Tuesday, February 28, 2017

News U Can Use: "Walk Away From Doing These 8 Things for Your Teen"

"Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.

What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year..."


Monday, February 27, 2017

Top 10: Quick Hints and Helps for Youth Ministry

10.  Never Buy More than a Couple Extra T-shirts Than You Have Kids and Leaders. (the leftovers will haunt you for years) 

9. Never Pre-Buy Tickets for Events, Before You Know Who is Going. (you will lose money every time, pre-sign up & pre-pay always)

8.  Always Bring a Fully Stocked First Aid Kit with You. (even if it is a couple hour local event) 

7.  Review Your Ministry Calendar of Activities and Events with Your Spouse, Before Announcing it. (it will save both your marriage and your ministry) 

6.  Never Respond Immediately to a Negative or Critical Email.  (wait 12-24 hours, take time to pray)

5. Never Allow Your Middle School Boys to Go Skunk Hunting at Camp or a Retreat. (no matter how impossible you think it is to find a skunk) 

4. Always Watch a Teaching Clip in Full, TWICE, if You are Using it in a Lesson, Even if You Purchase it from a "Christian" Site.  (that 3 second Songs of Solomon reference, will haunt you like last year's fall retreat t-shirts in #10) 

3.  If You are Going to Use the New Slang Term Your Students are Using,  to Try to Be Cool and Relevant...Don't! (It has a couple different meanings, and students AND parents will always assume the worst one) 

2.  Find and Take 2 Days Off a Week, Preferably the Same Ones Every Week.  (there are enough nights, weekends, and early/late meetings to cover your 40+ hours a week.) 

1.  If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Don't Say Anything At All. (a critical spirit or critical comment will kill your ministry  faster than a 6th grade girl on a gravy and chocolate slip n slide)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Game #165: "Pin the Pucker" (Upfront Game)

Another quick silly up-front challenge that is sure to bring a whole lot of laughs! 

Perfect for a series on Love, Relationships, Dating, Purity or just a fun upfront game around Valentine's Day! 

SUPPLIES:Png labels
- Red marker (or red lip stick)
- 3 blindfolds/bandanas 
- 1 stool

Quick explanation: A fun twist on the old "pin the tail on the donkey" but instead people will be "pinning the pucker" on another person's face

Before the Game:
- Draw or create red lips on circle mailing labels.   
- Set up stool upfront in center or on the stage so everyone can see.
- Set out blindfolds

- Ask for one male or female volunteer.   
- Seat the volunteer on the stool
- Ask for 3-4 volunteers of the opposite sex of the seated student
- Bring them to the front of the room and blind fold them.
- Tell them you will be playing a "kissing game"
- Before they get to freaked out explain that you will be handing them a circle sticker with a pair of lips on it. 
- Give them the "quick explanation".
- Tell them that the winner will be the person that comes closest to putting the lip sticker on the person's real lips.  
- Take volunteer one, spin them around a couple times and point them in the right direction and "Go!"
- After they have gone allow them to look and see how they did.
- Repeat until everyone has gone. 

- Blindfolded players cannot use their hands to feel for the person's face.
- One the label/sticker has been placed it cannot be moved
- Seated player cannot say anything, make any noise, help in anyway, or move. 

- Help players a little bit to guide them to make sure they are "Aiming High" and keeping the game PG!! 

- The player that gets their sticker closest to the seated person's actual lips.

Prize Suggestion? 
- Large over-sized Hershey Kiss or a bag of Hershey Kisses
- Large candy lips. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Philosophy of Youth Ministry Statement.

I have many people ask me about my philosophy of youth ministry. While interviewing last year, many times I would be requested to send along a one page statement. I know some of the youth ministry majors I talk to, are required to create one for one of their classes.
No matter the reason or requirement, I think it is important to sit down and think through your philosophy of ministry every so often. Take some time to come up with a concise statement of things that you believe are key to why and how you do what you do. Something that would fit one side of one page. Obviously you cannot fit every single thing on there, but the point is to have your key big overarching values, that guide you and your ministry.

It is helpful for you to have to share with your staff, leaders, volunteers, and even to provide to the parents of your ministry.  Here is my most recent one, that I provided to during interviews, offered to my current church leadership and have shared with the parents of my ministry.  (*feel free to steal, borrow, or tweak) 


The Church as a whole is to do the God-centered work of the sharing the gospel and ministering to the next generation spiritually, while also developing them socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally, so they can become mature successful, independent lifetime Christ-followers that server and love God, others and themselves.

Key Passages: II Tim. 3:10-17, Eph. 4:10-17

I. Systematic Biblical Teaching

A creative, systematic teaching of the scriptures is foundational for the spiritual growth and maturing of the youth of today’s church. Right belief (Orthodoxy) is what supports and moves forward right living (Orthopraxy). It is the power of the Holy Sprit and the truth of God’s Word that changes lives and brings belief.

II. Culturally Sensitive, Relevant and Relational Ministry

In an ever changing culture and society surround young people; the church must be willing to be culturally sensitive in it’s approach in reach the next generation. The truth of God’s Word is unchanging. It is not relative truth, but has always been and still remains relevant truth. The need for authentic community and connection with God and others is found in relational ministry where God’s word is taught and discussed.

III. Engaged, Enabled Parents and Adults

Informed, interested, involved and invested parents along with other caring adults create long-term faith and lifestyle that will last long beyond the youth ministry years. Parents are the first and most important influencers in a child’s faith and should be. They are the life-long disciplers. A youth ministry’s role is not to replace that God given responsibility but rather be a help along side of it. Strong parent and adult ministry in a church make a strong youth ministry.

IV. Equipping to Actively Serve and Minister

Faith that is believed and lived will be faith that is given away in both word and deed. Both inside and outside the church, youth should be equipped to be active participants in serving and ministering. Students should be taught and then sent locally, nationally and even globally to serve the spiritual, social and physical needs of others.

V. Organized and Intentional Ministry of Excellence

Clear vision and intentionality in pursuing ministry excellence is what the youth, the church and God deserve. Through professional demeanor, leadership, and the strategic focus on both the youth ministries and church’s core values a youth ministry will find success and respect.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Top 10: "Silver Bullets in 5th-9th Grade Ministry...Beyond"

We all want to know the "silver bullet"... the "secret sauce"... to youth ministry, even more specifically "middle years ministry"    

I have people ask me all the time about the "silver bullets" or "secret sauces".

I also hear and read just as much there is none, there are no bullets, sauces, and secrets. 

Well I think there is actually more than one there are a couple. After hanging around this youth ministry thing for awhile now and spending that last half of my youth ministry years working with 5th-8th graders.  I have noticed a couple things over and over again in other people's ministries (and my own). 

Here are at least TEN silver bullets...  

10.  Bible Teaching in Relevant, Real Ways. Cut the show and the fluff, stop trying to be the next _________ (insert your favorite speaker) and teach the Bible.  Notice I didn't use the word "preach", the word is teach!  Teach the always relevant truth in relevant ways that relate to real life of your students. (*see #4, below)

9.  A Great Team. You cannot do it alone.  You need other people filling in the gaps of your weaknesses and pushing your strengths farther. Your personality is not going to fit with every student so build a team with some people like you and a bunch of people not like you at all.

8. An Actual Love For and Personal Calling to Students.  Do not keep doing this thing, if you are looking at it as the old "stepping stone". Do not do this because someone said you had potential, do it because God called you! Please do not keep doing this if you don't like 5th-9th grade students or you have got to a point you do not like them anymore!

7. A Clear Vision and Direction. Know what you are doing and how you are doing it.  Be able to fully and clearly to explain it to everyone who asks.  If you are unprofessional and unorganized, your vision and direction will be unprofessional and unorganized and then your ministry will be too.

6. Communication.  See #7.  Tell everyone about what, when, where, who, and why all the time and in every way possible.  Information that Interests will turn into Involvement.

5. Relationships and Connection. Not friendship, but absolutely relationship.  Get to know students, their lives, families and NAME! Students will come back if they are know they are cared for, loved, and connected to you, your team, and other students.
Also, relationship and connections in your church with parents, staff, and members.  Find and build adult relationships and connections

4. Creativity and Willingness to Continue to Change.  You do not have to be personally creative, but be willing to let your ministry be creative (see #9) by finding other people who are AND/OR look around and find borrow and buy! With creativity comes the continual, ongoing, NEVER ending willingness to change.

3. Your Sr. Pastor.  Yep, them.  If you get them onboard and excited about what you are doing and what is coming on.  They will be your cheerleader, protector, and supporter!   You can not get very far, for very long, if they are not onboard (*see #7 & #6)

2. Parents! In the 5th-9th grade they are the ride, the wallet, the permission, and the life.  You want to do ministry, you have to be ministering to parents and families.  Get them on your team by getting them ON your team!  Parents make great leaders.  Like the Sr. Pastor they will be your cheerleader, protector and supporter!

1. God!! This is not the obvious answer or the go to #1 of the list because it has to be.  If your ministry is formed around a program, a curriculum, a church, fun, or YOU! It will fail at some point sooner or later.  If your ministry is formed around being successful and that is your focus, it will fail. Those things will become "god" instead of GOD!

Your want to know the silver bullet, it is God, but it is honestly not  on as many people's lists as you would think in reality.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Free Resource: "7 Generation Z Statistics Every Adult Should Know." (E-book)


Here is a great little a book from Tim Elmore about some the basic characteristics of the new "Generation Z" 

CLICK HERE (here to get the download)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Talents Vs. Gifts ("Calling or Potential")

I recently did 2 "talks" as a guest speaker at Clark Summit University.  My first talk was about the difference between pursuing your full potential and pursing your Godly calling.  The second talk was the difference between talents (human abilities) and God-given gifts.  This the final slide from that second talk. 

As leaders please consider with me what we tell and teach our students.  There are many adults that are telling young people things like "you have great potential"... "you are wasting your potential"... "you are not living up to your potential".  Is that are role and message?  Or is it something different and more powerful to teach, lead, and mentor students to find God's calling in their life and use their gifts!? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

News U Can Use: "6 Defining Characteristics of Generation Z"

" I wish you could meet Lizzy. Or Dane. Or, for that matter, Seth and Carly. These students have all been born since September 11, 2001—a marker in our U.S. history that will always divide those born in the 20th century from those born afterward. I was with these students recently and immediately noticed a different perspective in them as teens than the one I saw in Millennials fifteen years ago 

At Growing Leaders, we work with both teens and twenty-somethings, helping them move from backpack to briefcase and become leaders along the way. After being in front of thousands of these younger students, I want to offer a list of six defining characteristics I’ve seen in them as teens. Keep in mind, the jury is still out: while these attributes are on the radar screen now, the students are still young, and change is always in the wind. For now, however, it might do us some good pay attention to these six.... " 

Click Here (to read more from Tim Elmore and "Growing Leaders" )

Monday, February 13, 2017

Top 10: Pit of Your Stomach Feelings "That Moment When..."

10. You have spent weeks planning a trip or camp, the day has finally arrived and you feel like you are forgetting something....but you don't know what it is?

9. The moment when you start playing a movie clip in a lesson and realize you didn't edit out "The One Word!!" 

8. You haven't read the email yet, but you see the email address of "that" person pop on your notifications. 

7. You do the head count of students for the third time and start to panic. 

6. You hear that weird noise coming from the church bus/van. 

5. Whenever a "special meeting" is called in your boss's office. 

4. Annual performance reviews come around. 

3. When you hear a leader turn to you and says "should we call 911?" 

2. You have to sit down with your volunteers, parents and students and tell them you are leaving.

1. You have to say goodbye to your wife and kids for a week away from them at camp or missions trip.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Game: "Heart-Headed"

A fun no-prep Valentines Day whole group game, where every man (or woman) is for themselves in "Showing the Love" as they swat, hit, and push others around so they can the ultimate "heart-headed" winner!!

- Enough "conversation hearts" candies for every person in your group.
- Room to move around a little.

Explanation/Game Play:

Simple Explanation: Every player has a heart candy balanced on their forehead as they try to go around and knock off other player's candy

Game Play 
- Hand out one candy heart to every single person
- Explain the basic idea/rules
- Have everyone look up and place the candy heart, laying flat on their forehead (no licking!)
- On "Go!" everyone starts moving around the room trying to knock off other peoples candy by bumping, swatting, and grabbing.
- The last person still with a heart on their head is the winner! 
Prize Suggestion: a plastic toy hard hat full of candy conversation hearts? 

Rules and Hints:
- Once the game starts players are not allowed to touch, hold or rearrange their own heart
- Once a heart hits the ground it can not be placed back on the the forehead. 
- Keep the pushing, swatting and grabbing to an appropriate, non-violent level?? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

News U Can Use: "Move Over Millennials, Here Come Generation Z"

Hear the word “millennial,” and plenty of images spring to mind.

There’s Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, in his hoodie, earning his first billion by the age of 23.

There’s Miley Cyrus, preening for the cameras in a flesh-baring act that recalls a Snapchat sexting session.

There’s Lena Dunham, TV’s queen of overshare, spiraling into navel-gazing soliloquies that seem scripted from the therapist’s couch.

They’re brash, they’re narcissistic, they’re entitled. Or so the cliché goes.

But what about “Generation Z,” the generation born after millennials that is emerging as the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters?

With the oldest members of this cohort barely out of high school, these tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow. Flush with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche.... READ MORE 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 10: Things I Am Trying to Learned Since a Year Ago Today

A year ago today, the day after the Super Bowl, I was pulled into my Sr. Pastor's office to have a meeting with my Executive Pastor.  I was informed that my contract would not be renewed at the end of June.  I would have the next couple months to wrap things up and have the freedom to interview.  I was presented with a legal agreement to consider.  I was allowed one week to consider it.  My options were simple, quit immediately, give 30 days notice, or work until the end of June receiving 1 month more of pay.  The decision as I was informed was not personal, "it was just business".   There was a change in vision and direction.   The reasons why I was hired were no longer the direction the church was taking and etc.. More on that and the decision for another day.

More importantly...In this last year, 365 days from that Monday exactly a year ago today, God has taught me some things.  I have learned a few things and am still very much still learning.   This last year has been filled with endless interviewing, sleepless nights, hard conversations with family and friends, homelessness, and lots and lots of tear filled prayers...AND HUGE BLESSINGS, including a new amazing church!!

Here Are 10 Things I Am Trying to Learn Since A Year Ago Today...

10. Family is important.  I cannot sacrifice my family and marriage to human demands, expectation and rules.  When you move on from a place people move on without you too, but your family and spouse moves with you!

* Find a place in ministry where your family fits and is loved.  Ministry calling is not just about you.  Much like the military families we had the privilege of serving.  Dad's (and/or Mom's) service and calling effects the family in every way.  

9.  Make sure to let past negative experiences and struggles teach you, but not defined you or your future. Personal history is like world history, if you don't learn from it you are bound to repeat it.  I have learned much over this last year, as I consider all the ups and down. I pray that I have learned the lesson I was supposed to. I don't want to lead from a place of hurt or defense.

*Way too many ministry leaders are leading with negative baggage weighing them down, defining who they are and how they lead.  Your past is either baggage or luggage.   Baggage is something you drag along  from place to place slowing you down.  Luggage is something you pack well with a purpose, that is unpacked and used when you arrive where you are going! 

8. Homelessness is not always what you think and is harder than you imagine(click here). We all have stereotypes of the homeless, but most of them are incorrect and wrong.

* No matter your experience, resume or background.  Anyone can find themselves "without a home" or in "transition". 

7.  Forgive and move on, leaving in a negative way will not change anything.  Humanly I wanted to have the last word or defend myself.  I knew the behind the scenes secrets and hidden sins and it is so tempting to let them all out, so I could feel like I got revenge or make myself feel better.

* Instead 1.)work through a personal and family process of forgiveness.   2.) Move on emotionally and also physically.  Physically move on by leaving the area.  It is hard to move on, if you never...move...on!? 3.)Instead of writing or speaking negative truth, choose rather to speak and write positive loving truth to those that really matter.

Personally, I chose to write thank you notes to people that we appreciated as family and to each youth leader.

6.  Appreciate and celebrate the small blessings of the ordinary, so God can overwhelm and surprise you with the extraordinary! My family and I look back at the last year and we have a list of little things and every day blessings that continued to encourage us revealing God's love.  Even in the darkest moments, God would give us little blessings.  When He finally revealed His final big plan, we were overwhelmed by how extraordinary it was!  "Don't despise the day of small beginnings!"  

* If you don't learn to celebrate and notice the small things in life and in ministry, you will end up missing the big things and big blessings! 

5.  We are all migrant workers in God's harvest field.  I am temporary.  No matter how long or short I am at a place I will not be there forever.   I am there to prepare the ground, plant the seed, water and tend and if I am blessed enough to be there I get to see the harvest.  I believe in longevity and I have seen the benefits.  It is truly hard when I don't get to see the harvest.   I have learned however over the last year and the last 20+ years, it is not about me.   I am only at a place as long as God has me.

* Don't move on if it not God's time but also don't stay if it is God's time.   God may also end up helping you move on... so just be prepared.

4. Leadership is not about prideful demands but humble invitations.  I learned this in different ways.  I learned this most by beginning to serve under my new Sr. Pastor at my new church.  I have seen leadership in a new light through his style of "humble open leadership".   I am learning leadership by example and comparison over the last year.

* Work hard in your leadership to be humbling serving and inviting others to follow instead of being the expert on the stage that demands respect and expect others to just follow!  

3. Prayer that is truly powerful is not easy and simple. I remember long morning walks and sleepless nights of prayer.  Pouring over what I thought or wanted.  What I discovered in those moments was prayer was changing me and not me changing God.  I mentally knew that and even taught that, but I had to learn it in real life.   It is something I am continue to learn, struggle with and be challenged by.   This last year has been a long prayer lesson.

* Make sure that prayer... real, genuine prayer is a part of your person life and your ministry life.  If it is not, you will struggle and maybe even fail. 

2. There is a different between calling and potential.  (click here). There is a difference.  Just like there is a difference between giftedness and talents.

* If you are just living up to your potential and it is not your calling, you will be frustrated in ministry.  If you are living up to your calling, you will feel fulfilled, have a sense of joy even in the down times. 

1.  God is always in control even when people think they are! 
This last year has been year of having moments of feeling like things were complete out of control. There were moments when it truly felt like I was falling. There were times when I felt controlled by situations, circumstances and yes, people. What I discovered is control is a human illusion of personal pride. I was not in control. People were not in control. God was ALWAYS in control.

* The same is true for you. You are not in control. There are people who want to feel like they are in control, but in the end God is really the one who is in control of you, your calling, your family and your ministry!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Top 10: "Jesus Was...."

This is not meant to be political statement or a post to cause controversy. If you have ever visited this space before, you will notice this is not that kind of blog/site. This space is more often about sharing Middle Schoo/Jr. High resources, helps, and thoughts than sharing opinion. 

Teaching and walking life beside this young generation coming up, I believe it is important for us to be students of the Word first and of the world second. The most important thing we can do is point our students to the person of Jesus and being "followers" of Him. We desire for students to live their earthly lives by following the His example!  It also important for students to understand who Jesus according to the Word to connected to their world.

These are 10 simple, straight forward Biblical truths about who Jesus was while He was doing life on the the planet. Take them as you will...


10. A Refugee (Matt. 2:13) 

9.  Homeless. (Matt. 8:20) 

8.  A Middle Eastern Man. (Matt. 1) 

7. A Son of a Young Teenage Mother, Who Was Pregnant Before She Was Married.  (Matt. 1:18)

6.  A Poor, Blue Collar Worker from a Small Town in the Middle of the Country (Matt. 2:23) 

5.  A Taxpayer (Matt. 22:21) 

4.  Willing to Submit to Authority, Even If He Didn't Agree with the Decision.  (Acts 8:32-33) 

3. A Respecter of Woman and Their Rights, in a Culture that Did Not.  (John 8:1-8) 

2. Killed By Angry Religious People and Weak Politicians (Matt. 27)

1.  The Prince of Peace. (*the time He got physical or angry was with people trying to make the church something it was never intended to be).  (Matt. 21:12-17)