Helping Young, Amoral, Christian Leaders Succeed in a Traditional Church Context

Helping Young, Amoral, Christian Leaders Succeed in a Traditional Church Context

Fall is upon us and with fall often comes the beginning of many young leader's first stab at vocational ministry within the walls of a church.  Many of these young Christian leaders grew up in church, participated in student leadership, were a part of college ministries and camp, and have finally graduated and are putting their gifts and talents to work in a local church context.

This is all well and good.  In fact, this should be commended.  For most of us in vocational ministry, we can remember a church or a ministry leader taking a risk and hiring us as we fumbled our way through our first year or two of ministry.  We struggled finding that invisible line between identifying with students and maintaining the respect of those who paid our salaries.  

Read More

How you end hinges on how you start. So start well!

How you end hinges on how you start.  So start well!

Can you believe that summer is over and the this new school year is already upon us?  We are in that precious time in our programmatic calendar between seasons.  We have ended our Summer youth group rhythm, and are on a break until we launch our fall student ministry program in a couple of weeks.

In order for us to have a successful year in ministry, I have found that what I do during these two weeks is of the utmost importance.  

To make sure this I don't let these two weeks get ahead of me, I have decided to write out my goal, and what I am going to do to set my ministry up for success in pulling them off.  Here they are:

Read More

Ephesians Week 8

Ephesians Week 8

Here is week 8:

We did it, the end of our study through Ephesians.  This has been really fun and challenging for me and for our students.  I hope that you have found that to be true for your students as well.   

As we wrap this study up, we come full circle and realize that at the end of the day, this process of evangelism, discipleship, and sanctification is a spiritual endeavor.  It is not about being clever, wise, cool, or even relevant.  Our battle is not of flesh and bones, but of the spirit.  And if our students are going to thrive spiritually, then they must prepare spiritually for a life of faith.

Put on the whole armor of God!  The breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shoes fitted for sharing the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit!  

Read More

What youth workers can learn from Donald Trump

What youth workers can learn from Donald Trump

Even if you have been living under a rock, and only watched the tiniest bit of the news recently, you could not escape the political chaos that is happening within the the Republican Party.  And the reason for this chaos is because the current front runner in the GOP primary is, in none other, than Donald Trump. 

No matter what you think about him or about politics in general, as a youth worker, it would serve you well to watch and learn.  

Combover aside, I see a striking similarity between many of my youth worker friends and The Donald.  And, unfortunately, the parallel isn't a good one.  

Read More

Ephesians Week 7

Ephesians Week 7

Here is week 7:

Now that we are rounding the corner, we will spend this week with the traditional Do's and Don'ts of the Christian faith.

Behavior Management gets a bad rap and most of us handles this loosely when dealing with our students.  But in the framework of our adoption into the Family of God and and invitation to mature into Godly adults, we must own up to the brutal reality that our behavior matters.

There is a lot to cover, so instead of parching at them for too long, I suggest a brief introduction then have your small groups work out the Do's and Don'ts and then to share them as a group!

Good luck navigating behaviors as a natural response to the love and grace of Jesus :) 

Read More

Ephesians Week 6

Ephesians Week 6

Here is week 6:

Here is where we turn the corner.  Up to this point in our study we have got to bank of the all the goodness of God's love and affection towards his children.  This is good news and our students love it.  But at this point we are going to start to loose them, because we now get the the "So What?" portion of our time.

This week we are asking students to live into their high calling.  But in order to pull this off, they will be required to examine their life, their selfishness, and their rebellion.  The very first word is a call to be a prisoner.  Yikes, this does not work well with the world view of our rainbow and unicorn students.  

Read More

Ephesians Week 5

Here is week 5:

Chapter 3 of Ephesians is really the turning point of this incredibly book.  So far we have learned all about who God is and what He has done for us.  Out of His incredible heart and unending love, he has invited us to be adopted into His family as co-heirs with Christ!

If we truly can get our head around God's goodness and grace, his unending love, and his power to make all things right, the natural response would be worship.

Read More

We are family! (Why our students need a bigger vision of their faith and the church)

We are family! (Why our students need a bigger vision of their faith and the church)

This week I am clear across the country to the University of Tennessee for our triennial youth ministry gathering, called CHIC. The acronym is not important, but what the event is, is one of the most important events I do in my student ministry. 

This conference has all the ingredients that are important for a successful and amazing youth conference: There are solid morning seminars that practically help students put feet to their faith. Then there are the over the top activities for every type of kid; including sporting tournaments, bracelet making, spray paint walls, white water rafting, hiking, choir, etc. And to top it off, a world class evening line up. This year our students get to hear from Ben Stuart Lecrae, Eugen Cho, Judy Peterson, Louie Giglio, and listen to some great artist as well, such as, Propaganda, Social Club, Rend Collective, Lecrae, and For King and Country.

Read More

Ephesians Week 4

Ephesians Week 4

Here is week 4:

With a hard study of the consequences of sin and selfishness behind us, we now turn our attention to the amazing invitation that God has for humanity.  For those who recognize that they are trapped in the distant land, living in Lord of the Flies community, and unseen as an orphan, God is extending an invitation to be adopted into his family.

And like people who are adopted here, this adoption changes everything.  Their old life is gone and done for.  There is a new hope, a new future, and a new call.

Read More

Ephesians Week 3

Ephesians Week 3

Here is week 3:

Week three is the the bad, bad, news before we can get to the good news.  And here it is:  All of the freedom we have, simply following all of our selfish desires, doing what seems right in the moment, only leads to death and destruction.

This week we will wrestle with this awful truth.  It is awful because most of our students only know the goodness of their selfish decisions.  But our prayer is that they come to terms with at least the potential death and destruction.  

Then we will walk through the gospel as we share the good news of God's rescue effort through Jesus to reclaim us and repurpose us for his good will!

Read More

3 reasons why the SCOTUS ruling on Gay Marriage is a good thing for the Church:

3 reasons why the SCOTUS ruling on Gay Marriage is a good thing for the Church:

Depending on your world view and / or geographical context the SCOTUS ruling that legalizes gay marriage in all these 50 united states has garnered a wide verity of responses.   Some are happy that there are now equal rights for all people and there is no longer a societal distinction or discrimination towards those who are gay and would like to be married.  Some are disheartened because they feel like the bottom has dropped out of a worldview that they have built their life and faith around.  

But no matter how you are emotionally feeling about the ruling, it is the law of the land.  And this means that this is a good time for the Church and for Christians to shy away from knee-jerk responses on both sides.  There is no need for fear mongering on the political right or self-righteousness on the political left  

No matter where you land on the political spectrum, or even on the theological spectrum, this ruling is a game changer for our country, and will be a game changer for the church.  This ruling puts the death nail in 3 main tenants of the heretical theology that many in the Church fully embrace.

Read More

Check out my new book, "From the Pen to the Palace"

Check out my new book, "From the Pen to the Palace"

Dear Fellow Youth Worker:

As you are more than aware, our culture is continuing to change and transform at a pace that is next to impossible to keep up with. And more than the changing clothing and music styles is the dramatically changing worldview that informs our students understanding of themselves and the world they live in.

For many of us, our students are living in an increasingly post-Christian world where the ideals, values, stories that are molding and shaping them are increasingly far from the Judeo-Christian worldview of our childhood.  

Read More

Ephesians Week 1

Ephesians Week 1

Week one is the introduction of Ephesians.  We will look at Paul's opening statement that you are a HOLY and FAITHFUL people.  Through the lesson, discussion questions, and weekly devos, I hope that students come to understand that what defines them is who's they are not what they do.  

In Christ, they are HOLY people, children of the King!  This comes with incredible blessings and rights.  But it also comes with incredible responsibility.  

God longs to use his people to bring all things under the authority of Christ, and this starts and ends with his kids getting after the family business!

Read More

Commissioning the Class of 2015

Commissioning the Class of 2015

Every June we launch our senior class with a special service.  Our "Youth Sunday" has become the Sunday where we celebrate our seniors and hear about all the ways God has moved and is moving in their life.

I am so blessed to be part of a church that has and continues to make an incredible investment into the lives of our students.  And even with this huge investment, we recognize that our seniors are still in the process of individuation and formation.  What they share is simply a snap shot in history.  

Read More

If you think you are a great, jump into a larger pond.

If you think you are a great, jump into a larger pond.

I am sure many of you already have a really good sense of yourself and how well you stack up to those around you. But I have found in my own life, if I intentionally don't work at it, I start to think I am really amazing. If you even do a half way decent job at your church you have a group of parents who love and respect you. They hang on your every word and seek you for spiritual counseling. In their lives you are pretty important.

The problem comes when you start to believe the hype and agree that you are pretty important.

Read More

What can Graduation teach us about our calling?

What can Graduation teach us about our calling?

Guess What? It's Not About You!

A call to student ministry is a special and unique thing. We have been called by God to participate in the spiritual development of students. For a very specific and often chaotic season, we get the privilege and honor of being adults who coach, mentor, disciple and journey with adolescents who are exploring their faith and making it their own. What could be greater? As we attempt to live this out in the real world with real students in a real context, this simple and yet profound calling gets blurry.

The students we work with have joys and concerns, victories and losses, growth and set backs. We attempt to be there for every student for every part of the roller coaster ride; and while we work our guts out, pouring our lives into these students, our vision becomes impaired. Because very slowly, without us knowing, the joy that comes from getting to be there for students and walk with them turns and starts to become about us. Instead of being an adult who journeys with students for a season of their lives, we see ourselves as the adult who journeys with them, who advocates for them, who loves them, who will get them through adolescence, who will solve their problems, etc...

Read More

How to Recruit Volunteers and Keep Them

How to Recruit Volunteers and Keep Them

Finding good help is one of the most difficult aspects of our job. We know that good youth ministry means that students need many adults in their lives who will see them, love them, and model an abundant life in Christ.

BEFORE WE CAN TALK ABOUT RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS, LETS START WITH THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE: 

There are many tricks and tools to find, train, and equip volunteers. You should read everything you can read about that, because once you have your volunteers, they will need to know all of that information. But knowing information and being well trained is not how you keep volunteers. You keep volunteers because they feel like they are important and valuable to you and to the ministry you lead.

So if you want to keep your volunteers, simply love the snot out of them. They are giving up nights and weekends for you and for these students. Bless them, buy them lunch and coffee, pump them up and thank them. Help them create good relationships with students and help them succeed as small group leaders. Hanging with adolescent kids is a challenge and can crush your self esteem. It is even more challenging for your volunteers. So whatever you do, remind them that their only job is to simply love and care for students. And then help them do just that.

BUT THAT DOESN’T ANSWER THE QUESTION, “WHO?”:

Read More

08 | Creating healthy rhythms in ministry (and in podcasting)

08 | Creating healthy rhythms in ministry (and in podcasting)

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:  Creating healthy rhythms in ministry (and in podcasting)

  • This is the end of another calendar year
  • The need to take a programmatic break
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Read More

Fundraising Sucks! So why not get some help?

Fundraising Sucks!  So why not get some help?

Quit writing checks your body can't cash:

It is a sad story I hear way to often.  Youth worker loves students and sets up a trip.  Says yes to every sob story in her ministry, only to come up short.  Thousands and thousands of dollars short.  So when the trip is over, and the kids share their testimonies and the church is left crying because of God's faithfulness to show up spiritually, this poor youth worker is crying because she has been shown the door for bankrupting the church.  (Ok, there might be a little hyperbole here, but not as much as you think)

There has to be a better way?  In fact there is, Team 316

Read More