Archives For Jennie Barber

True confession: science was never my favorite subject. My university science requirements were fulfilled with courses like “Human Nutrition” (I get to talk about food every day?) and “Geology” (how hard could looking at rocks be?). During 7th grade parent teacher conferences, my life science teacher reported I preferred talking to active participation in class (um, that was definitely the girl who sat next to me!). Studying theology as an undergraduate and pursuing a call to pastoral ministry allowed me to avoid all those labs and experiments my science-loving peers voluntarily signed up for…at least I thought so.

Crazy scientist. Young boy performing experiments

True confession: as a pastor in ministry, I do a lot of experimenting. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent, and continue to spend, a significant amount of time focused on youth ministry. My seminary professor Kenda Dean often asserted, “Youth ministry is the de facto research and development branch of American Christianity.” So, for me, experimenting comes with a territory. While I agree that youth ministry is a hub for inquiry and change in the church, I think those of us who serve as pastors in today’s church are, and will be, challenged to experiment more and more as we navigate a rapidly changing social, cultural, and religious environment. As I experiment in ministry, here’s what I’m learning. Continue Reading…

One mission trip to Honduras. One high school youth conference. One middle school youth conference. One mission trip to Sunset Gap, Tennessee. Add them all together and what do you get? My summer. (Do I hear “Amen” echoing across the reaches of the blogosphere?)

After packing and re-packing—sometimes with only a week in between—I realized how grateful I am for those items I’ve discovered that make the preparation for and experience of mission trips, conferences, and camps smoother. While I desperately wish I had Oprah-esque powers to give you all my favorite things, I can only point you in their direction.


Earplugs: While sleep is in short supply on most church trips, earplugs can drown out everything from middle school giggles to your co-leader’s supersonic snoring. Most are sold in large packs that will last through multiple trips. Some even have fancy carrying cases. Get them at your local pharmacy or my happy place, Target. Continue Reading…

Help! I Need Somebody(s)

Jennie Barber —  October 21, 2014

JBarberRaise your hand if seminary taught you how to parse Greek verbs. Raise your hand if seminary taught you how to craft and deliver sermons. Raise your hand if seminary taught you how to recruit volunteers.

It’s likely that many of us who have left the hallowed halls of our various alma maters raised our hands for the first two. I’m guessing those numbers decrease when it comes to the third. We did not receive preparation or training for something the majority of pastors do on a regular basis. Lacking skills and experience in recruiting volunteers can intimidate and overwhelm us. We know we need Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, event coordinators, etc., but we don’t know where or how to begin. We know we need more than a lonely sign-up sheet on a clipboard in the narthex. We want to connect people with a ministry that empowers them to use their gifts. Continue Reading…