This past Monday and Tuesday I went with my good friend, Tripp Battle to the Youth Pastor Summit conference in Orlando, FL. It is one of my favorite conferences! It is put on by Student Leadership University. Every year I'm challenged, encouraged and equipped to become a better leader. Plus, it is free! Thank you to all of those who made it possible for youth leaders to come and be encouraged! Here are some highlights from the conference:
Doug fields: Learning to say no to "good things" so I can say yes to God's best. The biggest problem with the church is being busy. The warning lights are there. Being busy leads to burnout. Am I living the life God has called me to live? Am I busy and calling it ministry? Church life can add octane to the busy-ness of life. What gets sacrificed? Our heart, our joy and even our families.
Heartbreak propels the speed of burnout. It makes you work harder. Heartbreak usually comes when there is unresolved conflict, exhaustion and guilt. The pressure to be perfect is unbearable at times in ministry.
- Constant clutter.
- Addiction to speed: Always wanting everything to go faster.
- Extreme multitasking. You try to do multiple things at once, not doing one of them well.
- Superficiality: Surface level because a hurried life leads to shallow relationships. The people who love you most get cheated.
- Relationship fatigue: "Vegging out in front of the TV" and ignoring your wife and family.
- Spiritual emptiness: Compassion is lost. You are tired to the point it erodes the joy in the soul.
Paul Turner: He shared about moralistic therapeutic deism that is running rampant in the church.
Misconceptions in the church: "God wants me to be good, nice and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and other religions. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about one's self. God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem." Most U.S. teenagers mirror their parents religious faith. We can be in church our entire lives, learn about the teachings of Jesus and miss the person of Christ. We must elevate Christ!
Dr. Alvin Reid: "Missional Student Ministry." Most students do not have a biblical mind. We must live and think like missionaries. We must have a gospel focus (Luke 24). We assume they get it. We can easily miss what is most important. The gospel is not "dear abbey" but a life changing message that needs to saturate every area of our lives. We need less behavior modification and more of the gospel. Mentoring is more important than the events. Events are important but they must always be supporting the process. We should always integrate the student ministry into the whole church. Structure it around the gospel and being missional.
Dave Edwards: "Landing Truth." We need to re-elevate scripture to students. Dave shared his approach to studying and preparing messages. Here are 5 ways to land truth:
1. Flight Plan: What am I getting ready to do? Try not to be trendy. Be yourself. Don't over program the message (less is more). Be clear. Exactly what do I want to communicate? What do I want my students to know? Why do I want them to know it? What do I want them to do with it (takeaway)? If I can write the "takeaway" on a napkin, it is good to go! The leaner it is, the more powerful it can be communicated. If there is a "mist in the pulpit, there is a fog in the congregation."
2. Know the purpose of the flight: Are you on a bombing mission or leisure flight? We need to have different approaches: teaching, inspiration, devotional, spiritual warfare, etc. We must communicate in a way that people understand the purpose of the message. The tone needs to be used wisely in relation to the message. In other words, don't yell when you are talking about extending mercy to others!
3. Trust your instruments: Scripture is the source! Use concise passages of scripture, not a bunch of random verses that nobody can keep up with in the talk. We should "wring out" every ounce of the text in order to unpack the truth. It is important to have a "trigger" to every talk that explodes inside of you. It is what brings it to life inside of the communicator. Bad preaching speaks on "top" of the passage but unpacking God's Word unleashes the truth out of the pages and into the hearts of the people. Always use honesty and share personal stories of how the passage has impacted your life.
4. "EIA" It: Always do three things in a talk: Explain the passage in light of the point you are making. Apply it as many ways as I can. Illustrate it. Your illustrations are your personality on fire! Try to have bullet statements that can be applied from the message. Always try to answer objections in the minds of the audience.
5. Know how to land the plane successfully: It is all about bringing the truth home in a clear, understandable way. Does the message lead to a decision? Land the truth of God's Word so that the Holy Spirit can move in the hearts of the listeners!
Thanks again to Jay Strack and the SLU team and all the sponsors for making the youth pastor summit possible!