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Tag Archives | senior pastor

Get Your Senior Pastor to Help Promote Camp

Bible & Beach 2014 (Parent Promo) from Southeast NextGen Ministry (920) on Vimeo.

LOVE this simple video from Southeast Christian – the senior pastor of the church making the ask of parents to send their kids to camp. We’re taking the simple idea and sending something similar to our parents in 2 weeks. Love it!

JG

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5 Youth Ministry Numbers That Matter

As youth pastors we don’t like to talk about numbers, but they matter and people are definitely looking at them.

Try as we might to help leadership see the student ministry discipleship process as more than a headcount, it remains as one of the universally-accepted currencies of “health” in youth ministry to the outside observer. Here are a few numbers that I keep an eye on- would love for you to add other numbers you think are important in the comments:

Youth group attendance – we use a simple headcount to track this metric. It matters, especially to see trends in the year, trends by series/topics, and shifts in big picture participation. This measurement is often weighted too much in many church cultures (ours included), but it can still be a helpful number to watch because people do vote with their feet. A growing number reflects a strong ideal entry-point for our student ministry, students are entering the ministry through the top of the funnel. To some degree, this also reflects the health of friendship evangelism in HSM.

Small group signups – we use ChurchTeams.com to track this number, the system is also great as it allows us to stay in touch easily with our leaders. We understand that the additional level of commitment to join a small group causes participation to decrease, so we expect this number to be less than the youth group number. Knowing how many students are signed up and/or actually attending can be helpful to make sure students are entering and flourishing at the next step in the discipleship process. This number should grow in proportion to the weekend number.

Salvations/baptisms – we try weekly to share about the life-changing message of Christ, and once a month we have baptisms offered after all of the 4 weekend student services. It is continually important and recharging to see how God is changing lives. We celebrate any student that accepts Christ and gets baptized because it is such an important step across the line of faith. This number is usually compiled from respose cards collected on the weekend.

Text Database – Texting is our primary method of communication with students, and we use Duffled to keep track of all of the students we can contact about our ministry. We have all types of students in this database, but seeing this number grow is a reflection of the lives we are touching. Students can simply use their phone or be added/removed with a checkbox on the response card.

Blog/social media traffic/friends – This one is still emerging, but it would be nice to see what kind of “buzz” is out there in the wild about your youth ministry. Using Google Analytics, YouTube Insight, Twitter Search and other analytical tools you can see who is viewing your videos, visiting your blog, how many people are checking you out and see what people are saying about your services and their church experience.

There are other numbers that certainly matter (students in ministry, offering totals, distribution of spiritual growth tools, etc) – what matters most to you? What matters most to your senior pastor? What’s missing here?

JG

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The State of Youth Ministry 2014

The Christian Newswire posted a summary of a new study (which you can download in full for free right here) about the state of youth ministry here in the US. I just downloaded it and can’t wait to read more. Here’s the description of it:

Christianity Today (CT) and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company have released findings of a joint research project — Youth Ministry in America. The study, based on responses from more than 800 youth ministry leaders across the United States, highlights key findings on the demographics, activities, and practices of youth ministries.

The study explored the level of communication between the senior pastor and youth pastor, support given to the church’s youth program, safety practices, and training provided to leaders and volunteers.

Communication emerged as a key area of vulnerability for churches. Adult-student texting is a particular concern. Six in ten youth pastors report that they communicate with individual students a few times a week or more, but only three in ten have a written policy governing such communications.

“When youth ministry is done well, students are engaged and move closer to Christ and each other,” says Marian Liautaud, editor of resources at Church Law and Tax for CT. “But often youth ministries expose themselves to increased risks. Our hope is that the Youth Ministry in America findings will help churches establish solid boundaries and best practices so they can serve teens in the church effectively and safely.”

The study also explored how well senior pastors are informed about activities in their church’s youth ministry.

JG

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My Senior Pastor Went to Winter Retreat!

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One of my favorite ways to end a winter retreat is with worship and communion. To me, there’s something so powerful about sharing the body and blood of Christ with those with whom you’ve spent a transformational weekend.

The problem is, in my denomination, as a youth worker who isn’t ordained, I can’t preside over communion.

Nevertheless, because I believe this is such a powerful closing ritual, I decided to broach this subject with my congregation’s pastors. I hoped they’d consecrate the elements for me and send me on my way.

Instead, my senior pastor did one better. He said, “I’ll come up on Sunday, participate in the morning’s activities, lead worship for you, and drive kids back to church.”

What’s even more remarkable about this is that he said so believing our associate pastor would be on vacation that Sunday, meaning he’d have to get a guest pastor for worship at home.

Now, our congregation isn’t huge. Around 350 people worship with us on Sunday mornings. Even so, it blew my mind that he’d willing step away from the multitudes in order to serve a few.

But as he said, “I think this is a priority. That would, I think, send a message to the congregation about the importance of youth ministry for our congregation.”

As they say, actions speak louder than words and in this case, his actions spoke volumes.

Not only did his actions communicate the value of our youth ministry to our congregation back at home, but his presence also communicated the value of our youth ministry to our students and leaders attending the retreat.

To me, his presence said, “What you do here matters.”

To our adult leaders it said, “We are partners in ministry.”

Most importantly, to our students, it said , “You matter to this congregation. You’re part of this community and I love and care about you.”

Those messages are powerful; In some ways, every bit as powerful as it was to share communion with one another at the closing worship service my senior pastor led on our winter retreat.

And while I can’t be sure about this, my hunch is that maybe if we dared to invite our senior pastors to be more involved in our youth ministries (and our youth to be more involved in our congregations), we’d have to worry less about whether or not they’d remain in church as young adults. After all, if that were the case, our students would already be connected, not just to our youth ministries, but to our faith communities as a whole.

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Let Small Groups Join “Big Church” Sometimes

There are a ton of different ways to do small groups. They might be on curriculum, you might write your own, you might always partner with your adult ministries and all small groups sort of go through the same thing, you might even be working towards starting small groups right now. Every year at Saddleback Church we do a campaign. It’s something the whole church, from the children to the seniors, go through together. All of the series, the sermons, the small groups have the same messages but just communicated in a way each age group needs it to be communicated. Saddleback is first church I have been a part of where I have been a part of a church-wide campaign and I really like it. I think it is a great opportunity for our ministry, our leaders, our students, their parents to all be going through the same thing at the same time.

Here are some reasons I really enjoy letting our small groups join “big church” for a few months of the year:

Our team gets to work with other ministries.

For the most part during the year, HSM is pretty self-sustainable. We put our heads down and go. But during the campaign, I need to get materials from a ton of the other ministries. In order for me to get all of the small group material that our leaders needs for their students, I need to rub shoulders with people I don’t normally get to. I love it. It’s just building bridges with some great people and ministries.

Student and parents go through the same thing.

We let our parents know that their students are going through the exact same small group materials as they are. We don’t change it because it’s really good. I love this because if parents know that their students are going through the same material, hearing the same messages as they are it can create conversations at home between parents and students. This is huge and this is our goal of helping partner with parents so they realize they are the #1 resource for their students faith.

It makes it easy.

Besides organizing and getting all the material from the adult ministries to give to our leaders for their groups, it makes my life easy. I love that! I just hand out the materials and let them go and do it. I’m all for great stuff being handed out and me sitting back sometimes! I looked at the material because we were going to re-write it for students, but I thought it was so good as is I didn’t think we needed to. So we just took all the materials the adults are using. HA!

Our students see our senior pastor.

I think this is one of the greatest wins. Our students get to see Rick on Worship Together Weekends (where we cancel our services for the weekend and students go up to service with their parents). The DVD’s that come with each small group pack has Rick teaching our students and then we have discussions about the teaching after. Even though it might not be the most entertaining thing for students it’s always solid content and they get to see their senior pastor teach them. They see his face, they know who he is and they realize he is the one leading our church forward and he is teaching them. I think that is huge because once they are out of high school they will have a better idea who Rick is and will help assimilate them into main services better.I don’t know if your church does a huge campaign or not, but I love some of the benefits that come with a church-wide series and allowing our students to join “big church” on some of the things that they do.

I don’t know if your church does a church-wide campaign or not, but I think there are some great benefit fo letting your students join some things “big church” is doing. Give it a try.

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GUEST POST: 10 Key People in Rural Church Ministry – Part 2

READ PART 1 HERE

You have just moved to a Rural community in the midwest. This is a total culture shock to you. This situation plays out time and time again all over the country (not just the midwest). In my previous post I shared five of the ten people you need to know in Rural Youth Ministry. Here are the top five:

5. The Church Secretary. The church secretary is a person that holds contact and scheduling information that is vital to your work in youth ministry. She also needs to be kept in the loop about plans that the youth ministry has placed on their departmental calendar.

4. A contact for the local youth ministry network. This is vital in Rural Youth MInistry Whether hosted by your denomination or someone like NNYM (link here), you need people that can help with resources, ideas, and relationships that tell you, that you are not out there alone. If you want to know more about what networking looks like in a Rural Ministry, I spend a whole chapter discussing it in Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted.

3. A couple volunteers that served in your church before you came.  Find out what you can about what programming and leadership development looked like. Find out what events were well attended and why they worked. It can also be helpful to find out about what conflicts took place and how they were resolved. In many cases, re-inventing the wheel is not necessary and there may be a great foundation to build on instead of “blowing it up and starting over”

2. A member of the local homeschool network/co-op. Rural communities often lack any private or Christian school options. This leaves parents with the choice of public school or homeschool. Many (my family included) have chosen homeschooling as an option to help ensure strong Biblical values in education. Some parents choose homeschooling for non-religious reasons. There are few “campus ministry” opportunities that reach homeschoolers. Discover how you can partner with the local co-op and provide that connection from your ministry to those homeschool families

1. Your direct supervisor. In many denominations and churches, this looks different. It may be a Senior Pastor, a board, another staff pastor, or a denominational body. Find out who you report to. You may be getting bad information from someone who just wants to “stir the pot” in the local church.

Brent Lacy is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church, Rockville, Indiana. He is the author of “Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted”. He blogs with other Rural Youth Workers atMinistryPlace.net.

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Stop Sweating The Numbers

Since the beginning of time, or at least when youth pastors came onto the scene, there has been lead pastors, elders board members, and lets face it, ourselves, sweating the attendance at youth group. Growth is celebrated, decline is lamented and steady attendance is questioned. Numbers are a funny thing and one of the only quantifiable metrics we have.

Before I came to work as a Pastor I had a great job managing an Auto Collision repair facility. Every night at 8pm I would get a report emailed to me with the day’s numbers. Every aspect of the business was dissected and summarized to show where my opportunities were and where I needed to improve to reach the goals set for my location. For years I felt the anxiousness of opening the report each day, seeing where I needed to do better and constantly feeling like what I was doing wasn’t good enough.

I was two years in before I had an epiphany and changed my approach to managing my staff and store. I decided I wasn’t going to look at the numbers anymore, each night the email would show up and I would delete it as fast as it came in. I decided that I had been doing it all backwards and switched my approach. Instead of focussing on the numbers, I focussed on people. I told my team that I would only let them know how we did at the end of the month and our focus was strictly on people and nothing else.

I switched my focus to making sure that everyone who came in the door was taken care of, followed up with, and had all their needs known and subsequently met. I knew their concerns, learned about their families and jobs and took an interest in them as a person more than a customer. I focussed on all the parts I could control and it was a game changer and within months we were setting records for same store sales month after month.

This is a principle that I have applied to how we do ministry and here is 4 ways to stop sweating the numbers:

1 – Focus on the ones you have: At the shop, we made it a priority to take the best care possible of every person that walked through the door. The same is true at youth, our goal is to take care of each and every student, know their name, know their story and know why they showed up. Instead of doing a head count, we commit to pastoring everyone who walks in the door.

2 – Don’t sweat the ones that don’t show: I am sure we have all be here, looking around the room and wondering where some of the students are and running all kinds of scenarios as to where they might be. When we do this, we cause ourselves undue stress and anxiety and more than anything miss the opportunity to engage the students that did show up. Don’t allow the ones that didn’t attend to lessen the experience of those that do.

3 – Control the things you can: There are many pieces of the youth night that we have some control over like ambiance, games and organization to name a few. There are things that you can do, and things you can’t; we need to do everything within our power to make the youth night the best possible. God is going to do what He is going to do, students are going to perceive what they will and the Holy Spirit is going to teach and convict. Our job is to help facilitate and create spaces where students can encounter God and be challenged to think about what they believe.

4 – Don’t play the numbers game: I may not be popular for saying this, but do your students, leaders and fellow youth pastors a favour and please don’t tweet your attendance. Firstly because it is not a true indicator of health; it is an indicator that students showed up. Secondly I am not sure it’s great for the Kingdom. Seeing record attendance is exciting, but I rarely hear about record low attendance, or “50% of my students went to a football game instead of coming to youth tonight”. We brag about the highs; but rarely in context, and almost none of us boast of poor attendance. I am convinced that publicly announcing attendance does more harm than good for other youth workers and does more to discourage than build up. Students are less concerned about record attendance, than showing up and having their name known and having an adult leaders who care for them and pray for them.

-Did you have a great night at youth? Tweet about it! 

-Did students give their lives to Christ? Tweet about it! 

-Did you have record attendance? Keep that one to your team? 

When we live and die by attendance numbers we allow something other than the Love of God to determine our value.

It was remarkable to watch how the numbers seemed to take care of themselves when we stopped focussing on them and just took care of people. In the context of our youth ministry, we have seen the health of the ministry and spiritual growth increase when we stopped living and dying by how many people we could get through the doors each week. Instead we focussed on the spiritual health of our student because things that are healthy grow.

Do yourself and your stress level a favour and stop sweating the numbers.

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READ THIS: When Your Senior Pastor Resigns

This is a series of blog posts I’m going to write fairly often, hoping that they hit many of you right where you need it today. Maybe you’re reading this shortly after I wrote it or stumbled on it from a Google search months later … I hope it is at just the right time. Maybe you’re not in this situation now but need to forward this to someone who is. Maybe you need to print this and drop it in the bottom of your desk in the church office for the time when you will need it. Either way … READ THIS.

READ THIS: When your senior pastor quits

Don’t freak out. OK, freak out just a little. This is going to be a difficult time for the church, and you’re going to be part of the glue that holds it together. Whew … OK, now what?

Stop the stories
First off, stop gossip in it’s tracks. When someone leaves a ministry position, especially a high level spot like a senior pastor, stories begin to fly. Rumors of moral failures, secret meetings, longstanding rivalries thrive on this type of situation. If your senior pastor is leaving well or leaving under a cloud, your job is to help the congregation heal, look forward and be Christ-like even under duress. People show immediately know you’re NOT a safe person to gossip around.

Offer to step in to lead however needed
You don’t need to be pulpit supply for the outgoing minister, but know that there is certainly going to be more added to your plate in this season. Some of the weight of the church is going to land on your shoulders. Be willing to take some of it on, and make sure you’re spiritually prepared for it. This will be heavy, so you’ll want to make sure you connection with God is a close as ever.

Be a part of the search committee
If you’re staying … more on that below … be a part of finding the next leader God has for your church. Reflect on your networks and gather resources to help your church make a wise decision. Think critically about your church’s culture, needs and style and use the interim time as a chance for examination of where you’re headed as a church. Transition is the easiest time to make a significant chance, who you select will lead you in that new direction, so make sure you’re a part of helping select that person!

Be willing for God to lead you … here or elsewhere
In the old days of youth ministry (not that long ago, actually, and in some places it is still the case) it was customary for the staff to resign along with the senior pastor so that the new leader could either “rehire” or bring in his or her own team. The brutal reality of a time of transition like this is that you may not be around in the future. Whoever is brought in may have a conflicting vision or have a style of leadership you can’t live with. When a senior leader resigns it is a good chance for everyone to ask God where He is leading them, back to this ministry or on to the next.

Know that time make everything better
The resignation of a senior leader is truly the end of an era, and know that you play a central role in celebrating the past and helping your congregation move forward in the future. In time, the church will be back to it’s old self and you be able to return to your normally scheduled youth ministry.

JG

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POLL: You and the Senior Pastor

What is your relationship like with your senior pastor or supervisor? I had some great conversations this past weekend at the Youth Specialties National Youth Worker’s Convention with some youth workers who are really struggling. How are you and your senior pastor doing? Vote now!

JG

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What I Wish My Senior Pastor Would Have Done

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My first year in ministry, I was 22 years old.

I was young and naïve, incredibly passionate and excited to be in ministry. I was also arrogant, convinced I was God’s gift to the church (or at least to the particular church I was serving in).

Despite my arrogance, my first year in ministry was incredible…Until 11 months in when everything fell apart. Three months later, I left my church, bruised and battered, questioning my call and my place in the church.

At the time, I blamed much of what happened on my senior pastor.

Recently, though, as I purged my office of some decade-old papers, I found a report this senior pastor had written after everything started to disintegrate. I read the report, fully expecting my decade-old rage to return.

It didn’t.

Instead, as I read this report, now as a veteran in youth ministry, I saw this man’s wisdom. Much to my surprise, this revelation saddened me. I realized that had things been different, this was a man from whom I could have learned much. I only wish that had been possible.

  • I wish that rather than leave me alone until things started to fall apart, this veteran pastor would have taken the time to intentionally disciple me from day one. I wish he would have spent time investing in me, explaining the major theological tenets of the congregation and facilitating conversations with it’s saints in order to teach me about it’s history and culture.
  • I wish this senior pastor would have attended our youth ministry, not with any regularity, but enough to know first-hand what was happening in it. I wish he would have used that first-hand knowledge to give me a six-month evaluation. Such an evaluation would have enabled me to strengthen my weak areas and in so doing, grow as a youth worker and increase the effectiveness of our youth ministry.
  • I wish that rather than simply smile at the increased amount of youth suddenly attending our church, this senior pastor would have taken time to actually get to know me. I wish he would have gently and lovingly drawn attention to my weak spots, including the fact that to succeed in ministry over the long-haul, I’d need to replace my arrogance with humility.
  • I wish that rather than joke about how the congregation got a “two-for-one” deal with my husband and I, he would have instead helped us establish healthy boundaries for a lifetime together in ministry.
  • I wish this senior pastor would have taught me how to choose my battles; That not everything is actually worth fighting.
  • I wish that when things got bad, this senior pastor would have stood by me, publicly supporting me while lovingly helping me to correct the things that had gone wrong.

And when things were irreparably broken, I wish this senior pastor would have helped me to leave well.

Certainly, I cannot return to my first year in ministry but what I can say is this:

Rookie Youth Workers: Value the wisdom of your senior pastor. Seek him out. Ask to be discipled. And then willingly learn from his experience in ministry.

Senior Pastors: No matter how competent your new hire seems, take the time to disciple her. Do the things I wish my senior pastor would have done my first year in ministry. If you do those things, my hunch is you won’t need to worry about helping your youth worker leave well. Instead, she’ll likely stay for years, allowing your congregation to reap the fruits of a long, sustainable youth ministry.

Jen Bradbury has been in youth ministry for 11 years. She’s the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Her writing has appeared in YouthWorker Journal, The Christian Century, and Immerse. She blogs at ymjen.com

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The Traditional, Policy Happy, Red-Taped Church

The age of your church is one of the determining factors in the culture your church lives under. Some churches are old but operate young, some young churches operate old when they should be the opposite. Here’s what I feel like I’ve seen as the trend in the life-cycle of the church:

Young churches - move fast and furious. They can barely keep up with the growth. Whatever happens … happens. Just don’t let anyone get hurt and get the release forms signed. The rapid growth and excitement offers up plenty of forgiveness for mistakes. Momentum makes up for lack of policies and procedures.

Teenage churches – not quite as reckless as they were in their younger years, but still moving and shaking. The growth is starting to slow, but passion is still high. Resources are stretched to a maximum so fingers clench a little more tightly to territory. A few policies start to pop up, a few procedures come out of necessity.

Older churches – this is the maturing stage – where the leadership really begins to play with red tape. People have been burned by double-booking rooms, others are tired of the carpet in the senior center continually getting cigarette burns in it. Policies are made and ruthlessly enforced.  Then more policies are made. Hidden policies are made that you only find out about when you break them.

Old church – traditions, “the way it has always been” and comfort are primary drivers typically in this age of church. The mere mention of something that could go wrong warrants and immediate and sweeping policy cemented into place for the next 10,000 years or until the Lord returns, whichever comes first (Lord, come quickly). There is still passion, plenty of room for growth – but change is difficult because of entrenchment.

This isn’t a perfect description of the church – would love to read in the comments how this is spot on or way off about where you serve students. But here’s the kicker: it doesn’t matter what your church’s age is!  It might be good to realize what you’re facing and how you can navigate but you are called to serve Jesus Christ right where you are at no matter how much red tape you must wade through, so do it!

Love God, love students. However old your church is this year.

JG

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POLL: Expectations from Your Senior Pastor/Supervisor

I was talking with a youth worker this week and they were frustrated at the lack of clarity from their senior pastor on the expectations of their ministry role. He didn’t know what she expected of him, what success would be or if he was even doing a good job!

Inspired me to ask for your vote in this week’s poll – and more importantly, anyone want to take on the question in the comments and share some insight into how you can get that clarity from your senior pastor / supervisor?

JG

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Kick Yourself Off Youth Ministry Island

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When my rowboat finally hit land, I loved what I saw. Palm trees, coconuts, crystal-clear water…perfection. Everything was mine. I was in charge. I’d made it. For years, I’d wandered at sea, but this paradise quickly erased the pains of the journey. I found shelter, gathered food, and swam. It was incredible…for a while.

Let me back up. For a long time, I cared about the whole church. I was “all in,” wearing every hat on the giant ship. Being an all-around crew member rather than just the activities director was exhausting. I performed multiple tasks on every deck. More than once, I wanted to toss a few people overboard.

One day, I snuck away on a little rowboat to find dry land. I was free to do my own thing—to build the youth ministry and nothing else. It was oddly exhilarating to work with teenagers, not caring if they ended up at my church or not. (After all, if the church weren’t paying me, I probably wouldn’t even go there.)

If you’ve ever been to Youth Ministry Island, you know it quickly loses its luster. The place pulls an awful bait-and-switch, and here’s what remains:

Loneliness—The excitement upon arrival is intoxicating, yet over time you feel isolated. While fighting the elements, you realize survival would be more possible if you were part of a crew.
Invisibility—Being off the radar seems like a win initially. Then you notice you’re left out of celebrations. You realize your freedom has come at the expense of team. Longevity, after all, is birthed from being part of a much greater whole.
Martyrdom—To top it off, you feel like a victim. “I’m the one who should be getting credit,” you think. “Everyone else is out to get me.” Paranoia wins because you’re alone and invisible.

As fall approaches, what boat will you be on? If you’re alone, invisible, or playing the martyr, you may have set sail for Youth Ministry Island. Take these steps now to get back aboard the big ship:
• Care about the whole church and speak highly of it.
• Support the senior pastor and leadership.
• Offer to assist with “out of your area” opportunities.
• Help design a church that welcomes back graduating students.

Good youth ministry isn’t just about caring for teenagers. Find passion for everything God is doing so you don’t get stranded on Youth Ministry Island.

Youth Ministry Island by Josh Griffin originally appeared in the July/August issue of Group Magazine where he is a regular contributor for his “In the Trenches” column.

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My Senior Pastor Sucks

If just Googled the phrase “my senior pastor sucks” or some derivative of that – it will give you great confidence to know that you’re not the first one to land here after typing that into a search engine. In fact, searches relating to senior pastors have accounted for a significant amount of web traffic to my blogs since I first started writing about youth ministry 7 years ago.

So what do you do when your senior pastor sucks? First off … we all suck. You do, too. We are all a collection of losses and failures, so show her some slack. Maybe consider the bigger picture that he has to account for you’re only seeing a small sliver of from your spot.

That having been said, I thought I would rattle off a few responses to this fleeting and destructive thought and invite you to add another in the comments if you feel so inspired:

  • Pray for them – you’ll be surprised what this does for YOUR heart.
  • Help them be a better leader – nudge them to easy wins that would have been losses
  • Help them see the blind spots - you see things different, help them see too
  • Speak highly of them - fight the temptation to jab or accept divisive praise
  • Get out of the church as quickly as possible – just kidding, just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention
  • Ask God if you’re supposed to stay - for real.
  • Build a relationship with them - they’ve got to eat lunch, too.

Add more!

JG

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Why so many leaders are frustrated!

Last year I was able to help a dear friend find a good youth ministry job—it brought me great joy as well as great concern.

Prior to my buddy working at this particular church, I spoke at length with the senior pastor (as my friend’s reference). I listened to the pastor talk about the job description and expectations, and then I finally said,

“With all due respect, your expectations are totally unrealistic. I’ve worked at two of the largest churches in the country for 29 years, overseen multiple ministries, managed dozens of full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, spoken to thousands, designed and help build buildings…and I would RUN from this job. With all my church experience, I’m NOT qualified for what you’re looking for.”

As much as it may sound like it, I wasn’t trying to be cocky, I was trying to be shocking.

It was shocking. I was a little ticked. I’ve heard too many stories of frustrated leaders who take jobs that are unrealistic. I’m tired of people getting wounded!

The silence on the other end of the phone was uncomfortable.

Thankfully, the pastor’s heart, humility and desire for health led to a journey of re-thinking, re-tooling, and re-doing the job description and expectations. Because of his willingness to adjust, my friend was able to have some honest conversations with the pastor to clearly identify realistic roles and expectations that left everyone excited about the mission. My friend was hired…and it has been a good year.

I don’t know many primary leaders who are willing to back off their ideals and think carefully about hiring with realistic expectations. It’s one of the many reasons that so many leaders are wounded within the church.

It’s not the pastor’s (or hiring team) fault… the person being hired has to ask the right questions. The more you ask, identify and articulate on the front end, the better you will be on the backend. Obviously, things can always go sideways, and promises made don’t always equate to promises kept, but the principle of having clear expectations ahead of time is solid principle.

Let’s do a real-life case study and define some key questions for a potential hire:

This week, I received an email from a pastor asking me for names of youth workers he could interview. His expectations are high, but they also appear to be more directed at the candidate’s heart and skill-set vs. specific, outcome expectations (which the other pastor strongly expressed). Here’s what he wrote:

I am looking for someone who is passionate for the Lord and reaching young people for Christ.
I want to find someone who has great leadership gifts,
An amazing capacity to relate to teenagers,
A great communicator (who can teach/preach to adults too)
A team-builder,
Must possess strong people skills,
Someone who has a heart for mentoring,
A value to empower young people for ministry,
Strong organizational skills.

Question #1: What are the questions you would ask this pastor? Share them HERE.

Question #2: If you were a senior pastor, looking to hire a youth worker, what would be on your list? Chime in.

[If you leave a comment, I’ll pick one name and send you some of my books that you can enjoy or use as a coaster.]

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