leadership

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

There are moments in everyone’s life where they are pushed to stand for what they believe in or are put to the test through adversity. Four moments in particular are:

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.
2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.
3. The year when they don’t feel God’s presence at all.
4. The day when their fiancée breaks off the engagement, even after they have remained abstinent.

In this article the author tackles each of these moments and how we should be preparing our students to face them.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

By Cameron Cole

Ministry to children and youth for both parents and church workers focuses on cultivating followers of Christ with sustainable faith. Basically, we want the faith of our young people to stick when they leave our homes and churches to live as independent adults.

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.

Whether in college or in a coffee shop, every young Christian will meet people who do not believe in the truth of Christianity and can argue persuasively against it. Particularly in college, students will encounter professors with an ax to grind against Christianity and with a desire to use their classroom as a platform against the religion. Many times, students without a deep theological base have their faith wrecked by slick arguments.

I want my students to ask hard questions and to have experience logically arguing for their belief in the veracity of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So we dedicate much time in our youth ministry to working on apologetics. In particular, we focus on the validity of the Bible as God’s Word, the historical facts surrounding the resurrection, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Christ. I have found Tim Keller’s video series The Reason for God to be an indispensible tool for giving students both exposure to and practice in engaging arguments against Christianity.

2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.

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Confirming Your Calling to Pastoral Ministry

Confirming Your Calling to Pastoral Ministry

By: Dave Bruskas

If you are feeling called to pastoral ministry, the first thing you need to do is confirm your calling.
This is the second installment of an 8-part series Preparing to Lead.

Are you feeling called to pastoral ministry? If so, what should you do next? Where should you start?

I suggest you start by investigating three areas of your life through the lens of Paul’s words to Timothy: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1–2).

Do you really want to do this?

The biblical word translated “aspires” is a strong word. It connotes both passion and volition. It’s a word of both feeling and action. To aspire is to reach out from a place of strong desire.

This raises the question: Do you really want to do this? And if your answer is yes, you should test your commitment. How badly do you want to do this? Are you willing to work hard and wait patiently for it? Why do you want to do this? Is this about you and your significance? Or is it about the fame of Jesus?

Ask yourself the hard questions. Then invite those who already serve as pastors to do the same.

Do you know what you are getting into?

It stands to reason that you should have a good understanding of the office of overseer before you pursue it. Over the years, I have been surprised by how many young men I have met who want to become pastors without grasping the task at hand.

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How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral Ministry?

How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral Ministry?

This article is from the Resurgence, a ministry of Mars Hill. It is the first of a great 8-part series called Preparing to Lead.  I will post the first two articles and then trust if you are interested you can find the rest on their site.

By Dave Bruskas

How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral

Ministry?

View the Preparing to Lead series

Many people imagine being called to pastoral ministry is a mystical sense or experience. But the Bible shows us that being called is more objective and measurable than that. This is the first installment of an 8-part series Preparing to Lead.

The Apostle Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus that defined his call to ministry. As far as we can know from the silence of the Bible, Timothy, his protégé, had a different experience. But it’s important to understand that Paul gives Timothy authoritative direction on how to evaluate a call to pastoral ministry. We can see there are at least three critical dimensions to calling from the Bible’s pastoral epistles.

1. Compelled

In the heart of the man being called into pastoral ministry is a desire to serve the church as an overseer. Scripture encourages such an ambition, telling us, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). If this desire can’t be shaken, then it must be taken seriously.

The Apostle Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus that defined his call to ministry. As far as we can know from the Bible, Timothy had a different experience.

Too often, our conception of a call to ministry takes on a mystical element that the Bible doesn’t require. It is more objective and measurable than that, according to the Scripture. It is a noble desire residing in the heart of a man who loves the church and wants to serve as a leader.

2. Qualified

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3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

Making disciples is harder than you could ever imagine, but simpler than you would ever think. For those involved in student ministry, discipling young people is not really complicated—it’s just costly. You don’t need a doctorate in theology, but you do need to have died to yourself.

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

BY: Adam Ramsey

What exactly makes someone an effective youth leader?

Here’s an example. Melisa is a youth leader who has been leading a group of junior girls at Mars Hill Bellevue. Each week she opens up her Bible with these ladies, listens to their struggles and questions, and points them to Jesus. She also opens up her life by pursuing their hearts relationally outside of a program or event. And when she was away on a family vacation for a couple of weeks, two of her girls stepped up and led their peers the same way Melisa has been leading them.

Melisa is just one of many examples of a godly and effective youth leader. By the grace of God she is making disciples who make disciples, by sharing the gospel, sharing her life, and empowering young people to do likewise.

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10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

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Action is essential in ministry and life.  Action is essential in success.  Action will sometimes end in failure.

Inaction always ends in failure.

The Art of Manliness outline 10 Truths about Taking Action.  These are not spiritual in nature but applicable in our relationship with Christ.  As Kevin DeYoung puts it in his book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc., God has already revealed his plan for Christians’ lives: to love Him and to obey His Word.  Now we just need to TAKE ACTION.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kyle Eschenroeder.

“This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy’s spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?

In this speech from Steven Pressfield’s gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:

“In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy’s sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtue – andreia, in Greek – that prized valor and honor as highly as victory.

Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man’s control was how he acted.

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9 tips for teaching students

9 tips for teaching students

by: Mark Driscoll

1. Start strong

You have to get their attention the moment you step up to teach if you want to keep their attention. Start with high energy, a big question, or a big concept. Don’t ever, ever start with, “Hey, how are you guys doing?” Your lead pastor probably does that, everyone does that, and it’s nearly always the wrong way to start. We don’t ask people how they are—we tell them what God has said, which then changes how they are. Start strong. Nail your first word or line in your prep.

2. Teach one concept

Students are not stupid. They can learn more than is often expected. Don’t dumb it down, just focus it in. Give them one big idea—sin, Scripture, the cross, Jesus’ divinity, the resurrection—something to focus the entire message around.

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Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

Top Ten lists are great because you can read the list and then read only about the one’s that you are interested in.  Here are 10 mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make.  If you’ve made a few or all of them, repent, refocus, and get started.  Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, just intentional.  This list is not ground breaking, but it is a good reminder of what not to do when it comes to teenagers.

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

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It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

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3 Ways To Stop Being An Ineffective Youth Leader

Being intentional is a key value in ministry.  A key phrase that always comes to mind is “Not Perfectly, But Intentionally.”  We have to realize as leaders that we are not perfect and are not always doing everything that we should or could to accomplish our mission.  There are things we don’t see or  understand and sometimes we even choose sin over godliness.  Shocking I know.  I’m not advocating that it’s okay, but it’s true.

While we may not be perfect, we can be intentional.  We can intentionally share the Gospel.  We can intentionally build relationships.  We can intentionally serve with excellence.  We can’t guarantee effectiveness, since it is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit that causes any one to accept Christ, be sanctified, or changed in any way.  We can guarantee a clean heart before God as we intentionally seek to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

The 3 ways center around a leaders ability to “BE INTENTIONAL.”

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

By: Adam Ramsey

Making disciples is harder than you could ever imagine, but simpler than you would ever think. For those involved in student ministry, discipling young people is not really complicated—it’s just costly. You don’t need a doctorate in theology, but you do need to have died to yourself.

What exactly makes someone an effective youth leader?

Here’s an example. Melisa is a youth leader who has been leading a group of junior girls at Mars Hill Bellevue. Each week she opens up her Bible with these ladies, listens to their struggles and questions, and points them to Jesus. She also opens up her life by pursuing their hearts relationally outside of a program or event. And when she was away on a family vacation for a couple of weeks, two of her girls stepped up and led their peers the same way Melisa has been leading them.

Melisa is just one of many examples of a godly and effective youth leader. By the grace of God she is making disciples who make disciples, by sharing the gospel, sharing her life, and empowering young people to do likewise.

Paul reveals some powerful practices in the way he discipled those in the church at Thessalonica. His pen drips with insight and sincerity as he writes, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

What follows is the job description of every youth leader at Mars Hill: three simple yet costly characteristics of Paul’s leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2, which we use as a leadership model for anyone serving in student ministry at Mars Hill Church.

1. Be intentional about sharing the gospel

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the most important gift he shared with them was the gospel: the message about Christ’s finished work on the cross for sinners. An effective youth leader has the gospel on repeat like 90s church kids with a new DC Talk track. When it comes to repeating the best news in the universe, if you feel like a broken record, you’re doing it right.

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The 10 Don’ts Of Leading A Small Group

Small groups are essential to real discipleship.  It is through the context of relationship that we can truly have an impact in the lives of others.  In student ministry having an effective small group ministry will allow your ministry to grow while remaining small.  A persons ability to really know and disciple students is limited to really just a few students.  Small group are essential.  I’ve posted a few other articles about how to improve small groups.  These articles are not groundbreaking.  They are just some practical ways to immediately make improvement in your small group setting.  They can be found here: “5 Things Small Group Leaders Should Say to Parents” and “5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time.”  Below is another such post.  I can admit I have made a few of these “Don’ts.” Check them out yourself so you don’t repeats others mistakes.

The 10 Don’ts Of Leading A Small Group

Being an effective small group leader means doing a lot of things well.

It also means NOT doing a lot of things.

This is a list of what I believe to be some of the most common “don’ts” of being a small group leader. (I’d love to see what you would add.)

1. Don’t play favorites.

This is tough. I think sometimes we do it subconsciously. We will be naturally drawn to some students based on personalities, both ours and theirs. But, we have to be aware of this tendency and work to give each student his or her fair amount of attention.

2. Don’t join with other students in making fun of a student.

Even if it’s good-natured. It’s easy to fall in to this, especially with guys. It starts out with a few guys messing with each other. Seemingly harmless. But the moment your voice is added to the chorus, it changes. You’re an adult. And your words have a lot more weight. Stay away from making fun of a student, even if it’s a joke.

3. Don’t let details fall through the cracks.

This one owns me. I struggle more with this than anything on this list. Just this week I put a mother in an not so great position with her son because I had not communicated as clearly as I should have. Details will kill you. Do not let them slip through the cracks.

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5 Things Small Group Leaders Should say to Parents

As a follow-up to last weeks post, 1 Goal and 5 Ways to Enrich Your Small Group Time, I wanted to include a great post from What is Orange about what small group leaders should be saying to parents.  Small groups are essential to Gospel relationships so we should work hard to improve them as leaders.  Orange has multiple posts on the subject.

Orange is a ministry philosophy that focuses on ministering to the family as a whole.  In student and children’s ministry, that means spending as much if not more attention on parents.  This is not a new philosophy, but Orange has done a very good job of packaging, communicating the essentials of this philosophy, and providing resources.

I could simply give you the 5 things, but then you would be tempted to not read the entire article, although that might be what you do anyway.  I would encourage you to read the article and look around the Orange Leaders blog.  It is full of other great resources.  Next week I’ll look at the question, “What is my role as a parent in spiritual discipleship of my kids?”

Five Things Small Group Leaders Should say to Parents

by Jeff Brodie

Rethinking the Way we Communicate to Teens

Parents don’t walk around over-encouraged. They just don’t. Most parents feel like they aren’t doing a good job of raising their kids. Parenting resources make them feel guilty, and the Facebook feed of their friends’ seemingly perfect families doesn’t help. It’s isolating. For some families, the only time they hear from an adult who knows their child is from the principal or the police.

Here’s the truth we need to remember: Kids are an incredible gift, and hold unlimited potential to impact the world around them. Their parents are their primary influence, and Jesus is their only hope.

A number of years ago, I realized the Small Group Leaders in our student ministry had very little contact with parents, so we started to create events that needed the Small Group Leader to call the parent in order for the event to succeed (sneaky, I know).

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