"I feel leadership today is not being taught in the correct way because everyone wants to be a leader, everyone wants to be a pastor, but no one wants to ... do the biblical principle of serving," says DonGiovanni, who's worked in youth ministry for over 30 years in a variety of capacities and is ordained with Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.
Living kingdom principles
"We need great role models who will come not only from our pulpits but we need to raise leaders who will affect the lives of young people to live for kingdom principles."
"I want to do one here and one there," says DonGiovanni. "I want to see how successful they are. I want to do two and two, three and three and four and four. I want to build this."
Four workshops planned
The May 22-23 academy will teach four workshops, two of them taught by DonGiovanni: "In Ministry, How Do I Balance Servanthood and Leadership? How do I Teach on How to Serve and Raise Good Leaders;" and "The Call and Staying Focused." Jason Forsman, Michigan Youth Alive director will teach: "Increasing Your Influence on the Campus: Why the Church Has Lost Its Voice and How to Get It Back;" and Mike Yoder, lead digital marketing specialist for Spectrum Health System, will lead: "Social Media: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly."
Some youth pastors are of the mindset that young people will naturally file into the church. DonGiovanni says he was fortunate to learn from his first youth ministry job to adopt a different approach when he agreed to volunteer as a soccer coach at the behest of the pastor who hired him.
'Find a job'
"I remember my first church in Battle Creek, Michigan. My pastor said to me, 'You need to go find a job.' I said, 'Wait a minute: I came all the way from Pennsylvania to Battle Creek, Michigan and you're telling me to find a job?' He said, 'Get off the campus, the kids aren't here. Get a job across the street at that high school because that's your mission field.' And so I did. I volunteered as an assistant soccer coach, and that's all I needed. Our youth ministry just blew wide open because I effectively got into the school. I didn't preach. I just loved on kids."
Some youth ministers fall victim to burnout while others see their ministry as a stepping-stone to another calling. But if you've truly been called to serve in youth ministry, DonGiovanni's perspective is to "stay in your lane."
"The reason I focus on youth pastors who have been three years of ministry or less is because we're losing them," says DonGiovanni. " Why are guys who said they're called to youth ministry, are no longer doing youth ministry? There are a couple of things that factor into that. Either they get burned out or they realize maybe it was a stepping-stone to something else.
"I want to train, No. 1, servanthood leadership and No. 2, do you understand this call that God has on your life because if there's ever a time we've needed youth pastors, it's today."
IF YOU GO
WHAT: RandyDon Academy
WHO: Youth pastors who've served three years or under
WHEN: May 22-23
WHERE: Hyatt Place Grand Rapids – South, 2150 Metro Lane SW, Wyoming
More information: www.RandyDon.org