Braggin’

I’m just going to brag on my husband for a minute—-

I read this article tonight. I’m not exactly sure why I even ran across it (I was actually looking for something totally different). But, it did catch my eye because, of course, Paul is in youth minstry:

5 Keys to Staying Effective in Your Youth Ministry Job

Maybe you’ve heard the statistic (which is perhaps mythical) that most youth ministers only stick with a position for 3-5 years. Whether or not this is true, the fact is some youth pastors don’t even keep a position for six months because they fail to do a few simple things. 

Not to be too crass about it, but in this economic climate few of us want to risk losing our ministry positions.  Of course, there are more important reasons for wanting to be effective in ministry than simply just keeping our jobs. My first youth ministry position some twenty years ago began as a temporary opportunity to help out my church: “Would you be our interim youth minister for six months while we search for a permanent person?”  I agreed…and eleven years later I was still there as the youth pastor.  Though I definitely made some mistakes along the way (and narrowly avoided being fired in my first year) I learned a few things about what makes for effective church-based youth ministry:

1) Communicate – Tell others what you are doing. How many of us in youth ministry get so caught up in programming activities that we forget to make sure that others know what we are up to?  Communicating what we are doing ensures some accountability on our end and helps to create a core group of advocates for the youth ministry. Who do we need to “keep in the loop” regarding our ministry efforts/challenges/successes? Start with your senior pastor, parents, other youth volunteers, and the church board. Share with them the upcoming calendar of events, post articles in the church newsletter or even publish your own youth ministry newsletter.  Keep things updated on your church website and Facebook pages. Even if the board doesn’t request a monthly youth report, submit one anyway.  If your senior pastor doesn’t ask to meet with you on a regular basis, ask to meet with her. And call a parents’ meeting at least twice a year.

2) DiversifyMake your presence known in the church beyond just your work with the youth. Though some congregations may want to relegate you only to tasks specifically related to youth ministry,  it will only benefit your youth to see you involved in the wider ministry of the church. So, you might request to be involved with the outreach team, teach a children’s Christian education class, attend/teach a small group adult Bible study, join the choir, or serve as a regular leader in worship.
3) ShareDon’t keep the youth all to yourself. Get the youth involved with other adults and ministries within the church.  Doing so helps to create the understanding that, though you oversee the youth ministry efforts, care of the youth is the responsibility and privilege of the entire congregation.  Encourage adults outside of your regular volunteer team to help out with a youth event, provide a meal, or come lead a program.  Encourage your youth to join church committees or help with worship planning.  Look for opportunities to create intergenerational experiences to bring the youth and the other adults in the church together for study, fellowship, and worship.
4) ConnectGet involved with other churches and ministries outside your church.  My early years in ministry were really helped when I started developing partnerships with other nearby churches, planning events together, visiting each other’s churches, and finding colleagues in these fellow youth workers.
5) FocusDon’t get distracted by the need to entertain.Your calling to ministry isn’t to juggle fire and be a stand-up comic so that your students don’t get bored. Focus on the real work of helping teens explore their faith story, asks questions, open up their lives to moments of worship, and get their hands dirty by engaging in real outreach and mission.  When these elements become the focus of your ministry, rather than planning the next paintball outing or giant party, you will help your congregation see both the value of your ministry and the true value of the church’s ministry with youth.
After reading it, I immediately thought of Paul. In my humble opinion (which maybe a little biased), I think Paul does a great job with all five of these key points.

1.) Communication–I’ve talked about it before, but technology is taking over our world.

  • Cell phones
  • Texting
  • Computers
  • E-mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instgram

The list could go on and on….
And yet my husband has embraced them. (Much to my dismay sometimes):

  • He texts
  • He e-mails
  • He FB’s (since when did “facebooking” become a verb?)
  • He “tweets”

And that list could go on and on….
I think he does a great job of communicating through announcements, calendars, newsletter articles, e-mails, FB events, etc.

(Now whether or not the kids listen or read when he does announcements is a WHOLE OTHER story)….   🙂

2.) Diversify-I always call Paul the “social butterfly” at church. We are ALWAYS the last people to leave on Sunday mornings. I usually have to go looking for him because he’s off visiting with someone about something. I’m not complaining at all; I’m just pointing out that he embraces everyone, not just the youth.
He hugs on the kids (Henlee loves running down the hall, “Pa, Pa, Pa….where are you?)–the “l” doesn’t quite come out very well!

He hugs on the “older” kids (you can frequently find him shaking a hand of the older generation)

He makes it a point to say hello to everyone, even though he is super busy on Sunday mornings

He tries to make sure everyone feels welcome

He takes suggestions with a smile

He takes criticism with the nod of his head (and a prayer)
He is multi-generational, and I love that about him.You can see it (here) and (here) and (here) and (here)

(The list just kept getting longer and longer as I looked back through previous posts)

3.) Share-I’ve said it before but Paul is truly gifted with getting other people involved and pulling generations together. I can give you several examples of “ministry” that has happened that he has been a part of here and here and here and here and here and here
Paul has a wonderful disposition and can really get along with most everyone. He has a great “Type B” personality and is so easy going; he can really take most situations and turn them around for good. And, he has the great ability to get other people involved and “share the wealth/share the work” with others! 🙂

4.) Connect-this is the thing I am most proud of when it comes to Paul and his ability to “connect” with the community of Giddings. He is helping tear down walls that have been up for YEARS, when it comes to churches coming together for the greater good and to love on the youth of our community.You can read about it here and here and here

5.) Focus- Paul and I have had many discussions about what it means to “minister” to kids. Does it mean you are here to “entertain” them or does it mean you are here to ask the tough questions and really get down to “heart of what matters”? Paul was not called to FBC Giddings to be the “coolest” youth minister–the guy with the best games or the best food or the best entertainment. He was called to “love on” and “minister” to a broken generation…..He desires to focus on what’s really important and to be a “light in a dark world” for our kids.

So, here’s to my husband…..sure, he’s human. He makes mistakes. He fails. He falters. But, he rises above those who criticize him. He lifts others up when they try to pull him down. He steps over walls that have been broken down and is creating lasting relationships, beyond the “name”/denomination of the church. He loves. He prays. He laughs. He smiles. and most of all, He ministers.
Sorry it’s all so “squished together” –I can’t get the spacing to show up…..
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