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THE EPIDEMIC OF MINISTRY DISASTERS: 4 Things That Will Ruin Your Ministry

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It happened again. The “it” was the phone call I received telling me that a friend of mine just lost his ministry due to moral failure. It seems as if person after person is losing his ministry. The stories are hard to grasp. The circumstances vary, of course, but the result is the same–another person has bailed out of ministry due to a personal impropriety. This time it was someone I knew quite well. I never figured it would happen to him; he probably didn’t either. This young pastor allowed certain things to get “out of whack”, in his personal and ministry life. He wasn’t as careful as he should have been in certain areas of his life. Left unchecked, those indiscretions ended up being the things that took his ministry away.

This young man isn’t the first person I know who lost his ministry. The list is long. . . . Good friends of mine, people I went to college with, people I served in ministry with all lost their ministries due to a specific area of sin in their lives. I’ve heard the stories of not only some of my friends who have failed but also accounts of ministry leaders and ministry novices who have lost their positions in ministry.

I want to talk about some of the common denominators in all of those stories. Sure, the circumstances are all different, but some ingredients fit into specific categories. I want to call youth workers to lives of holiness, purity, and personal discipline. There seems to be four basic areas of life that, when left unchecked, can lead to ministry disaster.

  • Morals: Undoubtedly the number-one cause of ministry disaster is moral sin. The huge number of pastors who fall into sexual sin is staggering. The sin ranges from being caught in a habit of pornography, to ongoing physical or emotional affairs with someone other than the pastor’s spouse. This trend of moral failure has become a full-blown epidemic. It is critically important for all ministry leaders to develop God-honoring lifestyles of complete moral purity. There is nothing so devastating to a person’s reputation than moral failure. Youth workers, I beg of you, keep your hearts and thought-lives pure before the Lord.
  • Money: The second reason for ministry failure is often financial impropriety. A lack of true Biblical stewardship can lead to personal disaster and ruin. Ministry leaders must learn to handle their own finances and ministry finances with great care and extreme caution. Money problems have caused many ministry leaders great difficulties. It is important for each ministry leader to learn to handle church funds carefully. Every penny should be justified, and a full accounting of financial records, including a system of checks and balances, should be implemented. Financial management may or may not be one of your strengths, but budgeting and record-keeping skills can and should be learned.
  • Mouth: The third factor I have seen cause ruin in the ministry is the mouth. The Bible lists many ways that words can hurt us. Do you remember the old childhood taunt that went something like this: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? The truth is that words do hurt. We have all been hurt by mean-spirited gossip and cutting criticism. Ministry leaders must learn that their words can hurt them too. People who cannot control their tongues are not fit for ministry. If we gossip, if we verbally criticize others, or if our words are characterized by negativity, our ministries will quickly suffer. Our mouths can ruin our ministries.
  • Mismanagement: The fourth thing that can lead to ministry ruin is a lifestyle of mismanagement. If our lives are characterized by disorganization and chaos, our ministries will quickly be as well. It may seem “cute” for a while for youth workers to come across as sloppy and chaotic, but in the end a life of mismanagement will lead to ruin.

This quick article is certainly not the antidote for all ministry disasters. My intent here is not to solve all of our ministry problems. But I do want to challenge all youth workers and ministry leaders to lives that honor the Lord in public and in private. Let’s guard these four areas of our lives and make sure we are not allowing things to creep into our lives that may ultimately lead to ministry disaster. May the Lord bless you as you seek to live in purity and holiness before Him!

(This article is a update of an article I wrote in 2003.)

“Youth Ministry Heaven”?

in Ministry/Outreach/youth ministry by

In June of 1974, the Righteous Brothers released their hit song, “Rock and Roll Heaven” which lamented the passing of rock stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Jim Croce, and Bobby Darin. The song imagined the gathering in “heaven” of these talented, but now deceased artists. With my apologies of the writers of “Rock and Roll Heaven”, Johnny Stevenson and Alan O’Day, I want to use their analogy to share my thoughts about the recent passing of one of the legends of youth ministry, Dr. Dawson McAllister.

Here is the link to a press release from “The Hope Line” which shares much more information about this influential youth ministry trend setter: https://www.thehopeline.com/passing-of-founder-dawson-mcallister/?fbclid=IwAR2YjQLzc-aguMqEK4uZm7zNPBVCQ0-JGkwaK5DkCPhkUSkl0Qk972hvnsA.

We lost another youth ministry “hall of famer” this week with the home-going of Dawson McAllister. Undoubtedly, every youth worker in America for over three decades used the materials or attended a conference written or led by this visionary and incredibly creative entrepreneur. I was one of those youth workers.

His bio claims that he spoke to over one million teenagers in a twenty-year span of his ministry, but he was also a pioneer of Christian radio. At the height of his popularity, his call-in show, “Dawson McAllister Live!” was featured on over 250 radio stations from coast to coast. He was also a prolific writer with 18 books to his credit.

Dawson McAllister was ushered into heaven this week where he heard his Lord and Savior proclaim, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Dawson believed in kids and youth ministry – and he dedicated his life to pointing the next generation to Jesus.

When I heard of his death just today; my creative, but perhaps warped mind, immediately thought of that Righteous Brothers’ song.

I can imagine Dawson being heartily welcomed to a table where other youth ministry legends who had passed on before were seated reminiscing about the glory days of reaching kids for Christ.

Seated there were:

  • Jack Wyrtzen, who rented Yankee Stadium in 1944 for America’s first “Word of Life Rally”;  
  • Percy Crawford, who began the “Young Peoples’ Church of the Air” just a few years later;
  • Torrey Johnson & Billy Graham who helped launched what became “Youth for Christ” – also in 1944.
  • Art Rorheim and Lance Latham, who helped found the “Awana Youth Association” outside of Chicago in 1950.

Those guys had already been welcomed to the table by people like Francis Edward Clark, who established the “Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor” in 1881; George Williams, who founded the “Young Men’s Christian Association” in 1844, and Robert Raikes, who developed the first Sunday School back in 1780.

I can also imagine Mike Yaconelli being there – he helped found “Youth Specialties” in 1969. But he may have too busy being “Getting Fired for the Glory of God” or dancing on the “Jones Memorial Carpet.”

Others were there to be sure – men and women God used to create and develop what we refer to as youth ministry. These were visionary leaders all, people with a God-given burden and vision to impact lives of kids for eternity.

Dawson is welcomed to that table for sure because so many of us do what we do today in part due to his influence on our lives and upon our careers.

My imagination sees this make-believe “youth ministry heaven” and believes that the conversation around that table today has been enhanced and invigorated by Dawson McAllister joining in on that discussion.

Welcome to the band, Dawson. Welcome home!

(Disclaimer to Readers: This is may be my most sacrilegious post ever. I am not a fan of the language and message of the Righteous Brother’s song “Rock and Roll Heaven. I’m just using that song here as an illustration. Please don’t be offended.)

Youth Ministry Tenure: How to Survive in Youth Ministry Over the Long Haul?

in Ministry/youth ministry by

I remember my first year as a youth pastor. I was fresh out of Bible college, my wife and I just got married and we had moved over 500 miles away from any of our other family members. We moved into our first apartment, bought some furniture, and stood in line at the DMV to get our drivers’ licenses in this new state.

Yes, I had heard the statistics. The average youth pastor only lasts a year-and-a-half in a typical church ministry.

Looking back, I don’t believe that statistic was ever proven to be true[i]. But, that 18-month tenure number had taken on “urban legend” status even back then.

My “rookie year” as a youth pastor went great. I was almost the antithesis of my predecessor in the church where I was serving. His perceived weaknesses were my strengths. The kids seemed to relate well to us, and we worked hard to build positive relationships with the students. They loved youth group and responded with interest and even enthusiasm to my lessons and messages. Their parents seemed to appreciate us, and the senior pastor and other church leaders seemed to see me as the new “Pied Piper” of youth ministry success.

But, then year two rolled around.

It seemed then as if everything that was successful the first year was a total disaster the second year. It appeared as if the teenagers didn’t like any of the events that I planned and were quite disinterested during my talks. The parents began to complain about what I was trying to do – and then the senior pastor called me in for a meeting with the church board to confront me about the struggles in the youth ministry.

I was worried that I was about to become the poster child for that year-and-a-half statistic. Things were not going well in that second year; and it was time for a “gut check” of my commitment, resolve, and calling. I wondered if I had made a mistake when my wife and I moved so far away, and I began to doubt if a young youth pastor with only 18 months of experience would ever be able to find another ministry position.

Let me move to end of the story. That was over 40 years ago. I actually served in that church for about eight years before the Lord gave me the opportunity to begin teaching youth ministry in a Christian college. In one way or another my wife and I have been actively involved in youth ministry ever since. In fact, even though I hate to admit it, I am currently 66 years old and still serve as a vocational youth pastor.

I certainly don’t have all the answers but let me share with you some of the things God has been teaching me over the years about longevity in youth ministry.

How to Survive in Youth Ministry Over the Long Haul?

Here are a few questions every youth worker should ask themselves if they are interested in serving as a career youth pastor or as a volunteer youth worker for a long time.

  • What has God called you to do?

Friends, if the Lord has called you to serve Him as a youth worker, keep doing that as long as God provides you with the opportunity to do it. To relay more of my personal story, I sensed that the Lord called me to youth ministry the summer following my sophomore year in Bible college.

In one way or another, I have been actively working with young people in various aspects ever sense. God used His Word (I was studying 1 & 2 Timothy at the time), the life-changing experience of leading a young man to Christ, and the encouragement of influential, Godly adults as the catalysts for me to recognize His direct leading in my life. I began to recognize that He had wired and enabled me to work with teenagers – and I still believe that even now as a full-fledged senior citizen. I know that this is an adaptation of an old cliché, but if the Lord calls you to be a youth worker, don’t stoop to working with adults.

  • Do you have a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish?

Humanly speaking, the most important contributing factor for long-term youth ministry effectiveness may be an uncompromising and unobstructed vision of your sense of mission and purpose. It is not nearly enough to just love kids – although I believe that is critically important! Youth workers, and especially youth pastors perhaps, must see their role as shepherding kids toward a lifetime of growing in Christ toward lasting spiritual maturity. And make sure to communicate what you are trying to do in every way possible. You will want to stick it out, and churches will want to keep you around, if your long-term objective is to see kids come to Christ and grow up to go on for God.

  • What significant relationships are you building?

Strong, genuine relationships may indeed be the key to long-term survival in youth ministry. Of course, this begins with building loving and caring relationships with young people. Almost everyone who has ever written anything about vocational youth ministry has mentioned the importance of relational youth ministry. But I’m talking here about developing strong relationships with the senior pastor and other church leaders, parents and family members of your students – and carving out time to network with your peers in youth ministry as well. My fellow youth workers don’t take this point lightly. Put some energy into building strong inter-personal relationships with others. Then if things start to “go south” you will have established and durable relationships to rely on for stability or comfort

  • How do you handle personal conflicts with others?

Let’s face it, conflicts with people are going to happen. Some of the teenagers might not like you. Some of their parents may not appreciate what you are trying to do – and the leadership team in your church may even want you to leave. No matter what, it is important to handle conflicts in a Biblical, loving, and respectful manner. It is probably true that if we handle conflicts in an adult-like manner with maturity, kindness, and wisdom, we are much more likely to win over the objections of others in the church. I admit that is not always the case, but people conflicts tend to be much more vocal and heated if we allow our personality traits and human insecurities to get involved in the disputes. Without a doubt, it is always best to not allow human conflicts to get heated and confrontational in nature. My years of experience in ministry have taught me that those who last over the long haul are usually the people who can avoid or manage conflicts with others in the church.

  • Are you committed to faithfulness?

In what must have been a moment of insanity, as a high schooler I decided to try out for my school’s cross country team. My one-year fiasco as a long-distance runner revealed that successful runners are those who are committed to finishing the race – no matter what. That observation undoubtedly applies to the tenure of youth pastors as well.  I have found that youth pastors who last are usually those who are committed to long term ministry. They are not continually searching for a position in a different church, nor are they looking to do something else. The ones who stick it out are they ones who are committed to sticking it out over the long haul. They realize that it takes time to build an effective youth ministry.

As someone who has spent a long time in ministry, I have also observed that most veteran youth workers who are leading profitable ministries with students, and who are reaching out into the households where their students are from, are usually also faithful in their own walk with God and in their personal relationships with their own spouse and family.

On a personal note, I’m not buying that 18-month tenure statistic. I do not believe it was true when I started in youth ministry and I’m positive that it is not the norm today. I know many youth pastors who have spent 10, 20, 30, and even 40 years in very profitable ministries.

By the way, I lived through that meeting with the senior pastor and the church board. In fact, they encouraged me in some very specific areas of my ministry, and they helped me focus on a long-term vision of what church youth ministry should accomplish. By God’s grace, our ministry turned the corner and we began to see Him do some amazing things in and through the lives of many of our students.

After all these years I still have that God-given focus on the lasting mission of youth ministry, to see young people grow up and go on for God.


[i] For example see: http://youthministryforum.blogspot.com/2005/10/18-month-myth.html.

5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children to Go On for God

in Going On For God/inter-generational ministry/Mentoring/Ministry/youth ministry by

The books are flying off the presses in seemingly endless numbers; and frankly, I’m sick of hearing the statistics about the young adults who are dropping out of church. (I know, I know – I listed some of these stats in my own books and posts!) But, please keep reading.

I want to read about the kids who stayed in church. I want to hear the stories of Christian kids who grow up to go on for God. I want to hear about the successes of Godly, Christian parents who are proactively working with the church’s youth leaders to develop strong, stable, and mature Christ-followers who as young adults decide to stay engaged in the church.

(One excellent resource on this very topic is, Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon, by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock, published by Baker Books in 2019.)

I know many of these young adults who are absolutely committed to Christ and His claims on their lives. Some of them are currently in college, others are in the military or work force, and many of them are currently living productive live as God-honoring adults.

So, what can Christian parents do to help their children to grow up and go on for God? I am convinced that we must look to the Scriptures for the answers! In the pages of the New Testament we are told the stories of some young people who grew up before our eyes (so to speak) in the Biblical narrative and who continued to live for God long into their adult lives. One of those young men was Timothy. We meet him in Acts 16 as a young man growing up in church and we read his story throughout the Epistles, including Paul’s last letter to him in 2 Timothy. There are many things in the Bible that we can learn about Timothy, but for the sake of this quick post let’s talk a look at some of the things his parents (especially his mother, Eunice – see 2 Timothy 1:5) did right.

It is important to note that parenting is never a formula or a recipe. It doesn’t work to frivolously think that a few quick ideas lead to spiritual success with our kids. However, if we look at the sweeping principles that seemed to guide this family, we can take away some very practical advice for raising our own kids for God today.

A Consistent Lifestyle – 2 Timothy 1:5

Probably the most obvious thing that this family did right was Eunice’s and Lois’ consistent or genuine walk with God. The Bible calls theirs an “unfeigned” (KJV) or un-faked faith! Timothy’s mom and grandmother demonstrated a genuine relationship with God – and it impacted Timothy. Notice in verse 5 that Timothy also demonstrated a genuine faith. He grew up and went on for God – and that’s what we want from our kids, too.

Communication of God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:15

The second thing this family did right was that they made it a priority to communicate Biblical truth. Notice that from his earliest days, Timothy learned the Scriptures. The next two verses (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17) reveal that this strategy was much more than a rote memorization of the Text. He also learned that Biblical principles are “profitable” for life and that these principles lead to true spiritual maturity.

Collaboration with the Church

There is another key element to their strategy that is worth identifying and that is their cooperation with the church to help develop Timothy’s faith. Acts 16 identifies him as a “disciple”, who as a young man already had a good testimony with the other believers. He also was personally selected by the Apostle Paul to go along on this missionary journey. The text expounds on the purpose of their ministry, “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. (NIV)” Obviously, the church was a priority to young Timothy. He grew up in church and committed himself to a church-based ministry.

Concern for People and Culture

The Acts 16 passage also presents an interesting scenario of Timothy’s circumcision even though his was a Greek (see verse 1). He perhaps was willing to submit to this cultural ritual due to the cross-cultural background in his own family. This somewhat dysfunctional family environment undoubtedly produced a heart-felt concern for other people and a genuine sensitivity for others.

Commitment to Ministry

The final positive thing I’d like to identify from this family was their dedication to God’s work. They were willing to allow their son to follow Paul along on this journey. Without any visible hesitation on anyone’s part Timothy joined the missionary team and set off on what was the beginning of his call to vocational ministry.

Timothy was a young man who grew up and went on for God. The narrative of Scripture points out some identifiable things that helped in this process. Perhaps there is practical wisdom here for today’s Christian families to implement into the fabric of raising their own kids.

5 Considerations for Ministry & Outreach to Kids from Broken & Dysfunctional Households During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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I’ve seen so many posts on various social media outlets recently that the Coronavirus pandemic gives Christian parents the opportunity to truly disciple their own kids. Several posts list ways church youth workers are partnering with parents for the spiritual benefit of the kids. In some cases, those situations may indeed be true. However, since there is a growing number of broken and dysfunctional households in this country, the opposite may be happening instead.

Putting kids in overwhelmingly negative home situations for extended amounts of time during this Covid-19 time period may actually accomplish adverse and undesirable results. Almost every church youth worker I have spoken to personally in the last several months has agreed that they have an increasing number of children and teenagers in their churches from non-traditional households.

If your church is reaching out to unchurched and unsaved kids in your community, you undoubtedly have young people in this same situation. I hate to say this, but it may not be always a good thing for them to spend extra time at home.

Just this week a friend of mine who is a police officer near a large city told me that one of his biggest concerns during this pandemic is the potential increase of domestic frustrations and violence. Since most kids are out of school for prolonged time periods with no return in sight, there may indeed be young people that are a part of our ministries from negative and maybe harmful home environments.

Youth workers and other church leaders should think this through immediately. How can we reach out to the kids in our communities who may need the most help, and how can we minister to the kids in our church who are from those non-traditional, broken, and dysfunctional households? (For more information to ministering and reaching out to dysfunctional households see: https://blog.youthspecialties.com/5-big-ideas-for-ministry-to-increasingly-dysfunctional-households/.)

  • Strategize with the other ministry leaders from your church to determine what resources you can offer during this crisis.

It is obviously true that your church probably can’t do everything that other churches may be trying to do right now. Your church needs to determine what specific things you can do well, and then create a way to implement those specific ideas. It’s really important for you to get the leadership team from your church on the same page.

Your expertise may be not high-tech where you can provide high quality video productions every day, but you may be able to use Facebook Live and your iPhone to provide the live streaming of your church’s Sunday morning service. Your church probably will not have the resources or personnel to do everything well, so it’s important to select and then execute the ministry strategies that you can do well during these difficult days.

It is very important for all churches to utilize both high-tech and low-tech ways to communicate with their people and with their communities during this pandemic. The hurting and struggling households in your church’s general area need to know that your church is concerned about them and that you have a specific plan in place to reach out to them. Churches must figure out what they can do to minister and reach out – and then launch a plan to implement those specific things.

  • Develop a plan to effectively communicate what resources your church can offer.

Once you have worked with your leadership team to identify what resources you have to offer, you’ll need to develop a specific plan of how to effectively communicate what you are doing. It really doesn’t do any good for you to offer helps to hurting and dysfunctional households unless you can effectively communicate that those resources are available. Each church will need to figure out how best to communicate your contingency plans and action steps to the people you are trying to reach. If your church has decided to live stream your services, how will people know that you are doing that and where specifically can they locate that feed? For example, I just learned the other day of a church that prepared “care packages” for residents of a nursing home in their area only to find out that the facility would not allow outside groups to distribute anything to their patients.

It might be worth it to invest in new signage, or to pay for a community-wide mailing, or to insert an ad in the local paper or on a local radio station to communicate what specific endeavors your church is doing during this crisis. Current demographic trends indicate that your area probably has a large and growing number of hurting and non-traditional households. It will be crucial for your church to communicate what you are trying to do.

  • Find ways that you can be a spiritual encouragement and help to those who need it.

You have probably seen a wealth of practical ideas that have been posted on social media recently touting projects churches are undertaking during the Cororavirus situation. That’s great – and church leaders, maybe especially youth workers, are to be commended for putting their creativity to work. But, let me emphasize one other area of caution here. Don’t forget that the grand mission of the church is to fulfill the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19-20) and to equip the saints to do “the work of ministry” (see Ephesians 4:11-16). In other words, to borrow a phrase I’d heard often in recent days, “the church must be the church.”

Churches must look for ways to continue accomplishing the purposes of the church, like fellowship, worship, giving, preaching and teaching of Scripture, serving, and outreach. Just because our churches can’t gather on Sunday mornings doesn’t mean that we should cease to fulfill our God-given mission. Churches will need to think through creative and effective ways to share Christ’s love with a needy and hurting world.

  • Recruit and utilize ways to involve other people from your church in ministry and outreach endeavors.

It’s really important to remember that none of us are superheroes with superpowers. It is imperative that we involve others in whatever our churches decide to do. Overloading our pastors, youth pastors, or our team of other volunteer youth workers right now is probably a long-lasting mistake. Don’t forget that their lives are probably in chaos now too. On the other hand, some of your church people may have extra time on their hands and they may be willing to get involved. Of course, it will be very, very important for you to do all you can to keep your volunteers safe and heathy. Our authorities have instituted “social distancing” for a reason and that is to protect people from spreading and catching this virus.

Our pastors may not be tech experts and they may not have the ability to serve as activity directors, or idea generators for parents with kids who are out of school. That’s why it is so important for your church to institute a plan to creatively involve volunteers to help with the variety of projects you want to implement.

The key here is to realize that each local church has a multitude of resources available to help non-traditional and dysfunctional households in the community in addition to the pastoral staff. This can include Godly older people to serve as mentors, and a team of other trained professional who could provide counseling or that could provide tangible physical assistance. This also might include the production of quality helps and resources to distribute to hurting community members.  

  • Remember to identify creative methods of outreach instead of just emphasizing ways to communicate with those who already attend your church.

I’m sure that you have noticed that so many of the recent social media posts have presented ways for churches and youth groups to communicate to people who are already a part of their ministries, and obviously that is important. But we cannot fail to take this opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and communities which contain a host of struggling households during these difficult days of anxiety and fear. Some churches are helping local school distribute homework and meals, others are taking small care packages to seniors, some are opening their buildings for small prayer meetings, and others are offering family and personal counseling sessions. I just heard of one church that is offering “drive in” movies and music in the church parking lot. There are many ideas out there. The key is to prayerfully consider what your church can do to reach out to the needy and hurting people in your community.

5 Suggestions of Things To Do During an Extended Time at Home

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I confess that one of the hardest things for me to accept during these days of “social distancing” is that the sports world has almost literally shut down. There is no professional basketball. No March Madness. No Spring Training baseball games, and “opening day” has been suspended. What’s a guy like me supposed to do? I told my wife the other day that we’ll probably have to actually talk to each other. I’m kidding about the last sentence, of course.

It’s important for all of us to readjust our lives and our schedules during these days when many of us feel trapped at home. Let’s face it, many of the regular things we do have been canceled, and the places we go are closed. The felling of isolation may be especially true for our oldest family or church members. They may feel more secluded and alone than anyone.

I have listed below some practical suggestions for those of us with extended time at home.

  • Maintain a disciplined schedule.

During times of crisis it is especially important to maintain our regular individual time with God. Followers of Christ should discipline themselves to spend some time each day in God’s Word and in prayer. Practicing this habit is very important during a time when people are inundated with negative and fearful thoughts. God’s Word can provide hope, encouragement, comfort, and Godly motivation during times like this.

  • Guard your thought life.

This suggestion is complimentary to the last idea, but a bit more specific. God’s people should learn to limit their consumption of digital content. This is also really important – Christian parents should help their children and teenagers limit their time on digital devices. Why not take some time to read or to journal?

  • Get outside as often as you can.

This may be the ideal opportunity to spend some time outside in God’s creation. Plus, it will probably prove essential to get some exercise each day. Even with all of the current limitations we can still enjoy and appreciate the beauty and simple majesty of nature. Even if the weather is bad – we can put on our winter coats and grab an umbrella. The important thing is to get outside each day, look around, and thank the Lord for the wonder His creation.

  • Connect with others.

We all need to figure out how to make connections with others every day. I know that meetings and group settings are to be avoided, but we need each other. It’s really important for us to be intentional about getting together with other people. Of course, we need to be careful, but we can call our friends and fellow church members. We can talk over the fence with our neighbors. We can utilize technology like Facetime or Facebook messenger. Plus, we can’t forget to get help (medical, physical, emotional, or spiritual) if we need it.

  • Think of ways to minister and serve.

While we are thinking about connecting with others, let’s not forget about ways to minister to other people. We should all check in on the vulnerable people we know to make sure they are okay. We can still utilize our spiritual gifts even during times of crisis. Undoubtedly there will be people around us that have needs and this may prove to be the ideal time to reach out to them. It may be as simple as going to the grocery store for someone or baking chocolate chip cookies. Plus, we can certainly pray for each other!

We don’t have to feel isolated, but our strategy must be intentional and purposeful.

Is It Their Church? 5 Things to Help Teenagers Build Loyalty to the Church

in Going On For God/inter-generational ministry/Ministry/youth ministry by

Fellow youth workers and church leaders, I would like to ask you a serious question – and, please make an honest evaluation of your ministry.

Are your teenagers more loyal to your youth ministry than they are to the church as a whole?

If they are, it’s no wonder so many teenagers quit participating in church following their days in youth group. Let’s remember that youth ministry was never designed as a terminal program – with a specific ending point for the students to be finished and then walk away.

Here are 5 things that any church can do to help build loyalty to the church as a whole:

  1. Teach them the importance of God’s church. Loyalty begins with an understanding of what church is all about. Develop a series of lessons on the church. Perhaps you could take them through Acts, the Epistles, and even the 7 churches in Revelation to give them exposure to what the Bible says about the church. Talk to them about basic ecclesiology and your church polity. There are lots of materials out there to help you with this, but if you feel uncomfortable doing this series yourself, I’m sure your lead pastor could offer some suggestions or resource material to help you.
  • Provide opportunities for them to serve in the church. Loyalty also comes through what some would call “sweat equity”. Give your students practical opportunities to get involved in your church’s ministries and programs – and give them practical ways to use their God-given spiritual gifts. Provide ways for them to serve alongside adults and motivate them to get involved in work projects around the church. People are much more likely to continue in church if they have been actively involved themselves.
  • Motivate them to give financially to the church. I encourage all youth workers to teach their students to give financially to the church. The majority of today’s teens have their own money. Their parents must be involved, of course, but teach them the discipline of giving financially to the Lord and to His church. It’s hard to walk away from something after giving financially to it.
  • Expose them to church business and key church leaders. I also believe it is a wise move to give teenagers some basic instruction on how their church works. Why do you have communion? Why do you baptize people? What is the purpose of church business meetings? These are vital questions and your kids should know the answers. It is also a good idea to give your students some exposure to the key leaders in your church – and that starts with the lead pastor / senior pastor. Don’t forget he’s their pastor, too. I encourage youth workers to invite deacons and other church leaders to share their story or testimony to students. Maybe our kids are leaving the church because they really don’t understand it.
  • Help them develop positive inter-generational relationships in the church. Chap Clark has said that if we want our kids to stay in the church after they graduate from high school, they will need personal relationships with 5 significant adults other than their parents. How are you doing with that? These adults need to be people above-and-beyond our teams of youth workers. They could be adult mentors, prayer-partners, Godly parents of other teens, work project leaders, or senior citizens who are genuinely interested in the next generation. I really believe that we are doing our students a disservice if we totally separate them from other generations in the church. We must think this through if we want our youth to go on for God as adults.s

These 5 things are just recommendations, but I think they are very practical and workable in a church situation – and I think these strategy suggestions will help build loyalty to the entire church instead of just the youth program.

May the Lord bless you as you seek to implement these concepts into the fabric of your church!

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