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strategy-for-communication

5 Steps to Avoiding Communication Meltdowns in Youth Ministry

Our ministry once hosted a “Battle of the Bands” fundraiser that required a lot of work. Our team had to audition bands, price out food, order speakers and recruit volunteers. We put so much work into this event; however, we forgot one key component: to invite people.

We had sent out an email and made a few flyers; however, that was it. What was the response?  Embarrassing. While a few people showed up, they were mostly friends and families of the bands. It was a disaster.

Developing a communication strategy is a must in youth ministry, and while it doesn’t seem like the most attractive responsibility, without it you can’t expect your ministry to grow. Developing a strategy for how you communicate means being intentional about what you say, how you say it and to whom. That means you should do the following: read more

Tony-Morgan

The Magic Question: ‘What Do You Think?’

Yes, someone needs to eventually make a decision. But if you want to fully engage the people on your team, you have to routinely ask the magic question: “What do you think?”

People want to contribute to the conversation. They want to be part of the big decisions. Don’t worry if you don’t take their advice every time. That’s not their expectation either. They just want to know their voice has been heard.

People Are Different

There are certainly some folks who appreciate a more directive style of leadership, who say, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll go get it done.” Those people will value your decisiveness. read more

George-O-Wood-AG

George O. Wood: God-Powered Finances

During my first six months at Newport-Mesa as pastor, the church emptied out. You could have fired a shotgun in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and not hit anybody. Even the church finances began drying up. I had been faithful to build on the strengths God had given me, but I was a total failure.

That’s when I came face to face with another principle of godly leadership. It’s not enough to build on your own strengths, because they’re not enough to build God’s kingdom.

As a pastor, I’ve always found it difficult to talk about money, but I decided to bring the problem to the board. I asked the seven deacons to begin meeting me every Saturday at 6 a.m. for breakfast at a restaurant where we could have a private table. We would do three things: eat breakfast, pray and decide what bills to pay during the upcoming week. read more

couchwithdemons

Symptoms of Demonic Operation

The subject of mental illness is very controversial in Christian circles. Inside the extreme schools of thought, we find balance and a scriptural viewpoint.

First, let me say clearly: All mental illness is not the result of demonic attack. Further, good psychological care from Christian professionals is vital and in order when an individual is struggling.

Also, professionally administered medication may be necessary when chemical imbalances occur. But when normal medicine and therapy do not result in a cure, then it is possible that these symptoms could point to demonic operation. read more

On-the-internet

How to Get Your Blog Unstuck

During my coaching networks and ministry health assessments, I frequently spend time checking out church websites. While evaluating the sites, I’ve noticed many pastors and ministry leaders are writing blogs.

Honestly, some of the blogs seem stuck.

I’ve noticed many people start out strong, with a desire to inform, inspire and interact with their church and the people they're trying to reach. But the blog eventually becomes outdated, boring and non-applicable to people’s lives. read more

Gina-McClain

Confessions of a Leader: Words Hurt

Many of us grew up with the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

I used to believe the person that coined the phrase was an idiot.

Words can hurt—sometimes worse than broken bones.

But the longer I lead in ministry, the more I realize there is truth to this well-known phrase. read more

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How Relationships Can Transform Your Pastoral Staff

“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”

I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years.

Sometimes the former youth pastor takes a promotion and ends up a worship pastor or the director of a regional campus. Maybe they were a key volunteer holding together the ministry during transition until you stepped into the role.

In larger churches, he or she might have been promoted to the student ministries pastor and you take over a junior high or high school ministry. In any case, contending with the former head of a youth ministry you are now charged to lead can be unsettling, challenging or even painful. read more

Steve-Murrell-Headshot small

Are You Working Hard or Chasing Fantasies?

When it comes to work ethic, I was raised in the old-school by a West Texas dad who felt it was his parental duty to teach the next generation the value of minimum wage, back-breaking, manual labor.

The first job he arranged for me was digging ditches. That’s right, my dad secured my brother and I summer jobs as ditch-diggers, installing underground telephone cables ten hours a day in the 100-degree Mississippi heat for $1.65 an hour.

Since I complained so much about the heat, the next summer he got me an indoor job. So I spent that summer inside an UN-air conditioned warehouse loading 50-pound fertilizer bags onto pallets. During our breaks we would go outside to cool off. The inside of that warehouse was hotter than outside. read more

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Do You Unknowingly Exalt Men Above God?

Anytime we exalt the men of God above the God of men, the church has been charmed. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly believe in honoring deserving men and women of God. This is right and well pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Paul instructs us in the Book of Romans to give honor where honor is due. Quite honestly, honor is a rare commodity in many Christian circles nowadays. We would do well if we practiced giving honor to those who merit it more. But trouble is on the horizon when we exalt our leaders as if they are Gods and give glory to them that is due the Lord. Men can and should be honored, but they must never be worshipped. read more

Crumpled-20-bill

Make Challenging Economic Times an Ally of Your Vision

A friend of mine just lost his job. He’s in his 50s with two kids in college, and he’s worried. Another friend just laid off a large number of employees. And a surprising number of recent college graduates that I know are not landing jobs.

That’s a negative headline—but it’s a true headline. There are some job openings, people are getting hired, and there is hope! But we must admit it’s tough out there right now.

I talk with pastors around the country every week and “church finance” is all over the place. Some churches are doing well financially, and many are not. Few are just holding steady, it’s more like holding on. read more

Family-priorities-pastor

5 Keys to Surviving Life in Ministry

We have all heard it said that our priorities should be:

1. God

2. Family

3. Work

But what if your work is ministry? You are working for God—does that make a difference? In your list of priorities, does ministry equal God—and therefore trump family? Amazingly, many people think so.

A Sad Beginning

I remember a concerned young lady coming to me after class while I was teaching at a Bible school. Her fiancé, John*, was one of the more “on fire” students. Everyone loved him. He had a big heart and was a fearless evangelist. read more

Gina-McClain

Do You See the Best in Your Congregation?

As a leader, have you ever stopped to think about what you believe about those that you lead?

What you believe about their intentions, their dreams, and their desires”

Deep down, what you believe about them influences how you approach them. It impacts how you lead them.

If you’re in a leadership role, it means God has positioned you to take part in the refining work He is doing in those you lead. That means He intends to use you to teach, to guide, to shepherd.

Sometimes that teaching or guidance is easy. It’s not difficult to address and is readily received by the recipient. read more

Youth-ministry

One Conversation Could Change a Student’s Life

I am in youth ministry because of one conversation.

OK, that isn’t entirely true—I’m in youth ministry because of a myriad of things: being raised well by godly parents; shaping moments throughout my childhood by amazing Christian men and women; seeing the need for leadership and love in the life of a teenager; and my own specific passion and shape.

But I do remember one specific conversation with a guy named Jerry. Jerry was the dean of men at the Bible college I went to, and one of two very influential men at that school for me (the other being the football coach and Bible teacher, Terry). read more

Giving-money-receive

Giving to Receive Defeats the Purpose of the Passion

Overhearing other people’s conversations can be dangerous! I stood in our church office and overheard someone talking about our benevolence giving.

“But is it reaping a return? Do any of these people ever come back and be part of the church?”

That short moment of eavesdropping changed how I view life and church. Do you give in order to receive?

We are all guilty of it. We work hard all week, but if all we get are negative reviews, we feel cheated and let down; or we stay with a family because it is our job, and hope that when this crisis is over they will become stalwart members of the congregation. We give to a woman in need and then feel let down when she doesn’t bring her kids on Sunday. read more

D-MinLife-Stewardship

Strong Stewardship Eliminates Excess, Motivates Generosity

It was a frank conversation about money with other leaders at our church. We tackled what most of middle-class America considers a taboo subject and faced some hard truths. As a result, I was awakened to my habits and how they influenced the financial situation of our closest friends.

For example, in our community of friends, eating out had become our cultural gathering point—church and then lunch. It had become our Sunday ritual. We love to eat together. Unfortunately, this ritual was causing friends to increase their personal indebtedness to credit card companies.

How did we get to this point in our habits? read more

D-MinLife-ChildrensMin

5 Ways to Create a Secure Children's Ministry Environment

With the spate of national tragedies in the last few months, all parents are asking, “Is this a safe place for our kids?” That includes churches. As children’s ministry leaders, we’re charged to take our role as both physical and spiritual guardians very seriously, and we should do everything we reasonably can to make our ministry environments a safe place for kids to be. It’s too important to “wing it” or think that the chances of something happening are slim.

Ask yourself and your team: Where are the weak spots in our ministry? Where are the places that need to be shored up to keep kids, families and volunteers secure and safe? read more

teens-workers-ministry

Empowering Student Volunteers for Effective Ministry

I was watching my friend Parker the other night. He is an incredible student leader and a talented young man.

He was working lights at our Saturday night service during our "You Own the Weekend" series. He was killing it, super passionate, incredibly creative—even his parents came to see his work!

I looked around the room and was so happy—adults were around talking to students and generally keeping order—but in most cases, students were serving in a ton of areas.

Got me thinking—when did this happen? I can think of a time not too long ago when we didn’t have students serving in any significant way. When did students really start serving at our services like this? When did Parker move from attendee to ingenious lighting guy extraordinaire? read more

Spiritual-compass-Martinez

Check Your Ministry Team’s Spiritual Compass

When I was learning to drive, I lived in the country. Roads were narrow, one lane in each direction.

One of the first things you learn when driving in tight quarters is to keep your eye on the right edge of the road. The problem is that you tend to steer where you are looking. If your eyes are on the headlights coming at you, chances are high that you will steer your car right into the oncoming traffic.

What does this have to do with church leadership? What your leadership team focuses on and where you spend your energy will impact your entire congregation. read more

Praying-man-standing-small

Dan Reiland: Are You Believing God for Miracles?

Every summer my family and I read a book together. We’ve been doing this through the kids' teen years, and now even in their college years. Last summer we read Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. What a great book on prayer!

Our summer book discussions are a simple but meaningful experience for us. We eat dinner together, then discuss a chapter or two of the book. That’s it! But what a cool time! I’m always amazed at the insights, comments and questions that come from our conversations.

This article isn’t about Mark’s book, it’s about prayer, but I want to say what makes this book different to me. There are so many good books on prayer, and in the end, they all say the same thing. Pray. And that’s good. But this book seems to inspire people to pray, and there is no price tag you can put on that. When the Holy Spirit is at work, He is at work! read more

Gina-McClain

Student Volunteers Make Awesome Workers

We’ve got some incredible student volunteers in our ministry. Students as young as sixth grade, all the way up to seniors in high school, are critical members of our kids' ministry team. We wouldn’t be as strong without them.

And when I have an audience with my student volunteers, there are three things I want them to remember:

1. Be present. I mean, really be present with the kids. Get eye level with them, smile and let them know that you want to hear all that they have to say. Play with them, ask about their dog and tell them about yours. There is a big difference between you and me. I remind these kids of their mom. You are like the big brother/sister who actually plays with them. This is your chance to be someone’s hero. So have some fun. read more

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