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Tag Archives | leaders

3 Mistakes We Can’t Fall Into With Small Groups

As we just opened up Life Group registration after summer camp, I’m thinking about the mistakes I made last year with small groups. These are 3 things to be aware of when small groups are in season and I hope you can learn from them like I have:

Not saying “no” to leaders who are not ready to lead students. This is not easy. I know the need for volunteers is always a thing. This doesn’t mean we can just take anyone in who wants to lead. We need to make sure the leader we do get are capable to lead a small group well and for some reason we don’t think they are ready, we say no. We let them know why and that in a year we can come back to this point and re-apply and re-evaluate.

Overseeing too many groups, alone. Leading leaders can be a great thing. But it’s much like a small group. You have too many to keep in contact with it can get harder to make time for all of them and make sure they are good. When we take on too many leaders to take care of, they can slack because they require equal care. When it gets too much, find another staff or volunteer to help take on the load and make sure everyone is cared for effectively.

Not making a marketing/promo plan. This one is overlooked the most. Many think small groups and the excitement for them just happens. Making a plan to get students in the small groups is huge, or if anything, makes you think ahead. I just submitted a marketing/promo plan for our team as we are rolling towards launching groups for the year. We know what videos, what testimonies of students, what social media details we will be putting out and when to make sure we are hitting key areas and key times to get students in groups. Momentum takes planning and being aware of what is going out.

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Our End Goal In Youth Ministry

I don’t think it comes as a surprise, but I think small groups are great. There are a ton of reasons why students join a small group. It could be just the thing to do at your church. It could be because their parents are making them. It could be because a leader a student has a relationship with invited them into the group. It could be because a student has seen the life change it causes and invited a friend to it. It could be because a student wanted a community around them so they just joined one.

Either one of these reasons are great. I approve. I want all students in a group. But I think there is one reason we as leaders should have a purpose for small group ministry.

Last weekend I was talking to a student about her small group and she hit the main reason right on the head. She said, “I joined the group at first to have community, but as I kept going I realized I really joined because of my need to repent of my sins and learn how to follow Jesus fully.”

BOOM! I was so proud in the moment that this student realized this on her own. She decided to let God control her life and she should stop running it. Her joining the group was the first step to letting that happen. She knew that the community around her would help her understand the studies, she knew the group would pray for her, encourage her, help keep her accountable.

But the main thing was to repent. And this will be an ongoing process.

This is the end goal of youth ministry and healthy small groups of God’s people are instrumental in bringing life change . . . repentance . . . transformation.

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Summer Interns – Watch, Shadow, Lead

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Here’s a fun picture from our summer intern breakfast the other day – just an early summer (by California standards, anyway) connect with our summer staff in the first 1/3rd of their ministry experience.

I’m excited for them because they are doing really well in the watch and fit in stage. This is where their bubble of how they think ministry gets burst and how they realize there more to youth ministry than pizza and videogames. They’re doing well, some growing pains here and there but really positive so far.

Next up is the shadow stage, where they work hand in hand with another leader to get some second hand experience in ministry. To learn to have good eyes and trust their leaders, instincts and judgement. Some are already dabbling in this area, based on the adeptness of their leader, and starting to reach out.

We’re still a month away from the leadership stage, where they take on huge events and projects on their own. This is coming, but each stage builds on each other and prepares them for what is next. Skip to this step to early and they’ll fall flat on their face, get there too late and they won’t think they got much out of the program. It is all in the timing, and they’re off to a great start!

JG

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3 Questions To Ask When Choosing Curriculum

As we wrap up the small groups for the year we are already thinking about next year. If you’re like me, you are thinking about curriculum.

What do we do?

Do we buy it? If so, what one?

Do we write it? Do we have enough time or man power to do so?

If so, what do we put into it?

Is it going to be good?

As we begin the process of putting together small group curriculum and think about discipleship, I think about 3 different questions when it comes to helping put together what we feel is the best curriculum for our students to grow stronger in Jesus:

  • Who is this for? When it comes to small groups, who is the curriculum for? Is it for students who are just checking things out? Is it for students who are your core students? Is it for your die-hards? When we begin to think about the type of stuff we are putting out, we will better understand the types of students you are attracting. Everything we do is for these types of groups and the age old question is: How do we get curriculum to make sure all are covered? What we can do is go before god in prayer, and have Him help guide to the bought or self-made curriculum you feel is best for your ministry. The trick is asking, who do you really want to reach?
  • What makes a disciple? Another question in which could have a million answers. What you consider the characteristics of a disciple usually determines the types of disciples you are going to make. Spend some time talking with your volunteer team and ask them what they feel makes a disciple of Jesus, then pick the top 3-5 ones and begin to develop a curriculum track towards those goals.
  • What is the process? I wish there was a magic potion we can drink and BOOOM! Instant disciple. If anyone knows, we know the discipleship process is exactly that… a process. Think baby steps. One of the great things about small groups, it’s already a baby step from the large group. Students began the process of joining a smaller group. Another great thing about groups are they last all year long, for four years. When you have them in your ministry, what are the benchmarks you would want them to hit as they go through this process? List them out, make sure your curriculum guides your students towards those goals.

Whether you like to buy curriculum or make your own, it’s a process. There is no better way or the best way. Each way is up to the pastor who hopefully is on their knees before God asking for direction on what way the group should go. Whatever it is you do, try to keep these questions in mind and hopefully it can help guide you to the perfect curriculum for your group next year.

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Summer Leadership Lessons

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Summer is almost here.  (For some it is here, for some of use we are literally limping through the end of school. Seriously, will it ever end? That is a post for another day though I think.)  Yes,  this space after school is usually filled with camp and trips.  However,  what I love most about summer-time and my students is they relax.  What I mean is the pressure feels off for a little while with merely a focus on vacation, sports camp and perhaps an occasional job.  There is just something about the lack of school that goes a long way. I have this idea for the summer to teach “leadership lessons” in a practical sense. There is always a small group of  students we want to cultivate.  We mentor, use curriculum and may even attend a leadership type conference with our students.  However, I think what we often fail to remember is that leadership is an everyday adventure.    It isn’t just about organizing an event or being in charge of something “major” it begins with creating some habits. Here are some things we are going to try:

Eye Contact And Name Calling:   Dale Carnegie said this: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”  Take a trip to the mall or really anyplace that has employees that wear name tags.  They will need some spending money.  (If you want to make it an added bonus see  below.)  The goal is to start a conversation with the person checking them out,  looking them in the eye and call them by name. The person at the check out will probably say something like, “How are you today?”  They need to respond with, “Good, How are you?” Then learn small talk, while at then end of the purchase say, “Thank you (insert name.)”  People notice when you call them by name, and acknowledge them.  I have had more than one person in retail thank me for hanging up my phone when I am checking out with them.  They are people not robots.  We will discuss what they got out of it after the fact.  If they can interact with a store employee by asking them questions, this is a bonus. Learning to acknowledge people, look them in the eye and be cordial is a valuable leadership lesson.

Random Acts of Giving: For an added bonus,  have students buy some things they can give away in random acts of kindness.  One summer we made up baskets and dropped them off at a retirement home.  We included small gifts, candy, bath products, ways to be giving.  They can buy something for a neighbor, or a church member.  The goal is to purchase something and give it away unnoticed.  Giving without being noticed is a great lesson in stepping up because it teaches us that accolades isn’t the point.

Customer Service: There are three stores KNOWN for their service: Starbucks, Chik-Fil-A and Apple.  If you have one of these near you, spend an hour there.  Have students observe employees.  How do they treat their customers?  Is there anything that stands out to them about these employees?  If you don’t have these stores,  just spend an hour in a busy fast food place.  Which employees stand out?  Which are not helpful? Discuss it as it is going on, or afterwards.  Learning to treat people with respect that goes above and beyond is a huge leadership lesson.

Media Log: Part of leading is understanding integrity.  To me this is about “practicing what you preach.”   Students need to know that their decisions do make a difference.  What they watch, or hear gets stuck in their thought life.  The issue isn’t about judgement, but we can end up looking so much like the “world” that unbelievers don’t see a difference.  For two weeks keep a log along with your students about what you watch (T.V., Movies, YouTube, etc.),  play (video games, tablet/smart phone games), read (books for and not for school, graphic novels etc.), listen to (music or anything that goes in their ears.) or post (anything you are putting on social media, or thoughts you are texting to others.)  Have them track their favorites.  Answer these questions:  Does this help me think on God (honestly?)  If the answer is No: then does it make you think about things that hurt your relationship with Him? (Honestly)  Is it not “good” or “bad?”  What do you want to see, listen to, etc, that you are choosing not to?  Why?  Then talk about this log.  Use this as a launching point to discuss integrity and how these are our first choices, but our choices do affect our relationship with Lord. Everything that doesn’t actively bring us closer to the Lord isn’t “bad,” but we do need to be careful. This is not about keeping a list of “rules,”  this is about helping them to understand how to stand out in a dark world.

I have a couple of other tricks up my sleeve.  We are going to read a leadership book together. I am thinking about “Master Leaders,” by George Barna because it gives a great overview on the topic.  Some of these students are only 14, but I am excited to help them practically see that their faith and leadership goes hand in hand.  We may talk about the importance of accountability.  I know we are going to talk about service going far beyond any trip.  So many lessons are out there.  I can’t wait to use the summer to show them in actions.

What would you do?

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3 Ways To Find Great Volunteers

One of the greatest challenges of leading an ministry is finding gifted and dedicated people who want to serve. There are obviously bad ways to recruit including begging, pressuring, desperate sounding announcements and while those might yield a few, chances are someone responding to a desperate situation in a pressure filled impulsive moment will probably lack the stick-to-itiveness you desire in a leader. So here are 3 trench-tested ways to find the best volunteers out there.

Sow Seeds: Serving in our student ministry or any ministry for that matter should be a decision that is prayerfully considered and discerned. Saying yes to giving up 5-8 hours of your week means saying no to other things, thus this decision is not one best made in haste. Because of this reality, we are always talking to people who we believe might be great leaders next year or a few years from now and asking them to consider if our ministry is a place they can see God using their gifts. Having the time to think also gives them the time to prioritize the other things they are committed to so that if they do decide to serve each week, they will be all in and focused and engaged, not maxed out and regretful.

Train them Up: The best volunteers are often the ones who already have the DNA of the ministry, the ones that get the mission, that get the values and want to stay connected and serve where they had been served. Many youth workers would argue that they need to take a year off, and we do not share that value. Some of our strongest leaders of our preteens are 18 and 19 years old, they are crushing it, with very little training. Being someone that came through the ministry, they typically all get the WHAT pieces, we simply need to build into them the WHY of the ministry and let them run with it.

Talk it up: Lately the best way we have found to find volunteers is when people who serve already talk about it, tweet about it, instagram about it. Every Thursday night we throw the best party of the week and lots of people see that and say, “I want to be a part of that”. People want to be a part of something, something bigger than themselves and when they hear stories of life change, they see leaders who are passionately serving, they want to be there, they want to know more. Passion is contagious. Don’t be afraid to encourage your leaders to talk about youth leading, about why they do it and the things they see God doing in the lives of their students as well as their own. Holy Gossip is the best, give people something to talk about.

Great volunteers are hard to come by, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t find them right away. These three ways have been highly effective at helping us find an abundance of talented people who want to serve and lead our students. Give it a shot, and if you you have other ways that work, comment below!

-Geoff Stewart  geoffcstewart

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How Do You Recruit Leaders?

Two of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to small groups (I feel they are) are the following:

  • What do you feel your biggest need is?
  • How do you recruit small group leaders?

I feel the first one is easy. Biggest need? Probably like many churches, volunteers. We need people to lead groups. The second question however is a lot tougher. If you happen to know, please let me know. How do you make sure you don’t get just anybody but make sure to get quality, teachable, adults who have a heart for teenagers? Great question.

I feel like we have done an announcement in the bulletin. We have made announcement videos for the main weekend services. We have sent out emails to the church. We have talked to our college ministry. All of which we would maybe get a few good candidates out of all of those. Surprisingly the best way I have seen and have done is pretty simple.

Nothing beats a personal invite.

No one told me at the beginning of my youth ministry career that I would have to have the same qualifications as a college football recruiter. When you meet people around the church, look for people who you feel would be great to volunteer and simply just ask them if they ever considered leading a group. If so, then you got them. If not, you at least got them thinking about it and then follow up. Also, send your leaders out into the world and have them each talk to two friends they think would be a great group leader. You will be surprised a how many more quality hits you get from a bulletin announcement.

When someone is asked personally, it means you see something good in them. They feel valued. They feel like they can make a difference and you think they can as well. That’s powerful. Some of the greatest leaders are the ones you would never expect. the ones you would never have known about unless you or another leader saw something in them and planted a personal invite to get them thinking about it.

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2 Major Things Small Group Leaders Do

Over the past few week I have been meeting with some of our small group leaders at Starbucks. The agenda was just to see how they were doing, how their small groups were doing, and how HSM can help them finish their year strong. As the conversations have been going I have come to the conclusion that small group leaders have two main roles when it comes to leading their small group.

Walking in front of- There are times in which things come up in which we as small group leaders need to be walking in front of our students and leading them in the ways of Jesus. It is like Paul’s “follow me as I follow Jesus”. This is intimidating. But as a leader we try to do this the best as we can. We lead them through study. We lead out of our experience. We lead because we have more time to study the Bible, we have had more time to pray, we have had the same doubts and maybe even the same struggles. In this we can walk in front of and lead them through some major and important areas in their faith and life.

Coming along-side- There are other times where we need to step out from the front of the pack and come along-side our students. there are times where our students don’t need a leader, they need a shoulder. It’s really hard to be a shoulder when your are standing out in front. There are times where we need to stop and come along-side our students and just be there, next to them. We are not giving up our leadership, but we are leading them in a different manner. We are showing them what true friendship and community is. We are showing them what God does with us when we are hurting, that He is hurting with us.

As leaders we wear many hats, but walking in front of and coming along side of are two huge and important things to remember when leading students in small groups. They need both. Both need to be modeled from their leaders.

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Who knows best?

The other day, my teens and I attended a workshop during which we had the opportunity to practice contemplative prayer. After doing so, the facilitator asked people to share their experience with 2-3 people near them.

My teens’ body language suggested it’d be good to share our experience as a table, with a larger group than the facilitator originally suggested.

When the facilitator saw us doing this, he walked over and stopped us, saying, “I said to share in groups of 2 or at most 3. If you don’t, a couple of you will talk the whole time.”

Though I think I hid my reaction from my students, I was horrified.

Who did this stranger think he was to tell me – the person who works with these teens on a daily basis – how best to minister to them?

Who was he to suggest that I – a veteran youth worker – couldn’t facilitate a discussion that would allow everyone to participate?

Despite my frustration, I recognized the inappropriateness of arguing with the facilitator, so we complied with his instructions. Though the adults in this workshop talked in their pairs for the next 10 minutes, my teens quickly ran out of things to say and sat in awkward silence.

As I reflected on this later in the day, it occurred to me, how often do I do the same thing to my small group leaders?

How often do I assume I know how to better minister to kids than the lay leaders who work with them on a weekly basis?

How often do I act as though my well-trained leaders can’t actually facilitate a good discussion?

No doubt, more than I’d like to think.

Having realized this, I’m determined to take the following steps, steps I hope will give adult leaders the respect and authority they deserve.

1. I will consistently remind leaders that because they know their groups well, they have the freedom to adjust small group materials in order to best meet the needs of their particular group. I will remind them it’s OK not to ask every question; That the quality of their discussion is far more important than the quantity of questions asked. Then, when I see leaders making adjustments, I’ll trust their judgment rather than freak out.

2. When I sit in on a small group discussion, I’ll do so as a participant, intentionally behaving in a way that gives and shows respect for the small group leader’s authority.

3. I will give away my title, reminding my leaders they are youth pastors too.

4. Since my leaders are youth pastors, when a situation arises that involves one of their kids, I’ll involve them.

5. I will regularly ask leaders how I can help them better minister to their kids. Then I’ll do my best to give leaders what they need in order to flourish.

What else do you do to give your adult leaders the respect and authority they deserve?

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Things To Keep In Mind Before You Confront Someone

As much fun as ministry is and can be there always is a time in which you need to confront a student or leader with life choices they are making or they are being disruptive in service. Let’s be honest, no one loves confrontation. It can be very hard at times. Even though it’s tough it is important in ministry to handle conflict with students and leaders well. A confrontation handled well can help launch them into the next level of personal growth in life and with Jesus. A confrontation handled badly can cause way more damage to the situation than their was before you entered into the situation. Hence, the importance of handling conflict well.

So what do you do?

  • Pray before- Seems obvious but if I do forget to one thing the most, it’s this one. It’s so easily overlooked but it really is the most important. There is nothing better than going into what can be a very difficult conversation than going in knowing that you went before the King and gave Him the situation before you even began with the student or leader. I pray that He gives me the correct words to say in ministering to the student and discernment when counseling them.
  • Ask - Ask yourself, “Does this need to be even brought up? Does it need to be handled right now? Am I thinking about this too much? Does it really matter? Does something even need to be said?” Going through some of these things can help you process what is about to happen.
  • Be up front- There is no use to dancing around the situation. I would always try to “warm them up” before actually getting to the meat. As soon as they sit down, I lovingly let them know that I want to talk about something that can be hard to hear but it important because I love and care for them, then I go into it.
  • Be on their side- Confrontation is exactly that when two people are going head to head. If you can’t confront someone with love and with a positive end in mind for them (redemption, restoration, growth), you shouldn’t be confronting them in the first place.  Remind them of this as well—that you’re on their side—and that you want to see this issue resolved in a way that everyone learns and grows through it.
  • Go in private-  Go in private according to Matthew 18:15. A one-on-one conversation. If you cannot overlook the issue then attempt to resolve the conflict or misunderstanding by applying God’s principle of going one on one whenever possible. There is no benefit in calling them out in front of their friends after service or small group about something they have been doing (Finish reading Matthew 18 if one-on-one doesn’t get through).
  • When it gets heated, slow down -When things get heated it can be really easy  to get revved up with them. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and just go for it.  Slow down, get collected. Take a few breaths and think about what happened. The art of holding your tongue is hard and the art of confrontation with a calm demeanor is harder. Not going off and slowing yourself down before speaking will always be beneficial.
  • Point Them To Jesus- Overall, you are to point them to Jesus. As ministers that is what we are supposed to do. We need to use these times of confrontation as teaching and learning for our students and leaders and for us as pastors as well. If we can leave the conversation with the students leaning on Jesus more, than it is a success.

What else would you put? Add to the list?

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The Qualities of a Great Leader

Thought this new article from Forbes was totally worth the read for youth workers. What makes a great leader? Thanks to Shane for pointing it out! Good stuff in the whole article, here’s a clip:

Ability to Delegate
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

Communication
Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.

JG

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Small Groups Are Broken

It’s true.

Small groups are broken. They do not work like they should because they are lead by broken people and are occupied by broken people. It’s messy. One of the biggest traps I see leaders make is what I like to call the “White Knight Syndrome.” The White Knight Syndrome is where we think our student’s spiritual health is completely up to me as the leader and it’s my job to save them.

The fact: When students come into small groups, they are broken. When we lead them in small groups, we are broken.

The realization: As leaders, since we are the broken leading the broken, there is nothing we can do to change our students. This might be hard to grasp or maybe you don’t want to grasp it but it’s true. We can do nothing to change them.

The great part: Even though we can’t change them, we know we worship a God who has the power to change our students as we lead. We know we have a God who has the power to change our hearts as we lead and we has the power to begin to put all the pieces together through Jesus. You may not be able to change them and heal them, but Jesus can.

What we as leaders can do: Even though we can’t do anything to change them, we can still be there for them in their brokenness. Because we are broken, and we know what they feel like, we can walk them through it and point them to Jesus who has the power to mend the broken.

Small groups are broken because they are supposed to be designed for where broken people can go and be real with their brokenness and talk, learn, pray, worship a God who has the power to change them.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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5 Assumptions Small Group Leaders Need To Stop Making

Everyone assumes certain things at times. As a small group leader and ministry leader I also fall into the trap of assuming some things and it usually ends up hurting me more than helping me. I want to share 5 assumptions small group leaders need to stop making about leading their group and I know we will see some healthier, happier, growing groups.

I can wing it- I know we are all busy but when it comes to prepping for your small group session we owe it to our students (and ourselves) to come in with something prepared. I’m sure all of us are all awesome and gifted preachers and teachers but if we assume we can just wing it all of the time, we are really missing out. All meetings should at least have some sort of outline, plan, or at least some thought going into before. I think as a must, just to spend a few minutes during the day in prayer for the group time. Each meeting can be powerful and God can move but we can’t always go in blindfolded hoping something will happen. Curriculum is your friend.

My students will know what’s going on - Let’s be honest, they don’t. That’s why you have to send them a text every afternoon of the day you are meeting for group because if you didn’t remind them they wouldn’t come. We can’t assume students know about group info, meetings, events and everything that is going on. I have come to find out that students have become busier than I am… it’s weird. Over communicate, trust me, you’re not bugging because they need to be reminded.

Their parents will know what’s going on - Let’s be honest, they don’t. We can’t assume that everything we tell our students in group make it home to their parents. That’s why most event sign ups happen the last week before the deadline. Over, over communicate with your parents in the group. I send out a monthly email to all the parents in my group to let them know what’s going on in our group, in our ministry and any events that are coming up. I know they really appreciate it and they never complain to know what’s going on.

Students don’t want to hang out with me outside of group - You would be surprised about how much your students do want to hang out with their leaders more. They assume since you are the adult you don’t have time. Since they are a student we assume they do not want to. Let’s stop making this assumption and just throw it out there. See if they want to get food with you not on a group or service night. See if they want to see a movie. Ask if they want to run errands with you. You will be surprised by how much they will want to keep you company.

I don’t need to be in a small group - I go to church and I lead a small group, I do not need to be in one myself. I’m too busy. Big “no-no”. Leaders need to lead by example. Students will copy our actions, they will do what we do. It’s important for us to be in a group ourselves that we are not leading, where we are being poured into and being in the same community we strongly encourage them to be a part of as well.

What are some other deadly assumptions we make?

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You Reproduce You

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds (Genesis 1:24)

Seems like a pretty simple verse right? Right. There is so much truth this simple verse. Humans produce humans. Cats produce cats. Dogs produce dogs. So on and so on. Right? Right.

What you are as a leader, you will produce the same types of leaders in your group. The fact of the matter is we will only be able to produce what we are and many times we really want to produce what we like. The only problem with this is if we are seeing something lacking within the group we as leaders want to see growth in, those are usually exactly the things we as leaders need to personally grow in as well. If you are a high energy leader, you are going to produce high energy leaders. If you feel your group is lacking in prayer, you yourself are probably lacking in prayer.

It’s not a fun thing to realize when it sneaks up on you. Just the other night I was thinking about how uncompassionate my group is when it comes to some people sharing about real struggles in their lives. I just couldn’t get over how they could just breeze over something so huge happening in one of their friends’ lives. Then that night at dinner, my wife and I were out with some friends and they dropped a bomb on us and my first thought after they told us was, “Man, I wish our food would hurry up, I’m starving.” I swear the Holy Spirit whispered to me saying, “I wonder where your guys get it from.” Dang it.

My advice? Take some time this week and be in prayer for God to reveal to you where you are lacking in your own life as a leader so you can be able to produce leaders the way you really want to produce leaders. Start to be the leader you want to see in those you lead.

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Being A Relationship Broker

There are so many things I love about youth ministry, and one of my favourites has to be the incredible network of youth workers, friends and congregants that are afforded to people who do ministry in the local Church. The diversity of people, vocations, passions and connections is immense and the opportunity for us is to be brokers of those relationships

A few days ago I was able to connect with a friend of mine who was in town for a short time. He is a successful and well known Christian artist, incredibly humble and someone who has so much wisdom to offer. In the same week, one of our volunteer worship leaders named Amber came and talked to me about a growing sense that God was calling her to more seriously pursue music ministry. So I did what I thought I should do, set a up a coffee meeting for the three of us so that Amber could connect with him and ask questions that I would never know the answers to. The meeting was a huge success and here are 4 reasons you should be setting these meetings up too.

1 – You know a lot of people: Being a pastor in a church means that you know more people than most, and usually in a more than surface level way. You know people’s stories, their giftings and vocation and now its time to use that knowledge. You have more connections than a cross country Greyhound bus trip and it is high time to leverage them. It would be easy to hoard those connections or forget that there are people you know who want to serve and don’t know how, and others that need help and don’t know where to get it from.

2 – It’s generous and facilitates generosity: They say it’s not what you know, its who you know and those relationships are valuable. Relationships are an extremely valuable resource that each of us possess, but many don’t realize the impact that being generous with those relationships can have. Recently a family from our ministry had a flood in their kitchen. With no insurance and facing a $20,000 repair bill in early December they didn’t know what to do. I called a contractor from the Church told him about the situation and he stepped in and took care of the rest and a few weeks later they have a brand-new kitchen and thanks to his relationships with vendors that he leveraged, the family was handed an invoice for zero dollars just before Christmas. I did almost no work other than connecting two people that otherwise would have not known one another. Lets stop hoarding our connections!

3 – It could change someone’s life: Connecting two people who don’t know one another can be risky. They might hit it off, it might be oil and water or just be plain awkward, but with all the risks, the potential gain still outweighs possible negative outcomes. As I sat and watched this meeting between Amber and my friend I was struck by the fact that this meeting might be a life changing moment. In a 40 minutes meeting Starbucks, she was able to flush out this calling with someone else who was called to worship, she was encouraged by someone that had no obvious obligation to do so and was invited to apply to study in London for a year to pursue a further exploration of a call to ministry. It took only a few minutes to organize, but those minutes could end up having a lifetime of impact.

4 – It’s a blessing to all: For a student getting the opportunity to meet someone they respect with a ton of experience and credibility in their field is a huge gift, the same goes for person meeting them. Having your skills and wisdom valued will always pump your tires up and having the opportunity to bring an experienced balanced perspective is something I value each and every time. For the person organizing that meeting, the experience is equally fulfilling as you see this exchange of curiosity and knowledge.

There is something beautiful about the inter generational nature of the Church, as a people from all walks and stages of life come together. Each of these people has a story, a skill set and something to offer someone else and it is our job as ministers to bring people together and broker the exchange of knowledge and wisdom that one generation could inspire or serve the next.

-Geoff @geoffcstewart

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