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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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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.  

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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?
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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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How youth ministry crushes your self esteem.

How youth ministry crushes your self esteem.

It is crazy to think about, but I am rounding the corner on 20 years of student ministry.  That is so long.  That is so many hours, days, weeks, months, and years pouring my guts out for students in an effort that they may know and love Jesus some day.  And don't get me wrong, I LOVE IT!!!

But over the last couple of years I have had this awful realization, YOUTH MINISTRY CRUSHES YOUR SELF ESTEEM!

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The purpose of small groups

The purpose of small groups

Say no to second sermon.

Last year I had the privilege of going to a national ministry conference to hear a world class communicator.  They did exactly what one would expect from a world class communicator at a big time conference.  They were powerful, articulate, and convicting.  As the communicator was wrapping up their talk, my mind was spinning and my heart was churning as I wrestled with my thoughts and with God as to where to go with what I had just heard.  

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Want a raise? Here are 4 ways to get there.

Want a raise?  Here are 4 ways to get there.

First the bad news, it probably wont happen.  And this isn't because the church hates you or is being unfair to you or your family.  You were hired to do a job, and offered a compensation package.  You accepted this fate.  :)  So, next time, when you move on and move up, make sure that you negotiate a compensation package that will allow you to say for the duration without allowing bitterness and rage seep in.  

But for now, lets assume that you want to stick around a while longer in your current context and would like a raise as well, then here are 4 things that you need to do to get there.

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Checkout our brand new podcast, The Thursday Morning Debrief

Checkout our brand new podcast, The Thursday Morning Debrief

It is always fun trying out new ways to stay fresh in ministry.  This blog has proven to be an incredible resource for me to work out some of my ministry issues and theological ramblings.  And in an effort to keep trying new things, I have decided to try my hand in podcasting.  Together with my friend Ryan Reed, we are going to publish a podcast every other week for the foreseeable future.  

The goal here is to deepen our friendship and to keep our hearts soft for ministry and for Jesus.  I would love to know what you think as you get to listen in our friendship as we continue to work out ministry in our context.  

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What are you doing with your hours in 2015?

What are you doing with your hours in 2015?

I love the new year!  Out with the old and in with the new.  As I chuck the past and lean into the future, there is one area that I have been increasingly sloppy in and therefore becoming less and less effective.  This area is my calendar.  This is the document that helps me maximize my time, keeps my social media time to a minimum and keeps me focused on my vision, values, and tasks for ministry.

Too often the tyranny of the urgent overwhelms our calendar and then we end up never getting the the important things we long to do in ministry, or even worse, we end up doing most of our ministry half assed.  For me, I have let misc. appointments crowd out the appointments I must make and keep to keep my ministry moving forward.  I have found myself wasting many hours wandering our office and campus visiting people, and just wandering.

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This year I am saying no to New Year's Resolutions

This year I am saying no to New Year's Resolutions

One of the best practices I have picked up over the past few years is adding pod casts to my regular intellectual intake.  I have been listening to stories, learning about business, encouraged by sermons, and lending some support to my fellow youth ministry podcasters.  And of all the podcasts I have been listening to, I have the most stimulating, encouraging, refining, and butt kicking by non other than my someday boss, Andy Stanley.  

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The 4 key tasks of student ministry

The 4 key tasks of student ministry

As we gear up for a new year and new semester of ministry, it is easy to get caught up in urgent tasks and miss the mark on what we are actually called to do as youth workers.  Now, don't get me wrong, tasks like the details that go into a successful and engaging youth group, planning events, buying supplies and setting up fun games, the study and preparation for your talks, receipts, and contact work, are all important, but these tasks are only the action steps that must be informed by the four key tasks of student ministry.  If you do these four tasks well then you will be a rock star for the kingdom of God and for your church!

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Merry Christmas From the Kerns Family

Merry Christmas From the Kerns Family

Can you believe this is our 10th Christmas from Novato?!?!

As I sit down to write up our annual Christmas letter, I realized that I was struggling a little bit coming up with some new and clever material to give you a snap shot into this last year of our life.  I think the reason for the writer’s block is that on some level, nothing has changed.  It has been 10 Christmases in the same house, at the same job, with the same kids, and same dog.  (Ok, the second kid and dog came a little later, but you get the point.)   But for as much as life on the surface seems very much the same, the truth is that we have been blessed in multiples of 10’s all year long!  

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