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


Over the past several years, I have been focusing more and more energy on discipling and mentoring students.  At Cataylst this past year Andy Stanley challenged leaders with this statement, “teach people to do what you do.”  Pretty basic right.  I have been looking at different things in my ministry I do on a regular basis and trying to teach and empower students to learn to fill those roles.

I made the decision to stop getting adult co-teachers each quarter but instead to pair up an experienced teacher with a young inexperienced teacher or better yet a student.  So this quarter has been our first try, it has been really good, and really bad.  Haha  I thought I would share some insights and things I have learned from the first go around that could help those in ministry beginning in this process.

This quarter our High School class has been taught by a guy who has been teaching for me for a while.  He is a fireman and has to miss every 3rd Sunday.  I paired him up with one of our seniors in High School who does a good job teaching and is contemplating going into ministry.  Our Jr. High class has been taught by me and a 9th grader who has taught a couple of times in the past and has really enjoyed it.

  1.  Prepare to be frustrated, because you will.  Especially, when dealing with students.  There will be a time they will not show up.  Whether, they didn’t have a ride, they forgot, something happened.  Just because they don’t show up does not mean they will call and let you know they won’t make it.  You must remember these are teenagers, and part of this process is mentoring them through these issues.  I have had to let them know on several occasions when you say you will be somewhere, be there.  If something urgent comes up, call.
  2. Create a covenant.  I wish I had done this early and asked them to sign it.  Also, I would have parents sign it so they know what is expected of their student.  Lay out the expectations.  For instance, we will meet every week at 5 PM on Wednesday to plan out Sunday.  Do not assume the student will tell their parents their schedule.
  3. Value the relationship over the instruction.  The teaching aspect is very important but the relational aspect is even more crucial.  Pour into the person’s life first and foremost and everything else you are trying to teach them will be communicated to.  Most adults when asked to teach focus on the tasks of teaching.  This has been difficult for someone who has been doing this for so long.  Yes, I want you to teach your class, but more importantly I want to you teach this student how to teach, prepare and study.  The goal is not make sure the class has a teacher that week.
  4. Have a set schedule.  I set up a calendar at the beginning.  I would teach the first 3 weeks and they would observe.  When we would meet we would talk about different aspects of the class, why did I choose to do or say something a particular way.  The next 7 weeks we would team teach.  Divide the lesson out and both have roles.  The final 3 weeks is all the student.  Also, schedule your meeting time on a weekly basis to prepare for class.
  5. Read a book together.  We have been reading “Communicating for a Change” by Andy Stanley.  Each week we read a chapter or two and discuss the reading in our weekly meeting.  I have found this is very helpful for them because the book is so practical they can use what they are reading right away.

I would love to know some ways you are integrating students into ministry and what are some of the lessons you are learning in the process?


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?


Vision, it is one of our five senses and just like all of our senses we tend to take for granted that we can see.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without sight.

Yet, many people are completely capable of living without sight; they find ways to make it work.  However, they will never be capable of doing everything they could do as if they could see.  A lack of vision greatly limits life.  In leadership a lack of vision is magnified many times over and is far more detrimental.  In a leadership role lack of vision no longer simply affects the one without sight, it also effects all who follow.  It truly becomes the blind leading the blind.

I find it amazing; with vision being as important as it is, how easily as leaders we lose sight of our vision.  For a church when the leadership loses sight of the vision the people lose their way.  When the church loses sight of the vision it turns inward.  Once the vision turns inward it is impossible to truly follow Jesus because Jesus was constantly focused on what was happening out in front of Him.  He was constantly focused on building His Fathers kingdom.  Think of it like this, Jesus said in the Great Commission to “go into all the world.”  Going requires vision.  Of course you can go with no vision, but you will never be capable of accomplishing all God is calling you to as a leader if you can’t see where you are going.

As leaders there is an incredible burden to continually be refocusing yourself and others on the vision.  But how as leaders do we stay focused?

  1. We must continually be pursuing Christ, through prayer, study and communing with Christ.  As leaders we should be saying to people, as did Paul, “follow me, just as I follow Christ.”  As leaders we must fight against vision loss in followers, but that fight begins by making sure we do not lose sight of the vision our self.
  2. We must continually check our direction.  It is so easy to lose sight of where we are headed and it is even easier when people feel there is no one leading them to wander away.  How do you check direction?  With a compass.  As God gives you vision you must be developing action plans and goals from that vision.  You have to have a way to measure and see where you are.  This should be done on a weekly basis, because it does not take long to get lost.
  3. Most importantly keep pushing forward.  It is far too easy to lose sight of where we are when we stop moving.  What can cause us to stop moving?  Other people can distract us from the vision, through complacency and complaining.  Busyness can also distract us from the vision.  It is imperative as leaders to learn the word no.  We have to learn to say no to good things for better things.

Leaders, I want to encourage you to stay focused on where you are headed because your vision is vital to your leadership.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.  Proverbs 29:18


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.


This week I had one of the most impactful ministry experiences in my ministry up to this point.

For several years now I have been really trying to focus more of my time and energy on developing student leaders in ministry.  I have done okay, but at Catalyst this year Andy Stanley really put words with what I have wanted to do with students.  Andy described their primary focus in developing leaders at North Point, they call it intentional apprenticing.

Intentional apprenticing: selecting, modeling and coaching for the purpose of replacing yourself.

The term and concept have really resonated with me.  Andy challenged leaders to stop doing things alone; don’t prepare alone, plan alone, interview alone.  Everything you do is an opportunity for you to teach someone how to do what you do.  We have created this false sense that everything we do is so difficult.  Bottom line, it’s not.  You don’t have to be the best or even know the best way to go about it; your responsibility is not to fill up someone else’s cup but to empty yours.  You don’t have to be the best or the most knowledgeable, just simply teach people to do what you do.

So, this past Tuesday I decided to invite all of our student leaders to go with me to Abilene to interview summer interns.  They were all devastated about having to miss school for a day but after a little convincing they all decided to go.  We had a great day together.  I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to see interviews done and actually interview some of the kids.

As we started out in the morning I conducted the interviews.  I would give them the opportunity toward the end of the interview to ask a few fun questions and that was about it.  After the candidate would leave, we would talk about the interview.  What did the candidate do well and what did they do not so well. I would explain why I asked certain questions and what I was watching for in the candidate.

As the day went on I allowed them to conduct more and more of the interview.  Finally, I turned it over to them.  The last four interviews of the day I turned over to the students completely and said go for it.  I simply sat back and watched.  Each time I would pick one student and tell them to take the lead.  The first one was a little nervous.  However, with each interview you could tell they were getting a little more comfortable.  It was amazing.  By the end of the day we were talking about their interviewing skills more than the candidates.

I think it was the clearest picture of discipleship I have seen.  To them what seemed like such a huge task became something not so intimidating.  I was able to model it for them, and then be there to help and instruct as they began to do it on their own.  Is it not the same thing Jesus did with his disciples?  This week I have been trying to rethink my ministry through these new lenses.  We are instructed as older believers to train those who are younger and somewhere along the way we have truly missed that.

Maybe it is one of the reasons so many young people are leaving the church.  We tell them we want them to grow up to be leaders but we continually tell them to wait until they are more mature, more knowledgeable, more gifted, more spiritual, more capable.  Who is supposed to make them more knowledgeable, more gifted, and more spiritual?  Leaders it is time to wake up.

It is no wonder our churches are not finding incredible young leaders.  We will never see an explosion of new young leaders until our older, “more mature leaders” see their responsibility to model for and coach the ones coming up behind them.

Tuesday my kids walked away saying interviewing people is not that difficult and I wonder if they might say the same thing about preaching, teaching, planning, budgeting, leading, greeting if we would simply model it for them and walk along side coaching them as they go. Just maybe it would change the world, AGAIN!


Over the past several years I have really began to work on delegating.  I am still not where I want to be but a couple of years ago I began to see the benefit of it in my ministry.  In ministry if you do not learn this skill you will not last long.

I am responsible for several major events every year as well as the ministry I am leading.  When I try to do it all I burn myself out and become ineffective.  I am finding the more I pass off to others the more effective I am becoming in ministry.  There are still those voices in my head though, telling me, “don’t ask them,” or “you can do it yourself.”  So here are the reasons I can think of, not to delegate.

Reasons NOT TO Delegate:

  1. It is faster to do it myself.  Yes, it takes time to teach someone how I want it done.  I don’t have the time to find someone and then train them to do it.  Really, I am just creating more work for myself.
  2. I am very particular and I want things done my way.  If I hand it over to someone else it won’t come back the way I pictured it.  So instead of taking the chance I will just find the time to do it myself.
  3. I don’t want to be a burden on other people.  Think about it, if I don’t want to do it then why would they want to do it.  I don’t want to be “that guy” who no one wants to talk to because there is always something he wants you to do.
  4. I am getting paid to do this.  This one is probably the most difficult one for me to get past.  It is my job and I receive the paycheck, how can I ask someone else to do it.

There they are, these are the reasons, cancel that, excuses I will typically use to avoid the delegation game.  Here is the problem with just doing it yourself.  Over time you end up “just finding time to do it” at the expense of your family, your health and your spiritual health.  I am finding there are significant counters to all of the excuses I come up with.

Reasons YOU MUST delegate

  1. Yes, initially it is faster to do it yourself but not in the long run.  Once you have trained someone who is passionate about the task, you have the ability to turn it loose.  This opens up more time for you.  In the past I have always ask for a volunteer and then trained them. At Catalyst this year Andy Stanley changed my thinking on delegation.  Andy talked about the importance of choosing someone and doing it with them for a short time and then turning them lose.
  2. Just because things are not done the way you would have liked them does not mean it’s not done well or that it is done wrong.  It is just different and that is okay.  Maybe your idea was not the best.  Maybe there is a better way to do it.  When working with students I can clearly do a better job at some tasks, but as they do it more and more they will get better.  It is the only way for them to learn.
  3. Our job in ministry is not to simply get things done but rather to equip people for ministry.  However, when we do it our self we are robbing someone else of the opportunity to use their talents and abilities to serve in an area God has gifted them.  This is Youth Ministry at its core.  When we began our student ministries several years back I turned a lot of things over to students and I no longer do them.  Most importantly, I gave up all song leading in our ministry, and the world is a better place because of it.  But so are the students who are leading worship now because of the decision.
  4. I am not getting paid to do “stuff” and I am getting paid to minister to people.  Part of ministering to people comes through training and equipping them for ministry.  Delegating allows me to focus on my strengths and allows others to use theirs.

So the obvious question would be “what are the things I need to be delegating?”  However, I think we need to begin with a different question.  Let’s start here, “what am I really good at and what do I really enjoy doing?”  When I find these, they are the things I need to keep doing because these are the reasons I really enjoy ministry.  These are the things which energize me.  I need to keep doing these things.   Everything else, someone else can do and would probably enjoy doing.  So here is my goal over the next 6 months, delegate and get rid of everything I can.