You Are A Bad Volunteer… Defeating Lies with Truth about volunteering…

Being a volunteer in student ministry is not an easy job…Often new volunteers jump into student ministry not realizing what they have signed up for. I don’t think anybody realizes how intimidating the process of moving from a new volunteer to a veteran volunteer is or how rewarding it can be.

Student ministry volunteers will often face feelings of worthlessness & overwhelming ineffectiveness with their contribution in the lives of students. Often this is the hard part of the process, and overcoming ourselves(and these lies) is necessary for you to begin to write the story God has called us to. I want to encourage you by identifying some of the lies you might have told yourself. I hope in reading these that you realize your not the only one who has fallen prey to these lies. After acknowledging the lie I hope you hear the truth and a practical way to combat the lie with TRUTH in action…

Here are some of the lies I have seen in the approach to volunteering in student ministry…. People who believe these lies will never find fulfillment in student ministry… It is our choice to choose to believe the truth over the lie… Choose wisely, lives are literally hanging in the balance… No pressure though…

LIE #1: “I am here, students come to me”…

Just showing up is not good enough in the long run, if you want to make a real impact. Take a risk and say hello, ask a question, and most importantly listen to the answer… Standing around talking to adults will leave you feeling unaccomplished at the end of every youth gathering ever…

LIE #2: The youth pastor is more engaging with the students and building relationships comes easy to him, so I the volunteer get a free pass…

The Youth Pastor, no matter how great he “Engages and Builds relationships” with students, IS ONLY ONE GUY… He can’t build a meaningful relationship with every student… He needs you to buy into the reality that you are on the team to build Christ centered relationships with students. No free passes in student ministry, we are only strong when we work together in greeting and meeting and remembering His kids.

LIE #3: It’s my job to keep peace…

Yes, but, peace is better kept when your sitting with or standing with the students rather than the other side of the room… Don’t think you are more effective in the back of the room. No students should be in the back of the room, peace is easy when nobody is there… Walls don’t build relationships, leave them alone, be with the students….

LIE #4: I’m not the “cool volunteer”….

I HATE this lie because, God doesn’t make accidents, you are on the team because one student won’t connect with any other leader, BUT YOU…. Stop Hiding, start Finding the student God has prepared for YOU to impact with the HOPE of Christ…

Satan is the best liar this world has ever seen…. Believing these lies are part of his plan to keep you from being effective in serving Jesus in this most important ministry… Veteran youth leaders know these lies are present and rejects them every time they arise with action. Know your not alone because of Jesus you don’t have to hide behind these lies anymore. The lies are identified and called out… Now the real work begins!!!

What lies have you believed? What is the truth that helped you overcome?


Dump Trucks and Dirt: A conversation about student ministry


Have you ever looked at a dump truck and thought about its job. If you would, humor me for a moment. Inside most dump trucks is often dirt, not always but for the sake of our conversation, its dirt. Do you ever consider the humbling dirt to truck ratio. Again, please humor me. The standard dump truck can carry a load of dirt weighing in somewhere around 32 tons. Everywhere the dump truck travels it will pass, dirt, lots and lots of dirt. There is dirt everywhere. I had a thought the other day as it relates to this daydream. I thought to myself “I wonder if the dump truck often questions if it is really making an impact?” I think its a valid question when you take into consideration, the dirt to dump truck ratio and just how much the truck is outnumbered by the millions if not zillions, tons of dirt in our world.
This crazy day dream illustrates well how some often think about when it comes to Middle School Ministry in the church. We have a few leaders (The dump trucks) and many students (The Dirt). This thinking often leads some to bury their head in the literal dirt and hope the problem figures itself out. Still others see this opportunity as a challenge to make a difference even if for only a small pile of dirt.

Our church is blessed to be infiltrated with many quality dump trucks in our Middle School Ministry. These are trusted adults who Love Jesus and Love our students. Trusted adults who sacrifice their time every week to make an impact in the Kingdom of God. These adults are involved in: Sunday Mornings as Small Group Leaders. Tuesday Nites as Team Leaders, Competition Team Leaders and Hospitality Team leaders. Saturday Nites as Security Team, Dodgeball Organizers, Snack Shop servers and Front Door supervisors. We are very blessed.

Recently, a student was in a disagreement with another student, this disagreement was keeping them from attending DRIVE (Tuesday Nites, 7-9pm, Shameless plug). When confronted about this, I graciously offered that I would move him to a different team if it would bring him back. When given this opportunity the student responded: “Move the other people to a different team, my team leader is awesome.” This leader, this dump truck is doing more than moving dirt around, this leader is making a kingdom impact.
If I could brag about our leaders for a moment. Our leaders care deeply for our kids! They are always coming up with creative ways to help our students know that they are loved. Simple things like: just being present, laughing with them, setting up a volleyball nets to play together, listening to them with passion and conviction to the struggles facing their generation, baking cookies, sending messages of encouragement throughout the week, leading them to God’s word in times of doubt, learning their names, and most importantly building trust to earn the right to speak about the Hope of Jesus in their own lives. Our leaders are on the front lines to see the realities of sin in our world and our Powerful God at work in the lives of our students. Our leaders are committed to helping students take their next steps in following Jesus with a lifelong faith. Because of our dump trucks and their commitment to serving our students our ministry is successful. One thing I can say with complete confidence about our ministry team is that when students attend they leave knowing they are loved here.

Next time you see a dump truck remember that we might not be able to move all the dirt in the world. But that dump truck is not responsible to move all the dirt in the world. No that dump truck is responsible for the dirt it is currently carrying. That is why I love our leaders, because they are committed to Loving Jesus and the students He has placed in our ministry.

There is a lot of dirt in this world, not many realize, there are close to three thousand Middle School Students from: Hamburg, Frontier and Orchard Park combined. The dump trucks we have in our ministry are amazing, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But as Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but workers are few”. The reality is we could really use a few more people excited for a challenge, to join in the process of seeing God move students who are far from Him, into a relationship with the Hope of the World, Jesus Christ. If you are inspired to be a dump truck please email me: Pastor Tom I would love to speak with you about how you can join our team!

Disclaimer: In no way is the word dirt meant to be a derogatory statement about our teenagers.  This was just a creative metaphor.

DO ME! To GROW! The lies of to do lists…


Merge Now...


Being in the ministry and working in Church, I have often struggled giving people TO DO’s.

You know what I mean:
“You want to grow in your relationship with Christ?” DO THIS….
“You want to be a better Follower of Jesus?” DO THIS….
“You want to know how to Love more?” DO THIS…..
“You want serve better?” DO THIS….

I believe I struggle with that approach because its not really that easy… If it were then everyone would have a TO DO: List and our lives would radiate God’s Love and we wouldn’t see a lot of the brokeness and heart ache we see in the world, because we would have figured out the code. If we really want to have a growing relationship with Christ that will be lasting, what needs to happen?

I remember awhile back a pastor friend of mine told me that “We are most like Christ when we serve”… That is something I think about a lot… I believe the statement to be true…

I remember when I was in High School, I would get out of class and head strait to the church (actually there were times when a friend and I would literally race there, but dont tell my parents about that), I wanted to be PRESENT I wanted to be near the action of God because I knew my faith would grow there!
What did I do you might ask… Well, I talked and listened to the pastors, I would do some paperwork for them and just try to be present and wait for an opportunity to serve to arrive…

To some, that time of my life might be confusing, You might ask yourself. Didn’t Tom have any friends, wouldn’t he have wanted to go do something else?

Yes I had friends, but, I was doing something that gave me purpose… I wanted to do something that mattered, something eternal, even if it was as small as counting up receipts for the children’s pastor.

I didn’t have a to do list. I had a desire, a desire to do something for God and I was willing to be present and wait for opportunities to move… and because of that my faith did grow, I learned how to follow Jesus and I was taught how to love others… Because I made myself present and available for God.

So… If you want to grow in your relationship with God, Get around His people, Im not saying you just have to run to the church and hang out with pastors… But you need to be around people who are serving Jesus!

*Note: I do believe in TO DO Lists for productivity, but do not believe there is a to do list for growing closer to God. I don’t have a TO DO List for my relationships… I also acknowledge that I am still a work in progress and have not arrived but rather am Growing every day closer to Jesus Through His AMAZING GRACE (Not just my wife).