Finding the Entry Points into Spiritual Conversations

I am not gifted in evangelism.

Though many of the speaking opportunities  I am blessed with deal with equipping teens (or any age) with tips, strategies and tools for sharing our faith, I can honestly say that evangelism is not found at the top of any spiritual gifts inventory test I have ever taken.

Not #1, #2 or even #3 (most of the time it does fall around 4 or 5 though).

Though I am not gifted in it, I do it.

Likewise, though I am not gifted in mercy, I’m called to show it (Matthew 5:7). It would be wrong for me to show myself disobedient to what God has specifically called me to do. And yes, he’s called Christians to share our faith too (2 Tim 4:5). In fact, combining mercy in with evangelism makes for a pretty potent combo!

The cool part, I see God taking someone not-gifted and making me skilled. Like any area of my life, if I want to become better at something, I must learn and try. We become skilled through practice.

933642_talkingDon’t Sweat It– Just Find Your Entry Point!

My goal is to practice Real Life evangelism.

Conversational. Relational. Real.

So many of us just struggle with figuring out the entry point into a conversation. We struggle with moving from the surface to the soul. This is is certainly a risk, but one worth taking. For me, it was a Young Life leader moving the conversation from the weather to whether or not I understood what the camp speaker was talking about.

Take small risks in your conversations and see if it may just be the entry point into a real spiritual conversations.

We put together a poor-mans version of a Nooma-like video a couple years ago called Entry Points. See if this helps equip you or your group with the concept of finding the entry points into the life of a person who does not yet know Jesus!





Are You Taking The Lead in ALL Areas?

Perhaps you read the news last week, Pauline Friedman Phillips, who under the name of Abigail Van Buren, wrote the  “Dear Abby” advice column that was followed by millions of newspaper readers throughout the world, died at the age of 94. Not only does her column continue (her daughter took over years ago), but a spin-off, and a little less known column with a slightly different spelling “Dear Aaby” is beginning to thrive!

Dare 2 Share, a national evangelism training organization has been publishing several of my blogs for the last five or six months and just today went live with another one of the Dear Aaby video blogs.

Mike is a youth leader for Canada, eh?

Mike is a youth leader for Canada, eh?

Mike, a Canadian youth worker recently asked  the question, “what are some cool ways to get my students more into evangelism?”

I’d love for you check out the quick video response here.

The bottom line, we as youth workers, parents and pastors (and yes, even presidents of organizations) better be taking the lead in peer-t0-peer relationally driven sharing!

Like D2S, Youthmark is committed to training all in the area in real-life ways to share about Christ. We have resources for that purpose, but we also have a training experience we’d love to have you a part of. If you’re in (or near) SoCal, NorCal, Colorado, Washington, New England, Oregon or Idaho please consider being a part of our Mission51 Retreat (24 hour blitz-retreat)!



Mission51: Real Life

Oh man I’m gettin’ a little giddy. The Mission51 Retreat season is only a couple months away!

In the last two or three years I’ve sensed a renewal in the hearts of many I’ve interacted with. It seems a lot of people are awakening to the spiritual needs of friends and loved ones, but then quickly get frustrated (or defeated) by their inability to share the truth with these loved ones.

It’s as if they’re saying “I know I am a Christian, I love Jesus, I know that I was saved by grace through faith… but I have no idea how to share that with others in a way that is not trite, not cheesy and is non-confrontational.”

I believe at the core, soft-hearted, passionate believers are asking, “how do I share the gospel in real life?”

RealLifeConceptSmallThis is our theme for the 2013 Mission51 Spring Retreat.

With the changes we’ve made and the partnerships we now have the Mission51 Retreat is now completely open to the masses! Any youth group is now open to sign up for the Mission51 Retreat and not just those groups affiliated with a missions trip.  In addition to it being open to all, we’ve got some unique new things happening (see the video below).

We’ve even made it possible for groups to handle the registration online (click here).

Please take a minute and a half now and see the preview video for the Real Life Mission51 Retreat and spread the word to others in and around: Southern California, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and the New England States!



UNBIASED Specific Mission Options!

Over the last week I have been contacted by several churches and organizations in need of receiving a short term missions team. Perhaps you’re in the position to send a team?

Unbiased. That feels so good to write! In the past, as a Short Term Missions (STM) organization, I certainly liked, loved and admired my companions in STM’s, but there was always a small part of me that saw them as competition; so in a sense they were companiontition (see what I did there?) 🙂 No more! Now I get to truly partner with them!

Though Youthmark still has a few select places we send a few teams, our main focus in missions is to supply teams with all the Mission51 training and resources. We have a couple great partnering organizations (Youth Missions International and Verge Ministries), but we also have a number of churches that know where they are going or what they are doing who simply use our Strategy Plus package (or just the Mission51 Retreat).

Because Youthmark has served in so many places our reputation has grown so I am now fielding calls and email requests for towns/communities in need. This is VERY exciting because sometimes churches, youth pastors and groups simply need to know about the need before they rev up the engines to move!

Current Summer 2013 Opportunities:  Maybe your group wants to respond?

IMG_10951. Colorado Springs: I have relationship with an inner-city church in the Springs that serves low-income (even homeless) families through a mid-week camp/daycare. In addition, they have purchased mountain property that they are converting into a camp/retreat center. They need teams to come in for a one-week experience and serve the church and camp as counselors, cooks, recreation and craft directors! This opportunity is AMAZING! If they don’t have 3 or 4 teams they may not be able to pull of the 3 or 4 weeks of camps they think they can provide!

IMG_07312. Oregon: I have received two requests from completely different locations in Oregon, but both want the same style of ministry for their understaffed churches. They’d love a team to come in and do VBS or Kids Sports Camp in the morning, then use the afternoon to build relationships and do some small projects but use the evening to do peer-to-peer ministry with the teens in town. One location is on the beautiful Oregon coast and the other is in warm and sunny Southern Oregon.

IMG_07603. Sandy Relief/Children’s Ministry: Hurricane Sandy devastated coastal New York and New Jersey. I have been in contact with a fabulous ministry on the east coast that would love to have trained teams come in ready to do some renovation work on houses/building while also doing some heart renovation work with children and youth (tag-teaming with their day-center for their low income communities).

Please contact me if you’re interested in meeting any of these needs!



Rocky Mountain High… oh, um, yeah, Hello Colorado!

Like us in Washington the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has brought on a slew of new jokes (like my lame title to this post). With that being said, I’m looking forward to a quick-trip to Colorado and if you’re a youth leader in that region, we want to see you and give you some youth ministry freebies (including lunch)!

DSCF0150If you are or know of a Youth Leader along the greater I-25 or I-70 corridor we (Youthmark and Youth Missions International) are hosting a few Youth Leader Freebie Gatherings. Surrounding a meal we will eat and discuss our passion to see students equipped to reach their own campus, club, community and church with God’s love through the gospel!

mission_51I’ll be sharing about our Mission51 Retreat (one of our 7 retreats is coming to Colorado) and our curriculum that groups are using to prep before, during and after a mission venture. Brian Hughes will share about all the great ways God is using mission trips domestically and internationally and invite youth leaders to consider using YMI for full-scale serviced trips (for the best rates!).

Besides the meal, we’re giving away some valuable resources as well!

You can let us know you’re interested by commenting or contacting us here (just let us know which one you want to attend).

  • Tuesday, January 15 LUNCH: Beau Jo’s Pizza, Arvada (7525 W. 53rd Ave.) 11:30 am
  • Wednesday, January 16 LUNCH: Santiagos Mexican, Longmont (231 Main St.); Noon
  • Thursday, January 17 BREAKFAST: Cracker Barrel, Colorado Springs (8355 Razorback Road); 9 am
  • Thursday, January 17 LUNCH: Hosted at Calvary Church, Pueblo (5 Tulane St.), 11:30 am

Spread the word!


Lovin’ New England

Don’t let the blog title lead you astray. I am NOT talking about the Patriots. As the NFL tournament begins I declare that I am ALL IN for the Seahawks.

However, having visited New England last fall I am super-stoked to be returning not once but twice over the next four months!

jfym_logo_forumIn February I will be teaming with my friend and host Rob Townshend to lead the Jesus Focused Youth Ministry Forum in Rutland, VT (event info here) Not only am I teaming with Rob for this event, in a sense I’m teaming with my long-distance mentor and friend Barry St. Clair. Barry will also be in New England, but he’ll be leading a second Forum in Bethel, CT (event info here). I am incredibly honored to have been asked to speak at this event!

On that trip I’ll also be preaching at Calvary Bible Church in Rutland! I’m excited to see many of the same people I met in the fall when I spoke at the Endeavor group there.

29721_131153373561428_115287315148034_377471_1589633_n.jpgIn April I’ll return to New England with Youthmark for the Mission51 Retreat! This event will take place at Monadnock Bible Conference in Jaffrey, NH. I cannot wait for this year’s “REAL LIFE” theme.

If you’re in New England or know of Youth Leaders in NE, please send those you know a link to this blog! We’d love to partner with them and see the great things God has done and is doing!

If you have a speaking need or want to dream together for an event please check out my speaking page and contact me, I’d love to partner with you!


P.S. Go Seahawks!hi-res-158040530_crop_650x440

Go Undercover To Help Us Discover!

Your input my just be the key to meeting some key needs… stay tuned.

1265955_87966114Channel surfing last week I happened upon a mini-marathon of Undercover Boss. Each episode features an executive from a big corporation who goes undercover and does “regular” jobs for his or her own company. They work with the normal (and often underpaid) workforce. Through the one hour show you get to know the stories of those fueling the machine.

I DVR’d the marathon and have watched four of the episodes over the last 10 days. Though no-tear has fallen, I admit that all four have gotten me to well-up. As the executives discover the real stories (work related and personal) of their lesser known teammates they become emotionally involved and want to help! Sometimes we just don’t yet know the stories! Here’s where you come in…

My organization, Youthmark, wants to know the stories and help meet the needs. We have some Christian schools who partner with us and use our curriculum to help train students for Mission51 (the 51 weeks beyond a mission trip). We want students to understand that mission is not just a trip. However, it is often a mission trip that will help enlighten them to the needs in their own hometown.

We have two teams that are specifically looking to respond to an area of need in late February (Feb. 24-March 1). You may just help us place them!

P1030532The “Disaster Response” teams have been training and raising funds to be sent anywhere in the contiguous 48, but we have intentionally held off on naming the “send to” place until about six weeks prior to the trip. The team knows their entry point is typically going to be through manual/physical labor, but their hope is to also meet not just physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs too.

Do you know a specific area of need?

One Disaster Response team last year was sent to Hildebran, NC. Just a few days before the six-week deadline a tornado struck Hildebran. I contacted a Hildebran church and we put together the trip. It was such a hit that one of the participants returned, informed her Youth Pastor (at her Phoenix church) about the need and four months later a church from Arizona arrived in North Carolina for a youth-group mission trip!

751367_72386938Perhaps you know of a church/community that has been decimated by Hurricane Sandy? Maybe you know of an area damaged by flooding, fire or some other natural disaster?

Personally, I want these students from this specific school to return to their own hometown ready to listen to the stories around them and begin to meet those needs! Please let me know if you have ideas! Leave a comment or click here!


The Stuff of 2013


  1. A new look for the blog (have done this the last couple years).
  2. Weigh less at the end of the year than I did at the beginning (accomplished that in 2012).
  3. Blog more in 2013 than in 2012.
  4. Publish a few books (a few of my own and few from others).
  5. Share meals, not just yard conversations, with neighbors.
  6. Log more miles on my bike than I did in 2012.
  7. 13 pre-planned dates with Elisabeth (a gift I gave her at Christmas).
  8. Park my car in the garage all year (clear the clutter).
  9. Do one major house or yard project (likely our deck).
  10. Get to at least one new state or country.
  11. Read all of the Bible (it’s been a couple years since I did this in a year).
  12. Solo-date each month with each of my kids.
  13. Talk to and about Jesus. A lot.



Stoked About These Soon-To-Be-Relased Books

Ahh! The sense of anticipation is rising!

Move_leader_guide_cover2Within the next day or two I’ll have the Leader Guide. And within a few weeks we’ll have the new Mission Prep Workbook in stock!


Merry Christmas to Youthmark!

I’ll post about about this soon, but no matter what type of a mission trip you and your group go on, you should consider training the group for more than just a mission trip! Our line of Mission Prep, on trip and follow-up guides will help your group know that Mission is much more than a trip! Mission51!



The Posts With the Most

Every now and then over the weekend I find that I have time to go through and read some past posts from bloggers that I try to keep up with… In the off-chance that that’s what you’re doing right now, I thought I’d make it easy for you… I give a brief “subject” and then the following links take you directly to a few of the blogs that I have written that have gotten the most action of late for both this site and for the Dare 2 Share blog that I contribute to.

An Open Letter to A Departing Youth Pastor… this post has been the most read blog of any post I’ve ever written. It deals with leaving a church (or any job) well. This one was Retweeted and picked up by a few other organizations.

Holiday Red Cups… this is a post I wrote for Dare 2 Share in my “Dear Aaby” series. It is advice on how to turn a conversation into a possible opportunity to share Jesus with those who do not know Him.

What Is Your Mission… Trip?… this post encourages those in youth ministry to use your mission trip for more than just a one-week experience.

3 Areas of Neglect In Your Ministry… I’m excited by the way this post seemed to encourage many veteran youth workers to take a look at where they are spending their time and placing their efforts.

5 Youth Pastor “What Ifs”… This one was a highly read and re-tweeted  post from a few weeks ago. It deals with five questions I wonder about and if only I had done some things differently “back then.”

Any one of these a particular challenge and/or blessing? Any post you’ve read in the last few weeks from another blog you think I should be sure to read?

Happy weekend. Happy reading!