Youth Ministry Sherpas

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YMS Episode 61 — Great Expectations (the sequel)

October 29th, 2019

In a perfect world, we would all be perfect youthworkers. Every need would be met, every student would follow Christ, every expectation would be exceeded, and we would go to sleep at night knowing we made it happen.

Yeah, right.

Reality is much different. Despite our best efforts, we will fail. What do we do when the expectations others place on us, and the ones we place on ourselves, go unmet? What do we do when they are simply unrealistic in the first place?

You know, like the expectations we place on NFL refs? But we digress.

We don't always like the great expectations placed on us, whether from church leaders, parents, students, or even ourselves. In this episode, we focus on the great expectations of parents and students. They can be enough to drive anyone nuts, but in the end, it helps to remember many of those expectations come from a place of pain.

We also discover that the best lessons we learn really did come in kindergarten. And we also learned there is such a thing as a speed cuber.

And Halloween is the "Devil's Holiday."

 

Episode 61 -- Great Expectations (the sequel)

Here's a link to our Sherpa Say What:
https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/429429-most-contributions-to-a-rubiks-cube-mosaic/

YMS Episode 60 — Great Expectations

October 22nd, 2019

In a perfect world, we would all be perfect youthworkers. Every need would be met, every student would follow Christ, every expectation would be exceeded, and we would go to sleep at night knowing we made it happen.

Yeah, right.

Reality is much different. Despite our best efforts, we will fail. What do we do when the expectations others place on us, and the ones we place on ourselves, go unmet? What do we do when they are simply unrealistic in the first place?

In this episode, Steve and Mathew fondly remember completing our high school English assignment to read Great Expectations. We both liked the book. But we don't always like the great expectations placed on us, whether from church leaders, parents, students, or even ourselves. 

This is the first of a two-part series, and we have an honest and heartfelt conversation about how to deal with the expectations of church leadership. More difficult to handle, for us at least, are the expectations we place on ourselves. 

In the end, it's about grace, grace, grace.

Now go read Dickens again. He's the best.

Episode 60 -- Great Expectations

Here's a link to our Sherpa Say What:
https://nypost.com/2019/09/24/french-chef-sues-michelin-guide-for-accusing-him-of-using-cheddar-in-souffle/

Sherpa Legends — Mark Oestreicher

October 17th, 2019

Some people might be considered "the face" of youth ministry. Mark Oestreicher is "the beard" of youth ministry.

Marko, as he is known, has been a thought leader in youth ministry for nearly three decades. From his early days as an advocate for the value and legitimacy of middle-school ministry, to his authorship of influential books, to his stint as president of Youth Specialties, to his founding of the Youth Cartel, Marko has been a leading voice for youth ministry innovation, cultural interpretation and practical training. Somewhere along the way, Marko gained a reputation as the visionary Yoda of youth ministry, developing the next generation of cutting edge leaders while challenging the church to constantly re-think its methods and purposes. He has led over 50 intensive training cohorts for youth pastors around the country. Recently, he was part of Download Youth Ministry's National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training, and our volunteers are still talking about his session on the teenage brain.

Strip away the beard and all the accomplishments, though, and Marko is still a middle-school youth pastor at heart. He loves kids, and wants them to love Jesus.

We loved our conversation, and could almost smell the smoke of his cigar as we chatted. We are sure you will be blessed by the wit and wisdom of this legend, Mark Oestreicher.

 

New Legend This Thursday

October 15th, 2019

If you had to create a youth ministry legend from scratch, what ingredients would you include? Great beard? Check. Deep thinker? Check. Boundless love of students? Check. Great "getting fired" story? Check. Mark Ostreicher checks all the boxes of Youth Ministry Legend. He's the former president of Youth Specialties, founder of the Youth Cartel, a brilliant thinker, and a gadfly who challenges the status quo wherever he goes. The youth ministry world would not be where it is today without him. Here's a sneak peak of our conversation with Mark Ostreicher.

YMS Episode 59 — The Smells of Youth Ministry

October 8th, 2019

Ahh, nothing is better than waking up in a camp bunk to the gentle sound of rain and the smell of... middle school feet, wet towels, and moldy sleeping bags. 

They say our sense of smell carries the power of memories. Nothing brings back the past like powerful odors we've experienced in memorable moments of our lives. Thus, it's only fitting that we consider the calling of youth ministry from the perspective of our noses.

In this episodes, Steve and Mathew take a trip down memory lane as we recount some of our favorite smells in youth ministry. Many are pungent. Some are nausea-inducing. And others contain combinations that have been cited for health violations and nearly caused nuclear reactions. Yet all of them represent the beauty of youth ministry in all its aromatic glory--whether it be in the bathroom, the van, the bunkhouse, or the third bottle of Axe Body Spray emptied in the past 12 minutes.

The bottom line -- We get to do this! Even when it smells bad, it's beautiful!

EPISODE 59 -- The Smells of Youth Ministry

YMS Episode 58 — How to be a Hero to Volunteers

October 1st, 2019

Good volunteers are the heartbeat of any youth ministry. If Jesus recruited 12 disciples to help with his mission, we probably need a thousand. Or a million.

In this episode, Steve and Mathew share their thoughts on how to effectively pastor our volunteers. Our volunteers can do things we cannot do, go places we cannot go, and shepherd kids we cannot shepherd. We need them more than we think we do, and we need to do everything we can to help them succeed. 

An effective head youth leader will do these things (and more) for his or her volunteers...

Encourage them. Everybody needs affirmation and a pat on the back. Our words are powerful.

Equip them. Youth pastors swim in the waters of youth ministry. We have resources our volunteers need and are too busy to find.

Empower them. Don't be the blockage in your ministry!

Enjoy them. Play together. Make memories. Treat them like kings and queens.

Inspire them. This isn't chaperoning. It isn't babysitting. It's kingdom building work. Share a big vision for what we do!

This is the final part of our three-part series, "How to be a Hero to..."

Episode 58 -- How to be a Hero to Volunteers

YMS Episode 57 — How to be a Hero to Students

September 24th, 2019

 

Youth workers take on many roles, perhaps the biggest of which is running the ministry. We teach, lead, and run programs. But sometimes we get so busy, we lose sight of the trees because we are looking at the forest. It's time to get back to the whole reason we got into youth ministry in the first place. We love students and want them to know they are loved by us and by Jesus.

In today's episode, Steve and Mathew talk about how we can ensure that we are providing for students what they need most. It doesn't matter how great our game is, or whether the slides are in the proper order, or if we run out of soda. What matters is that we remember that each student is made in the image of God. Here's what we need to do to make sure we are fulfilling our primary calling as youth workers. To be great youth workers, we must:

See them
Hear them
Believe in them
Challenge them
Celebrate them

The annals of youth ministry history are filled with successes of this kind. Ask any of our "Sherpa Legends," and you'll find in their past someone who did this for them.

And for us.

This is the second of our three-part series, "How to be a Hero to..."

Episode 57 -- How to be a Hero to Students

Sherpa Legends — The Skit Guys

September 19th, 2019

 If you've ever been to a youth ministry conference, chances are that you've seen the Skit Guys. And if you've seen the Skit Guys, chances are you laughed until you cried. Keeping us in stitches and tissues is what they do best.

Tommy Woodard and Eddie James have been bringing laughter and tears to the youth ministry world for over 25 years. They are truly the comedic legends of Youth Ministry.

They met in high school when Tommy was the top dog of the drama department and Eddie was the challenger looking to ascend the throne. Despite the rivalry (documented on ESPN's 30 for 30), it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. When Tommy invited Eddie to go to church with him, Eddie met Jesus, and the course of their lives was changed forever.

Not that they knew it at the time. They just started doing skits together, and one opportunity led to another which led to another. The next thing they knew, they were on stage before thousands. And occasionally, in a garage performing for 18. In both places, they have been conduits for the grace and affection God has for all us.

It's a beautiful story of two friends who have used their gifts to encourage the youth ministry world for nearly three decades. We can't imagine a world without them, and we don't want to try.

We were going to release a video version of this interview, but when Tommy took his shirt off five seconds into our conversation, we thought it would inappropriate.

Enjoy our conversation with the legendary comedy team, The Skit Guys.

New Legend this Thursday

September 17th, 2019

You see them on stage, read their books, and admire their work. But what about the stories behind the people? What led them into youth ministry in the first place? Why have they made it their life's work, and what have they learned about themselves along the way? Learn the story behind the calling and career of the men and women who have achieved legendary status in youth ministry with SHERPA LEGENDS, our monthly special edition (delivered the 3rd Thursday of each month). Here's a teaser for September's show -- our fun and laughter-filled conversation with... The Skit Guys!

YMS Episode 56 — How to be a Hero to Parents

September 10th, 2019

Most of us got into youth ministry for the students. Then we found out we had to work with parents, too. That can be challenging and intimidating. 

Of course, it doesn't take long to realize this is critically important if we want to succeed in youth ministry. Even for younger youth workers, how can we earn the respect of parents and consider them our allies? We, Steve and Mathew, haven't always been great at that, but now that we are not only parents ourselves but nearly finished parenting teens altogether, we finally figured out a few ways to do things a little better.

That's what we talk about in today's episode. We suggest five ways that might be helpful. They are pretty obvious, but not easy to do. By being trustworthy, being a good communicator, being responsive, being professional, and celebrating students, we can make our ministry more effective, make our lives easier, and make our parents happier. With longevity as the goal, we might even last until we have finished our own parenting journey.

This is the first part of our three-part series, "How to be a Hero to..."

Episode 56 -- How to be a Hero to Parents