Category Archives: Youth Ministry


I trying to finish up some prep work on a meeting I have scheduled for tomorrow. I’m still the Direct of Arlington Work Camp and we are gearing up for another great year!

We are meeting for the second annual Plan and Pray Event for Work Camp 2012. The hope for tomorrow is for us to DREAM BIG for next summer’s camp week.

I was looking for some inspiration for the meeting and came across this great video entitled, “People Are Awesome.”

Absolutely love it!!!

(If you can’t view the video, click HERE)

I love videos like this because they get my heart pumping and open my eyes to all sorts of possibilities. Sure we won’t even try to remotely pull off any of those stunts (Unfortunately, Youth Ministry Interns won’t agree to sign liability waivers. Bummer.) but just watching these stunts gets me super excited and focused on bringing my A game to the creative meeting.

When it comes to a creative meeting, you’ve got to get fired up! The thing I love about the Plan and Pray Event is that this will mark the official beginning to our camp. The ideas and plans that we initiate tomorrow will start taking shape and culminate in a great experience for students and adults next summer.

Keep us in your prayers tomorrow as we start planning and preparing for Work Camp 2012.

I can’t wait!

ACU Trip

Greetings from Abilene, TX and the campus of Abilene Christian University.

I took a group of Junior and Senior teens for a college preview this weekend and we have had a blast. I have really enjoyed being with these teen as they wrestle and decide what their next steps will be. I’ve worked with these teens since they were in JR High and it has been a great honor to see them mature and grow over the last 5 school years.

Many of them are realizing what they have a passion for and they are looking for careers that will impact the community and people around them. They want to be teachers and social workers, physical therapists and ministers. They want to give of themselves and make a difference.

Love, love, love, love that!

We head home later this afternoon. Keep us in your prayers as we travel. Peace!

Gauging the Temperature Pt. 2

Today I want to talk about 3 Ways to Monitor Your Youth Group’s Temperature During The School Year. During the summer you have the opportunity to be around your teens for hours on end. Relationships are solidified during trips across the country and decisions for Christ are made while painting houses together. When students return to school your opportunities to connect with students and to check in with them can be greatly reduced. During the summer you can monitor their spiritual temperature more easily. How can you continue to monitor how they’re doing once math class, band practice, and homework come back on the scene?

First, the best way to check in with your students is through TALKING with them. The summer is filled with late night conversations about everything from choices, likes/dislikes, and even theology. During these convos hopes, dreams, struggles, and beliefs are laid bare. It is one of my favorite things about the summer. Unfortunately, the school year can put the kibosh on these meaningful interactions. The challenge then is to intentionally create moments where you can have sustained conversations with your teens. Offer to meet them for coffee before school once a week, build in discussion time during your midweek meeting, meet for milkshakes after the games. During these interactions don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper under the surface. The point isn’t to log hours talking about C.O.D. (Call of Duty, Noob.) but to understand where your teen is, where they are struggling, where they need encouragement.

Another way to gauge their spiritual temperature is through TECHNOLOGY. Facebook, Twitter, Text Msgs- they’re not just for wasting time anymore. You can harness the power of these social networking technologies to check in with your teens. I have a Twitter account set up for our youth group. I use it to announce upcoming events, brag on students who have done something amazing, and post thoughts for the day or week. I have also used it to take surveys and ask questions. The answers to these questons can be a great insight into what’s going on in the hearts and minds of your students. Twitter isn’t just a megaphone to blast information. It can be an invitation to conversation. Deep, I know. Right now, think of 3 different ways to use Facebook this week to check in with your teens.

A third way to monitor the spiritual health of your teens during the school year is by engaging in their TALENTS. In the coming weeks I know that I’ll be sitting in the stands watch my teens compete in sports or march in the band. My evenings will be full of choir performances big and small. If your teens are anything like mine they are talents and involved in many extracurriculars. When you show up to an event or performance you are engaging with them as they apply the gifts and talents given to them by God. Any encouragement you can give them, any time that you give them, any affirmation you can give them deepens your relationship with them. When your relationship deepens and goes below the surface you can truly understand what’s going on in their heart and soul.

By carving out intentional opportunities to TALK with your teens, by using TECHNOLOGY to connect them, and through recognizing their TALENTS you can begin to measure the spiritual temperature of your students during the school year.

God’s blessing on all of you who dedicate your time, talent, and treasure to serving teens and their families in the name of Jesus Christ.

Gauging the Temperature Pt. 1

I’ll let you in on a little secret ambition of mine. You ready?

I want to be the Bobby Flay of my sphere of influence.

I want to be known as a great cook. Not just someone who can prepare a good meal. No, something greater! I want to amaze people with the way I combine meat, seasonings, flame, and creativity. For my birthday last April my parents bought me an honest to goodness bar-b-que smoker and grill. I love grilling and had no problem using the propane side of my new toy. About a month ago, I gave the smoker an inagural spin. I bought a book extolling the virtues of Low and Slow grilling and followed the lessons to a T. What happen was that I was able to cook two whole chickens perfectly! The flavors of the marinade combined with the flavors of the smoke made for and incredible dinner and a lot of leftovers. I can’t wait to work my way up to slow cooking some ribs and pork shoulder. Believe me- it is on!

The most important thing that I’ve learned about this style of cooking has been learning to monitor the temperature inside the smoker/fire box. You don’t want to keep opening the lid each and every time you check on your food. The lid has to stay closed. 1.5 hours for my chicken and up to 8 hrs or more for pork shoulder. The only thing that gives me insight into what’s happening inside is temperature reading on the outside.

As the summer comes to a close I’ve been thinking about my students and their return to school. Right now many of them are running hot and on fire for Jesus. They have expressed excitement for their faith, concern for their friends, and many have made deep commitments to discipleship. Summer gives me the perfect opportunity to be among them on a consistent basis outside of their school year routine. When I am with them I get to monitor the temperature of their lives. As they head back to school I want to make sure that I find ways to monitor their faith, give them encouragement or direction, and help feed their spiritual fire.

Next: 3 Ways to Monitor Your Youth Group Temperature During The School Year

YMB: Personal Fall Planning pt 1

Today, I want to talk about some Youth Ministry Basics and there is no better place to start than with Fall Planning.  Youth ministers often get a bad wrap on their organizational skills and I try to avoid that stereotype like the plague! Over the last few weeks I have been working on the next 12 months- scheduling events, planning my teaching, and even gearing up for Summer 2011. This week, I am putting the finishing touches on our Fall calendar and I hope to deliver the finished product (Aug-May) by August 1. Fall planning isn’t just for your youth ministry. Sure you have stuff planned for your teens but what about you and your family? How are you going to rest? How are you going to learn? How are you going to grow?

This year, I used some suggestions from Nelson Searcy concerning my personal planning calendar. While some of these suggestions have always been a part of my planning I really appreciated the concise and creative approach Nelson and his team uses when it comes to helping others plan their year. Maybe some of these things will help you as you look at what  God can do in your ministry over the next 12 months. This year, on a personal level, I am intentionally committing to spiritual growth. I want to be FAITHFUL and FRUITFUL.

Nelson suggests that to be intentional about personal spiritual growth you need to look at your calendar from four perspectives. You need to…

  1. Abandon Annually
  2. Measure Monthly
  3. Withdraw Weekly
  4. Divert Daily

Tomorrow we’ll look at taking the longview and committing the next 365 days to God through Abandoning Annually.

Live from Graceland…

Our youth group just returned from our Mission Trip to Memphis, TN where we worked with inner city children through Memphis Urban Ministry. We had an absolute blast serving these kids and I hope to share more pictures and stories throughout the week. One of the coolest things that happened to us this week was that we had an opportunity to be interviewed on Elvis Radio for SiriusXM while visiting Graceland. Big props to Morgan, one of my students, who captured the whole thing on video for us. Check it out:

(if reading in RSS please click through to see the video)

Youth Ministry Focus: New Stats

USAToday published an article this morning looking at the religious habits and beliefs of today’s 18-29 year olds. In some respects the article is nothing new to those of you who are currently working with churches or with teenagers. However, this study shines a bright light on the need for strong, Gospel-intensive, disciple-making leaders to step up and fill in the obvious void. I have included the article below and highlighted some of the stats and comments that I found most interesting. We’ll unpack some of these later in the week.

Survey: 72% of Millennials ‘more spiritual than religious’
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

If the trends continue, “the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group’s survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they’re “really more spiritual than religious.”Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,” Rainer says. “Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.”

Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:

  • 65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
  • 65% rarely or never attend worship services.
  • 67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.

Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.

“We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church,” Rainer says.

The findings, which document a steady drift away from church life, dovetail with a LifeWay survey of teenagers in 2007 who drop out of church and a study in February by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which compared the beliefs of Millennials with those of earlier generations of young people.

The new survey has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.

Even among those in the survey who “believe they will go to heaven because they have accepted Jesus Christ as savior”:

  • 68% did not mention faith, religion or spirituality when asked what was “really important in life.”
  • 50% do not attend church at least weekly.
  • 36% rarely or never read the Bible.

Neither are these young Christians evangelical in the original meaning of the term — eager to share the Gospel. Just 40% say this is their responsibility.

Even so, Rainer is encouraged by the roughly 15% who, he says, appear to be “deeply committed” Christians in study, prayer, worship and action.

Collin Hansen, 29, author of Young, Restless, Reformed, about a thriving minority of traditionalist Christians, agrees. “I’m not going to say these numbers aren’t true and aren’t grim, but they also drive people like me to build new, passionately Christian dynamic churches,” says Hansen, who is studying for the ministry. He sees many in his generation veering to “moralistic therapeutic deism — ‘God wants you to be happy and do good things.’ … I would not call that Christianity, however.”

The 2007 LifeWay study found seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30, both evangelical and mainline, who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. And 34% of those had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30.

The Pew survey found young people today were significantly more likely than those in earlier generations to say they didn’t identify with any religious group. Neither are Millennials any more likely than earlier generations to turn toward a faith affiliation as they grow older.

I agree with Hansen. Yes, the numbers seem overwhelming. The task is daunting. The consequences of failure are real. However, all is not lost my friends. Remember, the gates of Hades will not overcome the Body of Christ.

Looks like we’ve got some work to do.

Don’t Write Off Your Teens

Seth Godin has a great post up today challenging leaders to do the hard work developing people to change the world rather than to simply follow instructions. As a youth minister it’s my desire to push teens to become dynamic, world changing, Spirit led disciples of Jesus Christ. That desire goes beyond the typical “become good citizens and be kind to everyone” mentalities that most people have when dealing with teens. This mentality sets the bar way too low and, quite frankly, is easier too. The tough work lies behind looking at where teens are today and where they can be tomorrow. Seth puts the challenge this way:

It’s absurd to look at a three year old toddler and say, “this kid can’t read or do math or even string together a coherent paragraph. He’s a dolt and he’s never going to amount to anything.” No, we don’t say that because we know we can teach and motivate and cajole the typical kid to be able to do all of these things.

Why is it okay, then, to look at a teenager and say, “this kid will never be a leader, never run a significant organization, never save a life, never inspire or create…”

Just because it’s difficult to grade doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught.

The challenge for me today is to remember that my job is to encourage, lift up, model, serve, and lead in a way that leads to life change not merely compliant behavior. What’s your challenge?

via Seth Godin

Ski Trip & Tip

We’ve been in CO on a youth group ski trip this week. Our first day on the mountain also coincided with the worst weather Monarch has seen in thirty years! It was a near white out. No bueno.

However, day two & three were as close to perfect as you can get. It was absolutely gorgeous! The sun was out, the powder was fresh (an upside of the storm), and the company was awesome! We head home tomorrow but this was one of the best trips I’ve taken with the youth group. Very bueno!!!


Youth Ministry Ski Trip Tip
This is the third ski trip I’ve taken with teens and if I could give one piece of advice to other leaders out there planning a trip for Spring Break ’11 it would be this:

REQUIRE that your first time skiers take ski school before they hit the slopes!

This is a must for any first timer traveling to ski with us. No if, ands, or buts.

The first time skiers that I have taken have benefitted tremendously from taking the morning lessons. After classes are over I take them up to run some greens. It cuts down on injuries and it helps build confidence in those first timers.

On the flip side, I can’t tell you how many students I see skiing out of control on the mountain only to see them later with their youth group. In fact today I was almost taken out as some student came careening down the mountain, arms flailing, and screaming. She bit it hard and rode the rest of the trail down on her face. I skied behind her and picked up her poles. When I got to her I saw a friend giving her tips.

He’s a tip: Take ski school.

If you’re a youth leader, save yourself some trouble and look out for your kids by requiring the first time skiers take ski school.

Youth Ministry Tip #5: Relationships

This will be short and sweet.

Youth ministry (any ministry for that matter) is inherently based on relationships. If you are not intentionally building relationships from day one you will be fighting an uphill battle. When you have put the time and effort into relationships you experience fulfillment beyond explanation. Today was a great reminder of this for me.

Build Relationships With… Jesus. How’s your relationship with the author and perfecter of your faith? Your power as a minister comes from Jesus Christ. Jesus should be at the center of your life and every good thing you accomplish is by him, through him, and for him. What are some ways you can intentionally build relationships with Jesus? Work on your relationship with Jesus.

Build Relationships With… Your Loved Ones. How’s your relationship with your spouse? Your children? Your friends? I will not, will not, will not sacrifice my family on the alter of ministry. You must be building and intentionally work on your relationship with your family. Sandy and I keep a hedge around at least one night a week. It is ours to do with as we see fit. No events, no visitors, nobody but us (and the boy). Sometimes we hit the town. Sometimes we veg out on the couch. Sometimes we run errands. The point is- we set aside specific time for connecting with one another. As our son gets older and as seasons change the world will fight to squeeze more out of us and will throw up obstacles to keep us from building our relationship. We will fight against the tide. You should too. What are some ways you can intentionally build relationships with your family? Work on your relationships at home.

Build Relationships With… The People You Serve. How’s your relationship with your students? Today, I spent a good chunk of my time talking with and messaging students. I was consumed with thoughts about them today I was able to reach out and connect with a good deal of them today. This made all the difference for me. I have seen students grow and open up and reveal their passions and desire for lives that glorify God and impact the world around them. I never would have the chance to experience this if we didn’t have a relationship. As a youth minister, you MUST build relationships with your students. What are some ways you can intentionally build relationships with your students?