Youth Pastor's and Tithing

My wife and I are going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with our church right now, and I’ve been diving into it head first. Never in my life did I think that it was possible for a Youth Pastor, on a Youth Pastor’s Salary, to actually be able to get off of living from paycheck to paycheck. So I’ve been researching bank accounts, reading articles, selling what we can, and really just going all in with Dave’s mantra “Live like nobody else, so you can live like nobody else.”

Yesterday, I was reading an article on his site and found this stat that kind of blew me away

53% of Christians have not given to their Church in the last month.

Now, that stat alone is pretty mind boggling. But it also got me wondering, after a conversation with some other Youth Pastors, about what percentage of Youth Pastor’s are actively tithing or not tithing.

I remember for a while when I was younger, I took what would be my tithe and instead of giving it to the church, gave it to people in need. In the below survey, I’m defining Tithing as going directly to the church. Thanks for participating!

[socialpoll id="2173467"]

Staying Healthy at Youth Camp

 The past 5 months for me have been a journey to eating healthy and being healthier as a whole! I was at an all-time high in weight, weighing in at 260 lbs. I have made some little changes in my diet and exercise routine and wanted to share with you some practical ways of eating and staying healthy at Youth Camp.

Our youth ministry just returned from Global Youth Ministry camp and we had a blast, but it never fails…. the camp food is blah and high in fat and calories. So how do you do it? You have been working hard to get fit, or you just do not want to gain weight to your already hard-earned physique that God has blessed you with.

Here are some tips and a list of the things I did (and I actually maintained my body weight of 217 lbs while at camp eating their food!):

Count Calories.

I count calories and have always counted calories since I started my journey of being healthy. My number one tool for doing this is the app MyFitnessPal. They also have a website that lets you do everything the app does, it is just a little more time-consuming. On top of calories I also watch my carb and protein intake and this app keeps track of that as well as all of your nutritional values (sodium, vitamins, cal’s, water intake, potassium, etc…).  The last thing I do with this app is record my cardio, as it subtracts from your calorie intake and adjust everything automatically to tell you what you need to meet your goal nutritionally everyday.

Get Exercise.

Get some type of exercise in throughout the day. If the students are playing a game of ultimate-Frisbee, join in. You would be surprised at how many calories you will burn in 30 minutes of being moderately active when running around. I wore a heart rate monitor while doing any activities at camp; while playing a 30 minute game of ultimate-Frisbee I burned 325 calories (this is for a 24 year old, weighing in at 217 lbs). If you are lucky and the facilities have a weight room, then use them. On the other hand, if they do not have an exercise room then get creative. I found a playground the third day I was at camp and used the monkey bars to do pull-ups and chest bar dips. If none of the above are available then just go for a jog and or walk even if you have to go around a parking lot 20+ times.

Watch your carbs.

When you do eat, try to stay away from carbs that come from sugars and try to eat 70% protein and only 30% carbs. If you must have carbs avoid the following:

  • White Pasta
  • White Rice
  • White Bread
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Fruit Juices
  • Bagels
  • Donuts
  • Muffins
  • Sweets and Candies
  • Processed Breakfast Cereals

For a more in-depth look at carbs and what you can and should not eat go HERE. By the way, carbs that come from fiber are good to eat. They do not store in your fat storages as quickly as sugar carbs and are used for an all day energy.

Take your vitamins.

This step is optional. I use supplements every day. Supplements do not = steroids. Here is a list of supplements I take and why I take them.

  • Spark- This is an healthy alternative to energy drink and coffee. I use it when I wake up in replace of my coffee and I use it once again after lunch to give me all day focus and energy.
  • O2 Gold- This supplement actually helps your body use more of the oxygen that is present in your blood. I use it once a day whether I exercise or not. It helps my muscles from getting fatigued. It also helps keep me alert and supports the immune system.
  • Catalyst- Catalyst helps me retain muscle and reduce fat for a more toned and better defined look. This supplement gives you all the Basic Chain Amino Acids you need to support your body through out the day. It actually helps transport the fat from your fat storage to be used for energy.

What are your thoughts– is there something you do that helps you when you are at youth camps? Leave a comment below and let us know!

5 Reasons Your Ministry Needs Women Leaders

Your youth ministry needs women leaders.  Before we start arguing the theology of women in ministry, I want you to hear me out:  The purpose of this post is not to advocate for ordained women, or women pastors, or to argue the Pauline view of women.

The purpose of this post is to convince you why you need more women in roles of discipleship, worship, and (yes) teaching.  We need to have a spread of leaders who represent the spread of the audience in gender, color, and background.  So if your youth group is 60% female and 40% male, you should have about that amount of male/female leaders.  I empathize that it may never be perfectly that way, but you should strive for that representation.

Girls need women leaders.

Seems like a no-brainer, yes?  Young girls need to have examples of women who are leading. If we are teaching our young ladies that they need to advance the gospel, then we need to have examples of women who are actively advancing the gospel in their lives personally.  Additionally, girls desperately need to hear from a variety of women.  Girls need to see a picture of themselves in these roles so that they can do it, too.

Boys need women leaders.

For so long, we’ve been doing ministry so that boys can only lead boys, and girls can only lead girls.  However, there are wonderful things that boys need from both men and women, just as girls need both in their development.  When I began my first youth ministry position, a mother came to me and told me that her son was going to be my toughest case, because he doesn’t respect women, and that included his mother.  I remember that first night of youth group–this eighth grader challenged me with every “tough question” he could muster on women, homosexuality, and president Obama.  When I left two years later, that same mother said to me that her son not only respected women, but valued their leadership in his life.  He became more sensitive, more respectful, and even more affectionate towards his own mother.  Boys need men to mentor them, yes; yet having women as leaders will lead them to holding greater value of women.

Male leaders need women leaders.

Men and women compliment each other.  You have a variety of leaders who are more playful, some more disciplinary, some more empathetic, some more protective, some more approachable, and others more on a pedestal; not to mention the variety of skills: building sets, making snacks, teaching, discipling, etc.  Put people in their sweet spots, and play off their strengths. I serve in a ministry where the co-directors are an unrelated male and female, and it’s beautiful watching how the strengths play off of each other, and where one is weak another fills in strong.  Think about it: why does God give children both a mother and a father?  Both are beautiful and have roles that are necessary in leadership.

Women leaders need women leaders.

I will be the first to admit that I need support.  I need examples of strong women in ministry so that I can do ministry, and I definitely see the effects as I begin mentoring women in ministry.  We need discipleship and community, especially as a part of our female identity.  Personally, it can be difficult as a female in a male-dominated profession, and I crave interaction with other ladies.  So ladies, step it up! And… let’s be friends.

God needs women leaders.

God uses women for multiple tasks in the Bible, and in Acts it is said that God will use both sons and daughters to prophesy in his name.  God uses some of the most random people to accomplish His tasks, so never discredit a potential leader based on their gender, age, race, or background.  From Abel to Moses to Deborah to David to Esther to John the Baptizer to Jesus to the Woman at the Well to Paul… (anyone else out of breath?)… God has a knack of loving and using people who just don’t fit the standard mold.

 

Review of #SYMC

The Simply Youth Ministry Conference was fantastic. I know I said that I would blog every second of it, but I was completely naive of the mixture of exhaustion and rejuvenation I would be experiencing. There were so many things that rocked my world this weekend, and I’m excited to share them with you.

“Pros”

  • There was so much community with SYMC.
  • I got to meet some really fantastic people whose blogs I follow and whose wisdom I admire.
  • There was a variety of classes to choose from.  One day, I couldn’t make up my mind, so I literally just YOLO’d and walked into a random class.  It ended up being a very good decision.
  • There were a fair amount of women teaching classes.
  • There were options for classes that were practical, theological, and educational. Whether you were a teacher, a volunteer, or a pastor’s wife (or husband), there was something for you.
  • The variety of personalities represented by the speakers was fantastic.  There was a mix of “famous” to sell tickets with a mix of “needed” for some soul care.
  • The resource center was fantastic.  The booths were great too.
  • There was a Canadian pin for your I.D.  I’m not Canadian, but I grabbed one for Kolby Milton.
  • The conference was set in a really central place with tons of options for food and entertainment.
  • There was a Starbucks in the hotel.  Enough said.
  • We did a Harlem Shake.
  • I learned a lot. Like, a lot.
  • “Cons”

    • I wasn’t able to attend a panel because the schedule could be hectic, especially if you like to eat once or twice a day.
    • There were a lot of women at the conference, but very few on stage.  A total of 4 women stepped onto that stage, including one of the musicians.
    • The big-group sessions were super long.  In their defense, they utilized that time well.  But still, for me to stay in one place for 2 1/2 hours is a challenge.
    • My hotel pillow smelled. I know that’s not SYMC’s fault. I’m just saying!
    • There weren’t enough minorities represented, period. On stage, as teachers, and even in the crowd.  I would love to see more of that.
    • There was no urban ministry connect group.  Or a pin for my I.D.
    • Nobody wanted to find me and win free stuff from the YouthMin.Org Marketplace.

    Lessons Learned

    • No youth pastor is a rockstar.  Whether you’re Josh Griffin or Kassy, this girl I met at Starbucks; we all have something to contribute to the Youth Ministry community.  Also, those youth pastors who you may look at as a rockstar don’t look at themselves like a rockstar.  They’re just as weird, love students just as much, and have just as many struggles as you do.
    • We need to be more transparent with one another.  We are in youth ministry together, and it’s about time we share burdens with one another and live in real community.
    • A grimy penny is worth just as much as a shiny penny.  That student who has a bunch of junk in their life and is a thorn in your side?  God values him the same as that kid who is perfect.  And God also values him the same as you.
    • While some may plant and others may water, it is God who causes the growth.  Yet, your responsibility may just be to ready the soil by chipping away at all the gravel and clumps it has gathered.
    • Quit balancing, hiding, or trying to stir in your sins and burdens. Give them to God.
    • Youth pastors are a lot like their youth.  I saw a couple “comforting each other” during worship. Once the overwhelming B.O. (or maybe it was Axe?) singed my nose hairs.  I saw “that guy” with the guitar.  And there were people running around like cray cray.
    • Don’t skip out on community at these conferences. Fight the urge to go to bed at 9. Stay out and learn from other youth pastors.  Talk to the people in the elevator.  Don’t not talk to someone just because their haircut is too cool for you or their blog is actually read.

    What are some things that you learned? Pros? Cons? I would love to hear about them in the comments.  If you blogged about SYMC, I encourage you to link it in the comments, as well!

    Youth Pastor Networks that work

    I can remember driving 2 and a half hours to get to a meeting of Southern Baptist Youth Pastors in my state because I was told it would be a better idea than meeting with the Youth Pastors of various denominations that were more local. I went for it, because my experience with the local network hadn’t been all that great, though I couldnt really blame the guys in the group. Three of the 7 had been together for nearly 10 years, while I was the first Youth Pastor from my church to join, and the other 3 churches had youth pastors that never lasted more than 2 years. Hence, those three had a great conversation every 3 months and the rest of us sat silently waiting for the meeting to be done.

    So when I got to my destination a few hours away, I was the first one to arrive, but slowly a few other Youth Pastors filled into a room with our State Youth Rep to meet. I was looking forward to this being better, more organized, and more relatable, but none of those things were able to happen.

    The details of what followed don’t really matter, because the point is that my experience with “Youth Pastor Network’s” has been that they don’t work for me. It’s too easy for the meetings to turn into bragfests about numbers (even when this isnt the heart of the speaker, we just take offense easily when someone talks about numbers that happen to be larger than ours) or when the good topics do come up, it always seemed like it was one sided, as in “I don’t really care about coming to your event your planning, but we are throwing an event that I would love for you to partner with us on.”

    Before I go on, I should say, my desire is to grow in community with more local Youth Pastors around me, I think it can be rewarding, it should be a great experience, it’s just not always as easy as it sounds to do.

    But the last few years, I have loved getting to Network with Youth Pastors online. Nothing can replace face to face, personal relationships with other Youth Pastors, yet at the same time, I have grown to have community with several Youth Pastors far better than I can imagine the best local network could ever dream of.

    One of the things I think that enables such great community among Youth Pastors online (for most, at least) is that the sense of competition doesn’t even have a chance to creep in to conversations, and so a greater level of honesty and transparency is able to happen.

    So I wanted to share a few places where I have been able to really connect with other Youth Pastors. A few of these are groups our site runs, or that I have started, but please dont see this as me just trying to promote our site. If you try these groups, you will see the value in them compared to others.

    Youthmin.org: Everyday Youth Pastors Facebook Group

    This was the first group our site started just 5 months ago and it has nearly 450 people in it. We launched it because we had thoughts about starting a forum on the site, but we really thought that forums were dead compared to Facebook groups. A lot of our contributors are members of other groups, and this will sound Biased but if you check it out, you will hopefully see truth, this group is different. We don’t allow self promotion, or spamming with links, and we try not to keep it a club that just the administrators get to use. We love this community and will fight to protect what we have with it. I highly encourage you to join.

    #Uthmin.net Facebook Group

    Similar to our group, this group keeps the wall focused on healthy conversations, but what separates it is that it is Middle School focused. I love being a member of this group, and I love what Coach Shef and Jeremy Lee and Elle Campbell do with the group and have planned for the site when it launches.

    #collegemin Facebook Group

    A lot of hashtag group names, I love it. This is a fairly new group, and I havent gotten to use it as much, but I know it’s one of the only ones out there for those that work with College students in churches, and these sorts of groups can really prove to be invaluable for brainstorming, questioning, and just advancing our ministries altogether.

    Youth Ministry Community on Google+

    This is one that I started, but it really isnt connected to the site. Communities just launched on Google+ last week, and I just happened to be the one to start the Youth Ministry one. There’s been a lot of new friends I have met on there, and hey, it gives me a good excuse to finally use google+! What I love about this community is that you can get far more organized with the topics of discussion. Check it out to see what I mean.

    Those are the four groups I use the most. Like I said earlier, I’m a member of several other Youth Ministry groups on Facebook, but I just believe these are better, because they actually focus on Youth Ministry and not personal opinions, petty fights, and spamming with blog posts. These are Youth Ministry Networks that actually work.

    And I have to throw in a quick statement about two new groups that we just launched on Facebook yesterday. One is Church Media, because there are plenty of Youth Pastors who also handle videos, designs, announcements, social media, etc. for their church. This is a great group for getting critiques on designs, tips for productivity in these arenas, and more, without taking away from Youth Ministry conversations on the main group page.

    We also just launched a group for Youth Pastors who are also leading the Childrens Ministry. Again, there are plenty of these dual threat Youth Pastors, and this could grow into an amazing community for you if it’s where you’re at.

     

    How To Find Great Youth Ministry Blogs

    In April, several of the YouthMin.org contributors shared their favorite blogs. These posts came out of the numerous conversations that we had and the discouragement that many of us could not connect with other youth ministry bloggers. It always seems like there is a hit or miss fashion. None of us have youth ministry down perfectly, people are always coming up with new games, better ways to do small group ministry, and presenting a deep and rich theology that is easily communicated to teenagers. Why not share the wealth?

    Since we shared those posts, I have found numerous ways to greatly increase your RSS feed. The best ways to find quality blogs come through awesome articles that other youth workers have already read online that week and share them in a post with four to ten articles. It takes a lot of work to put these together (I know because I do the same thing nearly every week). without further ado, here are several resources for you to check every week to find amazing youth ministry blogs.

     

    We want to encourage all of you to think about blogging. The more quality youth ministry voices we have online the better ministries will be empowered. This is the future of networking and we want you to get viewed as well as for you to share who you love to read. So in the comments below, share your blog and 3-5 blogs you love to read.