“A shift in the thinking and actions of citizens is more vital than a shift in the thinking and actions of institutions and formal leaders.”
taken from Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block
I read Community several months ago and have been thinking through the implications of its content ever since. This particular quote has generated a lot of pondering and wrestling in my head.
As a youth minister, there are things I want to see changed or focused on within the context of the congregation within which I work. There are attitudes that need adjusting, focuses that need fine-tuned, understanding that needs broadened, lessons that need learned, and apathy that needs shaken. There are even changes that need to happen, but can only happen when there is a shift in the culture. And changing a church culture is no easy task.
As Block points out the best (only?) way to change a culture is to shift the thinking and actions of the people in the community you want to change. What community culture do you want to see shifted?
- A Sunday School class.
- The youth ministry.
- Your volunteer team.
- Staff dynamics.
- Church leadership.
- Awana group.
- Your small group.
- Parents of your students.
- Your family.
Changing any of these communities will take effort and time. If you are a leader of the community, you have a vital role in helping to shift the actions and thinking of the people within the community. You need to be intentional about changing your thinking, actions, and language. Since you want to see the changes, you have already made the mental shift. You might have even made a shift in how you plan, organize or promote things in order to show the shift. But the most important step (and one that gets forgotten by many leaders) is to verbalize and share your thinking on the shift.
Do you need to change how you talk about a topic? It could be as simple as changing the way you promote the Sunday School class. For example, if you want to shift the class to be more about discipleship than fellowship you will need to stop talking about how much “fun” class is and start using phrases that reflect the depth of the studies.
Do you want church to be less about attendance on Sunday and more about living a life for Christ every day? If you are a leader, you need to help the congregation shift their thinking from the one to the other. How can you help people see the Christian life as more than a checklist? A few possibilities include: speaking about the shift from up-front, changing the way you evaluate and discuss the ministry of the church, or spending time sharing the need for the shift with a few “key” people who can help you champion the changes.
What would you add to this conversation? What have you learned about changing culture?
“Never forget what someone has done for you; never remember what you have done for others.”
taken from Secrets of the Generous Life by Gordon Macdonald
I think this is a great principle to live by, the only problem is that it is not always easy. It can be difficult to forget “how many” times you have helped someone when they need it again. But if you want to live generously, you will.
Secrets of the Generous Life is a great devotional, you need to get a copy and go through it.
“Most of all, love them. Believe in them. Trust them. Be an example for them. Stick with them over the long haul. And some day, when they’re older, when they’ve weathered a few storms, when they’ve been beaten up by life a bit, they may actually start looking like a disciple – not because you discipled them, but because you refused to give up on them.”
taken from Getting Fired for the Glory of God by Mike Yaconelli
Youth workers need to be reminded that youth ministry (and discipleship) is not a sprint. Remember that Jesus spent 3 years with His disciples, and they still did not get until after He left.
Do not give up!
Do not feel defeated!
Stick with your students!
“For a moment here, allow me to address the worship leaders among you. Servants of God, stay faithful to your task. Sure, there are days when it seems you’re the only one on staff with a clear vision for how worship should be. The loneliness of the rehearsal room is almost too much to bear. While those under your leadership are getting ‘pats on the back,’ your own labor is seemingly ignored. And trying to find songs that meet the needs of everyone in your congregation? A waste of time, you’re convinced. The old-timers want songs from yesteryear’s hymnals; the younger set want their choruses, products of contemporary musicians, projected on the wall. While one group claps enthusiastically, another ‘claps’ their hands over their ears. It’s useless! your heart signs. But friend, it’s not. Remember, your worship is unto the Lord. After all, our worship here is just a rehearsal for our worship in eternity. Meanwhile, just remain faithful, and God will reward your efforts. He-not the church membership-is the righteous Judge. Meanwhile, look at every opportunity to promote God’s kingdom through worship as God’s opportunity. Lost men and women, boy and girls, grandparents, friends, and neighbors will be impacted by the worship-and faithfulness- that you demonstrate.”
Taken from Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley
May this be an encouragement for worship leaders. When you have a rough weekend, remember your efforts are not about pleasing people – but rather about pleasing God.
This paragraph can also serve as an encouragement for youth workers. Sometimes we feel the same sort of things and forget Who we ultimately are ministering to.
(pass this along to any and every worship leader you know, especially if you think they need some encouraging words)
“Faith can’t be forced, but unfaith can be challenged.”
taken from Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
As a youth minister, this quote challenges me to think about how I approach evangelism and discipleship. I need to be challenging the students, not trying to force them to believe what I want them to.
How does this quote affect your thoughts on reaching the lost in your community?
What a fun week its been, on and off Twitter. Here are a few of the nuggets of wisdom and wonder I learned on Twitter this week.
1. saraeden (Sara Eden) was blessed by some generous people at her church. These are the people who both bless & humble us as we serve God and students.
“the grandparents of 2 students just offered to write a check for my @nywc registration. Humbled by this church family over and over.”
2. riddlegroup (Mark Riddle) shared a great opening line for your next message.
“A great intro to a sermon/talk: “Your job is to take notes, my job is to make that impossible.” – Peter Rollins”
3. MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) asked a great question for anyone with kids to answer. So, what is your answer?
“Sit-down meals with family ‘keep youths out of trouble”. How often does your family eat together? http://tinyurl.com/mmsv2o“
4. (Anonymous twitterer) shared one of the reasons youth ministers do what we do.
“Had a great meeting with a young man considering going into full time ministry.”
5. shawnmichael (Shawn Michael Shoup) quoted me for the first time of anyone on Twitter (that I know of). Thanks Shawn. (I just thought I’d share with you, blog readers, because I thought it was cool that he actually quoted me.)
“You need 2 B involved in a youth worker network & more importantly, U need 2 strive 2 help make it the best network anywhere.”(via @lilkup)
6. saraeden (Sara Eden) shared a great moment she had with a senior and freshman. Sometimes, high schoolers are just amazing, aren’t they?
“Just heard a senior say ‘woo hoo! You’re officially a high schooler!’ and high five a new freshmen. Love it!
What did you learn from Twitter this week?
Posted in fun, high school, leadership, ministry, NYWC, quotes, students, Twitter, youth ministry, Youth Ministry Thoughts, youth ministry tips
Tagged leadership, youth ministry
“The day (Independence Day) will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”
a quote in reference to the first Independence Day fireworks celebration in 1776 by then future President John Adams
“If you have a group of twelve kids who don’t understand your illustrations and one of them wants to kill you, you have a youth group just like Jesus.”
A Mark Yaconelli quote, taken from Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.
How many times have you looked at your group of students and thought, “even Jesus couldn’t get through to these kids?”
Often we forget that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ messages, and He was the best teacher ever. Next time you get frustrated at the group of students you work with, be reminded that Jesus’ group was just as frustrating. And look how they changed the world!!
“Without a coach, a youth ministry is reduced to the size of the leader’s comfort zone. We all need people who are honest enough to help us move from making excuses to making progress.”
taken from Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
How many youth ministries go without a coach? Is your ministry reduced to the size of your comfort zone?
“Ask yourself this: How would you react if the complainer were one of your students?”
taken from Help! I’m a Frustrated Youth Worker by Steven Case
This quote/question really struck me as a great mental filter for youth workers. We all have complainers in the church and we all deal with complaints weekly. How do you respond?
It is also good to remember this truth:
“It’s important to remember not to take criticism personally. People will complain no matter who sits in the youth minister’s office. It’s not about you.”
also taken from Help! I’m a Frustrated Youth Worker by Steven Case