Appendicitis Proves Students Can Lead

feature5_3Students can lead.  Everything.  It probably won’t be as polished, perfect, or theologically sound as what you bring to the table, but your students can do it!

They’re fully capable of planning, executing, and evaluating Disciple Now.  They can lead a Bible study, small group, or accountability team.  They can be responsible for Vacation Bible School, church hospitality, or offering collection. 

Trust me.  If your appendix ruptured and you spent weeks in recovery, your student ministry could continue as though you were never missed….hypothetically speaking, of course.

Students can do more than run your media presentation or play in the student band.  I’ve had students do all of the above – yes, including running an entire student ministry for six weeks in my untimely absence.  And before you assume it was a small church with just a few kids – we had over 100 students in Sunday morning small groups, a full-blown weekly evangelism rally, Wednesday night discipleship studies and several accountability groups that were meeting weekly.  Students did everything in my absence.  Everything.

How do you make that happen, Darren??

  1. Give them space to do it.  Provide coaching and direction, but don’t spoon feed them.  Give them some room to make it their own.  (Probably the same way someone coached you through your first ministry experiences.)
  2. Let them fail.  Before my students succeeded, they had plenty of opportunities to not get the powerpoints done or forget to enter attendance records, or do a 40 minutes study in six minutes.  I walked alongside them in failure, pulled the rip-cord only when I absolutely had to, and kept coaching them toward success.
  3. Let them succeed.  By that, I mean success takes time.  Don’t give them one slight responsibility and never let them do anything else.  Give them time to lead so they can see success when it comes.  And when it comes, let it take root by allowing them to continue developing in leadership roles.
  4. Don’t pull rank.  It could have been really easy to say ‘Well, I’m in the hospital and this is a big church and there’s a lot going on and we need to have an adult in charge blabbity blah blah blah.”  We didn’t call the grown-ups to come in and save the day.  I knew our students could do it.  So we had some adults who stood in as pinch-hitters if needed….and the kids did everything.  (By the way, that’s as much a testimony to my pastor’s leadership as mine.)

Kids lead when we let them.  It takes some coaching, leading, and cleaning up.  But it’s worth it.

What are you doing to allow your students to lean into leadership?

Best Thing I Heard at SYMC 2013: Day 2

mustard1.  Mustard is not a shy condiment.

Indeed.  Neither is horseradish – it just doesn’t get the credit it deserves.


2.  I was on my way to Anchorage and had a hang-over….I mean lay over!!

Well which was it, Mike?  Because both could probably be plausible.  Don’t try to cover your tracks now – it’s too late!


3.  Don’t go viral for the wrong reasons.

Tell that to Sweet Brown.


4.  When most are running away, you guys run into the fire.

I have never thought of student ministry in these terms – but it is so accurate.  I pray that I can help other parents and leaders start running toward the fire!


5.  If we really believe God’s strength is our strength, we’d start before we were ready.

Whoa.  This still leaves me feeling winded.


6.  Katie is awesome.

Yes.  I know this.  And I am never more honored and humbled at God’s mercy on me than when I stand in a crowd and listen to her speak His wisdom into the lives of  students, families, and leaders.  She is altogether amazing – and I am rich beyond measure.


7.  You don’t get much more white Mennonite than that.

True.  I’m glad Lecrae didn’t have to see that, Joel.


8.  We should always play to the size of the heart, not the size of the audience.

He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.   Ecclesiastes 3.11


9.  Don’t believe the lie that your present circumstance is your permanent circumstance.

It’s such an effective tale, though.  It evaporates hope and dims sight to blessing.


10. God is not in the business of better – He’s in the business of new.

Thank God for that!  I don’t need to be better.  I need to be new.

10 Hard Things & SYMC

symc 13This week I’ll be spending some time with amazing youth workers from around the world at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Indianapolis. 

It’s one of my favorite times of the year – gotees galore and hipster glasses that will never bring sight to the blind.

One of the workshops I’m leading takes a look at hard decisions we all have to make in ministry – and how those decisions transform us.

In the past year or so, I’ve faced each of these choices and had to navigate my way around the implications.  And I think lots of youth workers face the same dilemmas on any given day.

Do I stay or go?

Do I offer justice or mercy?

Do I choose ministry or money/family/stability?

Do I stay in the youth ministry chair or begin pursuing the big chair?

Do I wage war or make peace?

I can’t wait to swap stories with youth leaders – and share just a little bit of how I navigated those hard decisions.

It’s going to be a great week where the only difficult decision I’ll have to make is grande or venti!

See you there!