Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 1:15-23)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 1:15-23)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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Human Connections vs. Social Media

Human Connections vs. Social Media

A few weeks ago I was talking with a former youth group student who is now in his late 20s.  He was sharing with me how it is really difficult trying to find a quality woman who loves God now that he is out of college, and in a community with few peers.  For the New Year he has decided to take the plunge and take his chances with a dating website. As culture continues to change and as media becomes more and more personal, it seems that the trend is for people to hunker down and live out their lives online.  Gone are the days where people actually go outside, meet up with friends, and do something together.  Everything has become centered on the individual.

Individualism is king!

This trend is great when I think of the shows, movies, music, blogs, and news that I like to consume.  I don’t have to bother people around me who would be annoyed with my passion for old skool Amy Grant.  But for building community, for making new friends, and for finding a potential spouse (for my friend) this trend is making these things increasingly difficult.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 1:1-14)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 1:1-14)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

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How do you protect your kids from porn? Circle by Disney

How do you protect your kids from porn?  Circle by Disney

As a youth pastor, I get asked all the time, "How do I protect my kids from porn?"  "How do I manage my kids' online consumption, especially because every device has become so personalized?"  To be honest, until these last few months I have had little help to offer.

A month ago, I bought Circle, by Disney, and it has revolutionized the way I protect my home, my kids, and myself from the many pitfalls that the online world has.  

Circle, by Disney, is a device that syncs up to your wireless router.  It is simple to set up and simple to use.  I am one of the least technological people I know.  My tech ability peaked with setting the VCR.  Even for someone like me, the set up was easy as pie.  Simply follow the directions that are explained by pictures and before you know it, every device that connects to the internet from your router now goes through the Circle.  

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A mission statement that may not inspire, but points us towards the job we are called to do

A mission statement that may not inspire, but points us towards the job we are called to do

Remember life before Mission Statements?

I remember back to the good 'ol days, before mission statements, vision statements, measurable goals, strategic plans, and purpose driven everything. In those days life was simple, Chubby Bunny, DC Talk, the 4 Laws, and Pizza ruled the day. And somehow by God's grace, churches grew, people came to know and love Jesus, and some of those people even felt called by God to go into ministry.

As corporate language has invaded the church there has been a sharpening of focus for churches and for ministry. This corporate language is not the point of this blog, and I apologize if you went into anaphylactic shock because of it. Yes, I agree the church isn't corporate and we hate all things corporate (except Apple). But every church I have been to and every youth worker I talk to says that they want their church and their ministry to grow. And while they assure me that growth means spiritual growth, we all know what we mean, numerical growth. And the people who have been leading the charge are those who have taken the best of the corporate world and used them in the church.

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10 ways to maximize your ministry this summer

10 ways to maximize your ministry this summer

As we wrap up another year of student ministry, it is nice to take a little breather and celebrate a job well done! Seriously, YOU KILLED IT! Week in and week out you provided excellent ministry and care for the wide variety of students that God has put in your path. You have loved them well, been the hands and feet of Jesus, and done good, solid ministry!

Now, with summer quickly approaching it is time to reboot, recharge, and regroup, for in a matter of 10 short weeks it will be time to gear up and do it all over again!

So, for these 10 weeks of summer, I thought I would give you 10 ways you can maximize your ministry. Summer provides for a very unique rhythm in life and ministry, so lets capitalize on that so that we can come into our falls ready to ROCK!

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How do you view status on a high school campus?

How do you view status on a high school campus?

It is not 1985 anymore:

Back in the 80's Young Life was the premiere organization reaching students for Christ.  They were a corrective force for the church and were the key organization to completely transition how churches do student ministry. Because of the influence of Young Life, the church has been able to expand their demographic from a closed group of church kids, into youth groups that are just as missional and inviting as many Young Life Clubs.It seems that the institutional church is always slow to change and slow to change their methodologies.  Since this is true, I am wondering if we are still holding on to a key ministry philosophy of Young Life had back in the 80's.

This philosophy was simple, if you win the popular kids, the leader kids, you will win the campus.  (I have no idea if this is still Young Life's main strategy, but it used to be and was incredibly effective)

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Can't Stop The Feeling! Let the dance party help shape your student ministry!

Can't Stop The Feeling!  Let the dance party help shape your student ministry!

Have you ever noticed that high school students that joking and laughing seem to come pretty easy? In fact, if you really look, most of their interaction is light hearted joking with one another. When my friends and I get together, this just isn’t the case. Our conversations are really deep and important. I wonder why that is? But why it is, is not the topic of this post. The fact that it is, is what I would like to explore.

As youth workers, we are called to connect with students, and to be cross cultural missionaries. We are to enter their world and find places where we can share the love of Christ, to bring the abundant life to them, in their context, on their level. What if one of those thing places was actually good ‘ol fashioned fun. Fun in the form of music and dancing might actually be a powerful tool to accomplish this challenging task.

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Why are kids so APATHETIC these days? It's because they have NO SKILLS!

Why are kids so APATHETIC these days?  It's because they have NO SKILLS!

A couple of weeks ago I lead a parenting seminar on apathy.  I mostly signed up to lead this seminar because our own students' apathy is just killing me!  Especially in spring, it seems like kids fall off some sort of emotional cliff and check out completely.  I started out asking some questions . . .

Does apathy have to define our students?  What is the cause? Are there some practical solutions?

Through a little bit of research and some further conversation, I had a breakthrough on what one of the main causes of Apathy is, along with a possible way forward.  (For the record, I am a simple youth worker trying to understand my students and care for their hearts.  If you have other insights or resources, please share.)

According to Google, Apathy is simply defined as: Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.  Wikipedia says that Apathy is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, and concern.  It is a state of indifference.  

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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...

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I am at my best when I live out a heart that is full!

I am at my best when I live out a heart that is full!

ENCOUNTER: Read Romans 8:14-16

Whenever I think about living out of a heart that is full, I imagine myself participating in some sort of extreme sport.  My sport of choice is base jumping in a wing suit.  I mean, that would be incredible.

While extreme sports are incredible and adrenaline makes us seem like our hearts are full, the truth is that what is happening is simply adrenaline, a chemical that has been introduced into our blood stream.  What we are talking about when we say live out a heart that is full, is living in a way where you are fully connected to your inner self. 

There is a deep well of love, pain, joys, and sorrows, hopes and dashed dreams that we all keep locked away deep inside.  But the longer we live one way on the outside and keep hidden our true self on the inside, we become more and more detached.  

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The politics of Student Ministry

The politics of Student Ministry

Politics: the art/science concerned with guiding or influencing policy. Add the additional concept of “guiding or influencing people” and we’ve got a good working definition.

In any organization, government or church, there are people and policies that need to be led. Politics is the art through which this is done. Politics is a reality of life, one we can’t overlook.

What makes politics so inherently tricky is the presence of power.

Politics is all about influence and influence is all about power. Power is the lever that makes influence happen. But power within the church is a paradox. On one hand we’re called to be servant leaders, to give up our rights, and lay down our lives for others. On the other hand, we’re called to lead people. You can’t lead without influence, and you can’t influence without power.

In most churches, there are three groups of people who have significant power in shaping the politics of that church. And, in the majority of cases, these people have more power and influence than us youth pastors do. For us to thrive in our ministry context, we must recognize this and work hard to work alongside these individuals.

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Who do you recruit to be volunteers?

Who do you recruit to be volunteers?

One of the worst feelings I've ever had in youth ministry is the feeling of going at it alone, feeling like I was the only one who cared for students at my church. Most of this feeling came because I really was the only adult from our church who was at youth group helping connect and pull off our program.

It doesn't take many nights like that, or trips where you find yourself scrambling at the last possible minute to find an adult to drive for you, that you are willing to do whatever it takes to recruit volunteers. At this point in the ministry it doesn't even matter if they like kids--just give me a warm body!

Getting Volunteers Now:

Ok, if you are in a situation like the one I described above, you simply need to just get a warm body in the room. I know it doesn't sound like much, but you cannot be doing this alone. First for spiritual and emotional reasons, but also for legal reasons as well. If you are holding out for some adult who will attract kids, interact with them appropriately, and help nurture a healthy version of Christianity, you will die holding your breath.

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The importance of appropriately differentiating your faith from your student's

The importance of appropriately differentiating your faith from your student's

Most youth workers, including me, have been doing student ministry since they were students themselves.  Because of this reality, there is often an unchecked issue brewing just below the surface.  This is that we often fail to differentiate our spiritual development and needs from those of our students.

Remember being a high school student?

There was a time, and maybe you are still in that time, when you remember being a high schooler and you remember the spiritual journey of that time.   This memory is one of the things that makes you such a great youth worker.  I remember how great it was when I first started out in student ministry.  Whatever I was learning, however I was growing, only added fuel to my growing passion for students and for them to encounter the living God who was rocking my world!  In fact, I have found that it is always best to teach from a place of authenticity and personal growth.

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Top 10 ways to survive reentry from #OC16

Top 10 ways to survive reentry from #OC16

Orange 2016 is over, you have checked out of your hotel, and it is now time to head back home. For the past several days you have had the amazing opportunity to be free from leadership responsibilities, drama, and obligations. You have been able to wonder around as you please, sleep in, visit with friends, and stay up too late. You have been encouraged and sharpened spiritually and vocationally. And it is now time to wrap it up and reengage life, real life, the life to which you were really called to live. If we are not careful, it is easy to come in at the wrong angle and disintegrate as we reenter. It takes intentional effort to maximize all that God has done in you this week and to make sure the seed lands in fertile soil. Here are 10 simple ways to survive reentry:

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Best Breakout Session at #OC16 : Doug Fields and caring for our hearts!

Best Breakout Session at #OC16 : Doug Fields and caring for our hearts!

 

Doug Fields is the true Godfather of Youth Ministry!  Singlehandedly, he has written everything there is to be written about youth ministry.  He is a brilliant entrepreneur and has left his imprint on just about every youth ministry in America.  This alone makes any seminar he teaches a must attend.  

While his resources are incredible, what made his breakout on day 1 the best seminar of the Orange Conference was that Doug got to lean into what he does even better than crank out curriculum and resources, he got to be a pastor to pastors.  (And man, did I need that!) 

Doug's seminar was about caring about the private and hidden parts of our life and hearts so we fully live into the youth workers God designed us to be.   

Doug was candid and warm as he reflected on his ministry legacy and the awful reality of the mega crashes and burns by people in our "industry."  We all have a light side and a dark side, but what gets us into trouble is when we don't care for our hidden lives and crash and burn.  

 

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The opening night of #OC16 was off the chain!

The opening night of #OC16 was off the chain!

After a full day of travel and the soft onramp of some initial breakout sessions, it was finally time for the kick off session at the Orange Conference.  With 8,000 fellow ministry professionals and volunteers in attendance, the place was full of anticipation for the night to begin.

In classic Orange style, the opening skit was fun and set the stage for the week to come.  

The theme of this year's conference is "Monday is Coming."  For all the prep work of getting ready to get here, I have to admit, I was not that excited about this theme or where I thought it was going.  But, like always, the people at orange went above and beyond to make clear that Sunday is not the center of our ministry universe, rather, Monday is Coming.  

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Top 10 ways to get the most out of #OC16

Top 10 ways to get the most out of #OC16

Can you believe it? ORANGE 2016 is finally here!! That most amazing gift a church can ever give to their youth worker, a youth ministry conference!! Your bags are packed, your room is booked, and it is time to go and get some freebies. For one weekend we get to take off our mantle of responsibility and leadership, and become participants, students, and receivers. Whether it is Youth SpecialtiesOrange, Simply Youth Ministry, or I Still Do, a youth ministry conference is the one time a year that us youth workers get to actually go to camp, and not just put it on. 

And like camp, there are some things that we need to do to prepare ourselves so that we can have an amazing time and get the most out of our time away. Every year before we take students to camp or on mission trips we give them a little pep talk, so here is yours :) These are the top 10 ways to get the most out of your conference experience.

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Getting Pumped for #OC16

Getting Pumped for #OC16

Monday morning is here and it is time to start wrapping up my loose ends here at Marin Covenant Church and get my last few touches with my family.  I only have today and part of tomorrow here in Northern California to get done all that must get done in my normal life.  I must do this well, because at the exact same time, I am also starting to aim my thoughts and heart towards Atlanta.  

I have to admit, it is a strange thing to be dreaming of Atlanta, but for me, this next week in Atlanta is my version of Winter Camp!

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The beautiful butterflies we serve as youth workers

The beautiful butterflies we serve as youth workers

Our students are beautiful flowers!

One of my most favorite things is getting the opportunity to spend time with our students in smaller settings that are more conversational.  Every time I leave my conversation with these young people, I am struck with how totally different their world view is from mine.  

As an older person, as an older Christian person, as an older Christian person who has some Calvinistic and GenX baggage, I see myself through a broken, sinful, and degenerate lens.  And it is only through the grace of Jesus that He has died for my sins, rose in power to redeem, heal and empower me, so that in Him, I may actually become a masterpiece made for good works.  

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