Not The Same Done It Before Youth Leader

Author Tim Ferguson

by

Charles White

 

 

 

 

Struggle. It is something that we face every day. How do I get from Point A to Point B. Will my endeavor be a success or will I face failure?  This is also true in ministry. For author Tim Ferguson, this was a question with which he grappled, as he struggled with his calling both as an author and as a youth leader.

 

Tim was born in a small town in New York. He grew up in a Christian home and attended an all male Christian prep school. In high school, Ferguson got a taste of leading youth when he was elected president of his small church youth group for his last two years of high school. In this role, he often led the group and adult leaders looked to him for ideas.

 

This experience stuck with him and when he returned from college, he began working with, and subsequently led, a coffee house ministry that was formed by two local congregations. As Ferguson explains it, the Christian coffee houses formed in the early 1970’s were not that different from ones you might see near college campuses today. “At the beginning we simply wanted to create a place where musicians could play that was safe to attend and where there would be no alcohol served,” he explained.  “It did not take long for the program to be expanded to include improvisation and discussion evenings.”

 

While he didn’t know it at the time, many of the improvisational exercises and other activities would eventually form the basis for his newest book, Not The Same Old Done-It-Before Youth Meeting. “Within a year I tried our first of several weeklong Olympics, which is described in my book and which was a tremendous success. It became an annual event thereafter.  Another event that is described in the book that originated  in the early 1970’s is “Flashlight Sing”.

 

However, Tim realized that ministry to youth was much more than just gathering together. It must also entail getting outside the four walls of the Church and engaging in mission and outreach. He realized how much youth wanted to be involved.

“Our young people are very responsive to activities that call for service,” Ferguson shared.  “They want to put their faith into action whether it be working at an outdoor food pantry on the lower east side of New York City, in the impoverished villages of El Salvador, or raising money for World Vision through the Thirty Hour Famine.  All of these activities demand sustained work. They are not social get–togethers with a mission theme.”

In fact, Tim Ferguson’s passion for mission let him to travel to El Salvador on numerous occasions both to serve and to share.

 

“Over the past four years I have been to El Salvador on three occasions,” Ferguson explained.  “The trips had many tasks to be accomplished. Mine was to “teach English” to some students in the most impoverished areas of the country as they try to gain the education needed to raise them up from the never-ending cycle of poverty so prevalent in these areas. When asked to take on this challenge, I advised that I could not simply teach English and still consider my involvement to be Mission. Mission means sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ both in word and in deed.”

 

With this in mind, Tim and his team used biblical stories that had been translated into Spanish as the basis for teaching English to the local population and even utilized songs to teach English to youth. Not only did Tim walk away with a sense of accomplishment, but with some important lessons.

 

So what did the trip teach me? – That these young people, so courteous and willing to learn, really want to make the most of their lives. They live in communities that do not have running water. Kitchens are outdoors and food is prepared over open, wood burning fireplaces.  Transportation is by bicycle or on foot.  Some of the homes have walls made of unevenly placed wood logs tied together by vines. Yet these young people, dressed in their best clothing, came each day to learn English and about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What a blessing they were to me!”

 

With all of these experiences under his belt, he felt a calling to share his wisdom and experience with other youth leaders. The result was his book, Not The Same Old Done-It-Before Youth Meeting.  

 

“I wrote the book with one goal in mind: to give Christian youth leaders the reference material I searched for and was unable to find when I began my youth ministry years ago,” Ferguson stated.  “The book is not meant to tell anyone how to run his or her youth program. That is impossible to do without knowing the young people in the group and the church, which sponsors the group. What I can do is give people the tools to use to develop their program and an easy way to find the right activity to use at any given youth meeting.”

 

The response to this project has been overwhelming. This text has served as a reference tool for many youth leaders and ministers who have shared their experiences with Ferguson.  Despite the success of the book, what brings Tim the greatest joy is not the accolades or the reports of how many units were sold. Instead it is something more basic and pure. It is time with family, work with youth and the quiet time amidst the grandeur and splendor of God’s creation that truly brings this talented author and veteran youth leader the greatest joy.

 

So what advice would Tim offer to youth? Have a continual conversation with God! “Develop your listening skills so you can understand the needs of others and so that you can hear the whispers of God.  One way to do this: pray every day.”

Tim Ferguson is a talented author, veteran youth leader and a dedicated caseworker who has lived his life with ears wide-open listening to the still, small voice of God.  If we could only listen, I’m sure we would be amazed at what God has to say and the direction He has for our lives.

For more information on Tim's amazing ministry, please visit his site:

Not The Same Old Done-It-Before Christian Youth Group Meeting