Dare 2 Share Live is hard to describe.
The last few years have been filled with news of famous ministry leaders who are falling morally, abusing finances and leading by intimidation . I can't think of a time, other than the Swaggert/Bakker scandals of the 1980's, where more ministry leaders have fallen in some swirl of ethical disgrace.
But, for every leader that falls morally, there are ten who burn out emotionally and spiritually. I've seen far more ministry leaders leave the ministry out of discouragement than disgrace.
So how do we keep from being another ministry statistic? How do we finish well?
Although my race is not yet completed, God has blessed me to have been in ministry for 30 years. This week marked the 30 year anniversary of a church I co-planted and co-pastored for ten years before launching into Dare 2 Share full-time. Over the last three decades of starting a local church as well as a global ministry, God has given me a few insights into some of the keys to longevity in ministry.
Here are four of them:
Far too many times when I ask youth leaders about how their youth groups are doing they immediately start talking about attendance numbers. They usually say something like, "Oh pretty good! We are growing! We had 60 in attendance last week!" or, "Well, we are struggling right now a bit. We only had 15 in attendance last week."
But I am convinced that attendance numbers may be among the weaker measures of youth group strength. Those who gauge youth ministry size and youth ministry strength often make the wrong assumption that, just because teens are showing up, they are leading a healthy youth ministry. But people show up at car wrecks, fist fights and circuses too.
If you imagine Jesus as the ultimate youth leader (because the majority of the disciples were most likely teenagers), you can clearly see he had a different philosophy of youth ministry strength. Think of the crowds that followed Jesus as those who show up in a typical youth group meeting and think of his disciples as his student leadership team. When you begin to read the Gospels through these lenses, it becomes obvious that Jesus didn't gauge his impact by attendance at all.
As a matter of fact there are several times he seems to try to get rid of the crowds so that he could invest in his leadership team. Luke 15:25-27 is a powerful example of this, "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.'"
Instead of New Year's resolutions let's talk about a youth ministry revolution.
Year's ago I devoured Mark Senter's classic book, The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry. In it he predicted a transformation of the way youth ministry is done. He predicted a massive re-ordering of youth ministry back to the ways of the early church.
This outstanding book was written in 1992 but, sadly, we're all still waiting for the revolution to come. If anything youth ministry seems like it has become more and more institutionalized over the last 27 years or so since Senter's book was written.
For a decade of my life I was privileged to lead a church that was very effective at reaching the lost. Through prayer, hard work and a relentless Gospel focus we experienced strong growth primarily due to new believers being added to our church roles. During that time God taught me many hard and valuable lessons that have stuck with me to this day.
This article was written by Greg Stier and Randy Davis, a partner from the National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM).
Legend has it that when the Greeks defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, a warrior named Philippides ran the extremely long distance back to Athens, burst into the assembly and proclaimed “We have won!” just before collapsing and dying. This story has inspired countless runners to run and keep on running (and hopefully not die) in marathons around the world.
I believe there is a coming persecution headed straight for us. And there is little we can do to stop it.
I hear a lot of talk among conservative Christians today about "the radical liberal agenda" that is dominating our culture. This agenda is filled with leftist Democrats, unfair and imbalanced MSNBC reporters and pro-gay Starbucks cups controversies.
If you had to bank on one person to share God’s love with the people around them this holiday season would you choose the sweet and soft spoken leader of your church's Sunday school class or the rambunctious teenage boy who consistently attends the youth group?