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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…

Continue Reading…

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It should have been a bust!

For months, I have had a buys backpacking trip on the calendar. This one event has become my favorite event of the year. We take guys away for a weekend and have an adventure in creation where they get to unplug and be guys!

But this trip almost didn’t happen. For a number of reasons my numbers went from 20, to 15, to 10, and all the way down to 5 on the day of the event. My soul was crushed. Once again I got to feel the angst of planning a party that no one wants to come to.

But instead of throwing in the towel, I decided to forge ahead, but with a new plan, and a new purpose.

The more the merrier

With a wounded heart, I decided to make this at least make this trip a win for me. So I strong armed all my guy youth staff I could, then reached out to college kids who were back for the summer, and filled up our spots.

With a few phone calls, this trip went from a “high school guys’ camping trip” to “Ben’s favorite peeps over 4 generations of student ministry” trip. And while this trip wasn’t exactly what I dreamed up at the beginning of the year, it was a trip that actually filled my soul and accomplished way more then I could have ever expected.

Guys need Men to look up to:

On this trip I had my 5 high school kids, then 3 college guys, then 2 post college guys, and 3 adult men at different stages of life.  Goofing around was great.  Day hiking peaks was great. Eating gross freeze dried food.  And dealing with the gas that followed.  But the biggest highlight was sitting around in a circle on our last morning together.

Every guy shared a verse in scripture that is meaningful to them right now, and the responses were amazing.  Not amazing because so many guys are sold out for Jesus, but amazing because every guy shared in a way that was deep and authentic.  The sharing ranged from fully doubting faith, to feeling like God is calling them into ministry.

As everyone shared, I noticed an amazing thing taking place.  The high school guys were watching the college guys, who were watching the adult guys.  And by having guys to look up to, their current drama and angst was now placed in context.

After sharing, there was some organic conversation that arose between our high school kids and the adults as we hiked down the hill.  Instead of shame or guilt for their struggles, they were affirmed for their authenticity.  Instead of faking some idealized version of manhood, these guys got to see that doubt is a natural part of faith formation.

For the guys on this trip, and for the guys in my ministry, I am convinced more than ever, that the way through is by simply living life on life.  Guys need men older to look up to and guys younger to pour into.  When this happens, the smokescreens, apathy, and doubt can be part of the faith process and not simply roadblocks.

I am thankful for the older guys in my life.

As I reflect on this last weekend, I am so thankful for the older guys in my life that walked with me through all sorts of crazy seasons of life.  I am thankful that they modeled love for Jesus and a love for me.  My prayer for the guys on this trip is that they too would come to love Jesus and love one another.

I am thankful that our ministry has a number of guys around who are pursuing Jesus and willing to share their lives with these high schoolers.  For it is life on life where transformation happens.  And as we share life we get to wrestle through doubt, bust up smokescreens, and invite these younger guys into the wild adventure that is becoming a godly man.

Oh, How Nice It Would Feel To Drop the Hammer of Truth!

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had high schoolers lay into me about how youth group doesn’t do it for them anymore, or about how they need something with more depth. Sometimes I lie awake at night, imagining all the ways I would love to give it right back to them; to actually be a straight shooter and tell them how it really is. But just when I’m about to explode and completely blow away some unsuspecting, verbally processing mid-adolescent, God gives me a gracious reminder of my unique role and purpose in the body of Christ.

I recently had lunch with a former student who was the thorn in my side during her time in my student ministry.  Everything I did wasn’t good enough, every lesson wasn’t deep enough, and every other adult in her life was smarter and wiser then I ever could be.  Now, while most of my students probably already believe this, this young woman decided to make it very clear to me how dissatisfied she was with my leadership of our group.

I distinctly remember a conversation we had at the end of her sophomore year, when she tried to let me down easy that she would no longer be joining us for sunday school because it was baby food, and she would be going to big church instead.  She then proceeded to invite any other students who wanted real spiritual food to join her.

Their Self-Righteous and Rebellion is Right and Normal:

Continue Reading…

Leaders Eat Last

May 14, 2014 — 1 Comment

I am currently reading Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.  It is an awesome book and rocking my world a bit.  As I am in the middle of it and still digesting the concepts and ideas  My friend Jeremy Zach shared a video of him speaking on this topic and I think it could fundamentally change how you approach leading.  Whether you are a book learner or a visual learner, this guy has will rock your world and your worldview as you lead.  And there is a huge challenge / rebuke for leaders who enjoy the rights and privileges but not the responsibility when danger approaches.  (I hope that isn’t you) Enjoy!

Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last from 99U on Vimeo.

Graduation

What do you want your graduating seniors to leave with from their time in your student ministry?

I used to have big dreams for my students when they graduated and moved on from my student ministry.  I wanted my students to be grounded in their faith, solid in their theology, disciplined in their life and life style, pure in their convictions, and ready to jump into college with a heart for ministry.  Their college pastors would be so impressed and would be able to launch my students into vital ministries to reach their college for Jesus.  Oh, those were some good dreams.

As I got older and a little more jaded, I lowered my expectations.  I wanted students who could articulate the gospel and who were ready to jump into college clear in their theology and disciplined with their convictions.  Maybe campus ministry wasn’t for everyone.  I was willing to let that go.  Oh, so jaded.  Hahaha

My dreams for my students are much more simple these days

I am still wrestling with this is a dream from God or a pragmatic approach lowering my goals to something I can actually achieve.  Either way, I have landed on a goal for my seniors that helps me work backwards and informs my student ministry, and keeps me full of hope and grace.  It is simply this:

I want my graduating seniors to have a positive experience from their time at church and exposing them to a faith that is worthy of consideration into adulthood.  

Everything I do for student ministry is to help students feel loved and valued by our church community.  Church is a place where students are seen and cared for, where they are given every benefit of the doubt, and they are loved and welcome no matter what.  This goes for them, their friends, and their family.  No matter their background, their lifestyle, their socio-economic class, their sexuality.  No matter what, they receive unending love and grace by me, my leaders, and the pastors at large.

The faith we lay out is a faith that is complex, deep, and transforming.  There is little room for flannelgraphs, bumper stickers, or slick graphics.  Faith in Jesus is some of the deepest waters you can swim in.  These deep waters are hard to understand and grapple with as a 14 year old, and a little less so as an 18 year old.  But our students need to not be fed simple spirituality that crumbles at the slightest push back from a professor, moral failure, or personal crisis.  These non easy answers are difficult on the short term, but will save their soul into adult hood.

I love Jesus and I want my students to love Him as well.  

The best way for this to happen is for our students to maintain a positive view of the church and have enough great touch points with Jesus that they would consider putting their trust in Him when they are adults.

As you get ready to launch your graduating seniors into the big, bad world, what is the legacy you want to pass on?  What is the main thing you want them to hold on to as they leave?  My hope for my seniors is a love for the church and a faith that is worth considering into adulthood.  You?

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One of the worst things I have ever gone through was an audit by the IRS.  Yikes!!  There is one little problem that raises a red flag, and then it is game on.  You would think the IRS would simply say, “Hey, I notice there is a discrepancy here, can you explain it?”  Then you say, “Totally, look here.”  And that is the end of the story.  Instead, the IRS notices a discrepancy and then proceeds to pull back every deep and dark corner of your finances.  Its the worst!

In a similar way, I have noticed that there is a discrepancy in my work hours.  I have a job description and I have what I actually do.  The longer I am at my job the distance between these two things has gotten further and further away.  And now, I am at the point where I am entrenched and very full.

Because I am entrenched, I can no longer go to my supervisor and say, “Hey, I am doing way too much and most of it is outside my job description, I am learning to say no, so from now on, NO!”  That is a great way to get a lot of free time as you enjoy unemployment.

The tack that I am trying is to make a true audit of my time and my tasks at work.  What tasks to do I do? What ministries am I responsible for?  Who am I meeting with?  What am I doing every 15 minutes while I am at work?  What things have creeped in that are not even in the realm of my responsibilities?

How do you do a calendar audit:

It is actually really simple.  But it requires something that is next to impossible, honesty.  If you are anything like me, you think you are pretty important and everything you do is with purpose and has high value.  But when you lay it all out, as I  have done, you will quickly see that this is not the case.

Ok, here is what you do:

  1. Start making a list of everything you do that is part of your job.   Take a look at your job description, think back to the last month and write down meetings, programs, everything that you do for “ministry.”
  2. Then, for the next two weeks write down everything you actually do!
  3. Include a calendar where every 15 minutes, (I do every hour, because I can’t face the truth of how much time I waste) and see how you are using your time.  Time for driving, meetings, Facebook, blogging, sermon prep, more Facebook, etc.

In two weeks you will have some incredible data.  You will have your idealized version of your job and what you actually do.  Now, based on the reality of how you use your time you can begin to cut waste, be more intentional with your meetings, and manage your time much better.

The truth is . . . 

One week in and I can already see how much time I waste and how many “meetings” I have because they somehow fit into a category of “ministry.”  I am responsible for too many things to simply have “meetings.”  If they fit within the world of my responsibilities then they are part of my work life.  If they friendships that happen to be with people from church, then those need to be on my time.

The truth is there are plenty of hours to accomplish all that I am responsible for, I have just put too much of my own hobbies and friendships into my work calendar.

With the decks cleared, I am fired up to work harder and smarter so that I can be the youth worker and pastor God has called me to be here at Marin Covenant Church.

For the sake of your soul and for the sake of the church, are you willing to pull the curtain back and expose what you do and how you actually do it?  

weekly schedule

weekly schedule

Hitting the wall:  In endurance sports such as cycling and runninghitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.

Le Tour de France 2011 - Stage Nineteen

This year I am training for a marathon, and I am not going to lie, it has turned out to be way harder than I thought it would be.  Endurance is a tricky thing. For the most part it is mind over matter.  But there is a point in endurance sports where it is actually matter that matters.

When your body had depleted all its carbohydrates and even the sugars that has been stored up are gone, there is a sudden loss of energy and fatigue sets in.  It is impossible, or at least impossible for me, to mentally push through.  Bonking has little to with training well and all to do with eating well and being smart about putting calories in while I run.  There is some chemistry to this, but the truth is I am learning more by trial and error.  When I prepare, maintain, and replenish, I can run forever.  When I skip just one of those steps, I am in danger of hitting the wall, of bonking, of failing short of my goal.

I think I may be spiritually bonking:

It is the end of the school year, and a long and difficult school year at that.  For all sorts of reasons, this has been an endurance slow jog of a year at the end of 8 full years of endurance ministry here at my church.  This morning as I was preparing for some things at church, I had this sinking feeling, like I do on a long run when I am about to be depleted.

The bummer is that on endurance challenges, there are no quick easy fixes.  Without proper care before, during, and after, the danger of bonking becomes more and more likely.  And as I reflect on this year, I have used my mental strength and will power to try and gut out this school year.  But I am afraid I may not make it!

Somewhere along the way in the endurance grind of this year, I stopped caring for my soul before, during, and after youth group.  I knew I was tired, but I thought the finish line was closer that it appeared.  But the truth is, I have 4 more weeks of ministry and I am crashed out on the side of the road.  There is no way to gut this out, no way to fake it until I make it.  I have bonked and without a plan, I won’t finish!

Time to pull over and get some forced rest in order to finish:

Pulling over to stop and rest in an endurance race feels like a failure.  But the bigger failure would be to not finish at all.  So, I may not be able to finish well at this point, because the goals I set out to accomplish at the start of the year are no longer possible to attain.  Even though I may not finish as strong as I want, I owe it to my students, my staff, and our church to finish, and the only way I can finish it to pull over and spend some time recovering.

Somewhere along they way, I stopped caring for my soul.  The small and steady diet of spiritual care that has allowed me to endure for so many years has broken down.  And no, a simple snack or pick me up won’t do the deal.  What needs to happen is a full on rest and recovery before I can get back in the race.  And spiritually that is what needs to happen.

This week and next week will be devoted to pulling out of the race, doing the basic work to check off the tasks that actually have to get done, and the rest of my time will be spent in prayer, study, exercise, and other activities that feed my soul.

By pulling over for even a week, will allow me to not just barely cross the finish line, but to finish strong, just not as strong as I had dreamed.

Surviving the endurance race of completing a student ministry calendar year takes intentional spiritual dieting before, during, and after our student ministry nights.  Without intentional care we are all in danger of bonking, breaking down, and finishing poorly.  May we all care for our souls so we can care for the souls entrusted to our care.  

And if you are going down, pull over and recover instead of trying to gut it out, because Bonking Sucks!

Thank you for joining me for this workshop on Evangelism and Discipleship in a post-Christian Context here at the Thrive Conference.  Here are the notes.  You can download either a PDF or word.doc for your notes.  If you have any feedback or would like to add to the discussion, please contact me anytime.   Thank you for being part of the refining process as I work through a manuscript wrestling with these topics.  Blessings!

Pen to the Palace Notes

Pen to the Palace Notes (PDF)

Pen to the Palace Notes (Word.doc)

This Isn’t How it is Supposed To Be:

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.

A simple, if not very sexy solution is to get parents there. Have them drive, host events, help set up, clean up, facilitate small groups, whatever. They are adults, they care about the program because their kids are there, and you can grab them right now. Even if it is a different team for every youth group or trip, just get them.

The Best Long Term Plan: Continue Reading…

I think baseball is an amazing sport. On the surface, it is a simple game, hitting and fielding. But the more you dive into the game, the more you see the deep strategy, pitch selection, and the never ending statistics. Since my dream of becoming a professional baseball player didn’t pan out, I am now putting that pressure on my son. So, this last spring we signed him up for his first season of T-ball. It is quite an entertaining sight to watch a group of 5 year olds learning the game of baseball. The first season of T-ball is just that, learning the very basics. By the end of the season, this kids mostly know their positions, the direction to run around the bases, how to hit a ball off a T, and that is about it. But the foundation has been laid and a trajectory set for these kids to become legitimate baseball players and for my son to fulfill my dream of playing in the Bigs!

But, even more than my son playing professional baseball, my dream for him is to be a godly man who loves Jesus. And as he loves Jesus, to live a life that reflects that love in his personal life. As his personal life reflects his love for Jesus to live “within the culture as a missionary who is as faithful to the Father an his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.”

Continue Reading…

seed_dirt_planting

I’m not going to lie, I often think I am a pretty good youth worker.  I have been doing this a long time and am technically proficient.  I can deliver a good talk, I can program a good night, and I can work a room and impact its temperature.

And for as good as I think I am, I still find myself longing and searching for the magic bullet.

There has to be some new trend, idea, games, illustration, insight that will help turn students’ hearts towards Jesus.  And sometimes my quest for the newest thing actually hinders me from using the best thing.  I know this is the case because recently I Facebook stalked some “friends” of mine of Facebook and listened to their talks, looked at their pictures, read comments on their pages and I was horrified that their feeble attempts at youth ministry were actually yielding some incredible spiritual fruit!

Once again, Jesus has brought me to the wood shed to remind me that clever programs, slick graphics, a polished talk, and even well trained volunteers all pale in comparison to simply introducing our students to the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

No matter how we do it, no matter how prepared or under-prepared, no matter who holy or dirty our own souls are, Jesus is at work and is more powerful than any of us can truly understand.  For whatever reasons, Jesus chooses to use all sorts of feeble efforts and often thwarts the highest efforts to prove that it is the Holy Spirit that does the growing.

We simply plant and water, plant and water.  But it is the Holy Spirit that causes faith to Grow!

Jesus, would you please send your Holy Spirit and grab a hold of my students so that they may know and love you and serve you in your ever expanding Kingdom on Earth as it will be in Heaven!

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I am finding it harder and harder communicate my deep love for Jesus among people in the real world.

I think that this is because most people in the real world have absolutely zero touch points with the actual person of Jesus Christ.  At best they have a vague understanding of Christianity, but this is really a nod a moralist, therapeutic, deity.  And at worst they lump me in with the 12 crazies who are from Wesboro church who long to picket how much “God hates fags!”

But both of these extremes still miss the actual person of Jesus.  And even if i could find a way to cut through the cultural clutter that negatively impacts their first or second impressions of Jesus, when they actually get to know Him, they are going to be even more offended.  For as much as we long to preset Jesus as this giant oozer of never ending, cuddly love and grace, there is an awful part that is offensive to all. Continue Reading…

It is that time of year where we wrap up this school year and begin to prepare for summer.  We have finally put together our spring and summer calendar and wanted to share it with you.  Not because it is the greatest summer calendar ever, but wanted to share it as an act of good will.  Those of us in this little AYM community are some incredibly faithful youth workers who are getting after some solid student ministry.  The only way we get better is by sharing our best practices and then incorporating other’s best practices into our own ministries.  So here is mine, and I would be honored if you would share yours.

qkr3fhnfe4vudrdyqd-uhaeqlllv3qmkb3ahslkpmzgtwy4ecyodren4pddjzuy7tqdpchrb3diftrfrdm_rz0pkmrp5glyp5u0kjkyhu5aorsls4y_p7rtedw63adyh4stuvyq6qzgcxbkpa63jklvy7nznjtna0ncxoxvfoctkThank you to the peeps at youthmin.org for this incredible template!

The myth of senioritis

April 14, 2014 — 2 Comments

This is it, the final few months of high school for the class of 2014.  They have been suffering from senioritis for a long time, and for many of them, long before they were even seniors. According to wikipedia, “the main symptoms of senioritis include procrastination, lack of motivation, a drop in academic performance, and ‘coasting,’ which is the act of going through classes with very little concentration or application of intent along with truancy.”

I wonder if this dreaded disease might not really be a disease at all, but a way to justify the massive drop off of engagement and participation from our seniors. Our seniors live into this description, and many of my fellow youth workers do as well.  But when I step back and actually look at my seniors, what I see is a group of students who have figured out what is important and what things aren’t.  Because seniors are practically adults, they feel empowered to make their own decisions regarding their time and effort.

They know what things bring them life and what things are purposeful.  They willingly pour hours into friendships because they realize that this is the last time they are going to be together with this group of people.  Seniors do well and study hard for their AP classes because they know that their AP tests which will give them college credits.  They practice and train hard for teams that are competitive. and at the same time they understand that more and more of their life is being filled with busy work, barely worthy of their time and attention.   The teachers and coaches who are just filling time get students who begin to show signs of senioritis.  The same might be true with our student ministries.

Continue Reading…

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As spring is fully upon us, and I reflect on our ministry and the students that have come through the doors this school year, I have realized that there are quite a large number of students who have come and gone and no longer part of our youth ministry community.  I get that sports, school, schedules, etc are the cause for a lot of this drop off.  But most of the reasons that initially caused students to drop off or fade away are no longer part of their reality.  They are now simply out of the habit.  So, the real question is, how do we get these students back in the habit of being part of our community?  Here is what I do: Continue Reading…

AYM: The Book

April 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

Average Youth MinistryIt seems that every book, blog post, and article I read is about the top 5 ways to be the best at something. But the sad reality is that if you are trying to study up on how to be the best, you can rest assured that you are not the best. What would happen to your ministry and more importantly to your soul, if you embraced the reality that you were simply average. Think of all that energy wasted on striving for something that you will never attain. Now, imagine if you died to that dream of being the best in the world and embraced the reality that you were simply the best youth worker your actual students know. In fact, the truth is, you are the only youth worker your students care about. Maybe together we can remind each other that we are called to love students and help them to love Jesus.

In this book, I have put my 40 best / most helpful / favorite blogs all together in one really slick package.  

I get that most youth workers want to have some impressive looking books to add gravitas to their book shelves.  And in some sense this is the best and worst book for that.  It is really impressive looking and tough, but at the same time says that you are striving to be average.  But all ascetics aside, this has been a really fun project for me, and I think an incredibly helpful and hope-filled book for you.  Whether you are a ministry veteran or just starting out, there is something for everyone to chew on and wrestle through.

This book is broken up into five sections:

  • Discerning your call
  • Discerning your context
  • Discerning your students
  • Discerning your issues
  • Bonus Section: Nuts and Bolts

Discernment is the key to health and longevity in ministry!

I have said it before, but it is true: Youth ministry is the best / worst, easiest / hardest job on the planet!  And it seems like the difference between these two polar extreems is where your head and heart are at.  Discernment is the process of walking along this tight rope.  We need input from those around us, from those who have gone before us, from the Word of God, and from the Holy Spirit.  We need to listen and be reflective.

Ministry is not about gaining knowledge or collecting information, it is about spiritual and professional formation.  And this book takes the 17+ years that I have been working out my calling and walk with Jesus and that application into student ministry.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, there won’t be very much new, other than all these posts put in a format that is easy to read and a quick reference for you as you crank out ministry.  You will also appreciate that the book form of my posts have actually been edited for grammar and spelling :)  

I wanted to thank the AYM community for your support and encouragement over the past few years as I have worked out many of these issues.  Your input, pushback, and different perspectives have deepened my own walk with Jesus and my call to student ministry.  I look forward to continuing my call as a vocational student ministry pastor and working out my recent call as a writer.

May God continue to bless you in your ministry and care for students and may we together help us keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of faith, of ours’ and of our students’.  

Blessings!

PS: If you are interested in buying this book and upgrading your library, then click on the amazon link and have it by the end of the week!  It will give you street cred and helps pay for my kid’s braces!  :)

 

It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in a hotel room at a Youth Specialties conference with my colleagues in ministry.  There were at least four of us staying in the Motel 6 down the road just to save money.  We didn’t mind sharing the room because we could not believe that we had gotten jobs as youth workers.  We were being paid to love on students and help them love Jesus.  All four of us had recently graduated from college, were friends from camp, and relishing the opportunity to take our place as the next generation of youth workers.

The urban legend that shaped our views of success was the one about longevity.

We had all heard the statistic about the average tenure of a youth worker was 18 months, and most of had experienced that number to be a reality in our lives.  But this statistic would not define us.  We were in youth ministry for the long haul, not just 18 months, not even 3-5 years, were were going to be youth workers FOR LIFE!!

17 years later, I am the last of my four friends who is still doing vocational youth ministry.  And of the dozens of peers who are of similar age that I have had the pleasure of calling colleagues in youth ministry, I alone remain.

It seems like every young youth worker I talk with has a similar perspective to the one I had years ago.  And the truth is, that like my circle of friends, only a small percentage of them will continue on in student ministry into their 30’s, less into their 40’s, and none into their 50’s.

While this is the truth, this is not a sad truth.  I have no special honor for being the last of my friends who is still in youth ministry.  It is simply the way it is.  While it is ok for young men and women to speak boldly about things they do not quite understand, it is the implications of this false view that ends up limiting them in the long run.

Speaking boldly is part of the fun of ministry.  We love pontificating with our peeps, and really, anyone who will listen, about whatever the subject is.  We speak with great passion and conviction.  This should not be squashed, for passion and conviction are some of the important stones in a ministry foundation.  But sometimes this passion and conviction replaces wisdom and discernment and often proves to be a liability in the long run.

If youth ministry for life is your mantra, then my fear is that being open to all that God might have for your future gets put in jeopardy.  Calling is always seasonal.  Our lives unfold before us like a well written Choose Your Own Adventure book.  And because of this, the specifics of what sort of ministry we are called to do will always be in flux.

Continue Reading…

Whether you like country music or not, this song is an incredible seminar for parenting teenagers.  A couple of things before you enjoy these 3:09 of parenting gold!

1) Developing a sense of Identity and  instill Value over Behavior Management.

2) Remembering where you as a parent have come from might allow you a little more grace for your teen.

3) Take the blame and claim them every time!

I yelled he’s mine that one
Got a wild-hair side and then some
It’s no surprise what he’s done
He’s ever last last bit of my old man’s son
And I’ll take the blame
And claim him every time
Yeah man, he’s mine and he’ll always be
The best thing that ever happened to me
You can’t turn it off like electricity
I love him unconditionally
I’ll take the blame
And claim him every time
Yeah, y’all, he’s mine
I thank God, he’s mine

russell-crowe-noah

This has been such an awful week for those of us who are associated with the “Evangelical” church.  The week started with World Vision changing their hiring practices to include married homosexual relationships.  Then a day and a half later reversed it.  And to round out the week, the movie Noah is hitting theaters.

Both of these stories have erected giant straw men called “Evangelicals” only to then proceed to light them up and burn it to the ground!

Continue Reading…

Disney-Frozen-Anna-Wallpaper-e1385575874613-1024x512

As I have watched Frozen over and over and over, I have found myself approaching this movie from all sorts of different fronts.  But this last time I watched it I saw something I never saw before, Anna is the ultimate youth worker.

Anna is young and idealistic and pursues her sister (our students) with all of who she is.  She longs to be connected and share life and even though she is shut out from the bulk of her sister’s life, she has nothing but hope and good will for her sister.

Elsa is the classic student.  For whatever amount of personal pain and shut down they have experienced, their world is pretty egocentric.  She is special, in fact, the most special kid on the planet. And this uniqueness means that she is misunderstood and angst ridden.  She runs away to protect others, and really herself.

Even though Anna has been shut out and shut down, she always runs after her sister, always hopes for a restored relationship, and selflessly gives up her life for the sake of her sister.  And this selfless love, in the end actually restores relationship.

My hope is that my heart would be more and more like Anna’s.  

  • That I will always leave the safety and comfort of the castle, of the 99 and run after the one.
  • That I will not get bitter or disillusioned when my pursuit is not reciprocated.
  • That, in the end, I would actually gladly lay down my life, pour out my life over and over again so that by some possible means relationship would be restored; relationship with me, and mostly relationship with their Heavenly Father.

I love that there is so much to think about and process in this movie.  For me, this time around, I am thankful that God used it to touch my heart, to soften it, and remind me again of what I am truly called to do and be as a youth worker!

“Do you want to build a snowman?”