Too Close to Burnout

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Youth ministry is a never ending job. There are many days that I come home from work exhausted, but I stay up preparing for the next day of work. Youth ministry is so worth the exhaustion and struggle, however, it very easy to get burned out. So how do youth ministry workers avoid losing their passion and quitting? First and foremost, make sure priorities are aligned correctly. God- family- church. Make sure to take time to refresh yourself and avoid committing to everything. Important thing to remember is that God has gifted us uniquely and we need to allow God to use us in our gifts. For more ways to avoid burnout, check out Richard Parker’s post.

Oh… Christmas Tree

varvel345Christmas… Sometimes I wonder how much longer I am even going to be allowed to use that word. This season is so difficult for me. I feel like as a society we missed the point. So what is the point? The point is Jesus.

Youth Ministry 360 provides an excellent blog post on 10 Christmas Story Takeaways Your Students Need to Know.

My favorite takeaway from the Christmas story is the idea that we are never too young to be used by God. Mary, Jesus’ mother was very young, yet God chose her to be the mother of the Messiah, how cool!

Oh death, tell me where is your sting?

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“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

How do you even begin to tell a child that it is okay when they just buried their mother? Where is peace? Where is joy? How does the church deal with tragedy?

The only answer I have ever found and the only answer I know is Jesus. In the Bible it says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Leneita Fix of More Than Dodgeball Ministry has an appropriate and insightful article on just how youth ministries can deal with tragedy.

The Silent Killer

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Instagram… I love it and I hate it. I have been posting my photography for over the past two years and I still feel personally hurt when I only receive 14 likes on a photo.

In youth ministry today, Instagram is such a powerful tool to use, but also a dangerous weapon if not used correctly. Spreading the news of events or keeping people up to date or even posting things that you love are all great things Instagram can be used for. However, as I personally can attest, Instagram is ruing teen girls self-image. Ron Powell describes six different ways in which Instagram is affecting teen girls in his article called, “6 Surprise Ways Female Students Repurpose Instagram

The Power of Prayer

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Recently my boss made the statement, “I have found that I make my requests to God and I petition for what I want, but am I doing it with thanksgiving?” His statement really made me think… Why is prayer so important? Why do I need to pray with thanksgiving? Why would I pray with Thanksgiving when my life is falling apart?

Prayer for us is like an intimate conversation between two friends. When I pray to God, I am talking to Him like He is my best friend, but a friend that deserves the utmost honor and respect. I know that in order to have a relationship with a person, you have to have conversations and dialogue. Just like I would talk to my best friend, I talk with God. I tell Him what my struggles are, what I am excited about, what I am fearful of and what is happening in life right now. However, I have found that I ask for a lot of things, I seem very needy…

So what does it mean to pray with thanksgiving? No matter whether things are going well or they absolutely suck, when I pray I have to have an attitude of God I am thankful for You, for Your provision through Your Son and for Your grace. Without any of those things, we would not be able to pray as we do, we would not be able to be saved and a relationship with Him.

It is so easy though to say all of this, but I didn’t really know what this concept looked like practically, then the unexpected happened. About a week before Thanksgiving, a woman very dear to my heart passed away. She had a massive stroke at the base of her brain stem- the absolute worse place to have a stroke. This woman turned 51 the day before the stroke. She was a doting mother of three, a wife of a faithful husband, daughter of loving parents, and an amazing sister. Her life was cut so short and the hardest part to grasp is that she loved God with EVERYTHING she had! So why would God allow her to die SO young? While she was on life support we had a large group of people praying over her and her family. We begged God for healing, but prayed for God to be glorified through this tragedy. When she passed away, it was very hard to be thankful to God for her death, but then we found out something that changed our perspective. When attempting to harvest her organs for donations, surgeons found cancer throughout her entire body. If she had lived, she would have had a very slow and painful battle with cancer, with no guarantee of survival. God spared her life in a quick and merciful act.

Seeing a bigger picture, it is clear that even in the deepest tragedies, we can pray to God with THANKSGIVING because He is Good!

Disciple Now or Bust

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We recently finished our Disciple Now event of 2014 at our church. As a member of the student ministry team at our church I had the opportunity to work behind the scenes and during the course of the event. My job at the event seemed to be neverending. Whether I was ordering shirts, creating booklets for the weekend, leading music, taking pictures, making food or organizing games, I was very involved.

When preparing for this weekend, my group worked hard on preparing music for the event. Our band is a newly formed group of college students who have really never led worship before. So in preparation, as the leader, I began researching ideas of why we worship and the purpose a worship leader has. I found a blog by Mark Gungor, a leading musician in the Christian Music realm. In his blog post called, “Attention all Worship Leaders, Musicians and Singers!” he addresses how the church has interpreted the definition of worship incorrectly. Worship leaders have been given an elevated position that is not found anywhere in the Bible. The truth that Mark highlights is that any person can worship God, not just musicians or a person standing on a stage. The other thing shown is that an individual who leads praise and worship part of a service are also held to a high standard ans should be living a life that sets a godly example for those around them.

Reading all of this really struck a chord with me. As a person, a fallible human being, I have the responsibility to set an example in my life for the students, college students and adults I work with. I also need to be an example for the other individuals in my band. So I was left with the question, how am I living? Am I setting an example that others could and should follow? These are questions I still have to constantly evaluate.

Modest is hottest… or is it?

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Modesty is a topic greatly discussed in the Christian Community and is often communicated as a problem that needs to be addressed by girls. Today while talking with a close friend, we both discussed the issue of modesty among our generation of students. We discussed how modesty is an important topic for young girls, but also that it is just as important for young men.

My friend just discussed in a class on campus the idea of modesty, the views discussed in her class viewed men and women as complete equals and therefore men and women should be able to control themselves. However, according to the Bible, men are given the role of leading the family, to love their wives and to give themselves up for her. Women are to submit and honor their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-33) With this in mind, Christian singles should be living a life now that will make them ready for marriage.

These two articles present views about modesty from other youth ministry blogs. These blogs call guys and girls to be modest and to honor God in how they dress and present themselves. Check them out to see what you think!

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.54.45 PMhttp://blog.simplyyouthministry.com/unchurched/whats-up-with-modesty/

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.54.31 PM  http://lifeteen.com/help-heaven-guys-perspective-modesty/