It’s no secret that almost 90 percent of those who come to Christ do so before the age of 20. Youth ministries are built upon the premise that the younger years are when the harvest fields are richest.
But time and again, I hear senior pastors and church members express the same frustration: “I just don’t know what to do to get through to these kids!”
The good news is that “getting through” is easier than you may think. Put simply: Just feed them! (And I don’t mean just feed them pizza, though that may be a good start.)
It was 30 years ago that I began serving a small rural church in southern Indiana. I was so incredibly green then; I’m glad I didn’t always realize it.
I loved those people in that church and, for some reason, they loved me too. I had to be one of the most inept pastors in history, but they just continued to show me grace and love me even more.
Three decades later, I reflect back on what I’ve learned in ministry. Some lessons came rather naturally; others were very painful.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. — Philippians 2:1-2
As author John Maxwell has noted, there is a difference between being a leader and being a manager. He often points out that management focuses on maintaining systems and processes, while leadership is about "influencing people to follow." One way to cultivate such influence is breathtaking in its simplicity: Influence involves caring sincerely about others.
While going through my senior year of college, there were days when it seemed as if the weight of the world had been placed on my shoulders. Classes were scheduled at odd times, so I had to plan meetings, work, and other errands as opportunity allowed. One day, I was feeling particularly frustrated when I stopped by my mailbox. Most of the time, there was nothing inside. But on this day, I found a card containing a few encouraging lines penned in blue ink.
What struck me was that it didn't have a name on it. It didn't have to. The card had done the job it was intended to do--to show me that I was cared for and appreciated.
Of course, showing someone that you care can be accomplished in ways other than sending a card to someone. A kind word can do the same thing. If somebody is struggling with an issue (or life in general), simply sitting and listening can be worth more than any words that may come to mind. And don't forget prayer, for "the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5:16).
However, encouragement isn't just reserved for those who know Christ Jesus. All people need to hear positive words, especially the words that tell of One who died for us so that we can have eternal life. Let's strive to be an encouragement to all we come in contact with daily.
Last week, I wrote about the three greatest temptations of leadership. This week, I want to talk about the three ways we can keep our integrity and prevent those temptations from destroying our testimony and diminishing our influence.
First, deepen your reverence for God. Never forget that God put you in the position you’re in today. Psalm 75:6 says, “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another” (LB). Great leaders realize that they are stewards. They realize that it’s not their world, their church, their business; they are just the manager, the steward. Promotion comes from God, not from other people.
Back in the 1950s and through the 1980s, there were some massive evangelistic and social-service ministries created that did amazing work around the world (and some still are). From Campus Crusade, the Jesus Film Project, Feed the Children, the Navigators, The Gideons—plus big evangelistic organizations like Oral Roberts, Billy Graham and many more—these ministry and nonprofit organizations had a global impact and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the effort.
But today some of the large legacy ministries are struggling. After seeing many of these organizations from the inside, and from my experience engaging today’s culture, here’s five things these organizations need to do to transition and stay relevant to the next generation:
This past week, I was contacted by a minister who was getting ready to start his new role of campus pastor at a multisite church in 2014. He asked me to share with him what my week and responsibilities looked like and to explain the role of the campus pastor.
Believe it or not, this is something I do often and will be doing more in the future as a resource and partner on my friend Scott Williams’ new website campuspastor.tv.