously are doing it wrong.” The group fell apart within 3 months and of the 15 only 3 remain to this day. The other 12 do not consider each other friends.

What happened? Pride in the form of immaturity.

This aspect of coming low is everywhere in the Bible but to keep this post brief I’ll just use one good example and one bad example.

The Good: Joshua spent a lot more time in God’s presence than Moses did, yet Joshua honored Moses. He easily could’ve thought, Moses’ time is up. He’s a bad leader, I hear the voice of the Lord so much clearer than He does. What is Moses thinking allowing that guy to do that, etc. Again, Joshua chose to honor Moses and the fact that he would one day stand on Moses’ shoulders.

Does that bring conviction? Have you ever been angry at your Pastor or Elders for making what you thought was a dumb decision? Thinking thoughts such as: “Are they even praying about this?”

The Bad: Paul warns of this immaturity in the last chapter of 1 Corinthians. It’s such a quick note that until yesterday I had always passed it by. He says:

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything with love.

You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion… You must show your appreciation to all who serve so well.”

My take on what Paul is saying is: “Yes, you might have deeper revelation or closer intimacy. Don’t forget, your generation is standing on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before you. Make sure your heart is humble and you know your position before God and men. Show your appreciation to those who’ve gone before you. Serve them. Honor them. Learn everything you can from them.”

When was the last time you asked an elder, deacon, your pastor or any other man or woman older than you to go to coffee? When have you sat with them and asked them to speak into your life?

Immaturity is one of many schemes the enemy uses to hold us back from fullness, break it off of you and run the race that is set before you!

Jesus Is The Goal

What is the reason that you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? You remember that story when things changed forever? Why do you preach the Gospel to others?

My heart is for the lost, that is the very reason I started doing ministry and I want to preach it to the end of the world. The question is, what Gospel are you preaching?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBGdiyRct30?rel=0&w=600&h=338]

We want to share some ideas with how you can promote this understanding in your ministry.

  • This may not be new to you, but have you evaluated your teachings lately? What are you preaching to your youth group along these lines? By all means address issues like homosexuality, bullying, evangelism, and service, but within the message it should be wrapped around the life and words of Christ.
  • What do your teens believe? Have you ever asked them what they think is the purpose of Christianity? Many will not have an answer, some will say to avoid hell or go to heaven, and some will give the Jesus answer but not really be able to expound upon it. Take a sermon or series to address the goal of Christianity.
  • How will Jesus challenge teens? If Jesus is the goal, that should completely change the worldview of every Christian who accepts Him as Lord and Savior. Challenge teens to become introspective to know how they need to view the world and extrospective with tough but possible action steps to take at home and school.
  • Have the whole church onboard and promote a holistic understanding of Jesus being the goal for parents, friends, and family. This is the most effective way to impact teens lives because it puts it fully in their lives, not just the Sunday and Wednesday sermons at church.

How will you change the understanding of Christianity in your ministry?