Benefits Healthy Metrics Provide [Part 2]

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I was sitting with a group of youth pastors recently and the topic of measuring disciplemaking effectiveness in youth ministry came up. I asked the group why measuring matters. Here are five reasons we came up with for why measuring our effectiveness is consistently beneficial to our ministries:

1. Identify patterns and trends.
When you consistently track, it allows you to begin to see patterns and trends. For instance, one of the things I always measured in our youth ministry was the number of times a month our volunteers contacted students outside of programmed time. When tracked over time, I made a discovery. The volunteers with a more manageable number of students in their small group (1 adult for every 5 students) tended to be more motivated to contact their students outside of programmed time. Adults who were responsible for 10-12 students often felt overwhelmed. They knew they couldn’t possibly hit the bar, so they didn’t even try. This discovery caused me to realize that an adult to student ratio of 1:5 increased our relational influence in students’ lives. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Not About Numbers…and three other silly reasons why we resist metrics [Part 1]

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I often hear resistance to the idea of measuring disciplemaking effectiveness. I believe there are four main reasons why metrics are frowned upon in youth ministry – and potentially in overall church ministry:

1. It just encourages the comparison game!

I think we avoid metrics because they have a tendency to create an attitude of comparison to other ministries. No doubt we’ve all been at a conference with ministry peers and eventually someone asks, “How many ya runnin’?” Just by the sound of the question you’d think you were at a cattle ranchers conference. The significance of our ministry and our value as ministers is narrowed down to mere attendance numbers. We avoid metrics because they’ve all too often been used as a way to compare ourselves to others.

But this is a total misuse of metrics. We should use our metrics to compare but not to others – to ourselves! The whole point of metrics is to provide clear data by which to compare ourselves. It helps us see patterns and trends in our own ministry context. I’ll address this in a future post titled 5 Healthy Benefits Metrics Provide.   Read the rest of this entry

Needed: A Vision for the Future

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As I’ve worked with young people over the last 18 years, one of my joys is helping them identify what their unique Ephesians 2:10 purpose is in God’s eternal story. I remember a specific leadership development experience we did with junior and seniors. One of the final days of the week-long experience was to spend two hours alone with God with three questions:   Read the rest of this entry

Why Mountaintop Moments Matter

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Are retreats, conferences, camps and mission trips really worth all the work? Are we just creating mountaintop moments that have little lasting effect on students?

While on sabbatical this past summer I had the opportunity to do some hiking in Colorado. It took us a few hours to ascend to 13,500 feet. The view was absolutely breathtaking. We lingered at the top for about an hour but eventually had to make the long descent back into the valley.

As we entered below the tree line one of the guides pulled me aside and read me this powerful quote:

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know” –Rene Daumal

Daumal’s words encouraged me about one of the important roles that camps, retreat conferences and mission trips play in the spiritual journey of students. They give a taste of what life with Jesus and his people can be like. Ascending above the trees of everyday life often makes it easier to get a breathtaking glimpse of the greatness and graciousness of God.

True, we can’t stay at the top, but what students experience on the mountaintop can inform how they live in the valley. This is what we’re seeing come out of the Challenge Conference.  Take a moment to be moved by Grace’s story.

Do you hear how a mountaintop moment has affected real missional momentum back down in the valley of everyday life?

Join us in Kansas City for Challenge 2014.

What is one of your ministries favorite “mountaintop” environments and how do you see it transforming a way of life back in the valley?

Youth Ministry Planting

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Two of the growing obstacles in reaching students in our culture are time and perception. Students have more options and are involved in more activities than ever.  This makes getting to your programs more challenging – especially on a regular basis.

The church also has a perception problem among youth. We hear this often in the discussion about reaching 20-somethings (see You Lost Me by David Kinnaman), but I think this is often true for young ages as well – especially high school students. Many have already created a very opinionated perception of the church in their minds. This too makes it a challenge for your students to get their peers to come to your mid-week meeting or event.

So what do we do?

Read the rest of this entry

Who are You Pointing To?

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Greg Breazeale’s post entitled Who is the Hero of Your Sermon? is a good word for any of us who teach.

As one who teaches students, we would be wise to ask ourselves who does this lesson, talk, or sermon point to?

You can point to you!
It is easy to point to yourself as the standard, but it is Christ who is our standard. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” (2 Cor. 4:5)

You can point to your listeners!
It is also easy to simply call your listeners to be more, work harder, and behave better.

You can point to your ministry.
In our desire to generate movement in our ministry we can cast vision to our ministry programs as being the answer for our soul’s or the world’s greatest need (i.e. small groups, service project, mission trip, recovery group, etc.)

Check out Greg’s post. Consider creating a dialogue around it with anyone who is regularly opening God’s word with students.

Pray Like a Multiplier

Blog Pray Multiplier.006Most of us would say we want to make disciples that make disciples. But our prayers often say something different. Often we are focused on praying for our children, students, and friends right in front of us. We only have the second generation in mind.

Multipliers have the third generation in mind even while they are working and ministering with the second generation. One of the places this shows up is in their prayer lives.

Take a look at Jesus
In Luke 10:1-2, when Jesus is sending out the 72 he gives them one different instruction than he gave to the 12 back in Luke 9. He tells them to pray that the Lord would rise up more workers for the harvest. Read the rest of this entry

Think Like a Multiplier

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Assuming you don’t want to make disciples, but want to make disciples who make disciples, you need to think like a multiplier. When I see a good multiplier I often ask them how they think. How do they view their role? Over and over again, this is what I hear. Read the rest of this entry

Five Invitations Every Student Needs

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It was 7:30 a.m. at 10,000 feet. The air was crisp and cold. The sun had not yet pushed its way over Mt. Heron.

Two from our group were getting ready to take the summit. Like the others I had already decided the night before that I wasn’t going. We had hiked quite a distance the few days prior.

But, when 8 a.m. rolled around, I found myself with my day pack on, ascending to the summit. It ended up being my favorite day of our nine-day Pastors on Point trip. I’ll never forget the view from the top. It was breathtaking.

What changed my mind? Read the rest of this entry

Why 30 Is Not the New 20

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Extended adolescence is a symptom of our culture and not a fact we have to live with. Telling young people they have an extra 10 years to float around before they figure out their life is not helping them nor is it helping our country.

In the TED talk below, clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for 20-somethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives three pieces of advice for how 20-somethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.

This is important because there are currently 50 million 20-somethings today – that’s 15 percent of the US population. Ages 18-28 are a 10-year critical window in a young person’s life. Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments happen by 35 (i.e. picking a college, partner career, city, etc.) Jay states that she’s hearing from more and more people in their early 30s realizing they had a better resume when they graduated from college than they did at 30.

Three Things Every Twenty Something Needs to Hear

1.  Build identity capital! Do something that is an investment in who you might want to be (internship). Exploration that doesn’t count for your future is merely procrastination.

2.  The urban tribe is overrated! Who you know, what you know, how you speak, and where you are going will be shaped by who you surround yourself with. Get out of the inner circle of your generation and surround yourself with those who are more than an echo of yourself.

3.  Start picking your family NOW! The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.

What I’d add to Jay’s list is that each of these issues is directly connected to a young person’s Ephesians 2:10 purpose. What is so empowering about this truth is that it means a young person is not left alone to figure out who they are, why they are here, and who they should be partnered with. That not only the support but the intention of the Designer is also available to them. Each of these issues is directly connected and supported by a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In fact, for a generation who often says I’ll take Jesus but I don’t need His church, they may find in the church the very sort of mentors they need as they engage Jay’s advice.

Consider viewing and discussing this video to your high school students and the implications it has for them.

What one piece of advice would you add to Jay’s advice for your current 20-somethings?

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