Jump In

JUMP INI write this post while on vacation in Orlando, FL. We are staying with my family in a resort. This has been a super relaxing vacation. I have enjoyed hanging by the pool each day with my kids and wife. My daughter who is 3 years old loves the water. She has no fear at all. In fact, there are some pretty big slides where the “big kids” go, and she has wanted to do all of them. The problem is that the lifeguard does not let her ride in my lap. I figured that this policy would scare her away from going down the slide, but I was wrong. In fact, she goes up the steps and goes down the many slides with no fear. Her smile by the way going down the slide makes me overwhelmed with gratitude that she is mine! Okay, back to the story…how can a 3-year-old little girl go down these fairly big slides by herself into water that she cannot even swim in? It is because when she looks down at the top, she knows without a doubt that her dad is at the bottom, and I will catch her every time! When she is on the side of the pool, and jumps into water without the ability to swim she can do so without fear. Why? Because I am there to catch her every time!

This has really got me thinking. Recently, my family packed up and moved to Jacksonville, FL to start another campus of Trinity Baptist Church. We went from where we were comfortable to something totally out of our comfort zone. We stepped out on faith. This was difficult, but we were looking (if you would) down the road knowing that God was there, and would take care of us. We were just responsible for jumping in. You know how much more would be done for Jesus if we would stop with the fear, and replace it with trust. What does He want you to do that requires you to jump in not knowing the outcome or how things will go? It might even make you feel uncomfortable, but remember He is always down the slide of life waiting to catch you when you jump in!

5 Myths about Youth Pastors

5 MYTHS ABOUT YOUTH PASTORSI have been a full-time youth pastor for 7 years. I have also been a youth intern for 3 years before that. One thing that I have noticed is that youth pastors get a lot of the jokes. Some of them are pretty hilarious, but the majority of them are false. Here are the 5 greatest myths about youth pastors:

  1. Youth Pastors are on vacation when at camp and mission trips- I cannot tell you how many times I have actually taken a real vacation, and heard jokes, “weren’t you just on vacation at camp with the kids?” Look anytime teens are present on your trip, it is NOT vacation. I would love for the ones who joke with youth pastors to make camp and mission trips their vacation for one year, and see if they have the same ideas that it is a true vacation. No, basically, you are working all day every day while at camp or on a mission trip. Church members, lay off this joke, because it is a myth.
  2. Youth Pastors are lazy- I would be rich if I had a dime for every time I heard, “You have nothing to do, you are just a youth pastor.” Now, I am sure there are some youth pastors out there who give the rest of youth pastors a bad name by being lazy, but the majority of youth pastors I know are not lazy. In fact, they usually work as many or more hours of any other staff member at the church they work at. Youth pastors have required office hours like the other pastors, but most of the ministry that takes place in youth ministry involves evenings or weekends. Also, youth pastors usually get called into other ministries in the church to serve, because many actually think that youth pastors have all of the time in the world. Youth pastors tend to wear so many hats other than youth ministry in the church. Youth pastors also have to give up many weekends for their ministry so let’s lay off calling them lazy. Let’s commend them for their hard work.
  3. Youth Pastors are not smart- I am sure you have heard this one “You couldn’t get a real job so you became a youth pastor.” Really? Youth ministry is an art, and it takes creativity. Many of the youth pastors that I know are really smart, and this myth is a knock to the kind of intelligence it takes to pull off youth ministry.
  4. All Youth Pastors do is play games- Yes, youth pastors play more games and do more “fun” stuff like mission trips, camps, amusement parks, baseball games, and more, but what people seem to never notice is the difficult moments of youth ministry. People never seem to notice the discipline that takes place in youth ministry or the difficult conversations that happen in youth ministry. How about the difficult sermons that need to take place. How about the long all nighters. Look, all nighters may seem like all fun and games, but as a married man with two kids, I think I could think of some better things to do with my family than staying up all night, but youth ministry demands this. Youth ministry is so much more than the fun and games that people summarize youth ministry up with.
  5. Youth Ministry is not a real job- This one got me the most. I heard it all of the time, and many of the myths already mentioned kind of goes along with this one. Look, youth ministry is arguably the most important position in the church, because you are shaping the future leaders of the church you work in. Youth pastor, what you do is important, and sometimes this myth can make youth pastors feel less important!

So, lets stop already with these myths church members. If you keep joking about these, why don’t you spend a few years in youth ministry, and you can find real quickly that these myths are false.

To the Youth Pastors reading this: Stay in it, and do not allow these myths (jokes) to get you down. You are doing a great job, and what you are doing is important! Hats off to you for your hard work!

How to Get People to Follow Your Leadership

Leadership-picJohn Maxwell said “a leader who thinks he is leading but has no followers  is only taking a walk.” He also summarizes leadership as influence. It is the idea that leader’s influence those around them. Some people are geared toward following, and not leading. Some thrive on leading, and can do anything, and people will follow them. Those people can be frustrating, because it comes so natural to them.

Briefly today, I want to give some principles that I have learned after 7 years of ministry about leadership. Now, I am not a perfect leader. Most of these thoughts have been learned the hard way to be honest, but I am learning that they are true. You can sum up this post as “ways to get people to follow your leadership.”

  • Listen to them- No one wants to follow a person who is not willing to listen to them. That kind of leadership becomes a dictatorial  type of leadership which rarely ends well. As leaders, we need to get in a habit of listening to the ones who are following us. This is not  saying you do everything that they say, but at least listen to everything that they say.
  • Allow them to Lead- Great leaders delegate. This is where I struggle majorly. Many people have this “No one can do the job as well as I can” kind of mentality. Great leaders release responsibility and leadership to the ones that are following. Allow them to lead. Allow them to lead even if they fail, because it is in that failure that they can grow the most.
  • Be accessible- Be easy to get in  touch with. Return phone calls, emails, and texts. Not saying you have to return them instantly, but return them. It might be several days later, but return them. Show an interest in what your followers need to tell you.
  • Always be honest- I have seen leaders tell one person one thing and another person something completely opposite. This is not a good habit. In fact, it is lying. Many leaders can easily get in a habit of this, because they are trying to get their followers to like them. So they tell them what they want to hear even if it is not totally truthful. Be  honest no matter  what. At the end of the day, you will not ever say “Man, I wish I wasn’t honest in that scenario.” Many say all off the time, “Man, I wish that I was just honest in that scenario.”
  • Inform them Regularly- This is key. Get in a regular habit of informing your people of what is going on. Your followers will slowly decrease if they constantly have no idea what is going on. Inform them through regular meetings, texts, and emails. Try not to be annoying with them, but you would much rather inform them too much than not enough.
  • Stay Humble- As you grow as a leader, it can become easy to become prideful. Always stay humble. Do not lead over your people, lead beside your people.
  • Love them and get to know them- The key at the end of the day is you have to love them and you have to desire to get to know them. Look for ways to get to know them and their family. You cannot fake love, because people can see right through it. People crave genuine love.

If you do these things as a leader, the odds are in your favor that people will support you as a leader.

Books I am Reading

books i am readingLeaders are readers. I believe that. The best leaders are really good readers. So, if you want to be a leader, you  better learn to be a reader. This is something that I am trying to develop in my life, but I will admit, it has been off and on. I go through seasons where I am reading a lot, and then seasons where I read very little. I am seeking to be more consistent, but here are the books that I am currently reading or going to read next:

  1. Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll- I am currently reading this, but with the new position that I have taken, you will see a major theme in my reading over the next few months- the CHURCH. I am reading and trying to educate myself more on the entire church. This book is filled with heavy content regarding the church. Mark is a great pastor, and growing as a pastor. He has great insight on the church in his book.
  2. Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp- This was a book that was recommended to me over a year ago. I put it on the radar, but picked it up  recently. I have not started it yet, but looking forward to the read considering it will challenge me as a pastor.
  3. Vertical Church by James McDonald- James is one of my favorite preachers. I love his style, and he has great content. I also read from his blog regularly as well. Great leader and a great pastor.
  4. Center Church by Tim Keller- Tim needs no introduction. The guy is unreal. Some say he is a modern-day C.S. Lewis, and I would tend to agree. He is an excellent pastor and writer. I love his emphasis on the city, and reaching that city. This book is all about that. It is a  rather large read so it should take some time to get through it.
  5. Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger- I have been working through this series of books that are written to challenge church leaders to see the transforming power of Christ in their people. Looking forward to this book as it challenges readers to see how people really grow in the local church.

What  books are you reading? I would love to know.

Leaving a Ministry You Love

leaving a ministry you loveIf you have not read the blog recently, you may not be aware that I recently took a new position in Jacksonville, FL. You can read all about it by going here. As I made the decision, I went back and forth, because I would be leaving a place and people who I love! Now, if you are leaving a ministry or getting ready to leave a ministry under bad terms, still read this article, but know that this does not pertain to you. This is pertaining to those who are leaving a ministry when things are going well. For me, leaving was by far the most difficult decision that I have had to make in ministry. It is tough. In some ways, it is a lose-lose situation. I was told that there was no good way to leave. It is going to be rough regardless. I agree to a certain extent, but I believe there are good ways to leave as well. I want to share a few with you today…

  1. Leave Quietly- Look, you will have things about your church that you disagree with. You will have certain things that you would do differently. We get that, but if you want to leave well keep them to yourself. It is somewhat easy to as you are leaving  to throw a few of these things in your conversation, and I would NOT recommend this at all. Leave quietly, and do not share what you disliked about the church to anyone that is connected to your congregation. Look, this is the best way of handling things. I have never heard of someone wishing they had of told more of what they disagreed with after leaving, but I have heard many say that they told too much.
  2. Leave rightly- The reason you should be leaving is because God has led you somewhere. Make this the focal point. Jesus and the furtherance of the Gospel should be the reason you are moving on. Make Jesus and what He wants to do in you and through you the center of the conversation.
  3. Get together with people before you leave- Look, before I left, I went to lunch, dinner, golf, etc with some of the teens and families that said they wanted to hang before I left. You will get that “let’s get together before you leave” comment a lot. Make it happen, and you be the instigator of the hang out. It means a lot to people. I know you are busy moving, but remember the lasting impact of this. Do not go into isolation mode.
  4. Shower the people with appreciation and love- This is a no brainer, but the phrases “Thank you” and “I love you” better be regulars out of your mouth as you leave.
  5. Leave your future home and time open- Since I have moved, I have been blessed to get together with two different families who were passing through my new town. I made it a point to get together with them, and I hope to have this mindset years later. You have to remember the impact you have made in their life, and because you are leaving, it does not always stop there. Keep the relationship going the best you  can.

Bottom line- LEAVE WELL!

Terrace Crawford Coaching Network Opportunity

Coaching1Attn: Youth Pastors, I highly encourage you to check out what my friend Terrace Crawford is doing. He wants to coach 10 youth pastors. Here is some information from his blog regarding this opportunity-

“I’m looking to come alongside of 10 (yes, only 10!) rookie youth pastors (who have been in the field for 5 years or less) over the next 5 months.  Numerous youth pastors have been through my network (from all over the United States) and have found this network to be not only affordable, but effective, in helping them be successful in their own Student Ministries. If you desire to have a personal coach come alongside of you, this is your opportunity!

I encourage you to [apply now] because time and space is limited.  Don’t miss out!  This network will launch on August 01, but the application deadline is July 18th.”

Apply now!!

View Terrace’s Blog here

Follow Terrace on Twitter

Next Chapter in our Story

oakleaf_map4 years ago, my wife and I began our short journey from Asheboro, NC to Winston Salem, NC to serve as the student pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church. I had just come out of a difficult church situation, and my wife and I were loving life together just the two of us. It was a much larger church and operation than what I was accustomed to so it took me some time to adjust. Over the four years of serving Union Grove, we found more than a job. We found a home and a family. This is in fact one of the deepest learning experiences of what I realized church should be like- a family. I went expecting a job and to impact people, and what I found was a family that would impact us in greater ways than I could have ever impacted them.

Abby and I came to Union Grove with no family in our area. We had no kids at the time, and now we are leaving with tons of family in the church as well as two little kids of our own.

Several months ago, I received a phone call that would in turn become a passion in my heart. This phone call came from another close church family- Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. This  is where my wife grew up , and where I attended college. A conversation about their vision went from hearing about what they wanted to do to a burden of us wanting to be a part. Church planting has been a part of my dream in my life, but I have never felt led to be a part of  it. Trinity pitched to me their idea of  going multisite. Their idea was that they would plant a campus across town in a fast growing area of Jacksonville called Oakleaf. They were asking me to  consider being the family pastor of this new campus. I was excited for them, but honestly did not consider myself at first a part of this vision. I just struggled to see myself there. I liked the idea and listened to their vision, but still could see others doing the work in Oakleaf. I majorly struggled to shake the thought of leaving my church family and the wonderful families that God had allowed me to serve with. At the same time, I could not shake the intense burden growing in my heart for the area that Trinity was planting a multisite ministry in.

Over the course of a few weeks, I began an interview process. Still very torn between two places that I loved. It wasn’t until touring the area of Oakleaf in Jacksonville, FL that I had 100% peace about our decision. Driving through the community allowed me to see what God was telling me in my heart, and I knew that this would be the next step in our journey that He has us on.

Yes, it will be difficult to leave the ones that I love? Yes, it will be difficult to do something  a little different from pastoring teens. Yes, it will be tough to take my daughter from the friends she loves. Yes, it  will be a lot of work to move everything we have to Florida. Yes, it will be a challenge to plant a campus in Oakleaf. All of  these thoughts were played over and over in my mind. One phrase continuously came to my mind- Jesus is greater! He is greater than any fear, difficulty, failure, or even success. When you compare any obstacle to Jesus, Jesus always wins, and He won in our decision to move to Jacksonville.

I have started a brand new journey this week as the family pastor of the Oakleaf campus that launches October 5th. I ask that you  would partner with us in prayer. Please pray that  God would change our city and allow us to  be a part of Him being made known through this wonderful church. He has opened all of the doors, and we are seeking to walk through them. Pray that He does something incredible in the city of Jacksonville!