Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Christmas! Slow Down!!

The Christmas season can easily get too busy.  How do we take time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ when our calendar is packed tight with events and outings?

Some church's calendar of events for December are about to burst due to overload.  (If you don’t have margin in your calendar you are headed to a  crash and burn)

When thinking about December and calendar scheduling think about:
  • Family Time - how does adding more events to the calendar have on impact family time?
  • Your Own Family - in many church settings the YP is expected to be at every church function, even the ones that have nothing to do with youth ministry.  How will this have an impact your own family time?  Do you have boundaries? 
  • Christmas Parties - most parents work and many of them will have company Christmas get togethers during December.  When we add more to the calendar we make them even busier. 
  • Less is More - it doesn’t take 4 Christmas programs to help the church reflect on the birth of Christ. 
  • Go tell it on the Mountain - what if you could scratch all the Church Christmas functions off the calendar and plan just one that would reach the community with the gospel?  What would you do?
  • Entertainment - we don’t need more of it.  Turn on the TV every night in December and you can find plenty of good Christmas music and concerts.  Turn on ABC Family and you can watch Elf 50 times in one month. 
  • Leverage - how can you leverage the season by doing something totally different, unusual, out of the norm with your normal youth group gathering closest to Christmas Day?
  • Contribute don’t Consume - it seems like a church can quickly get the consumer mentality around Christmas.  What if your church flipped it around and thought only about spreading the gospel at Christmas rather than that concert or the hand bell choir recital?
  • Have Fun - make some goodies and package them up and deliver them to the neighbors, the fire department, etc.
  • Change a Life - instead of running around buying gifts for everyone in your family and extended family give a gift  to Compassion International or World Vision and change someone’s life.  Help people stuck in poverty have clean drinking water or a goat or chickens.  Most everyone in your life has what they NEED, buy for someone who has nothing. 
  • Make the World Mad - post a negative article or negative FB status update about Elf on the Shelf.  Just joking!  But really, people get rsuper defensive about this Elf on the Shelf thing.

Busyness adds stress.  Who wants to be stressed at Christmas time?  Not me. Everyone is busy in December, this is a great time to slow it down in youth ministry.  Let families enjoy time together. Our gift to the youth ministry volunteers is a night off the last Sunday in December.

So sit back, relax, enjoy the season of reflecting on the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's the End!

It’s the end . . . of the year.
December is a great time to get alone and do some evaluation of the youth ministry.

Some questions to answer as you evaluate:

  • What were your goals for this past year?
I took some time to re visit our goals for 2014.  I then took some time and gave a  grade to each goal.  It was a little bit reminiscent of my childhood report cards, a little good, a little average, a little bad.
  • In view of those grades what needs to happen in 2015 to improve?
Make a list and keep it somewhere to update it as more thoughts about improvement rise to the surface.
  • Where is the youth ministry bottlenecking with me?
 Are there areas that are getting jammed up because you need to let those areas go to someone else on your volunteer team?  We can’t do it all.  You know the old saying, “do what you do best and delegate the rest.”  List the areas you need to delegate and start thinking of volunteers to plug into those areas according to how God has shaped them.  Does your team flow chart have one box and in that box is your name?  Plan to remedy that in 2015.
  • Is the current structure of our weekly youth group gathering working?
 Are there some areas for improvement?  What can we cut out?  What seems to be missing?  How can we make it better?  What can someone else do better during the weekly gathering than you can do? 

  • Evaluate your youth ministry in worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship and serving.
How did you do in each area?  Was there an area you were striving to focus on and improve?  Are you out of balance somewhere with one or more of these?
  • How many students came to know Christ and how many are being discipled?
How can we be more affective in discipleship?  How can we better equip our students to reach their friends?

  • Which students had noticeable spiritual growth last year?
Make a list.  Plan on taking a minute with each one you can think of and let them know that you noticed their growth in their faith walk this past year and want to encourage them to continue to grow.  How can your team help with that growth?

I would suggest after doing some evaluating that you sit down with your volunteers and get their input and then work together on improving in 2015.

Let the evaluating begin!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Turkey Chase 2014

We had a blast last Sunday night with our digital scavenger hunt.  It was hi-tech, loads of fun, relationship building, team building, and just plain awesome.  Best part is this is an event you can do and it will cost your budget absolutely nothing, zero, zip, free!

Goose Chase is a free app and web based game.  You create an account, name your game, give it a password, set up the game with time limits etc., load in the "missions" and then have fun together,

Mission:  Piggyback ride from a stranger

 Each team has one person download the app to their smart phone.  Then you travel around fulfilling the missions.  When your team takes a pic it is uploaded to the game and you can see all the teams scores and pics in real time.  Super cool!

We had 6 teams and it went great.  A few things I learned to share with you:
  • Create way more missions than you think they can accomplish in the time frame.  I thought I did and it still wasn't enough.  
  • Pull together some creative minds to help you come up with "missions".  Goose Chase has some prefab missions to choose from as well.
  • Remind your drivers that they are not on the team and are simply there to move the teams around to accomplish their missions.  Let the students figure out which missions to do and in what order.  I'll just say this because I know some out there would allow students to drive, ONLY ADULT DRIVERS (unless you like lawsuits and angry parents)
  • Remind the teams that you are the judge and have the ultimate say on who wins.  Believe it or not some teams won't follow the mission directions, some on purpose.  Cheaters!
  • End the game at a location and pull everyone together and reward the winners.  We ended at McD's and bought the winning team their food.
We chose to do this event on the weekend after Thanksgiving knowing many students would be out of town and this would be a fun break from the usual youth group gathering.  The bonus is we had 3 guests and are hoping that they will return since they saw that church and youth group participation can be fun.

Mission:  Picture with a pirate

You will have some students who choose not to participate because they will think "it's not my thing" or "my friend isn't going" or "this isn't spiritual enough for me".  Hopefully over time they will learn that fellowship is important to a believer's spiritual health and they missed out on an awesome team building event.

We will follow up this Sunday night by showing all the pics during our Hang Time up on the big screen.  The ones who participated will enjoy seeing all their pics and hopefully the ones who didn't participate will get to see the fun they missed.

Mission: Dancing with a Pastor

Monday, November 3, 2014

Students Doing Ministry (part 2)

(Part 1)

Informal and Formal Ministry Training

In my previous post I wrote about equipping students to serve and getting them connected in a ministry.

There are two routes you can take Informal and Formal ministry training.  Whichever way you choose step 1 needs to be to identify ministries within the church where students can serve.  After equipping students they may even discover or start new ministries within the church.


  • Teach regularly about ministry, SHAPE.  At least on an annual basis.
  • Create one time ministry opportunities to give students a snap shot of serving the church.  
Have conversations with students specifically about serving.
  • Equip your youth ministry volunteers to have conversations that help lead students to discover their spiritual gift.

  • Point out to students when you notice their spiritual gift at work in their life as they serve.

  • Assist students in connecting on an existing ministry team within the church.


  • A process designed to train, equip and connect students in ministry.

  • A training class, one day retreat, training camp, weekly training for a set period of time.

  • A plan to teach students about spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality can be used in ministry then a process to connect them into ministry.
  • A ministry mentor who comes along side of the student to help them discover a ministry to serve in.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings for students who serve to debrief and evaluate their ministry.
I don’t lean to one plan over the other.  I just think it’s important that we help students discover their ministry and equip them to serve then plug them into a ministry in the church or even create a new one.

In the past we have been more informal with teaching SHAPE on a regular basis and connecting students with ministry teams within our church.  In January we will start a more formal approach and also heading into the direction of student-led ministry.  Teenager can do more than we think.  In fact our children's ministry would be understaffed if it were not for our teens serving. 
Teenagers need to be given responsibility in ministry so that when they graduate from high school they will continue  on in their adult year to be connected and serving in a local church.

I would suggest the following resources:
The Equipping Church - Mallory; Zondervan
Ministry by Teenagers - McKee & Smith; Zondervan

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Students Doing Ministry

Part 1
How many of your youth group’s students are active in serving in ministry?

Three common ministry misunderstandings I see in churches:

  •  Ministry is to be done by the paid staff.  They are the professional ministers.
  •  Ministry and Mission are defined as the same thing.
  •  Ministry is for the adults in the church.  Children and youth don’t serve.

Ministry is to be done by every believer in every church
.  Serving each other isn’t just for the paid professionals.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  Ephesians 4:11,12

Ministry is reaching inside of the church.  Taking care of the needs of those within the body of Christ.  Missions is reaching outside of the church, taking the gospel to those who don’t know Christ.  Churches need to be balanced in these two.

Ministry is for every believer in the body of Christ.
 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10

According to the verse above every believer receives a gift to be used to serve the church.  This would mean that when I trusted Jesus as my Savior at age 7 I was given a gift by the Holy Spirit to be used as a 7 year old boy.

What opportunities exist in your church for EVERY believer to serve?

We tell our students they need to serve but often fail to help them discover how God has shaped them to serve.  If we want to see students serving we need to help students discover their spiritual gift.  There has to be a strategy and plan whether formal or informal in carrying out this equipping.

Last Sunday night our students, in their small groups, filled out a spiritual gift assessment and then discussed their gift among their group.  We then pulled everyone back together to find out who has what gift.  As students raised their hands indicating their gift I could see in some of them that yes, in fact that is their gift.  This assessment not only helped the students but helped us as leaders see students gifts so we could help point them in the right direction in ministry.

In our church we have students who serve on our First Impressions Team, Nursery Team, Kids’ Zone Team (some are the leaders of a children’s class), Hospitality Team and our Kiosk Team.  These students serve each Sunday morning in our church.  My eldest man-child is 10 and he will often serve during our second worship gathering in the preschool class.   I’m not sure how much help he is but he is getting a taste of serving and what that’s all about (plus a taste of their awesome snacks).

In my next post I will give a couple of ideas about having an informal or formal way of equipping students to serve.


The spiritual gift assessment we used is Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts published by LeaderTreks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

8 Youth Ministry Impact Killers

The Lone Ranger - No way that one person can minister to an entire youth group, even a “small” youth group.  Jesus discipled a group of 12, I’m not Jesus so I would say that number is a bit high for me.  In our youth ministry we like the ratio of 6 students per 1 adult leader.  Spread out the ministry and your team will reach more and have an impact on more lives. 

No Vision -  Youth group is just a social gathering.  There is no reason, or master plan, for gathering the students together each week.  It is most important to remind them often of the purpose of your youth ministry and why you are on the face of this planet.  Why does your church’s youth ministry exist?  Be specific.  How do you carry out that vision?

No Ministry - The adults faithfully minister to the students.  Students can also end up doing all the ministry rather than teaching the students how to minister and giving them the opportunity to serve.  We need to teach students about how God has shaped them to serve each other, the church.  Give students opportunities to serve.

The Cold - Not the common cold or even cold weather, which I despise with all that’s in me.  But the cold feeling when a student who has either never been to youth group or is returning after a long extended absence.   Cliques are normal, in my opinion, we naturally are attracted to people and groups who are like us.  The old “birds of a feather” mentality.  We need to help our students to understand what it means to make a first impression and also to extend a warm welcome to the new kid or the returning prodigal.

The Driver’s License - Let’s be honest, the reason most youth groups have an abundance of middle school students is because middle school students don’t have many options.  There are so many places they can ride to on their skate board or bicycle.  That day of freedom when the keys that open the magical world of driving are handed off is also often the day that youth group takes a back seat in the new driver’s life.  There are so many more options out there once they can drive.  We need to help students, in those years leading up to the driver’s license, see the impact they can have by driving friends with them to youth group, use their car, or momma’s SUV, as a mission tool.

The Job - In our area this is a biggie because students get summer jobs at age 14.  We know that jobs aren’t evil.  We also know that jobs are important to a student if they want some spending cash and for the rare child who dreams of saving up money.  We need to help students learn that:
A.  You are going to work your entire life.  So don’t rush into it.
B.  McDonalds will more than likely not be your career.
C.  You can tell the manager doing the interview that you are heavily involved in your church’s youth ministry and it is important for you to now work on church days or when your youth group meets.  Student’s need to promise, and follow through, with working hard as they can when they are on the clock and faithful to be there when scheduled.

This pattern of working and missing corporate worship is something that will stick with kids into their adult years. I know that we, and I’m speaking as a parent, don’t want our children to view corporate worship as not important in life when they become adults.

The boy/girlfriend - Can I get an “Amen”?  Not much to be said here.  We see it happen time and again.  Priorities shift.  We need to help students learn how to have healthy relationships both with friends and with God.  Passion for Jesus Christ is the flame that needs to be fanned.  If a student is passionate about Jesus they are less likely (not a guarantee) to be pulled away from fellowship by a boy/girlfriend.  We must help them learn that Jesus is to be the center of their universe because he will always be there but the boy/girlfriend won’t.

The disengaged Christian parent - This is the Christian parent who doesn’t realize, or ignores, the fact that they are responsible and will be held accountable for how they disciple their child.  Part of discipleship is training your son or daughter in the importance of corporate worship.  We need to help parents discover that the youth ministry team is here to come along side of them as they disciple their teen.  There is significant evidence that students who connect with 5 adults in their church will be more likely to continue on in their faith walk after high school.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When it "clicks"

I love it when it "clicks".  There is no better feeling for a youth pastor than when the team of volunteers catch on and realize that they are the youth ministers.  It's fantastic!  The best!

Recently our middle school girl POD (small group) leaders got together and planned a non-sleepover pajama party for the middle school girls.  The leaders planned the whole thing.  All I had to do was give them a key to the building.  They showed a movie, made duct tape crafts, ate pizza, popcorn and other goodies.  The girls had a blast and enjoyed having an activity just for middle school girls, they even brought some guests. 

How does this happen?

Time.  It takes time for implementing vision of moving from "chaperones", leaders to ministers.  Time to share again and again, "Hey, you are the youth ministers."

Culture.  You have to build a culture that promotes and encourages the youth leaders to minister to the students.  We build into our weekly youth group gathering a time where the adult leaders can hang out with students and have conversations.

Openness.  Others have great ideas and can do awesome ministry.  It doesn't all have to come from you as the youth pastor.  Utilize the pool of brains and creativity you have on your team.

Trust.  Trust your team.   No one likes to be micro managed.  Trust your team and when someone has a good idea then turn them loose and let them get it done.  If it goes great then praise them and pat them on the back and thank them.  If it has some hiccups and glitches help them to learn from it so next time the event goes great.

Do you have any other suggestions to empower your youth ministry team to lead?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow Changing View

We had a great youth ministry team with about 8 caring adults and myself.  Each adult had a small group of students to minister to.

One night an incident happened and a young student (student A) needed some ministering to.  A group of adults, as well as that student’s small group leader, stepped in to comfort the student. 
I didn’t step in to comfort for two reasons: 
One I’m not a comforting individual.  Just look at me do I look like I bring comfort?  (see picture to right)
Two I was at the same time dealing with a student (student B) who was trying to figure out how to get home but actually a different place to go home because that student’s dad was drunk and apparently rather mean while intoxicated.

I was verbally attacked and raked over the coals for not bringing comfort to student A by student A’s parents.  They were upset at the situation that went down as I would have been as a dad if it were my kid.  The view was “Andy’s the youth minister.”  All the comfort given by the other youth ministers and adults in the church wasn’t viewed as student A being ministered to. 

When you begin to build a youth ministry team, a group of adults who will minister to the students, it may take time for the church to come around to the view that you are just one of the youth ministers.  Why?  Because my best guess is that many Americans, if not most, who grew up in church were taught that the minister was the guy standing up front preaching each Sunday, everyone else were just members.

The view for some (many) may be slow to change.  After years of taking a team approach to youth ministry here is what I see happening in our church:

  • Students view the adult leader that leads their group as their youth minister.  They go to their leaders for prayer, questions, advice.  It doesn’t all have to go through me.

  • Parents are starting to view the adult volunteers as their kids’ youth ministers.  Even talking with them and sharing together about their child.  The more a leader invests into the life of a student the more a parent will lean on them in teaming up to disciple their kid.

  • Volunteer leaders are stepping up to the plate and raising the standard in ministry.  The result is longevity on the team (every wise youth pastor wants their team members to stick around a long time).  Volunteers are also finding fulfillment and joy living out their spiritual shape and ministering to students.

  • I’m not trying to shepherd X amount of students.  My goal is to shepherd the team of adults and to help steer the ship.  I’m finding joy in watching students go to their leaders for prayer, advice, questions, etc.  Better and safer to have many shepherds than just one.

So if you are building a team just keep plugging away.  It may take time but eventually, if done right the view will change and it will go from “you are the youth minister” to “they are the youth ministers”.

By the way, our youth ministry team is made up entirely of volunteers and they rock!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ever Have Students Struggle with Doubt?

I'm always on the prowl for articles to help me and our volunteers to better minister to students.
Here's another good one from LeaderTreks.

“Just have faith.” I cringe when I reflect on the number of times I’ve answered students’ questions of doubt with that seemingly harmless phrase. When broken down, I recognize the ignorance, pride, and ultimately, fear, behind those words—“Just” as if it were a simple solution, and “have faith” as if doubt and faith cannot survive within the same person. I have since realized that faith cannot exist without doubt. It would be meaningless.
READ MORE . . . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Great Blog Post

If you're in youth ministry, or in church world in general, you've read about or heard about the numerous statistics pointing to what some call the "drop out problem." I don't want to get into the numbers. (Lately I am of the opinion that we can get too distracted by them.) But I do want to address something I've observed over the last few years.
 READ MORE . . . .


The fine folks at YM360 put out some great material and resources. 
Check them out!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where are we going?

After some thought and time spent considering what we want to see accomplished in the lives of our students this year we have come up with our "arc" for the next several months.

September 14 to November 16 - Why am I here?  Doing a series in sync with the Sunday morning sermon series and our adult Connection Groups so we are all on the same page.  Taking a look at discipleship and our purpose.  We will have at least one Outreach Night during the series.  Outreach nights we put an emphasis on bringing friends who don't know Christ and we simply share the gospel, play some games and serve up some great food.

November 23 - Youth Led Outreach Night
November 30 - God's Not Dead - movie night

December 7 - Joseph
December 14 - Mary
December 21 - Bowling (cause nothing says Christmas like a bowling party)
December 28 - No Youth Group Gathering

Joshua Series -
January 4 - Strength and Courage
January 11 - Unlikely Hero
January 18 - Dedication
January 25 - Outreach Night
February 1 - Remember
February 8 - Trust God
February 15 - Confession
February 22 - Friend Night

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Camp in the Books!

Last week our youth group attended Camp Cale in Hertford, NC.  Cale's staff strives to put on a quality camp experience for the campers.  They have it all, skeet, 22 rifle range, archery, rock wall, high and low ropes courses, kayaks, swimming, fun games, recreation area, snack shop and great food in the outdoor pavillion dining area, huge air conditioned conference/worship center.  If your church is within a few hours drive from Cale you should seriously consider attending their camp or renting the facility for your own event.  Check em out!  They can house around 80 campers at this time.  (plans are in the works for nice new cabins to be built soon)  All of this along the shoreline of the Perquimins River, such a great location to have a get-a-way.

The theme this summer was Mission Controlled.  It was all about living life on mission for God.  The highlight of our group's week was when three of our middle school guys put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  We look forward to baptizing them at youth group on the beach in a couple of weeks.

 Low Ropes

 Swimming in the River

 Rock Wall

 More swimming

 Who is that guy?

 Skeet shooting

 NC's best GaGa ball pit

 Did I mention swimming?


Here is the scope of the messages I preached at camp:
PM messages -
To Be On Mission:
Monday - 1st You must be a believer - salvation/gospel message
Tuesday - 2nd You must be a follower - Example that Jesus Christ left us

Wednesday - 3rd You must be obedient - calling of the first disciples  Mt. 4
Thursday - 4th You must be ready to share - Phillip and the ethopian eunich

AM messages - Gonna follow missionary Paul
Monday - Paul’s Conversion - God can use you know matter your past - Acts 6
Tuesday - Paul’s encounter with Bar-Jesus - You will battle the enemy - Acts 13

Wednesday - Paul’s message in Antioch - Share the TRUTH - Acts 13
Thursday - Paul heals the cripple - Be used by meeting needs - Acts 14
Friday - Paul’s hardships - On mission isn’t for sissies.  2 Corinthians 11:23-33

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Just Never Know

In a conversation with a volunteer (which I didn’t respond hardly at all other than a few head nods, but listened to what this volunteer was saying so I could chew on it and think about it a while) the volunteer expressed the frustration of watching current students and past students and the decisions they are making.  Students who have just dropped out because they have decided that something else in life is more important than their faith walk and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are in youth ministry for any length of time you know this frustration.  This frustration can take seed in our lives and then lead us to the question what we are doing and is it worth it.

So I’ve been thinking a few days.  No genius thought here.  Jesus probably got frustrated with the disciples.  Matthew 17:17 comes to mind.  I’m sure there would be a sense of frustration with me because I don’t always make the best decisions or behave in a manner that reflects Christ.

The example who came to my mind was Peter, some scholars say that Peter was the oldest of the disciples and the others were much younger and in their teen years.  Peter who often spoke before he thought or even acted without thinking, the one who strikes me as a person driven by emotions at times, Peter is the one who denied Christ 3 times.

Peter walked with Jesus, Peter ate meals with Jesus, Peter was there to hear Jesus’ teaching and to witness people be healed.  Peter lived a few years with Jesus, twenty-four seven.  Peter blew it.  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been truly frustrated.

Peter later stood before thousands and preached the good news of Jesus Christ.  Thousands put their faith in Jesus!  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been scratching my head and wondering what has happened in Peter’s life?

The answer, Peter had an encounter with the living Lord.  His life was changed.

We don’t know what will become of a student.  The teen who we would have held up as the example of a godly youth group kid may down the road of life be running far from God or even denying Christ in his or her own life.  The teen who we watched struggle and make poor choices may one day down the road bring others to Jesus Christ.
We don’t know when it will “click” and they meet with the living Lord as Peter did.  So what do I do?

I invest in my own spiritual life.  I need to set the example.

I remain faithful to my calling.  God has called me to serve so that’s what I must do no matter what I see as the “outcome”.  No matter how discouraging it might be at times.

I trust God’s sovereignty.  I have no clue what the future will hold for me or for the students I ministers to.  God does.

I lean on the Holy Spirit in my life to give me the energy to stick with it.
I focus on the successes rather than on the failures.  It’s easy to get bogged down and think, “I’ve failed as a minister” when looking at the life of a student who has made poor decisions and is wandering away from Christ.  All we can do is minister to them, give them opportunities to grow their faith.  The student has to become responsible for their own spiritual growth and own their faith.  It’s like putting out the buffet of food but the student has to fill his own plate and put his silverware to use, I can’t force feed him.

So the next time you get frustrated remember to invest, remain, trust and lean. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mission Monday

Today was our first Mission Monday of the summer.  It was a great success!  The students shopped, made and delivered lunches to our local lifeguards on the beach.

There are two purposes to this event:
#1 is to share the love of Jesus Christ with each lifeguard in a practical way.  Inside the lunch bag was a note card from our youth group that read, "Lunch is on us!  We appreciate what you do."  We also included John 3:16 on the card.

#2 I wanted to use this event to start getting some of our students prepared for our 2015 mission trip.  I want students with leadership abilities to step up to the plate.  What better way to figure out who has those abilities than to give them a task and let them figure out how to accomplish the task.

We went to the grocery store.  I told the students how many we were feeding.  I also let them know what should be included in the bag.  I divided them into teams and let each team get something different for the lunch.  Including figuring up how many pounds of lunch meat to purchase at the deli.  They did a great job shopping.

Next we went back to the church and put all the groceries on the counter and I said, "figure out how you want to work together to assemble the sandwiches, bag them and pack the bags."  I then walked out and left them to do the job without checking on them or telling them what to do.  I could hear the leaders stepping up.

Next we loaded the sack lunches and drinks into the church van and headed out to hit each beach access that had lifeguards.  The students took turns in teams delivering the lunches and letting the lifeguards know who we were and to enjoy their free lunch.

Each lunch had either a ham or turkey sandwich, a salty chip type snack, a cookie snack, a Gatorade and bottle of ice water.  The lifeguards were very happy to have lunch delivered to them.  The students did a great job.  We wrapped it up by eating our lunch on the beach and swimming for a couple of hours.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Coach's Frustration

I can imagine that there are times that an athletic coach gets frustrated with a player.  Not the player who is really not that good but the player who has tremendous potential but would rather be lazy and sit the bench, drop the team or not even show up to the game.  I’m not an athletic coach but I know it would drive me nuts if say I had a player with the ability of the Michael Jordan but really didn’t care about the team or the game.

As ministry leaders we run into this scenario as well.  Someone on our ministry team who has the ability, the skills, to be a phenomenal minister yet they approach serving others and serving our Lord with a lackadaisical attitude.  The potential is there and perhaps at one time they were hitting home runs in serving but now they are about as exciting and active as a bowl of cottage cheese.  Perhaps they got burnt, burned out, overused, misused, abused, or maybe, which is often the case, they have allowed the busyness of life to become their priority rather than serving and making an impact on the lives of other believers.

Frustrating!  What can we do?  After all, they are volunteers.  If you let this frustration remain you will soon finding it consuming your thoughts and zapping the joy out of your ministry.

Keeping this in mind (and from experience of the frustration) I have a few thoughts:

Communicate.  Approach the team member, one on one, maybe over coffee and have the conversation.  Express your frustration.  Share your view of their incredible potential.  Allow them to share their heart as well.

Call for a time out.  Let the team member have a break, a sabbatical if you will, from the team.  Give them a set amount of time, pick a date to get back together and find out where their passion has gone and if they are ready to fully commit to the team.

Change your focus.  If you have communicated and made efforts to get the person more involved and encouraged them to serve the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength then it time to focus elsewhere.  Take the time and energy and focus it on the team members who are working hard and striving to give God their best in ministry.

Create space.  Make sure you are building into your daily schedule time to spend praying for the team members and their needs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

25th Wedding Anniversary

When I look back at my wedding picture I always think to myself, or say out loud, "Man, we were just kids."

I'm so thankful to God that 25 years ago today that Misha said, "I do".  God has taught me much in those 25 years.  We, like everyone, have had ups and downs, times of joy and times of sorrow, times of happiness and times of grieving.  The awesome part of all of that, even the bad times, is that I didn't go through life alone.  

God has blessed me with a godly wife.  She is an example to me.  Daily I see her study her Bible and spend time with God.  She loves to serve Christ and his church as she leads a ladies Connection group and serves at our check in kiosk on Sunday mornings.  Even as a busy mom and homeschooling our kids she is actively involved in ministry.  She doesn't use the busyness of life as an excuse.  I find that very attractive.

Not only is Misha and awesome wife but she is an incredible mom.  She loves our children.  You can see it as she interacts with them.  It's a beautiful thing to witness.

On top of that I married way above my league.  Misha is a beautiful woman not just on the outside but also on the inside.  And I like it!  I like it a lot!!

 So we celebrate this week with a little trip, some fun time together.  No kids on this trip, just the two of us.  No blog posts (except this one), no email, no phone, no work, just me and my beautiful bride of 25 years.  Now on to the next 25!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Jail. I don't like it.

Student ministry.  I love lots of things about student ministry.  I love camps, retreats, weekly youth group, sitting at McD's with a group of students, high fiving and fist bumping students in the lobby at church on Sunday morning, writing messages and small group discussion, whooping them in foosball, laser tag, mini golf, bowling, parties, the list could go on and on.

This is the part of youth ministry I don't like.  I don't like going to jail.  It's not something I look forward to for a few reasons:
A.  I feel like I need to shower when I leave (I keep hand sanitizer in the jeep)
B.  It's not in my comfort zone
C.  It means a teenager has made some very poor life choices.

What I have learned in my minimal amount of jail ministry experience:

1.  The inmate (teenager) sitting across the table from you will say whatever they think you want to hear.

2.  Jailhouse conversions or commitments often don't go beyond the cell walls when they walk away from jail.  (with the inmates I have visited)

3.  They often blame everyone else or circumstances "beyond their control".

My new jail house ministry approach:  (I formulated this as I waited in the waiting room of our detention center on Thursday)

1.  I don't want to know why you are in here or who's fault it is that you are in this place.

2.  I don't want to know how much you don't like it in here.  It's jail!  You aren't supposed to like it.

3.  I want to know this:  Have you ever put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

4.  I share about grace and mercy and God changing lives.

5.  I ask the inmate to think hard and long, since they have time on their hands, about what it would mean in your life if God radially changed your heart and life.

6.  I pray and walk away.  (going to follow up in about a week)

So I'll be in prayer during this next week and a half for this student.  Praying this student comes to know Christ and experience new life.  Interesting that as I sat in the waiting room I saw another 16 year old brought in with handcuffs on by their school resource officer.  Praying for that kid too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Longevity Celebrated

Last night our youth ministry team met at a local Mexican restaurant to eat dinner together following our youth group gathering.  It was a “dinner meeting” but actually we secretly planned this to celebrate a win.  One of our teammates (we will just call her “Marie”) has served on the YM team for ten plus years.  We saw that as an opportunity to thank her for her ministry and to celebrate her longevity on the team.

  Marie is more of a quiet behind the scenes team member but Marie has faithfully sat down with a group of middle school girls each week for all those years and invested into those girls’ lives.  MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS!!!  Crowns in heaven for Marie.  We presented Marie with a certificate of awesomeness  and we dined and laughed together as a team.

Day after thoughts:

  • Longevity is increased as we celebrate milestones in team members’ lives.  It only helps encourage your team members and inspires everyone on the team.
  • Longevity benefits the volunteer.  They know what to expect and know their ministry inside and out.
  • Longevity benefits the students.  Some churches go through youth pastors like a kid goes through candy in a Pez dispenser.  Having long term youth volunteers is beneficial to the students.  Especially when their leadership changes every few years.
  • Longevity is a benefit to parents.  Parents can have some peace knowing that the youth leader investing into their kid’s life will be their through their journey in middle and high school.
  • Longevity benefits the youth pastor.  I know Marie and Marie knows me.  She knows how I click.  I know she likes her coffee black.  When we serve together for a long time we function better as a team.  Teams that function better together see more success in ministry.
  • Longevity is no accident.  I’m sure team members who have served for a couple of years experience that burn out feeling, disappointments, frustration with leadership, but the ones who stick it out through the rough patches experience the joy that using your SHAPE to serve Christ’s church brings.  The leader who has as a goal to keep volunteers on the team as long as humanly possible has to have a strategy or plan in place.  Days off for the volunteers, meet together, training, clear expectations, clear vision, "job" description, celebrating together, having fun together, all of these fit well into a strategy.

Of course none of this means anything if it’s “MY” youth ministry.  Yes their needs to be ownership but it needs to be team ownership and not one youth pastor’s or one volunteer’s youth ministry.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Humbled and Sort of Laughing to Myself

I'm always amazed when I hear an apologist speak.  They know so many facts and so much information.  My parking garage (brain) only has so many spaces and to be honest I think it's pretty full and when one car moves out another quickly moves in it's place.  Remembering facts and information like the "pros" isn't something I have been able to attain.  I'm OK with that because I'm not wired that way.

My guitar playing friend, Alex McFarland, asked me to lead a break out session for youth leaders on building a youth ministry team.  I was humbled he would invite me to be a break out leader at TNG.  In my mind I saw myself tucked away in some back classroom with a dozen adults talking youth ministry.   A privilege and an honor to get to do so.

I'm stoked to get to hear some of these fine Christians speak, people I look up to, some I have looked up to since my childhood.  Joni Eareckson Tada!  Come on!! She's a hero of the faith for me, what an impact she has made.  Josh and Sean McDowell!  Youth ministry gurus!  Dr. Ben Carson!!  Brilliant!!  David Nasser!  I love to hear him preach.  And the list could go on and on.

Needless to say when I went to the web site to check out who I was going to get to hear speak I was first of all humbled to see my face on the same page.  To be honest I laughed out loud because I'm just a youth dude doing what I do.  I'm no apologetic genius.  I'm no expert.  I'm not a pediatric brain surgeon with great political ideas.  I'm just Andy.  So I'm looking forward to learning at this event and I'm looking forward to spending time with other youth leaders.  (and I hope I get to meet a few of the scheduled speakers)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mission Trip

Last night I introduced our 2015 mission trip to a group of students, their parents and some of our YM Team members. 

To my knowledge this will be our church's youth ministry's first mission trip to another country.  For years I have wanted to take a group of kids to another country where they could experience ministering in a  different culture and poverty.  So moving into my 14th year at NHC I  felt like I had the adult support needed as well as a group of kids that I felt comfortable taking to foreign soil.

I have never planned a mission trip to another country so I didn't just want to dive in and attempt this without any guidance or assistance or clue as to what to do.  I went to two resources:  Download Youth Ministry and Leader Treks.  At DYM I downloaded a resource that is a complete mission trip planning pack with tools, forms, etc.  Why reinvent the wheel?  What a great resource!

I then made the call to my new friend Dan at LeaderTreks and Dan talked me through some training resources as well  as some field journals and post trip journals that our team will work through together. 

Last night I revealed the trip.  I had not told parents or students where we were going.  I wanted people to attend the informational meeting who just wanted to go do missions even if they didn't know where they would be going.  We had a great turn out.

We will be taking a group of student and adults to the island of Eleuthera next spring.  While there we will serve at our host's, Camp Bahamas, in the morning doing some physical labor and projects there.
In the afternoons we will venture out into a Hatian community, the poorest on the island and minister to them.  I'm really looking forward to this experience with our students and adults.

Students and adults who attended the meeting now have a couple of months to pray about the trip and to turn in their team application if they know God wants them to do this.   I will pick the adult team and then the adult team will then sit down and go through the student's apps and decide on the team.

We will have a meeting each month (August through March) to train and go over the logistics.  We have a timeline with deadlines on steps including passports, medical releases, finances, etc.

Our prayer is that God will use this trip to help us grow in our faith and dependance on Him and help students to discover how they can be on mission not just overseas but in their own community and hopefully build up some student leadership.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fun Outdoor Games

I'm not a big game person, it's just not my cup of tea, so I know the importance of finding people on the YM Team who like games and are good at coming up with games.  Here are two of the games we like to do outdoors and on the beach during the summer months:

Poleish is lots of fun

Spikeball is a blast

This is one I would like to figure out how to build an affordable/portable arena.  The game in which I broke my big toe at the top knuckle.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Next Level Leadership Training


Relevent and helpful Break Out Sessions

  • Help I’m a pastor doing it all!
  • Recruiting and training volunteers
  • Relational Youth Ministry/ Investing in Students
  • Handling Crisis: Real or Perceived
  • Camps/ Trips/ Conferences
  • Get out of the Church
  • Student Leaders 
  • Community Involvement
  • Hiring a Youth Minister
  • Balance, Boundaries, and Burnout
  • Legal Liabilities
  • Planning a Budget
  • Multi-role ministers
  • Building a Team
  • Changing the Culture
  • Sunday School

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Everybody Needs Some Time Away

Show your age!  What song is the title of this post from?

What a busy yet fun-filled weekend my family had!  Friday we took a day trip to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Va.  I had such a fun time with my kids.  Park wasn’t crowded because school is still in session (perks to homeschooling).

Long, fun filled day.

Saturday was a beautiful day here.  My kids played outside all day which allowed me several hours to get a bunch of my “honey-do’s” done around the house before crashing in a chair and watching my kids play in the sprinkler.

Sunday was Mother’s Day.  On Mother’s Day, in my home, mom gets whatever she wants.  Mish wanted to hit the road on a road/boat trip.  We left late morning after church and headed south to Hatteras and then caught the ferry to Ocracoke.  We made a couple lighthouse stops on the way, had lunch on the way and then ate dinner on Ocracoke then ferried back.  The kids loved the ferry ride and we got to see dolphins swimming right next to us.  We parked and watched a beautiful sunset together.

Another great day as a family together.

We won’t last in ministry if our family is pushed to the back burner by our work.  Our families often sacrifice time with us so that we can minister to the needs of others and serve the church.  This is why it is important to “take some time away”.  Vacations aren’t always possible because of finances but staycations can be great for the family.

I find the “get away” provides:
  • Great memories for my kids.  I don’t want them to be turned off to the idea of church because dad was never around. 
  • Family fun helps family health.  Churches need examples of healthy families.
  • The brain needs a break.  Time away helps spark creativity and fresh ideas.
  • Rest is vital.  Although my weekend was busy I was busy with my family.  This gave me some “rest” and it’s Monday morning now and I feel great.  This will impact my work week in a very positive way.  God rested and I'm not God so I better get some rest.

So my hope and prayer is that your church allows you time to “get away”.  I also hope you use your vacation time, it is there for a reason.  Tired and stale won’t help your youth ministry at all.

What do you do to ensure time away in your schedule?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Student Ownership

Much to think about from this 11 minute video segment from Youth Specialties.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Camp Messages

I've been invited to speak at Camp Cale again this summer.  Works out great because our group will be there that week.  This has it's pros and cons but as I think about it I know my group better than a stranger would.  I'm looking forward to this great week of camp and Cale's staff does a great job.  Also joining me is our church's own MP13 Band.   Gonna be great!

I'm working on the messages now.   The camp's theme is "Mission Controlled".  I get to speak twice a day so I have laid out the scope of the messages and I'm working on them now.  Trying to finish them up by the end of June.

My approach:
Start with the scripture.
I copy and paste the scripture in landscape format with a 3 inch margin all the way around.
I then read, re-read, re-read and write notes in the margin as I go. 
I also use the good old highlighter. 
Once my outline is set I create a new document and type out my message word for word.
Insert illustrations and thoughts.
Going for one point and a challenge to apply or take the next step.

In the evening sessions:
To Be a Missionary
  • 1st Be a Believer (gospel message)
  • 2nd Be a Follower (a disciple, following the example of Christ)
  • 3rd Be Obedient (go and do what God asks of you)
  • 4th Be Ready to Share (know your faith and know your story)

In the morning sessions:
  • God Can Use You - Paul's Conversion
  • You will Battle the Enemy - Paul's encounter with Bar-Jesus
  • Share the Truth - Paul's message in Antioch
  • Look to Meet Needs - Paul heals the cripple
  • Missions Not for Sissies - Paul's hardships

Monday, May 5, 2014

Youth Ministry Makes You Selfish

(I don't usually post long blog posts cause I know I don't read them myself when they are long.  So those who like bullet points and have ADD I apologize in advance)

OK.  I’ll admit it.  I’m selfish.  After 20-something years of working with students it has made me a selfish person, terribly selfish.  I think most adults that work with youth become selfish people.  I know selfishness isn’t pretty when I wear it, it doesn’t look good on me or most adults.  We probably seem like 3 year olds when we act selfishly.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want your son or daughter at youth group each week.  I’m selfish because I want them there to hear from God’s Word and to worship with other believers.  Selfish of me, I know.  I know there will be Sundays where the weather is perfect for beach-going and what not, it’s selfish of me to want your son or daughter at youth group learning what it means to be the church.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want your son or daughter to open the Bible and spend time reading it on their own and spend time in prayer on a daily basis.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want to see them grow into fully devoted followers of Christ.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want your son or daughter to serve in ministry at church.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want them to discover that God has created them uniquely with a plan for them to serve Him in the local church.  Selfish of me because I know that they will be more likely to carry this attitude of serving into their adult years.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I will teach on sex, dating, honoring parents, at least once a year, every year from the time a youth enters the youth group in 6th grade all the way until they graduate.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want to see them make wise relationship decisions that honor God and I want them to learn submission because they will have to submit to someone the rest of their lives.  I know, I’m selfish.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want to see your son or daughter at youth group so then can connect with their adult leader in their PODz (small group).  Selfish of me, I know.  
I’m selfish because I understand the stats that tell us when teens connect and having meaning relationships with 5 adults in their church they are more likely to now walk away from their faith when they graduate.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I know that not every activity we do as a youth group is appealing to each and every student but I want them there.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want them to learn what fellowship is all about.  Life with other believers isn’t always about having things “my way”.  Selfish of me, I know.  It’s selfish because I know if they catch on to this their future pastors when they are adults will be blessed to have them in their church family.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because each week I want to write an e-mail to parents.  Selfish of me to want to spend my time doing what I want to do, I know.  I’m selfish because I want parents to know what we studied at youth group and keep them informed well in advance of what is coming up so they can calendar dates and be more organized when it comes to discipling their own child.  Selfish of me, I know.

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want other adults on the team.  I don’t want to do youth ministry by my lonesome.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want to see other adult Christ followers discover how God has shaped them to serve and to use the gifts God has given them to impact the lives of students for eternity. 

I’m selfish.
I’m selfish because I want your son or daughter to go to camp.  Selfish of me, I know.  I’m selfish because I want them to unplug from their world, be removed from distractions, be in a place where they hear from God’s Word a few times a day and build relationships with other students who love Jesus with everything they have got.  I’m selfish because I want them to be influenced by college-aged counselors who love Christ and want to share the life changing message with kids.  Selfish of me to want to see your son or daughter’s life totally rocked by God because camp is where many students come make decisions for Christ.

I’m selfish.  I’ve spilled the beans.  I’m sure other youth ministers whether paid or volunteer (thanks volunteers, we love you!) will search their souls and also admit they too are selfish.  So parents as you work with me as I come along side of you as you disciple your teen please understand I am selfish as are the other adult’s in your church’s youth ministry.  Thanks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Stuff Happening

I like change and like to see when things happen spontaneously or organically without any real effort or input from me.  This way I know it's "not about me".

Some of our recent new stuff:

The Challenge - Some students whined about wanting to go deeper, expecting to be spoon fed by their youth leaders.  So I dropped the challenge for them to join me in reading the book of Judges.  One chapter a day and to journal their observation of what was going on in the chapter and how they can apply it to their own lives and to pray.  A handful of them took the challenge and we sat down to talk about what they learned during Hang Time.  
We can spoon feed but at some point a student has to walk up to the buffet and start scooping out their own meals.

Frustration gives birth - Out of some frustration a group of girls and two of our lady leaders decided to start their own Sunday afternoon Bible study.  Way cool.  I’m not comfortable leading a girls Bible study for obvious reasons so it’s awesome that a couple of our leaders are willing to go the extra mile with the handful of our girls who want to do a study specifically geared to helping them become godly women.  Awesome!

Student Leaders - I threw it out there to see which students would like to talk about and look into the idea of leadership.  Several students joined me for a 15 minute conversation and we are going to build from there.  I let them know I’m mainly looking for servants, students who see what needs to be done and volunteer to do it.
I have tried organized programs in the past and they flopped.  I’m now approaching it organically and as it grows our team will help equip the leaders that rise to the surface.

Digging for answers - expecting growth.  Our team has set out during Hang Time to be very specific about talking to students.  Digging beneath the surface and asking questions like, “Tell me about your relationship with Christ?” and “What did you learn in your quiet time this week?”

New Team members
- We have two new team members this year and this past Sunday we had two more sign up for a test drive.  When God sends new team members I often wonder what He is up to.  I’m praying for growth because I want to see more students come to know Christ.

New Series - Letters from the Mailbox

What's new with you?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Jump on the Bus!

Hellllooooooo Fellow Youth Ministers and investors into the lives of teens.  Let me say this, you need to jump on this deal now!  I'm a member and love the resources and you will too.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Letters from the Mailbox

On a table in The Loft there sits a standard plastic black mailbox similar to the one at the end of your driveway.

Outside of the mailbox are scraps of paper.  Students can write their questions, verses or topics that they would like for us to study at our weekly youth group gathering on Sunday nights.

We will be doing this for the months of May and June.  This gives students the opportunity to have direct input into what our messages cover.  It also helps us to speak to the needs they feel they have in their lives.  If one student is thinking it then chances are other students have the same questions, struggles or interest in the same verses from the Bible.  Students can also choose to remain anonymous or write their name on their "letter".

We will also create some PODz discussions (small groups) so following the messages the students can get into their small group and discuss and dig deeper with their small group leader.

Will we use every "letter" in our series during these months?  Probably not.  But we can file the unused "letters"  away for use at a later time. 

The last time we did this was around 3 years ago.  I look forward to building the messages from the "letters".  Later I will post the message themes/topics so you can see what our students were interested in.  Should be a fun adventure over the next couple of months.

Best part - we don't have to pay those crazy prices for stamps.  Even better than that we will get a glimpse into the minds of our students.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Challenge

Some of our older students expressed some discontent about our youth group gatherings.  We had some good healthy debate together.  Many of their suggestions we had done in the past, changes that made no change in growth both spiritually or numerically. 

What it boiled down to was the desire to go deeper in studying the scripture.  Obviously when you are teaching 6th through 12 grades and students who have known Christ for a month to students who have been Christ followers for years you can't teach at the top of the maturity scale or at the bottom.  You have to aim somewhere in the middle and give them all one thing they can take home and apply in their lives.

I get nervous when I hear believers say they want to go deeper because that often means gaining more knowledge without any application in their own lives. 

One student was talking about topics we repeat "all the time".  As you know in youth ministry their are certain topics we will hit on an annual basis.  One topic the student pointed out was, "you talk about reaching out a lot."  My reply, "Yes I do.  And when you guys catch on to this and start applying it we can move on."  (same goes with honoring parents, relationships, purity, etc.)

I also understand that if I were an 11th grader and had been in the youth group since 6th grade I would probably crave something different.

So last week on our high school only Facebook group I challenged the ones that want to go deeper to read Judges 3 - 7 during the week and journal each day using the SOAP method.  (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)  5 students took up the challenge.  During our Hang Time last night we gathered out on the balcony and spent about 20 minutes talking about what we learned in each chapter and applied to our own lives.

I'm praying they keep it going.  I challenged them to read the next 5 chapters this week.  We will gather again and discuss as we did this week.

I didn't have to order curriculum.  I didn't have to spend hours preparing a 2nd Bible study.  I didn't have to create a time slot on another day of the week for a meeting.  Students didn't have to purchase a study guide, they used a notebook and a Bible.   I simply used my quiet time study and talked with them about what I was learning as well.  We were all on the same playing field.  Hopefully this will help them to go deeper in their own study of God's Word.

Truth be told we as youth leaders are often spoon feeding the students when they should be diving into God's Word on their own and feeding themselves.  This is part of producing disciples not just converts.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why are we here?

Last night we walked through why we are here as a youth group.  We have several new students and it's been a year since we had a message devoted to simply spelling out our purpose and strategy.

What is our purpose?

“Reaching students to discover life in Christ”
Matthew 22:36-40
Matthew 28:18-20

What is our strategy?  No purpose or vision is successful without a plan of action.
Challenging and equipping our students to share their faith with their friends.
1 Corinthians 9:16-17

After a student puts his or her faith in Jesus Christ their lives change as God reconstructs them into who he wants them to be.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Colossians 3:10

The Reach and Reconstruct is Repeated as students are seeing their friends come to know God through Jesus Christ.

Momentum.  We spent some time talking about how momentum builds and how the students can be part of the momentum but also how they can bust the momentum.  Their simple act of being there at youth group helps momentum.  Church is vital to our health and our youth group isn't separate from the church, our youth group is the church.
Hebrews 10:25

After the message* our students broke up into their small groups to discuss the message and to study and discuss 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

*we had students lined up in advance to read the scriptures for the group as we went through the message.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Taking Notes?

In my mind I have a dream of students gathered before me learning and writing down every word that proceeds from my lips.  It's a dream!  Can't I have a dream?  It's not reality.   Not even gonna happen.  But we do have some students who learn visually so we put things up on the big screens for them.  We also have students who learn just fine by listening.  We have students who learn as they talk it out so we provide discussion in our PODz.

We used to do fill in the blank notes for every kid back in the day.  Many used them for passing notes to each other.  The studious students used them.  BUT it created more work.  So I wanted to get back into giving the students who want the opportunity to take notes a tool to use without having to create a fill in the blank sheet each week.  Plus I think these youth are smart enough to write down what they feel is important or speaking to them.

I also added an "on my own this week" section.  Each week my goal will be to have a section of scripture or a "homework" assignment for students who would like to go a little deeper into their study of God's word. 
  We also have the students who learn when they write.  So for those students a note sheet is a nice tool.

On the bottom is the "My Next Step" section.  Each week when we teach we should expect there is a next step for every person in the room to take students and adults.  I'm leaving them a little place to write down that next step to help them confirm what is taking place in their heart and life.

My hope is this tool will get some good use.

Do you do anything like this with your students?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lead Like Joshua

I have been reading through the book of Joshua in the mornings.  Lots of good leadership examples in the life of Joshua.
This is from my journal today:
Joshua 24

Joshua gathers the tribes and their leaders and reminds them of what God has done for them. From bringing Abraham out from worshipping other gods to delivering them from Egypt. Joshua reminded them of how God:
>established them as his children
>cared for them
>protected them
>provided for them

God has established me as his child.  God has cared for me, protected me and provided for me.

In this chapter is my favorite line from Joshua.
Verse 15 "...Choose today who you will serve"

The choice is before Israel to choose to serve the gods from their ancestor, Abraham's, land. The choice to serve the gods of Egypt. The choice to serve the gods of the displaced Canaanites in the promised land. The choice to serve the one and only, true and living, God.
They chose to serve God.

I have a choice to make as well.  Who will I serve? 

My other favorite line from Joshua is also in this chapter.
"But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua was not only a leader of a nation but he was a leader in his home and family. His family didn't get the option to choose. Joshua pretty much said, "this is how it's going to be in my family."

Leaders in the church must first be leaders in the home.

What is your choice? Who will you serve?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sheepdog or Shepherd

Great post from LeaderTreks.   Good reminder of what we should be and do as shepherds of students.
Read More

Monday, March 31, 2014

Easter Lessons

Here are some trusted resources if you are looking for an Easter lesson for your youth group:


Leader Treks - The "Why" behind Jesus' death


Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

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