What it Takes to Grow Something New

Sometimes what it takes to grow something new is stepping back from what you are doing, but that is scary. We usually like what we’re doing, and that is why stepping away from it or giving it to someone else is difficult. That’s not always bad. If we don’t like it, we wouldn’t be doing it.

However, there are certain major changes in life that require leaving one thing and starting something else. Marriage is like that. When you get married, you leave certain things behind, and that is because you believe in what is ahead. Every beginning starts with an end. But the decision to end certain things is a difficult one.

Our family and ministry is in the process of growing into something new. We’re stepping back from the ministry in Mexico, leaving it in the hands of very capable leaders, and are looking forward to growing Youth Ministry International in the future.

Michael Hyatt is a strong believer in doing what only you can do (see this post), and I tend to agree. When there are other leaders that can do what you are doing, you do a disservice to them and the ministry by holding on too long.

Growth hurts, but it is necessary. It includes loss, but there is way too much to gain to hold on and stop growing.

Practical Youth Ministry

My favorite assignments that I give to my students are the ones where they have to go out and have real life interaction with young people. I feel that these experiences give them more learning opportunities than when they just create something on paper.

One of my all-time favorite assignment of all of the curriculum that we teach as Youth Ministry International is the one where the students break into small groups and have to study a sub-culture. They are basically doing ethnographic research to identify the culture to use it the culture, to reach the culture.

This past bimester I was teaching Youth Culture, and my students have had to go out and do cultural research. One of the groups was studying skaters in Mexico City (one of my all time favorite sub-cultures that brings me back to my days as youth pastor at North Dunedin Baptist Church).

As they were doing their research, my students met a skateboarding young man from Honduras. They asked him, “What could the church do for you?” He responded, “Give me food to eat and help me get off of drugs.”

This is youth ministry. There are thousands of young people just like this guy who need someone to come alongside him and help him practically and spiritually.

The other day in class, they were talking about bringing him a blanket and helping him more. I pray that this is one Seminary assignment that they continue following through with.

Tuxtla, Gutierrez

Last weekend I took a trip to Tuxtla, Gutierrez, in Chiapas. Chiapas is one of the most beautiful states in Mexico. The dean of the Seminary told me that Tuxtla reminds him of Guatemala. It is a beautiful state, with incredible views and a great zoo (that I visited on Friday morning).

The people are awesome, too.

I went to Tuxtla to teach a class at a place called, “School of Urban Missions,” or Emisur. My host was my friend Amilcar and his wife. They direct the school and have done a great job of launching young people to serve in missions.


The topic they gave me was Teamwork, so I broke out some great team building activities and taught about 5 qualities of good teams. It was a great weekend, and I enjoyed being there.

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We started cleaning out some of our closets, and Shiloh and Benjamin found some painting supplies. Since we didn’t have any painting paper, Janell had the brilliant idea to cut up some cereal boxes (we have plenty of those) so they could do some painting this weekend.

Here’s a little video.

What did you do this weekend?

An Interview with Some of Our Master’s Students

In January 2014, Youth Ministry International started an initiative to train professors for youth ministry in Mexico. The Master’s in Youth Ministry has 10 students. After one year of classes, we asked three of them to talk about how the program has helped their youth ministry at their local church.

What really makes me most excited about this video is seeing how they have come together as a team to really minister to the young people of their church and not just plan activities for them.

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Beginning of the 10th Year of Youth Ministry Training

The Center for Youth Ministry at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary just started its 10th year of training youth workers. That’s right. Last week, Janell and I celebrated our 11th year of living in Mexico, and Randy Smith, the President of Youth Ministry International, was here to help us begin the new year at the Seminary.

Randy came to speak at the convocation service at the Seminary and stayed to co-teach a youth ministry class at the Seminary. It was a good class, and we are excited about what this year holds for us as a family and for the youth ministry program here in Mexico. We have three new students studying youth ministry at the Seminary, and they are really good guys. I’ll post a picture of them soon. The three new students matches the size of our largest group of new students. That may not sound like a lot, but in a culture where youth ministry is not common, it is a great new group. They also make up 25% of the incoming freshmen, so the number is good.

It’s hard to believe that this is the 10th year of classes at this institution. That means I have been teaching youth ministry for a decade. We have seen some advances, and I believe that youth ministry is growing faster than ever in Latin America.

Maybe sometime this year we will be able to officially celebrate the 10 years of training we have been doing, inviting all of the alumni back to celebrate with us would be fun.

YMI Biennial Summit in Athens, Greece

Last week, the 2014 Youth Ministry International Summit took place at the Greek Bible Institute in Athens, Greece. Every two years we invite all of our trainers from around the world and their families to a meeting for encouragement, strategy, and prayer. It has always been a powerful time, and this year was no different.

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