By YS on January 26 2009 | 0 CommentsName: Andrew Latulippe Current residence: Prescott, Arizona On the web: alatulippe.blogspot.com Grew up in: ConnecticutDid you go to youth group as a teenager? If so, tell us a little about that. I was actually a self proclaimed Satanist as a teenager. I left the church about 14 without ever being truly exposed to youth ministry. A “youth pastor” had sexually abused my sister and some other girls at a Christian academy I was sent to, so I kinda dropped off my faith there until I met my wife and she started dragging me to church when I was about 21. God took over from there, and I’ve been in love ever since (with my wife and Jesus). How did you first get involved in youth ministry? I was tricked! Someone from Church asked me to help him out and hang out with the teens on Thursday night just to see what they were up to. I was already the worship leader at that church, so I had met most of the kids and thought it’d be cool to hang out with them. After two weeks, he bailed and I was left with the group. I was a little frustrated at first, but little did I know it was the best thing that would happen to my spiritual life. I thought that God was using YM as a step into pastoral ministry, and I treated it that way for a while, but here I am as a full time youth minister five years later, and I am finally realizing God has called me to youth and boy am I glad! Who do you look up to in ministry? Mike Yaconelli. Honestly I’d never heard of him before until I bought the book Getting Fired for the Glory of God. It was like the dude knew me and was writing to the very specific situations I faced in youth ministry. I love the way he wasn’t afraid to tick people off! That’s my kind of guy! One of my mottoes is that if I’m not making people mad, I’m doing something wrong. Also, Greg Stier. It’s obvious he has a fire inside for sharing the gospel. Ministry Mutiny and Venti Jesus Please are great books every youth worker should have a copy of. What is the last book you read? I’m usually reading two at a time (it’s a problem I’m working through) because I get so excited to read books I don’t wait until I’m done with one. The last two I’ve been reading are The Shack by W.M Young and New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. What has you excited about working with your group right now? The contemplative approach to youth ministry! My volunteers and myself have been working on being fully present to students in our ministry. That’s hard when you’re trying to keep an eye on new kids and watching out for stains on the Jones memorial carpet. We’ve found that there is so much more quality to being fully present to our students, than worrying about details and numbers and blah blah blah. We also started sharing the contemplative approach to Christianity with our students by introducing them to prayer exercises and times of silence. We “experimented” with our ministry by holding a half hour time of prayer and silence after our meetings in both Middle School and High School ministries and it worked! Imagine 33 middle schoolers being silent and still for 30 minutes at a time! (that’s right I said 30 minutes). We made it a regular part of our Wednesday night and Sunday night programs at the request of our students and even held a weekend spiritual retreat where students were led in various prayer exercises such as Lectio Divina and the Examen. Students spent hours in silence around a local lake and were thankful for the chance to slow down. I never really thought about how much students needed to slow down until I read Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli. I pretty much ripped off his ideas and made them ours and students and families are being blessed in new ways. What are some challenges you face right now? I think the standard. “Getting parents on board” is a constant, although this year I am looking at a dramatically reduced budget with no money for training myself or volunteers. It will be interesting, but I’m not really concerned because God always turns challenges into opportunities. What's one thing you think you do well that other people could learn from? I don’t know if anyone reading this should really be learning from me but I will say this, stop preaching to your teens! They need you and your presence more than they need the perfect biblical answer to their problems. Students need us to notice them more than they need to notice us and our ministry abilities. Some of us youth workers (me included) like to hang our hats on our ability to be hip and preach "relevant" messages that challenge and engage. We need to be humble and realize that we’re not in charge of our ministries and we cannot claim our successes as our own. God’s not going to use us to change a generation if we are so fond of ourselves and our youth ministry advice blogs that we forget that "without me you can do nothing." What's a word or phrase your youth group would use to describe you? Moshing machine. I tend to start the pit rather than be the one saying “that’s enough guys”.
By YS on January 26 2009 | 0 Comments
By YS on January 25 2009 | 21 CommentsAm I the only one who watches this video and thinks, "How is the church going to respond?" What do you think? With the emergence of the 4th screen's importance in adolescence... how will we reach them? Remember, ministry methods are amoral. God is immutable but our culture mutates every second of every day. It's not about "what's right?" What we need to discover is what works... which gives forth to best practices.
By YS on January 25 2009 | 21 Comments
By YS on January 22 2009 | 17 CommentsRecently, several of my youth ministry friends have lost their jobs. Unlike in years past, the economy has played a significant role in churches letting them go. Sadly, with the economy down (and thus giving) some churches have been forced to eliminate staff positions. This creates a two-fold problem. There are more people looking to get hired and fewer full-time ministry jobs available. So, here's some advice for standing out in the job search process. Step one: Get 3-4 people on your team. These should be people who you trust enough to share your thoughts, fears, and prayers. Trust me, when you go through the interview and candidate process you will want to have people praying for you and giving you advice. Make sure that this group isn't just your family. When I've looked for a job, my team has generally included my wife, my father-in-law, a long-time friend in youth ministry, and a professor from college. Step two: Identify your geographical boundaries. Actually, it may be good to write down all sorts of parameters about where you think you'd be a good fit. Size of ministry, denominations, theological stuff, small town vs. big city, stuff like that will help you know what types of places to invest your energy. Make sure you share this list of stuff with your team. They are going to help you find a good fit even when the emotions of the job search kick in. Step three: Work your network. Even if you aren't able to publicly tell others you are looking, let other youth ministry friends know you're looking to make a move. If it's publicly known you are looking (like you've posted your resume online) than I'd say ask everyone you know if there may be a church looking that they know of. Youth ministry is a tough career choice. We've all had to look for work before and I've found my friends in ministry very willing to help one another out. (Because they know they may need help one day!) Step four: Work on your resume. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. Here are some great tips. I've gone through hundreds of ministry resumes. Here are a couple things to avoid, specifically for youth ministry. Don't use the youth group name but instead use the church name. Keep it to a page. Don't include things from when you were in high school. Save it as a pdf. Include a picture. Continuing education matters so list conferences and training events you've attended. Skip the "life verse" and instead include an objective. Put your best stuff at the very top. Share your resume with your team before you start sending it out. Trust me, if you haven't done a resume in the last few years... get some help! Step five: Work the web. Choose 3-4 places to post your resume. YS has two offerings in this department. We have the YS job bank here on the site. We also own YouthMinistryPro.com. I'd suggest posting to both as they have very different audiences. (Both are 100% free to post your resume and get you great exposure.) If you went to a Christian college post your resume with their career development department. I'd also suggest posting your resume on Monster.com. Think like a search committee member. Someone on the committee may find resume's from places that they are familiar with. Step six: Work your outbox. Search for jobs and send your resume to places you think you'd connect well with. Look around their website, listen to a message or two if they have them online, read their doctrinal statement, learn a little about the community where the ministry is located. This may be controversial... but I pretty much ignore education and experience parameters that on some listings. Then e-mail your resume with a personalized note. I like to give them something to respond to so that I know someone actually looked at the email. Something like, "I'd love to know how your hiring process will work, can you let me know what the steps are?" Step seven: Be proactive but not annoying in working for an interview. One technique I've always used is to keep a spreadsheet of my contacts so I can keep it straight! I note when I've talked to them, who I talked with, and when I should expect to hear from them again. I've found this helps me stay organized and be aware of the hiring process. Step eight: If you get an interview, be inquisitive. My angle with ministry interviews is that I'm always interviewing them more than they are interviewing me. Taking a genuine interest in their ministry communicates powerfully that you really care. Likewise, you will need this information to take back to your team to help you make the best possible decision. Recognize that the early stages of the process are just information gathering for both parties. So do your best to learn what you can but try to not get overly emotionally involved... YET! I hope that these bits of advice help accelerate your job search. Let me know how it's going! Leave a comment or drop me an email. p.s. Never forget the importance of that team of people. They will help you, join you in praying, and ultimately celebrate with you as you walk boldly to the next stage of your ministry career.
By YS on January 22 2009 | 17 Comments
By YS on January 21 2009 | 0 Comments
By YS on January 21 2009 | 0 Comments
By YS on January 19 2009 | 8 CommentsI saw this list about teaching younger kids about money and wondered if there were some transferable principles to youth ministry.
By YS on January 19 2009 | 8 Comments
By YS on January 19 2009 | 1 CommentsToday, we pause to remember the words and actions of Martin Luther King, Jr. We invite you to take a few minutes to watch and reflect on the full version of King's famous speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
By YS on January 19 2009 | 1 Comments
By YS on January 16 2009 | 0 CommentsMaybe you don't know Logan? What a tragedy! Logan isn't a YS staffer, but he is part of us by proxy. Logan and his band, Dutton, are the worship band for Planet Wisdom this year. If you're looking for a fun way to get to know Logan and the band, check out Logan's YouTube page. We asked Logan a few questions about his time in youth group, check out his answers: What was the name of your youth group? First Baptist Church of Woodway, which is outside of Waco, TX. Our mascot was the Ducks. Should youth groups have mascots? That's debatable, but we quacked proudly nonetheless. Do you remember the first time you went to youth group? What was it like? Before moving to Waco, I experienced my first day of youth group as a 7th grader in Mansfield, TX at a church called Walnut Ridge Baptist. It was terrifying. I had several friends in the youth group, my older sister was there to show me around, and we met in a small portable. So it shouldn't have been an anxiety-attack-inducing experience, but it was. A pre-pubescent seventh grader in a room with 18-year-old men? They seemed impossibly cool and old and muscular and deep-voiced. And then we sang some peppy Christian lyrics over the chords and melody of "Heart and Soul," and the "coolness" factor became...less of a factor. Tell us about your youth leader. Upon moving to Woodway, I met Bob Johns (legend of youth ministry). He knew about Gabriel, my dad's band from a few years back, and decided to take a chance on me as a musician. That's how I became the back-up acoustic guitarist in the Wednesday night band, which made me the happiest fifteen year old in the history of Earth (seriously, I was thrilled). I think it was after I showed Bob the first Phil Keaggy song I learned that he decided to promote me to first-chair acoustic guitarist. It was Bob's encouragement and the opportunities he gave me at a young age that allowed me to do what I do today. I've traveled the country for several years now as the first-chair acoustic guitarist in my band, and I have still yet to meet a youth minister wiser than Bob. Just ask Tomlin or Crowder. They will tell you: Bob is the man. Share a memory of an activity you did as a group. Oh man summer camp was the pinnacle of my high school existence each year. My baseball team won the Texas state championship in June of '03 blah blah blah. But in JULY of '03, I got to go to CAMP!!! YYYYYYYEEEEssssssss. Chris Tomlin led worship for our camp each year (which we called "Sondays Camp"), and by then, worship had moved far beyond the "Heart and Soul" parodies of the late nineties. I remember one year, Chris came to my church's small group time, walked straight up to me and said: "Hey Logan, I'd really like to hear some of your songs." Gulp. I nodded, hesitated for an awkward moment, and then sprinted to get my guitar. By the time I got back, Chris was surrounded by youth groupers wanting to take a picture. Sigh. It was not meant to be. But it was from those times at camp that I built relationships with Chris and all the guys in his band. His guitarist, Daniel, and I have since become close friends. What's one thing that you learned in youth group that has stuck with you since graduation? Before David Crowder became a rock and roller, he was a back-up keyboardist in the Woodway Youth Group Band (no lie - this would've been during Crowder's early years at Baylor). At one point, Bob handed Crowder an acoustic guitar and told him to go learn how to play. Six months later, Crowder had written "You Alone" and was recording his first record. As a "thank you" to Bob, Crowder stayed and led worship for our Sunday night Bible study until my senior year in high school (when I took it over and also began leading worship at Crowder's church when he was out of town). Crowder's decade-long commitment to Bob taught me a lot about faithfulness. And it was those Sunday night worship times with Crowder that taught me how to connect with this generation of worshipers. If you could relay a message to your old youth pastor, what would it be? "Want to watch the Baylor game together tomorrow night?" I guess I could just call and ask him myself. But seriously, Bob and I have kept a close relationship and still talk on a regular basis. I ended up leading worship for my youth group for nine years (just stopped in May of '08, when my band moved to Dallas). And now that Tomlin has moved past the "camp phase" of his career, my band "Dutton" has taken over the honor of leading that glorious summer camp worship experience for Woodway and all the churches of "Sondays camp." So I guess the message is this: Thanks Bob!
By YS on January 16 2009 | 0 Comments