September 2, 2015

Ten Things Students Need from Adult Leaders

Recently I led a training event for our student ministry with adult volunteer leaders.  I had a good plan and was excited about the opportunity to pour time, energy, and student ministry principles into adults.  This was going to be a different training than I had ever done before.  I decided to load all the leaders onto a bus and go to several schools to pray over the schools.  While driving to those schools we would train leaders.  It was an awesome night where we went to three different schools.

Praying over Gadsden Elementary School and all of Crockett County Schools
While I was preparing for the event I had a question that I kept asking myself, "what would students say is their biggest need from adult leaders in the student ministry?"  So I asked a few of our students leaders what their biggest needs where from adult leaders.  I was amazed at their answers.  Below is what I found out.  I then added my own thoughts and insights to the list in italics.

10. Be prepared to teach me when its time to teach me. 
Show up prepared and ready to teach. Reading from the lesson guide word for word is not being prepared. Spend extra time owning the lesson before you arrive. We should also be there ten minutes before the first student arrives if at all possible.

9. Invest in my life outside of regular programs.
Walk with students through life outside of the hour you have programed at church. If you are going to build trust with students you will have to engage them in life outside of a timed hour event.

8. Have a real faith outside of church and tell me about it.
Share with students what you are studying and how you are growing closer to the Lord every day. It’s even ok to be vulnerable and let them know about your struggles in walking with God daily (reading struggles, doubts, dry valleys, not your sin habits.) Let them know what God is calling you to do and how he is leading your life. Teach students how to do the same.

7. Love me when I fail.
They are students; they will fail. Love them even though they fail. You are going to hurt for them and that pain is natural. Don’t give up on them. Don’t let them see your disgust in their failures and pray them through it.

6. Show me how to share my faith.
Don’t just teach students words and models about sharing their faith; take them out into the world and help them learn from you how to share their faith.

5. Worship God for real. 
Engage in worship at all times. Be an active worshipper, listener, note taker, etc. Students are watching you and they are looking to you to know how to worship. Authenticity is the key.

4. Care about me.
When you are early and prepared for the hour it shows you care. When you smile and are welcoming to students it shows you care. When you check up on students throughout the week it shows you care. When you actively listen to students it shows you care. Just care for students and do it well.

3. Listen to me.
Some of the only time anyone really listens to students is at church. Students need you to listen actively and attentively. Look for moments to listen. Small groups should be 90% listening and 10% talking as a leader; even with middle school kids.

2. Help me establish standards and hold me accountable to them.Students really do want to know what your standards are and why they should have standards in their own life. They are looking for you to help them establish those standards and for you to hold them accountable to them. This isn’t about social behavior; it is about your standards in life as you follow Christ to holiness.

1. Stop being my friend and be the leader I need you to be.
More than a friend, a student needs a leader who loves them, cares for them, listens to them, leads them, corrects them, teaches them, and so many other things. Be a leader not a friend.

February 29, 2012

Daily Devotional

I was recently asked by a former student to write a daily devotion he is putting together for his facebook friends. I jumped on the chance to help him share Christ's love to his buddies. Here is my entry. It was to be on worldly love, I took a round about approach to it. Here it is:

Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. John 6:10

I love this story of feeding the five thousand, found in John 6. There is so much going on here in this text. Can you imagine the size and magnitude of this event? It must have been huge. I bet it was a wonderful sight to see. I could camp out here and visit about this text for a few weeks. I really do like this event.

That is until you get in the middle of it and start to experience hands on what was happening here. Imagine 5,000 people in one place. I bet it was hot, grimy, sticky, and down right miserable. But then again, if you know me I have a hard time with mercy and compassion. I love a crowd don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love the people in a crowd. I bet it was loud and hot, sweaty and stinky, crowded and cramped. All things that make me want to run away from this story.

Thankfully Jesus and his disciples are different than me. (Thankfully Jesus makes me different too, Amen!) Look what happens in verse 6, Jesus says “have the people sit down.” Notice what it doesn’t say after his statement. It doesn’t say and the people sat down, or Jesus watched them from a distance, or Jesus and his disciples ate at a distance away. No it says, “and the men sat.” Jesus and his disciples clearly join them in this dinner. Despite my imperfections and my lack of mercy, I love this verse. It is probably my favorite part of this text. Jesus truly loved people and he still loves people!

This is where we must be willing to follow Jesus’ example. In our society of fast paced living, social media, and back stages and green rooms, do we ever truly get our hands dirty in God’s work? Do we love his people? Do we take time to sit and eat with his people, even if it is hard, dirty, sweaty, stinky, grimy, gross, etc.? We must remember 1 Peter 4:11 “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God, whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.”

Our world around us is dying, and they need you to be willing to sit and eat, to get your hands dirty! God is calling you to love! How will you do that today?

November 24, 2010

Full of Thanks

I am in a thankfulness mood, I guess I am in the spirit of it here goes!
My God, My Savior, My Lord, I can not make this life without you!
My Wife, "She is the wind beneath my wings"...ha ha to me she is more than that!
My family, so diverse and abundant. I am rich in Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters some of which I have never even lived in your homes! Some of you don't even have the same skin color, that's what I love about family! You mean the world to me!
My Friends, and your recipes to make my face hurt from the smiles and laughs!
The Churches, that have given me the road map to be used by God to reach his kingdom, and the students and leaders that you have allowed me to invest my life!
My Daughter, for puking and peeing on me yesterday, I could not have been happier!
My Mentors, thank you for showing me what it means to be Godly.
Steve Jobs for making my whole life a soundtrack!
Bill Gates for allowing me to leave this world momentarily through video games like Call of Duty and Halo!
Soldiers now and then, for going to distant lands to sweat, bleed, work, and endure for my freedom!

November 5, 2010

What Have You Been Seeing?

Yesterday I took my precious family of three(!!!) to Memphis to see family and friends. It was our first outing with Lyla Pate, and guess what...we forgot to take a camera or take any pictures with our camera phones. We didn't even notice until we were driving home for the evening, and we survived. OK, if you are on Facebook you can see one that I posted of the stroller in the mall.

It was awesome because we didn't have any distractions from living the moment and building memories (versus snapping moments). Susan and I often catch ourselves living life through a camera lens. I am not bashing the camera lens life, but we loose a lot of peripherals when that is all we look through.

I am reminded of the rich young ruler in Matthew 10. He had it all, but was unable to see the peripherals around him. He stood in front of the creator and was unable to recognize the potential of it all. I know you are not the rich young ruler, but like living life through a camera lens we miss peripheral things, what spiritual things are we missing in the peripherals of life? Have you looked for the creator outside of the camera lens?

October 26, 2010

Fall is here!

Well it has been a REALLY long time since a member of the Stanphill family has update this blog. So here we go I, Russell, have been inspired to begin writing more often, but a word of warning it may only last a week!

We recently went to a pumpkin patch with miss Lyla Pate. We got some great pictures and had some great memories. She is currently four weeks old and doing a great job at three things, messing her diaper, eating her mother's milk, and crying. She is so beautiful!

It's been a fast, but terribly forever four weeks; I have a fine longing for slumber and silence! She is beginning to hold her head up and smile a bit, but is still totally dependent on her mom and I for everything.

Her dependency on us, is a quick reminder of how I am so dependent on my Lord and Savior, Jesus. The unfortunate side of my life is that it is more of an interdependence rather than the much needed dependency. So I ask, how is your dependency on our Lord Jesus, are you living your independence, interdependence, or are you dependent on Jesus? I like the words of David in Psalm 63, "Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you!" Who are you glorifying today?


February 10, 2010

Week 8

Our sweet baby is now the size of a raspberry - about 1/2 inch long. Baby Stanphill's heart is formed and beats at 150 beats per minute! The baby is growing about a millimeter a day and making me tired and nauseous. Thank goodness for snow days - although I wish I had made better use of these days! We have begun clearing out areas and organizing to make room for the nursury. This whole thing is still pretty surreal. Next Thursday (2/18) we go to the doctor for my 1st checkup. We'll get to listen to the heartbeat, so we're nervous and excited.
This past weekend we had our 2nd Thrive weekend (like a D-now) since moving to Humboldt. It was great. Two students accepted Christ for the first time and many more are more ready to get serious about their faith. We really feel connected to the church and are so thankful!

January 31, 2010

We're Pregnant!

Yes, that's right: we are having our first baby (boy?/girl?) in late September. We're very excited and have already begun making our home ready to welcome a new baby. I am six weeks pregnant and the baby is the size of a sweet pea. So many changes are happening for our little baby - in fact, he's 10,000 times larger than he was 4 weeks ago!

Fortunately, we haven't grown quite that much. I am worried about looking like a beached whale this summer, but have been told multiple times not to worry...ok, ok!

In other news, I am enjoying (finally) teaching Spanish at the high school - the hormones are really helping me to be "mean". Russell is busy planning Thrive Student Weekend scheduled for February 4-7. There are diets to consider, organizing of closets, rearranging of furiture, classes to prepare for, lessons to plan, messages to write, a dog to walk, and so much more! We're busy to say the least, which is why we've so enjoyed these last few days. We've been snowed in since Friday and are hoping that school is closed on Monday, too!