Thursday, December 12, 2013

Celebrating Christmas

We spend the whole month of December celebrating Christmas.  We do some serious and some fun.

Last Sunday night Ramon and I taught about the first Christmas.  Ramon took the lead sharing some of the prophecies and events leading up to Christ's birth.  I followed with Christ's birth and how it fulfilled prophecy and dispelled a few myths (that most of us picked up in church along the way) about Christmas.

One of the interesting thoughts that hit me as I studied last week was the fact that there was no place for home or room for Joseph and Mary.  One would think that since Bethlehem was Joseph's family's home that there would have been some relative close or distant that they could have stayed with.  Maybe the place was just slam packed.  Maybe, could it be, that there was no room because here they were an engaged couple and she was pregnant?  Maybe their family and the community looked down on them for the situation they found themselves in.

This Sunday we party, we celebrate Christ's birth.  We spend some time talking about the gift of Jesus Christ.  We then play a great game of sneaky Santa.  Then we eat some fabulous party food that the students bring.

The Sunday before Christmas many of our students go traveling to visit family.  We use this Sunday when numbers will be down to get way from the usual and we go bowling, our annual Christmas Bowl.  We have been doing this for years.  We usually have a great turn out and it's an awesome opportunity for our students to bring their unchurched friends and for our team to hang out with the students.  This year we are encouraging tacky Christmas sweater to be worn to the bowling event.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Another Student Knows Christ

Last night at Contagious Youth . . . .

Nate led worship in music along with the help of two of our students.  It's great to see students jumping in on serving.  We have students greeting the students when they arrive, setting out the food, taking care of Instagram account, taking care of the tech stuffs, making sure we keep our Compassion International child on the front of our minds.  Much of this ministry stuff has happened organically.

Ramon shared the message, the 4th in our current series about the future.  During the message Ramon clearly explained the gospel.  The opportunity was given for anyone who wanted to put their faith in Jesus Christ and we had a young man take that step!  Not only that but he was very excited and also expressed a desire to follow Jesus in baptism.  We gave him a new Bible and a copy of New.

I'm praying we see this happen more and more and that our students catch on to sharing their faith with their friends.  We taught last year on this but I feel a "refresher" message coming soon.

God is at work in Nags Head Church and last night's salvation decision is evidence.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where did that kid go?

Great article from YM 360.  We all know the pain we feel when a kid just stops coming to youth group.  Some good advice in this article from YM 360!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Last Night in The Loft

We were back in The Loft on our normal school year schedule last night.  The new "flow" seemed to work well.   The full band definitely increased the energy of our worship in music.  We started off with couple great Minute to Win It games, complete with prizes.  That helped break the ice and engage the students.  Music was fantastic.

I taught the first in our current series, "2020, The Future is Now".  Each student received a booklet to use throughout the series and we included 3 daily quiet times for each week in the booklet.  I'm copying more this week because we gave all of them out last night and you know some of those will be "lost" in the abyss called "bedroom floor".

The Taco Bar was a smashing success.  The food was great.  We used to create the food sign up sheet.  I included a link in the parent e-mail update last week and the parents stepped up to the plate and delivered the food.  Worked great! is free.

Created a bumper video using Keynote and iMovie.  It worked!

We had excellent attendance last night with several guests.  Our students are approaching our attendance goal.  I'm praying we hit it consistently over the rest of this series and then boost our goal a little higher.  Every number represents a student who needs to know Christ and grow in their faith walk with Him.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Youth Room Lighting on a Budget

1.  Buy a remote control electrical outlet thingy.  The one I purchased controls three different units.  

2.  Buy a 3 way splitter for each electrical outlet thingy.  Plug into the outlet thingy.

3.  Buy some small par cans.  Search the web for the best deal.  Most run in the $20 range.
Get some colored gels.

Make sure wherever you buy your par cans that you buy a safety cable for each one.  You don't want them falling from the ceiling and cracking someone on the head.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to The Loft

This Sunday night we kick off our new school year in The Loft.  We are changing things up (see previous post).  I'm looking forward to the change, the "experiment".  A few things I'm focusing in on as the youth pastor this school year.

1.  50!  I see no reason why our youth group doesn't have 50 students on a regular basis.  (I really think we could have 100)  So my prayer is that our students get passionate about sharing their faith with their friends.  I want them to invite them to youth group but more importantly I want them to share their faith, build relationships with their peers and seek out the opportunities to share their faith.
This goal will require at least 3 things of me:
                                                                       a.  teach on how to share your faith
                                                                       b.  grow our volunteer team.  (why expect God to send
                                                                            us more students to disciple if we aren't equipped and
                                                                        c.  A and B are the easy part.  I need to be a witness and
                                                                             I need to set the example

Why focus on a number?  That number represents 50 students who need to come to faith in Christ and be discipled.

2.  Student Leadership.  In the past I have attempted to create student leadership teams.  I created something that looked good on paper but administratively it was not a fit to who I am.  I think sometimes we get caught up in great ideas but we try to replicate what others are doing in ministry without consider the fact that God created each of us differently.  Sure we should work on our weaknesses but we should focus on our strengths.

This school year we are going to go for a more organic approach to student leadership.  Look for opportunities to draw students into ministry.  "Hey.  Can you help me and grab those 10 chairs and set them up in a circle over there?"  Those kind of moments and build from there.

In "big church" we serve each other.  Why is it that most youth ministries it is the adults serving the students?  We have been guilty of this.  It should be us equipping the students to serve other students.

3.  Think Tank.  I'm going to invite our students to join me and our middle school dude, Ramon, in a "Think Tank".  Sit down and talk with students and get their input on message series, directions to go, events, etc.  Invite the students in to help pull these things off.

Now it's time to pray!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Changing it Up

For years our flow of our weekly youth group gathering has been the same pretty much:
  • Icebreaker
  • Announcements
  • Lesson
  • PODz (small groups)
  • Hang Time
For over a year I have been feeling the need to change it up.  It's good to change things up and to break away from "how we usually" do things. 
Over the summer we meet at the beach on Sunday evenings for youth group.  This is a great change.  It gets us out of the building.  Puts us in a different setting. 

This summer we changed even how we do youth group at the beach.  After about an hour or so of swimming and hanging out we get the students together make any necessary announcements then they immediately break up into PODz.  No lesson/message/devotional.  We just go to the small groups.  Each students was given a Rootworks workbook at the beginning of the summer.  They do a chapter a week and then discuss that with their POD. (this has allowed me to work ahead in planning and preparation for the next series we do together)  The goal was also to instill in the students the habit of spending time studying God's Word.

In the fall when we return to The Loft we will be changing up the "look" or layout of our weekly youth group gathering.  We will still have an icebreaker to start things off but we are going to move into some worship time in music.  This isn't something we did every week before.  Last year we did msuic once every couple of months.  There will be a message mixed into the music time.  Changing up the layout each week trying to work the songs and message together hopefully incorporating some video in the mix.  We won't do PODz each week like we have done in the past.  We will follow our worship gathering with an hour of Hang Time.

The great thing about the PODz was the YM team had an opportunity to connect with students individually.  So our team will have to step it up and connect during Hang Time, check on their students and follow up with them. 

We will do this layout for about 5 weeks then on the 6th week have our gathering be totally POD time and students and leaders will discuss the previous 5 week series.  To help with this students will get a booklet at the beginning of each series with the fill in the blank outlines for the  whole series, 3 personal quiet time devotions for each week, a prayer journal and a place to list "5 friends I'm praying for".

The next week will be totally focused on outreach.  Hopefully our students will have been praying for 5 friends for 6 weeks and will invite/bring them on outreach night.  No music, simply present the gospel and an opportunity to respond.  Connect with the guests during the extended Hang Time and of course some sort of "big" food that night. (teens really like to eat)

Our Goals for this new school year will be:
Connect - YM leaders connecting with students and investing in their lives.  Students connecting with friends who need Jesus Christ.
Challenge - Challenge students (and leaders) to grow in their faith.  To create the habits necessary to move them to the next level in their faith walk and relationship with Jesus Christ.
Inspire - Inspire students to share their faith with their friends and to bring friends with them to youth group.
Equip - Equip students to serve each other by allowing them opportunities to serve during youth group each week.

I'm excited to see what God is going to do within our youth group!  I have been serving at NHC since 2001 the thought of these changes gives me the same excitement and feeling I had when I arrived at NHC years ago.  So maybe if you have been in the same church for a few years and you think it's time to move on perhaps you just need to change things up.  (I had no thoughts of moving on.  I was just thinking out loud)

What will you do differently in your youth ministry than you did last year?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baptism at the Beach

Last night our youth group gathered for our weekly youth group time.  During the summer we meet at the beach on Sunday evenings.   This gives us a break from the "routine" plus gets us out together in God's beautiful creation.  We love youth group at the beach.

Last night was fantastic.  We baptized three students!!  That's awesome!  Even more awesome is that 2 of the students were siblings who put their faith in Christ at camp.  Even more awesome we baptized their dad and he turned around and baptized mom and then both parents baptized their kids.  It was so great to get to witness this moment in this family.  We also baptized another young lady who was already a believer but had yet to follow Christ in baptism at her own choosing.

We had some parents bring food and turned it into a celebration.  Later I gathered the students together and was talked more about salvation and baptism.  It was a great night for our church.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The After Attack

I did some math while at camp last week.  I have taken kids to camp for 28 weeks of my life!  Great weeks, fun weeks, tiring weeks.

Last week I was given the honor to be the camp preacher at Camp Cale.  (Camp Cale staff brought their "A" game)  Camp Cale has made some great strides in the past several years.  Matt Thomas, the camp director, has a great vision for Camp Cale becoming a year round camp and conference center.  He shared the vision with me and I too see how Camp Cale has tremendous potential to be a top spot in eastern NC for church groups, couple retreats and youth events.

We had a great week at camp.  Several students put their faith in Jesus Christ, 4 from our own youth group (the first group to attend Cale as a "group").  Many students made things right with God, several were able to deal with some things from their past that they were holding on to, things that were keeping them from growing in their faith.

Always at camp I let the campers know on the last day that they are leaving camp.  When they leave the "bubble" of camp is where the rubber meets the road.  It seems that whenever a believer comes from a spiritual highpoint that the enemy is there waiting to knock them off their feet.

Same happens with us as youth ministers.  I came home from camp excited about the life change in students' lives and the great camp we experienced.  Wham!  I'm always tired after camp and it seems the older I get the longer it takes to get back to "normal".  This time I came back from camp and got a "bug".  It has wiped me out. 

We have to be aware, as youth ministers, that when we are walking with God the enemy looks for opportunity to attack.  He will attack when we are weak.  He will attack to attempt to move our focus from our spiritual victory.  It's not just the campers who have to be "on the ready" when returning from camp.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Contagious Youth On the Beach

Sunday night we had a great time together.  We had several guests, a couple of students who recently moved to the beach.  We picked up some pizzas and Mt. Dews and H2o's. 

Students spent about an hour hanging out, talking, playing in the ocean, building sand castles and body boarding.  Following hang time the students got into their PODz and discussed the week's lesson they did in their Rootworks book.  Each week there is a lesson from Philippians for the students to work through and answer questions.  We then get together and discuss the lesson and go through the verses and answers together.  It's great to see that many of them are actually taking the time during their summer to dig into the Word.  We are praying this creates a habit in their life.

Rootworks is put out by Simply Youth Ministry and is fully editable and you can make it your own.  I even attached a pdf version in a weekly parents update so they can follow along and even spark some discussion at home.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Today I was "Wowed"

I haven't blogged for a while.  I've been a tad bit busy writing messages for camp (8) and putting together a booklet for the campers complete with daily devotionals.

YouthMinistry360 has "Wowed" me today!  A couple of month's ago I ordered 10 books from them, "New", it is a great resource to give to both students who are new in their faith as well as for long time believers to use in their Hang Time with God.  I got an actual "thank you" card in the mail.  I never get mail! (except a few bills)

As I prepped for speaking at Camp Cale I thought this would be a great book to give to each camper.  In an e-mail to YM360 thanking them for thanking me I mentioned I was going to order 60 books for camp to give to each camper.  YM360 shoots back an e-mail with a discount coupon code for me to use!!

Next I put the word on FB that I was going to buy books for each camper and asked who wanted to help (getting creative when the budget is tight).  I had friends from as far away as Maui and the Big Island to as close as Virginia and around the corner donate money to buy the books.

The books were ordered  and in less than a week they sit here in my office waiting to go to camp.

Today, in the mail, I get a handwritten note from Lee at YM360 along with a Starbucks gift card!  In all my years of buying youth ministry resources I have never received a handwritten note of thanks and appreciation (much less a starbucks gift card).  I was "Wowed".

So here is my plug:  Youthministry360 has a desire to see students come to know Jesus Christ and for students to grow in their faith.  Check them out and see if there are some resources that would benefit your youth ministry.  I'm sold on YM360!  Not because of the Starbucks card but because I can tell by doing business with them that they are serious about impacting lives.

I'll also add that Lifebook sent us another 1500 free Lifebooks for our students to share.  I'll be giving one of those to each camper as well.

Side note:  I always receive great customer service from youthministry360, simply youth ministry, download youth ministry and Student Life Camps (when it comes to doing camp SL has it down).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Night in The Loft

Sometimes you have everything planned but you feel like you need to change it up.   So that's what we did.  We were going to teach about worship and have communion but we decided to push that back to another week. 

We went ahead and set out all the Hang Time junk food up front at the beginning.  Let the students load up their snack trays.  Then we had them all find a comfortable place to sit in the room and we showed Noah's Arc on the big screen and flat screens.

We have watched this film in the past but it has been a long time.  So we introduced it to a bunch of students.  Noah's Arc is all about a local pro surfer, Noah Snyder, and his friends coming to know Christ.  The students were glued to the movie. 

I wrapped it up at the end reminding students of the power of the "invite".  They have friends just waiting to be invited to church/youth group.  Noah had a friend invite him and he went.  Now who knows how many people have been impacted by Noah's testimony? 
I also reminded them, as we saw in the documentary film, that when we are following Christ other people will see the difference in our lives.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Last Night in The Loft

We had a great time in our youth group gathering last night in The Loft.  A couple more guests again tonight. 
We continued in our series, Ancient Alive, by taking a look at Queen Esther.  What an awesome story.  The students loved the irony in the story in what unfolded for Haman and the middle school boys really enjoyed the part where Haman was impaled.
So what does Esther have to do with us today?
God has a plan for your life
No matter your background or past
He will even use the bad for his good
He uses other people in your life
He has saved you for "such a time as this".  God wants to use you to reach your world.

We followed up the Bible study in our PODz and the students discussed the story of Esther and how they related to the story.

Hang Time consisted of:
4 large bags of chips
2 Gallons of Kool Aid
4 Liters of Soda  Pop
5 sleeves of Oreos
2 packages of Chips Ahoy
5 bags of popcorn
Guitar hero
Ping Pong
Sitting around talking.

It was a great night for the youth of Nags Head Church.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Please Pray for Tricia

My niece, Tricia, got the call this morning to report to the hospital.  She is waiting to see if it's a "go". This will be her second lung transplant.  Please pray for her, her family, the Doctors and transplant team and please lift up in prayer the donor's family.
My nephew's blog:

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Book of Ruth in 35 Minutes

Last Night in The Loft:

Students arrived and seemed to be excited to be gathering together.
We had several first time guests, which is always fantstic.  One of the young ladies who is on our "5 Friends I'm praying for Poster" brought two of her friends.  It's wonderful to see youth who are excited about learning from God's Word and a passion to reach their friends.

I taught through the entire book of Ruth in 35 minutes.  Focusing in on three aspects of Ruth's life that jump out at me:
Ruth's Love for Naomi
Ruth's Respect for Naomi
The redemption of Ruth by Boaz.

We looked at additional verses about love, respect and redemption.  The students then went to their PODz and talked about Ruth and prayed together.

Hang Time included some great tasting cupcakes a couple of our young ladies prepared for the group, a couple of bags of chips, bunch of cookies, some fruit and veggies and dip.  Along with the cupcakes our strawberry kiwi slushees made in the machine loaned to us by Sea Freeze were a smash!

Lots of games were played and I enjoyed sitting around and talking with the students and watching them build relationships with each other.  I think youth group last night was really good and I would give it an A.

Monday, April 15, 2013

God Made You. God is "Remaking" You.

Last night we had our second "Next Level" worship gathering.   
(Next Level is a night when we spend more time worshipping in song and in the Word than we normally do on "regular" youth group gathering nights and we don't do small group discussion on Next Level nights.)

Order of Worship
Song:  You do All things well by Tenth Avenue North
God Made You - Psalm 139:13-18 - Ramon Sanchez our Middle School Minister (volunteer)
Song:  You Do All Things Well by Chris Tomlin
God is "Remaking" You - Romans 12:1-3 - Andy Lawrenson
Song: Inside Outby Hillsong United
Video:  "Born to Lose" - David Ring, I am Second video (see video below)
Song:  Beautiful Things - by Gungor
Closing Prayer for Students in Attendance - prayed for students who need to start a relationship with God, prayed for students who are told by this world that "they are nothing" to realize they are God's masterpiece creation, prayed for Christian students who need to refocus on Christ and the "renewing of their mind".

Friday, March 22, 2013

The "with" factor of Discipleship

Our Savior

Matthew 8:23; 9:19; 15:23.  Mark 2:15; 3:7; 4:38; 6:1; 9:28; 10:32.  Luke 6:17; 7:11; 8:1; 9:18.  John 3:22; 6:3; 11:54; 18:1,2

When you read the above verses you see a common theme.

Often when we think about discipleship we think about teaching students to read the Bible, memorize scripture, serve with the gifts God’s given them, worship God personally and corporately.  Jesus is the one we strive to emulate and follow.  We are doing well to teach students the disciplines that help us follow Christ.  Where we fail sometimes is in following the example Jesus gave us in the verses listed above (this is not a comprehensive list).

Jesus spent time with his disciples.  During his few short years of ministry on earth Jesus lived with, walked with, ate with, traveled with, talked with and hung out with his disciples.

Our Youth Ministry

I will admit that I have the tendency to get wrapped up in the program, the administration, and miss out on opportunities to have the “with” factor with our students.  This year our team is putting a focus (one of our team goals) on investing in the lives of students.  This doesn’t necessarily mean creating more events for the youth group.  It does mean looking for opportunities as individual leaders to invest into the lives of the students in every day life.  Looking something like this: going to athletic events, extracurricular events, school plays, going out with a couple of students for a meal, inviting students to help paint the garage, etc.

“With” is just as important as the other spiritual disciplines we teach.  Out weekly youth group gathering is a 2 hour time slot.  Of that two hours our adult volunteers have about 85 minutes to put the “with” into practice.  Discussion and prayer together during our PODz (small group discussion time) and then during Hang Time, a great opportunity to sit and talk with students.

It’s also important that the students are “with” each other.  This year we will have more focused events and time for students to spend time together.  Fellowship with each other can be that “iron that sharpens iron”.  Students need opportunity to minister to and disciple each other.


God outlined his plan for us as parents in Deuteronomy 6:1-9.  Discipleship, teaching your teen about following Christ, teaching him/her God’s Word is our responsibility as parents.  In those verses we see that discipleship should be the fabric of our home.  This would mean the “with” factor of discipleship needs to happen naturally in your relationship with your son or daughter.  Create space  in your calendar and schedules to allow for conversation also mix it into normal everyday life.  How much time have you spent with your teen this week?  (staring mindlessly at the TV doesn’t count)  Put the phones away, the laptops away, eat a meal together and talk about what God is doing in your lives and pray together and for each other.  If you did this regularly you just might see some transformation happening in your home.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Last Night in The Loft

We dove into our second lesson in our Ancient Alive series.  The goal of the series is for students to learn from some of the Old Testament "greats" and apply what they learn in their own lives.  Gideon was up to bat last night.  We walked through Judges 6,7.  In talking with many of the students they had never heard of Gideon.  We talked about how Israel would go through a cycle of turning their backs on God and then God would allow an invading force to oppress them, they would then cry out for help from God and He would send a judge to deliver them.  A cycle that we as believers often go through today.  We turn our backs on God and then when we hit rock bottom we cry out for help from God.

The main point:  We often view ourselves different than God views us.


  • Hiding - he wasn't threshing the wheat out in the open on the threshing floor he was threshing in hiding in the wine press.
  • Angel calls Gideon "Mighty Warrior" - yet he is hiding.  How mighty is that?
  • Gideon questions God, "If you are with us . . . . . ?"
  • Gideon's view of self - "I am the weakest and lowest person in the lowest and weakest clan"  Basically - I'm the last person you should be turning to as a leader
  • God's assurance - "I'll be with you"
  • Gideon does what God asks of him but he does it at night so no one will see who did it
  • The test of the fleece . . . 2 times
  • The tiny army against the huge army.
  • The crazy battle plan (that worked really well)

  1. Are you in hiding?  What do you fear?  What tears down your confidence or keeps you from what doing what you know God wants you to do?

    Psalm 139:23,24
  2. God sees you as He created you and wants to use you.  He knows your potential.
    Psalm 139:14
  3. How do you view yourself?
    • Your value isn't found in what others think about you
    • Your value is found in who God has made you to be
    • God has gifted you and has plans for you to serve Him

    Students gathered in their PODz and discussed how God views them and looked at the Psalm scriptures above and discussed those verses together.

    Following our Bible study we had Hang Time.  The ping pong table and foosball table were a hot item.   We ate 6 bags of chips, fritos and pretzels, one jar of dip, two packages of Chips Ahoy, 4 sleeves of Oreos, 2 bags of popcorn, 2 gallons of punch.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Last Sunday at Youth Group

Every month or so we will be doing something special and different together as a youth group.  The purpose is three-fold:
1.  To break routine (getting in a rut is not good)
2.  Provide opportunity for our students to bring friends who might not normally be willing to a attend youth group worship gathering.
3.  Fellowship - an opportunity for students and leaders to build friendships.

Plus doing something like this during our usual meeting time simplifies life for families because it doesn't require another night out from home for already over schedules, slam packed calendar families.

Last Sunday night we met at the Bowling Center rather than in The Loft.  We accomplished all three of the above purposes.  We definitely broke from routine.  We had at least 5 students there who had never had been to youth group with us before.  We had an adult leader on just about every lane with a group of students.  From what I hear from both students and leaders the night was a great success!!  Everyone had a great time.  We are praying that some of our guests will join us this coming Sunday night for youth group in The Loft to learn about how God views them (studying Gideon).

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

My blog made #30 out of the top 40 youth ministry blogs according to I don't know what that means but "thanks!&quo...