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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The Thursday Morning Debrief Episode 01: What happens when you CHUNK your talk?

The Thursday Morning Debrief 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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A word of caution to my activist friends from a religious right wounded warrior

A word of caution to my activist friends from a religious right wounded warrior

Disclaimer:  I admit that this post has nothing to do with student ministry and is far away from the normal subject matter that is discussed on this blog.  However, I think that we as Christians must be in the mix regarding issues on race and sexism.  We need to help those in our circles to navigate these difficult topics.  My intention is to find common ground, own the garbage on my side of the street, and move conversation and policy forward in a way that resembles the Kingdom of God.  

I have been brokenhearted by the news of the past few months, especially surrounding issues of racism and rape. 

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The need for our own Advent experience

The need for our own Advent experience

I love my job!  I love that, just about, every waking moment is consumed with concern for the spiritual health and development of my students.  I so badly long for them to know and love Jesus, and because of this, spend a lot of time working hard to provide teaching, experiences, and relationships that will help move this desire along. 

As my fall programming comes to an end and our church is gearing up for Christmas Eve, I have to confess that I almost missed it. 

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What to do when Sunday School sucks

What to do when Sunday School sucks

Because my church is a medium sized church, Sunday School has been the bane of my existence for my entire career. 

(For my friends at large churches, you have managed to escape the hardest part of the job for most youth workers. Because our churches are not huge, we don't have critical mass of students which means we actually have to look into the cold, dead, eyes of students at 9:00 on a weekend morning.  Consider yourselves lucky!) 

For me, in my context, I have found that every 6 weeks or so I am faced with the awful reality that Sunday School sucks. And, would you have guessed, we are right on schedule. that means it is once again time to mix it up so that we can have some sort of benefit for the highest of sacred cows. 

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The Value of Having a Cry Night at Camp

The Value of Having a Cry Night at Camp

I Used to be Really Frustrated by Cry Night:

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a winter camp. Unbeknownst to me, there was a fixed spiritual rhythm to their retreat.  Over this three-night winter camp hovered the expectation of increased spiritual depth, culminating with some sort of significant moment or opportunity for response. I found out about this rhythm solely by accident.

I wanted to have an opportunity for response every time we were together. I wanted each session to carry its own weight and expectation for response. I crafted each session with very unique tactile ways to respond to what the Holy Spirit was doing. And I don’t mean to boast, but these were some of the most creative and brilliant sessions I had ever put together.

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An unexpected character around the nativity

An unexpected character around the nativity

For youth group this christmas, we are asking students to look at five different characters that were in close proximity to the birth of Jesus.  Although the lesson was rather simple to make, the conclusions were a little more difficult to swallow.

The Distracted:  Luke 2:1-3

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register.

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Youth Ministry Answers Podcast

Youth Ministry Answers Podcast

This week, the people over at stuffyoucanuse.org are launching a brand new podcast, YouthMinistryAnswers.com.  If you are wondering why you should check it out, here's why:

I love youth ministry with all my heart!

 It is, hands down, the best / worst job on the planet.  And at the same time it is also the easier / hardest job as well.  Depending where you are on your journey, where you are at in your career, and where you are at in general, depends where you are live on these spectrums.  

I often tell young youth workers that there isn't much to pulling off a great youth ministry within a church setting.  But the truth is, that is a lie.  There are a number of things that are vital to pull this off.  There is a very steep, but thankfully short, learning curve to figuring it all out.  

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The Blogging Life

The Blogging Life

This Thanksgiving is the four year birthday for this blog, Average Youth Ministry.  

And what a wild ride it has been.  In just under 1500 days, I will have rounded the corner on a half a million views from people all over the world.  

Over these four years, I began writing this blog as a form of spiritual discipline to help me process trough the joy-filled as well as the perilous mine field known as student ministry.  And within the first year enjoyed some of the dopamine rush that comes from collecting hits, likes, and comments.  And before long, I thought I was going to be famous. 

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Grandma: a youth ministry model

Grandma: a youth ministry model

It is hard to believe that this was my first blog post of all time.  After 4 years, I think I would still agree with myself :)  Happy Thanksgiving!

This last week I had the honor of participating in Grandparents and “Special Friends Day" at a local high school.  This is an amazing Thanksgiving tradition that is a blessing to the entire school.  Grandparents, “special friends,” students and alumni all gathered for coffee and pastries in front of the school office and then headed off to the first class of the day.  The grandparents and “special friends” followed their student through their day and the alumni, who are home from college, got to go and visit their favorite teachers. 

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The Right Medicine to Cure Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression

The Right Medicine to Cure Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression

It seems like loneliness, anxiety, and depression are becoming hallmark issues in the lives of our students.

In every context I find myself, with every youth worker I talk to, these three issues seem to be at the top of the felt needs list among adolescents today.

I know that the reasons are varied, and the severity range is all over the board.  But what if there was a ministry solution that was actually Good News to our students who are struggling with this trifecta?

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