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As a youth leader, have you ever thought when counseling someone, "If you only knew"? If you only knew that I too wrestle with doubts, insecurities, and mind games. If you only knew that I too struggle with unconquered sin patterns. If you only knew... The reality is that I do know. I know not only because you told me, but also from having faced my own "If you only knew..." challenges.
My heart's desire is that you suffer in silence no longer. Hopefully, this Youth Leader's Coach, "7 Things Youth Pastors Tell Me In Secret," will reach inside that secret place in your heart and provide you with large doses of encouragement, along with valuable wisdom and hope.
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Philippians 2:12 reminds us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Often good people (in and out of the ministry) will confess to me their frustration with their own lack of spiritual growth and intimacy. While the principles of maintaining a relationship with Christ are the same for all of us (prayer and Scripture reading), I often suggest to those frustrated Christians that they might need to find their own "spiritual pathway."
This simple principle has been revolutionary in my own relationship with Jesus! Just as we are all wired differently, our spiritual walks, because of our personalities and temperaments, are going to be different. So, take this next hour with me and I pray that you'll discover how to better "work out your own salvation."
Loving and with a "Big Heart,"
One of the books, next to the Bible, that I read, re-read and has had a huge impact on my life is the short epic book by Gene Edwards called, A Tale of Three Kings. It's the story of how we all, as humans (and leaders) grasp for power, control and the "Kingship" in different ways in our lives.
We all know the story of King Saul in 1 Samuel, who defended his kingdom by throwing spears. Don't we all want to throw spears sometimes? When someone says or does something that hurts us, our human nature is to hurt them back. Young David had to wrestle with the question, "What do you do when someone throws spears at you?" and so do we all.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, I unpack that as we all privately answer this important question... "Am I a king after the ‘Order of Saul' or after the ‘Order of David'? There is an eternity of difference, you know.
Richard Crisco is the Senior Pastor of Rochester First Church and was the former Youth Pastor during the Brownsville Revival. In this Super Session, Pastor Richard states that "The problem with the American Christian today is that we are more American than we are Christian and one of the important values in the Body of Christ we have lost is learning how to honor." In his message, he teaches the importance of honoring our leaders, our students and each other along with ways we can show that honor.
With our iPhones, iPads and iPods, we live in a pretty "I" centered world. But, have you ever noticed that there is an "I" in the center of "SIN" and "PRIDE" too? And, that "I" is always faithful to get us into trouble. It is so counter-productive and destructive when it comes to authentically building the Kingdom of God for Jesus Christ.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, allow me to coach from my own humanness and call out to you from my quiet times in 1 Samuel. In doing so, let me help you avoid some of the same costly mistakes, speed bumps and sin "I" have encountered along the way. Prayerfully, my vulnerability will enable you to catch small compromises long before they become "Deadly Detours In Youth Ministry."
Cheering you on,
Some of us haven't seen the 1997 American action film that I took this name from, but I think in Christianity, many of us play "Face/Off" on a pretty regular basis. It's especially easy for our students to KEEP CHANGING FACES on who they are in their everyday life. I'm not talking about being "full blown fake" or hypocritical. They just slowly give themselves permission to be one person in front of some people and another person in front of others. In all honesty, sometimes we can all be a little "spiritually schizo."
In this month's Source, "Face/Off," I'm sharing with our gang some of the symptoms and causes of becoming a "Face/Off" person. You'll hear me come back again to one of the most pivotal aspects of shaping our students' Christian walk...friendships. So listen in and share it with your own youth gang. I promise it will be an incredible night for you!
God wants to make us more like Him, but we just want to be liked. Listen to Christine Caine as she challenges us to get our eyes off the "next thing" on our to-do list and look for the "new thing" that God is wanting to do in our lives."
I don't think there is anybody in youth ministry, or a Christian for that matter, that starts out wanting to be a person of mere image. None of us start out that way. Sadly, the reality is that after over 40 years of youth ministry, I can think of name after name that somehow along the line became more of an image manager than someone who pursued an authentic lifestyle.
We all deal with this battle everyday. We are faced with little choices that challenge our character and question our authenticity. It is so easy to focus on our "public self" before we deal with private self issues. Listen in as we evaluate Image Management vs Authentic Living.
Still committed to being authentic,
"Lie To Me" is one of the most intriguing TV series ever written. Have you seen it? It's built around Paul Ekman, a world renowned face reading expert, who analyzes micro-expressions to reveal the truth. Not unlike reality, the premise of the show is that truth is most accurately revealed from the inside out. Though the God we serve doesn't read our face, He does read our heart and wants us to examine it as well.
While one of the most powerful truths we can ever know is the internal truth about ourselves, even David, the man after God's own heart, knew how easy it was to lie to ourselves. In Psalm 139:23-24, he asks "Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my ways. See if there is any wickedness left inside me." That's one dangerous prayer! But he was painfully aware that if we fail to face our "true" selves internally, we risk spiritual devastation that is sure to be evidenced externally whenever life gives us a "bump."
So in this Source, we challenge students to spend time discovering the spiritual truth of who they really are. In particular, to honestly answer the question, "Am I becoming more and more like Jesus?" The heart of the Father says to all of us "Don't lie to Me" but perhaps, as important, "Don't lie to yourself." When we understand who we "truly" are, it enables us to "truly" change!
When people have asked me over the years what the number ONE enemy of my ministry run has been, I have one consistent answer: "My own MIND GAMES!" Statistics tell us that we speak at a rate of 200 words per minute, but think at approximately 1,300 words a minute. That's a lot of "self-talk" going on in my own head. More often than not, the ME inside of my own mind is pretty full of mental battles that could kick me to the curb if I allow them. However, if I choose to take control of my own head, with the help of Christ and His Word, I really can grow past these emotional traps.
That's why this ALLIANCE is a really important one. Ministry for a lot of us can be pretty lonely as we try to navigate through the warzones in our own heads. Our prayer for this Alliance is that it is a safe place for youth pastors and youth leaders to share candidly with each other on this life-impacting topic. In a world of surface level relationships in ministry, please make this ALLIANCE a place of authentic friendship and healing honesty.
Nothing can destroy your destiny like comparison. Comparison will consistently cloud the clarity of God's call on your life. Learn secrets to staying in your lane and discovering the unique calling God has for your life.
Ever wondered what your reflection would look like if Jesus took a big mirror and held it in front of you? Sounds kind of scary, huh? We're taking a peek into our past and a good hard look at our present and future. We want to celebrate past victories, reflect on where the Lord has taken us and remind ourselves of what God sees when He looks at our reflection.
Pain is a harsh reality and one that we are all too familiar with. We want to discuss how to keep pain from ruining your present and your future and how to use it to further your ministry. Your student's pain may stem from unfair and uncontrollable circumstances, but their attitude towards their situations will determine their future. Let these skits, notes and your own personal reflections be a guide to their healing and to help them see that their reflection is beautiful.
Always reflecting in His mirror,
True life change is rare in our society where dysfunction is often celebrated and the endless cycle of rehab and relapse seem to be the norm. Even among Christ-followers, many strive to become more like Christ, but at best, change for only a short time. Our society tries to cover up the pain and the mistakes. We try to dress up our wounds, but hiding the problems doesn't fix anything. YOU need REHAB. We have lost something. Something incredibly important. WE have lost our identity. REHAB is about discovering the real you. The YOU that you were created to become.In this Super Session, pastor and author, Josh Mayo, addresses the key problem facing so many of our students and ministries, and how to bring effective, long-term discipleship back into focus for lasting life change.
In this session, Richard Crisco, the Senior Pastor of Rochester First Church and the former Youth Pastor during the Brownsville Revival, challenges us to have a Spirit Led Youth Ministry. It doesn't matter how good of a preacher you are, you're not going to change one kid's life with your messages. It was an encounter with God that changed your life, not a good message, song, or drama and if we offer anything less to our teenagers, we are cheating them. The only thing that distinguishes ministry from the club down the street, is the Presence of God and if He doesn't show up, we've wasted our time.
In this Source we hope to provide you and your students with a diagnosis and cure for what we're calling "Spiritual Schizophrenia." Have you ever suffered from it? I know I have. I know Peter and Judas did as well.
"Spiritual Schizophrenia" is an illness where you struggle making your "spiritual world" match your "everyday world." While the Enemy would love for you to think it's a fatal disease, it's not. There is hope. The game is not over. Together, let's uncover the symptoms, causes and cure for this dreaded disease.
So grab a cup of coffee and a tissue. In this Source not only will you laugh a little, but you might cry a little as well. If I haven't said it in awhile, thanks for letting me be a part of your life my friend.
In our modern church culture, we've forgotten our true focus, and we see emerging "Superstars." According to Jeanne, "We've become political...biased and opinionated...self-serving...and highly competitive." Does that sound like any church leaders you know? Maybe...you? Listen to Jeanne's heart as she passionately challenges the "Superstar" in you to "Come Down!" and revive the parts of you that may have died spiritually.
For the final evening, I wanted to take you on an imaginary trip. But though our trip is imaginary, I want to help you envision something that's REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. A place that the Word of God tells us most all of us will personally experience.
This place I'm taking us in our imagination tonight…it's the place the Holy Spirit often brings to MY mind when I get tired, when I find myself fighting discouragement or when I need to remind myself of the WORTH of this spiritual journey I've enlisted myself in. It's also where I go in my head when I see other Christians who seem pretty disengaged...sometimes even pretty flakey. I mean, lots of great folks don't seem to play by some of the same spiritual ballgame rules Jesus seems to ask of me.
At moments like that, Jesus reminds me of this place. No, it's not the Great White Throne of Judgment. Instead, the place I want to take you in this NYLC15 resource is THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. It's the SECOND eternal judgment in Heaven...the one only CHRISTIANS will take part in. But I rarely hear anyone talk about it. So let's make a run at it, our final night at NYLC 2015...an imaginary glimpse at YOUR coming moment before The Judgment Seat of Christ. WELCOME, MY FRIENDS, TO YOUR "FINAL ANTHEM."
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"These are they who have turned the world upside down!" Acts 17:6. The early Christians weren't always "NICE"...they were RIGHTEOUS! They weren't always POLITICALLY CORRECT...they were often RADICAL! God is still looking today for RADICAL, RIGHTEOUS REVOLUTIONARIES...to reach out to a generation of RADICAL, UNRIGHTEOUS REVOLUTIONARIES!
In this month's Source, "The Reckless Ones," I'm sharing from the book of Acts what it truly means to be God's kind of reckless. In this resource, I give four principles to become the kind of person who "turns the world upside down" in God's kind of way. It's a great topic to help your students go to the next level in their personal relationships and heart after God.
In this Source you will hear me address my youth in Oxygen with a totally different feel than what you have normally come to expect. So often we focus on the encouragement and love of Christ, which is key and very needed. But there are those nights when we call our students to a deeper level of commitment, Christian or not. This was one of those nights and it was a powerful night of self-evaluation for us all.
The focus is taken from the story of Belshazzar and the word of the Lord that came to him, "You have been weighed and found wanting." Wow, what powerful words right before his life was required of him! Join us on this night called "Weighed And Wanting" and then challenge your students to not be found wanting.
Seeking to finish strong,
Note: Because of the dramatic tone of this message, Fill-Ins were not used and are not included with this Source.
Today's youth culture often lives by the mantra, "If it feels good, do it!" But we all know that being led by our feelings is a ticket to spiritual disaster. That's why this Source is so strategic. I've entitled it, "When The Goosebumps Fade." The focus is trying to help the students in our youth church to walk consistently with the Lord, no matter what they might or might not be feeling.
You'll also appreciate one of the key stories I've included, "Three Praying Men." It's been huge in my own personal life as I've tried to pursue the Lord with consistency, no matter how I felt. And just in case no one has told you lately, you really are making a difference in the lives of your teenagers...no matter how YOU might feel.
Loving you whether you're FEELING IT or not,