The Heart of the Youth Leader

A few weeks ago we had the annual National Youth Workers' Summit in Mexico City. It was a great time as more than 400 youth leaders from all over the country came to be inspired and trained to do better ministry to youth and adolescents in this country.

I taught a workshop and a super course. My workshop was titled, “10 Traps of Youth Ministry and How to Avoid Them,” and my Super Course was called, “The Heart of the Youth Leader.” A friend of mine asked if I had notes on the Heart of the Youth Leader in English. I don't, but below I summarize the main points of my talk.

Basically, I did a study of King David's heart based on what we see in the book of Psalms. After analyzing the verses in which he describes his heart, I categorized them into 7 qualities of the heart of the leader. Here they are:

The Heart of the Youth Leader

  1. Contains and Obeys the Word of God.
  2. Trusting and Firm.
  3. Pure and Clean.
  4. Broken.
  5. Full of Worship.
  6. Humble.
  7. Wise.

Each of these qualities have many verses that go with them. I have included a few. I will probably develop this idea even further one day, but I think it is important that youth leaders understand how important it is to guard their hearts.

My prayer is that this material will have impacted the lives of those who heard it to the point that they will think about the state of their heart before they think about how they are ministering to young people in their church.


Results of Formal Youth Ministry Training

When we started with Youth Ministry International, the main focus of the youth ministry training that they were involved in was informal, seminars and conferences to help local church youth workers. YMI trainers would also informally mentor local church youth workers in various countries, but there was very little formal structure beyond the level one or level two seminars that they would teach.

All of that changed when we were invited both in the Ukraine as well as Mexico to begin formal youth ministry training programs in Seminaries.

Of course, for me, that meant that I would begin my missionary work as a professor at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary. The formal aspect of the youth ministry training has provided some benefits that weren’t present in the informal strategy that we were employing as an organization before the change. Here’s what I think happens when we train youth workers at the formal level.

  1. Elevate the view of youth work: the local church comes to see youth work as more than just entertaining young people that anyone can do. In many cases it has come to be seen as an important ministry within the local church with trained leaders who come alongside the parents to disciple the youth of their communities.
  2. Increase the quality of local church youth ministry: obviously, with better training comes better quality ministry. That is not to say that those with no training cannot effectively minister, but the more we reflect with youth workers on how to better minister to young people, the more effective the youth ministry becomes in the local church.
  3. Produce local experts on the subject of youth ministry: again, with formal academic work comes an elevated thinking process on the subject, and after spending time in a classroom thinking about and discussing youth ministry, as well as doing projects that require work, our students become the local experts in the field of youth ministry.
  4. Multiply ministry: Every one of our graduates in Latin America is involved in training others. The “experts” are expected to teach others what they have learned, and this multiplies the ministry of training because they want to teach others.
  5. Evaluation of theories and practices: when you only go in for one weekend and do a youth ministry training event, you have little interaction and evaluation of the best practices and theories in ministry. At least in a four year bachelor’s degree program (or more if you are the professor), you can evaluate the principles and practices of youth ministry and have a long haul mentality of what works in youth ministry.

Over the next 15 years, our Latin America team hopes to begin 60 formal youth ministry programs in Latin America, which will have the capacity to graduate and certify over 3,500 local church youth pastors.

Please join us in prayer as we continue to train youth workers at both the formal and informal level.

Check out the video below of the graduates from our formal training programs around the world.

One Body – Many Parts

Last week I traveled to Louisville to help host the first ever (to our knowledge) Global Youth Ministry Leadership Training Summit. Randy Smith, the president of Youth Ministry International, and Dann Spader of Global Youth Initiative, along with Colin Piper of the the World Evangelical Alliance, invited 14 youth ministry training organizations to participate in the Summit to see how we could better work together as we seek to train youth workers around the world.

We spent a good part of the Summit talking about what we are all doing around the world, and our time together served to exemplify what is taught in 1 Corinthians 12. We are one body, but we are many parts. Each part has its function to make the body work. If we were all the exact same part, there would be a problem in the body and nothing would ever get accomplished.

One of my favorite parts of the Summit was getting to know so many other people who have a passion to see young people around the globe come to know Jesus and be ministered to and cared for. The men and women in the room for those two days have sacrificed so much and worked so hard to see the advancement of God’s Kingdom through global youth ministry.

Now What?

We now have a pretty strong network of organizations and people who have the same heartbeat for young people throughout the world. We are going to be able to work better together than separately, and I am looking forward to seeing how we can better collaborate for the cause of Christ.

For Youth Ministry International, I can see us inviting other youth ministry professionals into our ministry, asking them to help with training in the places we are ministering. I can also see us helping promote what others are doing and distributing their training materials or resources with our own worldwide network of youth leaders.

I hope this isn’t the last time we get these ministries together to talk about collaboration. The work is too much for any one group to try to do it all. We need each other. We are all one body.

The Courage of Bill Nye

In case you didn't know, there was a debate this week between Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis. I watched it online from my home in Mexico. I don't want to get into the topics of the debate, but it's pretty fair to say that both evolutionists and creationists are saying their representative won the debate. Obviously, since there was no score kept, it is hard to say who “won.” I do, however, want to talk about Bill Nye and his courage.

He Showed Up

I'm not saying I agree with Bill Nye or even want to be like him, but I will say that from my point of view, Bill Nye showed courage in the debate. One of those reasons is because he showed up. Many scientists who believe evolution is true say that even debating the topic of creation is bad because it gives “crazy creationists” a hint of hope that their position might be true. In fact, many evolutionists have said that Bill Nye lost the debate before he even spoke simply by talking about it. However, in any academic discipline, we know that debating and speaking with those who oppose your views helps you better formulate your own thoughts about your field. To me, this takes courage.

He Was the Visiting Team

Another way that Bill Nye showed courage is by showing up at the Creation Museum. Nye was certainly in hostile territory. I would suspect that many of the members of the audience were well acquainted with the creation museum and were “on Ken Ham's side” of the debate. Bill Nye showing up to defend evolution at a place called “The Creation Museum” is much like going into Cameron Indoor Stadium as a conference opponent and hoping there might be a slim chance of the Dukies not booing you out of the stadium. But Nye did it. That takes courage.

He Wasn't Hostile

Bill Nye's courage was also on display in one of the last questions they asked each debater. The question was, “What, if anything, would make you change your position?” Nye answered, “If there was evidence.” He then listed a number of things for which creation scientists should be looking to observe scientifically in order for him to change his mind as an evolutionist. This, to me, was interesting and showed some courage to say that maybe, just maybe, Nye isn't as hostile to creationism and God as his arguments (and viral videos) make him appear.

The debate really wasn't really “won or lost” by either participant or either side. It wasn't really even a very good debate. But it was worth watching, and I believe that Bill Nye's persona may have won in the end by the courage he showed just by showing up.


Pledge to the Bible

When I was a little kid, I remember that every morning in our Christian School we would stand up, salute the American flag, salute the Christian flag, and the Bible. The pledges became such a habit that even now, I can recite them without really thinking.

This past weekend I was at a retreat with a local church and had some down time. There was an open Bible sitting on the table in front of me, so I started sketching it (something that brings me back to being a kid again). When I was finished with the sketch, I decided to write out the pledge to the Bible next to it. I think it turned out pretty well, and I really want to live my life with the Bible as a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Here’s my sketch (and the words to the pledge as I remember them):

Using Kustomnote to Avoid Writing Repetitive Reports

I have many reports I have to fill out on a regular basis. Most of the time, these reports get sent to me in a Word document, and I have to deal with formatting issues in Word. I am not a big fan of Word, and I’m even less of a fan of wasting time filling out the same things over and over.

For example, our mission organization sends out a quarterly report that we have to fill out. I have no problem sharing what our goals, activities, or needs are for each quarter, but I found myself battling with answering the question and keeping the formatting pretty in a Word document.

Since I’m already using Evernote for just about everything, I decided to look for a way to use it to fill out this report and keep it looking good. Unfortunately, there was no way to create a good looking template in Evernote that I could just fill out. Then I found KustomNote.

What is Kustomnote?

Kustomnote is a web app, along with its mobile apps, that allows you to create custom templates for Evernote. These templates live on the Kustomnote website, but they also sync to Kustomnote’s ios and Android apps, so you can fill out the forms on the go.

It is easy to create a new template. You simply add the modules you want to include, choose which Evernote notebook you want it to go to, and save the template.

When it comes time to fill out the form, you just click “new note”, choose which template you want to use, fill out the information, and click “create note.” After you create your note, it goes to your predefined notebook in Evernote. From there you can use that information to send off to whoever needed the information. The headings and formatting is all already there, and all you had to do was answer the questions.

If you absolutely have to, you could copy the information into Word and send it back to the people who are asking for the report.

I currently only have three templates, but as I continue to use Kustomnote, I will probably have a few more to add to my workflow.

Do you have a lot of repetitive reports to fill out? Do you use Kustomnote?

First Week of Master’s Classes in Mexico

We just finished up the first two weeks of Master's classes in Mexico City. Youth Ministry International is all about training those who can train others, and that is what we are doing with this Master's program.

We've been teaching youth ministry at the Bachelor's and Certificate level for almost 10 years now, but it is time to begin to intentionally train those who will be able to academically train others. In order to train at the Bachelor's level, you have to have a Master's degree, so we have invited prospective youth ministry professors to take this Master's program, learn more about how to minister to young people, and receive the credentials they need to train others either at our Seminary or other Seminaries around Mexico.

The first two weeks consisted of two courses on Principles of Youth Ministry and Youth Culture. The professors came from Boyce College and Liberty University. They also happened to be friends of mine and members of YMI's board. Since they don't speak Spanish, I was translating for them all week. It was fun because I spent the time with friends from the USA, Mexico, and Argentina. It was a great week of discussion about how to better reach, disciple, and minister to young people in Mexico.

The Master's program will last three years total, and the next two courses will be taught in June of this year. In the meantime, these students above will be reading, doing projects, and putting into practice all that we discussed during these first two weeks.

We have worked hard to get this program going, and I'm happy to finally see it start. We have a long way to go, but at least we are one-sixth of the way finished.


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