Got a report back from our new friend Jens Kehlen from Germany.  I asked him to write up a report of his trip for me to share here.  If we get to see positive results when mentoring, then it makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy DVS

Nearly six weeks have passed since my wife and I have returned to Germany from Stuttgart, Arkansas, USA.  We had the great opportunity to spend seven weeks with Dustin Sams, the youth pastor at First Baptist Stuttgart.  I really miss the time there, because I have seen a lot of changes in my faith and myself during our stay. The seven weeks in the U.S. were a great experience for us and we will never forget this awesome time.

I could not exactly identify what the reasons were that changed me so much, but i still recognize a new and fresh way of life and an increasing desire for youth ministry.  Maybe it was the influence Dustin had, the daily life with the church family there, or the different culture or all together. You have to know, everyone who spends time with him will never be the same:-)

Dustin became a great role model for me.  How he lives his faith and shares his life with his students, the church members and his family. He is a guy full of a spiritual mindset and he lives a faith that is very attractive for the non churched. He has a lot of experiences in youth ministry and he was a great mentor and friend to me.

I will let you know the most important things I learned and which things influenced me most:

  • The first and most important fact is my spiritual life. I received a new and fresh desire for my ministry and especially for Jesus. I amactually not sure why my relationship with Christ became deeper, but now I love to spend silent time with my Lord.  I learned how dependent on Christ a successful youth pastor has to be in order to lead a group in a healthy way.
  • I found out that the staff of First Baptist live all very jesus focused lives and they always keep praying that God shows them his further steps with the church. And if you ever had the advantage to work with one of them you will agree that they serve and work in knowledge that they are dependent on the Holy Spirit.
  • Beside my spiritual life, I learned a lot of useful tools for creating an impact on students with ministry. For example the use of technology, videos, contemporary worship music,  etc.  These things are  not only a nice accessories.  These are useful things that make it easier to reach the students with the Gospel.

At this point i will share an excerpt from Dustin: “Do not change the bread of life (the Gospel) but you can put jelly, butter, cream, strawberry jam… to make it more appealing for the younger generation.”  But more important than any tool is the relationship with adults and especially with the students.  In my opinion this is the basis for a healthy and a growing youth ministry in a church.  I learned from Dustin to share your faith not only on Wednesdays nights with the students but to actually be part of their lives.

A network with other youth pastors is so important for encouragement and to learn from each other.  I remember one sentence from Dustin which burns deep in my head:  “Do not only call a friend (or anyone else) if you need something. Call him or her anytime you just think about them and let them know you are still a part of their lives and not only a number in their notebook.”  I am so blessed that God gave us the opportunity to travel to Arkansas for our Internship with Dustin. This was honestly the best summer of my life.

Best Regard, Jens

Hit Jens up on Facebook: Jens Kehlen, he’s pretty much the only one on Facebook named that.

Jens and his wife Steffi are from Remscheid, Germany.  They were married this past summer and Jens is finishing up his degree at Forum Wiedenest Bibelschule near Cologne, Germany.  Steffi completed her degree and now looking for a job. Please pray for them.  It was great joy to have them with us for their Practicum and we look forward to hearing about the great things that God will do in Germany through them.

For the past several weeks I have had the opportunity to be shadowed by some new friends from Germany.  Jens and Steffi attend a Bible College in Germany that requires them to serve a 7 week internship each year.  Tobias, a great friend from Germany, knew Jens and Steffi and contacted me about hosting them at our church.  Good idea.  If all of Germany’s Youth Ministry oriented people are as quality as Jens and Steffi, then they have a very bright future!

I wanted to share a few thoughts in regard to Mentoring that I have been reminded of at this point.

  • Know why you do what you do.  Jens asks questions…actually that is an understatement.  He asks a lot of questions.  So there are many things that I do during the normal day-to-day routine that I just take for granted.  Having him around has helped me to evaluate everything I do on a step-by-step basis.  It has helped me to streamline my normal routine.
  • Learning and applying things to your life is only part of the process.  Evangelism has not taken place until discipleship has taken place.  The same goes for mentoring.  All the knowledge from peers/reading/studying/observing does not mature in value until you share that with others.  There is no such thing as “turf” in ministry.
  • Be transparent. Share the mistakes with the wins!  Revisiting past failures has been helpful to me and Jens as well. No one is perfect, don’t try to be.
  • Network!  I don’t know all the answers, I don’t even try to pretend.  But I have some great friends in ministry that have some answers as well and a world of knowledge to share.  So while you are mentoring, use your resources.  I have scheduled many meets with peers to allow them to see ministry on many different levels: from University Professors to Youth Pastors working in other churches, both large and small.  It is great for them to see servants at work and at play.
  • Evaluate.  Know what you both want to accomplish.  From the beginning there needs to be a game-plan for what needs to be accomplished.  7 weeks goes by fast…as does any length of time for mentoring.  Don’t get caught trying to fit it all in the last week.  Both of you will end up not liking ministry or each other very much.
  • Realize that it takes a lot of time.  So be patient and calm.  Don’t get overwhelmed with the feeling that someone is just following you around.
  • Have fun.  Life is too short not to.  Enjoy the time you have together.  Realize we are serving with the kingdom in mind.

I will be having Jens write about his stay and what he learned while in the States.  Pray for him and Steffi as they endeavor to serve in Germany.