I made the top 8 best posts in the entire world! :)

Youthmin.org is a really special and unique website. It is built, run, and contributed by people who are all doing vocational ministry. They are not heads of non-profits, publishers, or curriculum writers. They are youth workers. They work really hard at allowing new and fresh voices to be heard in youth ministry circles. And while I am not really new or fresh, I am been blessed to be a part of their team. best-blog-post-of-2012-list-of-posts-590x260

Every year they come up with a list of some of the top youth ministry blogs across the intraweb. These are nominated by average youth workers, and I am honored to have made the list.

This last year I got into a friendly and a little heated conversation about the appropriateness of bikinis at a denominational event later that summer. As we talked I realized how modesty is simply a cultural construct and the ones who need to mature in their faith are not quit who you would expect.

What are your pool rules? What is your stance on bikinis? What is your theological and cultural reasons for your position. It is this blog, Are Bikinis Sinful, that made the list.

If you think it is unique and fresh, or simply want to help my little blog make it to the next round, vote! Vote early, and often :) On the list you simply need to vote by clicking on this link and vote for: Ben Kerns - Are Bikinis Sinful.

No matter where I place or how far I make it this year, I am thankful for the blogging community and for the voices out there that contribute to a robust calling and helps to sharpen me and my fellow colleagues.

Blessings! And thanks for all your support and encouragement!


Blogging Tips: a series at youthmin.org


Over at youthmin.org there is a really interesting series of posts all about blogging.  The contributor team have all written a post sharing the blogs that inspire and sharpen them.  Just like the team, there is a wide variety of opinions and influences.  I would encourage you to check them out and expand your reading diet.  As far as my contribution, here is who made my list.  Who is on yours? There is so much I don’t know!

It is so easy to think that you are the master of the universe.  But what I have found is that whenever I get to this point, I realize that I am simply the master of my own universe.  This is the reason I love to read.

Blogs are the great equalizer.  They are posts by people just like you and me, people who love Jesus and love kids.  They approach the gospel and ministry from so many different perspectives that I am always challenged to reexamine my own ministry and strive to continually improve it.  If you are new to reading blogs, there are a ton of great ones on this site, get to reading.  But even more, if you are aren’t writing on one of your own, go to wordpress.com and get going!

Here are my top 5 favorite blogs:

These are not all specifically youth ministry blogs, but ones that challenge me to be a better pastor, parent, and person.

1) http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/ This is Fuller Youth Institute blog and is jam packed with thoughtful posts backed up with legit research.

2) http://sethgodin.com/sg/ Seth Godin is a brilliant writer and blogger.  Everyone says that if you want to know what a great blog is like, look at Seth’s.  Unfortunately, mine is nothing like his, but oh how he challenges me to get off my butt!

3) http://youthleaderstash.com/ is a helpful and practical resource.  Not only will you find clever games and images, but great curriculum, funny videos, and an encouragement to do youth ministry well.

4) http://restlessfaith.blogspot.com/ is a blog written by a friend of mine, Chad McDaniel.  He is one of the most thoughtful and godly youth pastors I know.  I am always spurred on to know Jesus and love him more because of his blog.

5) http://www.youthministrymedia.ca/ As an old guy who is increasingly out of step with all this technology, Kolby Milton is my guide through these complicated waters.  His blog is captivating, interesting, and incredibly helpful.

What I look for in a blog

Everyone seems to have some rule about what works and what doesn’t on blogs.  Keep your posts under 500 words, write to a specific audience, use a theme that is original and clean.  Unfortunately I break all these rules and so should you.

ARE YOU REMARKABLE?  Is what you are writing worthy of remark?  The blogs that I like are ones that stir me to consider things differently, push me to something new, and even change my current position.  If you make your audience think and compel them to remark, then you are hitting a home run!

ARE YOU A POSER?  It seems that online you can say whatever you want, be as controversial as you want, and blow up people and the church with little repercussion.  I work with students and doing things that are shocking is every day in this job.  Blogs that go for shock and awe flame out and lose my interest very quickly.

WILL YOUR POST SHARPEN ME?  I am desperate need of refinement.  I am a total wretch who has been saved by grace and am still confused why God would use me in pastoral ministry.  Because of my state, I need to be spurred on to know Christ more deeply, love students unconditionally, and do ministry that is worthy of the calling that God has put on my life.  If I find a blog that does that, then I am all in!

Don’t just be a consumer of information, be a contributor.  The body of Christ needs your unique perspective, so get after it!

want to help me win $500?


How is that for a leading headline? It actually isn't $500, but it is $500 in resources. One of my blog posts, My Own Rumspringa, has been nominated for best post of 2011 on youthmin.org. I was initially honored to have made the original list of 32. I couldn't believe that my little blog that is only a year old would have been worth nominating. I was put on a list with some really amazing bloggers, with people who have much better things to say than me, with people whom I respect personally and professionally. Some of bloggers who should have lasted longer than me, and some who still should beat me are:

How to be the best Youth Ministry Small Group Leader by Jeremy Zach

When numbers matter in Youth Ministry by Adam Walker Cleveland

Top 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry by Kenda Creasy Dean

Skewing the Gospel in Youth Ministry by Paul Martin

But as this contest has gone on, I have noticed that what was once humility and undue honor my little blog received by being nominated has begun to die a slow death at the hands of my need to win!

I have Issues:

A few years ago I took the strengths finder test and was really surprised at my results. Like many personality profile tests, you answer a bunch of questions and then in a matter of seconds your entire life is exposed for the entire world to see. The truth is that 4 of the 5 were of no surprise. But the fifth strength was. COMPETITION.

How in the world is competition a strength. For my entire life I would have considered it a weakness. It is the reason no one will play board games with me, it is the reason I broke ribs back to back years in mud foot ball with my students, and it is the reason why I am selling out and asking you to vote for me.

Over the last few years I have started to see how this is truly a strength and something God uses to continually refine me and sharpen me. I am thankful that God can and does continue to make all things new, redeem all things and uses them for his glory.

I admit that this competition has nothing to do with Jesus, his will, or his glory. It is a competition, and one in which I became emotionally involved in. It wouldn't matter if the prize was $1,00,000 cash or a $10 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I love winning, and hate losing.

The Truth is:

No matter if I win or lose, I will still be a man who is in desperate need of Jesus' continual restoration and transformation. I did want to share this news with you partly because I do want you to vote for me so that I can win. But this part of my heart that is the same broken part of me that crushes my 7 year old when we play chess, or knocks down freshmen in mud football. It is messed up and dirty. I do get that :)

The more whole version of myself wanted to share with you that this honor only happened because of you. Maybe not my peeps who live in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, or Gauteng, South Africa. (at least not yet) But my peeps who I do ministry alongside with. I am honored to be a part of the most amazing community of youth workers. From my local network in Marin, to my Covenant peeps, to my new friends I have made online. I am a better pastor, parent, husband, friend, and Christian because of my friendships and interactions with you. And for that I am truly thankful.

And no matter what happens with this silly contest, I am thankful to serve Jesus alongside you and to wrestle spiritually, intellectually, and relationally for this up and coming generation.

Happy New Year!


The truth is I am honored to have made the list.

Thanks for the love!  Because of your incredible support, I WON!!!  

community: we build it for others but not for ourselves.


This post was featured on youthmin.org. This is a great new blog by Benjamin Read and his peeps that is loaded with great content and opportunities for connection. Check it out and try one of these tweet chats. (I am still trying to figure it out)

Why is it so hard for youth workers to be in community with our peers? Oh, I know, because we don’t have peers. Our world consists of the students we work with and their parents. We are consumed with our calling to students, so we spend the majority of our time and energy loving on, thinking about, praying for teenagers. This lifestyle is great for our job but lousy for our social life.

We have strange hours; after school and evenings are prime time. We wear strange clothes, getting away with wearing the clothes we wore in college to the office and priding ourselves on our lack of “dress” clothes. And we are the lost demographic in the church, where are the 20 to 30 year olds in the church?

This combination makes having community seem impossible.

Except in college towns and big cities, there is a gigantic hole in church demographics where the 20 to 30 year olds should be. They must all still be in college towns or big cities, because they are not in suburbia, the place that hires most mid 20’s youth workers. This awful truth makes finding community extremely difficult, especially for those youth workers coming out of an amazing college community experience. This lack of peers makes it easy for us to throw ourselves wholly into our jobs and focus our attention mostly on building community among our students. But when the time comes that we desire to build community with other adults, we have some challenges to overcome.

The hours we keep are the exact opposite of our peers in the working world. Most people with salaried positions work 9-5 and have every night open and every weekend is a two day break. How odd is it to have to plan two weeks out to find an open night to hang out and catch a movie? How sad is it to miss out on camping trips and mini vacations because you have to be back for sunday morning? If you throw a spouse in the mix the times to develop community get even smaller. Add kids, you can forget about it.

I used to take pride in owning one pair of kakis and two ties. But what I am noticing is that my lack of sophistication in my clothing has crept into my self image. By dressing the part of a man child I find that I have a hard time connecting with young professionals in my area. Without even realizing it, I have self-selected myself out of some “community” because that community didn’t fit my mental image of myself. The problem is that while high school students never change,(they are always high school students), I am changing. I am getting older, and building friendships with my peers is getting harder and harder.

So what are youth workers to do? While it seems like a no brainer that we should be in community, we have to come to terms with the awful truth that the decks are stacked against us in this area. So if we are going to pull it off it is going to take some intentional effort.

Without adult community similar to above, we wither and die. So how do we get it:

1) Other youth workers. We are strange people with strange hours. Why not connect with like minded people and live life with them. Some of my best friends are and have been fellow youth workers from local and denominational networks.

2) Enjoy old people. While they aren’t as hip as you and they go to bed too early, there is something freeing about being friends with people who are in a different life stage as you. You don’t have to impress them, in fact you won’t. But you will bless them with fun and laughter as you receive love and wisdom.

3) Relax, community takes time. Real relationships with adults takes time. The adult world is not like college. We don’t live our entire lives on the same floor of a dorm. We have jobs and families.  To get the amount of hours in to build genuine friendship and community takes years. But if you stick with it, the depth of community can be so sweet.

Since the time it takes to build friendships with adults is often longer than the average stint for a youth worker, it might be time to consider dropping some deep roots and sticking around for a while longer.

Our entire jobs are centered around building strong community with and for our students. We just need to begin to practice what we preach.

Do you have Community where you are at? What have you done to find community?