Glancing from left to right with hundreds of students and young adults gathered listening to a typical sermon — disinterest ensued in their faces.
Long drawn out yawns heightened, constant social media surfing started, and direct eye contact to the ground ensued.
Following the message, I was curious about their mannerisms.
“What did you think of message.”
“Man, he wouldn’t stop yelling. It was annoying. I couldn’t pay attention.”
The same response echoed from the mouth’s of five other teenagers and young adults. I wasn’t surprised — in fact, my answer to them was similar.
“It was hard for me to pay attention too.”
I’ve also been in this conversation before. This person didn’t yawn, take out their phone, or stare into the ground — they left the service completely. Later, I discovered why — the preacher had the inability to talk like a normal human being. Literally, the tone and delivery of this preacher ran off an unsaved young adult.
As a fellow “preacher” and lover of God’s word, I have a mindful request for other preachers — can you please stop yelling at us?
Daydreaming about an upcoming conference, you’re excited about everything you’re going to learn. This conference, you’re thinking, is going to revolutionize the way you do ministry at your church.
You walk into the lobby where the conference is held and immediately you see people just like you — young (or young in mentality), with an iPad in the left hand and Starbucks in the right.
Normal conversation follows as everyone awkwardly (sorry, I’m somewhat an introvert) introduces themselves to different people — normal “ministry talk” ensues. You share about ministry success and struggles; they do the same.
The sessions begin and we’re off to find out “how to grow your ministry” or “how to transition your local church!”
As the speakers communicate you suddenly realize something — while all this information is great you can barely use any of this at your small rural church or new church plant with a limited budget. Suddenly, you realize you’re a lot different than these people.
We’ve all been there, right? Please, don’t tell me it’s just me.
Fresh into ministry at a church of 75-100 people and a youth group of two students I asked a pastor of 2,000+ this question: “What do you do to get past the hurdle of no people, volunteers or resources?” He said: “I have no idea.” I honor and admire his honesty, but this pastor inherited a megachurch and literally had no idea how to apply an answer to my question for my 75-100 person church.
I left discouraged, confused, and depressed because I didn’t have resources or manpower to do anything this pastor was sharing.
Photo Credit: Jenifer Cabrera (creationswap.com)
Have you ever been cut off in traffic before? Ugh! So annoying, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to get the person back! At least not legally… Let’s look at this from another angle.
Have you ever cut someone else off in traffic? It’s possible that you may be guilty of doing so but are unaware.
One time I was with a family member that was driving me to the store. We pulled into the parking lot, and before we could find a spot to park, somebody decided to walk out in front of us without even looking. My family member slammed on the brakes and yelled, “Hey, can’t you see I’m driving here?!?”
I thought that was a little dramatic considering this was a parking lot, but we quickly moved on, and started walking toward the store. We eventually got to the same spot where the other person had walked out in front of us, when all of the sudden a car pulled in front of us only missing us by stopping at the last minute.
Again, my family member yelled, “Hey, can’t you see I’m walking here?!?”
For some people, it doesn’t matter what side of the argument they are on, they just want to criticize others.
Two years ago the most creative and ultra-exciting ministry (or program) was growing on the inside of me.
Coming from a competitive environment in journalism, I learned a few principles.
- Never stop being creative and thinking outside the box.
- Never settle on one method — even if it’s working.
- When you think you made it — you haven’t.
- Be flexible in all situations.
Naturally as a student pastor at the time I explored to apply those principles. I identified a problem and was determined to solve it in the youth ministry. We lacked any type of practical learning for students, so we started the ‘Deeper’ Bible Study. This bible study had a focus and desire to equip students and send them out to change the world.
Fast forward to today: when that very name of the random program is mentioned, our students laugh as if it’s a riveting joke.
Deeper Bible Study failed and was super ineffective.
After noticing the downward slope of this program, it’s vision and direction, I quickly canned it and acted like it never happened. One year ago, Kayla took over as student pastor and developed the Ignite Leadership Class. From the exterior, it looked similar to the horrifically ineffective Bible Study.
However, it took Deeper failing to know what would work in the future.
Kayla revamped this discipleship program — added vision, excitement and growth — and many students later, Ignite has turned into the most fruitful and rewarding program we’ve developed.
Chances are in any avenue of leadership, you’ve had a Deeper moment, like myself. Let’s focus on what a dead program looks like and what’s needed to turn it around. Take lessons learned from that hideous Bible Study I once thought was a divine idea.
What does a dead program look like?