What are you doing now?

This weekend I had the privilege of returning to speak at Saddleback Church (where I worked for 18+ years–been gone for 3.5 years) and the top 2 questions that I get asked by these loving people are:

1. “How are you?” Great! Marriage is wonderful. Our family is fun and healthy. Our oldest is working at Mariners Church in Irvine on the youth ministry staff. Our son is studying at Azusa Pacific University, and our “baby” graduates high school this week and will be attending Point Loma University in the fall. Cathy and I are looking forward to what might be during our next season of life as “empty-nesters.”

2. “What are you doing now?” This isn’t as simple as it once was when I was working full-time in the church. I’m doing several things that I really love. I’m not sure I’ve ever shared this complex part of my life.

1. I’m working with my dear friend Jim Burns at the HomeWord Center for Youth & Family. It’s a non-profit ministry that focuses on Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Healthy Leaders, & Empowered Kids. I love it! It’s right up my alley.

2. I’m an advisor for Youth Specialities—one of the largest providers of youth ministry training events in the world. I’ve been speaking for them for 25+ years and now this is a more official consulting-type role.

3. I’m helping some very good buddies begin a little youth ministry resource company called Downloadyouthministry.com. It’s a total blast!

4. I’m doing some teaching and helping start a Masters’ (MA) program at Azusa Pacific University.

5. I’m speaking around the country on marriage, parenting and youth ministry related topics and guest-preaching in churches.

6. I’m assisting my dear friend Jeff Maguire (who used to be in my youth group) as he takes on the new role as lead pastor at Mariners’ Church in Mission Viejo. I usually teach there once every 4-6 weeks.

7. I’m still writing. I just co-authored a workbook called, “Can I SMASH my kids phone? How to help your kids develop responsibility and make good choices…without losing your mind.” And, I have 3 more book contracts that I’m currently working on: (a) Be her hero: how not to suck as a husband, (b) MarriedPeople: helping churches help marriages, and (c) Essential Jesus: 100 snapshots from the life of Jesus [not final title]

8. But, by far, I’m trying to do the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life… I’m trying to follow the person and teachings of Jesus and walk with Him in His Kingdom.

I’m loving my life and my friends and following Jesus into the next adventure. I don’t love email, not being able to get back to everyone, and asparagus.

You can follow me on Twitter.com/dougfields or Facebook.com/dougfields

There it is!


How friendly is your ministry to parents? (part 2)

Okay, so last week I was a little ambitious thinking I was going to write a short series on family-friendly ideas. I was speaking in Seattle (Tuesday thru Friday) last week and I still had a mess to clean up after the FAM Conference. Anyway, I’m much more confident that I’ll have some ideas that will contribute to the on-going conversation about a youth ministry that is intentionally trying to be friendly to families.

To review the first three, click here.

Here’s 2 more:

If you’re going to have teenagers out on a school night, get them home early. To do this, you’ll have to end your program on time. I already know your resistance: “Yeah right… what if the Spirit is moving?”

That’s a fair question! I’m not sure there’s one right answer… but here’s a few thoughts: (1) Keeping parents waiting in the car can lead to all that Spirit leading to be “undone” by an angry parent. It’s not a big deal of you end late every once-in-a-while, but I’d make a conscious effort to not make it a regular habit. (2) I think Jesus can continue working in that student’s life once he/she leaves your program.

The big picture principle is that you don’t want parents sitting in the parking lot wasting their time (this applies to all events—not just weekly meetings), and most parents care deeply that their kid gets home for homework and a good night’s sleep.

It’s expensive to run a family! Being family-friendly means you are sensitive to how youth ministry costs will impact a family–especially families with multiple kids. I realize everything can’t be free and that car washes were created by the devil, but anything you can do to design events/activities that don’t require parents to take out loans will be a gift to the family.

If we want to help families’ win, we’ve got to continue to think of practical ways that clearly communicate “we care about you.”

Okay, here’s 5 practical ideas… how about one from you? How might you be more family-friendly? Share it here.

The Fantasy Youth Ministry Team

The last Sunday afternoon of every August I sit in my living room with 11 other guys. We’re intensely focused as we type away on our laptops while looking through stacks of papers covered in handwritten notes. A planning retreat? No. A curriculum development meeting? Nope. An anointed brainstorming session? No way. It’s my annual fantasy football draft.

It sure would be nice if we could pick our youth ministry teams like we pick our fantasy football teams: looking at statistics and match-ups and choosing based on need. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way but if there were such a thing as a “fantasy youth ministry team draft”… here are five categories I would consider:

Love the Gospel – I don’t care how hip or influential a person seems to be. If it isn’t obvious they love the story of redemption and are centering their lives on the goodness of Jesus, then I don’t want them on my team. I’m not talking about perfect people. I’m talking about people who are entirely aware of their imperfections and modeling a lifestyle of faith and repentance.

Love the Family – Youth ministry is not just about teenagers. Youth ministry is about partnering with and supporting the work of discipleship happening in the home. Youth workers that try to take the place of parents or try to make parents out to be the enemy would go undrafted by me. If parents are unsaved this may look different but it’s still a non-negotiable.

Love the Team – We’re better together. Sometimes talented individuals and natural leaders have a hard time believing that. I want people on my team who love that they’re a part of a team and are glad to have a role to play. I don’t need someone with a messiah complex or a lone ranger.

Love the Journey – We’re all in process and there’s never been a teenager who emerged from youth ministry a finished product. 15+ years after high school and I still have so much growing in grace to do. I would select youth workers who patiently trust in God’s progressive work of sanctification as opposed to trying to be the Holy Spirit in teenagers’ lives while forcing behavior change that is disconnected from heart transformation.

Love the Vision – This one starts with me as the leader. What’s the vision, why does it matter and how can you be involved? The vision should me memorable, engaging and regularly repeated. I would be using my draft picks on people who feel the tension of the problem that the vision exists to solve, buy into that vision and can share it with others in a compelling fashion.

We can’t draft our youth ministry team but we can intentionally recruit them and we must strategically develop them. Consider using these five categories as areas of development in your team and you just might be on your way to leading your very own fantasy youth ministry team.

Question: What would you add to this list? Share it here and let’s learn from one another.

Guest Post: David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the District Youth and Chi Alpha Director. Prior to that he served as a youth pastor for 11+ years at Trinity AG in Clay, NY. He’s married to Erin and has two daughters, Lilia and Caraline. He loves his girls, his extended family, good music, good food, his Weber grill, his Taylor guitar, Liverpool Football Club, the Yankees and the Gospel. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidHertweck.

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