The Posts With the Most

Every now and then over the weekend I find that I have time to go through and read some past posts from bloggers that I try to keep up with… In the off-chance that that’s what you’re doing right now, I thought I’d make it easy for you… I give a brief “subject” and then the following links take you directly to a few of the blogs that I have written that have gotten the most action of late for both this site and for the Dare 2 Share blog that I contribute to.

An Open Letter to A Departing Youth Pastor… this post has been the most read blog of any post I’ve ever written. It deals with leaving a church (or any job) well. This one was Retweeted and picked up by a few other organizations.

Holiday Red Cups… this is a post I wrote for Dare 2 Share in my “Dear Aaby” series. It is advice on how to turn a conversation into a possible opportunity to share Jesus with those who do not know Him.

What Is Your Mission… Trip?… this post encourages those in youth ministry to use your mission trip for more than just a one-week experience.

3 Areas of Neglect In Your Ministry… I’m excited by the way this post seemed to encourage many veteran youth workers to take a look at where they are spending their time and placing their efforts.

5 Youth Pastor “What Ifs”… This one was a highly read and re-tweeted  post from a few weeks ago. It deals with five questions I wonder about and if only I had done some things differently “back then.”

Any one of these a particular challenge and/or blessing? Any post you’ve read in the last few weeks from another blog you think I should be sure to read?

Happy weekend. Happy reading!

Grace,
Brian

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Connecting The Ministry Dots

[The following is a post I wrote for Youthworkers.net, it appeared here on Monday, January 22]

My three year old son is consistently drawing and coloring pictures for us to display on the fridge. Couple that with his growing ability to count and I believe he is about ready to take on the “connect the dot” exercises. C’mon, you remember those gems, don’t you?

As a much-older than 3 year-old, I still like connecting the dots. As a local Network Leader, I love connecting the dots with ministry leaders in our area. I do believe the Christian world can be better connected so we can see a complete picture of the gospel lived out in our picturesque world! We truly can be better together!

My own personal and ministry dots connected recently when one of my local Youth Leader Networks was invited to have our lunch at Adelphia Bible School. This was a brilliant move by the school and one that has already led to many ministry dots being connected.

My thought is that a silly little lunch will lead to many ministry dots connecting for a long time. Additionally, I bet our network is not the only one that could benefit from this sort of relationship–thus this blog post to get your juices flowing!

The following is just a sampling of the dots I have already seen connected:

  • Adelphia students need and want to get out of the Christian College bubble (if you went to a Christian College, you know EXACTLY what I mean). Well at Adelphia, many of the students serve as interns or on the volunteer staff for the Youth Pastors/Ministries represented by our network.
  • Youth Pastors are consistently asked about colleges and universities, having the Youth Pastors on their side is a wise move by the college.
  • As I mentioned, this was a bonus ministry-dot connection for me personally, I am a consultant for the college and the school is doing their year-end mission trips through my organization, Youthmark. Well, because of this lunch, it looks likely that one of the local Youth Ministry interns is going to help lead one of these missions so that he can gain valuable experience to help propel his future career as a Youth Pastor.
  • Adelphia plans to expand the ministry dots by inviting these local Youth Pastors to speak into the lives of their students through future seminars and trainings.

Bring it home:

  • Is there a Christian College or University in your area that you could work out a relationship like this?
  • Perhaps you represent a Christian College, what would it look like for you to reach out the local Youth Pastors and provide a great place for a meal (or coffee) and just see where the ministry dots may connect.
  • Colleges are not the only avenues to explore, think of the ministry-dots you can connect with a camp, a community center or local coffee shop! 
I am ready to see a grown-up version of Connect-The-Ministry-Dots create a beautiful picture of the kingdom come!
Grace,
Brian

(SMS) Top 10 Reasons To Network (The Finale)

Do you have your elevator speech ready? You know, the speech you give when someone asks what you do?  Take 30 seconds to describe yourself are and what you do (the approximate length of time you have with another person in the elevator). This past weekend I gave that speech a number of times at the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC). Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing the story of Youthmark, but, I long for the deeper conversations with trusted friends.

Though the national reunion at the NYWC provided some fantastic networking opportunities (and in-depth relationship) I was continually thankful for real-life being shared in my local networks! So, by way of transition (with focus being more on local) I’ll continue my TOP 10 Networking Benefits by giving you the countdown from five to one (10 to six are posted here).

Five: Shared Discipleship. We share students. Some of our students attend one church on Sunday with family and another one on Wednesday for Youth Group. Tag-teaming in discipleship through networks allows us to be on the same page with families and with individuals. We’ve been amazed at some of the discoveries we’ve made in network that have led to reconciliation of families, sexual abuse being reported and many positive spiritual advancements!

Four: Accountability. There are so many common struggles with relationships, sin, ministry issues and much more. At times of weakness I have been gently rebuked, uniquely encouraged or just spurred on in love and deed. Accountability isn’t always about being asked the “tough questions,” it’s nice to know I have a place I can safely go and make the “tough confessions.”

Three: Witness. You don’t often see a group of three to 10 folk gathering, laughing, talking and then praying. Our network gatherings have brought about a number of gospel opportunities with onlookers asking “who are you people?” In one situation we were able to follow up with an onlooker and lead him to a relationship with Jesus.

Two: Network Missions. On a few occasions our groups have gone out on mission trips together! This has been awesome especially in light of the philosophy that I believe in–Mission51! That is, I believe the mission trip is not the end-all, in fact, we ought to be training our students for the 51 weeks beyond the mission. Well, in a network context, these students who went out to Mexico, California, Costa Rica or Alaska together and served on a mission trip, are coming back to the same campus, clubs and community together for the mission at home! I’d love to see Youthmark do this with more networks!

One: Refuge and Prayer. Our network is safe. I am known in this tribe and I know that I am supported in prayer. If our group “errors” on one side, it’s that we want to love on each other and pray for one another more than anything else. This, of course, is not an error at all. We are trusting the Holy Spirit for great things in our own lives, ministries and geographical area; getting together to lift one another up is enough reason for a network to exist these other 9 (and others) are just the icing on top!

What have been some of your fun stories? What are the benefits that you’ve seen come out of your connections? Let’s see this virtual network influence the other national and local networks!

Grace,

Brian

(SMS) Top Ten Reasons To Network

I’ve been asked to be a regular contributor to youthworkers.net and provide some original content for their site. I’m excited about this opportunity and believe in what they’re doing. With that said, I’ll still bring that content over to this site as well… I’ll just let the content “debut” over on that site. Here it is at youthworkers.net.

But, if you didn’t click that, you can read part one of the Top Ten Reasons To Network below.

Student Ministry Leadership in many ways is a culture in and of itself. I love being a part of this unique and diverse tribe! I am a firm believer that we (Youth Leaders) are better together. In nearly 20 years of being “in charge” of a variety of ministries (church and parachurch) I have found great value and blessing in being connected to other youth leaders through gatherings of all sorts– local, national and virtual.

Though all three avenues of networking exist, the one that I value and push the most is the local network. Over the last 15 years of ministry, the local network has very much been a refuge, resource and sometimes a prime ministry outlet. If you’re reading this  and don’t feel connected, please consider linking up with others in your area…perhaps you will experience something similar to my top 10 reasons I network.

Ten: Events – I think the “knock,” or reason some have chosen to not network is that they feel networks are always trying to do something together. I have NOT found this to be the case. Our groups have rarely done “all group” events–our meetings rarely are driven by an agenda to “do” things together. However, we’ve seen lots of partnerships (two to three groups) take place as a result of like-mindedness discoveries (i.e. three groups doing an all-nighter together).

Nine: Food and Beverage – Not going to lie, I have eaten well and enjoyed some good coffee at network gatherings. Just calling a spade a spade, networking has given me a good chance to feast.

Eight: Camps and Retreats – Over the last few years I have seen some of the best camps and retreats be prayed up, planned out and delivered as a result of the collaborative efforts of folks in our networks. For instance, one network I am a part of has two different winter retreats, the more pentecostal churches all link up and the less charismatic churches do a different one- but many ideas are shared all together as the planning is done! It’s a sweet gig that leads to two gigs!

Seven: Social – Of course the meetings are somewhat social, but the gatherings have brought about deep friendships, some of these friendships have gone far beyond the ministry connection as we socialize together with spouses and families and “do life” together (including babysitting swapping)!

Six: Spiritual/Ministry Retreat – Youthmark has a retreat called “Glean” that is specifically for Youth Pastors and Spouses. These getaways truly serve as one part marital retreat, one part ministry enhancement and many parts social! Gleaning is an old testament principle of leaving 10% of your best crop for others in need to glean from. At these retreats we bring our best 10% and share ideas for ministry, marriage and life! I have been honored to lead a couple of these for my own networks!

Let’s hit the pause button for now as you digest, dream and think through how networking has or can benefit you. If you are not involved in a network, I think these first five give you enough reason to jump onboard, but if you are still not convinced, stay tuned and we will go live with the top five on Monday!

Grace,
Brian