I wanted to address something that is very important to me. Networking. Call it what you want, I call it survival. After many moons of student ministry, the things that I treasure most apart from my savior, my wife and kids, and XBOX Live…is my networking relationships with other Youth Pastors on the frontlines of student ministry.

There is a funny illustration that one of my good friends used while he was talking to one of my former students. I am sure he ripped off the story, but it went something like this. “A reporter was at a small paper and wanted to impress his friend by telling him that he had gotten an interview with the town mayor. His friend Bob was happy for him and said, “hey, when you see the mayor, tell him Bob said Hi.” The reporter was obviously disheartened when he found out that his friend already knew the mayor. Sometime later, after the reporter had moved up in the world of reporting…got an interview with the president. He phoned his friend Bob and let him know what he was up to. Bob was excited for his friend and said, “hey, when you see the President, tell him Bob said Hi.” The reporter was disheartened once again. Finally the reporter reached the zenith of his career and landed an interview with the Pope. He quickly dialed his friend Bob to let him know what he was doing in the hopes of impressing Bob. Bob was very excited for him. When the reporter got to the Vatican there was a large crowd gathered as the Pope was coming out to greet the people. The reporter was floored when he looked up and saw Bob coming out with the Pope. He looked at the guy next to him and asked, “hey, who is that guy with the Pope?” The man replied, “I don’t know who the pope is, but that guy next to the guy with the funny hat is Bob!” A funny story. My friend was telling my former student that I was Bob…referring to the fact that he thought I “knew” everybody. I was flattered, but I would like to think that it is because I genuinely try to connect with those that I have been blessed to run into during this fun ride called life.

Networking with others is essential in this thing called student ministry. We cannot think that we have it all figured out. We don’t. We don’t always have the best ideas. The moment I realized that I can learn much from colleagues, mentors, and friends…that is when I began to figure it out. Here are some tips for expanding your network and by default, expanding your influence and the influence others have on your life and ministry.

· Be humble. Be the first to pick up the flag of another individual with great talents and ideas and wave it high. This is the same if they are youth pastors in other towns or even in your own community. If they feel you are genuinely interested in them and their success, it makes it easier to work together and squashes any “turf” issues from the beginning.

· Stay connected. Don’t let the only time you call/text/message that person to be when you are “pimping” your own stuff or events. Get to know their families, let them know that you are accessible and available to swap ideas.

· Pray for them and their ministry. Rejoice in their victories and encourage them in their “bumps” in ministry. I know I appreciate it when a friend that really “gets” what I am doing shows his/her support. Sometimes this is a thankless job and to know that others have an idea what we are going through really helps.

· Be Real. At the end of the day, we have all had a tenth grader we have invested in for months or years decide to just check out and try their hand at the world, throwing to the wind everything you feel they have learned in your ministry. It is a tough job. So be transparent in your dealings with others and they will feel more comfortable networking with you.

· Be sensitive for God’s timing. I can’t tell you how many times I have met a fellow youth pastor and it has been just what we both needed at the time. God has a way of bringing the right people together to swap ideas and encourage one another to further His kingdom. So keep your eyes open for “resources” that He puts in our paths.

· Don’t be discouraged if you don’t “click” right away. Sometimes the closest friends in ministry may start rocky. My best friend in ministry, Scott Quimby, told me that he didn’t like me very much when we first met.  I am not sure why, maybe it was because he is an only child, but our differences have helped our friendship strengthen over time.  Sometimes youth pastors are  hesitant to engage with other ministries. Maybe you or the other have been “burned” by some 6 month flame-out and they are licking their wounds.

· Pick up the phone. Call around and see who is working with students in your area. Have lunch and share passions for students. Don’t worry if they are in a different denomination. The majority of us have the common ground of Jesus Christ. So start there first. Find out why they do what they do and then see the first recommendation above. Don’t wait for others to call you. Make that first step out in faith and see what God has planned.

· Use these connections to share your concerns and/or “vent.” We often have to be careful sometimes in ministry by being perceived as “complaining” by members of our own churches. I get advice and bounce ideas about situations with my colleagues without getting into a gossip session. It helps a ton and I am a better youth pastor because of it.

· Share resources. I have many friends that are in churches that may not have the budget that I have. We have all been there, trying to stretch a budget. So give freely when you are blessed. Loan books, share props, large ticket items, and resources. Don’t be afraid to ask either. Take interest in their ministries and I have found they will take interest in yours. Recently, I have had several conversations with guys/gals that have struggled with tragedies in their ministries. This is a great time to share resources, experiences, and wisdom that battle scars from years of ministry leave us with. It is a blessing in the end, it doesn’t seem like it when you are going through a church split, firing, or the wisdom we gain from laboring through the loss of a student’s life in your community and ministry. We all have “I will never do that again” moments and if that wisdom helps someone else from making the same mistake, then that is a win-win situation.

· One final thought for now. Go to conventions and conferences. Even ones you may not necessarily want to. These are great places to network with like-minded people. The network of youth pastors that I have now have been my shoulders to lean on during my ministry time. Some of them have grown into wonderful mentors that can speak wisdom into my life and ministry. Give them the freedom to do just that, have a few people that you can rely on to speak the truth into your life…even if it hurts sometimes. We all need our card pulled sometimes and it is much easier coming from someone that you have a close relationship with and not just someone taking pop-shots at you from the peanut gallery. Networks of friends help you make it through the peanut gallery days.

As I am gaining altitude in a jet that seats about 60 people, I am grateful for space.  I am in a two-seat row by my self in the back of the plane.   Good times.  I just left the airport in Little Rock on the first leg of this trip to Germany.  On to Chicago and then to Frankfurt, Germany!  My friends Jens and Steffi will be picking me up tomorrow sometime I hope.  I will be speaking at Teenagerfreizeit Rehe 2011.  I was told there were approximately 90 students from all over Germany attending this annual event that is sponsored by Wiedenest Bibleschule.

I can hear many of you thinking…I didn’t know Dustin spoke German.  Well I don’t.  I can butcher the language with the best of you.  But about 10 years ago I was privileged to make a connection with my friends in Germany while I was a Youth Pastor in Florida.  A pastor that was on staff with me in Titusville, FL had also served in Germany.  An acquaintance of his had a friend that wanted to learn about student ministry in the united states…with a few phone calls and favors being promised to me, batta bip…batta boop, Bob’s your uncle and I had my very own German!  I took care of him and loved him and called him Toby.  Toby stayed with my wife and I for 6 months or so, working alongside me and absorbing all he could about ministry in the USA.  This was the beginning of life long friendships and investment in the next generation of leaders in Deutschland.Continue reading

I am always looking for some cool ways to keep the youth room neat and tidy…so when I stumbled onto this I wanted to share.

HideIt Mounts has the hook up.  I hope it works as good as it looks, it seems to.  The only problem I had is the unsightly power pack to run the xbox will still be visible, but we can’t have it all sometimes.  In our Student Center we have some great diamond plate wall mounted cabinets that were custom-made however comma, the airflow in ours is an issue and we have had more than a couple overheat.  I am now modifying them to get more airflow.  Let me know if some of these work out for you.

 

 

However, this is the one that is going in my house.  Slick with the changeable LED backlighting. Saweet! Case Holder:Raise your Case

 

The following information was taken directly from the website and the linkto the site is below.  Of course they have wall mounts for both sizes of Xbox 360’s, Wii’s, PS 3’s, Apple TV, Cable box, and more.  Check it out.

“Designed for use with the New Slim version of the Xbox 360® game console, the HIDEit XS Mount is designed to store your Slim Xbox® vertically behind your wall mounted plasma or LCD television. Also, it looks great right next to your TV if you want to show it off! Made of clear acrylic, the HIDEit XS Mount is nearly invisible and is a perfect way to set up your newer slimmer Xbox 360®.”

Features: Made from acrylic, your HIDEit XS Mount is lightweight yet rigid enough to support the weight of your Xbox 360. Now, you are able to wall mount your Xbox on either side of your wall mounted flat panel TV. Additionally, the HIDEit XS Mount does not block the power button, disc opening, memory card slots, nor cable ports on your Xbox 360. Since the HIDEit XS Mount is designed so that your Xbox 360 Slim can easily slide out at anytime, you are free to take your Xbox traveling with you on vacation or to a friend’s house with very little effort.

Inside Dimensions*: 10.75 x 10.375 x 3″

Exterior Dimensions*: 11.1875 x 10.375 x 3.5″

What’s in the box? Along with your HIDEit XS Mount, you will also find screws, drywall anchors, and detailed wall mounting instructions for securing your HIDEit XS Mount and wall mounting your Slim Xbox 360!


www.hideitmounts.com

I wanted to address something that is very important to me. Networking. Call it what you want, I call it survival. After many moons of student ministry, the things that I treasure most apart from my savior, my wife and kids, and my XBOX is my networking relationships with other Youth Pastors on the frontlines of student ministry.

There is a funny illustration that one of my good friends used while he was talking to one of my former students. I am sure he ripped off the story, but it went something like this. “A reporter was at a small paper and wanted to impress his friend by telling him that he had gotten an interview with the town mayor. His friend Bob was happy for him and said, “hey, when you see the mayor, tell him Bob said Hi.” The reporter was obviously disheartened when he found out that his friend already knew the mayor. Sometime later, after the reporter had moved up in the world of reporting…got an interview with the president. He phoned his friend Bob and let him know what he was up to. Bob was excited for his friend and said, “hey, when you see the President, tell him Bob said Hi.” The reporter was disheartened once again. Finally the reporter reached the zenith of his career and landed an interview with the Pope. He quickly dialed his friend Bob to let him know what he was doing in the hopes of impressing Bob. Bob was very excited for him. When the reporter got to the Vatican there was a large crowd gathered as the Pope was coming out to greet the people. The reporter was floored when he looked up and saw Bob coming out with the Pope. He looked at the guy next to him and asked, “hey, who is that guy with the Pope?” The man replied, “I don’t know who the pope is, but that guy next to the guy with the funny hat is Bob!” A funny story. My friend was telling my former student that I was Bob…referring to the fact that he thought I “knew” everybody. I was flattered, but I would like to think that it is because I genuinely try to connect with those that I have blessed to run into during this fun ride called life.

Networking with others is essential in this thing we do called student ministry. We cannot think that we have it all figured out. We don’t. We don’t always have the best ideas. The moment I realized that I can learn much from colleagues, mentors, and friends…that is when I began to figure it out. Here are some tips for expanding your network and by default, expanding your influence and the influence others have on your life and ministry.

· Be humble. Be the first to pick up the flag of another individual with great talents and ideas and wave it high. This is the same if they are youth pastors in other towns or even in your own community. If they feel you are genuinely interested in them and their success, it makes it easier to work together and squashes any “turf” issues from the beginning.

· Stay connected. Don’t let the only time you call/text/message that person to be when you are “pimping” your own stuff or events. Get to know their families, let them know that you are accessible and available to swap ideas.

· Pray for them and their ministry. Rejoice in their victories and encourage them in their “bumps” in ministry. I know I appreciate it when a friend that really “gets” what I am doing shows his/her support. Sometimes this is a thankless job and to know that others have an idea what we are going through really helps.

· Be Real. At the end of the day, we have all had a tenth grader we have invested in for months or years decide to just check out and try their hand at the world, throwing to the wind everything you feel they have learned in your ministry. It is a tough job. So be transparent in your dealings with others and they will feel more comfortable networking with you.

· Be sensitive for God’s timing. I can’t tell you how many times I have met a fellow youth pastor and it has been just what we both needed at the time. God has a way of bringing the right people together to swap ideas and encourage one another to further His kingdom. So keep your eyes open for “resources” that He puts in our paths.

· Don’t be discouraged if you don’t “click” right away. Sometimes the closest friends in ministry may start rocky. My best friend in ministry, Scott Quimby, told me that he didn’t like me very much when we first met.  I am not sure why, maybe it was because he is an only child, but our differences have helped our friendship strengthen over time.  Sometimes youth pastors are  hesitant to engage with other ministries. Maybe you or the other have been “burned” by some 6 month flame-out and they are licking their wounds.

· Pick up the phone. Call around and see who is working with students in your area. Have lunch and share passions for students. Don’t worry if they are in a different denomination. The majority of us have the common ground of Jesus Christ. So start there first. Find out why they do what they do and then see the first recommendation above. Don’t wait for others to call you. Make that first step out in faith and see what God has planned.

· Use these connections to share your concerns and/or “vent.” We often have to be careful sometimes in ministry by being perceived as “complaining” by members of our own churches. I get advice and bounce ideas about situations with my colleagues without getting into a gossip session. It helps a ton and I am a better youth pastor because of it.

· Share resources. I have many friends that are in churches that may not have the budget that I have. We have all been there, trying to stretch a budget. So give freely when you are blessed. Loan books, share props, large ticket items, and resources. Don’t be afraid to ask either. Take interest in their ministries and I have found they will take interest in yours. Recently, I have had several conversations with guys/gals that have struggled with tragedies in their ministries. This is a great time to share resources, experiences, and wisdom that battle scars from years of ministry leave us with. It is a blessing in the end, it doesn’t seem like it when you are going through a church split, firing, or the wisdom we gain from laboring through the loss of a student’s life in your community and ministry. We all have “I will never do that again” moments and if that wisdom helps someone else from making the same mistake, then that is a win-win situation.

· One final thought for now. Go to conventions and conferences. Even ones you may not necessarily want to. These are great places to network with like-minded people. The network of youth pastors that I have now have been my shoulders to lean on during my ministry time. Some of them have grown into wonderful mentors that can speak wisdom into my life and ministry. Give them the freedom to do just that, have a few people that you can rely on to speak the truth into your life…even if it hurts sometimes. We all need our card pulled sometimes and it is much easier coming from someone that you have a close relationship with and not just someone taking pop-shots at you from the peanut gallery. Networks of friends help you make it through the peanut gallery days.

Hey friends…don’t miss an opportunity to be at this back to school conference on 8.28.2010.  It is well planned, cheap, great personalities, and local!  Here is the info.  Several tracks that I know you would like to have your adults and students plug into.  We all look for quality events to strengthen our local ministry and this is one of them!  Check it out for only $20.   DVS

You are a student leader for a reason. Maybe you chose to be, maybe someone else chose it for you—no matter how you got here, God has a plan to use you in ministry.

You and your youth worker know that you’re new at this thing. You have leadership abilities, but you’re still a student—so how do you do it?Continue reading

Dear Friends of the Younger Generation,

“A blueprint for the Great Commission in Arkansas”
– Rodney Welsh, Youth Pastor in Heber Springs, Arkansas

What did Rodney mean by his statement? Let’s find out by following six spiritual generations deeply transformed by Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry (JFYM)–Shira, Olivia, Carrie, Rodney, Dustin and Eric.

6 Generations

We begin with Shira, a sophomore, who began a relationship with Jesus in 2008 through her friend Olivia who then discipled her. Both graduate this year and want to become missionaries. Before this, Carrie Welsh started a discipleship group for Olivia and four others. They learned how to communicate their faith to friends like Shira. Carrie was equipped to disciple students in a leadership team led by her husband, Rodney Welsh. Rodney took them through “the slow, but very rewarding process of making disciples” after attending a JFYM Forum in 2007. He heard Dustin Sams speak about it in 2006 and was drawn to “thinking about ministry that lined up with the way Jesus did ministry.”

Dustin Sams, youth pastor in Stuttgart, Arkansas, has implemented JFYM for seven years and is one of Reach Out’s Eagle Leaders. Dustin comments: “After hearing Barry speak, I started my first discipleship group with five guys. Four of the five now attend Ouachita University, preparing for ministry. . . . We have seen tremendous numerical and spiritual growth. . . . So many of our students are now going into ministry themselves.”

Before Arkansas, as a youth pastor in Florida, Dustin shared that he had one dad whose daughters were in his youth group “invest in me with no strings attached, just a desire to see me succeed in ministry, my family and my faith. I was an event-to-event style youth pastor and headed towards burn-out. But Eric Ball taught me about JFYM and literally kept me from burning out.” Eric serves as Reach Out’s International Director.

These discipling and mentoring relationships vividly illustrate “the blueprint.”

11 Multipliers

This blueprint of spiritual multiplication in Arkansas repeats itself through…

Matt Rothacher     Bill Newton    Donnie Burrows     Dave McClung      Randy Brantley
John Cowling    Lynn Riley    Mark Simmons    Grant Medford    Dustin Sams     Rodney Welsh

75 Introductions

We believe the blueprint of the present and future will exceed the past!

Last week Roger Palmer, Reach Out’s National Director, introduced Jesus’ model for ministry to 75 Arkansas youth leaders at our one-day JFYM Forum. John Caddy, our current leader in Arkansas, has plans for the Eagle Leaders to equip youth leaders in 35 areas of the state.

Every church in Arkansas will have the opportunity to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry so that kids like Shira and Olivia will come to know Christ and be discipled by a caring adult like Carrie!

We need you to partner with us! Your investment of prayers and money will yield more of this kind of multiplied spiritual return in the days ahead!

Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry

Through applying this newly expanded resource, God will produce life-change and life-changers through you.  Details to be emailed soon! Go to www.reach-out.org for more information.

Jesus is Lord,

Donate to Reach Out Youth Solutions


PO Box 870141

Stone Mountain, GA 30087

Office: 770.413.6045

Fax: 770.220.1980

Website: www.reach-out.org
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Amazing use of video to explain something that some of us know…but all of us should.  My question is how can we embrace the technology in a way that brings Glory to God?  Sure the social networks are great for marketing/advertising/getting the word out…but how can we use it to share Christ.  This is something that I ask myself over and over…can we as Christians create culture?  The message is amazing…better than any new ipod or flat screen…how can we get Gen Y and beyond to use social media to share their faith?  Is it just a high tech Christian T-shirt or can it be much more than that?  Isn’t this fun…?  There are many apps that allow us to read scripture and share “thoughts of the day”…but what else can we do?

[youtube]sIFYPQjYhv8[/youtube]

To Save a Life” After a childhood friend’s death, Jake Taylor, an all-star athlete must change his life – and sacrifice his dreams to save the lives of others.

FYI: Depression strikes about one out of eight teenagers www.teensuicide.us , about 1.5 million children experience the divorce of their parents each year, 14%-39% of teens have had at least one incident of deliberate self-injury, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-19 year olds

3 Big Reasons to join:

  1. Teens will take ownership…teens are stepping up to power a nationwide grassroots movement bigger than any single youth outreach event before.
  2. Relationships will be built…It’s a movie teens can invite their friends to and be confident that it’s entertaining and authentic.  The can go deeper and dialogue with friends about what matters most in life.
  3. Lives will be changed…on opening weekend, thousands of student groups will gather in theaters with friends and leaders to see “To Save a Life.”  Many teens will experience hope and learn that their lives can count. www.tosavealifeleaders.com

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I had the privilege to attend a pre-screening of the movie “To Save A Life” as a part of the Arkansas Student Pastor Network event a few weeks ago.

I was stunned at how they were able to capture high school life with such reality.  It wasn’t candy coated, but it wasn’t over blown either…there was part of me that wasn’t sure how they were going to tackle such numerous plot lines in under two hours…but they did a great job.  I will definitely be promoting it with my students and church.  We have already started the process to see if we can land it locally in the theater.  We are in a smaller community so we might have to bus a bunch of our students and parents over to Little Rock, AR to see it.

There may be some of you that may be hesitant with the PG-13 rating due to some of the themes running throughout the movie, but I hope that it won’t keep you from using this movie for the many teachable moments that are contained within it.  A part that hit me hard was the opportunity that was missed when one of the characters was not “welcomed” as he walked into a youth group meeting…wow, very convicting.  I wondered how many students have done the same thing in our area.  Discussing the movie with my wife she said something to me that really helped put it into perspective.  She said, “High School life is not PG-13…it is R-rated and if we don’t use every tool we can to reach the younger generation…then shame on us.”  Well put.

So I would encourage you to check it out and see for yourself if it could be a tool that you could use locally.  I pray that my students are shaken to their core…with positive results.

Great Resources are available for this film: Check them out.

www.tosavealifeleaders.com , www.tosavealifemovie.com

JFYM Book

The third part of Student Leadership is Discipleship.  It can be argued that there are many more facets to Student Leadership than just the three that I have written about and that is true.  But most of those issues are ones that I call “teaching moments” in the life of the relationship that I call Student Leadership.  So assuming that you have students with the will to lead and they now have a “job” in your ministry, the next phase of development would be considered Discipleship.

I take each student that is involved with our ministry (STUlea) and try to develop a tailored path that depends a whole bunch on them and their decisions.  They must be willing to enter into the relationship with open eyes and a willing heart.  A lot can happen over the span of four or five years of adolescence and our leadership is committed to be there with them through every phase.  Before, I only allowed older, committed students to pursue this phase…then I realized that a 7th grade student was just as willing and capable to commit and serve as older students.  This has become a joyful and passionate part of my ministry to students…while also challenging me to deeper levels of my faith, testing my patience as a leader, and increasing the desire to see students become more like Christ.

Some of the things that is common across the board with these students are as follows:

  • Commitment to growing in the Word.  I provide all I can for them to continue to be challenged in reading scripture.  Quiet Time booklets and other reading materials that are age/growth appropriate.  A “Personal Survival Guide” that has been written by a friend of mine, Eric Ball is the starting point.  The Moving Towards Maturity Set from Reach Out Youth Solutions is top notch and I love it.
  • Continual input and pointed conversations with the student to make sure and keep up with their walk.  I wish I could put this into words, but I am sure you get the feel of what I am talking about.  This includes everything from how their grades are doing in school, how their relationship with their parents is going, to their peer relationships and how that affects their daily walk.  I find this to be the most effective way to pick up on areas to work on, both in their lives and mine.
  • Specifically designed events for the Student Leaders to build relationships among themselves and with our Adult Leadership.  Cookouts, Bonfires, Florida Trips, small group events, and retreats to dig deeper and challenge them further.

I am a believer in the Jesus Focused Youth Ministry strategy and have been involved with it for several years.  There are numerous resources and tons of reliable accountability with these guys that help me be a better Youth Pastor/leader and keep from falling into the event-to-event style ministry that so often leads to burn out.  If you haven’t checked it out…please do so prayerfully and I think you will find a strategy that helps Youth Pastors become more effective in their calling and passionate about the students we minister to.

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I will be adding and refining this as it fleshes itself out on paper in the near future…If you have any questions and/or comments, please feel free and let me know.