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When I was training in college to enter youth ministry, I often mentally moaned about the lack of "real world courses" that would prepare me for my ministry journey. Now, more than four decades along, I stand by those early thoughts. One course I wish they taught in college was "Conflict Resolution 101." After all, it's everywhere! Whether it's a parent who is furious because you're not treating their child "fairly" or a church member who thinks the music in the youth service is "of the devil," conflicts are a natural part of ministry.
The truth of the matter is where there are people, there is conflict. Yet, it's important for all of us as leaders to be able to deal with conflict in the right way. If we don't, unresolved conflict, in any arena, can "eat away" at even the strongest of us.
That is why we're sharing "10 Principles For Handling Youth Ministry Conflict" in this Alliance. In the video you'll hear ten practical and healthy ways to handle the very thing we often want to shy away from -- conflict. Unresolved conflict with pastors, leaders, parents, and students is easily one of the top things that take people out of ministry. Sad but true. However, if unresolved conflict can take people out, that means restored peace can help keep people IN the ministry for the long haul! That's sure our heart!
We think that this quarter's topic could be a game-changer for your ALLIANCE group. I think all of us enter youth ministry with high expectations and some UNREALISTIC ones. It's easy to become disillusioned when youth ministry doesn't work out the way we envisioned it. I created this coaching session from many of my talks with ALL OF YOU. The points I share are some of the repeating themes youth pastors and leaders tell me confidentially when they feel SAFE ENOUGH to open up their honest hearts. That's why we call this Alliance, "7 Things Youth Pastors Tell Me In Private."So, as you discuss with your gang some of the things that they may quietly wrestle with, may you hear each other all the way. It's not nearly as challenging when you know others deal with some of the same thoughts. Know, too, that we're all cheering you on from Atlanta.
This Youth Leader's Coach, "A Youth Leader's Guide To Clean Fights," focuses on how to handle the normal conflict situations that inevitably arise in youth ministry. I suggest six principles to help you get angry without becoming destructive. These principles will be effective with your students, your senior pastor, your leadership team, your deacon board and even your family. As a matter of fact, these principles work when I deal with anger directed towards my most common challenge-myself.
So it really is possible, even in youth ministry, to "fight clean." It's not only possible, it's essential for solid youth ministry and lasting relationships. Happy Listening.
Living out Ephesians 4:26,
Ever been discouraged because the teenagers in your youth ministry kept falling back into some of the same temptation areas? I know I sure have been. That's why I shared "Avoiding The Black Hole" with the teenagers in Oxygen.
Join with us as I attempt to drive home the point that "sin has energy." I wanted desperately for my gang to realize that biblically, we handle temptation and evil differently. It also gave me a great excuse to show clips from some old Sci-Fi movies. There's an old expression, "It's better to build a fence at the top of the mountain than to drive an ambulance at the bottom." In short, this Source is focused on "building the fence."
When it comes to conflict are you a "Hider," "Hurter," or "Healer"? As you might guess, to be a "Healer" is the desired answer, but not always the easiest to pull off. Using Matthew, Ephesians and Galatians as our text, in this Youth Leader's Coach we learn how to speak the truth in love and gently guide those we love back onto the right path.
While no one in their right mind enjoys confrontation, if we are going to make a difference for Jesus Christ, learning how to do this well is crucial. "Caring Enough To Confront" is an essential part of helping move people toward maturity in Christ. So, grab a cup of coffee and learn from my recent struggles and victories as we navigate this challenging world...together!
I was prepared for SPIRITUAL WARFARE when I entered ministry. But the unexpected punches emotionally came from the CRITICISM that became an almost "daily norm" for me especially from other Christian people. Criticism reminds me of the phrase "Death by 1,000 cuts," referencing slow slicing, a form of torture and capital punishment practiced in Imperial China. And as repeated small criticisms come, we find ourselves slowly dying on the inside.
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "Criticism: It's Not For The Weak," I'm navigating how to deal with criticism. Elbert Hubbard once saying, "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing." Isn't that true? As a leader, criticism comes with the territory. So, listen in as I share some of the lessons I've learned through the years while navigating the "world of criticism."
A divided house will not stand, nor will a divided youth group. In this Youth Leader's Coach - "Dealing with Youth Ministry's #1 Enemy" - we reveal and address two of the most detrimental forces in youth ministries across the nation.
Listen in as we give some pointers on how to take aim and eliminate these deadly forces. Restoring health by confronting these issues head on is our goal during our time together this month.
In the trenches with you,
Even though statistics show that depression is a huge issue in today's youth culture, I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone talk about it in the church world. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in our country and the third leading cause of death among teenagers. In fact, 20% of our kids will experience some level of serious depression before they reach adulthood. Those statistics are alarming to say the least...too alarming not to address the topic in our youth services.
This message, "The Dungeon of Depression," is part of our "Dirty Little Secrets Series" covering topics the church world often find difficult to address. It's jam packed with statistics, solutions, stories and skits that will help illustrate the message for your students in a very real way. So, lean in and listen deeply as I touch on a subject that hits closer to home for more of the teenagers and young adults in your youth ministry than you probably realize.
In the trenches with you,
"Effective discipline in youth ministry, that's a tough one to figure out. Lots of times we swing the pendulum from one side to the other, we either have very little discipline and the kids run over us if we have more than 20 students involved, or we go to the other side of the fence and we're very militaristic.
In over 35 years of youth ministry, I've seen it all. In this Youth Leader's Coach, "Effective Discipline In Your Youth Ministry," listen as I walk you through in some ways that I have used successfully to not just discipline my kids, but used them as opportunities to disciple them, bring them closer to Jesus Christ and start them on a lifetime of success.
Deep hurt in life is often hard to talk about. How do we relate to someone that we have no idea how they feel, even remotely? And we also, sometimes think no one will ever understand our levels of pain and heartache in life. We all know that pain makes us stronger...and that's great...but that doesn't always make it ok. Things like rape, divorce, accidents, sickness and death can leave us wondering, "Where were You, God?" If that question hasn't ever gone through your own head, I can guarantee it's gone through some of your students'. And, if we don't give them a safe place to process and disarm those thoughts, they can prove to be spiritually lethal. In fact, they are probably the reason for some of the empty chairs in our youth ministries today.
In this Source, I talk about how Jesus was the ultimate victim when He died for our sins. He was mistreated and abused, just as many of us were in our lives. So what do we do with that? Helping students to understand our God hurts when we hurt, He cries when we cry and is painfully aware of all that we are going through...well, that can help.
Bottom line, my heart's desire is for our students not to have an "If only things had been different" mindset, but choose instead to live "Even if..." lives. Even if I don't understand, the Christ inside of me is big enough to see me through. Even if I don't get it, I will follow Him.
Serving a God who collects my tears,
Ever taught the students in your youth ministry how to deal with failure? That's what this Source, "Failure 101," is all about. The Apostle Peter becomes our main man and some valuable insights emerge. He reminds us that the 2nd most important decision in life is the one you make right after you fail.
You'll also enjoy the interaction and depth that a few blank index cards can bring to an evening's youth service. It's really a pretty amazing experience. So whether you are listening to this Source in a car, an office, or your home, encourage yourself with the Lord's reminder to all of us in Psalms: "The goodness and mercy of the Lord endures FOREVER."
Personally grateful for Grace,
At today's high school and middle schools, I don't think we have a bullying problem, but a respect problem. Students already know that bullying is wrong. What will be the game-changer for them is to help them mentally focus on learning to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes." Why? Because when I take a minute to "walk in your shoes," my attitude towards you totally changes.
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "God's Answer to Bullying: Change Your Shoes," I'm walking through how we can help our students really "Love their neighbor the same way they love themselves." There isn't anything much more powerful that teaching your students to take the time to know the STORIES of those that surround them.
"Cow Manure!" Very odd message title, don't you think? But, dealing with repeated sin patterns in our lives feels a little like cow manure. The question is, "How do you get to the point of refusing to 'step into it' again?" Strangely enough, the answer lies in the word "hate."
In Proverbs 8:13 it says, "The fear of the Lord is to HATE evil." When we truly hate something, the temptation pull is not nearly so strong. In fact, unless we are forced to, we are not likely to do anything we hate to do. So, if we can begin to have God's heart and attitude toward our sin, we can progressively walk in new levels of freedom.
How do you gain God's heart and grow to "hate" evil? Great question! Grab a cup of coffee and listen in. As always, thanks for allowing me to be a part of your life.
The unique and popular A&E TV show, "Hoarders," tells the stories of individuals struggling with the mental disorder of being unable to throw things away. In this Source, we peer into the lives of Jill and Patty, two obsessive-compulsive hoarders. "Junk" has taken over their lives to the point that everything is on the line...their homes, marriages and, in Patty's case, even the custody of her children. Sound irrational? Absolutely, but we have more in common with them than you might think!
Using their stories and the story of Achan, parallels are drawn to the hoarding that goes on in our own lives...the junk we simply can't let go of that's not good for us and, in many cases, is destroying us. That junk comes in the form of unhealthy friendships, attitudes, fears, hurts, insecurities and the list goes on. Achan never fully got rid of his junk, neither did Patty, and it cost them everything. Hopefully and prayerfully, our attempt to come face-to-face with ours will set us free.
Getting rid of the clutter,
Perhaps you, like Samson, have found yourself in an extremely "tight place" with no way out. You know what it feels like to have a vexation of the soul. We try to pretend that "it doesn't matter." But it does. We're hurting, and no matter how hard we try, no matter how many hours we read the Bible, pray, surround ourselves with significant others, we can't seem to escape. Been there? Take heart and find encouragement as Pastor Judah gives hope to those suffering from a "vexation of the soul."
Most of the time when you make mistakes, you don't want to broadcast them for the world to hear. Instead, you'd rather sweep them under the carpet and pretend they never happened. The only problem is that what entangled you is often entangling others and they don't even realize it.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, you'll hear me share my ten biggest mistakes in youth ministry. While there are a few I'm still fighting to conquer on a daily basis, I've made headway on many. Why do I air them out loud? Simply because my desire to be an authentic coach in your life is greater than my desire to save face. Perhaps by recognizing that you too are struggling in some of the same areas, you'll disarm them and overcome their crippling effect long before I did.
In the trenches with you,
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When it comes to adversity, it's not a matter of "if," but "when" it will appear in our lives. Many of us know what it's like to have been hurt deeply by people we love, faced a hardship that seemed impossible to conquer, or perhaps had a tragedy happen to someone close to us. All of us have or will face adversity. The defining question is though, how will you respond in those crisis moments? How will you keep the times of adversity from paralyzing you from life and allow them to make you stronger instead?
In this Youth Leader's Coach I call, "Resilience: Surviving The Shark Attacks," I look at seven resilience tips for moving on after a trauma, from Laurence Gonzales' book, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience. While I hope you will never experience any traumas as severe as the ones Gonzales outlines in his book, my simple prayer is that when times of adversity do come your way, this Youth Leader's Coach will help to prepare you to come through them victoriously resilient.
In Your Corner,
Is there some tension among your team members? You will get some great advice in this Breakout Session, "Stop the Feuding: Creating A Healthy Environment Among Your Team," from Darren Hileman, Director of South Carolina Master's Commission. Darren shares systems that have been proven to work, along with some great one-liners to help you build unity within your team.
Conflict in youth ministry is always present. As Charlie Brown once said, "I love mankind, it’s just people that I can’t stand." The truth is...where there are people, there's conflict. According to a Stanford University study, the success of an individual in corporate America depends only on 15% product knowledge, but 85% people knowledge. I think the same thing applies in youth ministry.
My life in youth ministry over the decades has had all sorts of opportunities to handle conflict. This is such a critical skill to have in ministry! I pray that you'll apply these ten principles to the conflict you are bound to encounter in your own ministry.
Your "long-distance" cheerleader,
It is hard to believe that over thirty years of youth ministry have already passed. What a journey it has been! I often say, "The years will teach you what the days never know."
This series, "The Decades Speak," is a compilation of thirty of the most significant and impacting principles I have learned along the way. It's a wealth of insights and lessons learned through the hard knocks of youth ministry over the years. Let this resource be encouragement and strength for both your own heart and for your ministry.
Lovingly on Your Side,
This is Part 2 of 8, covering Lessons #6-10
Lesson #6 - Spirits reproduce spirits...you teach what you know but reproduce who you are.
Lesson #7 - If you haven't been taken for granted, taken advantage of, or stood up recently, you aren't in real youth ministry...understanding that it's part of the journey.
Lesson #8 - The Enemy reserves the right to cash in on your personal sin the season in your life that he deems it to be the most opportune for his purposes.
Lesson #9 - Take some decent vitamins and keep all 5 ministry tanks full...staying in it for the long haul.
Lesson #10 - True happiness doesn't come from a large youth ministry; it comes from a large heart...remembering to love one person at a time.