Archives For Greg Stier

old churchAs a “traveling evangelist” I’ve had the privilege of preaching in churches from coast to coast. And, until I have the microphone on over my ear, most people have no clue that I’ll be the preacher that day, so most treat me like a first time visitor. Over the course of many years of visiting churches I have had great experiences as a guest along with some not-so-great ones.

And, lately, my trips to new churches have accelerated in my own city. I hate to use the term “church shopping” but that’s what we’ve been doing as a family for the last several months. The church we’ve been attending as a family for several years is a great one but it’s a 35 minute drive away. So my wife and I decided in September to start looking for a home church in the Arvada area. All the churches we have visited so far have been pretty good.

As a result of my visits to churches over the last several years and, with my family, over the last few months, I did notice some things about how first time visitors must feel when…

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MistakesOver the last two plus decades I’ve had the privilege of engaging thousands of youth leaders in conversations about the subject of outreach and evangelism. During that time I’ve gathered a ton of great thoughts and ideas from youth leaders in the trenches when it comes to reaching out to the next generation with the good news. Some youth leaders are killing it when it comes to advancing the good news among teenagers in their communities.

Sadly, I’ve also witnessed a pattern of mistakes and missteps in the youth ministry world when it comes to outreach. I’ve boiled them down to 5…

1. Forgetting to saturate their outreach efforts in prayer

Jesus set the pattern for saturating outreaches in prayer. Mark 1:35-39 reminds us of this, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So…

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YouthWe live in a church culture where some quadrants are starting to second guess the value of youth ministry. Books, articles and blogs have been written decrying its effectiveness and calling out for action steps that range from small tweaks to a complete trashing of it.

And, yes, if we’re honest, we all know down deep inside that something is wrong. Teenagers are leaving the church before and after they graduate. As Mike Yaconelli, one of the founders of Youth Specialties, said back in the day, the typical youth group has less seniors than juniors, less juniors than sophomores and less sophomores than freshman. In the eleven years since Mike went to be with Lord teenagers have become even busier and more distracted by technology and less impressed with the fun and flash of typical youth ministry programming.

Something needs to be done for sure. Systemic change needs to happen. But I want to challenge you to take giving up on youth ministry altogether off the table of options. Here are four reasons why I’m not giving up on youth ministry:

1. It gives a safe place for broken teenagers to be healed.

There are…

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LightbulbA lightbulb can brighten up a dark room. A laser can cut through steel. Lightbulbs disperse soft light in every direction for a short distance. Lasers can only be focused in a single direction but, theoretically, one beam can travel infinitely.

In the same way your ministry is either a laser or a lightbulb.

After his resurrection Jesus gave his disciples a laser-like focus to “go and make disciples of all nations….” (Matthew 28:19.) The book of Acts is the working out of this mission in real and tangible ways. Yes, part of this disciple making process was gathering together on a regular basis (Acts 2:42) and prioritizing key values Acts 6:4) but the pulsating heart of the early church was active disciple making. The apostles were laser like in their focus. As a result the church exploded from Jerusalem to Rome in less than 30 years.

What does this have to do with your ministry? Plenty!

There are far too many nice, little 60 watt ministries that do nice, little 60 watt activities and get nice, little 60 watt results. These ministries shine some semblance of light but usually it can’t be seen outside the…

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Super EffectiveI just had the privilege of spending a week with 50 amazing youth leaders from across the nation and their top student ministry leaders. Lead THE Cause University is a week long intensive that equips good leaders to become great leaders who make and multiply disciples.

Over this week of intensive training and interaction I witnessed 5 marks that identified these youth leaders as outstanding. These are what makes a youth leader super effective when it comes to advancing God’s kingdom in and through their sphere of influence.

1. Super effective youth leaders lead with prayer.

I’ve seen it again and again and again. The youth leaders who make the biggest impact on earth relentlessly aim their prayers toward heaven. As a result God gives them the wisdom they need to keep moving forward step by step with the Spirit toward building a truly effective youth ministry.

This was obvious last week at LTCU. The youth leaders who are seeing the most progress, both in discipleship and evangelism are the most persistent in prayer. Maybe that’s why Paul told Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people….” (1…

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As a “professional communicator) I get the privilege of doing a lot of speaking to a ton of different groups. God has blessed me to speak in front of big groups (just got done preaching two hours ago to 5,000 teenagers at #IYC2014 in Nashville), small groups (I do a weekly staff chapel service for our staff of 23 strong at Dare 2 Share) and medium sized groups (anything in between 23 and 5,000  )

After I prepare a sermon there are 5 pre-sermon rituals I go through before it’s “go time.” Here are the five rituals I do before I preach:

1. Review relentlessly.

Before I preach my sermon I go over the sermon outline again and again. My goal is to be know the material so well that nobody notices me looking down at my notes. If I know it that well then, if my notes spontaneously combusted, I would still have a message from God I could deliver.

2. Adjust quickly.

There is nothing like a pending audience to give you adrenalin to second guess lame illustrations and weak points. I always carry a pen…

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Battle

Everyday a youth leader wakes up he/she enters into a battle. This age-old war is not with disconnected parents, apathetic teenagers or micro-managing pastoral leadership.

This is a battle that relentlessly rages for the souls of the next generation. It is not imaginary. It is real, intense, and all around us. With every teen suicide, school shooting or drug overdose, you can almost hear the enemy’s victory cry in the distance.

And this invisible nemesis is worse than we could ever imagine. In the beginning he was the most powerful, beautiful and intelligent creation that God ever made. He was so impressive in fact that he convinced a third of all of the angels of heaven that he was more mighty than God himself (Ezekiel 28:11-19.)

He was wrong.

Upon the Devil’s mutiny Jesus evicted him from heaven in disgrace. He and the thousands upon thousands of angels who rebelled with him were hurled down to the earthly realm. This big blue ball became his bloody new battlefield. Since his fall from heaven and Adam and Eve’s subsequent fall into sin, he has been tripping, trapping and tricking humanity.

And, like the worst of predators,…

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WeightsOver the last 25 years of full time ministry (as a church planter, youth guy and para-church director) I have seen all sorts of youth leaders. Some are like falling stars, a bright streak of light who are brilliant but short lived. Others are like sun rises, slow at first but brilliant with time.

The youth leaders with longevity and impact are not always the flashiest but most have at least 3 common disciplines they consistently exemplify:

1. The Discipline of Prayer

Youth leaders worth their salt know where the shaker is. They know it’s not found in the latest youth ministry idea books but in the very Throne room of God. These youth pastors lead from their knees so the decisions they make are sound, not silly.

The discipline of prayer these youth leaders live by is rooted in consistent immersion in Scripture and a passion to live out their faith authentically. Like Paul in Philippians 3:10-14 these leaders are not perfect (nor do they claim to be) but they are surging forward toward the goal of being who God called them to be, all the while finding their strength in Jesus to get them…

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Indispensable Youth LeadersIt has been said that “nobody is indispensable” and, to a degree, that is a true statement. But I can tell you that, as a former pastor and current leader of a youth ministry organization (with 20+ employees), there are certain staff losses that hit the church or ministry harder than others. Losing these kinds of employees leaves a bigger hole in the ministry because they have made themselves more and more indispensable through working harder, smarter and longer.

This brand of youth leader is the last to get cut when finances go south in a church. Indispensable staff members (no matter what their position) have worked hard in the good times so it makes them almost impossible to let go in the bad times. And firing? Forget it! Unless there is some moral issue, you find a way to keep these employees happy. Why? Because they are working hard and producing results!

After years of observation both the church and non-profit sector I’ve concluded there are 7 ways a youth leader (or anybody really) can become indispensable at their jobs.

1. Do your job with excellence.

This may be a “no brainer” but I…

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Youth Group

As I travel down the youth ministry highway I get the privilege of encountering a lot of excellent youth leaders along the way. As I speed along it’s hard not to notice the signs of youth leaders who are truly making a difference:

1. Yield

Youth leaders who are excellent are fully yielded to God in their own personal lives. For them their personal consecration to God is their top priority. They take the challenge of Paul in Romans 6:13 personally, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”

Sure these youth leaders are working hard to produce talks that are impacting, small groups that are effective and a youth ministry model that rocks. But their top priority is their own walk with God. These youth leaders know that they can only lead their students as deep as they are willing to go personally.

2. Detour

“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large…

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