I’m sure I’ll post more thoughts soon … but I’m still slightly fried from the mission trips and all the buildup to them! The above is a slideshow I threw together late Saturday night (technically, early Sunday morning) giving a little bit of a taste of our three student ministry mission trips to Maine, North Carolina, and Nicaragua, which we shared during our reports Sunday. We got to take over both services Sunday morning and the congregation heard from all of the teens and leaders over the course of the two hours! It was a blast!
Archive for category: Youth Ministry
I was surprised at the response to yesterday’s post (find it here) listing my high school teacher’s fifty rules for public speaking, so I thought I would upload a scan of the original document. It was far and a way my favorite class in high school; if you have ever seen the movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” then you know what kind of teacher Tom Jenkins III (or as we knew him, the Colonel) was. He passed away a couple years after I graduated, but left quite a legacy.
The class was a trip. We had to do short speeches with no warning on topics of his choosing, we had to prepare speeches, do devotionals, and most importantly, memorize the fifty rules. He would coach us, challenge us, and show no mercy in challenging us to grow as speakers. My favorite part? He would sit in the back of the auditorium (to make sure we were projecting) and if we broke a rule, he would yell out the number (which meant we lost one percentage point)! It was unnerving at first to have him loudly yelling numbers from the back of the room … but probably the thing that prepared me for working with middle schoolers the most! Ha!
Over the years I’ve taken a few public speaking and/or preaching classes; in Bible school, Gordon College, most recently as part of my course of study through Liberty’s seminary. But my all time favorite class? The one I took back in ’92 or ’93 while I was a junior or senior in high school, taught by Tom Jenkins III, or as we all knew him, the Colonel. I loved the class and the way he taught it. He centered it around fifty rules that he put together that we needed to memorize and were graded by; over the years I’ve thought of them often and wished I still had them … and the other week I found my copy going through an old box of papers! Here they are in all of their early nineties glory:
- The speaker should always be in the most dominant place in a room.
- Never apologize for the speaking situation.
- Do not interrupt a group by saying, “May I have your attention, please?”
- The most important aspect of public speaking is that there must be a message.
- Minimize distractions.
- Your voice is your major instrument but you should use all your instruments.
- Maximize your assets – first find what they are, and then use them.
- Don’t avoid personal illustrations.
- Don’t admit any weaknesses; i.e., “I didn’t have enough time,” “I didn’t have enough education.”
- Physical rules for delivery:
- The outsides of your feet should be even with the outsides of your shoulders.
- Back should be relaxed.
- Hands should be comfortably by your side.
- Head up with eye contact.
- Don’t lock your knees.
- Put your belt slightly below your navel.
- Your weight should be evenly distributed.
- Avoid “stupid” truisms.
- Don’t violate time limits.
- Avoid vocalized pauses at all costs.
- Use as few scriptural references as possible and then major on a few words or ideas.
- Never say, “I would like to …” Just do it!
- “Suit the action to the word and the word to the action.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare.
- “Speak the speech … trippingly on the tongue.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare. ARTICULATION!
- “Make your deliverance smooth. You must acquire and beget a temperance which gives it smoothness.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare.
- “Don’t out Herod Herod.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare. Don’t overplay anything.
- When you get finished, quit.
- Organization of a speech is the most important factor in planning a speech.
- “Nothing comes from nothing.” –King Lear, Shakespeare. Choose a good topic.
- Research until you find something interesting.
- Information must be valid, pertinent, reliable, and current.
- Don’t change topics in the middle of your research.
- Audiences have no toleration for bragging. Don’t be the hero of your own story.
- Do not say, “thank you,” except when it is expected and when you can mean it!
- The show must go on. Nothing should stop you from delivering and/or completing your speech.
- Develop a style. It must include articulation, projection, and message.
- Don’t be afraid of emotion.
- A crowd is comprised of individuals. Initiate strong eye contact with the key individuals.
- Eye contact opens doors.
- Handle problems while you’re speaking as if they were planned and you enjoy them.
- Try not to laugh at your own jokes.
- Don’t major on the minors – get organized.
- Reading long passages from other people is dull. Don’t use (carry with you) any books other than the Bible.
- Spend a lot of time preparing beginnings and endings – make them effective, then stick to what you’ve planned.
- Enthusiasm must show.
- Learn or practice using ad-lib.
- Organization must be apparent. It necessitates an outline and the outline forces organization.
- Different types of organization:
- Sequential or chronological.
- Authoritative – scriptural.
- Quotes and references must be specific. Use quotes especially to goose ending.
- Use specific detail and exact numbers.
- Every audience is different.
- Every audience requires adaptation. Don’t try to adapt the audience to you, but adapt yourself to the audience.
- Performance enhances skills more than rehearsal. Practice in front of someone.
- Imitation is no substitute for motivation. Feel it. Never be content with imitations.
- Plan for overreaction of the audience.
- Anticipate every possible reaction from the audience.
- The audience is more important than the speaker – you must believe it!
The Gospel Coalition’s new book, “Gospel Centered Youth Ministry,” is a great resource for youth leaders and volunteers. Fourteen different authors each contributed to put together a book that sets out to address both the theological depth of the gospel and student ministry, as well as give practical ways to live that out. Where so many youth ministry resources tend to skew either only into the practical, or only into the theological, this is an exciting merging of the two.
The book is split into three sections; (1) Foundations for a Gospel Centered Youth Ministry, (2) Practical Applications for a Gospel Centered Youth Ministry, and (3) The Fruit of a Gospel Centered Youth Ministry. I appreciated the progression of the book; each of the authors were tasked with chapters that fell under those broad headings, building over the course of the book a great overview of a gospel centered youth ministry.
It is a strong work; the authors have done their research, cite their sources, and take an academic, yet very approachable methodology to their writing. They cover a wide range of topics, giving strong presentations on the underlying theology supporting their views before diving into the practicalities of living it out. Definitely a great resource for youth leaders; also a great training tool for student ministry teams and interns.
This is pretty incredible to me; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has created, through their students and staff, a complete six year discipleship curriculum for middle school and high school students that they are making available completely free to churches to download! It looks like a great resource, and definitely a gift to churches! You can learn about it and download it here. Here’s their description of it:
Southwestern Seminary desires to see teenagers who, for the glory of the Father and in the power of the Spirit, spend a lifetime embracing the full supremacy of the Son, responding to His kingly reign in all of life, inviting Christ to live His life through them, and joining Him in making disciples among all peoples.
To that end the seminary has presented a gift to the churches. That gift is a comprehensive, six-year curriculum to be used with those specific teenagers who want to be disciples of Jesus. The studies are grounded in Scripture and include the content areas of:
|Apologetics||Core Doctrines||Servant Leadership|
|Biblical Interpretation||Ethics||Spiritual Disciplines|
|Biblical Relationships||Evangelism and Missions||Worldview|
Teenagers share in the leadership of the sessions. They prepare to disciple believers now and for a lifetime, nearby and to the ends of the earth.
The Disciple6 curriculum is available as free PDF downloads and free smartphone/tablet downloads. Southwestern Seminary believes every teenager and every church deserves the best discipleship resources, regardless of economic situation.
Summit Student Ministry is NOW Brandywine Students! Yes, we are changing the name and logo, and with Pastor Nate’s current sermon series, it seemed like the perfect time to go live with it all! So, why the change? The short answer is, we want to send the message loud and clear that students are not the future of the church – they are part of the church NOW. Here’s how we live that out:
- KNOW: We want young people to have a lifelong commitment to God. This happens by knowing God, and being a part of the church body as a whole. Towards that end, one of the best things we think that can happen for a young person is to regularly be in the church worship service, listening to the sermon and worshiping with the whole church.
- GROW: There are age specific opportunities for young people to grow in the knowledge of God and faith in Him; our Sunday morning student hour and our Wednesday night small groups are a critical part in our church living this out with adolescents. This also includes our retreats and special events
- GO: We are all called to serve and share our faith! Our student mission trips are the most well known way that we pursue this at BVBC. We also do this through service projects and outreach events.
I’m excited about this change. I love the logo; Nick Taylor, one of our former students designed it – the symbolism behind the compass ties to Know/Grow/Go, it’s a compass for the spiritual discipleship path we have at our church. I like that our language aligns with the rest of the church. I love that the name is intuitive for visitors; they will know what it is without needing it explained. I love that with student ministry called Brandywine Students, and children’s ministry called Brandywine Kids, it paints a picture of ministry alignment and a unified church. I am excited for the ways we are brainstorming and looking to integrate students into the rest of the church body more and more – the more they’re plugged in and feel ownership, the more likely they will be to stay plugged in after they graduate!
I will have been in full time youth ministry for fifteen years this coming April. It’s gone by fast. When I arrived at my first church, Heather and I had just married half a year before and were a few months into her pregnancy with our first son. I was young, inexperienced, and in some ways over confident. Fifteen years later, I have two of my own children in the student ministry I lead. My perspective in many areas of ministry has grown and changed over the years.
One area that has always struck me is how my perspective on parents of adolescents has dramatically changed over the years. As a new youth pastor, I was often times frustrated by them. In many ways, I avoided having too much connection with them, and often times found myself questioning or wondering at their decisions regarding the youth ministry, reactions to my leadership, or how they responded to their children.
Then I had my own.
Fifteen years ago I had no idea how unnerving, confusing, overwhelming it is to parent teenagers. I am considered a professional youth worker. In youth ministry circles, I’m a veteran. I have read more books on adolescence than most people, I’ve gone to school for it, I’ve attended conferences, gotten further training, had countless hours of experience, walked with students and their families through just about every adolescent scenario you can imagine, I’ve written articles, spoken at training events, the list goes on. And apparently almost none of that translates to parenting my own teenagers!
Talking to countless teenagers about sex does not make it one bit easier to view my own children as sexual beings and have those conversations with them. Coaching parents on dealing with hormonal children and all of the associated mood swings does not somehow magically translate to me always being understanding with the adolescents I live with.
Last year, I actually punished one of my sons by not allowing them to go to a youth group fun event (that I was leading!). After more than a decade of being frustrated with parents for using youth group as a consequence, I did it.
Last week I had one of those moments where one of my children clearly thought I was clueless. That somehow in their handful of years of experience they had more knowledge and wisdom to bear on the topic than I could possibly have. And it hit me … perhaps the biggest reason I had a bad perception of parents fifteen years ago was that I was more friend to the students in my ministry than I was pastor. Yes, I discipled teens. I taught the scriptures. I led small groups, challenged them to go deeper, and saw tremendous fruit. But in many ways I tried to be cool, to build friendships, to identify with them. When I was a teen I thought my parents were idiots, completely clueless. It was not until my early twenties that I really started to change that opinion! My primary source of information about parents was from teenagers! Of course my opinion began to mirror theirs.
I am the parent I was so irritated with fifteen years ago. I will complain if someone springs an event on me with little notice, just as I used to do to parents. I am the youth pastor and I don’t treat youth group as the most important thing for my kids. Yes, they are involved – and love it – but it is one small piece in a much bigger picture that is their life. I don’t bother keeping up on current trends anymore; it’s too much work, and I’m never going to be ‘cool.’ I’m a forty year old man with kids. Cool went out the window a long time ago. Turns out teens aren’t as impressed with adults who know the latest bands, movies, and books as I thought they were fifteen years ago – but they are desperate for caring adults who will love them and see their potential. And as much as it may bother them in the moment, it is quietly reassuring to young people when the adults in their lives communicate with, and support, their parents. It brings stability. I think recognizing that paves the way to transition from being a friend to a pastor.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that 2015 was a year of reflecting and calming for me. Which is weird to say. The last several years have seen a lot of transition and challenges, both difficult and rewarding. My church spent the last few years transitioning from a senior pastor who first started there in 1975, I have been a full time student pursuing a Masters of Divinity, my own children have become adolescents – forever changing my perspectives on student ministry, I became an adult child of divorce after my parents separated, as well as other heartbreaks throughout the extended family. For the first time in years we have begun to feel like our son’s battle with localized scleroderma has become manageable. Heather and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. I turned 40.
I’m still recovering from that last one.
In some ways it has been a wild few years. It’s not so much that the last year has seen those things lessening; there is still a lot of transition surrounding me. But my focus has settled and broadened, if that makes sense. There is a different level of peacefulness throughout, which is probably weird to say considering my house is full of LOUD boys. It has been amazing to see God working through the circumstances. My sons continue to grow into young men that I am proud of. Heather and I still are building and collecting memories – fifteen years already?!?
Even the transitions in church have given new perspectives; during the six months between senior pastors, I was pulled away from the student ministry a lot. Thankfully, our church has an amazing team of youth staff and volunteers that really stepped up to enable me to be able to help in other areas of the church. The biggest unexpected fruit for me, however, was that in being pulled back a bit for a season meant that I gained some different perspectives on our student ministry as a whole – I’m excited about some of the behind the scenes conversations I’ve been having with our new senior pastor and youth ministry staff about how we can really take our program to another level, both in developing disciples and seeing the students integrated even more so in our church as a whole.
All that to say, this post is a couple weeks overdue, but I’m excited about 2016. I’m excited to see how things continue to grow in develop personally, in my family, and in the ministry.
Last weekend we had an amazing concert night with the Small Town America Tour. It was also our first foray into pyrotechnics in the sanctuary …
The concert itself was a blast. Openers Scarlet White and Shonlock were both amazing, with Shonlock really winning over the teens – they’ve been begging me every time they see me to bring him back for another show where he can have more time and really go to town! Seventh Day Slumber is definitely a rock band. They came out hard and it was amazing. I have to admit, the flame throwers were really, really cool. The lead singer also gave a powerful message that saw a number of kids raise their hands to commit, or recommit, their lives to God which was an incredible thing to witness. Fireflight finished out the night strong, belting out songs from their new album as well as older favorites.
I have to admit, our attendance was not where I was hoping. Usually the bulk of the online ticket sales happen in the days before the show … which this time around was when all the weather reports were saying a hurricane was going to blow through Wilmington the same time as our concert was. Instead of fielding calls about the show, I was answering the question over and over as to whether or not we were going to cancel. The storm never actually hit, but it did damage none-the-less! The bands told me that was the challenge they were running into all that weekend. Even so, they rocked the room like it was packed – I’d definitely recommend ANY of the acts to anyone looking to work with great bands and host an awesome concert!
I look forward to the blob all year long. Because I make teens fly.
Anyway, here’s the music video/highlights video from our 2015 Student Ministry Retreat! It was a blast!