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?


Here are my final three resolutions for 2012.  Thought I would share these as well.  My hope in posting these five resolutions over the course of the week has been to give ideas to others, but especially to get them out there so others can help to hold me accountable.  Ask me from time to time how it’s going and if I am staying on track.  I would greatly appreciate it!

I will write 4 blog postings per week.                                                                                      

  • Reasons:
    • o I want to become a better writer.
    • o It helps me to really solidify ideas for messages.
    • o It can be an encouragement to others.
    • Obstacles:
      • o Writing takes work.  It is not easy and is difficult to come up with topics.
      • o Schedule gets very busy between work, family and school.
    • New Habits:
      • o Plan writing time into my schedule daily in my weekly review.
      • o Keep a continue list of topics in Evernote, in my Blog folder.

Read through the entire Bible in 2012.

  • Reasons:
    • To grow as a disciple of Christ.
    • I did not read through the entire Bible last year.  I did more specific readings.
    • Obstacles:
      • Waking up early and getting my reading done prior to working out.
      • Lot of busy days when I have so much to get done.
    • New Habits:
      • Up at 5 AM on Sunday through Friday.  Saturday can flex depending on schedule.
  1. Read 2 books a month in 2012.
  • Reasons:
    • I want to continue to learn and grow, as a dad, a minister, a leader, an organizer and a speaker.
  • Obstacles:
    • It requires time to read.
    • Make better use of my book budget.
    • School reading and study time tends to interfere with other reading.
  • New Habits:
    • Read books until I lose interest.  Many books become redundant and instead of reading until the book is finished, read until the information has been covered and then move on.
    • Continue to plan daily reading time into my schedule.


First of all I have not quit blogging. In fact I have been writing more in the last 3 weeks than I ever have on my blog, it is just everything I have written has gone to professors for grading. I just finished a 7 hour semester which puts me at 84 total hours. That means I am down to the last 7 hours of my MDiv. I will graduate this May and i am so excited. I have a 3 hour short course in January and then 4 hours on Monday nights in the Spring and then I am done. 7 years, I can’t believe it.

This semester has proven to be one of the more difficult semesters of the past seven years for a couple of reasons. One, if you think senioritis is bad after three and a half years of high school or college, you should experience it following 6 years of Masters work. I am ready to walk across the stage. Secondly, I took an apologetics class which was very difficult. There was a lot of reading involved in the course, along with discussion board interaction with atheists. I truly makes you question what you believe, when someone is attacking everything you believe. I have found in the end it has really strengthened my faith because I had to spend so much time really searching for answers for the faith I have.

So now the semester is over, all the homework is done and I am on the down hill side; so I willing be getting back to the blog, as soon as my computer is back up and running. Tonight my laptop hard drive died. I had to get a new hard drive and now reinstall everything and hope I can recover some of the newer things I had not backed up on the server.

Tonight Cami, Gracie, Ryan and I finished the Christmas shopping, got all our Christmas Cards in the mail and paid a visit to Santa (1st visit without a kid screaming in Santa face). Other than the computer issue a great day! Merry Christmas and God Bless!


Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them

For those of you who have been followers of Jesus for a long time you have probably read this verse many times.  I know you have, because it is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.  Next to Psalm 23, it is probably one of the most well know passages of scripture.  Many times in jumping into the Beatitudes we also jump over the first two verses of chapter 5.  In rushing through the first two verses is it possible we might have missed the foundation of our ministry.

Jesus, as he begins this sermon, this powerful, transformational, religion altering sermon, begins with the disciples sitting at His feet ready to learn from Him.  How often do you sit at the feet of Jesus waiting for Him to teach you?  Most of the time we set our agenda with His word; we set our agenda for Him in our prayers.  When was the last time you simply set at the feet of Jesus and listened to His teaching?  Listening to his voice and allowing Him to transform.

How do we do this?  It has been 2000 years since Jesus walked on the earth.  Yes, we have the word, but where do we begin.  How do we allow Jesus to teach us?  I think we must begin as the disciples did, sitting at His feet.  There are lots of different approaches but one I have found particularly helpful over the years is an ancient spiritual discipline called Lectio Divina.  Don’t let the term scare you; it is Latin for Divine ReadingLectio is a practice of reading the word and really requires nothing from you other than a quite place to be still and sit at His feet.

Begin by sitting quietly, clearing your mind and breathing in deeply.

  • Reading: Begin by reading the passage through slowly several times out loud.
  • Meditation:  Allow God’s spirit to speak to you.  What is a word or phrase that really jumps out at you?  What is the main idea of the passage?  Spend some time focusing on aspects of the passage as they come to your mind.
  • Prayer: Speak with God.  You have allowed Him to speak, now connecting with Him, ask Him to continue to reveal His truth.  What does your response need to be to the spirits nudging?  How will His truth affect your life moving forward?
  • Contemplation:  Conclude this time by simply resting in his presence.  Be still and know He is God.

You will notice this process requires a lot more silence than we are typically used to.  Maybe through our silence we can hear the voice of God and truly sit at the feet of Jesus?  When our ministry begins with us sitting at His feet and allowing Him to teach us, our lives will truly be transformed.  It is then our ministries will begin to transform the lives of those around us.

Follow up:  Here is a great passage you can begin with, Luke 10:38-42


I have been working on my MDiv for the past seven years.  I will, God willing be done this May.  Part of graduate school is reading.  I should clarify, a major part of graduate school is reading.  Reading is also a major part of leadership.

It seems like I am always reading something and many times it is what someone else (ie. Professors) have strongly suggested I read.  So I am always reading about theology and leadership from the perspective of others.  There are a couple of dangers I have really had to fight over the past several years.  If we are not careful it is easy to fall into this trap because we never saw the gaping hole in front of us.

  1. Be careful not to read what everyone else says about Jesus and not ever read what he has to say about himself.  What I mean is this, there are literally thousands of great authors and scholars who have a lot to say about the Bible.  Make sure you know God’s word more than what others say about God’s word.  Know God’s word inside and out.  Spend more time with Him than you do reading what others say about him.
  2. Secondly, do not just know what God’s word says, do what it says.  I think James sums it up best when he says, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” NIV James 1:22   God’s word was not written simply for us to have knowledge of it, it was written for us to obey.  James spends the majority of his book unpacking for believers what it looks like both knowing God’s word and living in obedience to it.

I am not in any way suggesting you not read other authors.  I think it is important to read lot of authors, even those you do not agree with.  It will help you grow and learn to think but do not fall into the trap, confusing what others say about God with who God is.  That goes for my blog as well.

Know God’s word, above all else.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  NIV Psalm 119:105

They Won’t Always Want to Follow the Leader… Lessons in Leadership

If you are a leader I don’t need to tell you, leadership can be difficult.  Yes, it has its moments where you could not imagine doing anything else.  However, it also has its moments when you are begging to do anything but.  Staying on track requires a passion for people and a vision for God’s mission.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in Exodus 32, it is the story of the Golden calf.  Let me catch you up real quick if you don’t know the story.  God has just used Moses & Aaron to lead the Israelites out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage.  For 400 years they were salves, making bricks and facing extreme oppression.  After leading them out of captivity God calls Moses up on a mountain to speak to him and give Him the Law.

While on the mountain with God, Moses leaves Aaron in charge of the people in the camp.  It does not take the people long to forget.  Talk about short term memory, they just saw Pharaoh’s army wiped out by a giant wall of water, and already they have forgotten.  God knew this would be human nature; he will even warn Israel of this later.

NIV Deuteronomy 6:10-12  10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied,  12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

In other words when things are going well, you are going to forget what God has done for you.  Basically, this is where the people are in Exodus 32, they have forgotten.  So the people are impatient because they do not know where Moses is, so they go to Aaron, the next in line.  They tell him Moses isn’t coming back, so let’s just start over with new God’s.  This is where the “accidental golden calf” comes in to play.  Aaron takes their jewelry, forms it into a calf, giving the people what they wanted.  Aaron then tells them, the calf is okay for today but tomorrow we will have a festival to the LORD.

God tells Moses he needs to return to the camp because the people have lost control.  Moses and Joshua come down from the mountain and Moses is furious with the people of Israel and throws the tablets to the ground breaking them in two.  Try explaining that one to God.

Moses: Umm, God.
God: Yes Moses?
Moses: Do you remember those tablets you gave me?
God: Yes?
Moses:  yeah, um, see Aaron and the people….

Anyway, sorry for that tangent…  So Moses is furious at the people, but ultimately he is furious with Aaron.  He says to Aaron, NIV Exodus 32:21 “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”  WOW, what a question!  Think about it from the stand point of Aaron.  “I did not lead them into sin, it was not my idea.”  They came to him and asked.  It was not his suggestion.  But Moses used the word “lead,” because Aaron allowed it to go on.  I believe here we find one of the most important lessons of leadership in the question Moses asks, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”  As leaders God has not called us to LEAD people where they WANT to go, we are called to LEAD people where they NEED to go.  There is a huge difference between the two.  People, including leaders, lose focus on their direction from time to time and the job of the leader is to step in and nudge people back along the right path.

As Aaron learned, this is never easy, because many times making the best decision means making the unpopular decision.  Aaron made the popular decision, he allowed the people to do what they wanted.  To lead means you are out in front and if you are out in front you will be shot at.  Therefore, leadership requires courage.  It is so important in leadership that we keep our mind focused on Christ and the mission he has called us to.  When we lose sight of that mission it becomes very easy to give in to what others want.  It is imperative in leadership that we keep our walk with God fresh, allowing him to lead and give us vision.  We must allow God to lead our path because we cannot lead people where we have not been our self.  The bottom line, Leaders Lead!