Youth Ministry

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat seems like the perfect counterpart to Fasting. We are not a culture that says “no” often or intentionally self-sacrifices to make space for God in our lives. Fasting & Shabbat seem to directly challenge those principles more than any of the other disciplines. Shabbat is another discipline that is best practiced within the context of the home but must be modeled first by ministers & pastors.
Today I am grateful that Stacy Smith joins our conversation. Stacy is the Associate Director of Discipleship for Alamo Heights United Methodist Church Student Ministries. She and her husband (who is the Worship Pastor) not only model Shabbat as pastors but also practice Shabbat as a family. Regularly. May we all model Shabbat for those we serve and challenge all to honor one of the most beautiful disciplines given by God. 
Welcome, Stacy.
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Two summers ago, my husband and I made our way to Israel for the first time in our lives. It was the trip of a lifetime, destined to forever alter the way I saw God, the way I saw myself, and the way my family engaged our faith. Over the two weeks we spent in Israel, we witnessed many traditions and observances that we ourselves found quite appealing—one of which was Shabbat, or Sabbath.

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BONUS: The First Step

Remember how I said sometimes we’ll just throw the format out the window? Today is one of those days.

ntF1MUuTClint Askins joins us today all the way from Ghana, Africa where he & his wife, Hailey, work for Mercy Project. Mercy Project strives to eradicate child slavery on Lake Volta through long-term, sustainable solutions to empower & equip Ghanaians who use the children for fishing. Prior to Clint’s work with Mercy Project, he served in Youth Ministry for 7 years. Clint has a heart for the marginalized & boldly challenges all to live a life worthy of being a Jesus follower.

You can hear more from Clint & Hailey on their blog and on Twitter @clintaskins. Welcome, Clint.

My friend Jim Hinkle wrote on discipleship plans for children and youth, but I wanted to write something specific to all adults involved with churches and these ministries.
During my time as a youth minister, our intentional plan for discipleship relied heavily on mentoring given to youth from adults (other than their own parents) in our church.
Mentors influenced me more than any other factor in my own spiritual growth. In high school, it was my youth minister. In college and graduate school, three of my professors were incredible mentors. And in youth ministry, I learned from watching some of the best.
So naturally, I wanted to provide our youth an opportunity to be mentored by Christ-following, wise adults in our church. We started mentoring groups led by 2 adults and 5-10 students.
Only one problem. Continue reading

Wish List for a Child’s Heart

There are few people I know who are more intentional about every aspect of ministry than my friend Jim Hinkle. I mean seriously some days meetings will last twice as long as necessary because of how much he thinks through every detail, word choice used and the implication of decisions made. But it’s born out of wisdom and his deep love & passion for the local church and how she should love others well. Jim was one of several who sat down and tackled this overwhelming job of creating a discipleship model for Children’s & Youth Ministries. I’m so excited to invite him to our conversation today to share just how they set out to tackle this feat.

It’s an entertaining mental exercise to make a wish list. What would a wish list look like for a remodeled kitchen? How about a new car? What about the ultimate super hero? All of us, at some level, have let our imaginations dream about what could be if we could simply make a list of what we’d like to have in a kitchen, a car, or maybe even a super hero.

But what about our wish list for a child’s heart. What attitudes, skill sets, and perspectives Continue reading

Intentionally Making Disciples

Screen-shot-2011-09-16-at-1.19.01-AMThen Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

In ancient Jewish tradition, children would attend Bet Sefer where they would memorize the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) from 5 – 10 years of age. The best of those students were selected to attend Bet Talmud (at 11 years old) to begin learning the interpretation & application of the scriptures. If you weren’t selected you went home to learn the family business. The best of the Bet Talmud students were chosen by the Rabbi for Bet Midrash about the age of 15. The Rabbi would declare, “Lech achori.” or “Come, follow me.” The Rabbi would train, teach, worship with, live life with, and mentor his students in the ways of God & faith. “Lech achori” was the phrase every Jewish child dreamed of hearing from a Rabbi. This command meant more than physically following the Rabbi. It meant the Rabbi thought you were capable of becoming like him. It was a statement of the Rabbi finding worth & value in you.

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Being Practical: Building Bridges Between Children’s & Youth Ministries

I am so exited to invite Fawn Bauer to the conversation today. Fawn’s heart beats for Youth Ministry & the students God has brought into her life. She makes bold decision to follow wherever God leads her, and I’m honored to call her my friend. Today she shares with us some practical ways to build bridges between ministries that often seem to live in separate countries.

I’ve served in youth ministry over the last 13 years as an intern, a ministry assistant, a volunteer, and now, as a full-time youth minister at Sycamore View Church. I’ve spent a lot of time watching strong youth ministries become even stronger when they partner with children’s ministries.

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Building Bridges with Youth Ministry

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When I first started in Children’s Ministry I was fortunate enough to work for a small church that already had a strong bridge between Children’s & Youth* Ministries. My first formal experience in ministry taught me a way to do ministry that couldn’t function without the help of one another. Most events were dependent on youth volunteers. Children’s Worship depended on teens. And I saw those teens discover gifts they didn’t know they had while teaching children & becoming mentors. Immature teenagers grew up under the attentive concentration of little eyes & ears. I also learned that I needed to build relationships with teens as much as children. I found myself attending almost as many Youth Ministry events as I orchestrated for Children’s Ministry. (It didn’t hurt that the Youth Minister was really cute either**.)

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