Youth Ministry in the Facebook Age

 

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” Ignorance is bliss” was a term first coined by Thomas Gray in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.  I may be the only one who feels this way, but as a veteran church youth worker sometimes I miss the blissful ignorance I was able to experience previous to social media.  I do not say this as a technology hater, but as a person who loves social media and has an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even maintain my Myspace for a rainy day.  I miss the days of ignorantly believing that every one of the students in my ministry was latching on to the things they were being taught and learning to live them out.  I am such an optimist in most cases, I want to believe the best about people and believe that all of them are truly opening their heart to God.  The world of social media sometimes robs me of my optimistic dream world as students so openly and truthful share who they really are on the world wide web.

Maybe this is just me, but my heart hurts sometimes when I read the words of those I shepherd online.  It hurts so much because every part of me knows that the answers and joy that they are seeking in other places is found in allowing their head knowledge about Jesus to become a heart devotion that consumes their life.  It hurts so much because many of them sit week by week and learn more head knowledge about Jesus, but never let him completely lead their lives.  I wonder what it may have been for my youth leaders to have to sit and read the filth, doubts and soul searching I spewed from my mouth as a teenager.

None of these feelings I have come from a spirit of judgement, at least it does not feel like judgement in my heart.  Every student means the world to me, whether they realize it, or I show it poorly.  The passion of my life is helping people truly know Jesus, and I want that for every student that has ever been under my care.  My heart breaks anytime a student walks away from church.  My heart breaks anytime I see a student post things that dishonor Jesus.  My heart breaks when a student can sit through service after service at my church and still miss Jesus.  I used to be able to lie to myself and believe they were all getting it, but social media gives me a taste of reality.  A hard reality.  A reality I do not like to acknowledge.

I definitely see the great things that social media brings to my ministry.  It provides so many great tools for communicating, relationship building, and getting a window into the students world.  Maybe I am ignorant for saying this, but sometimes I wish the window was not so clear.  Satan uses it often to whisper to me of my ineffectiveness.  While many times my methods are ineffective, I know I serve a God who can change any life and that is what keeps me going.  My calling will always be to show people Jesus and hear me clear that is exactly what I want to do.  If you sometimes feel like I do cling to Jesus and your calling even when what is before you may not seem to be bearing fruit; those who you shepherd need you to keep going.

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Darrell Day Reflections

* from 2011

Well as many of you already realize, yesterday was a new national holiday called Darrell day, August 31st, the day I entered the world.  This was the 34th annual Darrell day celebration and tons of rootbeer, burritos and celebrations were had by all.  I had a great day filled with things that characterize the joys that are a part of my everyday life: My girls (Tiffany, Rylie, Macee), friends, Chuy’s Mexican food, rootbeer(thanks for the rootbeer Sterling and Brittney), the students of Southmont Baptist Church and preaching.  All of these are things I love dearly, not to mention being humbled by the 250 plus people who took the time to say happy birthday to me via text and Facebook.  I feel very blessed to be  a part of the life that God has given me.

It is milestones like birthdays that cause us to reflect, and cause us to count our blessings.  As I look back over this last year of my life I realize I have experienced so many incredible blessings.  There have been ups and downs, but God has been faithful to teach me the lesson of contentment.

Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I wanted to end this post with ten photos that speak to God’s faithfulness to bless me this year.

TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS OF MY 33RD YEAR (No Particular Order)

1.) The Birth of my daughter Macee- We were told that it was a great possibility that we could not have any other children, but on January 13,2011, this beautiful little girl entered the world.

2.) God opened the door for one of the greatest dreams of my life to be fulfilled when my first book “No One Really Knows” was published by Lucid Books in February 2011. www.norkbook.com

3.) Southmont Youth Group- I have seen God do amazing things in the lives of these kids this year and I feel so blessed to be their youth pastor and call them my kids.

4.) Met one of my childhood heroes and got to sit down and hang out with him for 30 minutes: Spud Webb5.) Got asked by my friend, former Major League Baseball All-Star, Glenn Wilson, to co-author his biography with him.

6.) Got to watch my daughter Rylie cheer at Upward basketball games

7.) Splurged on the most expensive meal of my life on an awesome date with my wife Tiffany to Pappas Borthers Steakhouse for our anniversary.  We try to go to really nice restaurants in Dallas twice a year for her birthday and our anniversary.

8.) Got the opportunity to join the program staff of Camp 220 and speak at both weeks as a Team Bible Study Leader.  I love this ministry and I am glad I get to be a part of the behind the scenes of all that God is doing. www.twotwenty.org

9.) Got to coach Rylie’s softball team

10.) Saw the Texas Rangers go to the World Series and the Dallas Mavericks win the NBA Championship.  Okay, this does not directly involve me, but it brought me lots of joy to see both of these events happen.

*Honorable Mention: Launched one of the worst webshows in the history of YouTube- Darandumb Moments: http://www.youtube.com/user/durkel777

Asking the Right Question

In the last few weeks I have had more than one person approach me about feeling a lack of passion or dryness in their pursuit of Christ. Many seem to associate Christ with feelings of shame and guilt, so they want to avoid Him all together. So many of us have become so accustomed to living a legalistic, rule based Christianity that when our performance fails we cannot escape the guilt of our failures. Many of the thoughts below came from what God has helped me learn in my journey, what God taught me this Summer in studying to teach Bible Studies for Camp 220, and hearing others teach this summer.

First thing I need to remind you, IF you belong to God, meaning you have a relationship with Him, then Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This verse has meant so much to me, because it promises that in the midst of our failures God in his grace and mercy forgets our trespasses against Him. It is almost as if God is telling us I do not condemn you, QUIT CONDEMNING YOURSELF. Quit living a powerless Christianity swallowed up with guilt. When God looks at you as a Christian, he does not see your failures; He sees Christ’s righteousness that has covered you.

Zephaniah 3:12-19 is a beautiful picture of the joy that God finds in who we are. God sees someone worth singing over, he has taken away his judgments over you, he fights for you and he is near to you. God says you are so worth all Jesus did.

So first we must see ourselves in the way that God sees us, but second we must ask the right questions about how to get back the passion and zeal that seems absent. Many times we begin with the question how can I pray more, how can I read the Bible more, or what can I DO to draw closer to God? I believe this is the wrong question to begin our thought process.

1.) The question is not how much am I doing to draw close to Him, it is how much am I letting Him do in me?

Does he have my whole heart?

What things in my life steal my affection for Him?

Am I living out Philippians 3:7 that everything compared to Christ seems like dung, poop, or rubbish? It is not an obedience problem as much as it is a love problem. When Jesus has all of our affections no one has to tell us to pray, or read our Bible, we just desire to do it. The prayer is not God help me increase my Bible study time, but help increase my love for you, help remove the things that steal my affections from you… Come and have my whole heart.

Many of us are like the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2, we are checking off all the duties of a Christian, but we have lost our passion and love for him in the midst of doing things for Him. The question must come what am I letting him do in me?

Have I surrendered my spiritual gifts and passions to be used by him? These gifts are not accidents, but are intended to be used by him for his church. Some of the most excited students in my youth ministry right now are those who have realized their spiritual gifts, asked God to take those gifts and use them and seen God begin to work in them and through them. It is in giving God complete control that our passion and desire to be in word and pray increases.

2.) The next question we must ask is by whose power am I living in? 1 Corinthians 4:20 says the kingdom of God is not in Word but in power. Paul tells the people if he comes he will not judge their closeness to God by what they say, but by the power which they live by.

What are you living in that takes God’s power to complete? Are you living by his power or living in what is comfortable and manageable for you? The reason most Christians never move forward in their walk with Christ is they spend their whole life walking in and praying for things they can accomplish without God.

What are you letting him do in you? Have you been just a follower in words or are you living each breath, each step by his power?

3.) How big is your view of God? What God is able to do in and through us is relative to what we believe he is able to do. So many Christians spend so much time arguing what God can’t or doesn’t do anymore. I am persuaded that if we worship a small God who has a list of things he can’t do and we have a holy spirit who is mute and serves as just a glorified conscience then we limit what God is able to do in us and through us. Check out Mark 9, part of our drawing into a powerful life changing relationship with Christ is admitting the areas of unbelief and saying God help me believe in the depth of your power.

Is your God manageable, understandable and full of things he can’t do or doesn’t do anymore or is he the powerful God of the Bible? Part of letting him do what he wants in us is having an accurate view of Him.

4.) Lastly, we will all spend time in the desert or times of dryness; it is how we navigate through that time that tells if we fully belong to Him. It was in Jesus’ time in the desert (Matt 4) that he was tempted, he responds by clinging to Scripture. In dryness we must cling to the Word, not as a duty but because we need it.

What are you allowing God to do in you?

Mark Matlock endorses No One Really Knows

BOOK

Check out the newest endorsement received for my
coming book No One Really Knows.

 

Mark Matlock- Wisdom Works Ministries (Planet Wisdom) and Vice President of Event Content at Youth Specialties
mark

“Leave it to Darrell Halk to capture the lives of real teenagers as they experience life and faith. Darrell has been in the trenches with teens for years walking with them through the trials, triumphs and tragedies of navigating a life of faith in Jesus Christ. “No One Really Knows” captures his insights along the way and offers real hope.”

 

Book Synopsis, Pre-order Info and other Endorsements–> CLICK HERE

By Our Love

I always intend to write here, I really do, but somehow some way I find other things to occupy my time.  Today I HAD to write, something is stirring my spirit and I cannot put it aside.  I guess it even relates to some of the blogs I have posted in the past but this one is more than anything directed to all of us as who labor as Pastors.

This verse has been really birthing repentance in my heart for the last few days as I have thought on it, meditated on it and have sought to be intentional about living in light of it.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

I attended the C3 Pastors Conference last week and was really shaken by every single message that was preached.  Some were delivered by ministry legends like Ed Young Sr., others by pastors I had oftenly judged with scepticism like TD Jakes and Ed Young Jr and others by pastors whose name I had never heard like David Hughes, Leon Fontaine, Dr. John Cross, Samuel Chand, Dino Rizzo and others.  All that to say, I am different because these guys listened to God’s Spirit and shared from the depths of their soul what God had spoken to them.

It got me thinking, especially in light of all of the publicized attacks on Ed Young Jr, Pastor of Fellowship Church in the last few months, why do we as pastors seem to ” eat our own” so to speak.  It is obvious that Ed is anointed and gifted by God to be a voice to help those without Christ see their desperate need for them.  So in his time of attack, why are we blogging about him, slandering him, speaking out against him when I am sure most of us only know of him personally what the media has told us is truth.

What does it gain for us or the kingdom for us to be the cheerleading bloggers that are adding to the fire of those who are questioning his motives? It sickens me that  sometimes I feel it gives us some kind of joy when we see one of the “big dogs” in Church leadership fail because then we can pat ourselves on the back and feel better about our shortcomings as leaders.  All of us who pastor know how difficult being a pastor is, the behind the scenes stuff that can steal our joy and exhaust us if we do not stay intune with God himself for filling, contentment and power.  Many of us know the pain of slander that has been aimed at us or our family.  So why are we the ones sitting behind our comuter screens firing darts of accusation at one of our fellow co-laborers for Christ?

Don’t we believe that Ed needs prayer from us right now? If the pastors aren’t willing to stand with their own who will? Whether we agree with his actions, his theology, his method of ministry, he is still one of us. One of us who is impacting lives all over the globe for the kingdom. Rather than perpetuate the slander, lets unite to pray!

I was also convicted by my quickness to judge or be skeptical of the motives of pastors that I really knew little about.  I will tell you I felt pretty foolish that I had long been skeptical of TD Jakes when I heard him preach God’s Word Friday.  This man allowed God to work through him in a way I have seen few others do. He spoke with power, he spoke biblically, but most of all he allowed the Spirit to use him as a vessel. His message ate my lunch, gave me hope, pointed me toward Christ and helped trim away some dead branches in my life.

I guess in all of this the principal I learned is we can spend a lot of time slandering other leaders, jumping on our blogs and facebooks when another leader “fails” legitmately or by our standards or we can be a people who stand with one another, pray with and for one another.

Does the world know we are followers of Christ by the way we love each other or conversely do they see people who are quick to cast a stone at easy targets. God is telling me to put my rock down, that unless I have not failed as a leader then my stone belongs as an ornament of the dust rather than a weapon of accusation. Honestly I think this is a universal principle, who needs more prayer than our government leaders right now? Who needs to know the Lord more than the celebrities and atheletes that we see fall into moral failure?

We can continue to comment on our opinions of peoples failures or we can become serious about standing in prayer before God as broken people praying for other broken people, I know the road of change God is leading me down. I have no voice nationally, no one knows who I am in the Christian world but my prayer is that the things God has convicted me of will affect and resonate with Christian leaders around the globe

Praying, Loving and Standing with other broken leaders,

Darrell Halk

Attn: Youth Pastors

Hope this post finds all of you well. To all those serving in youth ministry, I wanted to see if you would be willing to answer a survey for me.  Since 2004, I have been researching burnout in youth ministry and working on putting together that research into book form. Now that I am done with seminary, I really want to dig into this project.  I wanted to see if you would help me with this research?  Below is the survey, let me know if any of the questions are unclear.  Thank you in advance for your insight into this subject. You can reply here or send to the email listed below.  

  • Burnout Survey 
  • Name: 
  • Church/Organization: Position:  
  1.       What do you believe are the common causes of burnout in youth ministry?           
  2. What do you believe are some warning signs that you are burnt out or may be on the cusp of experiencing burnout? 
  3.   Do you feel burnout is a major issue that is plaguing youth ministers? If yes why do you feel it happens so often?   
  4. What are some unfair expectations that you believe are placed on youth workers and how does that affect performance and job satisfaction?  How do expectations lead to burnout?   
  5. What are the dangers of comparing your ministry to the ministry of others and how can that affect us personally?  
  6.   In your ministry what event/ events have shaken your faith and made you doubt your calling or feel insufficient to lead? 
  7.  Share stories of how fellow staff members (senior pastor, education minister etc) encouraged you or discouraged you in your ministry? What impact did this have on your ministry
  8.    Share a personal story of when you experienced burnout in ministry.  What caused it? What were your thoughts during that time? What helped you get out of the pit of burnout and be refreshed? 
  9.  How important are mentors, family, co-laborers and friends in staying fresh in youth ministry? Why?
  10.  What advice would you give youth workers who are beginning to feel hints of burnout?  What are the keys to staying fresh? 
  11. What value does your call to ministry have in staying fresh and avoiding burnout? 
  12. For someone who is burnout what advice would you give them about how to reconnect with God and allow Him to refresh them?  
  13.  Even though ministry takes so much out of you at times, what keeps you going? What makes you desire to keep pouring your life into students? 
  14. If this research were to be used in a published book would you be willing for us to use your answers and quote you by name?

Leadership

Allow me to just be transparent for a second, and just say sometimes being a leader is so hard.  With all my heart I want to please God, but sometimes in pleasing God I have to displease people.  That is hard for me, because I have such a desire to please people, to be respected by them and to have them on board with where I am leading.  This is another time in which I feel God is stretching me.  There are great decisions that face me in the coming weeks, vision to be cast and steps of faith to be taken.

God give me the courage to follow you, even when the choices that need to be made may not be popular.  God help me to hear you clearly, let this be your youth ministry and not my own.

Practical Applications for Ministers

Yes, yes, it is finally new post time.  I found this list of practical applications for ministers from a chapel service led by Dr. Jimmy Draper Jr. at SWBTS.  I think this was from my first semester there, but I am not sure.  I thought these might be helpful for other ministers out there.

1) Don’t neglect your personal relationship with God

2) Make time for your family

3) Everyone needs encouragement- be kind

4) Never make decisions when you are depressed or discouraged

5) doubt never means yes

6) be open and honest- be transparent

7) answer all phone calls, mail and email

8.) don’t let anger be a pattern of your behavior

9) Few people make mistakes on purpose

10) Let your preaching be from the Bible

11) There is no excuse for being unprepared to preach

12) Don’t flirt with temptation ( Ephesians 4:27: 2 Corinthians 4:2)

13) Cooperate with your fellow believers

14) Be a good steward of your position, influence and all your experiences

15) Pour your life into a few people

16) Cherish and protect friendships

17) Give credit to others

18) Keep cpnfidences

19) Lead by example

20) No premadonnas in God’s service- you have to earn the right to be the leader

21) You’re not always right so admit it

Training

This weekend at the 220 retreat one of the speakers Terry Burris said something that has really resonated with me.  He said, ” Stop trying to be Godly, and start training to be Godly.”  What an important statement to remind us of how important it is to be in God’s Word Daily as we train ourselves to be more like him.  Just like in physical training at the gym, if you do not commit to working out you will not get stronger.  If we do not dig daily into God’s Word we will not get stronger.  Howard Hendricks said,” Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives.” I have seen this be so true in my own life.  I hope these quotes help you today as you train to be more like Him.

Outreach Events

 

I know this is a long article but it really challenged me to evaluate what is a true outreach event and what is my plan to reach to those who do not know Christ.  I have become a really big Jonathan McKee fan lately.  A few weeks ago I read his book Do They Run When They See You Coming and I am currently reading Getting Students to Show Up.  This book will cause you to evaluate what you are doing to reach those outside the church walls.  Below I have posted  an excerpt from the book, if you are a pastor with the goal of reaching unchurched students definitely check out the book and go read the excerpt.

http://www.thesource4ym.com/BookGettingStartedChp2.asp

(This article is an excerpt from Jonathan’s new book GETTING STUDENTS TO SHOW UP.)

The word outreach is slapped onto the titles of a variety of programs. It’s a buzzword that’s probably thrown around a lot more than it’s actually thought about.

   I’ve been to hundreds of “outreach” programs where no reaching out took place. Instead, the purpose of these programs always seemed to be worship or helping Christians grow in their faith. Noble purposes, indeed-but not “outreach” by any means.

   I’ve spoken at “outreach” rallies where the first thing out of the emcee’s mouth is “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”

   Think about that for a second.

   How many students who aren’t believers do you think came to that event to “celebrate Jesus”? Granted, many of these “rallies” are full of Christians who scream in excitement and yell in celebration, so the statement isn’t usually received poorly. But what’s wrong with this picture?

    I see two oversights:

  1. Why is our audience 90 percent Christians? We’re talking about an outreach program, right? At an outreach program we might want to draw teenagers who don’t believe in Jesus yet. Do you remember Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park? During that first uneventful tour of the park, he says, “Now eventually you might have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?” He taps on the camera. “Hello? Yes?”So why aren’t the “outreach kids” attending? Didn’t our church kids believe us when we said, “Bring your friends who need to hear about Jesus”? The sad truth: Our audience is often made up of the wrong students. No wonder they didn’t object when we yelled, “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”Which leads us to our second blunder.
  2. If we’re trying to draw out unbelievers, then why are we talking to them as though they’re already Christians? Imagine you’re asked to emcee the MTV Music Awards. The arena is decorated. All of the hottest artists have walked the red carpet and taken their seats. The crowd is full of screaming music fans. Now the program begins, and you walk onstage and yell, “How many of you are here to celebrate Jesus?”Awkward.None of us would yell such a phrase to that crowd. So why do we do it at our “outreach” events?

The truth of the matter is this: Many of us label our programs “outreach,” but we don’t always draw the students we’re supposed to reach. Even if we do, we often talk to them as if they’re Christians. Why?

   What if some of the difficulty lies in the fact that we don’t really know much about this “animal” we’re attempting to tame? We’ve never taken the time to really look at our goals for this kind of programming and put it into words. We never took the time to define it.