Today we had our local youth pastor network meeting. We meet once a month for lunch, encouragement, and some training. Youth Specialties lets us host it in their offices, which are centrally located for us, so that's a huge win. One church brings in lunch and then we do some training and life-on-life sharing.
Since we lost a youth pastor, Mike Hendricks, in our network suddenly this month to a tragic bee sting, we decided to dedicate our meeting today to talking about what would happen to our ministries if any of us were to die unexpectedly. We then spent some time praying for Mike's church and his wife and infant daughter who are dealing with the loss of a husband and dad.
Sounds depressing, but it really wasn't. In my opinion, it was one of the best meetings we've had. The result was, a solid conversation among our team about how well we are connected to support one another in crisis and how we have structured our individual ministries. As we talked, I gleaned at least 3 things that were worth reminding ourselves of as youth pastors.
1. CROSS-CHURCH FRIENDSHIPS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR HEALTH.
Tragedy will happen. Jesus said so in John 16:33. And when it comes, yes we can lean on our faith, but we also need to lean on one another.
Being part of a network has been a huge priority for me, producing amazing friendships and great church partnerships in my life. For virtually all of the years I've been employed as a youth pastor, I've been in networks, led the networks, and even served on the National Network of Youth Ministries board for a stint. I really can't imagine what it would be like to be doing ministry without mutual church connections like this. We really need each other.
Mike's funeral will be this Saturday and is actually being hosted in another church in our area. They inquired at our church but we couldn't due to a date conflict. But regardless, I think it's awesome when churches support one another, both inside and outside of tragedy. I really think unity it's the clearest picture we have of God with us to a watching world in our culture.
- Be careful that the stories we all tell as part of our teaching don't become the focus of our teaching. We're teaching the Bible and illustrating it with life. Not visa versa.
- Make sure that we're leading students to faith in Jesus first and deep connection with our leaders or staff second.
- Use language that affirms and notices the work of God in and around us. We must be the chief pointer to the evidence we see of God among us in our ministries.
- Remember that the power of the resurrection is ridiculously more powerful than our latest idea, camp, or plan.
- Don't do everything. Being the one man/woman band is not a sign of strength, it's a sign of an over inflated dependence on you.
- Take a vacation and don't cancel your weekly gathering.
- Make sure you're not the only one who can lock the building, turn on the sound, etc. Give away the logistics to a team of people who are confidant to run it when you're gone.
- Be more concerned about who you are becoming than what you are doing.
- Remember that sometimes, we are the problem. Some people aren't helping because we act like we don't need their help by doing it all.
- Empower others. Along with being the chief pointer to the evidence we see of God among us, we should also be the chief pointers to the evidence of God focused potential we see in people around us. When we empower students and other adults to lead, we fuel the Kingdom of God.