Seriously… it is possible because I could have succeeded at both! I graduated college in 1987 with a degree in youth ministry. I married the woman of my dreams on August 29 and started my first youth ministry on September 13, 1987. Of course like most first time youth guys, I had a few other responsibilities beyond just being a youth pastor. I taught about five hours per day in our Christian school. I decided that I wanted to be a good husband and I wanted to be a great youth pastor.
One of my first goals was to visit in the home of every teenager on the Sunday school roster. We had around thirty teens attending and around seventy on the roster. I began to set appointments for every night of the week (except Wednesday) to get into these homes.
I was on the fast track to becoming a great youth pastor! Our attendance started growing. My wife and I spent the first six months of our marriage out almost every night of the week visiting teens. By the time we hit the first anniversary, our youth group had grown from around 30 to almost 60 on a good night in youth meeting. Ah yes, the joy of success in the ministry! I could easily see 100 teenagers in our youth meeting within the next six to twelve months!
But wait, something was wrong. You see, Jennifer and I were struggling. We were tired, we were sometimes even kind of empty. That sinking feeling you get when you know something is not quite right was becoming all too common. I began to do some serious soul-searching. The real question at hand was, “What is a successful youth ministry?” I began to realize that we could be big. Isn’t it possible to be big but not godly? Our youth group could be strong in outreach but weak in unity. Our youth group could be strong in unity but very weak in outreach. We could have high standards but also be very judgmental and critical. I had to come up with an answer to this dilemma. How can I justify my methods as being pleasing to God?
Here’s how I did it… I chose to embrace these truths.
God wants me to be a good Christian more than He wants me to be a good youth pastor. Are you more concerned with gaining respect and recognition for your ministry accomplishments or are you mostly concerned with cultivating a relationship with God? I realized God wanted my heart first. This was very freeing for me.
God wants me to be a good husband and father more than He wants me to be a good youth pastor. The Bible says of Jesus that in Him was found no guile. This means that in Christ was found no hypocrisy, no inconsistency, or nothing fake. If the whole world thinks I am the greatest Christian leader but my wife and children do not, then the applause of the world means nothing to me. If my wife and children think I am the greatest Christian leader but the world does not agree it really does not matter because the opinions that count most are from those who know me best and those I love the most.
God wants me to evangelize and disciple and He wants me to make it my way of life. God does not want me to attempt to reach my entire city in twelve months or less! He wants me to reach my city, period. He has given me the ability to do all He wants me to do in a 24 hour period and He wants me to do it gracefully. He does not intend for me to live life at the speed of light but to know that His call for me is to be fulfilled over a lifetime, not just within the next few months.
God wants me to be a principled leader. If I develop principles to guide me in leadership decisions then I will be a consistent man and God will not have to be ashamed of me for having huge blind spots in my life and ministry.
So remember that you have a life and a ministry. Speaking of having a life… why don’t you stay home tonight and enjoy your wife without feeling guilty about it. Better yet, she might want to go out on a date! It wouldn’t be a waste of your time. Besides, it’s what God really wants!
According to Fatherhood.org, one out of every three children in the US live in “biological father-absent” homes.
Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.
71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.
85-90% of youth in juvenile detention are fatherless.
According to 72.2% of the US population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. (National Center for Fathering poll)
Here is what we are doing in a small way to make an impact. Our High Impact Teen youth outreach ministry visits teens in juvenile detention centers across Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. We spend time with youth who are disconnected from their fathers.
We visit them, we do Bible studies with them and we pray with them.
During this “Father’s Day Week” we are providing a special Father’s Day card for several hundred of these youth to send to their dad. For those who have lost all connection to their dad, they will be sending the card to a “father figure” who has deeply impacted their life such as a grandfather, teacher, pastor, coach, mentor, etc…
We are asking our friends to join us this “father’s day week” in the DAD Project. Here’s how you can help:
1. Take a moment each day from now through Sunday to pray for the fatherless among us. Pray especially for those who are sending theses cards and pray for the men who receive the to be moved to re-engage with their teen.
2. Share this page via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN or any other social media platform asking your friends to commit to pray once per day through this Sunday for the fatherless. Share the photo of the DAD Project.
3. Prayerfully ask God how you might connect with a fatherless young person. James 1:27 charges believers to engage with the fatherless. Here are the specific words of Jesus, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
4. Consider a donation to help with this project. The ministry of High Impact Teens is a ministry to the fatherless. We are supported by individuals and churches who believe that a deep investment in the fatherless among us is a priority that Jesus called us to do.
The DAD Project: James 1:27
Give any amount.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – DAY ONE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for Dads who have a strained relationship with a son or daughter. Pray for God to heal and restore.
Thursday, June 18, 2015 – DAY TWO OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for several hundred youth today that will be mailing a father’s day card from the juvenile detention facilities in Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia. High Impact Teens provided the cards and in some cases the postage. Teens who don’t have a father will be sending their card to a grandfather, uncle, mentor, pastor, teacher, etc… Pray that God will use this connection to forge stronger bonds between youth and their father or father/figure.
Friday, June 19, 2015 – DAY THREE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for children and adults who have been hurt by their dads. Pray for them to turn to God for healing from pain, bitterness and discouragement. Pray for them to begin to understand who God is as a Heavenly Father and understand His love for His children. He is a Father to the fatherless.
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – DAY FOUR OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for men who are struggling to lead and protect their family. Pray for them to find courage and become courageous men of God who will stand in the gap for the spiritual, physical and emotional care of their families. Pray for God to connect them to Himself and one other man to be accountable to.
Sunday, June 21, 2015 – DAY FIVE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray to God today, thanking Him for being a loving heavenly father. Ask Him to work miracles today in the hearts of dads and children to reconnect and start a new foundation of love and trust. Be sure to thank Him today for your own family. Also, ask Him how you might invest in a fatherless child moving forward.
A few years ago I received a call from Missionary Fred Kearney. He explained how he had walked in to his office and found a book on his desk in his office in Ghana, West Africa. To this day he has no idea how it got there. It was a High Impact Teen Spiritual Journal for youth. My phone number was printed on the book so he called me. He said, “We really need something like this.
Our youth have very few resources to help them understand the Word and grow.” He told me about a youth conference he was holding and we put together a plan to get 75 HIT Journals to their youth. Many of my ministry friends donated to help raise funds to get the books to these youth from surrounding villages. Fred told me weeks later how God had used the HIT Journal to revive the hearts of many of their youth. They really grew through the structure and discipline of keeping a spiritual journal.
NOW THEY NEED MORE
Fred Kearney has been in Africa for many years and is now in need of 200 HIT Journals for his upcoming youth conference called “Because of the Hour.” The youth will learn to have a consistent devotional life, keep a spiritual journal, keep an organized prayer journal, keep sermon notes and develop in seven areas of discipleship.
For every $12 given a HIT Journal will be provided to the youth in Ghana, West Africa. We need sponsors and donors. Could you give today to help with this special project? I have submitted the files to the printer and am trusting the Lord to provide so we can make this investment in the youth of Ghana, West Africa.
We need a total of $2400 to fund HIT Journals for 200 youth in Africa. The youth conference begins July
30 so we need to raise the funds in the next few days. I hope you will prayerfully consider a gift.
*Note: Any funds raised over the amount needed will provide HIT Journals to fatherless youth we are reaching in the outreach to juvenile detention centers.
Our son Brett graduated from high school on Friday evening, May 16 and we had a few friends and family over following graduation. We made it to bed around 1:30 am and got up at 4:30 am to make the drive to Atlanta where we would catch a plane to fly to Lima, Peru for a mission trip. We made it to Lima around 10:00 pm local time and joined our group of about a dozen men. We hit the ground running Sunday morning with the group splitting up into teams and covering 8 church services by days end. I had the chance to speak in the Sunday morning service and teach the youth in Sunday school and preach again on Sunday night in another church. Brett was able to share a testimony several times in services throughout our trip. We felt an immediate connection with the Christians in Peru.
After the Sunday morning service several ladies made lunch for us. I’m not exactly sure about all thefood on our plate but it was tasty and no one got sick! A 14-year old girl was in the Sunday school class I taught and shared with me how she recently was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. She has undergone all her treatments and currently is in great health according to her doctors. The people of Peru, much like many parts of the world, take seriously God’s power to heal. I have to be honest and admit I haven’t thought much about that for a long time. I’ve had challenges in my life but my health has always been good. Maybe that’s why I haven’t thought much about so many people in the world that don’t have access to doctors and the only hope they have is to call upon God to heal them in times of illness, injury or disease. She certainly was thankful for her doctors but the greatest part of her gratitude was to the Lord for healing her body. That was sobering to me. How often do we forget to thank God or acknowledge Him for taking care of us physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
While eating lunch a couple ladies told us about several visitors who had been with their church family for a month and just returned back home a few days before we arrived. These special guests were from a primitive tribe in the jungles of Peru. They had come to the city of Lima and stayed at this church for the purpose of learning Spanish so they could read the Spanish Bible and translate it into their native tongue in their village back home. They talked about how determined these men were to learn all they could in 30 days and get back to their village with a system in place to communicate the word of God to their own people. Most of the people in their village don’t read so they would have to teach them to read first, so they can accomplish the ultimate goal of getting the Word of God into their lives. They described the pages and pages of papers these men wrote and before they left to return home they piled all their papers on a the very table we were eating lunch on that day and dressed in their native apparel and had a ceremony to give thanks to God for what he had allowed them to accomplish toward translating the Word. The color for Peru is red so they painted their faces red for the ceremony and before they left they hugged everyone. The ladies talked about all the children who had smudges of red on their cheeks from hugging these men. Then one lady made this profound statement, “When we saw the red paint that was smeared on the cheeks of our children, we realized these men had left a part of themselves with us… they left their mark.” A lot of the children were wiping the cheeks of other children trying to get more red paint to put on their faces and arms. What would it look like for us, here in America, to have such an impact for Christ on our youth that they wanted to smear our testimony all over themselves. What a powerful picture.
One morning our mission team met with a group of local pastors as they shared with us about their current ministries. They shared how they had been led to start the specific ministry they are in right now and how they were going about reaching people. One pastor was in a community infiltrated by terrorists. He told about the terrorist storming in to his church and running to him while he was in the pulpit and threatening with guns to kill him. He stood courageously and told them he had nothing to fear because he was a child of God and if he died he would be with God in heaven. He went on to tell them they were seeking to control the city by inflicting fear on others but in reality they should be the ones who were afraid because without God they were on a path of destruction with no hope. The terrorist are now born again Christians and come to stand guard outside his church to protect them while they worship the Lord. This pastor’s faith was incredible and to hear of his unwavering commitment to take the gospel to dangerous places was a huge inspiration to me.
The day we visited the school of orphan children in the mountains of Peru was a highlight of our trip. I grabbed some boxes of supplies and headed up some stairs to an upper floor of the building. I lost track of a couple guys I was following so when I hit the landing I was caught off guard to see a swarm of kids around 5 years old running like a mob to ambush me. They were laughing, screaming and hugging me around the knees until I just about fell to the ground. They knew some “Americans” were coming to visit and they were people that cared for them so they were ready to show how much they were excited to see us. It was an incredible experience I will never forget. We split into teams at the orphan school and three of us were asked to be in a prayer/counseling room. Children were told that they could come talk to us for prayer and counseling. I sat and listened to stories of small children whose parents have died, who’ve been abandoned and abused. We prayed over children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse and even a boy whose cat died. Several children prayed to receive Christ and by the time we left it was as if we had stood on holy ground.
All the men on our mission team invested deeply in ministry to the Peruvians through sharing testimonies, preaching, teaching and giving of themselves through friendship that comes from a realization that Christ lives in us and we are used of Him by investing in others.
Pray For The Following Youth Outreach Ministry Projects:
Mountain View Youth Development Center, Knoxville, TN – We are now in this facility regularly with a ministry to 100+ youth.
Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, Indianapolis, IN – We are in the process of launching a new outreach team in this facility with up to 100 youth.
Spring Brook, Traveler’s Rest, SC – We have been invited to place a ministry team in this facility to do regular youth worship services.
Gainesville Youth Development Center, Atlanta, GA – We have meetings with the staff of this facility on Friday, June 6 to launch a youth outreach program.
Midtown Educational Center, Harriman, TN – We are in this facility regularly doing a mentoring program with as many as 24 students per visit. Pray for these students on summer break.
Teen Haven Youth Center, York, PA – We have been invited to take the Teen Haven Youth Center in as a part of our ministry and serve as the parent organization for them. Pray for wisdom as we explore this opportunity. Pray for Alex Mikusow who has led this ministry for 20 years faithfully and would be a member of our ministry team as he continues to serve these youth for years to come.
The Franklin Table, Franklin, TN – Pray for this vital ministry to the poor in the community of Franklin, TN led by Scott Roley. The Franklin Table operates under our “ministry umbrella” and is doing a great work.
Not in the Dayton, TN area but interested in our study? Sign up to receive the weekly study materials… we will gladly email them to you each week. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the weekly lesson material.
High Impact Teens and the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana have partnered together once again for the annual Man Up Conference. Our ministry team of volunteers will spend the entire day on Saturday, February 23, 2013, teaching principles of manhood to incarcerated youth. 85-90% of detained teenagers are “fatherless” and lack the daily support of a loving and engaged dad.
The Man Up Conference was provided by donations from friends who chose to sponsor the event.
If you would like to join our ministry support team and invest in the high-risk youth we serve, we would love to hear from you.
Consider becoming a part of the High Impact Team and support the ministry monthly or by making a quarterly or annual gift.
2 WAYS TO GIVE:
Mail your gift to: Ken Turner Ministries, Inc., PO Box 1325, Dayton, TN 37321
After twenty-one years in church youth ministry I established an outreach ministry in 2008 with a key focus on reaching troubled youth in the community of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our ministry moved to Tennessee in July 2010 and I continue to minister to high-risk and fatherless youth.