This May will be the second year I’ll be speaking at the FAM Conference May 16-18th with my friends Doug Fields and Jim Burns at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. I’ve got an exclusive discount for all of you and two FREE registrations to this amazing 3-day event! (WINNER POSTED BELOW)
I’m thrilled to be a part of this innovative conference again this year. I’ll be teaching the parenting track, and Doug and I will actually be releasing our brand new workbook helping parents set realistic rules and boundaries in the home, Should I Just SMASH My Kid’s Phone! I’ll also be teaching a brand new workshop on the same subject as one of the Super Seminars.
Christians led the pack, with 31.5% of the population claiming, “I’m Christian.” Muslims came in second (23.2%)… and then the bronze winner… “Unaffiliated.”
The picture in America isn’t much different. The number of unaffiliated rose from 15% to 19% in the last 5 years. Even more intriguing… when you break it down by age. Pew’s other recent report, “Nones” on the Rise, provides this nice chart showing the recent trends in affiliation, by generation:
As you can see, the younger the American, the greater the chance of being unaffiliated with any religion. My son’s age group (born 1990-1994) leading the pack with 34% unaffiliated.
Interesting enough, unaffiliated shouldn’t be confused with being an atheist or agnostic. While 19% of Americans claim unaffiliated, less than 5% still claim to be either atheist or agnostic. Does this mean they’ve never had doubts? Actually, PEW asked a question about doubting God’s existence. When asked if they’ve never doubted the existence of God, 80% of Americans said, “Yes, I’ve never doubted this,” compared to 88% in 1987.
What does all of this mean for us, especially those of us working with young people?
If you’re involved in church leadership, then you know the power of volunteers. You also are familiar with the daunting task of recruiting volunteers to hang out with kids, to teach Sunday School… to clean up after the junior high banana split night!
We’d all probably love more volunteers… but how do you ask? Besides, what if they say “no.”
I hate rejection.
Sadly, that fear of recruiting (and rejection) often keeps us from asking people to become involved in our ministries.
Five years ago this fall we released the first edition of The New Breed, claiming that volunteers are different… and the way we recruit and manage them needs to be different. Any youth worker, children’s worker, or volunteer manager of any kind probably has noticed that. Maybe that’s why The New Breed is my top selling book on Amazon right now.
Interestingly enough… things have changed exponentially in 5 years, changes that are affecting all of us and calling for an even greater up-to-date leadership. To be ahead of these changes, we have just released the second edition of The New Breed. Here’s an excerpt:
Today’s volunteer doesn’t need a dayplanner, a watch, a computer, or even a landline…they just need a smartphone.
What is next? Real-time hologram projections of my board members at our board meetings?
I almost hesitate to write about technology, in fear that by the time it goes to print it will already be out of date. You’d be amazed if you saw how much we had to already totally revamp the technology chapter for the second edition of the book. So much has changed in just 5 years. For example: Continue reading “Recruiting Help is Still Changing” »
How should a brand new youth pastor begin his or her job in ministry? That’s the subject we’ve been talking about in my last few blog posts, starting with your advice to “Neal Newbie.” Then I suggested there were 5 principles for “Neal Newbie” to consider. I shared the first principle here, and then two more.
Today, I provide the final two:
4. Demo Some Ministry Models
I recently bought a kayak from a small canoe and kayak shop near my church. When I asked them which kayak was for me, they basically answered, “I don’t know, why don’t you demo a bunch and tell us what works for you?” This little shop has a ‘demo’ program where you put a down payment down, then you get to try out any kayak you like and see what works for you. The reasoning behind this is because each person is so different it would be hard for a kayak salesperson to sell the same kayak to every person, male, female, tall, short, muscular… and not! There is no ‘one kayak’ that works for everyone.
If only people realized that in youth ministry. Just because a basketball program worked at your last church doesn’t mean the same program will work with these kids in this neighborhood, in this building, with these volunteers.
NOTE:Today’s post is riddled with helpful links to articles and resources that expand on the topic. I think you’ll enjoy them.
2. Start with People… not Program
This principle has a lot of crossover with the first principle I shared, but it deserves specific attention.
Effective youth ministry isn’t about dodgeball, pizza and all-nighters. Don’t get me wrong, I use all of these tools (and find them effective)… but they are just tools. And they definitely shouldn’t be the focus of any ministry.
I think many youth workers might immediately start a midweek program. Others might start going on nearby campuses. Some might just assume fetal position, shivering in the corner of their office in hopes that the senior pastor never checks on them!!!
I have a friend who just started a job as a youth pastor for a small town church. When the church hired him, they were emphatic about two “vital” elements:
Don’t change the room.
Make sure you let the pastor know what’s going on.
So much to say… I don’t even know where to start.
I’ll go ahead and refrain from ranting, “Seriously? That’s all you require!!!” …skipping to the more intriguing subject matter. The fact is, my friend “Neal Newbie” hasn’t ever worked in youth ministry before, so this is his first crack at it. He met with me last week and basically asked me, “Where do I start?” Continue reading “What Would You Advise Neal Newbie?” »