Year of Youth 2018

A Stepping Stone to a Solid Rock

Last edited 13th June 2018

A Stepping Stone to a Solid Rock

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
- Matthew 7:24-27

The gospel reading from Matthew not only applies to houses, it also applies to Youth Ministry. More than ever before, Youth Ministry relies on its leaders to be professional. Being professional is the difference between a Youth Group that lays on solid rock or falls down on sand.

The "sand" symbolises a Youth Leader who is well meaning but struggles in their role due to a lack of planning. I built my ministry on sand - I neglected business practices for evangelisation.

Evangelisation is the primary role of a Youth Leader but it is only the starting point in Youth Ministry. I grew up in the Youth Ministry community as a person who lived on instinct, a leader who focused more on today. Being a leader of today meant that I couldn't forecast what was going to happen next so I was always on the back foot.

I can recall many times in my career when I had the task of presenting and I would call on the Spirit to lead me. Being led by the Spirit is a great gift, but without preparation it will become gibberish. Gibberish is useless for yourself and the audience. At the end of the day, my supervisor would pull me up and say "Did you even read the program or know what you were going to say?"

My reply would be "I present best when I am natural, when it comes from the heart". My supervisor and I would disagree with our different methods, which led to flare ups at meetings.

I'd get the same feedback at meetings "You're good at evangelising, but you need more work in planning."

"Planning? What do you mean? I'm already planning programs and..."

I would misinterpret the advice my supervisor had given me. Instead of reflecting on my supervisor's words, I would be defensive and take it as a personal attack. It wasn't until I reflected on my actions I realised that I was the attacker.

When I stumbled through my presentations, I was leading the audience astray. The same audience who GOD had entrusted me to take of, I realised that I needed to change if I was to embrace my vocation. Over the years, I have worked on some key items to improve my professionalism in youth ministry.

Using a diary to keep track of movements

1. Investing in a diary

Being a Mangere boy (Mangere is the Polynesian capital of the world in South Auckland, New Zealand). I had no interest in carrying around a diary, but having a diary has taken my ministry to the next level.

GOD has blessed us with strong minds but there are limits when it comes to retaining information. There were times where I would commit to an event and not realise that I had double booked myself. Looking at a diary with a calendar helped me to avoid the trouble of double booking and to forecast the future. The ability to forecast the future meant that I knew what tasks I needed to prioritise.

2. Hard copy vs online

It depends on your preference. For me, I like to use a mixture of both.

I use Post It notes to write down all the tasks that I need to do, and I use an online sheet on Google Docs to dictate my movements. The advantages of using Google Docs is that you are able to notify your team about where you are. The advantages of having a hard copy is that writing helps the brain to recount information. Try out both methods and use what resonates with you.

3. Personal Development

Personal development is important not only in Ministry but in every aspect of life. In life we have a tonne of resources at our fingertips.

A resource that helped me to be more organised is a book called "The One Thing" by Gary Keller. The One Thing is a concept where you look at your daily tasks. You ask yourself "What is the one thing that I can do that will make everything else easier and unnecessary?"

Asking the question helps you to define which tasks need immediate attention. Depending on your areas of improvement, find a resource or a course that will allow you to grow in your ministry.

Final Thought

In many of Jesus parables, the primary theme is to prepare for the Kingdom of GOD. As Youth Leaders, Our mission is to prepare young people for the Kingdom of GOD.

If we honour GOD'S kingdom, we must prepare ourselves like the house built on solid rock.

Richie has been in Youth Ministry for 18 years and he is the founder of the Youth Ministry Game Changers movement. He believes in Youth Ministry because it has the ability to transform people's lives. His friends know him best for his loyalty to the countries of Samoa and New Zealand.

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