Current Affairs youth ministry

Lead by Enabling

Did you catch the Do Something Awards on VH1 last night? Wow. Wow! WOWowow! It was an explosion of fun, music, and celebration of teenagers who… are doing stuff in their communities.

I’m relatively new to discovering but the idea behind their organization is pretty simple. They help teenagers do stuff in their community. Here’s how they describe their mission:

We love teens. They are creative, active, wired…and frustrated that our world is so messed up. harnesses that awesome energy and unleashes it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car. With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, is one of the largest organizations in the US for teens and social change.

As a youth worker and person who thinks about new ways of ministering to youth all the time, I deeply resonate with that.

They have made their job relatively simple. They encourage teenagers to do stuff without defining what “stuff” should be very much. This empowers their creativity and supports their capabilities. And they get out of the way. Then, for those who need a little more help, they set up national campaigns.

What’s the role of adults? They tee things up and get out of the way!

It’s power is clear. While not a religious organization or “youth ministry” in just a few short years, with a relatively small budget, they have activated millions of teenagers around the country… and their award show is broadcast nationally on VH1 packed full of celebrities celebrating the difference these teens are making. There’s power in their enabling methodology! 

I’m really intriged by this model. Which is part of the reason Marko & I invited Naomi Hirabayashi to come and speak at The Summit. We have a lot to learn about not only massive impact, but also a model of leadership that gets out of the way. It’s so foreign to youth ministry and yet all Gospel-y and youth ministry-y at the same time. It reminds me so much of Jesus sending out his disciples into the villages. (Luke 10)

As I watched their award show last night I loved that none of their “old people” appeared on stage. Their award show wasn’t a showcase of them, it was a showcase of their model of enabling and getting out of the way. They didn’t try to MC it, they didn’t accept any accolades. They just worked to put it on and got out of the way.

Questions: What would your ministry look like if your primary job was to tee things up and get out of the way? Could you lead a microphone-less/platform-less ministry? 

photo credit: Mark Davis/WireImage

Christian Living youth ministry

Overstanding God’s Word

The book of James will punch you in the face. Repeatedly. This passage from James 1 came up at our retreat last week and was freshly illuminated to me.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25

Our students were doing an inductive study of Mark 4. And one of the groups was asked to act out and explain verses 21-25. When presenting, a student said something like this,”You shouldn’t just hear the Word and put it on the shelf, or even under something. You should put it over everything else you are doing.”

That hit me like a ton of bricks. How many times am I tempted to just understand God’s word? God’s not just asking me to understand the Bible, He’s asking me to “overstand it” by putting it above everything else.

So simple a 16 year old can teach it to me. But incredibly difficult to live out on a daily basis.

Oh, that I might be a man (and we a people) who doesn’t just understand your word, but is bold enough to overstand it by putting it into action.

Books hmm... thoughts illustrations

Stop reading books!

No seriously.

Books are great. Reading is fundamental. I’m all about practical resources and history and stories that carry you away to far away lands.

But lets not get to the point where we stop thinking creatively about resourcing ourselves. Or acting in a way worthy of a historian writing about us. Or living a life that is a fantastic story which carries us to far away lands.

You don’t change the world by sitting on a couch and reading a book. Change is an action.

Don’t use books as a way to wuss out.

Think for yourself.

Act for yourself.

You can create.

Put the books down and get outside– live a story-worthy life.

Inspiration is one thing. Inaction is unforgiveable.

Church Leadership

Boring Old Church

Photo by richardmasoner via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Perhaps the reason your church isn’t growing is because you are boring? Your church is boring. Your faith is boring. The Jesus you’re presenting is boring.

People’s faith isn’t challenged by your ability to keep them busy. It is transformed when they are sent out to do God’s work in their daily life.

The last thing most people need is another sermon. The last thing they need is another worship experience.

The first thing they need is to apply the last thing you taught them. I guarantee you that your next worship service will be exciting if your community of believers is coming to worship Jesus after they have dipped their toes in the River of Grace and seen Him act.

That is exciting. That grows… Quickly.

No more songs about moving mountains until you show people– God moving mountains!