Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chris Folmsbee: If I were to do it again

Chris Folmsbee has an interesting post which I reproduce below.

If this were to be written from a lead pastor's point of view, it wouldn't surprise me to see a great deal of overlap. Thanks to Brad Boydston and Scot McKnight for alerting me to this post.

Friday May 29, 2009

If I Were To Do It Again

I was a youth pastor for 13 years. Today, I am active in youth ministry as a volunteer at The Church of the Resurrection near my home in Kansas City but most of my contribution to youth ministry these days is through training, writing, speaking and consulting.

Recently, I was sharing some thoughts regarding the future of youth ministry with a group of local lead and executive pastors. I was asked, "If you were to go back and do youth ministry again, as you once did, how would what you know now change how you would lead a youth ministry?" I had a few items off the top of my head (some are listed below) but I pointed them all to this post for a more robust list of things I might do differently. So, if I were to go back and lead a youth ministry again I would...

You fill in this sentence ... and let's see if we can help youth pastors... what have you learned?

• Act theologically before methodologically
• Be more of a spiritual director than a program director
• Hire a parent to be a part of our youth staff
• Spend more time investing in interns/co-pastors
• Experiment with more learner-centered education models
• Ask less of my volunteers and yet equip them more
• Communicate change to the church leaders, staff and parents more
• Create more opportunities for students to "learn up" instead of me "teaching down"
• Celebrate the successes in the lives of students with greater regularity and intensity
• Worry less about the retreat themes and spend more time with the students on the retreats.
• Take students on way more spiritual retreats
• Work hard to be more collaborative with the youth workers in my city
• Take more time off to be with my wife and kids
• Be more intentional with a confirmation process
• Find time to laugh and play more
• Be more grace-filled with students who were goofing off and causing trouble
• Try to learn more from the staff instead of thinking I have all the answers
• Take the criticism of others more seriously and less defensively
• Meet with my spiritual director more often
• Take personal retreats more often
• Be way more missional and a lot less attractional in my approach or model
• Try and get more pulpit time to advocate for the students in the church and community
• Pray more and develop a team of people to pray with
• Provide inspiring training for the parent of the students
• Call the students to greater levels of holiness
• Spend a lot more time creating opportunities for students to practice justice
• Allow the more artistic students opportunities to express themselves and their love for God.
• Teach much more conversationally
• Try to enter into the joy, pain, loss, doubt, hurt, etc. of the students and their families

If I spend some more time thinking I am sure I could come up with a list of a whole lot more things I would do differently. If you are a youth pastor/worker, what are some things you have learned to do differently from when you began until now? If you are a former youth pastor/worker, what are some things that you would do differently?

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