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Online or out of sight?

Those of you doing youth work will know that it's rare for young people to turn up unannounced and alone at a youth programme for the first time. We see new people who have been brought by friends and occasionally a new family will attend church and you'll get to invite their son or daughter to come to youth group, but turning up alone and unannounced is rarer.A few years ago two young sisters did just that at our Friday night youth programme. Across the room I noticed these two girls enter the ...

November 13, 2019

Happy Families (1 Timothy 5:8)

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. (1 Timothy 5:8)If I was a church leader and was considering having you on a leadership team I'd want to ask you a few questions first and one of them would be this: "How do you get on with your family?"Now I know that family dynamics are not always easy and at times there can be tension that's not entirely the fault of the prospective leader...

November 11, 2019

5 Practices of a "Learn-it-all"

Are you a "know-it-all" or a "learn-it-all"?I think there is something in the Kiwi DNA that pulls us toward the know-it-all end of the scale. We are still in some sense a nation of do-it-yourselfers, a holdover from the pioneer days when doing it yourself was a necessity and people would proudly label themselves a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.This mindset can easily transfer over into ministry and manifests itself in subtle thoughts patterns that say "I can figure this out myself" or ...

November 5, 2019

Choices (1 Timothy 5:5-7)

Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help. But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives. Give these instructions to the church so that no one will be open to criticism. (1 Timothy 5:5-7) One thing I've noticed as I reflect back on years of working with young people is that they seem to have an increasing number of choices in life. Some of these are relatively trivi...

November 4, 2019

Setting Boundaries (1 Timothy 5:3,4)

Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. (1 Timothy 5:3,4) One of the challenges we all face when caring for young people is that of setting boundaries. We want to be available to them and help them as best we are able and yet there are limits to the amount of time we can invest in them.We all have...

October 28, 2019

Purity and Practice (1 Timothy 5:2b)

And treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. (1 Timothy 5:2b) I remember many years ago, back in my "single male" days, going to a church to undertake an internship, and meeting with the senior pastor for the first time. One of the first things he said to me surprised me at the time. "Be careful about any friendships you develop with young women in the youth ministry." Looking back, I see more clearly than I did then, the wisdom of such advice. When you take on a leader...

October 18, 2019

Respect Rules (1 Timothy 5:1,2a)

Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother. (1 Timothy 5:1,2a). One of the best pieces of advice I received when I was training to be a youth pastor was this: "Never talk down to anyone. Talk to everyone as using the same manner you would use if you were talking to your boss." It's advice that has served me well and can be summed up in one wo...

October 14, 2019

Somebody's Watching (1 Timothy 4:15b-16)

Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:15b-16) Being in leadership can sometimes be described as being "under a magnifying glass and inside a goldfish bowl." It can feel like a goldfish bowl because everyone can see your life. There is no hiding. When we fail, people notice. When our acti...

October 7, 2019

3 Things You Must Do in Term 4

I've always enjoyed the fourth term. Sure, there is still the tiredness one feels from a busy year and programming can be a little disjointed as exam pressure hits and young people's attendance decreases while stress levels increase, yet for me, it was frequently the least stressful term of the year with no camps or major projects. That doesn't mean however that it's not an important term. There are plenty of things to reflect on and do. Here are three suggestions: Recruitment  Waiting unti...

October 2, 2019

Antidotes for Inadequacy (1 Timothy 4:14,15a)

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.  Give your complete attention to these matters. (1 Timothy 4:14,15b) If you've ever felt inadequate to accomplish a leadership role or task, you're not alone! All of us at times can feel weak and even overwhelmed at the challenges we face. Such feelings are not necessarily bad. They can cause us to press closer into God and rely more fully on Him to enab...

September 30, 2019

Focus (1 Timothy 4:13)

Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. (1 Timothy 4:13) Some time ago our youth group hired out a trampoline park and encouraged young people to bring their friends. It was a free-for-all for over an hour followed by some time gathered together as the manager shared his testimony and we promoted a Bible study series we were starting the following week. It was a great night - we doubled our usual numbers! Yet the following w...

September 23, 2019

Looking Down (1 Timothy 4:11,12)

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:11,12) I'm a great believer in having a wide range of ages connecting with young people in some form of leadership or mentoring role within the church. I'm always concerned when I see that the only leaders in a youth ministry are those in their late teens or early twenties. Older people have a wealth o...

September 16, 2019

A Long Obedience (1 Timothy 4:8-10)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. I was recently at a church service where the pastor was preaching on a passage similar to this. In the middle of his ser...

September 9, 2019

Distractions (1 Timothy 4:6,7)

If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:6,7) One of the great distractions leaders face is not to suddenly give up on leadership but to be gradually drawn away from what is important to what is less important. The challenge...

August 27, 2019

Loving Rules (1 Timothy 4:3-5)

They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:3-5)Most of us have a love-hate relationship with rules. When we break them and face the consequences, we hate them. It's often easier to blame a "silly rule" tha...

August 19, 2019

Two Threats to Leaders (1 Timothy 4:1,2)

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. (1 Timothy 4:1,2) When I first started in youth ministry, I recall feeling the weight of the need to be correct in my teaching. Previously, in my teens, I had been unduly influenced by erroneous teaching and I knew how easy it was to hear one viewpoint on ...

August 12, 2019

A Mystery Solved (1 Timothy 3:16)

Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16) Since I was a child, I've always loved a good mystery. There is something about a book or movie in which the outcome is not obvious, that I find appealing. The best ones are those with unexpected twists, especially right at the end when ...

August 5, 2019

People and Pillars (1 Timothy 3:14,15)

I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14,15)One of the dilemmas you'll face as you lead people is on the one hand loving and caring for them, and on the other hand confronting them and disciplining them. If you're like me you desire to lead so that you can help...

July 29, 2019

Guarding our Words (1 Timothy 3:11-13)

In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:11-13) I'll always remember years ago while leading a Bible study for young people, one of the young girls answ...

July 22, 2019

Walking the Talk (1 Timothy 3:8-10)

In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. (1 Timothy 3:8-10) Having spent some time outlining the requirements for eldership, Paul turns his attention to discussing what is required of deacon...

July 15, 2019

Reputation (1 Timothy 3:7)

Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:7) Have you ever found yourself disinclined to believe someone's point of view simply because you didn't particularly like them? Whether they were talking sport, politics, religion or just life in general, you, subconsciously at least, dismissed their opinion because you had little affection for them. Conversely, when you're talking to a close friend, someone you...

July 8, 2019

The Problem of Pride (1 Timothy 3:6)

A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. (1 Timothy 3:6) I recall becoming a youth pastor in my twenties and before long realising that I'd found the one thing I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was something that gave me enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment and purpose. After five years as a youth pastor I was speaking at a youth ministry training conference and decided to stay on and listen to the speaker ...

July 1, 2019

Leadership Begins at Home (1 Timothy 3:4,5)

He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? (1 Timothy 3:4,5) As we read through the Bible there are verses we come across that we quickly move past because they don't seem relevant. For young leaders starting out these verses probably fall into this category: "I'm not married and I don't have children, so... next!" However, it's good to pause and look beyond the literal meanin...

June 24, 2019

Crucial Control (1 Timothy 3:3)

He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. (1 Timothy 3:3) There is something incredibly satisfying about control. I'm sure one of the appeals of video gaming is the ability to control a character and through that character achieve control over an environment. Similarly, one of the appeals of sport is the capacity to gain control of a situation and to maintain control through skill and self control. In these verses, Paul continues with h...

June 17, 2019

Above Reproach (1 Timothy 3:2)

So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. (1 Timothy 3:2) Some time ago I was talking with someone whose youth pastor had, years earlier, failed morally and walked away from their Christian faith. They talked about how their youth pastor's failure led to their own crisis of faith. "It felt as though a ...

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