Who is holding up your hands?

Who is holding up your hands?

I love, love, love student ministry.  But if I am honest, it has got to be the hardest and most difficult thing I have ever done.  Not the tasks, not the actual job that I get evaluated for, but that subjective, spiritual, unspoken work of pouring your entire being into the life of students.  

Most people love to "invest" in the lives of students.  

But to be honest, most of this investment seems like the Farmer who is not only scattering seeds, but wasting good seed on miles of path.

Read More

Top 10 ways to stay hip and relevant

Top 10 ways to stay hip and relevant

The number one question I get asked by people young and old is, “Ben, how do you stay so hip and relevant?”  People look at me and watch me in action and they can not believe a man in his early 40’s is so cool and has such a bead on the youth culture.  Just to prove it, I downloaded Rebecca Black’s song from iTunes way back, when there were less than  1,000,000 hits on youtube.

Read More

March Madness: the top 5 reasons you should participate

March Madness: the top 5 reasons you should participate

March Madness is one of my favorite times of year. I love betting, I love being together, and I love basketball. Here is a post that seems timely every March! Whether or not you know anything about college basketball, March Madness is an amazing ministry tool. 

Now that the brackets have been chosen, it is time to round up any group you want to build some unity with and place your bets. It doesn’t matter if it is with your church staff, volunteer leaders, or small group, as long as it is a group of people that you like and you want to bond with, then this is the month for you.

Read More

Irreducible Complexity in Student Ministry

Irreducible Complexity in Student Ministry

There are so many great things we do in student ministry.  But so much of what we do are simply add ons to what is truly the fundamental core values of student ministry.  The challenge is separate out what is the irreducible complexity in student ministry and what are simply the add ons.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is the add ons, the amenities, and the style points that are what makes your ministry uniquely yours.  These are probably what you are known for and affirmed for in your ministry.  But if we are not careful, we lose focus and make the amenities the main things.  What we really want to do is firmly understand the core values of student ministry and from that foundation we can build what every stylized and culturally appropriate ministry we have been dreaming about!

Read More

How old do you have to be to start cussing?

How old do you have to be to start cussing?

This was the question that was posed to me by my 10 year old son.  It was actually a really sweet moment that tested my theology, my own convictions, and my parenting.  

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a book on my bed  and my son climbed into bed and asked this question, "How old do you have to be to start cussing?"  I immediately went on a witch hunt to find out what dirty friend of his was poisoning his mind.  But before I could get too far down that road, my own life and actions betrayed me.  For I have been known to use colorful language from time to time.  And now, my loose lips are sinking ships.  Well, they may not be sinking ships, but they are setting up some moral dissonance for my kid and forced a gut check for me.

Read More

04 | What do do when you are in a rut.

04 | What do do when you are in a rut.

Welcome to the Thursday Morning Debrief with Ben and Ryan.  

This is a podcast where we seek to leverage our friendship to maintain a soft heart towards Jesus and towards our ministry.

In this weeks episode:

  • What sort of circumstances get us in a rut
  • A reminder that ministry is for our students and not for us
  • Some go-to ideas to pull out of the rut and enjoy the rest of the year.
Read More

The need to create a unique culture within your youth ministry

The need to create a unique culture within your youth ministry

It is easy to think about student ministry priorities in terms of numbers, biblical knowledge, or behavior modification. Yes, spiritual formation is the goal, but often these priorities are the lens in which we evaluate this process. 

In an era where our kids are fully post-moderns, and increasingly post-Christian, there is a ministry priority that I think should out rank the first three as a tool for spiritual formation. And that is creating a culture.  

Read More

Why I surf

Why I surf

I little over year ago I started a new hobby, surfing.  Surfing is a really strange activity.  Unlike running, biking, hiking, swimming, surfing brings all sorts of epic connotations.  It is beautiful, elegant, cool, and elite.  I mean, very few people in the world even have access to the sport.  

And it was for some of these reasons that I decided to try my hand.  A group of my friends have been going out surfing Thursday morning for years, and have been inviting me, to no avail.  It was too early, it is too cold, and I hate feeling like an idiot trying new things in front of people.  But last fall, I got over myself and did it.  And it has been life changing.

Read More

Why are we letting big churches dump their baggage on the rest of us?

Why are we letting big churches dump their baggage on the rest of us?

I love youth ministry.  I mean, I really love  it.  I love doing it, talking about it, reading about it, writing about it, and learning from my "industry" leaders about upcoming trends and practical helps.  

But what I have found to be disconcerting after learning from the "experts" for quite some time, is that I am not really sure that they are the "experts."  The talking heads and leader authors and presenters in youth ministry circles are good looking, successful, high capacity youth ministry leaders of some of the largest youth ministries in our country.  But they reason for their huge numbers are because they are part of huge churches.  

Read More

The most important question regarding the future impact of your ministry:

The most important question regarding the future impact of your ministry:

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending our denomination's annual Youth Worker's Conference.  This is the highlight of my year as it is a chance to get away from my current context of ministry, be with dear friends, and be encouraged and inspired in my faith and in my ministry.

And while all of the speakers were incredible, and while the break out seminars were challenging and interesting, I kept wondering what was missing.  In the midst of all this great programing and fellowship, my heart was still longing for something more.  

Read More

Maybe it's not spiritual warfare, but simply poor leadership

Maybe it's not spiritual warfare, but simply poor leadership

Leadership is a challenging calling.  Being the point of the spear always looks great on paper.  In fact, whenever I talk with my colleagues in youth ministry, they are always itching to lead.  They read the books, they swing for the fences, and they take full advantage of the positional authority they have been given.  

But when the pushback comes, I am horrified that the go to culprit of the people's rebellion is spiritual warfare.  A spirit of rebellion, a lack of trust in God and in their leaders.  Or when the decision is having awful unintended consequences that are difficult to explain, then the only option for explanation is a spiritual one.  

Read More

Why "christian" movies suck and how they reflect our poor tone in evangelism.

Why "christian" movies suck and how they reflect our poor tone in evangelism.

Not long ago I watched the movie, Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini.  It was the best Christian movie I think I have ever seen.  And the more I reflected on that statement, I began to wonder, how in the world did Angelina Jolie, who isn't a Christian, craft a movie that gave the best and most artistic version of Christianity seen on film ever, or at least in my lifetime.  

While I loved Unbroken as saw it as an incredible gift to the Christian community, many of my peers though that Angelina Jolie didn't do adequate service to the faith and convictions of Louis Zamperini.  But the truth is, that Unbroken gave us Christians a beautiful way forward in our desire to share our faith with others, and there is much to learn from Jolie as to how to do this.

Read More

How to talk with your girls about pornography and masturbation

How to talk with your girls about pornography and masturbation

I’m writing this in response to the blog post “Let’s be honest about every guy’s struggle”.  

While I feel this post was spot on in how we should treat these struggles, if we’re going to be honest, then let’s be really honest.   This is not a struggle exclusive to guys! Let me express that again, this is not just a ‘guy thing’! That’s right! Women and teenage girls struggle with sexual purity, masturbation and watching porn too.   I’ll pause a moment for you to grasp that.  

Read More

State of the Union (2 Defining questions for the state and future of student ministry)

State of the Union (2 Defining questions for the state and future of student ministry)

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to be around a table with some of the most incredible youth workers from around the country.  As we met over a day an half dreaming about how to care for the youth workers in our denomination, Tim Ciccone, the Director of Student Ministry for our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, asked us two questions that have been gnawing at me ever since:

  1. WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUTH MINISTRY IN OUR DENOMINATION? 
  2. WHERE IS YOUTH MINISTRY GOING IN THE FUTURE?
Read More

Say Something, I'm Giving Up On You

Say Something, I'm Giving Up On You

I know that this song has been around for a while, but every time I hear it, I immediately find myself choked up by its haunting lyrics and melody.  If you want to know the state of affairs within the hearts of our students, this song captures it:  The overwhelming loss of intimate relationship with no hope for restoration or healing.  This is how it is, sorry.  

And for as haunting as this song is, I also feel like this song is the exact point of contact where the Good News of Jesus Christ intersects a broken and lost world.  

Read More

Do you find your identity in accomplishments?

Do you find your identity in accomplishments?

As I sit on my couch staring at my broken up leg, knowing there is not one thing I can actually accomplish over the next 6 weeks, I am reminded again of this reality.  Who knew a simply stumble down two steps would cause such a ripple affect in my life.  A broken knee cap, surgery a week later, 6 weeks of PT, and after that, who knows.  I just know for sure that all of my plans and goals are up in the air.  

Read More

TMD Podcast Episode 01: What happens when you CHUNK your talk?

TMD Podcast Episode 01:  What happens when you CHUNK your talk?

Welcome to the Thursday Morning Debrief with Ben and Ryan.  

This is a podcast where we seek to leverage our friendship to maintain a soft heart towards Jesus and towards our ministry.

In this weeks episode: What happens when you CHUNK your talk?

Here are 4 questions to consider as your evaluate your talk from the night before, and ways to improve, especially if you happen to have CHUNKED it.

Read More