Let’s face it as youth ministers we only work 3 months out of the year (wink, wink, wink).  In youth ministry it can be very difficult to follow any kind of consistent diet, but this is especially true during the summer.

I have always used the summer as an excuse to get away from eating healthy, falling into bad habits and gaining weight.  It is impossible to stay in shape during the summer for a youth ministry, right?  Wrong, it is nothing more than an excuse.  I am great at making excuses, but not so great at honoring promises I have made to myself.  I decided this summer would be different.  This summer I am not going to make excuses and I am going to honor myself by sticking with my goals.

This is making me plan and prepare ahead of schedule.  This week we are at Arlington Work Camp.  Typically this is a week I would just say I can’t stay on track.  I will have donuts at church, burgers or pizza for lunch, there is no way to avoid it.  This week I am not giving in to the excuses.  I have stuck to my diet all week so far.  I have gotten up early and fixed my breakfast, I have taken my lunch box with Shakeology, lunch and an afternoon snack.  Cami has helped out by cooking a healthy dinner.  I have even given our interns a heads up and asked them to help keep me accountable.

I am in week 5 of the Insanity workout, which is a Recovery week.  It just so happen to fall on a perfect week.  I have switched out the Cardio Recovery program with P90X One On One “Fountain of Youth.”  It is a Yoga workout and I am finding it great at the end of a long work day.  So far I am down 16 pounds and I want to keep moving in the right direction.  This summer is about me not making excuses.  I can’t control what others are doing but I can control what I do.  When I get tired and hungry I want junk food.  When I eat junk food I have less energy, I am more irritable and moody.  When I am tired it is more important than ever to eat right and exercise.  You can follow my health and fitness journey this summer at

5 Reasons Transit was My Most Successful Ministry Weekend

Forgive me for the lack of posting in the past several weeks.  I have been putting all of my time and energy into getting ready for Transit this past weekend.  It was an immense success for our ministry, and I see such a bright future in this ministry.  We focused on three relationship over the course of the weekend, spent time in worship and family prayer.  So what made the weekend so remarkable?

1.  Family – the majority of our incoming 6th graders and their parents made this weekend a priority.  Moms, dads and their 6th graders spent time worship together, playing together, sharing together, praying together.  We focused on relationships.  The Relationship with Christ.  The relationship with family.  The relationship with friends and mentors.

2.  Established Mentors – each of the 6th graders invited 3 or 4 influential adults to join us for a special ceremony on Saturday as we concluded our weekend.  The students selected these adults because they have seen them as significant influences on their life up to this point.  For the ceremony, the student, parent(s) and mentors sat in a circle.  The student began with some of the highlights from their school year and thoughts about moving forward.  Then the mentors and parents shared with the student the following 3 things. 1. Share with the student the Godly qualities you see in this student.  2. Then you will give them a charge to follow Christ and remain faithful to Him. 3. What is your hope and prayer for this student as they go through junior high/high school.  These mentors were then given a charge to walk with these students through, Jr High, High School, college and life transitions.  My dream is these relationship would last forever.

 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (1Th 2:8 NIV)

3. Involvement – This weekend involved a lot of our students.  Our Student Leadership help with greeting and leading a session by themselves with the 6th graders.  Our students in our worship ministry led worship for the weekend and did an amazing job.  Students also ran media support for the weekend.  David and Michelle  along with 3 of our middle song teachers led a round table discussion with the parents.  So great to see so many serving.

4. Connections – Entering Jr. High all of these new 6th graders have mentors they are now connected to as well as one of our student leaders.  Parents took time to sit and pray with the students.  Hopefully this is happening a bunch already but is great to have really intentional and focused times.  We also got sevre helpful resources in the hands of parents and student.  Each parents went home with The Space Between: A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Development, Shepherding a Child’s Heart,  Creating an Intimate Marriage: Rekindle Romance Through Affection, Warmth and Encouragement, 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers.  Each Student went home with Surviving Middle School: A Hilarious Guide that Will Help You Avoid Being a Dork.

5. Money – I asked our congregation to help support this weekend.  We were given enough money to pay for all of the resources for the students and parents and have a nice catered meal of Friday evening.

Our first Transit weekend was a huge success.  I will spend some time later this week processing ways we can improve heading into next year.

This is the transit_blessings parents and mentors received prior to the weekend.

Our Schedule
Schedule:  Friday, May 18th

6:00 PM – Worship (Relationship with Christ)
7:00 PM – Dinner
7:45 PM – Parents Session 1
7:45 PM – Students Session 1
8:45 PM – Worship
9:00 PM – Go Home for the evening

Saturday, May 19th

8:30 AM – Breakfast at church
9:00 AM – Worship (Relationship with Family)
9:45 AM – Parents Session 2
9:45 AM  – Student Session 2
10:30 AM – Worship & Prayer (Relationship with Friends & Mentors)
11:00 AM – A Rite of Passage
12:00 PM – Go Home


I have talked a little over the last several weeks about a new ministry we are beginning called “transit.”  It’s purpose is pair up students with caring adults to shepherd and mentor them through junior high, high school and into life following high school.  Once our incoming sixth graders are set I will turn my attention to the other grades.  My goal is to have all grades set up by the end of next school year.  If you want more details of what I am envisioning you can check out this post, “Creating Meaningful Relationships in Student Ministry.”

I thought I would make the resources available to other youth workers in the process as I am putting it together.  Feel free to use, adapt, and make better.  Here are a few letters, one is to the congregation, one is to parents and one is to sixth graders.  As I get more finalized this next week I will add them here.



collection letter


I got to go with Cami Tuesday to her first Dr. appointment.  We got to see the baby in the sonogram and hear the heartbeat.  The baby’s due date is October 28th.  Ryan and Gracie are so excited.  Gracie is ready to be the big sisters and Ryan, well, he is ready to the be the “big RyRy.’  haha  If it is a boy we will name it Caleb (still working on a middle name) and Kaylee Ruth if it is a girl.  However, Gracie does not want a boy and has made it very clear the baby’s name should be “Lady Baby Kaylee Albritton.”  haha  Cami and I are both very excited!


How well do you remember Middle School?  I hated middle school.  The world around me was changing and even my own “world” was changing, if you know what I mean.

Then there was high school and college.  From the age of 11 through about 25, your world never stops changing.  Throw into the mix unstable home environments for many, bullying and the constant desire to advance up the social ladder, it is no wonder why these can be some of the most difficult years in a young person’s life.  What if the church had a different way to respond to the problems?  For years youth ministry has seen the incredible value of creating adult relationships within the context of student ministry.  Now others such as Chuck Bomar (Slow Fade) are coming in and saying the relationships are the key to the transition from High School to College.  What if student pastors and ministers had an even bigger picture of the life of a student and possible impact of their ministry?

The national average tells us around 60% of church kids will walk away from their faith before they graduate from college.  I believe there are several reasons this is happening.  However, instead of just stating problems I want to talk about solutions.  I want to help equip parents better disciple their own children.  I also want to help teenagers connect and develop relationships with other adults in the church, to encourage them and help them to bridge the gaps during times of transitions.  This is where TRANSIT comes in.  Transit will be focus around several key transitional times in the life of a teenager.  First, the move from 5th to 6th grade.  This is an enormous jump in adolescences.  The second jump is from 8th to 9th grade with the transition from Jr High to High School.  The next significant transition is moving from Junior year into Senior Year.  The final key transition comes as they make the jump from High School to college.  Of course there are other milestones that will occur along the way, but I want to focus on these four times.

At Westhill, I have been thinking through transitions for students.  The one thing I am discovering is the transitions are constant.  But what if the relationships we were creating for students to transition from High School to college were the same relationships the student had when they transitioned from 5th grade into 6th when they entered our ministry?  How could this work?  What would it look like?

So here is my plan is to begin this May with students who are finishing 5th grade and moving into 6th grade.  We are going to have a memorable weekend designed for parents and their students.  We will spend time worshiping together as families; and praying over each other, helping to equip parents and students for this huge time of transition.  The weekend will end for the new 6th graders with a Rite of Passage Ceremony.  Parents will sit down with their son or daughter and help them to pick out 3 or 4 adults in our church they consider to significant in their life.  The adults along with their parents will make up the group.  During this ceremony, the adults which the student has invited will share some positive character attributes they see in the student and each adult will give the student a specific charge.  The ceremony is built around 6 key topics, FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, PURITY, INTERGRITY & FAMILY (Concept taken from James McBride’s Rite of Passage).  To close the ceremony, I will give these adults a special charge to walk with these students through Jr. High and High School.  The mentor’s goal becomes helping in their transition into college and career and to them get connected to a church, no matter where they end up.  My desire is this relationship is one that will last a lifetime.

So how do we keep these relationships fresh and the commitment strong?  My hope is to come back each year through Jr. High and High School and have something geared toward the 6 key topics.  Not a full ceremony every year because I think it would lose significance.  Still having something every year to pull the student, parents and adults back together to re-commit to their walk together.  During these events I want to provide parents and students with resources that will be helpful to them in their journey.  My desire for our student ministry to start focusing as much time on the mentors and parents as we do the students.

Here is what I am thinking right now as far as special weekends.

  • 6th Grade – Ceremony – Transition from Elementary to Jr. High
  • 7th Grade – Purity Covenant with parents and the group
  • 9th Grade – Transition from Jr. High to High School
  • 16th Birthday (Equip Parents to do their own Rite of Passage ceremony with their son or daughter.  Rite of Passage is a great resource for the ceremony.)
  • Finishing 11th Grade – Preparing for the next step
  • Finishing 12th Grade – Tying this into our Senior Sunday and allowing the group of mentors to each give a charge, a blessing and a gift to each student.

So these are my initial thoughts and I would love to hear yours as I continue to develop these ideas in our ministry.  As I mentioned, I am beginning with our 6th graders this May so give me some of your thoughts.


If you look back to the prototypical youth ministry model of the 80’s and 90’s, the model I and many of my ministry friends grew up in, we saw churches pulling the teenagers out from the church as a whole and segregating them.

There was the church and there was the youth ministry.  Unintentionally conveying to parents, it is the “professional” youth ministers job to disciple your children.  Teaching students this ministry is here to serve you and meet your needs.  Over the past decade we have seen the overarching problems with this model.  Ministers are trying to frantically reverse the direction of youth ministry that became so ingrained in the DNA of churches through the 1980’s & 1990’s.

The goal has become connecting students back to the church, trying to convince parents it is their responsibility to disciple their children, and trying to move students back into the role of leaders and planners.  Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the youth ministry model I grew up in.  I had a blast but, with all we are learning about what youth ministry has been producing, I think we have some serious questions we must answer moving forward.  According to Barna Group research, 59 percent of teenagers who are active in their youth groups today will stop attending church at some point between the ages of 18 and 29. Show how do we begin reconnecting?

Connecting to the church – The problem comes for most teenagers in the transition from High School to College/ Work.  Chuck Bomar & Reggie Joiner address this issue specifically in “The Show Fade,” and is well worth picking up a copy to better understand the problem.  Part of the job of a successful student ministry must become connecting students with older mentors in the church who will commit to a relationship with a student. It is key that the relationship must be built to continue after high school, regardless of whether the student goes off to college or stays home.  This year we are allowing incoming 6th graders to choose 3 to 4 significant adults in their life.  These adults are going have the opportunity at a special ceremony to give a charge to the 6th grader.  Then each of the adults will be given a charge to commit to walking with this 6th grader and building a relationship with him through Jr. High, High School and into college.  These students need significant relationships with other adults who believe in them and who they look up to, to challenge and encourage them.  Connecting students to the overall church body is not simply throwing together a few all together events; this is about building meaningful relationships.

Partnering with parents – The goal is not for the minister to disciple the students, rather the new goal becomes equipping and encouraging the parents to take ownership of their children’s faith.  The idea scares so many younger parents because they were not discipled by their parents.  They grew up in the same model of youth ministry that we did and so it was not modeled for them.  Our job is to help parents connect with their kids.  With so many other obstacles including overcrowded schedules, not knowing how becomes the final reason not to.  So we walk along with parents simply pointing out some ways to disciple their children in the time they have.  Parents are great about praying with their children when they are younger or reading them a Bible story but as they get into their Jr. High and High School years they freak out at the idea?  In reality, nothing has to change.  Read and pray together, grow together and I promise it will strengthen the relationship.  Don’t make things more complex than they are.

Plugging students into ministry – We live in a narcissistic world and we have drug our churches into the same mindset.  If you are looking for a place to point the finger, look no further than the church leaders.  People show up with an expectation to be fed, after all it is the “mission of the church” we have unknowingly conveyed.  It is the expectation of adults and it’s no wonder why it has become the expectation of the students as well.  We must teach students, especially the leaders, to come not with the expectation of being fed but with the expectation of feeding and serving others.  Students will grow more in their faith through self sacrificial service than they will ever learn showing up week after week, holding a sign that says “feed me!”  My goal is for our students to be serving in the safety of our youth ministry, for it to be a safe place to learn and even make mistakes.  Our ministries are set up to reflect the ministry structure in our church.  My hope is during their junior and senior year they would be serving in that ministry in the larger church context.

I believe these connections are vital to building more effective student ministries.  What are some other ways we need to be working to connect students back to the church?  What are some ways we need to be working hard to partner with parents?  What are some ways we can be working to plug students into ministries?


So this week I am getting back on track. My New Year’s Resolution hit a quick bump in the road as 2012 began… and then fell off a cliff. I have had several people ask me how my resolutions were going, which is great, but I had to answer, “not so well”.

January 1st through the 8th breezed by, things were going great. On Monday the 9th I began a short course to complete 3 of my final 7 hours on my MDiv and our house showed for the 4th time in 3 months. By Wednesday we had a contract in hand for a cash offer and they wanted us out of the house by the 27th. 16 DAYS. WOW!!! Everyone had been asking what our plan was if the house sold and we would tell them, we don’t have one, it’s not going to sell. I am pretty sure God has a sense of humor. So we began frantically looking for a place to live and packing. In the midst of all the chaos we had Winterfest a 3 day retreat in Arlington, the 20th through 22nd. The day after closing I had a 2 day UPLIFT meeting in Arkansas.

Needless to say we have had a pretty chaotic last month and I have done awful at sticking to my resolutions. So this past Monday, with our new house finally unpacked, I have been trying to settle back into my routine and started back on the path to health by eating healthy. This week I will restart my workouts, blogging, and morning study time. I am taking my final 4 hours of my MDiv and will walk across the stage on May 4th. I am still excited about 2012 and all that God is going to do in my life and in my family. So here I go again!


This week I am going through all of my goals for 2012.

As I said in my last post I have made a lot of effort going through these goals and determining the obstacles I will face as well as the benefits of accomplishing these goals.  I am always hearing people say they won’t make any new year’s resolutions and to be honest I have spent most of my life in that crowd.  But whatever you want to call them, resolutions or goals, they are important because they help us to stay focused on a specific issue or moving in the right direction.  All of us, no matter how focused we are can lose sight of where they are heading.

This goal is the one I am most excited about.  So much so I preached on this at Westhill this past weekend.  You can access it on my Sermon Page, “The Art of Brick Making.”  This is a difficult goal for me on several levels.  First, is the most obvious and I acknowledge it in my obstacles below.  “I am really busy.”  Newsflash, so is everybody else, I am not the only one and that is the point; we are all so busy the thing that most often gets neglected is our family.  The second reason this is difficult for me, a huge part of my job is helping and strengthening other families.  So here is another one of my goals for 2012… Focus on my own family!  That does not mean neglect others, but it does mean my family takes precedent.

We have done really good as a family with these at times in the past and have also lost focus over time.  So this is our family focus for 2012.

  • Goals:
    • Memorize a weekly family memory verse.
    • Bible story time each night before the kids go to bed.
    • Pray with Cami daily before bed.
    • Date Night with Cami every other week.
    • Game night with the family one night a week.
  • Reasons:
    • I want to be very intentional this year with the amount of time I spend with my family.
    • I want to teach my children to love Jesus with all their heart.
    • I want to be a better spiritual leader in my home.
  • Obstacles:
    • Work schedule can be overwhelming.
    • Being lazy is easier but this is too important.

Have you set any goals for your family in 2012?


Around 55% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.  What is ironic is the 10 most popular resolutions never really change.  Most likely because we are not real good at keeping the resolutions we simply make in haste with no thought and planning.

I have never been real big on New Year’s resolutions, but this year I have decided to approach them differently.  I can thank Michael Hyatt for a couple of blogs which really changed my thinking. The fist was “How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick” and the second was “5 Steps to Developing More Disciple”.  So this year I have made 6 resolutions and actually written them down.  I have also come up with the reasons why I want to accomplish these goals, the obstacles I will face in achieving them and the new habits I must develop if there will be change.

So over the course of this week I will share with you my six New Year’s resolutions and all the ins and outs of each resolution.  The second reason I want to put them on my blog is for accountability purposes.  In the Making Resolutions Stick article Hyatt suggest you go public with your goals, so here they are.

I will weigh 215 lbs by May 1st.  I am beginning at 255lbs.

  • Long Range:
    • I have 4 months to work really hard and reach my goal.
    • I want to run the Cow Town 10K in February with Brian. (Saturday, February 25, 2012 – 7AM).
      • Weekly Goals:
        • Make a menu each week
        • Go shopping weekly
        • Record Meals daily
        • Record daily stats
        • Don’t miss a workout
  • Reasons:
    • I want to have more energy to spend quality time with my kids and my wife.
    • I want to be healthy, feel good and look good.
    • I want to be a good example to my children.
    • I want to be ready to climb the mountain in August.
  • Obstacles:
    • I like to eat out a lot and I don’t like to say no to foods I really want.
    • It is very hard to get up at 5 AM each morning.
    • My schedule gets very difficult, especially in the summer.
  • New Habits:
    • Eat 5 to 6 meals a day.
    • Plan ahead.
    • Don’t skip a workout for any reason.
    • Share meals with Cami at restaurants.
    • Drink only water, milk or juice in 2012.  No tea!

These resolutions will be in no particular order and I will post 1 a day for the next six days.  Cami and I are doing P90X together.  Tomorrow I will share my resolutions for my family in 2012 with you.  I hope 2012 is an amazing year for you and I can’t wait to see the new ways our Father will bless us in 2012.


As this year comes to an end here is a question for you to reflect on…  What have you built this year?  A better job?  A bigger house?  A better 401K?  A healthier body?  What about a stronger family?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of the Exodus and Israels journey out of Egypt.  As the story unfolds we see oppressed brick makers doing everything they can to make their masters happy.  They are seeking the approval of their slave drivers for an obvious reason, to avoid punishment.  Their only responsibility was to make bricks.  You could say it like this, their worth and value was tied to what they were able to produce.

NIV Exodus 5:17-18  Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are–lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’  18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”  

Is it possible that even though we live in a free country we still live in slavery?  In slavery to an employer, a coach, a relationship, debt.  Is it possible we have become enslaved and do not even realize it.  I believe what suffers in the midst of slavery more than anything else is our family.  What suffers is your relationship with your husband or your wife.  What suffers is the relationship with your children.  Many times people see the slavery they are in as means to an end.  Their goal is to make their family happy but in doing so have distanced themselves from them.

Here is my new years resolution, stop building bricks for someone else and start building a stronger family.  I do not mean quitting a job but rather being more intentional about what I say yes to.  To stop simply building bricks because someone else expects me to and be more initial about the time I spend with my wife and my children.  We have to learn to say no to some good things so that we can do important things.

Your child’s coach should not control your families schedule, if they do you have become a slave.  Your boss should not control everything you do.  I know that is a touchy one with the economy but it is true and there is a difference in making sure ends meet and food is on the table and adding another zero to your pay check.  No matter how much money you make it is not worth loosing your family.  In a way many of the things we become slaves to simply help us produce band-aids to cover up the problems in our families.

Make 2012 the year you focus on building a stronger family.  More time with your spouse.  More time with your kids. More time together in God’s word.  In 2012 make it a priority to focus on something besides bricks because no matter how incredible the bricks are you build they will not last.

What will you do in 2012 to be more intentional in building a stronger family?