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The Next


The Ministry of

Jeanne Mayo

A MUST READ for Pastors and Christian leaders! YOU HOLD THE KEYS TO CHANGE OUR NATION.

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Mentoring Ministers


Jeanne Mayo knows youth ministry. Now she brings her years of experience to the task of training the next generation of youth pastors. Read our cover story to find out why she is so successful.


Learn how the owner of the Robertson Tire chain has had significant impact for the kingdom through his business. By Ken Walker




Every Nation Church NYC is pulling out all stops to engage with youth on the fringe—and is making an impact in the inner city. By Ron Lewis


Give your youth the tools they need to rest in who Christ says they are, not what the world says. By Aaron Crumbey Research shows that consistent use of digital technology rewires the brain, so what does this mean for today’s youth leader? By Tim Elmore



Leading youth toward God’s best in the area of sexuality is one of the best gifts you can give those in your care. By Dannah Gresh

76 | VISION Avoid hurting your team by leading with clear purpose By Selma Wilson 78 | CONFLICT Learn how best to respond to bullies in your church By Ron Edmondson


Guiding youth in budgeting and other money basics will go a long way in helping them avoid trouble down the road. By Rachel Cruze



74 | YOUTH How to win over weariness of soul in youth ministry By Andy Blanks

80 | CALLING Find out if you are suffering from “mission drift” By Joseph Mattera


82 | ON PLATFORM Get past busy and gain greater clarity By Dr. Steve Greene

58 | ENSURING A HEALTHY LEADERSHIP TRANSITION Leadership changes don’t always happen on schedule, so preparing for them must be part of your strategic planning. By Paul Daugherty


MinistryToday July // August 2015

Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2015 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA Cover: Jeanne Mayo Ministries; Lightstock | Robertson Tire | © Shutterstock/rambleon

We believe Jesus calls us to take on the greatest needs of our day END EXPLOITATION | Bangladesh One of the largest crossroads for human trafficking


IN THE MARGINS World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.

Ministry Matters


5 Useful Practices for Text-Messaging Church Members By Tim Smith Churches that are able to embrace technology and use it to their advantage have an easier time not just with retaining membership but also in building it. Cellphones, and particularly SMS text messaging, is one such technological advance that churches around the world are starting to see as a useful tool in a number of different applications. In 2013, it was estimated that 91 percent of adults had a cell phone, a number which has likely increased in the past two years. As a result, churches have found a number of ways to stay connected with

important dates like fundraising events and meetings. This helps significantly in increasing the number of people who show up for your various functions.

2) Calls for prayer:

Instead of using the old-fashioned phone chain, churches are now sending an instant text message to their members when there is an urgent call for prayer. Take the recent tragedy that took place in Nepal. Pastors all over the country were able

available where those you contact can respond back if they are in need of special assistance. Churches in areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes find this a particularly useful tool to have.

4) Cancellations:

With an SMS broadcasting service such as DialMyCalls, contact lists can be arranged in any way the church sees fit. This allows them to alert only certain groups, such as the parents of youth group members if a meeting is being canceled or moved to another location. Again, sending an SMS text message to everyone at one time is much more effective than having to call each person one by one or rely on a phone chain.

5) Receiving feedback:

their parishioners using the cellphone and SMS text messaging to their advantage:

1) Church event reminders: There are

dozens of events taking place in churches all year long. Instead of relying on bulletins and reminders during services to keep members updated, churches are using mass notification systems to send out text messages, reminding them of upcoming 6

MinistryToday July // August 2015

to instantly bring their parishioners together using text message alerts to send forth a powerful group prayer.

3) Emergency notifications: SMS

broadcasting is perfect for updating parishioners during emergency situations. Even if electricity or landline service is down, you can still let people know where to go for help. There are even services

Even a pastor needs to know how they are doing with their job. Text messaging can be used to send out brief surveys that can ask for opinions about any element of the church, its activities and functions. This is an invaluable service for creating a sense of community and involvement with all members of a congregation. Churches that have learned how to use the power of technology in their dayto-day activities have seen great results. You will be hard pressed to find a congregant who does not have a cellphone on their person, checking regularly for new text messages. Using that to your advantage will help increase your church attendance and stay better connected with your members.

Tim Smith is the social media guru and support manager for DialMyCalls. This article originally appeared online at © istockphoto/exdez

42 Things Highly


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42 Things Highly

Boom, 1976 and Have Turne d Their Cars Study to shew thyself approv the word of ed unto God, truth. a workman that needet h not to be ashamed, rightly dividing For the word of God is alive tween soul and powerf and spirit, ul. It is sharpe 2 Timothy between joint r 2:15 than the sharpest and marrow two-ed ged . It exposes sword, cutting our innerm ost though be3. They Have ts and desires . a ____________ Hebrews 4:12 ______ ___ 13 No, dear (NLT) brothers and _ sisters, I have and lookin g forward to not achieve d it, but I focus what lies ahead, prize for which on this one 14 I press on God, throug thing: Forgett to reach the h Christ Jesus, ing the past end of the race is calling us. and receive the heaven Faith is the ly substance of things hoped for (dreamed Philippians 3:13–14 of), the evidenc e of things not seen. 4. They Comm



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Ministry Matters


Bring New Vitality to Worn-Out Worship Songs By David Santistevan We’ve all been there. The last thing we want to do is sing “How Great Is Our God” or “Here I Am to Worship” again. They feel old, tired and worn out. Songs go through cycles. It’s possible to do them too often as well as not enough. Striking that balance is tricky, to say the least. But just because a song is old doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. Great worship songs stand the test of time because they wrap a timeless message in a fresh sound. Oftentimes that older, more familiar song is exactly what is needed because it connects. People don’t have to think so hard. They can be more free to engage. The truth is, worship leaders and band members get sick of a song much sooner than someone in the congregation. When you combine personal practice, rehearsal and playing the same song for multiple services on a weekend, that makes sense. But just when the band is getting sick of a song is right when people in the congregation are starting to grasp it. The problem isn’t with how old the song is. The problem is that we do it the same way all the time. Doing songs like your favorite records is fine, but you need to shake it up from time to time. Our songlists should be crafted on the foundation of two questions: 1. Are we celebrating and declaring the truth of the gospel? and 2. Are we helping people engage with heart, soul, mind and strength? Cool and cutting edge is great if it accomplishes that purpose. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time. So here are seven tips for taking a wornout song and breathing some life into it:

1) Speak in the middle—Sometimes pausing in the middle of the song to either encourage, exhort or read a Scripture can completely change up the feel to a song.It helps to reconnect with the worshippers in the room as well. For example, oftentimes I’ll tie a particular verse of a song to a Scripture, like the final verse of “Cornerstone”: 8

MinistryToday July // August 2015

“When He shall come with trumpet sound. Oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone. Faultless stand before His throne.” Before I sing that, I’ll declare the verse 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If there’s one thing I know, there’s nothing that lights up a worship service like the

with all their hearts not just experiencing your music. 3) Change the singer. A guy usually leads it? Try it with a female lead. Changing the worship leader on a song can completely change the feel from something intense to something tender—from a declarative sound to something more intimate. 4) Include it in a medley.Another great way to breathe fresh life into songs is to create medleys. Rather than doing one full

Word of God. It is power, and when it lands on hearts filled with faith, explosive things can happen. Try this with your songs. Speak out. Declare truth. Plan your songs to be an experience with the Word rather than just a sing-along. 2) Change the arrangement. Just because you typically use a loop doesn’t mean you always need to. If you’re used to doing a song fast, try it slow. If you’re used to doing a song with an electronic feel, try it acoustic. If you’re used to doing it in a high key, try it in a lower register for a more tender feel. Simplicity is a powerful force in corporate singing. I find myself gravitating more toward the simple music and raised voice of worshippers. So don’t be afraid of a little acapella. The goal is to get people singing

song, do parts of two or three songs. There’s a powerful connection that happens when you combine an old song with a new song, when they have a similar theme. Feels fresh. 5) Use video.‌ Sometimes utilizing video in a song can cause the truth to land with more power. Maybe all you do is change up the background of a lyric slide. Or sync a lyric video to the band’s click. Considering visual elements is important to making a songs fresh. For more insight into this, make sure to check out what Stephen Proctor is doing over at Illuminate.

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. See this original article at ©iStockphoto/nuranvectorgirl



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Ministry Matters V o l . 3 3 // N o . 4

6 Ways Millennials Educate Their Church 2) Utilizing a catechism-like resource with their kids.In the previous point, I mentioned theologically rich children’s Bibles, but it doesn’t just stop there. Millennial parents are using other resources and even smartphone apps to teach theological concepts and lessons to their children at home. While they aren’t typically formal catechisms, they emphasize building a foundation of correct answers to biblical questions. The Big Picture question-andanswer section in The Gospel Project for Kids curriculum is just one example of a resource for this practice.

3) Working through systematic theology in study groups.I know of several churches that

and a willingness to question status-quo methodology and some extrabiblical traditions. On the other hand, their weaknesses were exposed as well. There was a tendency by some to downplay the importance of biblical truths and theological education. The practical sometimes overshadowed the theological. In recent years, however, I have noticed a remarkable—and welcomed—return by younger leaders to the fundamentals of the faith, basic theological education and the deepening of doctrinal roots. Recently I studied these trends and identified six ways millennial leaders are increasing the importance and effectiveness of theological education in the local church:

1) Emphasizing the big story of the Bible.

Millennial leaders understand the need for Christians to be grounded in the grand narrative of Scripture, and the resources they use range from chronological Bible reading plans to theologically robust kids’ Bibles. The overwhelming success of The Gospel Project, a curriculum that uses the storyline of Scripture to teach essential doctrines, shows that church leaders today see the need for theological education and are acting accordingly. 10 MinistryToday July // August 2015

Chief Financial Officer JOY F. STRANG

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By Thom S. Rainer Over the past few decades, the seeker-sensitive movement—and before that the church growth movement— taught us much about contextualization in the church. The strengths of these movements included a relentless evangelistic focus

Founding Editor and Publisher STEVE STRANG

have weekly study groups that cover basic systematic theology. This is not just doughnuts and devotions. These groups intensely study Scripture and theology and in many cases have seen an increase in theological education and evangelistic fervor.

4) Returning to theological hymnody and songs.We’ve had Keith Getty on our

podcast to discuss hymnody and trends in the worship services, but again, it doesn’t stop there. Many millennial parents are using time in the car with their children to reinforce biblical truth through song. Several musicians have responded to this trend with albums full of songs with lyrics made entirely of Scripture.

5) Reading recommended books from church websites.Many churches no longer

have an official library, but are still recommending books. Many church websites now include a “Recommended Reading” section that features a mix of devotional classics, theological books and the resources. 6) Holding church membership classes.The two main things you should communicate in church membership classes are information and expectations. And both of those must be firmly built on a biblical foundation of good theology.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit © iStockphoto/digitalskillet

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On Giving and Receiving

Unexpected lessons to be learned from the secret love life of crows


iblical metaphors relative to the laws of giving and receiving include no mention of grateful crows, but a young girl in Seattle has proven they might well have done. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann began sharing part of her lunch with the crows each day. No surprise there, I suppose. Countless people show the birds a little love at backyard feeders and with popcorn in the park. Not many, however, experience any crow reciprocity. According to a delightful report by the BBC, little Miss Mann soon began receiving gifts from the grateful crows. As these tokens of affection have accumulated, she bagged and labeled them. It has become an impressive collection, to say the least. Bits of stone, pieces of hardware, colored glass, Legos and much more fill Gabi’s amazing exhibit. Each one was placed carefully on the edge of the birdbath by a crow in evident gratitude for her generosity. Ecclesiastes 11:1 admonishes us to cast our bread upon the waters and then promises that we will find it later. I wonder how it might read if Gabi Mann’s story were taken into account. “Share your lunch with the crows, and they will bring you gifts.” I like it! As we in the ministry try to teach on giving, finding a healthy balance is strenuous, to say the least. Jesus certainly had plenty to say about giving, as in Luke 6:38. “Give and it shall be given to you.” Every minister can and should quote the rest of that verse frequently before receiving the offering. The point is this. We do not want to turn the promises of Jesus and Ecclesiastes and the rest of Scripture into an armslength business arrangement. “OK, God, here’s some bread, and I expect colored glass on the birdbath by sundown or You’re not God.” That approach drains the joy out of giving. I believe the promises of God. We will never miss a dime given for His kingdom’s purpose. Our bread will come delightfully back to us on wave after wave of blessing, yet we dare not become mechanical or, worse, manipulative. There are many reasons to teach on giving and receiving. We want people blessed, and giving is crucial to their being blessed. We want the kingdom of God to go forward wellresourced. Furthermore, we want believers to grow in

their trust of God and His promises. Then there is the responsibility of “churchmanship.” As believers, we are called to support the church with our prayers, attendance to public worship, private devotion and, not the least of these, tithes and offerings. Ministers likewise are called to instruct the people of God in all these disciplines. Surely, however, ours should be a joyful journey as well as a disciplined one. I want believers to know the child-like thrill of giving. Worship should never be drudgery but joy, and giving is worship. The life of faith is to be joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is into that aspect of giving that I most hope to guide others. I am persuaded that the church that delights in giving, the church that sets God free to “bring their bread back on every wave” choosing waves as He will, the church that celebrates the adventure of giving will discover and revel in the delightful secret of the love of crows. Little Gabi Mann never signed a contract with the crows. She just gave. The fun of her story, the real joy of it all, is its serendipitous nature. Bread for beads is not a business deal between child and bird but a delightful journey into the joy of giving and receiving. Some have tended to teach giving and receiving exclusively as a spiritual law. I’m not saying they are wrong. I believe in the promises of Scripture. In real life, the blessing of giving, the true heart of giving with open hands and an open heart, can be damaged by legalism. How much better to teach, give and watch—just watch—what God will do. He can bless it back to you in ways and through means that never occurred to you. Give with generosity and receive with delight in sweet and unexpected ways. Maybe this is the secret. “Cast your lunch upon the ground and even the crows will bless you.” That’s not in the Bible, but it’s pretty close.

“We will never miss a dime given for His kingdom’s purpose. Our bread will come delightfully back to us on wave after wave of blessing, yet we dare not become mechanical or, worse, manipulative.”

12 MinistryToday July // August 2015

D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of Global Servants. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.

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Training the Next



The name Jeanne Mayo has long been linked with excellence in youth ministry. After 45 years in the field, Mayo is multiplying her efforts to reach youth through mentoring their pastors.



rankie Mazzapica was 19 when he first met Jeanne Mayo. His job was to drive Jeanne to the airport following a youth conference where she had spoken. She wasn’t in the car long before she began asking questions. “She asked me what I planned on doing with my life, and I told her I was in college to get a marketing degree and then hopefully make a lot of money,” Mazzapica says. “Then Jeanne asked me if I wanted to be successful or if I wanted to be significant. I remember her saying, ‘Before you answer, in order to be significant, it’s going to require sacrifice.’ ” Mazzapica was in no mood for sacrifice. He continued in college, and Mayo went home to Rockford, Illinois, where she was on staff at Rockford Assembly of God Church. Rather that forget Frankie and his life plan, she called him every day for nine straight months until he accepted an internship with her in youth ministry at the church. He finished Bible college via correspondence courses and was eventually hired on Mayo’s youth ministry staff. It wasn’t long before she had another plan for him. “She spoke at a conference in Vancouver, came back and told me that she thought she had met my wife,” says Mazzapica. “We’ve now been married for 13 years and have three kids.” With Mayo’s reference, Mazzapica later signed on with Lakewood Church under Pastor Joel Osteen. “Lakewood called Jeanne and asked if she knew anyone who might come work with their youth. She recommended me; they said yes, I said yes, and I was in Houston at Lakewood for three years.” Mazzapica, now senior pastor at Celebration Church in The Woodlands, Texas, sums up Mayo in words that echo what 16 MinistryToday July // August 2015

Jeanne Mayo Ministries

Mayo volunteers with her son Justin at his youth-mentoring organization, Redeye, based in Los Angeles.

thousands of others would say about this youth ministry expert: “Jeanne is a fullservice mom.”

‘Living Up Close’

Mayo sees every life, every young person as valuable and important. “Ninety-two percent of decisions for Christ are made before a person’s 18th birthday. I’m hard pressed to find a more significant ministry than youth ministry,” says Mayo, who at 65 has been in full-time youth ministry for 45 years and has no plans to retire. Those years spent loving kids and youth workers, the fruit of spiritual children and grandchildren, the training she offers, the speaking she does all put her at the top of the field in the area of youth ministry. She knows what it takes to train up a top-notch youth leader. One of the key ways is what she calls “living up close” to mentors and coaches who have been at youth ministry a little longer and who are willing to give a slice of time. “Today’s currency is time,” she says. Toward this end, Mayo created the Cadre, a yearlong mentoring program for youth workers that is part of her Youth Leader’s Coach program. Cadre members (45 per session) meet three times a year in Mayo’s home for two days of intense coaching, field trips and “Iron Groups.” “You will be in a small group with people of similar-size ministries because you process things in similar ways,” she says. No one is allowed to talk about denominational status or ministry numbers, but instead encouraged to talk about struggles and becoming authentic friends to each other. Each Cadre—there are three different Cadres per year—also receives monthly conference calls, free resources and an open invitation to email Mayo any time about any topic. “I give them everything I would love to have had,” Mayo says. “I spoil them. There is a red carpet into my home, we cook for them and serve them, bring them coffee, pick up their trash. I do this because so many people in youth ministry are perceived as, ‘When you get a real ministry, you’ll be with adults.’ ” Mayo lists a number of issues that 18 MinistryToday July // August 2015

plague youth ministry workers, both paid and volunteer. The biggest issue she sees is the mind games that wreak havoc on a worker’s mind and heart. “Mind games come from the self-talk in our own heads,” she says. “Youth workers say, I’m failing, I’m inadequate, I’m not good enough, I’m not spiritual enough. And teenagers can be brutal. The reality is that insecurities are high.” Youth workers also deal with loneliness, unrealistic expectations and measuring sticks for what biblical success looks like. “Real youth ministry is not about pulpits, but about people,” says Mayo. “A lot of people can do a wow up-front talk, but they have little personal touch with students. The guts of real youth ministry is being Jesus with skin on. Some of the greatest youth pastors and leaders don’t have great big numbers, but they have produced greatly in the lives of their students.”

‘Trying to Reproduce Myself’

Mayo is highly focused on training the next generation of youth leaders and workers. About 1,000 have come through the Cadre program—in its 10th year—from all denominations and from across the U.S., Canada, Germany and countries in Africa.

The Alliance takes Mayo’s teaching to a hyper-local level. Alliance organizers gather local youth leaders—full- and parttime and volunteer—to share ideas, learn from others, pray and grow closer to Jesus. There are hundreds of groups across the U.S. Mayo’s offers information on Cadre and the Alliance; books, videos and “Retreat in a Box” collections; and a host of free resources. “I’m a lady on a mission trying to reproduce myself,” Mayo says. “On my tombstone I want ‘100X’ because I want to produce 100 times my spiritual fruit as I reproduce myself in others.” The Atlanta Leadership College and the Youth Leaders’ Conference are other ways she multiplies herself and teaches youth workers. She has hosted seven national Youth Leaders Conferences, the most recent this past March in Dallas where 2,500 attended. The Atlanta Leadership College has been in operation for 11 years and is an affiliate of Master’s Commission International. “I became deeply alarmed at how many high school graduates who had been immersed in Christianity and youth groups were walking away from evidence of belief,” Mayo says. “Also, so many of

Illustrating spiritual warfare with a boxing ring, Mayo emphasizes the need to contend for the faith. Jeanne Mayo Ministries

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It’s not all serious when Mayo mentors youth pastors in The Cadre.

the high school students I was sending to college for youth ministry training were coming home with large loans and little knowledge of real life, and they’d lost heart and passion for Jesus. This became the catalyst for me to help.” Atlanta Leadership College offers an initial nine-month program focused on what Director Jordan Marcon calls character building. Some use the college as a form of gap year; some students chose to stay for a second year, which focuses on leadership development. Some stay for a third and fourth year, and qualify to receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Marcon came to Christ, thanks to the ministry of Mayo and her husband, Sam, and has stayed with her through her moves around the country, including Illinois, California and Georgia. He credits Mayo with the ability to multiply herself. “She guides the team, which guides the youth,” Marcon says. “What she does best is lead them and develop them to be people of integrity, and that allows them to shape their youth ministry. Her role has transitioned to mentoring youth leaders who mentor kids.” With that approach, the 2,500 youth workers who attended the recent Youth Leaders’ Conference will go on to impact nearly 200,000 youth. “I’ve learned a lot from her, and a lot of that is by watching how she lives her life,” says Marcon. One of his biggest lessons is to love 20 MinistryToday July // August 2015

unconditionally and never give up. Marcon admits to being upset when he sees someone hurting Mayo, but she doesn’t seem to mind. “Hon, it’s not about making me happy; it’s about making Jesus happy,” she says. Marcon also has learned to just live right. He’s told Mayo that he doesn’t think life is fair sometimes. “Honey, living right is never fair, but it’s right. So live right,” she’s said to him many times. Says Marcon, “Anyone you talk to will tell you that when you’re with her, you feel like you’re the only person in the room. There isn’t a problem too big, no sin too great, but she is there. She is such a great mentor, guide and mom, and that sets her apart.” Paula Roach knows that love firsthand. She met Mayo 25 years ago at age 19 when a friend brought her to the youth group at First Assembly of God in Rockford. Mayo led Paula to the Lord, discipled her and eventually put her on staff in the youth ministry program, which grew from 25 to about 1,000 from junior high to college/ career age. “I was a very sad person and dealt with depression a lot,” says Roach. “My life would be very different, if I would even be here at all, if not for Jeanne. She hasn’t forgotten about me even though there are thousands more like me. Thousands call her mom because she’s our spiritual mom.” Roach worked on the youth ministry

staff at the Rockford church, then moved to the youth ministry staff at Lakewood. She now volunteers at a Bixby, Oklahoma, church where she and her husband attend. “No matter how big and well known she got, Jeanne still cared about the one,” says Roach. “That’s the most important thing I took with me—to take care of the individual.” The friend who brought Roach to First Assembly is now lead pastor at the renamed Rockford First. Mayo led Jeremy DeWeerdt to the Lord in July 1990, he became one of the first interns in youth ministry, and in 1993, he started the Rockford Master’s Commission program there. In 1995, he became the assistant youth pastor under Mayo’s leadership at Cross Currents ministries in Rockford, and later lead pastor at Rockford First. “I believe the greatest lesson I learned from Jeanne’s life is to believe in people and love them unconditionally,” says DeWeerdt. “She had an amazing way of seeing past people’s reality to what they could be in Christ.” Her lessons for youth leaders remain the same. “Though the methodology has changed since Jeanne and I were youth pastors in Rockford, the principle of loving people is the same,” DeWeerdt says. “People want to believe that the best days are ahead of them. People want to know that they are cared for, and they have value. Jeanne » exemplifies all of these things.” Jeanne Mayo Ministries

Mayo speaks on the ‘dragon of success’ at her popular National Youth Leaders’ Conference.

‘Something That Will Outlast Me’

Today Mayo is director of youth and young adult ministries at Victory World Church in Norcross, Georgia, and also strategic partner for the National Youth Ministry Department of the Assemblies of God. She has strong thoughts—based on her years of experience—about how to train the next generation of youth leaders. She encourages young leaders to live up close to mentors and coaches. And she knows that this generation will not be changed so much by our words as by our lifestyles. Potential leaders will see more experienced youth workers running a small group and being a spiritual leader, which can make all the difference. Find what she calls “those Paul Reveres,” those people who have potential to lead but who must be asked. “Say to them, ‘I see a little something in you; you have great potential,” she says. Take the risk of personal vulnerability. “We lead through our strengths, but connect through our weaknesses,” Mayo says. “If we’re going to try to lead this emerging generation of leaders by acting like we’ve always got it together, our credibility and impact will be less.” It’s easy, says Mayo, to underestimate our own vulnerability. She knows that talking about having a quiet time with Jesus every day is easier than actually doing it. “For me, a successful week is if Jesus and I hang out five out of the seven days,” she says. “Many people in the 22 MinistryToday July // August 2015

ministry talk a good game, but they are more a business associate of God than a son or daughter. Ninety-five percent of being a good youth leader is being a good Christian.” Education is important, but Mayo knows that real education comes from being trained and coached by those who are doing or have done youth ministry successfully. Real education comes in the trenches. Nick Nelson and his wife, Jill, are lead pastors at Connect City Church in Battle Creek, Michigan. Nick Nelson first heard Mayo speak at a leadership conference in Troy, Michigan. “I remember being captivated at how she was able to make everyone in the room feel like she was speaking to them personally,” he says. He became a Cadre member and continues to learn from Mayo’s example. “Jeanne’s ability to make everyone around her better is contagious,” says Nelson. “She constantly talks about how the stage moments are great, but the real work is done off the stage. Over the years, I am continually encouraged to keep my ‘off-stage’ life growing, knowing that the stage moments will then happen with more effectiveness.” Nelson agrees with Mayo’s assessment that education is necessary, but that boots on the ground is also imperative. “Experience in the field with others is also necessary and a great training ground,” he says. “It’s like a sports team. The team can watch film all day and talk

about playing, but getting out there and doing it brings the lessons that only experience can teach.” Mayo knows what it takes to train a leader because she’s done it hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Give tomorrow’s youth leaders: 1) A sense of destiny. L  et them know they can make an eternal difference. 2) A sense of militancy. Give them a sense of purpose and something to fight for. Let them know they can make a difference in a teenager’s life. 3) A sense of childhood. Many have missed out on what we remember as a sense of childhood with its fun, interaction, games and play. Both leaders and kids need that. 4) A sense of family. This is an unparented generation that is being asked to become like parents, but it’s hard to give away something they haven’t experienced themselves. Mayo is quick to say that the reason she can create a sense of family through her youth ministry is because she’s been passionate about prioritizing her own family: her husband and her sons, Josh and Justin. “My main ministry started when I drove in the driveway, not when I drove out,” she says. Yet this leader of thousands of spiritual children and grandchildren who mothered the unlovely, unloved and questioning, who touched and changed lives, who continues to multiply her ministry by training today’s and tomorrow’s leaders knows it isn’t about numbers. “If we gauge success by numbers, which most people do, Jesus was an amazing failure,” Mayo says. “I hope people will say that I wasn’t just a pulpit person but was Jesus with skin on in their lives. I’m trying to spend myself on something that will outlast me.” Mayo quotes Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 while bringing the gospel to the Auca Indians in South America: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” “I think that’s a fair picture of who I am,” she says. A n n B y l e is a freelance writer for several national publications, a literary agent with Credo Communications and co-founder of Breathe Christian Writers Conference. Aaron Robinson

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Reaching At-Risk Youth

Ron Lewis’ Every Nation Church NYC is relating to and engaging with youth on the fringe, and seeing spiritual Takingfruit. the streets

of Manhattan for Christ



ne key line sums up Frank Sinatra’s famous song “New York, New York.” “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” And nothing could be truer when it comes to youth ministry in the Big Apple. Every weekday students from 189 nations gather to be educated in the New York City public high school system. They commute in from all five boroughs to spend more than seven hours in the proverbial melting pot of Manhattan. They walk the streets and ride the subways. They gather in groups looking for belonging and entertainment just to pass the time before and after school. You hear them, see them and feel their lost souls. Most are hurting and dejected, like “sheep without a shepherd,” from shattered homes and unattended lives. The words of Thoreau are apt for most of them who “lead lives of quiet desperation.” Yet, seeing with the eyes of Jesus, it doesn’t take a Christ follower long to recognize the huge potential among this desperate crowd. These kids want to hear the gospel!

Connecting With Unbelievers

Youth of many nationalities congregate after a 414 event hosted by Every Nation NYC.

Soon after our church, Every Nation NYC, launched in response to the events of 9/11, the pandemic needs of young people seemed to hit us from every side. But what could we do to help? As Christian parents of kids their age, we seemed so far removed from their worlds and ill-equipped to meet their needs. In addition, very few of these youth had the ability to find their way to get back into Manhattan for any of our Sunday services. We continued to care and pray for these kids, their souls and their destinies. Several from our congregation offered to give up their afternoons to meet, listen to and share the gospel with students. This was the humble

beginning of what the students would later call “414,” after the address of the humble basement-level building we own on West 51st Street. Formerly a Shakespearian theater in the Midtown/Hell’s Kitchen area of town, 414 has provided a backdrop to our

“One glance with the eyes of Jesus, and we feel great compassion and ache for those so often victims in their homes, schools and streets.” ever-evolving outreach to young people in the area. Interestingly, 4/14 is also the number identifying the ages of one of the most significant demographics in the world, according to strategist Luis Bush. Bush is the same man who coined the well-known term “10/40 Window,” which is the least evangelized part of the globe. Bush is also the architect behind the “4/14” window, which is not a geographic reference, but demographic. Bush and others believe those children and youth in the 4-to-14-age bracket are the most open to the gospel and eager to respond and share Christ with others. Although our youth focus is more a “13-18 window,” the results have been amazing as students from unbelieving backgrounds, homes and regions of NYC are connecting with us and becoming disciples of Jesus. When we find them or they come to us, the majority come from nominal Christian homes or are agnostics, atheists, Buddhists or Muslims. Very few know the Lord. However, by grace, as they graduate from high school and leave us, many have become ambassadors for Christ who enter colleges and July // August 2015 MinistryToday   25

Youth Pastor Ilze Gideons, center, choreographed a dance to Coldplay‘s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ with some youth at an Every Nation NYC conference.

universities, ready and willing to make a difference for Him! From the moment we opened our doors at 414, the stories began pouring in from our youth leaders and their team of volunteers. The following excerpts from our youth leaders capture some of the highlights: “The first year was spent hanging on the streets, building relationships with the kids who attended schools near our building. Some were skipping school, so I would go early to get more time with them. I was frequently breaking up fights between students, or between students and security guards. I’ll never forget the one security guard who, after arguing with a kid, decided to let his German Shepherd fight the young man. The issues they face should not be real, but they are. Frequent stories of rape, prostitution, physical abuse, helplessness and the pain of loneliness compelled us to show up week after week. We started opening our doors Fridays 26 MinistryToday July // August 2015

at building 414. When kids started showing up every day, we increased our hours and opened up Tuesday through Friday. When the youth arrived at 414, the first thing they experienced was genuine hope. Volunteer leaders and peers already impacted and changed displayed this hope, a hope the kids had never seen or experienced. Although they questioned whether it’s real, they kept coming back, wanting more. Our “more” consisted of games, free food and a consistently safe place without judgment. Discussion groups focused on who God is in an honest, relatable way. The Word of God would enter the discussion, and life transformations followed. For many, the highlights were Thursdays, when we’d do lessons in manhood for the guys and tea parties for the girls. In those moments, we demonstrated what godly living looks like and taught them in practical ways how to live. Our team is taught to be very

relational and to engage the kids where they are. This is one of the main ways that lives are transformed. Each one needs someone to believe in them, and we have used varying strategies of engagement. One boy named Jon barely spoke a word to anyone, so we started giving him guitar lessons and having him perform in the talent show. In time he gave his life to Jesus, became a leader and now talks incessantly! We focus simultaneously on cultivating volunteer leaders, often new believers themselves. Several had given up alcohol and drugs after just a few weeks because of their newfound motivation to live by example for the kids they have grown to love. In short, we listen to their anguish, become their friends and “family,” then brought them into the family of God.”

Reaching the Broken

Four values capture our ongoing strategy in reaching these youth: Creativity. While 414 remains our

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primary launch pad, we have also rented clubs when noise levels got too high for neighbors and utilized theaters in sketchy parts of Manhattan just to extend the reach. In each environment, the youth team has created programs to help break the ice and connect with the students. Additionally, special outreaches like Teen Mania’s Acquire the Fire, Campus Harvest student conferences and Young Life Camps have proven fruitful and life changing for students. Community. Our motto has been, “Let them belong before they believe,” a vision supported by an inviting atmosphere that makes a lasting impact. We don’t criticize or judge the wild views or ideas of these kids. We just let them feel our love and support. One young girl went on and on about how much she loved just sitting on one of our wornout leather couches. We want our place to be a safe place since many of their homes are not. Kids inviting kids. We let those impacted most be the primary voices for inviting others. One late afternoon after school, a young man newly saved by Jesus started shouting, “Sex Party” just to get more of his friends and kids to come inside. While we obviously didn’t suggest or advocate his method, it was evident that he was effective in gathering others. Once inside, the kids realized it wasn’t what they thought, but they were loved, fed and heard a message of hope. Several even came back. Persistence. Ninety percent or more of those we minister to are from broken families, so most students don’t want to go home after school because of the chaos and lack of attention there. At 414, they are consistently loved with a chance to see what wholeness looks like in our staff, student leaders and a growing number of their peers. Progress is often slow, but we keep going. Reaching biblically illiterate, broken young people is not easy nor for the faint of heart. But one glance with the eyes of Jesus, and we feel great compassion and ache for those so often victims in their homes, schools and streets. And to these we go, not hopeless and helpless, but empowered and led by the leader of the greatest youth 28 MinistryToday July // August 2015

Youth enjoy hanging out at the weekly program at the 414 venue. More than 30 young people were saved and baptized at summer camp in 2014.

movement the world has ever known: Jesus the Nazarene. Two scriptures summarize the call and passion of our youth ministry in the wild, Nehemiah 4:14 and Matthew 28:19-20. The Nehemiah passage is for our youth. Since they come from challenging backgrounds, they often feel “outnumbered by the enemy.” Their daily battlegrounds are their own homes, schools, culture, religions, neighborhoods and the like, and often cause them to give up and lose hope. “I stood up and said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, ‘Stop being terrified because of them! Remember instead that the Lord is great and awesome. So fight for each other— and for your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses’ ” (Neh. 4:14).

In addition, our staff, team and volunteer leaders lean on these unparalleled words from our ultimate leader: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). We go. He does the rest. R o n L e w i s is the founding pastor and senior minister at King’s Park International Church in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. He also serves as senior minister at Every Nation Church in New York City. For more information or ways to get involved in youth ministry in New York, email

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b • TI


Helping Youth Find Their Identity in Christ Why it’s so important for youth to grasp that they are made in God’s image

© iStockphoto/Lise Gagne



outh pastors dream of youth groups filled with on-fire students. Some time ago in our ministry, it seemed we had one of those dream students. He attended every event and would call to see if he could help set up. He loved our large group service and never missed it. He showed up early and left late and would even come to the office to hang out. He went to camps, summer events and had a hand in every service project. This student was on engagement steroids, and I thought it was awesome. Because he was so involved, I assumed he was healthy and motivated in the right way. I believed God was moving


mightily in his life, and it was the work of the Holy Spirit pushing him to be so active. I encouraged him with phrases like “If I only had a million of you,” “You should be in youth ministry,” “You’re awesome” and “Keep it up.” But I didn’t see what was coming around the corner for this core student. When he made a huge mistake, it rocked his personal world. As a result, there was a significant change in behavior, and his attendance at church services and youth events dropped significantly. At first, I thought he just needed a break and would bounce back soon enough, but eventually he stopped coming altogether. He didn’t want to communicate with me or anyone from the church. After pestering him a while because I couldn’t believe he would just fall off like that, I got to meet with him after a few weeks—and he seemed like a different person. His whole life had been about performance, and because of it, his identity was defined by success. The mistake he made didn’t just impact his circumstances, but it affected him to the core. His failure defined his identity. As it turns out, we discovered he had lived his whole life this way. When life was great, he felt good about himself, but when circumstances weren’t so good, he saw himself in a negative light. His identity was defined by success and applause. The young person who ties his performance to identity begins to question who he is—and if he ever truly gave his life to Christ. The young person in this state may believe that he is the worst person in the world. In this case, it was like he was never part of our ministry. Other students find their identity in the person they are dating. And when there’s a break-up or someone gets dumped, the student feels like his world has exploded. They don’t feel July // August 2015 MinistryToday   31

“good enough” without a boyfriend or girlfriend by their side.

Get Rooted

As pastors and leaders, we need to help students understand that their identity is directly connected to their purpose. When they understand who they are, then they can understand what they were created to do. Many times young people allow their experiences, mistakes, hang-ups and struggles to define them. Their identity becomes defined by their weakness. Students become slaves to the things that hold them hostage. They need to understand that even though they may go through a trial or struggle, it doesn’t have to define them. Identity directly affects their value and worth. When students find their identity in their successes, they value themselves by how good or bad they perform. When identity is wrapped up in a relationship, students value themselves based on the success or failure of that relationship. A student can feel good about himself, but just as easily feel like no one loves him, or everyone hates him, or he was a mistake. When a student’s identity is not rooted in Christ, it becomes like leaves on a tree blowing in whichever direction the wind takes them. We need to help students understand the importance of placing their identity in the only One who never changes. As Micah 3:6 says, “I am the LORD, and I do not change.” Whether you have students who are Christians or not, they need to know their true identity is in Someone who never changes. And they need to know He doesn’t waver like everything else. James 1:17 reminds us that the Father of heavenly lights does not change like shifting shadows. Students need to know these four things concerning their identity and value: God created them on purpose in His image. The creation account reminds us that God values each person so much that He created us in His image. Out of all the things He created in this world, He formed only human beings in His image. Students need to understand that their hardships and hang-ups change nothing about them being made in the image of God. 32 MinistryToday July // August 2015

“We need to help students understand that their identity is directly connected to their purpose.” God’s love does not fail, nor does it change towards them. Psalm 136:1 declares that the Lord is good, and His love never fails. Romans 8:38-39 shows that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s love doesn’t change and neither does it fail. The great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, gives a great depiction of the way God loves us. God genuinely cares about the details of their lives. First Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us. In fact, He cares about every single detail of your students’ lives. He cares about their relationships, their bad days, their good days, the things that make them mad, sad or happy. He cares about them completely. Students should be reminded of Luke 12:7, to

know that God cares even about the little things in their lives. They must know that God values them so much that His care goes beyond their ability to care even for themselves. God created them with a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 declares that we are “God’s masterpiece.” He created us anew in Christ, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. It’s not because they have purpose that they should put their identity in Him; rather, it’s because He’s created them with purpose that should give them reason to place their identity in Him. A long time ago before the world was created He had each one of your students in mind with purpose. God feels this way about them because of who He is. Our identity in God is not based on ourselves or our Lightstock

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“There is self-worth beyond measure when a student finds his identity in Christ.” ability to trust Him. A person’s identity in Christ is solely based on Him and His love. David’s writings in Psalm 139 beautifully reveal God’s intent toward us. Our identity sets the tone for the type of person we’re going to be and how we will treat people, so it’s important for a young person to work on identity issues as early in life as possible. The world says search and find out who you are, but God says discover who I’ve created you to be in Christ Jesus. For the most part, we don’t really need a lot of persuading to find our identity in things and people. Human brokenness craves an identity that operates only in the temporal. We crave the quick fix to our problems. And when it comes to our identity it’s no different. Many times we give in to the quick fix because we just don’t know any better. God is seen as an angry dictator who wants to take all the fun out of life. We buy into it because it’s the loudest message being broadcast. That is why it’s so important that students understand how much they are valued by God. They need to know their identity is in Him based on how 34 MinistryToday July // August 2015

He sees and feels about us because that never changes.

Get Real

As a youth pastor, there are five key things you can do to help your students understand the importance of finding their identity in Christ. Consider these: 1) Pray for discernment. Pray that the Holy Spirit gives you discernment concerning students who struggle. Every student is different, so we need the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us as we lead, encourage, challenge, inspire and mentor students. 2) Teach on identity from the stage. Don’t expect your students to just realize the truth about their identity. Speak to topics on which they are vulnerable, and offer an invitation. 3) Be transparent about your own identity crisis. Every Christian has struggled at times with finding their identity in Jesus, so be open to sharing yours. We serve and encourage others from our weaknesses more than from our strengths. There’s something about sharing how normal you are that makes young people feel like you can relate to them, so be honest, open up and share.

4) Give students the opportunity to share their struggles in your youth group. It’s one thing for students to hear your struggle, but hearing the testimony of their peers struggling changes the playing field. Students no longer feel like they are the only one. When you think you are the only one struggling in a certain area, it’s a lonely and depressing place to be. 5) Educate your students’ parents. Having a youth group that is strategic about helping students find their identity in Christ is great, but it’s only half the battle. You must reach out to the ones who affect the identity of your students the most. That doesn’t mean you need to single out a parent—unless you really have to, of course. For the most part, creating devotions and other resources for students to go through on their own or with their parents may help. Parents are still the No. 1 influencers in a child’s life, so support them in grounding their children in the truth of who God created them to be.

Get Results

When your students find their identity in Christ, it does four things for them: 1) Stability. They learn that no matter © iStockphoto/diego_cervo

what happens in life, God does not change the way He sees or feels about them. When I meet with students who are unsure of who they are, it’s always linked to the fact that their identity was placed in something with no certain future. It’s not that way with God. Because He has no future or past, He is always present and close to us. Recall God’s response to Moses about His name and character. In Exodus 3:14, he declares, “I am who I am.” He’s always present and has never been anything else. Jesus says the same thing in the New Testament. In John 8:58, He also says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” There is great stability because God never changes. 2) Self-worth. When your students know that the God of the universe—who owns everything and called everything into existence—created them in His own image, it makes all the difference in the way their perceive themselves. Having a God who cares about the intricate details of their lives shows worth beyond measure. Learn from the birds: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do

not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt. 6:26). Having one’s identity in Christ means accepting being God’s favorite. There is self-worth beyond measure when a student finds his identity in Christ. 3) Purpose. Placing one’s identity in Christ gives a future and a hope. Ten years ago I never would have guessed I would be where I am today. Just as He does for our young people, God had a purpose and a plan for my life. I only need to trust in Him as it comes to pass. As I put my identity in Christ, it gives me purpose because of who God has created me to be in Him. And as I strengthen my relationship with Him, my purpose becomes clearer. 4) Confidence. There is confidence in knowing that your students’ identity is in the One who saves mankind. There is confidence in having your identity in the One who will put an end to the devil once and for all. There is confidence when our identity is in an unshakeable God whose

love for us started it all. Ephesians 3:11-13 is a favorite passage because Paul is telling the Ephesians that confidence and boldness is theirs because of the work of Christ on the cross. He didn’t just do it for those who already had believed in Him. He died for those who had no idea how He feels about them or even who He is. Your students can be bold and confident, knowing that their identity is in Christ who knows them and died for them. Our students need to understand that there are habits, struggles and hangups fighting for their identity. And their enemy would love for them to choose anything other than Jesus for their sense of self. Students need to know that their identity doesn’t have to be unstable, but it can be completely grounded in the One who created them, loves them and gives them purpose. A a r o n C r u m b e y oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

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“Youth today belong to a generation that has never known a world without hand-held and networked devices.”

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Digital DYSFUNCTION Is technology altering the minds of our youth? BY TIM ELMORE


he numbers are in. Adolescents (in high school and college) would rather forfeit their “small finger” than give up their cell phone, according to a recent Pew Research report. The report reveals that these students now place technology in the same “category” as air and water. The virtual world is replacing the real world for many adolescents and 20-somethings. Case in point: A 24-year-old man from West Virginia recently drove his truck into a river and blamed his GPS for the accident. He was driving at night toward the Susquehanna River in Bradford County. His GPS told him to keep going even though a sign told him the road ended. Hmm. Do you believe the sign or the GPS? He decided to go with his technology. Sadly, it’s the second time this happened in six months in that area. What in the world is happening to us?

Avoiding Tech Traps

I was stopped dead in my tracks one morning after reading an interview Steve Jobs gave to New York Times reporter Nick Bilton. Shortly before Jobs passed away, Bilton asked him, “So your kids must love the iPad.” “They haven’t used it,” Jobs responded. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” Steve Jobs said that? Yes, and so do many other tech wizards who live in Silicon Valley. These executives and

engineers tend to shield their kids from technology, going so far as to send their children to non-tech schools (where computers can’t be found) that focus on hands-on learning. I wonder if these tech leaders understand something the average American doesn’t. Somehow, they recognize technology is a marvelous servant, but a horrible master. It almost sounds cliché, but kids today—from athletes to mathletes—are becoming dependent, even addicted to technology. The concern with technology and our kids has captured many an imagination. In less than two years, I was privileged to be interviewed multiple times on CNN’s HLN News Now program and Fox & Friends to talk about Generation iY and the impact technology has on our kids. As smartphones, tablets, social media and digital strategies reshape the way we educate our students and do our jobs, scientists and psychologists are beginning to question what our dependence on technology is doing to our minds. In 2013, for the first time in history, “Internet Use Disorder” was listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Even in Silicon Valley, there’s a growing concern that technology is taking over our lives. “People feel not just addicted, but trapped,” says Stanford psychologist and best-selling author Kelly McGonigal. Others insist it’s not the gadget’s fault. We cannot blame our phone or computer for our addictive behavior, for

our compulsive need to check for texts or emails at a stoplight or at the dinner table. So who or what is to blame? Let me suggest some ideas: hh Employers who expect staff members to be available 24/7 hh Our emotional insecurities that require us to see what others are doing 24/7 hh Our culture that makes us feel guilty for taking any time off or away hh Our human system that responds to technological triggers with a shot of dopamine Research shows that consistent use of digital devices is actually rewiring our brains. Every time your phone, tablet or laptop pings with a new text, tweet or email, it triggers a sense of expectation, and the reward centers in our brain receive a “squirt of dopamine.” Eventually, a brain adapted to these quick fixes shrinks the structures needed for concentration, empathy and impulse control while growing new neurons receptive to speedy processing and instant gratification. What’s more, brain scans of Internet addicts—anyone online more than 38 hours a week—can resemble those of cocaine addicts and alcoholics. Symptoms of Internet addiction range from depression to psychosis. So, how did we get here, and how is this affecting our kids?

Navigating the Future

The most recent research from Baylor University indicates students July // August 2015 MinistryToday   39

are spending close to half their waking hours on smartphones. Further research has shown that all this screen time is likely to take a toll on their health. A 2013 study from Kent State University showed that students who spent the most time on their cell phones tended to be the least physically active and performed the worst on treadmill exertion tests. This is not a good trend. Kids today belong to a generation that has never known a world without hand-held and networked devices. “American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media, about the same amount of time they spend in school,” says author Anya Kamenetz. What’s more, because kids have grown up multitasking, they can cram 11 hours of content into those 7.5 hours. That’s more than a day at a full-time job. Before we jump to conclusions too quickly, however, today’s technology is merely a new version of an old challenge. We must learn from our past so we can navigate our future. Allow me to illustrate. Back in the 1960s, people bemoaned the vices of television. The American 40 MinistryToday July // August 2015

public became aware of how much time can be wasted in front of the tube and, worse, how damaging the violence, language and suggestive behavior can be to children. Some Christians even called it “hell-evision.” (These concerns surfaced at a time when I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show filled three networks.) Eventually, however, smart people began creating shows like Captain Kangaroo, then Sesame Street and later Blues Clues. Based on research, producers recognized there were virtues in what many assumed was an “evil” medium. From Sesame Street’s debut in 1969, it changed the prevailing mindset about a new technology’s potential. People began to realize TV is neutral. It can be used for destructive or constructive purposes. What I love about this is that educators are finally seeing that just like TV in the 1960s, technology is not evil. Rather, it is a tool that we can harness to teach and to build. Today, our job must be to evaluate what the latest version of technology is capable of—both for good and for harm—then leverage it for redemptive purposes. Because we’ve not yet

done this well, the emotional health and growth of many of our kids has suffered in at least eight ways.

Diminishing Life Skills

1) As our use of technology increases, empathy decreases. In the last 10 years, empathy levels among college students has dropped by 40 percent. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in bullying incidents on and off school campuses. We can find a direct parallel between screen time and a lack of empathy in adolescents. In fact, neuroscientists tell us that without margins in our calendar (with no pings from technology), empathy can’t develop. It makes sense, doesn’t it? A text that says “I’m having a bad day” doesn’t elicit the same empathy as being face-to-face with a person in tears in the midst of a crisis. Our empathy is virtual. Kids often laugh at what they cried about a decade ago. 2) As information expands, attentions spans diminish. A comparative study was done with Singapore and U.S. students. When given a math word-problem that was two-grade levels above their current position, Singapore students labored an © DollarPhoto Club/micromonkey

“The average adolescent is disconnected from technology for only one hour a day.” hour before succeeding or giving up. On average, the American students spent a total of 34 seconds on the problem before giving up. While Singapore has found ways to develop soft skills in their students, our resilience, patience and attention spans have dropped. When overwhelmed, we surrender readily. Herbert Simon says it best: “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” 3) As the range of options broadens, longterm commitment shrinks. As mentioned above, our world is overloaded with options: content to watch, music to listen to, things to purchase. With so much variety, we tend to quit current options when new or novel ones surface. It happens with marriages, cars, jobs and teams too. We’ve conditioned kids to think like “free agents.” 4) As life speeds up, patience and personal discipline drop. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I am less patient than I was several years ago. I don’t have to wait to satisfy so many of my wants—from banking transactions to food prep to answers I need. I have a Google reflex. Studies now indicate that the declines in discipline and work ethic that have crept into our society have had an impact on the ratings of American students as compared to their international counterparts. Our brains work 42 MinistryToday July // August 2015

like a muscle. If solutions come easily, that muscle doesn’t get a workout; it atrophies. 5) As external stimulation increases, internal motivation decreases. The average adolescent is disconnected from technology for only one hour a day. Stimulation is streaming, and dopamine is flowing. Our focus groups indicate that this has caused a decrease in internal motivation. Experiments among students show that external rewards actually reduce internal drive and ambition. Kids work for the reward, not the satisfaction of the work. The external stimulation that comes with using digital devices reduces incentive and, consequently, self-sufficiency. 6) As consequences for failure diminish, so does the value of success. Kids grow up in a world where mistakes and failure often don’t carry consequences. They may see a friend commit a crime or cheat on a test and get off easy. They watch people get shot on a video game or TV, but it doesn’t mean anything to them. Further, it is common for adults to swoop in and prevent their children from suffering consequences when they fail in school or sports. This desensitizes kids and makes them emotionally uninvolved and unprepared for the real world. If we remove the possibility of failure, ambition to succeed can also evaporate.

7) As virtual connections climb, emotional intelligence declines. Pew Research Center reports millennials prefer digital interaction to interpersonal conversations. In fact, they also say the use of phones and other mobile devices are allowing them to cut back on their driving. About 40 percent say they substitute texting, email and video chats for meeting up with friends in person. This may mean their first impressions on others are weak, featuring little eye contact, poor listening and communication skills, and a lack of emotional intelligence. Without the use of body language, communication is incomplete. 8) As free content swells, so does our sense of entitlement. This likely affects all of us but has certainly been verified in K-12 and higher education. Much, but not all, of what kids experience is free: video content, answers online, and even awards and affirmation from adults. It’s the law of supply and demand. When there is great supply, there is a reduction of demand. It’s easy for us to feel entitled to resources that cost something in the past. Kids may not want to earn an income or pay their dues when answers have been free so far.

Developing Emotional Muscles

Few people saw the unintended consequences of today’s technology two decades ago. We can no longer assume emotional muscles will develop naturally in kids, but we must initiate a plan to build those muscles. We must exercise intentionality to develop necessary life skills in the emerging generation by encouraging more time on the following: hh Interacting with real people hh Outside in active movement hh Working and waiting on answers hh Initiating and less time reacting May I remind you of some guidelines we can give to our kids or students? They’re all based on the “law of reciprocals.” Healthy people balance the expansion of technology to keep it a “servant,” not a “master.” The following are six balancing acts for kids and technology: 1) Always balance tech time with touch time. The same number of hours you spend in front of a screen should be © Dollar Photo Club/Monkey Business

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ISRAEL EXPERIENCE spent with real people, face to face. This cultivates interpersonal skills and the ability to read facial and body language. 2) Always balance technical skills with soft skill development. Employers rarely worry about tech skills in new grads—they worry about their soft skills. These all fit into the category of emotional intelligence and predict future success. 3) For each Instagram or Facebook group you join, throw a party and host it. Have real conversations and make real human connections. This enables you to take initiative with people and learn how to truly serve others. 4) Balance the conversations you have in print (text) with conversations you have in person (verbal). Talking with people is more emotionally taxing but pays dividends as it builds relationship “muscles” and patience with others. 5) For every person you “unfriend” on social media, force yourself to resolve conflict with a person. We live in a disposable world where it’s easier to avoid problems than face them. Never end a close relationship through technology. That’s cowardice. 6) When present with people, make them a priority over the ones on your phone (unless you agree to reply to an important message). When you check your portable device, you communicate to those around you that there are other people more important than you.

realize that part of the reason for the turnaround in high New York City crime rates in the 1990s was that the city’s police officers would identify gang members painting graffiti on walls around the various burros, nab the culprits in the act and arrest them? Then they would connect them with employers who needed to hire talented graphic artists. The employers surveyed the graffiti, commented on its virtues and critiqued where it could be improved—then offered the artists a job. Many of those gang members were transformed and began using their once-criminal skills for the benefit of others and got a nice paycheck. Crime was turned into legitimate income. Everybody won. Why not discuss this with your young people? What are some negative byproducts of technology that could be transformed into something productive, both for the student and for the community? Where could the skill sets of your techaddicted students be redeemed, moving them from consumer to contributor? Ultimately, technology is a tool, and young people must make the choice about how they’re going to use it. Pastors and other authority figures must come alongside parents in guiding youth in their use of digital devices. Today’s tech tools will alter the youth mind only to the degree that they are allowed to do so.

Finding the Way Forward

D r . T i m E l m o r e is a best-selling author, international speaker and president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit that helps develop emerging leaders under the philosophy that each child is born with leadership qualities. Learn more at

Pastors, parents and educators who only communicate the evils of technology will likely turn away youth. Instead, why not find ways to use these tools for positive outcomes? Consider this analogy. Did you © iStockphoto/VLADGRIN

July // August 2015 MinistryToday   45



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JUMP-START These 3 important budgeting principles will go a long way in helping young people handle money well BY RACHEL CRUZE


he statistics are scary. The average college student graduates with student loan debt of around $27,000. That’s just the average, meaning some students leave school with $50,000, $75,000 and even $100,000 of debt. Currently there is more than $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the United States. Yes, we officially have a student loan crisis. On top of that, student loans have passed credit cards in total debt owed. The average 22-year-old is stepping out into the “real world” for the first time nearly $30,000 in the hole. Instead of getting a jump-start on life, they’ve got an anchor tied to their feet. Soon after, most of these students will probably marry someone with their own student loan problems and the

46 MinistryToday July // August 2015

pile of debt gets even higher. So how did this happen? As I’ve traveled across the country, one of the things I hear most often from parents is this: “I wish I heard this stuff when I was younger.” That’s my mission: I want to teach kids, college students and young adults about the basics of money management so they don’t grow into the adult asking, “What happened?” Youth need to know why debt is bad, how important budgeting is and how to balance their checking account online. If you’re a youth minister, teaching pastor or church administrator, you’re in a position of incredible influence. You have the opportunity to partner with parents in teaching basic financial principles that can change the lives of the youth in your church. Howard Dayton from Compass, a Florida-based financial ministry, notes that the Bible has 2,350 verses that deal with money

and possessions. And Jesus talked about those topics more than love, heaven and hell combined. How you manage money isn’t a salvation issue, but it’s clearly an important topic if the Bible talks about it so much. As a refresher, here are a few examples:

On Debt

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7).

On Budgeting

“For who among you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost to see whether he has resources to complete it? Otherwise, perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to complete it, all who see it will begin to mock him, saying, ‘This

Š iStockphoto/maurusone; browndogstudios

man began to build and was not able to complete it.’ ” (Luke 14:28-30).

On Saving

“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Prov. 21:20). The Bible even talks about co-signing. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) puts it this way: “It’s stupid to guarantee someone else’s loan” (Prov. 17:18). As a church leader, you can step in and make a major difference. So, what should you teach? When it comes to teaching kids and youth about money, there are three main categories: giving, saving and spending. One of the most important things you can do with your money is give, so give off the top. Before you do anything else, give 10 percent to a church or a charity you believe in. Proverbs 3:9 says to “Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase” (MEV). That means, when you get your paycheck, the first thing you should be doing is giving some of it away. Why? Something about giving changes a person’s spirit, and it’s best to start young. The young person who gives will begin to see life differently, and it doesn’t just happen automatically. It happens when giving becomes a habit, and that means building giving into a money plan (aka budget). As you teach your youth, remind that them that if they’re giving to a church, they should know that God doesn’t need their money. He owns it all. As Psalm 50:10 says, “For every wild animal of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” It’s all His. It’s just our responsibility to manage the things He’s given us, and one of the best ways to do that is by helping others. Make a point to talk with your youth about saving. You’re never too young to learn the basics of saving. When you’re young, it doesn’t have to be complicated. For a teenager, just a simple savings account will do. This money should be used for small emergencies and purchases. The important thing is that they’re learning why saving matters. Saving teaches patience, and don’t we all know that kids aren’t naturally patient! 48 MinistryToday July // August 2015

When I was a teenager, my dad told me he would match whatever I could save up for my first car. I watched him do the same thing with my older sister, so I knew he wasn’t kidding. In a couple of years, I managed to work hard enough to save $8,000 for that car. So then, after I turned 16, my dad and I went to the dealer with $16,000 in cash. I walked away with a nice used BMW 323. I loved that car because I worked so hard

“THE YOUNG PERSON WHO GIVES WILL BEGIN TO SEE LIFE DIFFERENTLY, AND IT DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY. IT HAPPENS WHEN GIVING BECOMES A HABIT, AND THAT MEANS BUILDING GIVING INTO A MONEY PLAN (aka budget).” to save for it! Learning to work and be patient while saving was valuable for me because it translated to other areas of my life, not just how I managed money. That’s why it’s important to teach your youth the value of saving. Finally, spending is the fun category. Who doesn’t like to spend? The hard part is learning when not to spend. I’m a natural spender, so this doesn’t come easily for me. My husband has to bring me back to reality all the time or there’s no telling how many purses or pairs of shoes I would buy! The best way to teach kids about spending is to be an example. More is caught than taught. The youth in your

church are watching you. If you’re reckless with money, they will know. If you’re plopping down a credit card at Best Buy once a week, they will know. They’ll see the bills and, eventually, the stress on your face as they pile up. Teach kids how to spend wisely by spending wisely yourself. And, every now and then, it’s OK to let them make a mistake. That’s how they’ll learn. If one of your youth spends $50 on a video game, that means he might not be able to go to the movies the next day. Help them see that if they spend money on this, they won’t be able to spend money on that. Help them make a plan for their money with a budget. The budget will help them take a look at the whole picture and see where they truly want to prioritize their money. Have them list their income at the top—even if it’s just $50 a month—then all the expenses under that. They shouldn’t have too many at this stage of their life. Income minus expenses should equal zero. A zero-based budget is the best way for a young person, or anyone, to make a money plan. You might be thinking: How can I teach youth about money when I don’t even have all of this figured out? But what if you learned and changed habits with them? It’s OK to be honest about your mistakes—those mistakes could be great lessons for kids! You don’t need to be an expert on money. Simply make sure the kids and teens in your church understand these budget basics. Student loans and credit cards don’t have to be a way of life, and youth need to know that. The earlier you start talking with them about these principles, the better off they’re going to be when they head to college and enter the real world. Take this opportunity to make a huge difference in the life of your church youth! R a c h e l C r u z e is a seasoned communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her book, Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored with her dad, Dave Ramsey, released in April 2014 and debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. Follow her on Twitter at @rachelcruze and online at or facebook .com/rachelramseycruze.


At an event in Peru, Gresh prays for American high school students who have responded to a challenge from the life of King David to submit to God’s plan for their lives.

“I’m all about sexual theology for our college kids and purity events for our teenagers, but we’ve got to think way younger to the tweens. The church is not adequately raising up material for Christian parents and the children to be trained to know the truth about sexuality and gender. Could we be missing the greatest strategy of all to win this battle?” Rob Laskin

Through her Secret Keeper Girl tour equipping moms and their daughters, Gresh sets the stage for tweens to have age-appropriate conversations about purity, modesty and true beauty.

Cultivating Healthy Relationships in a Sex-Crazed World How the church can help its youth stay pure in a culture that glorifies sexual choice



he enemy of our souls wants the church to believe a great lie—that the conversation about sexuality plays a “minor role” in the fabric of our lives—and some have bought it hook, line and sinker. “I’m just not seeing the message of grace presented in these purity and modesty movements,” a woman recently wrote to me. “Why did Jesus die on the cross? We are righteous because of Jesus, not because of our works. ... [Purity and modesty] are conversations that play such a minor role in the fabric of our lives. The gospel is about Jesus and God’s grace. It’s not about purity.” From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures whisper that sexuality and the way it is expressed helps us to make God known. Ephesians drives the stake into the ground of sexual truth when it declares a pure, holy sexual union between a man and his wife is a picture of Christ and the church. If that is

true—and we know it is—how motivated do you think Satan is to see that picture destroyed in the church? He is motivated. I believe that Satan’s three battlefronts are biological sex (versus gender reformation); purity (versus tolerance); and unity (versus prejudice). Each of these issues is so inflated and volatile right now, and it’s more critical than ever that we proceed in love and gentleness, but lack no conviction for truth Satan hates distinct biological sex because in biological sex, we see God’s image, His picture. Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” While we possess many God-like traits, no others are isolated and esteemed the way that biological sex is in the Genesis account, and this is affirmed in passages in the New Testament that instruct us concerning the complementary July // August 2015 MinistryToday   51

roles of men and woman. Our distinct biological sex reflects his image. For this reason, I embrace the fullness of my womanhood and reject anything that seeks to willfully diminish it or rebel against it. Satan hates pure marital union because it is a picture of Christ’s love. Ephesians 5:31-32 reads, “ ‘ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I am speaking about Christ and the church.” Marriage—and the sexual union that bonds it—is meant to mysteriously display the unbreakable covenant love of Christ for the church that will culminate at the wedding feast of the Lamb. For this reason, I receive the gift of marriage and my pure, holy marriage bed; and rebuke anything that seeks to willfully defile it. Satan hates racial unity because at the wedding feast of the Lamb, we are one bride! The book of Revelation describes a wedding feast where the bride of Christ is comprised of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9-10). For this reason, I embrace the oneness and unity of the bride of Christ; and rise up against anything racist or denominationally divisive that willfully seeks to disunify her.

Sleeping With the Enemy

Forget the back-of-a-Volkswagen sexual ethics of the 1960s when Christians at large stood aghast at the moral corruption of our Woodstock that would soon permeate our culture. We are way beyond that. According to a survey by Christian Mingle, only 11 percent of Christian singles today believe sex should be reserved for marriage. George Barna says that the majority of tweens today believe “the Bible does not specifically condemn homosexuality.” There was no statistical difference in the percentage of Christian women versus unchurched women who read the erotic best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey that glorifies BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism). The church is well on its way to becoming what some have called sexual atheists—we 52 MinistryToday July // August 2015

Husband-and-wife team Dannah and Bob Gresh founded Pure Freedom in 2003.

want the free grace of Christ, just not His moral behavior code. Something must be done. But if we are not careful, we will be getting in bed with the enemy. The devil stands on both sides of the Christian debate— acceptance and hateful accusation—to coach us. For example, the sexual revolution brought us the pill and abortion. Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission once said, “No one is more pro-choice on the way into the abortion clinic than the devil, and no one is more pro-life on the way out of the abortion clinic than the devil. Because what he wants to do is deceive on the front-end ... he seeks to say on one hand, you’re too good for the gospel, and the other hand you’re now too bad for the gospel.” The devil is an accuser. Let us not speak that language!

Addressing the Hurt

What we need to find is a place where our teaching is fueled with both conviction and kindness. Rather than endorsing sin or hatefully donning our Westboro Baptist-style headlines, we should be finding a place to understand the deep hurt and pain driving

individuals to their sexual brokenness. Sexual preference is a great place to apply a hearty dose of convicted kindness. Men living out the gay lifestyle are in deep emotional pain. The Center for Disease Control’s website states that “MSM (men who have sex with men) are at greater risk for mental health problems.” This includes major depression during adolescence and adulthood, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, greater use of illegal drugs and a greater risk of suicide. According to Cambridge University, lesbian women are twice as likely to have “longstanding mental health problems.” Bisexual women were nearly three times as likely to suffer. These risks do not go away when they come out and find an accepting community. Kindness is seeking to not only help these individuals solve their deepest hurts, but also to point them to truth.

Reducing Sexual Chaos

Our youth need to be trained up in sexual truth, but let’s define “youth.” I’m all about sexual theology for our college kids and purity events for our teenagers, but we’ve got to think way J&A Photography


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younger to the tweens. The church is not adequately raising up material for Christian parents and the children to be trained to know the truth about sexuality and gender. Could we be missing the greatest strategy of all to win this battle? Here are three things the church should be teaching our tweens now to reduce sexual chaos later. I beg you to help me find platforms for these three truths that we might build a biblical foundation of gender for our children—the future church—to stand on. While these may not seem to be at all related to sexuality, I assure you that they are the foundations upon which sexual truth can be built.

Reflecting the Light

The first truth we must teach children is this: Your primary purpose is to glorify God. God made us for Himself and has jealously protected His treasure by sacrificing His Son. It is this sacrifice that motivates us to glorify Him and, make no mistake, it takes our bodies to do this: “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Our children do not need self-esteem. They need God-esteem. If they esteem God, they will understand their value, but not make too much of themselves. But what does it actually mean to glorify Him with your body? To glorify God is to make Him known and visible. For that reason, I assign you to 54 MinistryToday July // August 2015

find the nearest child and take them on a moon walk. The moon has no light of its own. It’s “a cold, dark stone,” as Sara Groves sings. But we see it glorifying the sun. This is a child’s primary job, and we should tell them so in this mecentered world.

Embracing our Differences

Next that child must be told, “Your primary practice, then, must be to look like God, and we do that best in His defined roles of maleness and femaleness.” We find this truth solidly planted in Genesis. The pinnacle of God’s design was Adam and Eve. One man. One woman. They were more than just a unique creation. They were a representation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ ... So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26, 27). There are so many God-like qualities that humanity possesses. Why doesn’t God mention the traits of being intelligent or worshipful or creative when He says we were created in His image? Why doesn’t He commend our language proficiency or our ability to compose sonnets? Apparently these are not the things that make us most like a representation of God. It is our maleness and our femaleness that makes us like Him. This places authentic humanity

and sexuality in the context of male and female distinctiveness. Our ability to look like Him mandates that we embrace those differences, not seek to erase them. The book of Romans teaches us that disregarding His definitions for manhood and womanhood is a rebellious refusal to glorify Him and an attempt to hide who He is and whose we are. Pastor John Piper puts it this way: “God’s divine nature is revealed in the physical, material universe. So much so that verse 20 says, “So they are without excuse” when they “exchange the glory of God for the glory of the creature” (verse 23).

Called to Sacrifice

Finally, kids need to know that their bodies, therefore, must be a living sacrifice to God. In Romans, the apostle Paul also begs for us to lay down our own plans for our bodies, and to make them daily living, breathing sacrifices to our purpose of glorifying God. This includes how we work, live, give, spend and even whom we have sex with, no matter what

gender “preference” might be tempting to us. Those verses read: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Why did God make you a girl or a boy? Because you were created to contribute to humanity’s purpose of glorifying and enjoying God, and God chose for you to do that as a woman. Or a man. You illuminate who God is when you embrace the role of womanhood or manhood because it is in male and female distinctions that we are the image of God. There will be times when this is a sacrifice for you. It is a sacrifice for all of us at some point in our lives. But His is only reasonable, says the apostle Paul, since Christ went first, sacrificing His life for us.

Some are called to sacrifice ministry position to speak truth in denominations that are losing their conviction—or lack kindness. Some are called to sacrifice time to speak truth in churches ready for the conversation. Some are called to sacrifice reputation to speak truth in the political realm. And, most difficult of all, some are called to sacrifice desire to submit to God’s definition of womanhood, manhood and marriage. What’s your sacrifice? D a n n a h G r e s h is a best-selling author and sexuality educator who has delivered a TED Talk defending virginity. She is also the creator of Secret Keeper Girl. Her most recent book for tweens, It’s Great to Be a Girl, is on body care, but tucked within the pages is age-appropriate theology on gender in a fun workbook format. She and her husband, Bob, are working on the manuscript for It’s Great to Be a Guy, due out in 2016. Learn more at

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Ensuring a Healthy

LEADERSHIP TRANSITION How one church walked through a sudden change in the pulpit BY PAUL DAUGHERT Y


s with a family business handing over the reins to the next generation of leaders, church congregations must prepare for the inevitable— which sometimes comes sooner than expected. Our congregation, Victory Christian Center, had prepared for transition to a degree, but our founding pastor—my father, Billy Joe Daugherty—left us sooner than anyone expected.

Hearing the Call

At the time of my father’s passing in November 2009, I would never have dreamed of eventually becoming lead pastor at Victory Christian Center. I wouldn’t have guessed this was the plan of God for my life. Instead, I was content playing music, leading worship and coleading mission trips. My wife, Ashley, enjoyed the opportunity to disciple young adults. I believed that someday down the road, we would pastor a church, but I felt it would be somewhere else as a satellite campus for Victory. Then, in the fall of 2009, my father was rushed to MD Anderson for emergency treatment to stop the spread of lymphoma. The reports of his cancer hit our whole family and church by surprise. The morning he passed away I held his hand, crying and praying for God to heal him. Our family had been in and out of his hospital room for more than 24 hours. I was present as my hero, my pastor and my daddy left this world. But in those moments of grief, God’s presence was in the room. In my heart, I heard His voice saying, “Paul, 58 MinistryToday July // August 2015

serve your mother, serve the church and get ready because you are going to pastor Victory soon.” Hearing those words brought mixed feelings. I was the youngest in the family, with three older siblings who were all very capable leaders and already in the ministry. But I held onto that word from God in my heart and chose to obey. I jumped right in to serve my mother and Victory with whatever was asked of me, praying through every leadership decision and watching God unfold His will. During this time, my mother stepped in as the interim senior pastor to help steady the congregation and prepare us for the future. A year after my father passed away, my mother and a few board members sat down with me to share something my father had said to them right before he died: “Paul is to be the future pastor of Victory when the board and Pastor Sharon feel it is the right time.” My father often had hinted about my helping him preach more, but never had he shared those exact words with me. The word from God I heard in my grief immediately resurfaced, and I knew this was the path God had for me. In the next four years, my mother and other key leaders began coaching me for all of the church responsibilities and allowing me to preach in the main services.

Assuming the Mantle

In August 2014, when I was 28, God’s personal word to me became a reality. After my mother told me earlier in the year it was time to for the passing of the baton and announced it to our church, I stepped

in to fill the position of lead pastor. When my mother transitioned from lead pastor, she truly entrusted me to lead but didn’t leave me hanging. Whenever she is not traveling or speaking at other churches, she is actively involved in the many different areas in which I need her wisdom and advice. I’m also surrounded by solid men of God, both senior to me and close to my age, who have continued to serve as great leaders in the church. We are a big family of believers, and one that is growing. God is adding more families to the church, connecting more members to serve as volunteers and seeing many who had left our church come back home. Each month there is steady growth in attendance and membership because of God’s grace, a great team of leaders on staff and the faithful seeds of God’s love that my parents sowed in the last 30-plus years in our city. Each week we minister to over 7,700 people in our services and many more in other areas of ministry: Victory Bible College, Mother’s Day Out, the K4-12th grade Victory Christian School, our missions/outreach team, the Tulsa Dream Center and Camp Victory. Altogether there are now more than 500 staff members who are passionately serving our city and nations around the world.

Declaring God’s Best

Because of my age, people often ask if I feel overwhelmed leading a ministry the size of Victory—and the answer is yes! Each week I battle nervousness or inadequacy, feeling overwhelmed by the burden of it all. It brings me to my knees more often in prayer, asking God for His wisdom, grace

“Each week I battle nervousness or inadequacy, feeling overwhelmed by the burden of it all. It brings me to my knees more often in prayer.” — Lead Pastors Paul & Ashley Daugherty

10 Principles for Young Leaders The young leader must keep several key principles in mind when assuming new responsibilities. Consider these 10 keys to leading well:

1) Honor. Honor those who have paved the way before you. You didn’t get to where you are on your own. Spend time learning from those who have been where you are, asking questions and really taking their advice.

2) Listen to God. The greatest asset believers have in any transition is the ability to hear the voice of God. Spend time listening in prayer and in the Word. Become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting with ideas, strategies, decisions and relationship difficulties.

3) Listen to healthy criticism. Not all critics are against you. It’s good to have constructive criticism. Listen with discernment and consider the source. If criticism can help you grow, receive and apply it.

4) Give grace. God is with the young leader on the journey of learning how to lead, so stay in a place of grace. Give grace and receive it.

5) Love your family. Be a leader who loves your spouse and family enough to not spend all of your waking hours at the church or away from home. When you do come home, choose to be truly present. We often have had to leave our phones in another room or in the car so that we can truly be present as a family. We also go to church together and on ministry trips together as often as possible. This is something I watched my parents do, and as a result, all of us have learned to enjoy the church rather than despise it.

6) Serve well. The greatest title the young leader can have is servant. God won’t say at the end of your life, “Well done, good and faithful CEO, pastor, worship leader, supervisor, administrative director.” Rather, He will simply say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Keep a servant’s heart.

7) Build trust. Young leaders are often eager to make a change or to implement an idea, but it’s important first to build trust. People are more open to new ideas when they trust you and feel that you have listened and considered their point of view. A young leader will not win over everybody in their care, but listening to counsel from the elders of the church and praying hard before making key changes is critical.

8) Don’t get bitter. Have an honest conversation with God at the beginning and end of each day. My dad used to offer this reminder to me and others who wanted to go into ministry: “If you don’t get bitter, you’ll make it.” People will come and go, befriend or betray you, love you or hate you— but if you decide beforehand that you will not allow your spirit to be polluted, you will be much better off as a leader.

9) Stay connected to the Source. Your identity and worth are not found in how many people come to your church, how much money comes to your organization or how many followers you have on Instagram, but only in Christ. You have everything you need in Him, so stay connected.

10) Have fun. One minister gave me some advice that some might find surprising: “Paul, make sure to have fun serving the Lord.” Serving God is not meant to be endured. Rather, it is meant to be enjoyed. 60 MinistryToday July // August 2015

and the help of the Holy Spirit—and God has been faithful. Our church also has walked through many battles publicly, but God has used them to help us improve us where we needed to, and also has reminded us that we are always in need of His grace. As a young leader with a big responsibility, I’m thankful my wife is serving right alongside me and that our church has accepted us both as their pastors. Ashley had the blessing of growing up in our church and school, so early on she was able to grasp the heart of Victory’s ministry. A few years ago, when I was walking through a personal storm, God stirred a declaration in my heart, which I wrote down and would privately speak out every time I walked into our church building. This declaration helped me combat my insecurities, fears and thoughts that our best days were behind us. Each time I would speak this declaration aloud, joy, faith, hope and expectancy that the church’s best days were ahead grew stronger. After I stepped in as lead pastor, our church started making the same declaration during our services and now can’t wait to say it each weekend. The declaration says: “I’m here on purpose because I have a purpose. My heart is open; my mind is ready to receive, because God is not finished with me yet. My best days are right in front of me, and I have victory in my life because Jesus lives in me!” As for what the next 10, 20 or 30 years hold for Victory, no one knows, but we believe it’s going to be powerful. We serve a God who takes His children from glory to glory, from strength to strength. Our best days—for the church worldwide—are right in front of us! We must release our faith for God’s greater impact, greater influence and greater growth. We shouldn’t settle for defeat or discouragement but rise up in faith and declare God’s hope for the future. Be encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul: “He who started this work in you will be faithful to bring you to a flourishing finish!” (Phil. 1:6). God intends for us all to finish strong. P a u l D a u g h e r t y and his wife, Ashley, are lead pastors at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Spiritual Leadership in the Marketplace

Robertson Tire founder anointed to minister BY KEN WALKER


hen Pastor Bill Hatfield met businessman Ted Robertson at the YMCA in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, the pastor never dreamed what a profound impact this relationship would make on his ministry. Six years later, Hatfield is one of several ministers and missionaries who regularly attend weekly luncheons of the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen (IFCB). Not only have the meetings enabled him to find mentors who have survived serious life losses, exchanges with the 60 or so men who attend each week have expanded the Baptist pastor’s ministry. He credits this personal growth to that lunch invitation from the chapter president. Still going strong at 83, Robertson is a humble man who started a tire shop that generated $47,000 its first year, but today spans a dozen stores and more than $23 million in annual revenues. “When you meet Ted, you feel like you’re meeting someone from back home,” Hatfield says. “He’s got that bigger-than-life Oklahomabaritone-honey drawl to accompany a big smile that makes you instinctively trust him and relax your guard. Together with the anointing he has,

62 MinistryToday July // August 2015

he can effectively share Christ, as people warm up to him quickly.” Soon after coming to Christ in the late 1960s, the ebullient founder of Robertson Tire devoted considerable time to sharing his faith in the marketplace. This habit has crossed denominational boundaries, led to a countless number of conversions, spurred greater missions involvement by those around him and set a strong example for younger generations. “He’s shown me and my brother [Chad] and other people who work here what it means to keep your integrity and faith as part of your business,” says grandson Shane Robertson, the company’s corporate development director. “It’s nothing pushy or outlandish—we don’t go around with crosses on our trucks—but we have learned from him. Part of his legacy is keeping our faith, what we believe in and how we treat our customers and employees.” That steady witness is what impresses Don Hail, an insurance broker. He especially recalls Robertson’s demeanor during the years Ted’s first wife, Anna Kate, struggled with the cancer that claimed her life in 1992. “I would go by his place of business, and there were people who would have issues to discuss that were so important to them,” Hail says. » Lightstock

© iStockphoto/efks

“Ted would take time to minister to them. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him.”

Freed From the Past

It took a crisis to turn Robertson towards God. Although raised in an Assemblies of God (AG) church, a railroad accident claimed his father’s life when he was just a teen. A wellmeaning church member suggested the tragedy could have been God’s way of keeping him faithful until their reunion in heaven. The remark instantly turned him away from church. “At 16, I couldn’t imagine God taking your dad away from you,” Robertson recalls. “I quit church and caused all kinds of problems for my mother, who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” Fast-forward two decades. Robertson was a Naval veteran who met the love of his life after returning home. To impress the Christian woman who later became his wife, he spoke often of his

AG preacher-brother and his now-late father, who was a lay minister. However, after launching his business, Robertson stayed out late wining and dining corporate suppliers, or devoting long hours to growing his tire business. Five years into their marriage, he and Anna separated for six weeks. Finally—weary of taking their two sons on outings and watching them bawl before he left for the night—Robertson called Anna with a critical question. “What do you need from me to make our marriage work?” he asked. “Go to church with me and help raise our boys in a Christian environment,” she replied. Reluctantly, he agreed to go to an annual revival meeting at the church he later joined. Although raised in a Christian home, Robertson had never made a decision to follow Jesus. The first night of the revival the country preacher discussed the consequences of sin. After squirming in discomfort, the 30-something businessman walked outside and promised



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if God granted him another 24 hours, he would turn over his life to Him. At the end of the next night’s sermon, the preacher left the pulpit, walked to the end of Robertson’s row and motioned to him. Robertson followed, knowing he needed to overcome bitterness towards his mother and church members and his 15-year-long cigarette habit. “When I knelt at the altar, everything went away,” Robertson says. “I loved my wife and those church people. I took a pack of Viceroys and threw them in the parking lot and never smoked again. It’s been a wonderful journey.” Several years later, Robertson had a providential encounter at the Tulsa Chapter of Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI). After another member invited him to share his testimony, Robertson met Hail, who was presiding over the meeting. Robertson’s talk proved so popular it brought a wave of speaking invitations

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from chapters in the region and other states. He and Hail often traveled together to those meetings, forging a long-lasting friendship.

Unashamed of the Gospel

Initially, Robertson felt a bit reluctant to pray at the drop of a hat like other men in FGBMFI. Their numbers included Hail, who comments: “Sometimes after you receive the baptism in the Spirit, you have more boldness than wisdom.” However, Robertson gradually overcame his shyness to speak to others about Christ and minister through prayer or other assistance. “He became bold in his faith and walk with the Lord,” Hail says. “He conducts himself as a Christian in the marketplace. Ted enjoys a good reputation in the city of Tulsa and wherever he’s been. He’s not ashamed of the gospel. He doesn’t flaunt it, but he carries himself and operates with integrity and generosity.”

“I felt the call to go outside the church walls and minister in business. I think more pastors should encourage their members to do that.” —Ted Robertson Indeed, Robertson Tire supports more than 200 charities and community organizations, such as the John 3:16 Mission, The Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Cherokee Heritage Center. Another cause dear to the founder’s heart is Operation Smile. The worldwide organization performs surgery on children born with cleft palates, a malady that has touched two of his eight grandchildren. Robertson also supports Eternal Life Clinic in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, about 40 miles south of Tulsa. A few years ago, a business associate told him of dreaming of opening a medical clinic

for poor and underserved people. When Robertson looked at a bank building the associate owned in the small town, he said, “This would make a great place for a medical center.” Going into action, Robertson helped obtain $200,000 of equipment from a hospital and arrange a partnership with a doctor from Tulsa. In the fall of 2013, the physician opened a private practice in Okmulgee, with the free clinic using the space once a week. “We have it organized where we have a group of men at a table with literature,” Robertson says. “We pray with them and explain the plan of salvation. A lot are accepting Christ. We’ve hooked up with an independent charismatic church that is discipling them and inviting them to church.” The clinic brings to mind another outreach Robertson helped organize in the north part of Tulsa in the late 1980s. Branching beyond the business world, the North Tulsa Chapter started in a YMCA that seated 350. Going out in pairs, members invited

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Retired in 1999, Ted Robertson still ministers in the marketplace.

had put the idea on his heart to go into an impoverished area and invite people to a dinner where they could hear testimonies. “Ted picked up on it,” Hail says. “Ted’s the kind of guy that if something hits his spirit, he’s all for it. He was the kingpin for it. It’s been a very positive experience, just watching him.”

Devoted to the Church

In addition to witnessing in the marketplace, Robertson devotes time to his Tulsaarea church, The Assembly at Broken

Arrow, where he has been a member for five years. Since he began coordinating the speakers for the monthly men’s breakfast, turnouts have jumped from around 30 to as many as 100. Cody Miller, the connections pastor who oversees the men’s ministry at The Assembly and previously worked at a church in Florida and at Oral Roberts University, hasn’t seen many other men the caliber of Robertson who are as effective in marketplace ministry. “Ted is a contagious guy who’s led an amazing life,” Miller says. “He isn’t comfortable in his latter years with what has taken place to this point either. He’s not only reaching those around him in his generation, he’s also pouring into the next generation.” The AG pastor was referring to IFCB’s Young Businessmen’s Chapter, which targets business people in their 20s and 30s. Robertson offered to be the first speaker two years ago, and eight people showed up, but today about 60 attend the monthly meetings. »

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people living in government-supported housing and other modest circumstances to a free barbecue dinner where speakers would share their road to salvation. Thanks to Robertson’s connections, the monthly program quickly gathered financial support that enabled them to distribute food baskets to families. Soon, an AG youth pastor offered to transport teens to his church for a program. Members’ wives offered to start a nursery for dozens of infants. “It became a wonderful ministry,” Robertson says. “That was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. You saw people with no hope—living in government housing and with no transportation— finding hope.” After several years, the chapter fizzled after its leader departed, directed by God to “go home and take care of your wife” as she battled cancer. Still, Hail says without his friend, it never would have happened. They first discussed the idea on a flight to Canada. Hail told his friend the Lord

Thanks to Robertson, the Broken Arrow church is home to monthly Southern gospel concerts, too. In February 2004, longtime friend Peter Enns returned from a trip to Branson, Missouri, struck by the enthusiasm that gospel groups generated among predominantly older audiences. Enns approached Robertson and talked about wanting to start a similar ministry in Tulsa. Ted quickly caught the vision and helped start the gatherings held the first Saturday of each month. In 11 years, only two concerts have been canceled and that because of bad weather. The performers attract crowds of 800 to 1,500, and numerous newcomers to the AG church. Miller says people often write on visitor cards that after coming to the Southern gospel service, they wanted to return. “That is another connection to our church and an incredible outreach to local residents,” Miller says. “You can’t calculate the impact of ministry to

everyone who comes in and how it affects churches in our area.” Although loyal to the AG churches he has attended and to telling others about Christ, Robertson never felt the urge to enter full-time ministry. “I’ll hear preachers talk about a guy who had a used car lot and did well in business, and they told him he should take what he learned and put it into God’s work,” Robertson says. “I felt the call to go outside the church walls and minister in business. I think more pastors should encourage their members to do that.” Hatfield thinks more pastors should rub elbows with marketplace leaders, too. Through the friendships he has formed at IFCB luncheons, the Baptist pastor has prayed with men with troubled marriages, those who have lost businesses and those seeking God’s direction. “It has given me an open door into the thoughts of people in a more unguarded situation,” says Hatfield, who left an affluent area to lead a church of less than 50 in central Tulsa. “People tend to come

to church and try to look and sound their best. But these guys have been able to open up to me and opened a whole new venue of ministry. I get a microcosm of what’s going on out there with Christian men and their struggles.” No matter their circumstances, those who attend IFCB luncheons always leave with a challenge to share their story with their barber, the gas station attendant, yard man or others they encounter. “I’m more excited than I’ve ever been,” says Robertson, who says the support of his second wife, Joann, has been a boon to his ministry the past 22 years. “Full Gospel Business Men got me thinking about everywhere I went, I could tell people about God. At first, I didn’t know how to share a testimony. I just shared my story. It’s been a great ride ever since.” K e n W a l k e r is a freelance writer, co-author and book editor based in Huntington, West Virginia, and a longtime contributor to Ministry Today and Charisma.

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Battling Fatigue in the Trenches of Youth Ministry How to revive your enthusiasm when you’re feeling that deep-down tiredness of soul


here is no more fitting admonition in Scripture for those of us who invest ourselves in the lives of teenagers than this: “And let us not grow weary of doing good” (Gal. 6:9). I grew up working on farms, doing landscaping, even building houses. That is work that wears you out physically, but weariness from ministry is different than the tiredness you feel after physical labor. It’s a tiredness in your soul. Even when the results are good, ministry is draining. The personal toll of investing your life into others should not be overlooked. That’s what Paul was talking about in Galatians 6:9, the tendency we all face to become worn out from doing the good work God has called us to do. “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up.” T he l it e r a l t r a n sl a t ion of the phrase “grow weary” is “to despair” or “lose heart”—or, and here is the most resonant one to me, “to lose enthusiasm.” Who hasn’t been there? No matter how well things are going, it’s possible to simply lose enthusiasm for the ministry. And yet, we have to be able to rise out of it. Paul’s words are a warning, but also a promise that should greet our ears as a welcome word of sustaining encouragement from God. Paul says that if we can manage to keep our strength up, if we can stay motivated, if we can somehow not lose our passion, there is a reward in store. Based on the context, the reward could be any one of the following: hh That we would see fruit in the lives of those in whom we’re investing hh That we would see those in whom we have invested use their lives in powerful ways, enlarging and enriching God’s kingdom hh That God’s favor would be on us hh That we would be able to see the fruit of our work, and know that we have served faithfully

If we can keep these in front of us, they can serve as motivation when times get tough. But more than that, there are some practices we can take to stay encouraged: 1) Stay connected to God.Communion with God is the antidote to spiritual weariness. God is the “lifter of our heads,” in the words of David. When you find yourself growing weary, fight to connect with God. 2) Stay connected to your support network. When I get weary of doing ministry, I tend to become withdrawn. I can come across as short with my family, robbing them and me of the emotional and spiritual boost that family can provide. Similarly, you may disconnect from your team. Fight the urge. Be as open as is appropriate about your struggles. Ask for prayer and encouragement, and be open to receiving it. 3) Keep your calling in front of you. Remind yourself in times of weariness that this is what God has called you to do. You are a drink offering, in Paul’s words, poured out for the sake of Christ. Being tired is expected. Being weary of the work isn’t. The writer of Hebrews understood the concept of focusing on our call: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). Focusing on Christ, and on the calling to make His name known, will motivate you. Youth ministry is amazingly rewarding, but it’s also uniquely exhausting. It’s OK to admit it. What’s not OK is allowing ourselves to grow weary of doing good. If you find yourself in a weary spot, don’t sit there. Do the work it takes to reconnect with God and rediscover your passion. The stakes are too high to allow yourself to walk away from the awesome work God has put in front of you.

“Even when the results are good, ministry is draining. The personal toll of investing your life into others should not be overlooked.”

74 MinistryToday July // August 2015

A n d y B l a n k s is co-founder of ym360 and leads content creation for the organization. This article originally appeared at © iStockphoto/BartekSzewczyk

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Are You Putting Your Team in Danger?

Avoid hurting those you lead by moving forward with unwavering purpose


eing resolute means you are purposeful, determined and unwavering in your commitment. Would your team describe you as this kind of leader? The team you lead needs a leader who is all in. Resolved. Deter m i ned. Com m it ted. No excuses and no wavering from the mission. Anything less is hurting your team. How determined are you to lead? There are always reasons to give up and quit as a leader. The critics are real and the problems can be overwhelming. The challenges of change are a constant reminder that there is no room for complacency. Your team requires a leader who is all in, resolved to move the mission and organization forward, no matter the challenges. I remember launching a new initiative as a young leader. The results were less than we planned, which meant we were going to miss budget and our ministry goal. I was so discouraged. I went to my leader, knowing the project would be cancelled and I would be dismissed. I reviewed the results, and he stepped in to help. We adjusted the plan to help manage costs, and he outlined for me the learning we would have by going forward. He restated the loss as a great investment in the future. The lessons I learned have served me well. Here are seven signs that you are a resolved leader: 1) You lean into problems. You don’t avoid them, ignore them or make excuses for problems. You also don’t blame others for the problems. You show up and your team knows you are not afraid of challenges. 2) Your team is quick to tell you when there is a problem. They tell you because they know you will walk it out with them. They know you won’t place blame but are quick to provide the resources to help address the challenges. 3) You see problems first as organizational problems. You don’t see problems as a people problem but as opportunities for your organization to get both stronger and better. It is first and foremost an organizational

problem. You are not looking for a person to blame. 4) You provide leadership calm to challenges. No, you aren’t happy there is a problem. Happiness is not what your team needs. They need a leader who brings the right people together to lean into the challenge with a commitment to find the best solution for the customers you serve and to help the organization get stronger. 5) You make sure your team grows through the challenge. The way you handle a challenge will make all the difference in the opportunity to learn, grow and develop. You hold the key to the tone and environment for engaging during a challenging situation. Set it up well and watch how your team tackles the most challenging situations for a better outcome. 6) You care more about the future than you do today. You keep a longer view in mind as you lead through challenges. You know the way you work through the problems of today will set your team up for success tomorrow. You don’t want to miss the development of people, systems and your organization for a short-term solution. 7) You are honest about the challenges. You are honest with your team about the challenges and even about your own feelings as a leader. Being resolute means the mission of your organization is greater than the challenges you face. Your team needs your leadership. In a time of great change, they need a leader who is resolved to lead with confidence in the mission of your organization. “Nor do I count my life of value to myself, so that I may joyfully finish my course and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

“Your team requires a leader who is all in, resolved to move the mission and organization forward, no matter the challenges.”

76 MinistryToday July // August 2015

S e l m a W i l s o n is the executive leader of people at LifeWay Christian Resources and a family/marriage counselor and speaker. This article originally appeared at LifeWay Christian Resources


7 Ways to Respond to Church Bullies

How to not let their negative actions and complaints dictate your relationship


fter I finished talking to a group of pastors recently, one pastor approached and asked, “What do you do when there is one person who is always trying to disrupt what you are doing? He is never satisfied with anything I do, and he

“Your calling probably wasn’t to the select agenda of a negative few.” incites people against me. I know he’s going to complain about something every time I see him or his name comes up in my inbox. Honestly, I think he’s the one obstacle in us being all we could be as a church. He’s like an 8th-grade bully who never grew out of it.” That’s a paraphrase–but it’s a true story. And most churches have one person of this type—or more. They remind me of 1 Samuel 17 and the introduction of the giant Goliath. These people are intimidating, disruptive and frightening at times. But I don’t believe these people are as big an obstacle as we make them out to be. We allow them to intimidate us—and they usually know it. The ruddy shepherd boy David was willing to call Goliath’s bluff. So how should we respond to our own bullies? Here are seven ways: 1) Understand their pain. I have found there is usually a story behind most of people who are like this. They have been injured at some point in their lives. Perhaps they feel the church has let them down. Maybe they have had a hard time forgiving. They may have an injury in their personal life that hasn’t healed. They hold—unfairly—that injury against everyone else. Get to know them. Hear their stories. Attempt to place yourself in their shoes. Sometimes God may use you to help the healing process. 78 MinistryToday July // August 2015

Understanding always helps you be better prepared to respond. 2) Pray for them. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). I see people in a different way when I pray for them. When I worry about approaching them, what they’re saying about me or the impact they are having, I never seem to affect the situation in a positive way. Prayer works. If it doesn’t change them, it always changes me. 3) Love them. Smother them with love, genuine love. They likely need it. And aren’t we commanded to do so? We don’t have to love their actions, but we are called to love. And the only way I know to do this is to love God first. If I can’t love the unlovable, I always know it’s an indication of the quality of my love for God—always. 4) Speak truth. Don’t say what they want to hear if it’s not true. Be honest with them. Chances are good that half-truths were a part of their history, causing them to be the way they are today. Be transparent and authentic. Be kind always, but don’t sugarcoat. Sometimes people like this are waiting until you push back. They’ll likely push you with bully tactics until you do. Stand firm. 5) Don’t let them dictate your actions. When you give in to a strongminded, complainer-type person, the negative atmosphere between you never goes away. You’ll lock yourself into being dictated by their negativity and complaints. You’ll only find more complainers—or they’ll find you. They know you’ll yield with the right (or wrong) amount of pressure. 6) Remember your calling. Really negative people can sometimes make you feel like you are doing no good. It’s almost never true. This is a good reason to keep an encouragement file from past notes or emails you received from people who appreciate your work. Go back and review some of them. Think about your past success—and how God has and is using you. Seek your affirmation among the people to whom God called you to minister. Your calling probably wasn’t to the select agenda of a negative few. When complaints are at their highest, remember why you are doing what you’re doing. You have a purpose. You have a passion. Renew it. 7) Confront when necessary. There are times you need to confront the one who is continually responding in an unbiblical way—in a direct and firm but loving way. Call them out on their sin. There are healthy ways to do conflict. We are to be kind to one another. Some people need help learning these truths just as others need help learning to tithe. It’s part of discipleship. Practice the Matthew 18 model of confrontation. Don’t talk about them. Talk to them. The crazy thing is they may not even know the damage they are causing. R o n E d m o n d s o n is the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. To see the original article, go to © Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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7 Signs You Are Suffering From ‘Mission Drift’ What to do when you get out of alignment with your unique, God-given calling


ne of the biggest challenges we all have is focusing on the assignment the Lord has appointed them to. There are many adversaries and distractions that can take you off track so that your life misses the mark. This is called “mission drift.” The following are signs you are drifting from—instead of moving toward—your primary calling: 1) Continual frustration shows you are not walking in your calling. One of the most obvious signs you are not walking toward what God has internally wired you to pursue is continual frustration. Frustration may be a Godgiven sign to awaken you to the real passion and purpose He has assigned for you. A person suffering from mission drift will be going against the internal impulses that give him delight while engaged in his calling. Going against these internal impulses means that you are also doing things that do not match your gifts, passion and grace, which also will give you much frustration. Those in continual frustration need take much time reflecting so as to detect the source of their frustration. Continuing in frustration is foolish because you may look back at the end of your years and realize you wasted your whole life. 2) Burnout shows you are not walking in grace. Another telltale sign you are suffering from mission drift is that you have to work hard at accomplishing things with very little fruit to show for it. Jesus has called us to enter His rest (Matt. 11:28-30) and cease from our labors (Heb. 4:9-11). When in mission drift, we are not obeying; hence we are not being sustained by grace and are working with fleshly strength. This can lead to emotional/spiritual burnout. 3) You show a lack of fruit. When you are hitting your sweet spot regarding your calling, you are doing things that few can match. Each person is unique and has a calling unlike any other. When you are hitting the mark in your purpose, you will bear a lot of fruit (John 15:8). When you are in mission drift, you do not maximize your effectiveness, which results in a lack of fruit. 4) You’re not following your original vocational purpose. When in mission drift, you have strayed away from the original calling God

has given to you. Once in a while I review my prophetic journal to make sure I am still pursuing the original calling God gave me when I first started serving Him more than 30 years ago. The methods may change as I mature—but the mission remains the same since He chose us before the foundation of the world and gave us a purpose before we were even born (2 Tim. 1:9). 5) You are not focused but scattered with too many objectives and activities. Activity does not necessarily result in productivity. Many people are running around focused on minor things and neglect the primary things to which God has called them. I am not saying we should neglect the mundane and ordinary routines of life, but that we make sure that within those routines we prioritize and manage our time in such a way that the most important things are taken care of first. When we don’t prioritize, our activities will not match our purpose. 6) You have no time to invest in key relationships. The kingdom of God is built upon relationships, not ministry or work. Everyone is called to invest in key relationships—whether it be their immediate family, spiritual children, mentors and key people with whom you are called to “do life.” The enemy would love for all of us to put programs before people because the only thing we will take with us into eternity are people, not programs, real estate, money or material things. We need to proactively pursue those people who are the most important to us. 7) You are doing good things but not what you do best. The enemy does not come in a red suit and a pitchfork; he comes as an angel of light. One of his greatest strategies is to get you so focused on doing something good for God or your family that it blinds you to what is best. To avoid mission drift, we always have to keep first things first and keep the main thing the main thing.

“Frustration may be a God-given sign to awaken you to the real passion and purpose He has assigned for you.”

80 MinistryToday July // August 2015

J o s e p h M a t t e r a is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition in Brooklyn, New York. See the original article at


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Have a closer walk with the Lord: Courageous Christianity. Order it today. Great for Bible Studies. email: July // August 2015 MinistryToday   81




Busy Is a State of Mind

Ask 6 key questions to develop greater clarity as you lead


usy people seem to have low clarity. The brag of busy is really not a badge of honor. People with extremely high focus will not allow themselves to become busy. Even an ant can scurry about. It’s hard to discern their clarity, but it seems the little crawlers change directions often. There’s even a type of ant frequently called the “crazy ant.” The ants earned the label because they seem to be swarming about for no apparent reason. Have you ever labeled your day as “crazy busy?” At day’s end, did you consider it highly focused or just too busy? Thankfully, we have executive assistants to blame for crazy days. Notice that the word “assistant” ends with an ant. Busy people have difficulties developing powerful platforms. Without clarity, a platform becomes like a carousel. There’s a new horse facing the waving crowd every few seconds. The platform continues to circle until the audience becomes bored and moves on to something with more clarity of purpose. A rapidly changing platform usually produces a revolving front door. The serious issue with clarity is that many leaders who lack it strongly believe and teach the importance of focus. It is much easier for a leader to diagnose missing clarity in others than it is to realize the lack of focus within his own work. It is very difficult to share a focus pie with a busy leader. Yet, that must be where the critical work begins. The work to develop meaningful clarity is usually a long process. A busy leader wants the process to happen quickly. Read a book, have a meeting and declare thyself focused. The process begins with one fundamental question, “What isn’t clear?” and is followed by answering five “whys.” Example: Mentor: What isn’t clear? Leader: Our growth is stagnate. I don’t understand what we’re missing. Mentor: (Why No. 1) Why do you think something is missing? Leader: It seems like other ministries are growing by adding new programs or activities. Mentor: (Why No. 2) Why do you think a comparison with other ministries is the right metric to determine growth? Leader: Well, we have empty seats. Our product is good. Our child care is excellent. We just think the answer is that

we need to keep trying new things. Mentor: (Why No. 3) Why are you trying new things? Are you throwing mud against the wall, hoping something sticks? Leader: I suppose we could be doing too much. Our team seems tired. I’m tired. Mentor: (Why No. 4) Why is everyone tired if you aren’t growing? Leader: Maybe we are spread too thin? Mentor: (Why No. 5) Why don’t you focus on just one thing this year? Go deep. Consider not adding anything new for one full year. Effective leaders ask, “What’s holding us back?” A better question to ask is, “How can we use our platform to attract other people in need of our help?” Instead of asking about what is going wrong, ask what can be done to broaden our platform. Perhaps your ministry is missing an important audience because the ministry platform doesn’t reach the desired audience. Broaden your platform: 1) Enhance your visibility in your marketplace— God’s anointing will follow you there. Find three new places to go to lunch next week. Intentionally meet new people every day. 2) Don’t depend upon your business card as a crutch. Business cards don’t attract. How can you extend your platform by what you give away? How about a one-page flyer with the headline “5 Reasons Why Children Have Become Enabled and 3 Ways We Can Help”? Design the brochure to deliver the answer on a splash page with a link to your website. Replace this simple suggestion with your own ministry focus (The focus in Sunday school and from the pulpit will be the cure for enabled kids). 3) Write your message with frequency. Blog your message. Guestblog your message. Do interviews with multimedia every week. Update your message every day on your website. Keep talking about what you talk about. Obviously, find new ways to say it, but say it every day. Mission clarity begets message clarity. Become the mostsought-after voice of your message. It’s likely that no one else has your message. The Holy Spirit called you and deposited clarity of purpose and will open doors as you broaden your platform. And you won’t be so busy.

“It is much easier for a leader to diagnose missing clarity in others than it is to realize the lack of focus within his own work.”

82 MinistryToday July // August 2015

D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media. Follow his daily, practical Greenlines blog at

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Ministry Today July/August 2015  

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