"I don't about all these teenagers running around here acting like a bunch of fools!" Margaret, Charter member from Central Presbyterian Church
Have you ever noticed that the world is Christmas-crazed? Nonbelievers and believers alike celebrate the holiday season, filling the streets with Christmas cheer. Maybe you let that person who looked rushed go in front of you in the Starbucks line today. Maybe you dropped a toy off at a toy drive or perhaps you threw a little extra money in the the Red Kettle in front of your local grocery store. Whatever it is, the world gets a bit more generous at this time of the year. People are kinder, people love better and reflections of our Savior are easier to find.
I believe that every youth leader worth his/her salt wants to make the biggest impact possible in the lives of their teenagers and in the communities in which those teenagers live. But how can that be done effectively?
The 7 keys I'm about to share with you were the result of a research project, first among hundreds of youth leaders across the nation, and then throughout the book of Acts. These very specific values popped to the top of every high performing youth ministry as well as on every page of the book of Acts. There's really no magic formula or shocking surprise here. What's shocking is that somehow most of us have missed so many of them in how we view and do youth ministry.
1. When nobody's looking hide Gospel tracts in the body cavity of the turkey (along with the stuffing.) When your guests discover them act surprised and call it a miracle.
2. Start the Thanksgiving prayer by saying, "Lord, bless the food on the table and save the sinners around it."
"After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth — an adjective defined as 'relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.'" Oxforddictionaries.com
Oxford Dictionaries noticed a spike in the use of the word during Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential Campaigns, but really, "the concept has been simmering for the past decade," said Oxford Dictionaries. Our culture has been slowly shifting itself from caring about truth to caring about how something makes you feel.
The dictionary defines a veneer as, "an attractive appearance that covers or disguises someone or something's true nature or feelings."
Sadly, I believe that there are many youth groups that have installed a veneer of success over something far less attractive. These youth ministries seem successful because of certain externals, but underneath it all there is a less-than-effective reality.
"Whoever wins, when we wake up tomorrow we will all still be Americans. #UniteNotFight #ElectionNight"
I thought it was a good Tweet. When I sent it at 10:45 pm last night (the evening of the Presidental election) my hope was that it would give a solemn reminder to the handful of my followers who I thought would see it. When it got 379 likes and 143 retweets I thought "mission accomplished."
But then I started reading some responses on my Twitter page and many of them were full of anger. From threats to move to Canada to accusations of a racist United States to just old-fashioned F-bombs, many people, most of them younger, were full of rage at the results of the election.
One of my passions in life is to see youth leaders succeed. I mean REALLY succeed. These men and women who have dedicated their lives to reaching and discipling young people are facing tough odds. From apathetic teenagers, to disengaged parents, to unsympathetic elder boards, to shrinking budgets, to a ticked off army of demons, youth leaders are up against some intense opposition.
Cultivating these 10 habits will help youth leaders improvise, adapt and overcome.
For the last quarter of a century, God has blessed me with the privilege of speaking to hundreds of thousands of people across the nation, primarily through Dare 2 Share events. In addition, I've spoken at tons of conferences, festivals and churches to students and adults alike.
Over the years I've developed a list of 10 actions steps I take when I prepare for and give a talk. These help me craft and deliver messages that go for maximum spiritual impact every time. I hope they encourage you as you prepare and deliver talks that glorify God, equip the believers and reach the lost.