Hide and Go Seek Anyone?

Hide and go seek…

Kick the can…


These were all some of my favorites growing up and as a youth pastor. Well, it seems I just finished a masterful game of “all of the above” when it comes to my blog.

I plan to be back to writing after Labor Day after an unintended break.

Though I’ve stayed pretty regular on my writing for Dare 2 Share, I have completely stayed away from my own blog over the summer. This was a surprise to me… but it came with good reason. I plan to write about the unintended break sometime this weekend and post it next week.

But no worries, I’ve heard the “ollie ollie oxen free” call! I’ll be at home-base and blogging again next week!


3 Phrases I Disagree With (Sort Of)

My latest post at the Dare 2 Share blog may have you wondering if I’ve lost my senses… I make the argument that I really don’t like these three phrases:

  • “Make sure you invite your friends to youth group.”
  • “Sign up for the mission trip!”
  • “You want to get saved?”

I have a lot of fun writing for Dare 2 Share and I can see already that this latest post has gotten some good action! Check it out here!


Summer & Fall 2013, Speaking Needs?

I got a late start on my spring cleaning, but who can blame me, the spring was jam-packed with all things BUSY! Mission51 Retreats, consulting and speaking at a couple conventions/conferences.  But the cleaning did begin!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

The fish was THIS big! My stories are NEVER exaggerated!

I would love to head into the summer with most of the little clean-up projects taken care of so that I can get rolling with some larger Youthmark projects (a few big writing projects). I’m pumped about this summer, time with family, time for writing, but yet my schedule is fairly open, perhaps a little too open? If you have summer or fall speaking opportunities, I’d love to fill in some gaps for you…

I just updated my speaking page, you can link to it above or right here. Maybe your church or org should be added to that list? Don’t hesitate to contact me (just give a few details of what you’re looking for and when)!

My car is clean, the garage is next! Blessings on your late spring!




The Opposite of Closed

Do you like to be challenged? Are you one who wants open dialog? Maybe you’re even one who fears change, but embraces the fact that we must?

Or are you closed?




Not open.


shut – close

I understand the reality, in the youth ministry world, I’m pretty old. Somewhere around the age of 28 I was seen as a veteran in youth ministry. By 35 some probably saw me as one riding off into the sunset. Funny thing is, at 40, I don’t feel old and certainly don’t think I act old (hopefully some may consider me mature, but not “old.”). I’m still passionate and energized by all things Student Ministry!

One reason I believe I am not “old” is that I believe I am “open.” I love collaborative! Though I have convictions I welcome discussion. I have ideas, but live in the reality that mine might not be best. I understand that I can hold to my theological beliefs yet change my methodology. I’m open.

I hope you’re open too!

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

Snap from 2012 Open Seattle

This fall I am honored to once again be a part of fantastic event for others in the student ministry filed. The Youth Cartel’s Open Seattle will take place on Saturday, October 26, 2013. I hope you’ll put it on your radar now! This one day event could prove to provide months worth of team discussions (especially if you strategically bring your volunteers).

Here’s the kicker… your voice is needed! Not only is your voice needed in each of the sessions (the last 10 minutes of each 40 minute session is set aside for real conversation/collaboration), but Open Seattle  is right now looking for presenters as well! You can submit your session ideas here.

Open presents a great mix of local, national and even international voices. But I LOVE that they favor the local voice (they want the majority of presenters to be from the northwest)! So, submit those ideas now. Risk a little! Be open!

I believe the youthmin world is shifting, you may be viewing it from a completely different angle, but it’s an angle I/we need to hear about, please bring your voice to the table.


You’re Invited…

Yep, the brief break is over… after nearly a month of really not posting, I shall return to some regular posts. It really was an unintentional break to begin with, things just got to be very busy in the midst of the Mission51 Retreats (a post about that is on the horizon).

Today, I soft-launch back by pointing you to a post that I wrote for Dare 2 Share dealing with the power of invitation.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel to Southern California for the Youth Ministry Executive Council. This yearly gathering, hosted by the National Network of Youth Ministries draws the lead person from a myriad of youth ministry related organizations. I love the relationships I have formed from these gatherings. A few years back I was so honored to have received the invitation.

The event is NOT what gets me to go back, the relationships I have with these men and women from across the country is the lure! Relationships matter!

Have you ever thought about using the “power of invite” in your own life of faith-sharing? Getting your friend to church is great, but that is not the end-goal! Check out my latest post at the Dare 2 Share blog and see if it inspires you to make some invites this week! Relationships matter!


Five Things For The Fall (it’s not too early)

I was recently near Des Moines, Iowa, consulting for Ministry Architects. When my evenings were complete I would retreat to my hotel and while channel surfing I found a football game on (in the spring?). The Big Ten Network was televising the spring scrimmages for the Big Ten universities. I caught a few minutes of the Black and Gold game for Purdue.

706735__transfer_It got me thinking, football is not until the fall, but these teams are already preparing for their autumn season. Much game-planning and preparations are already going on in order to prep for the fall. I think the same can and should be done in youth ministry.

Though five months out, I’d like to propose five things youth ministries can be working on right now to prepare for the fall.

  1. Prioritize A Prayer Movement: Why not have every student in your group be prayed for and prayed with? Not only will this propel your students, it will invigorate your congregation. Take the month (like September or October) and do something like Pray21 (a 21 Day prayer partnership between student(s) and an adult). *Begin dialogue with your Senior Pastor and do something special on Sunday, September 22, “Pray With Youth” Sunday.
  2. Recruit Your Staff: Use summer missions, camps and retreats to expose potential new volunteer team members to the ministry. One of the biggest mistakes youth pastors make in recruiting is miscommunication in what you’re asking for. Create volunteer position descriptions so that a volunteer knows what is expected of him or her.
  3. peers-leading-peers


    Consider a SLAMM Approach: Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry creates ownership not chaos! Begin dreaming, scheming, plotting, planning, praying and partnering with students now for what they want in the fall. When given the opportunity to operate in their gift and skill set you’ll see students excel. Mentoring is the key! I know several Youth Pastors who are thriving with a SLAMM approach, let me know if you want more info!

  4. Unite with Parents: Use this summer as an opportunity to build and/or strengthen relationship with parents so that come the fall you sense the momentum and power of being united in purpose to see teens being discipled and making disciples!
  5. Know Where You’re Going: We rarely get in a car with no destination in mind. Yet, we often begin a program year in youth ministry with an undetermined destination. There is no reason you and your team can’t have a full September-to-August calendar planned with all the major events and approximate costs so that all can see the year at a glance! You’ll be doing everyone a favor!

September is coming! With just a few hours of spring prep and summer action, you can be more prepared than ever going into your fall. Calendar your events, communicate with parents, develop teens in their areas of giftedness, prep adults for mentoring and connect your congregation with teens through prayer partnerships!


How to Create Relationships with Unchurched People

Timing is everything…

I am honored to be a blogger for my friends at Dare 2 Share, through D2S I write four posts per month but never know when one may go live. The timing on a blog post this month couldn’t have been better.

On Thursday of this week I received an email from a youth pastor friend of mine who has been attending the Youthmark Mission51 Retreats I believe since they began. His letter virtually mirrors the Dear Aaby question I received a couple months ago for the D2S blog. 

Both questions were essentially asking, “how can I, as a pastor, create relationships with unchurched peers?” 

Check out the letter & question on the Dare 2 Share blog here.

Here is my video response!


Five Things You May Have Forgotten

1328012_agenda_4When asked “what do you do?” most youth pastors can identify some major areas of his or her week (church meetings, youth group and message prep). Obviously there are other small areas that require more thought. However, many are forgetting some very basic but BIG areas. My hope is that this post will serve as a simple reminder.

Some things you may have forgotten to put on your schedule (in no particular order)…

Did you forget to encourage (and inform) your team members?

An early-week (short) email to your team (lay leaders) goes a long way. Share the wins from the weekend, the schedule for the next program event and give praise for the role your leaders play!

Did you forget to “read your Bible and pray?”

1415262_bibleThis may seem like a “duh” category, unfortunately I have to list it. I am discovering an increasing number of youth leaders who are only spending time in the Word to prep a message and MANY admit to not really spending any time in the Word itself, most just glance at the verses provided by curriculum. In addition, few of us are scheduling time to just listen to God and respond in prayer.

Did you forget to program as if someone new could be coming?

Take a minute to think about your Sunday School, youth group and small group settings from the perspective of the new kid. Would a new person know where to go upon arrival? Would he/she be greeted? Are people even trained in how to greet? Would you even be able to capture the new persons information so that proper follow-up can be done? Believe it or not, these things take time.

Did you forget to set the example in the areas of application that matter to you the most?

If I were to sum up my youth pastor-passion it would be to have students fall deeply in love with Christ, showing/sharing that love with the lost and propelling their Christian friends. But, I can only lead students/staff as far as I am able to go myself. Part of my weekly rhythm needs to include time prioritizing my own (peer, my age range) time with the unchurched and personal time with Jesus.

Did you forget to give others permission to develop and exercise their gifts?

Calling it as I see it: too many youth pastors spend too much time doing their own thing (agenda/direction for the ministry) rather than taking the time to equip and empower others to do the better thing. Even though it takes time, schedule times to collaborate (with students, staff and parents) and make space for others to use and develop those gifts!

Do these five things and you’ll see immediate results and long-term fruit!

What else would you say are areas we may be forgetting to schedule?



Things That Bug Me Most About Youth Ministry

I’ve been involved in youth ministry for over 20 years! I absolutely love it, so please don’t let the title of this post be an invitation to a Debbie Downer moment.

IMG_5177God is at work and there is much to rejoice about when it comes to student ministry. The following is simply a list of stuff that has gotten under my skin… the good news, every one of these is fixable! I’m praying that naming these may be the first step towards the solution rather than just naming the problem.

  • Low standards bug me. Check out the dichotomy of messages we send students: We recruit teens to defend our country. We see those naturally gifted/talented in their sport and push them to the limits so that as a teen they can sign multi-million dollar contracts.   We lead them to believe that if they work hard enough, take AP classes and keep their grades up they’ll receive massive scholarships for school. Yet in the church and youth ministry I don’t think we believe students are capable of so much more. We keep the standards low, we entertain them rather than include them in the development. Too often I hear, “they’re so busy with everything else we just want youth group to be a retreat for them.” When it comes to priorities, which one is winning, the areas that students are being pushed in or the refuge and retreat ministry?
  • Celebrating “growth” bugs me. I love when youth groups (or churches) grow! But the growth that should be celebrated is when someone who was not connected (to Christ or to a body of believers) begins to attend and be discipled. When a person comes from a different church or a different youth group our first reaction should be to protect the bride (unity). If your group is growing with already committed believers transferring in understand that another church/group is shrinking. This isn’t to say there aren’t reasons for people to leave, but please take the time to speak to those issues, seek reconciliation in the relationships involved even if it means your “numbers” are growing as rapidly. Equip your teens to seek and to save that which is lost! Sheep stealing is not growth.
  • 1198058_teenagerExpecting teens to do something you aren’t even doing yourself REALLY bugs me. We (youth leaders, parents, pastors) become discouraged when students don’t do what we’ve asked them to do. “Read your Bible.” “Pray about that.” “Invite your unchurched friends.” “Get discipled.” “Be committed.” These are all things that we seem to expect of our teens, but are these things that you’re doing? I interact with a lot of pastors and  youth pastors, many volunteer leaders and scores of parents of teens and I can tell you, the apple does not fall too far from the tree. The very expectations we have for teens are the very things that are NOT prioritized in the lives of adults. Are you pouring over Scriptures? Is prayer a priority? When is the last time you prioritized sharing Christ with your own peers?

On one hand I’m terrified about the future of student ministries, the very things I named can become an uncontrollable snowball that leads to entertainment only, numerically judged, low standard youth ministries. Or, through prayer, a recommitment to relationally driven, biblically based and Spirit-driven responses we could see a generation of teens lead the cause of Christ!