In this episode of Thinking Out Loud, Kevin Wilson and Kyle Wentzel welcome special guest Cody Wentzel, youth and associate pastor of Life Church in Leesburg, GA.
[00:03:10] Kevin points out the difficulty of serving in youth ministry in the particularly flammable cultural climate of America today.[00:04:14] “The Culture of Youth is constantly evolving”, Kyle calls this the thing that makes it so difficult for youth pastors – that they equally must constantly evolve in their methods, communication, and relationships. He points out that he always has to remember to, “not let evolving youth culture make my youth culture evolve.”
[00:05:38] The difference between models that work and models that don’t work is whether or not the youth pastor/youth leaders have taken ownership of their work.
[00:7:10] In youth ministry, you can’t fall for the “Patriot Effect” – referencing the New England Patriots. Another NFL team can’t take the Patriots’ model of coaching and team development and cut and paste it to their organization. Building an effective ministry means digging in and learning the culture and context of your particular ministry environment.
[00:10:43] “As Christians, we are creators. We literally have the Creator living inside of us.” Kevin talks about the constant temptation to take something that works well somewhere else and reproduce it and how that never works. He says that God’s call on us, particularly as ministers, is to be innovators.
[00:14:30] Kyle points out that two key components of an effective youth ministry are the centrality of relationships, and the ability/willingness to delegate to effective leaders who have captured the vision of your youth ministry.
[00:17:28] In summary, Kyle says that “your model” is what works for you in your youth group – not anyone else anywhere else.
[00:18:30] Kevin poses the question: how is success defined in youth ministry? Cody answers that success is seeing his youth take ownership and run their ministry. Kyle says that a successful youth ministry sees students become the leaders of their ministry and, ultimately, the reaching of lost teenagers within the community.
[00:24:20] “When you have a student who catches it and gives it, that’s a way better pitch than a 40-year-old man trying to tell a teenager about Jesus.” – Cody
[00:25:18] “Kids have to trust you before they’ll trust Jesus.” – Kyle
[00:26:53] Kyle emphatically calls social issues the biggest challenge for youth today – the fear of missing out, the complexities of social media, and the lack of authentic relationships forming among youth.
[00:30:01] Kevin talks about the danger of allowing strategies for relationship building and follow-up (in his example, a strategy for leaders to text youth) to start looking more like tactics than authentic attempts at relationship building.
[00:32:08] Cody champions the idea of other students and other leaders (not the youth pastor) doing things like remembering dates, setting aside calendar time for basketball games, etc. and getting them something they like on a birthday – ideas that communicate value to youth.
[00:33:58] “Your job is to build a bridge between your heart, and a student’s heart, and hopefully, they’ll eventually let Jesus walk across that bridge.”
[00:37:09] Kyle shines a light on the truth that we connect with our “type” of people. There will always be people in your ministry – especially youth ministry – that aren’t your type. That’s why there need to be other leaders who own the ministry, so that those who aren’t the youth pastor’s “type” can find someone they “like”.
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