was looking through my notes from college (this one, to be exact) for a fellow youth pastor friend the other day, and stumbled upon a few nuggets of truth from one of my classes that has proven to be super helpful. i remember running into so much tension between different people during my first couple years of ministry. if i just understood that all they wanted was to know that i was being responsible, it would’ve softened many tough conversations.
SENIOR PASTORS want to know that you are responsibly leading the ministry to spiritual maturity.
THE BOARDS (deacon, elder, trustee) want to know that you are responsibly stewarding the church’s money, time, salary, and people resources.
PARENTS want to know that you are responsibly shepherding the physical & spiritual needs of their kids.
i’ve learned that it’s not just a matter of being responsible. it’s about communicating enough with these three groups so that they know you are being responsible. unfortunately, when there’s poor communication, people tend to assume the worst, and when that happens it can get ugly.
from time to time our student ministry begins to look more like a country club than a church, and outsiders have to fight their way in to be noticed. i’m sure it’s a problem only we face (i wish), so here’s something we’ve used to try to help break down the cliques. (actually it’s something i stole from another great youth worker)
SPREAD THE MANURE!
look at that big 'ol pile!
here’s the deal… when manure sits in one pile altogether, it smells really bad. it steams up in a very gross way. and if anybody ever touches it, they get sucked in and literally may never come out.
BUT… when the manure is spread throughout the field, things grow! it fertilizes the soil, creates an environment for plants to take root, and it allows the nutrients in the soil to be absorbed.
the same is true in our ministries. and from time to time we need to remind our students (and leaders) that they need to spread out so that people can grow!
rather than calling a student out on the spot, every now and then when we see a big clumpy clique walking around the room together, we tend to wave our hand in front of our nose, say something like “wow it smells in here”, and just keep walking by. our student leaders know what we’re talking about and usually get the hint.
spread the manure!
there’s no doubt the last month or so has found me leading a faster and busier pace than i usually like to maintain. most of it i really think is seasonal; easter is our church‘s biggest day of the year, and all ministries right now are running full throttle to put our best out there for the community. what’s really cool is that many in our church are even spending 24 hour periods fasting and praying for what God will do on april 8th, and some neat stories have been coming out of even just that!
i spent some time last week driving through many of the neighborhoods near our church, begging God in those moments to invade the lives of the people and families near us. and my heart broke anew for those far from God. i think it’s easy for those of us in suburban america to mask our brokenness. behind our big houses, fancy cars, and comfortable lifestyles, insecurity and relational instability spreads like cancer. we all know we can’t maintain this image forever, and this frantic pace is gonna kill us. while it may look good on the outside, our families are a mess and our personal lives are wrecked. so many in our community need hope.
i heard a friend recently say this:
the only thing we CAN’T do in heaven that we CAN do here is reach people far from God.
so simple. so profound. and so true.
and that’s why easter matters this year. that’s why it’s important that we pray and take action by inviting those around us.
i can’t wait to see the devil take a big punch right to the face this year, on good friday and easter! will you join me?