Youth Workers: 4 Ways Facebook Can Be Awesome!!!

Facebook is definitely not the total solution but it can be very helpful when you think of it as a tool for Student Care/relational ministry.  Think about how it makes you feel when a student posts on your wall “thanks for being there for me” or something like that.  You feel like God is using you. You feel like,  “Wow! I am really making a difference”. Well, times that by twenty and you get how a student feels when we leave something encouraging on their wall.  Here are four quick ways I use Facebook to interact with students:

  1. Encourage – Leaving a quick post of encouragement for a student or a volunteer on their Facebook wall can go a long way.  I went to a volleyball game this week and didn’t get to stay til the end and therefore I didn’t get to talk with the players that I knew. So when I got home I jumped on Facebook and posted on their wall some words of encouragement.
  2. Affirm – There was a student I knew and she had brought her sister to one of our services.  She introduced me to her after service.  An emergency came up and I had to make our greeting really quick.  So, later on that evening when I got home I friended her on Facebook.  I posted on her wall who I was and that I hated to have to be so quick with her and that it was great meeting her.  Well, later her sister told me that what I posted was such a big deal to her sister.  Her sister couldn’t believe that I would take the time out of my day to find her on Facebook and apologize. I had basically affirmed that she was worth someone’s time.  It was super easy and the benefit of her feeling affirmed out weighed the time I spent typing the post.
  3. Disciple – I get messaged all the time questions about faith, relationships and life in general.  Most of the time the questions come from students who would never have the courage to approach me face to face.  Also, I get the “hey my friend said you were someone I could talk to” message.  Facebook creates a veil for students to hide behind physically, but it also gives them the freedom to ask questions and have conversations that they normally wouldn’t have face to face. Also, I get to ask them “how’s their walk with Christ?” and their honesty always amazes me.  I definitely wasn’t that honest in high school but I also didn’t have Facebook either.
  4. Build Relationships – Facebook allows me to communicate with students outside of youth night.  I have had great conversations with students about everyday stuff that’s going on in their life and also stuff going on in their spiritual life.  I’ve been able to meet a student at youth group for the first time, become Facebook friends and by the time I see them again we’ve already had great conversations about life and God.

How have you used Facebook in ministry?

hope it helps

ac

For Students: Q&A – What’s The Right Way To Break Up?

I was recently asked the question how do I break up with someone and not seem like a bad person.  In which I replied it is nearly impossible.  The bible doesn’t talk about this subject specifically but it does speak on how we should treat one another. Luke 6:31 “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

It is so important that you take being in a relationship seriously (Dating Right!!). Starting a relationship right doesn’t take away from the fact that breaking up is hard to do, but when you start a relationship right you increase the chances of not being destroyed if you do break up.  If breaking up with someone is the road you must take, consider these steps in light of Luke 6:31.

  • First and foremost you must weigh the reasoning behind ending things.  Sometimes the reasoning is something that can be worked out.  Your emotions might not allow you to see that.  Talk with and go over the reasoning with someone you know will tell you the truth and give Godly wisdom. Also, they need to have both of your best interest at heart.
  • It must be done face to face.  Don’t be a COWARD!!!!!
  • Be respectful to the girl/guy.  Don’t talk to everyone about it.  If you have anything questionable to say about the person share it with that person only.
  • Be open and honest – Communication is key.  Make sure everything is said that needs to be said.
  • Don’t prolong the inevitable. The sooner the better.  They will appreciate you not wasting their time later down the road.
  • Give each other space.  Be cordial when you see each other but don’t feel the pressure to be best friends.

hope it helps

ac

Pastoral Care for Student Ministries!

In youth ministry the concept of pastoral care for students can be a little unclear.  I would love to start a conversation about what pastoral care for students should look like.  I’ve talked with a lot of youth workers and leaders about this and I usually get one or two answers.

  • “Well, it’s on a case by case bases.” – what does that even mean?!?!
  • “Who ever knows the kid well enough and their personalities kind of click handles pastoral care.”

For most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, we are just winging it. I can tell you that if there isn’t an intentional plan it is most likely not being done. I like to think pastoral care is a proactive response of ministry.  We think about what is the ministries response to students who are going through tough situations in their faith and life, and how can we be proactive in our response.  Most of the time when we give the answers above it’s because we have made some assumptions by default.

A few assumptions we make about our ministry when it comes to Pastoral Care are:

  1. Our programs are good enough.
  2. Our kids are serving so they must be on the right path.
  3. Attendance equals growth – students who come to every event you have are healthy.
  4. Our small group leaders are handling it.

I definitely believe this is an area we must be intentional about and we must make this just as much of a priority as the programs we create for fellowship, evangelism, etc…  I learned from my own ministry that there are students I will over look who are struggling with their faith or are having major issues going on at home because of my assumptions and lack of intentionality.  So what are the steps I took towards being intentional in this area? Well, first I had to ask myself some questions about the ministry.

  • Have we made pastoral care a priority?
  • Within the programs we do have,  how can we create opportunities to care for students better?
  • Are we training our leaders to care for students, or are we assuming since they signed up that they know what to do? – most of the time if we are winging it than they are to.
  • Are we assuming that our core students have it all together because of participation?

Here are a few ideas that we’ve implemented:

  1. Our large group time volunteers have been trained to be proactive. We have really maximized our time with our students by commissioning our leaders to not just be available but be active. Check out – Active or Just Available?
  2. Prayer during service for students that is tied into the service. – We’ve also had them fill out a “contact me” card just so we can follow up for continue care if needed.  Most of the time you will get students who need prayer but also some guidance, so being able to follow-up is critical.
  3. We also give each student a prayer request card so they can fill it out and request prayer.  We are intentional about not being super generic about those who need to fill them out. Example: If the message is about students making bad decisions, then we will ask those students who have done so to write “contact me” on the back of the card if they need someone to talk with.  We work that part into the message because it carries more weight than just making an announcement.
  4. We used a “text in” if you are dealing with porn.  So students were able to text in for someone to contact them and talk with them about their struggle with porn.
  5. Grab a group of trusted volunteers to meet with core students one on one.  Your core students would love it.  I can tell you from experience, the students who are there all the time need to be met with.  Those are the students who get the less care because of the attendance equals growth factor.
  6. Start a prayer chain with your leaders for the ministry and students. – This can be open to any church member who is willing to spend a few minutes in prayer a week for the ministry. – If I was listing in order of importance this would definitely be at the top.
  7. Training our staff and volunteers on how we will respond to students who are dealing with hot topic issues like same sex attraction, self harming, etc…

These are some super simple things that we’ve added to our ministry.  These are just examples of what we’ve done.  You know your ministry better than me, so come up with your own ideas for your students.  The point I want you to get out of this post is to be intentional about caring for your students.  Just because the students are coming out and sharing things voluntarily doesn’t mean it is not going on.  We have have to think proactively.

Would love to hear more ideas on how you are caring for your students.

Any thoughts?

hope it helps

ac

For Youth Workers: God Changes the Heart!!!

I think sometime this concept can easily be forgotten.  A lot of times we know the answers to a student’s problems before we know the whole story or the cause of the problems.  So we stop listening and we start focusing on our response.  We start trying to lay out our response so that it touches the very core of the issue.  Meaning we are trying to recall every sound bite that has had a high impact in our lives.  We want what we say to touch the students so much that they start to cry and scream out “ I’VE HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND I AM FINALLY ON THE RIGHT PATH”. Haha….

So what’s the issue with that?, you might ask.  Well, one point I made earlier is that you stopped listening.  The very thing that the student needed you to do, you stopped doing.  When we intentionally sit and listen to students, we say to them that they are more than just someone broken in and needing to be fixed. Listening intentionally to a student says to them:

  1. Someone cares about me.
  2. Someone thinks I’m important.
  3. Someone thinks I’m worth their time.
  4. Someone cares about my feelings.

Listening intentionally will earn you the right to speak the truth of God’s word into their life.  I advise when meeting a student for the first time that you are going to give guidance to, that you don’t even give any guidance on the first meeting.  Allow the first meeting to set the tone for the rest of the meetings.  Here is how you listen intentionally:

  1. Listen with great eye contact and body language. It makes a difference.
  2. Ask questions about the things they really care about in the situation. Even if you think it’s silly or  shouldn’t matter as much as it does.
  3. Affirm when you can. You never know how many people have already made them feel stupid, crazy or ashamed before they spoke to you.  Affirming them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  It just means you validate the fact that the issue they are going through is something that should be dealt with.
  4. Start and End with prayer. Let them know that you are working on behalf of the only one who can actually help them.  God changes the heart.Ezekiel 36:26-27

The bible talks about how we can do nothing without Christ.John 20:15:5  If you really think about it that should take a lot of pressure off of us, knowing that we have to rely on Christ to power and orchestrate the life changing work we get to be apart of.   We are just vessels being used by God to spread his love, mercy, kindness and grace to students.  I’ve learned that when I don’t remember this I screw things up.  Because my focus is not on doing my job as the vessel, it’s on being the power source.  The vessel’s job is to house the power and give it something to do.   So when we try and be the power that changes people lives we frustrate ourselves when things don’t work out the way we think it should.

There has been times when I have forgotten that God changes the heart, and I feel the burden to be perfect in that moment so that students are changing.  I must rest in the fact that God wants to use me to do one thing and that is to spread the gospel (God’s message of love) to students.  He did not call me to do his job (which I can’t even do in the first place).  So I would encourage anyone in ministry to be at peace knowing that changing the hearts of students is not your job.  God commissioned you with sharing his gospel (God’s message of love).

Any thought?

hope this helps!

ac

For Students: How Far Is too Far?!?

Well, I’ve been asked this question a few times and so I thought I’d post about it.  It’s really tough to talk about this question with out first examining what this question is really implying.  You are basically asking, “how much can you get away with before you’ve reached the line of no return?”.  So while I applaud anyone who asks this question with the intent of glorifying God in your relationship, I must say that you have asked the wrong question.  This is one of the areas where we, without consciously knowing it, follow culture blindly.  Now, I know there are some people who ask this question who feel like they are sincere.  I definitely understand that and hopefully by the end of this post you will understand my point.

From the music that’s played repeatedly to TV and movies there is a consistent message that says explore your sexuality and that in relationships you must make sure the two of you are compatible in every area.  So it says it’s OK if you explore and be intimate, that is what we are suppose to do.  We are fed from every avenue of media that sex outside of marriage is OK and if you haven’t done it yet you are the weird one.  Without even trying, you feel like you are suppose to be OK and free with exploring sexual acts in and out of relationships.

Now, you are probably thinking I’m not talking about sex at all.  I’m talking about doing the “other stuff”.  You are probably thinking I just want to express myself in a way that is natural because we all have these feelings.  You are also probably thinking it’s human nature to want to act out this way so help me know where the line is.  My favorite is that God knows what we go through. He created us and he understands.  The big issue with this question is found in:

Romans 7:11 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. – This verse is saying that sin will use the commandment “no sex before marriage” to deceive us.  You might say “how AC”? Glad you asked.  Because it knows the body wants to go where it has been forbidden.  It also know that apart from Christ we are weak and can’t stand against sin; we lose 100% of the time.  So deception is the weapon of choice.  Sin deceives us into believing that it’s OK to do all the other stuff as long as we don’t have sex.  We are deceived into thinking that we can play with fire and not be burned.  We are deceived into thinking that we can overcome the temptation of going all the way even though we are playing at the edge.

Here is a scripture verse that I think pretty much sums up my point:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2(NLT) 1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. – Paul is clarifying information they already know.  Paul did not hint to the fact that there is anything in-between.  Paul understands that there is only “too far”.  So he prescribes marriage because that’s where it is made right before God.  The question how far is too far suggests that there is an area where you can play around with no consequences.  That is not the case.  Sexual immorality is still destroying lives, families and churches.  As innocent as the question sounds, there are a lot of Christian’s who are reaping the consequences of thinking they could answer this question.

God was not trying to stop you from having fun when he set sex in the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman.  He’s was saving us from the harm it does outside of marriage between a man and a woman.  Just like the end of Romans 7:11 says and through deception of the commandment I was put to death, that is exactly what it wants to do to you.  So what’s a better question?

  1. The better question is always motivated by the fact that you don’t have any faith in the fleshes ability to do anything right.  So what steps can we take to make sure we don’t fall into temptation?
  2. The better question will be about a shared responsibility. How can we motivate each other into keeping our personal convictions to stay pure?
  3. The better question will be motivated by the fact that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 20:19-20  How do I gain and keep a high level of respect for my body?

These questions say that you want to follow God’s plan for sex and intimacy and not cultures plan.

hope it helps!! Repost

ac

For Students: Exposed!!

One of the biggest lies we can believe about ourselves is that we are worthless.  A lot of times we feel worthless because we equate our self worth with our accomplishments and how others view us.  Once those things fade away and we have nothing, and we are left feeling worthless.  Other times it has more to do with a life filled with pain.  Whether it’s with parents who treat you like crap and you feel like they don’t love you at all or a boy/girlfriend that has pretty much treated you with zero respect or even teachers that have pretty much told you that you wouldn’t amount to anything.  You are valued and loved by God.

I want you to know that your circumstances do not define you nor does it define your worth.  No matter what people have done or said to you and no matter what you have done, God loves you and values you.  You are valuable to God for no other reason than the fact that He created you.Job 33:4  The bible says that Jesus Christ gave his life for us while we were against him.Romans 5:8  So that we will have the opportunity to be with him forever.John 3:16 Which means He made the decision based on how He felt about us and not based on our abilities, our behavior, or what we have to offer him.  Your value doesn’t come from you or other people but it comes from the one who created you.Psalm 139:13-14

  1. God has created you in his imageGenesis 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  2. God is always thinking about youPsalm 139:17 (NLT)How precious are your thoughts about me,O God.  They cannot be numbered.
  3. God cares about every area of your life and wants to be there for you1 Peter 5:7 (AMP) Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
  4. God loves you and there is nothing that can ever make him stop – Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  5. God has created you with a purpose – Ephesians 2:10(NLT) 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

A lot of times I forget these things when I’m going through rough patches in my life.  God has given us one of the most, if not thee most, valuable thing He could give. His identity.  Imagine Bill Gates (worth 60 Billion dollars roughly) giving you his identity. Crazy Right!! God (the creator of EVERYTHING… even Bill Gates) values you so much that he makes you in his own image.

You are valued, thought about consistently, loved like crazy and purposefully created by the one who will never change on you, God.  Remember what God has said about you and also remember what he has done for you.

Share this POST if you know someone else needs to know this or be reminded.

hope it helps

ac

 



For Students: Shipwrecked!!

1 Timothy 1:19 – “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

Basically, this verse is encouraging anyone of faith to rely on, trust in their faith and listen to their conscience when it has prompted them to hold on to what is right.  It’s also warning us not to violate our conscience by clinging to what we believe is right and not clinging to what God says is right.  I violate my conscience when I think I know better than God.  I violate my conscience when I refuse to heed it’s calling to do what’s right.  A lot of times we think “oh I would never make the decision to do anything crazy”.  I reply with, not at first but over the course of time not clinging to your faith, violating your conscience becomes easier.  The things that you thought you would never do, you will find yourself doing.

I can recall many times in my life when I thought I knew better than God.  I thought that I had a better understanding of how I should live my life than he did. Proverbs 3:5  Of course I never said these words out loud, I just lived like it.  If my life could talk it would’ve said “God, I will do it your way in all the areas of my life except:

  1. In my relationships with the opposite sex.
  2. When I’m hanging out with my friends.
  3. How I treat my family (whoever has authority over me).
  4. How I make my decisions because you don’t know me the way I know myself.
  5. (You fill in the blank).

I had to learn this the hard way but God cares about all of the areas of my life and his plans for my life are holistically better. Hosea 14:9 The reason God’s plans are holistically better is because He’s seen my life from being to end and all the affects of every decision I will ever make from every angle.  He also can see what and who my plans affect.Proverbs 5:21

I screw all these areas up in my life when I don’t follow his plan because I can only see short term.  God’s plan deals with purpose and His best for me. My plan deals with selfish desires and short lived gratification.  God’s plan is always for my benefit even if it doesn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned I don’t have to know everything as long as I know the one who does and shares freely priceless wisdom. Proverbs 2:6

Practically, I would never make decisions based on partial information if I didn’t have to.  Well, God is saying when it comes to your life you don’t have to. Just follow my path because I have seen your life in its entirety.  Everyday we have to make the choice to cling to our faith and not violate our conscience.  I’m finding out the more I understand God’s word (the bible) the more easier it is for me to make the choice.

This weeks challenge: Ask God to reveal to you the areas in your life where you are not clinging to your faith and where you are violating your conscience, align yourself with God’s best for you(His plan) and avoid shipwreck.  Talk with someone if need be.

hope it helps

Feel free to leave a comment.

ac