Showing posts from May, 2013

How To Effectively Change Up Your Summer Youth Ministry Schedule by (

One of the age-old debates in youth ministry is,  “Do we take the summer off?” I have always landed on the side of NO!  As a matter of fact just last week I asked some of my students if they would like to have an intentional “leadership” group over the summer.  Crickets.   Then came the excuses of impending vacations, family reunions, sports camps and of course summer jobs.  Ironically, when I asked which of them might like to help out  with some of the elementary aged day camps we run,  they all clamored to be included.   This triggered a realization for me that it isn’t about IF we do something during the summer, it’s WHAT we do for the summer. Here are the key elements I take into account: Take A Breath:   What I love most about summer is there are less stressors competing for my student’s energy.  While scheduling may still be an issue, I feel like I get a more laid back version of my youth.  This is why I love to take the time to teach life lessons in action.  Rather than s

You are an Expert by (

You are an expert In my first ministry, I had the dreaded conversation many youth ministers fear. As I was gently talking to a parent about their child’s behavior, the father placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “You don’t even have kids.  Just wait until you have teenagers, and then you’ll understand.” It was a gigantic blow to my ego.  In my eyes, it invalidated my ministry and authority with the parents of the church.  Since I didn’t have kids, let alone teenagers, I had no business lecturing a parent on how to raise their child. As I’ve matured and grown in my ministry, I realized something:  he was wrong.  I had the knowledge and responsibility to speak into his life. To illustrate my point, let me take you back to my newspaper days. When I was a sports writer for a local newspaper, my editor approached our editorial team about speaking to a high school journalism class.  I was still quite new to professional journalism at the time.  What could I contribute to su

Gut-Check Question For Youth Pastors: Are You Making Disciples? by (

It’s Wednesday. A lot you youth pastors are going to see students tonight. You’ve been planning what to say and what to do. Depending on your leadership style, you might  actually  have a plan. Or you might be totally freaking out right now. Whatever the case, I have a question to ask you: Years from now, after your current students are married with kids, jobs, mortgages, car payments, and all the stress that comes with life… Who will they be pouring into? Maybe a better question is this:   Who is pouring into them right now? And can we be honest for just one moment? Small groups don’t count. In the inner recesses of your brain, when you’re really honest with yourself, you know that you can’t call that 45-minute time slot each week “discipleship.” I’m talking about the one-on-one, life-on-life, emptying all that is inside you into a student. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The Scripture that means the most to you. The Scripture you’re still wrestling with. The stories. The

Message Notes From One I Never Gave by (

I had a message planned for Sunday, but I blew out my back and was unable to deliver it.  Still, I feel like the preparation and the content were Holy Spirit driven, so I want to share my notes with you anyways.  Here are the notes for “LIFE HAS A PURPOSE – Grow In Faith.” Intro QUESTION TO ASK EACH OTHER : Do you have a spot in your house (like a door frame) where your parents measure how tall you are?   When I hit a growth spurt as a kid, I’d want to measure my height almost every day.  Growth is exciting. When I was a kid I would only eat chicken nuggets.  On our last cruise I tried everything on every menu.  Growth is exciting. There have been moments in my life when I’d literally *gasp* while reading my Bible.  Growth is exciting. In KirkYouth, we want you to grow in your faith because it is an exciting journey.  A  lot  of you have told me how much you like Mid-High because we don’t treat you like little kids – we don’t teach you like little kids.  That’s because


…and what I learned.  Wednesday, I was leaving my hairdresser’s parking lot and pulled over to check my GPS for the nearest Walmart. A car pulled up behind me, so I rolled down my window to wave him by me. There was plenty of room. Instead of going around, the driver laid down on his horn with a steady blaring. Now I was juggling a call from my husband’s nurse, the GPS was yacking, and the horn from the car behind me kept on. Then something began to hit my car. The driver behind me had started throwing coins at my car, a few at a time, repeatedly. I finished up the call with Steve’s nurse, turned off my GPS and got out of the car to go apologize to the driver. (Later, my husband told me that was a dumb move but..whatever.) As I walked back to his car, turns out he was a Papa John’s Pizza dude in full uniform with shirt and hat. But, instead of listening to my apology, he yelled out his window, “You f…ing c…; what the hell is wrong with you?” and tore off around me and my car –

Everything’s Discipleship | Junior High Ministry by (

Every now and then in junior high ministry conversations, the topic of conversation turns to discipleship. It’s always a fairly interesting discussion largely because it tends to get stalled out of the gate by the inability for folks to agree on what, exactly, discipleship is; specifically how it’s defined and implemented in a junior high ministry context. I’ve heard every possible definition: “Helping students become more like Jesus”, “Helping them learn to grow on their own”, “Developing fully devoted followers of Jesus”, “Mentoring and modeling faith”, “Walking in Jesus’ footsteps while they walk in ours”, and on and on it goes. I recently came across this formal definition of discipleship: To help one embrace and spread the teachings of another. That MUST be an accurate definition because I found it on the internet. I’m normally a fairly strategic thinker…I like the method of defining my end goal(s) and then working backward to create the steps and processes to get there. B

Take Hold of Jesus by (

“There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You…” Isaiah 64:7 NASB May this not continue to be said of us! When I come across things like this during quiet times, you need to know that I share it with you because it first worked on me. I only share things that move me. Things that educate me or teach me something about myself, God or our relationship, these are the things I take the time to share.   If it makes me smile, laugh, think, and/or change, then I may deem it worthy of sharing with a friend whom I would hope would benefit just as I have. This verse hits me squarely in the face.  Why? Being completely transparent, even though I have dedicated my life to the ministry of the Gospel through a variety of means, there are still  those  days.  Those  days when I arouse myself (or stir myself up) to take hold of my smart phone, my iPad, my computer or my TV remote more often than I seek to take hold of Him. What is it for you? Perhaps it’s eas

Youth Ministry's Number One Obstacle (

In a recent survey ( get the survey results here ) of over 600 youth ministries, my friends on the student ministries staff over at  discovered that the number one obstacle in youth ministries across the nation, regardless of size or context is,  “Recruiting & Retaining Great Leaders” .   In this guest post from the  SHAPE CONVERSATIONS , my friend  Carlos Ortiz Jr.  gives us some challenging questions that will help in overcoming this number one obstacle. It's a Tuesday night and I'm thinking back over the day's meetings and conversations. Let's see, I met about our website, an upcoming leadership event, a new hire, encouraged two struggling youth pastors, cleared out my inbox, responded to 20 requests, sent out 3 tweets, responded to 5 tweets, posted on our staff FB page, casted a little vision for our internship and took 5 bathroom breaks (Daniel Fast problems).  This day probably looks no different than most people in church ministry, ex


If you’ve ever tried to have a discussion with high school students about sexuality then you probably have discovered a few things to be true: First, teens care about the subject of sexuality as a default.  You don’t need to convince anyone that this is a worthy thing to discuss. Secondly, they also are bombarded with images, ideas, thoughts, and ideologies from all angles- parents/friends/media/religion/etc.  They even have a perceived “right or wrong answer” they expect to get in church or from people in positions of authority around them- which has a collective tone deaf effect on them that is both easy and popular to ignore as irrelevant and ideologically unappealing. Lastly, knowing what they want to do and actually doing it are 2 radically different things.  This is why simply having students sign a purity covenant or put on a ring rarely changes a students decisions in my experience.  They must have a much higher “get it factor” than a ceremony can provide in order to truly

Thinking About Worship by (

I’ve been thinking about worship, recently. I have to say, I’ve been a bit convicted and challenged to think specifically about our worship in the context of the Sunday morning service. While browsing through Youtube, I came across this video. I watched the video. Then, I watched it again. And, I watched it again. Here, take a look… Were you moved? Do you have the overwhelming desire to sit on the floor and pour out your heart? I wonder if we too often make worship about us. As a pastor, responsible for preparing and planning the “worship service” I often struggle with idea of worship. I sometimes find myself thinking about song choices asking, “We they like this song?” Or, “Have we song this one too much, lately?” I worry about their response, “Will it move them?” “Will it cause them to reflect, respond, reconnect with God?” Then there are the times when I try to set the mood. I look to create an atmosphere of “worship” like it’s something you infuse into the air so those ga