My heart pounds harder and harder, threatening to jump out of my chest. A salty bead of sweat runs down my forehead into my eyes.
“Ow! Now, why is it that I wanted to do this, again? And on my vacation?” I ask myself while struggling to find the next handhold while clinging onto the side of a cliff at Smith Rocks, Oregon. My husband, Joel is belaying, below on the ground, holding onto the other end of my rope. He’s yelling words of support while keeping me from falling to my death. (more…)
During the first few years of my 7 year career in Youth Ministry my husband worked part-time at a bicycle shop nearby. This gave him the freedom to help me out with overnight youth events and such. The shop experience gave us a chance to minister to some teens outside of our youth group which was pretty neat. It was also a fun topic for Joel to “bond” with the guys in the youth group. The highlight for me was having Joel and I ride our tandem bicycle down the center aisle to the front of the church during worship so I could do a special youth sermon. It was a hoot!
I still find it amazing how 2 skinny bicycle tires can hold up to a few hundred pounds and transport all that weight from A to B! However, there are times when even the tires can’t help but become shaped like a taco! Back in those days Joel saw many a sad squished bike wheel in the shop. One major part of a bike wheels strength is the multiple thin spokes crisscrossing from one side to the other. If it weren’t for those spokes the circle would squish! But working together those skinny little pieces of metal can hold a whole lot of weight.
And The Point Is?
We are each a lot like that bike tire. We need structure and support to keep us strong or else we can get taco-d too, by angry parents, grumpy teens, unsupportive congregational members, uninvolved pastors, etc. When doing youth ministry we need the support of others who understand what we do, how hard we work, a listening ear, words of advice, and a whole lot of prayer!
4 Tools 4 Youth Ministry
Our company, Prepare For Rain, is all about being supportive spokes to hard working folks! We want to help you chase your passions and impact this world in a holy way. We hope our words of support will help you:
Set healthy boundaries for yourself both at church and home
Encouragement for the tough days
Experience an at-a-girl or at-a-boy for those good days!
Discover tools for your Youth Ministry Tool Kit!
We hope to be one of your “holy spokes” of support!! If you have a topic you’d like us to address send me an a message at the bottom of this page. We will do our best to answer your questions or find someone else who can!
Learn more about an amazing power tool made just for YMs like you (by clicking here)!!
A hipster poseur is someone who pretends. Someone who poses. Someone who wants to fit in. We all saw them in school. Some of us were them. Or at least we wanted to be.
In youth ministry, it is not uncommon to bump into hipster poseurs. They can be fledglings just starting their ministry career. They can be old farts who know better. In either case, it’s sad and just so unneccesary.
You don’t have to be young and hip to be a good youth minister. If you are young, you will be inexperienced, though. However, it is common that someone entering into a youth ministry career is, arguably, still a youth. Makes sense, in may respects. In others, not so much.
On one hand, the fresh-faced youth minister might feel unworthy. Perhaps over his head. Even inclined to grovel (think Wayne and Garth…even Moses). But at the same time, she may be agitated that some of the people she serves don’t recognize her amazing abilities. They may even question the validity of her calling to ministry. That’s tension. Push, pull.
No Harm, No Foul, No Curse
But think about it. There’s tension for the older youth minister, too. They’re the weary veteran of days of phone calls, months worth of retreats, years of lock-ins. They’ve got mileage on their youth ministry chassis. It’s left a mark. Some rust is showing in the wheel wells, if you follow me. My dear friend, Roger, loves doing youth ministry and is SO tired of lock-ins.
What’s unique to the young and inexperienced youth minister is that they’re young and inexperienced. Not just in youth ministry, but in life. That’s usually where the sense of inadequacy and unworthiness comes from. It’s the soil in which their insecurity grows. The more experienced youth minister really has been there, done that. Like all of us, the older youth minister is every age they’ve ever been. Hopefully along the way they’ve catalogued some insights and perspective that the newbie just can’t bring to the table. Yet…
The Dilemma of Age
So, is there an optimal age for a youth minister?
The age you happen to be at this very moment.
Engage here. What are your thoughts? More importantly, what’s your experience of age within the realm of youth ministry?
In the first post on this topic, we looked at the five ways God can respond to our praying. We looked at the question: Is there ever a time to stop praying?
Answer: still yes.
In this post, let’s begin to explore when our praying can actually get in the way. Our way.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the great Puritan American reformers (in fact, ranked #5 by one group), said
Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.
He also warned against self-delusion. Certainly, people have the capacity to get themselves all ginned up during prayer–what he calls the “bubbling joy”–and, in so doing, go astray. From the resulting mixture of “self-confidence” and a “high opinion of themselves,” people are at risk of being swept up in their feelings.
Adults tend to think that teenagers are always swept up in their feelings. That’s it a natural state of being. It’s hard to argue with that point of view. But does that mean that adults don’t live in the same state?
So, for starters, here are 6 ways that even post-teens allow their feelings to confuse their prayer:
1. Believing that prayer is better than action
2. Preferring strong feelings over clear thinking
3. Minimizing others’ thoughts over our own “opinion”
4. Rejecting the reality that God is sometimes mute in response to our prayer
5. Giving more credence to “waiting in prayer” than “moving in faith”
6. Over-spiritualizing prayer while under-appreciating works
Praying: Vexing Stuff
You know, there are times when it’s just plain painful attempting to articulate what’s on my mind. The theologian in me (I have a Masters of Christian Studies to prove it) wants to provide chapter and verse to support multiple viewpoints. The writer in me wants the prose to flow beautifully. The youth pastor in me wants to make these blog posts drop-dead useful and applicable. And then there’s real life: limited time, competing responsibilities, meetings to attend, a job to do, a family to love, exercise that needs doing, etc. So, I just need to get this out to you.
Are there times in our lives when it is appropriate, maybe even necessary, to just stop praying? Yes, I think so. Are we, as a family of believers, open to considering this question? Even if I’m the only one that thinks about it?
Well, I guess time will tell.
Your turn. Has praying ever functioned as a delay-mechanism for you? A distraction? What are your thoughts?
Time to stop praying? Is there ever a time to stop praying?
Most of the time we think that God has a couple of options for answering our prayers, not unlike parents might answer their children’s requests:
But when you think about it, that’s not really how God works, is it? Particularly on the “Yes” side of the equation. Let’s delve deeper.
3. Yes, but not now.
4. Yes, but not like you were thinking.
My experience of God’s answers to prayer far more frequently fall into the 3rd and 4th categories. I sometimes wonder if even the 1st option, no, is actually more often a 3 or 4, in disguise.
After 4 Comes 5
And then there’s the 5th option, of which I am very well acquainted. Are you ready for it? Okay, then. Here you go:
What do you think of it?
What do you mean, you don’t know what to think of it? What’s not to understand? Fine. I’ll repeat it:
Oh, I get it. You were expecting to see something written in that space, right? Both times. Well, it is there.
The 5th option God has is silence. The non-answer answer.
When Prayer Takes One For The Team
In Exodus 14, we see at least one clear indication of when God moves from option 5–silence–and tells his people to stop praying. In fact, we see God actually gets tired of the “crying out” by the Israelites, so Moses is instructed to get the folks off of their knees and MOVING. Right after Moses has told everyone to be still.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in there about a heavenly operational procedure: MOVE.
This isn’t to say that prayer, as such, is an unworthy enterprise. Hardly. Scripture is full–FULL–of commendations to prayer.
In The Quiet Hours Of Praying
Nevertheless, for much of my faith journey, God’s principal reply to my prayers has been with the 5th option. In the history of the church, this has not been uncommon. But in the age of cable television and streaming worship services, one could too easily conclude that God is like a cosmic Amazon or eBay, where our prayers work like orders in His cue. We pray; miracles result. God is at work.
But moving forward when the path is unclear and the answers ephemeral, that’s difficult. And sometimes, like with Moses and the Israelites, that’s exactly what’s expected of us. It just doesn’t play well on television.
What’s your story? Have you had periods of silence to your praying? Long periods? What have you learned during these times?