Saturday, August 21, 2010

United Stage Design

My good friend, Donald Sims, is the pastor of City of Hope Church in Manchester, KY.  He is doing an unbelievable job and their town is truly seeing "city transformation" in the area. 
I had the honor to join in their celebration service as another church in the area merged with them.  Below is the video I did to show the "how to" for the stage design as well as just a glimps of the energy as these two churches partner together as one.

United Stage Design from Vince Farrell on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Convictions about Youth Ministry --Part 3

Value #7: Everything must flow to the bigger picture.  This value of mine transcends every aspect of ministry, but it is so important when it comes to youth ministry as well.  I've had the honor to connect and speak at many different churches and one thing I've noticed over my years is the "transition model" of ministry.  Every church starts out as a "family" model; this is the stage where everyone knows everyone, the pastor is like the dad or grandpa of the group, etc.  The second stage is the "corporate" model.  Now don't get offended by the name because it's a very much needed stage.  This is where structure is introduced into the church and policies are issued to help things grow and run smoothly; the pastor is started to be viewed more than just one of the guys; he is now the leader and visionary of the church.  The final stage is Kingdom.  The pastor is usually operating much like an apostle with all the previous characteristic visible.  The church is committed to the great commission and community transformation; it's not to say they were not before, but now it's evident in everything they do.  This principle is all through out the Bible.
Youth ministry should be the same.  If ever a youth group starts to operate and function like a separate identity from the rest of the church, then it is not flowing to the bigger picture.  In fact, as a youth pastor, I've discovered that you have to make every effort to insure everything you do promotes and keeps the "vision of the house" as it's center of focus, because if you don't then by default you're creating a "church mutiny" without even knowing it.    May I suggest taking a look at the Relevant article here to go deeper in this topic.

Value #8: The Journey of faith takes time, and students can minister now.  Ever notice the gap between Moses killing the Egyptian and the burning bush experience?  Or how about Samson sleeping with Delilah then the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him?  These are just a few of many verses that mess me up.  (in a good way)   These stories are not in the Bible to conflict with the process of righteousness, they are in there to remind us that discipleship is not an A then B then C Sunday school process.  We have to disciple right where people are at.  I'm not advocating that you take the teenage guy sleeping with his girlfriend and put him in your youth band, but I am saying to be aware of ways to bring teens into a closer relationship of Grace and Righteousness through disciplining where they are currently at.  I take great comfort in seeing Jesus do this with his disciples and many times at the end of the day they still did not get it.  It's a process.

I hope you enjoy them and would love any feedback.
Yours for His Kingdom,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Convictions about Youth Ministry --Part 2

Value #3: Small works better than big. I've had the opportunity to be a part of and lead "big" youth ministries. One of the common misconceptions is to focus on the "bigness" of ministry and lead with a big mindset.
Now let me interject, this is not a ploy to discredit big ministry or to criticize youth groups that get big. After all, "healthy things grow." In fact, it's quite the opposite, your ministry SHOULD get big; the time it takes is up to you.
I'm simply stating that the bigger something gets, the more important it becomes to break it down into smaller groups, activities, etc. The bigger a group gets the less involvment from individuals you'll have. Not everyone enjoys concerts or camping or video games or football; for example, have you ever seen the way a group interacts when there are only 6 in it, compared to the way a group 25 interact? In the smaller group everyone participates, speaks up, gets involved. In the larger; just a handful will.
The larger your group gets, the more you will work at finding ways to make it personal and connected. May I suggest thinking small.

Value #4: Knowing God is more important than knowing about God. I will be the first to admit this is takes a lot of work to make a reality. Maybe it's just me, because I enjoy "teaching" aspect of ministry. But the truth of it is, we have a great canyon between knowing and experiencing God. Here are a couple of thoughts: Everything we do should point to God, even our lingo about Jesus. I've seen far too often we put such a heavy focus on Christ that we neglect to finish the journey. Hear me, I'm not saying do away with Jesus! Absolutely not!!! I'm saying we must not fail to connect the dots, that the reason why Jesus came was to restore us unto our Heavenly Father, God. We must continue to teach about God, but also put a high focus on sensing the presence of God; linking what we do to why we do it.

Value #5: Humor greatly enhances ministry. There is no hiding the fact that I personally like to have fun. But this value goes far beyond my personal preference. I believe humor should be a vital part of youth ministry; and not just reserved for a video or drama in the service. Humor is more than a funny drama or telling jokes in your message. It's the overall atmosphere of joy that is echoed in everything you do. There is something disarming and attractive to a ministry that can successfully infuse humor into ever service. Let me add one thought to this value; it should show up in every service, not just the special ones you plan for. A key damper in the service is to be asked several times the phrase, "are you having a good time?" or "are you glad you showed up?" They will let you know with their feet over the next few weeks. The only "person" we are trying to convince when we ask, "are you having a good time" over and over is ourselves.

Again, I hope you enjoy these and that they maybe even help. I'll post more tomorrow.
Yours for His Kingdom,

Missed Part One? Click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Convictions about Youth Ministry --Part 1

As a "former" youth pastor who now travels full time. I'm often introduced as the guy "with a list of past achievements."
Growing a youth group from 30 to 300.
Transforming a youth group.
Leading through change in a youth group.
Developing small groups.
Bla bla bla.....

Honestly, I'd like to be known for what I'm "about" to do, rather than what I "have" done because the future is where it's at. Life, ministry, churches, youth groups change so fast. I want to be one of those guys who's pushing the envelope to reach and minister where teens are at now as well as where they are going.

With that in mind, I'd like to submit to you some of my core convictions and values about youth ministry. These are not a 10 step "how to process" or even the top "methods" to grow your group. I'd be a fool to suggest such a thing, because like I said before, "ministry is always changing" and methods for that matter.
You may read these next few post and hear nothing more than an old guy who has done more things wrong than right, and you'd be correct.
But hopefully some of these core values I have concerning youth ministry will be an equipping tool for your ministry too. Enjoy

Value #1: God is in control, we are not. Sounds like a "no responsibility" free card, but it's not. In fact, it puts so much more responsibility on the leader. One of the mistakes that I've made before (that many youth pastors make) is we either don't plan far enough in advance OR we plan too much and THEN ask God to bless it. It's far more important to seek Him first and jump on what He is already blessing than to invite Him along for the ride. With this value it's important to add that tucked away in the spaces of this truth is another key principle that Jesus teaching regarding "being faithful with little, will be made ruler over much." I wholehearted believe that when we are faithful (responsible) for those he has given us, then He will add an increase.
Be honest, you and me and the rest of the world was put out with "OctoMom" because she wasn't taking care of the children she already had and now she adds eight more to the mix. How much more is our Heavenly Father wanting us to take care of who we have before He adds more to us?
We should be strategic and plan, but never at the expense of getting a clear word of direction from the One who is in control.

Value #2: Doing the right thing is more important than doing things right.
Thank goodness that we've had a wave of "excellence" pass in the church. I mean really, we are starting to see some quality and well done ministry in our churches. Of course there is the random "cheesy church marque" that still pokes it's head up, but overall I see churches doing things right. As they should.
However it's not the most important thing. Somehow we've lost the urgency to do the right thing.
Youth pastors quit over a disagreement with the pastor.
Programs become more important than people.
Upholding policies take precedence over situational needs.
Gray areas become easily justified when personally wronged.
One of the many things I've learned since being out of "full time" youth ministry is this; "teens don't remember what you say as much as they remember what you did." If you haven't put guard rails and people in your life to question your motives and ask you the tough questions about why you do what you do, (and I mean lots of different people, not just a few "yes" friends) then the sad truth is your character is already slipping and you're not even aware of it.

Value #3: It takes adults to make your youth ministry survive, it takes ministers to make it thrive.
Any youth ministry that does not have an abundance of adult workers will not go the distance. I don't think there is a magic ratio of how many to have, but I'd say, "the more the better!" You may think teens hate being around adults (or even vice-versa) but the truth is, having loving, committed adults in your youth ministry is what will cause it to continue to grow for the long haul.
It takes ministers to thrive simply means, "don't fall into the buddy system." It's easy for youth pastors and adult workers to want to be everyone's "buddy" but when it comes time to speak into a teen's life, they need to hear it from someone they respect and value; who they know has their spiritual welfare as their concern. It's not to say we are Bible scholars or have been to seminary or have the proper paperwork, it simply means we need to act and hold ourselves in a manner that in honorable to the Gospel. We are all called as ministers of the gospel first, leaders next, and then friend. Many young guys in ministry operate with a "Norm" mindset and want everybody to know their name; while this might work for a while, in the long run it will devastate your impact.

Hope you enjoyed these three convictions of mine concerning youth ministry, I'll post the next three tomorrow.

Yours for His Kingdom,

Thursday, August 12, 2010


When it comes to leadership books, there is one theme that you will find in almost every one of them and that's the ability to take risks.

To lead with courage does not mean you have all the answers or even know how this thing is going to turn out. It simply means taking a risk to do the thing you believe needs to be done.

Let me throw this thought towards you, "If the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over but expect different results, then crazy is to do things differently around those who expect things to remain the same."

When I was in the restaurant business, the president of the company I worked for gave us managers some sound advice, he said, "when things get tough don't hunker down and comply with the winds of change, instead be a risk taker and fine tune what you do and excel."

There is a group I know of who's summer ministry numbers have been dwindling over the years, compounded with the recession they've decided to compensate to meet budget by raising enrollment by 20%.
This is the opposite of what the CEO was talking about, in a time where things must be done to improve, they raise the price, instead of taking risks to stretch and focus on growth. By doing some things differently they could attract new people to participate and thus meeting the budget to continue their ministry.

Leaders take risks.
There may be place in your family, job, church, school that is needing you to take a deep breath and yell "charge!!!"

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beans and Cornbread

Meal time at our house growing up was probably like most people; mom was a good cook, dad was a man of simple taste.
Most of our meals consisted of steak and potatoes, green beans, spinach, beans and cornbread; you know good solid meals.
But every once in a while dad would come home and bring something from Sonic or announce we're going out for pizza.
Those were the nights we loved; we didn't have to load the dishwasher, or gather the trash or clean off the table or consume more beans and cornbread!
Those meals out were special. They didn't happen often, but when they did they were great.

You know, I've come to believe church services are the same way.
No matter what side of the pulpit you're on, we all want to experience an awesome worship service. We can tell when a service wasn't quite up to par, or when "God really showed up."

Clearly there is the supernatural element that contributes to our church services that are desperately needed; AND with that I'd like to encourage you that it's your faithfulness in the daily "taking out the trash", "washing the dishes" or better yet said, ---its the weekly beans and cornbread services that makes those special times that much more important.

Galations 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

So don't despise the normal, average services; it takes them to make the really great services that much valued and pleasing.