• 7 Principles for Young Adult Ministry

    Some churches do very well at integrating young adults into the life of their church through the main services and gatherings. Other churches don’t. They may do better at providing a separate gathering for young adults. Others may choose to take more of a campus based approach, while others take a more decentralized approach, spreading…

  • Building a Young Adult Ministry 2 – A Church within a Church

    Two and a half years ago we shifted our young adult ministry strategy to one more like church planting, a “church within a church.” After using a more “integrative approach” for 8 years, I realized that we just weren’t reaching our potential. I did a little local research and found that there are over 5000…

  • Building a Young Adult Ministry 1 – The Integrative Approach

    For the the first 8 years of my ministry as the youth and young adults pastor in our congregation of about 1400 total active people, we focused primarily on congregational integration by getting college students to our Sunday worship services. They enjoyed our contemporary worship, the preaching […]

  • Building a Kids Ministry Team 4 – Recruiting

    Building a great team is vital to building a great ministry with kids. This post is part of a series of posts exploring tangible ways to build a great children’s ministry team. The last three posts were about key roles you’ll need on your team, the various teams you’ll need in your ministry, and the…

  • Building a Kids Ministry Team 3 – Ratios

    Building a great team is vital to building a great ministry with kids. This post is part of a series of posts exploring tangible ways to build a great children’s ministry team. The last two posts were about key roles you’ll need on your team and various teams you’ll need in your ministry. This post…

  • Building a Kids Ministry Team 2 – Teams

    Building a great team is vital to building a great ministry with kids. This post is part of a series of posts exploring tangible ways to build a great children’s ministry team. The last post was about key roles you’ll need on your team. This post is about additional teams that are helpful to have…

  • Building a Kids Ministry Team 1 – Key Roles

    Building a great team is vital to building a great ministry with kids. Over these next few posts  you’ll explore tangible ways to change the way you think about recruiting and building a great children’s ministry team. Our model is primarily large group – small group. So the key roles we need are below. If…

  • An “Orange” NextGen Leader Handbook

    We’ve put together a handbook for all the leaders and staff in NextGen Ministries at our church. While every church is different in scope, size,Read More

  • NextGen Policies for Safe & Healthy Ministry

    Developing policies is time consuming but super important for purposes of safety and risk management as well as the continuity of healthy practices. We require thatRead More

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of NextGen Ministry

    I was a youth pastor for 20 years before our church adopted a NextGen model and I became the NextGen Pastor. The transition has been challenging but totally worth it! Here, I’d like to dive in a little deeper and get more specific about some do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned in my own journey…

  • Essential Skills: Managing Your Personal Calendar

    There are many skills that ministry leaders need to develop. Among them are skills like teaching & preaching, leading meetings, planning events, caring for people, responding toRead More

  • Essential Skills: Managing Checklists

    There are many skills that ministry leaders need to develop. Among them are skills like teaching & preaching, leading meetings, planning events, caring for people, responding toRead More

  • NextGen Ninja: The Master Communicator Rule #1 – Be Prepared

    YEARLY OR QUARTERLY Prior to each year, take time with your team (your staff and/or your most trusted key volunteers) to map out your teachingRead More

  • NextGen Ninja – The Master Communicator

    Welcome young padawan ninja. With much practice and discipline, you, too, can become a Master Communicator. Time out. Before I go any further, I’m definitelyRead More

  • Essential Skills for Ministry Leadership

    There are many skills that ministry leaders need to develop. Among them are skills like teaching & preaching, leading meetings, planning events, caring for people, responding toRead More

  • Using Basecamp to Manage Church and Ministry Projects, Event Planning, and Key Processes

    We use Basecamp to manage all our ministry’s major projects, plan events, and manage some key processes. It’s an intuitive, simple online

  • The NextGen or Family Pastor

    A NextGen Pastor (or Pastor/Director of Next Generation Ministries) is also sometimes referred to as a Family Pastor (or Pastor/Director of Family Ministries). Most NextGen Pastors oversee multiple staff and multiple age groups, some of which can include college and young adults. A Family Pastor […]

  • There When They Need You

    A while back, I got an email from the parent of a kid that hadn’t been part of our ministry in years. They just stoppedRead More

  • When Teens Are Gay

    © pekkic at Fotofolia.com    We have teens and young adults in our church who are gay, bisexual, and transgender. At one point not tooRead More

  • Defining the Wins

    It can be really hard to tell if you’re #winning as a small group leader. Showing up week after week to lead sometimes seemingly meaningless discussions onlyRead More

  • NEXT: What I Learned from a Gathering of NextGen Leaders

    Last week, I spent three days with 80 of the best NextGen and Family Ministry leaders in the country learning from some of the top church andRead More

  • The NextGen Way

      NextGen and Family ministry models are a rising trend in the world of ministry to children, youth, and families. We’ve recently made this shift ourselves. Previously,Read More

  • The Apps We Use for Ministry

    We use all sorts of apps to pull off what we do on a weekly basis––apps that help us preach and teach better, communicate better, manageRead More

  • When Driving with Students

    We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the kid who needs a ride home after youth group or the kid who can’t get a ride toRead More

  • When a Kid is Suicidal

    If you’re in youth ministry, you will inevitably encounter a teen who is at least somewhat suicidal. It’s a scary thing that must be taken seriously.Read More

  • When Kids are Cutting

    I’ve been in youth ministry for more than 20 years and have come to realize that there is no end to the steady stream ofRead More

  • Hate Recruiting Volunteers?

    A major part of me hates recruiting volunteers. It takes a lot of energy just to work up the motivation to ask people to volunteer.Read More

  • The #1 Pastoral Skill

    The #1 skill that a pastor should master is RECRUITING.* You might say that the #1 skill that a pastor (or any other ministry leader) should master is preaching. A pastorRead More

  • Don’t Organize…Mobilize!

    There’s a big difference between organizing ministry and mobilizing ministry. The more we grow, the more gears there are to grease, the more issues weRead More

  • Mission Trips

    The Problem: How I Did Missions Then For years, I took students on annual mission trips. Some were domestic (in the U.S.) and some were internationalRead More

  • What Grows Your Group?

    Four Things that DON’T Grow Your Youth Group 4. Fun Games It’s fun to play games at church or youth group. In fact, fun and laughterRead More

  • Automating with Ableton

    With Ableton Live and your Mac’s built in Audio Midi Setup you can automate your projection with Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter the lyrics you project on the screen, the videos you trigger, and lighting …

  • 13 Easy ways to Get Students Involved in Church

    Ask them to read scripture during worship services, youth group, and small groups Ask them to pray during worship services, youth group, and small groupsRead More

  • The Power of Ableton

    If you have a pretty good worship band or youth band and you want to help them move from good to great, Ableton Live willRead More

  • Drums too Loud? Here’s the Silver Bullet!

    The Problem Those drums can be way too loud…even for youth. It’s hard to have a great musical experience when the drums are overpowering everythingRead More

  • 4 Pressure Points on Every Pastor

    It seems to me that there are four pressure points I experience on a weekly basis that seems to be common to all pastors andRead More

  • Get Your Band to Start Playing to a Click Track

    If you’re tired of your band speeding up and slow songs and slowing down on fast songs or speeding up and slowing down on any song,Read More

  • Get Your Band to Start Using In Ear Monitors

    You should consider getting your band to get rid of those monstrous stage monitors and get some IEMs (In Ear Monitors). Once you do, you’llRead More

  • 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Getting and Keeping Your Group’s Attention

    It’s your responsibility to gain and retain the attention of the students in your group. I don’t think you can expect students to automatically grant attention toRead More

  • A Relational Approach to Staff Reviews

    Here’s what I try to do when it comes to doing staff reviews. Pave the Way First, write the into the “Terms of Hire.” This isRead More

  • 4 Steps to a Great Small Group

    I’m convinced that there is a sequence to building a great small group experience. One step leads to the other. Unfortunately, many small group leaders,Read More

  • 6 Things I’m not doing at Youth Group Tonight

    1. Leading Worship – I used to do that, but now someone else is doing that. 2. Giving the Welcome and Announcements – I usedRead More

  • The Secret Sauce for Speaking to Students

    This is being posted on a Wednesday. Hopefully most of you have already planned your message/lesson for tonight. But, if you’re looking for some last minuteRead More

  • Best Format for Youth Group

    Over the years I’ve experimented with a variety of formats for running youth group. And, I see a lot of other people experimenting, as well. OfRead More

  • 7 Reasons Why I Don’t Do All the Teaching

    7. Some people are better at teaching than me. 6. I need a break from the rigor of teaching so often. 5. Kids need aRead More

  • Gungor vs. “A Matter of Faith”

    Well, this isn’t really about a battle between Gungor and the upcoming movie, “A Matter of Faith.” Rather, its about the tension that we experienceRead More

  • A New Way to Manage My Work Schedule

    I’ve decided to develop some new routines in my schedule. Along with these routines, I’ve decided to take a new approach to keeping on track with theseRead More

  • Getting Our Teams Set Up

    With all the changes to our staff and ministry teams, we had a lot of work to do clarify our roles, responsibilities, goals and objectives, andRead More

  • Our New Governance: Leadership Team Model

    Making Decisions & Getting Things Done How do decisions get made in our church? How do things get done? These are two very important questionsRead More

  • My New Role as NextGen Pastor

    Okay, so a lot of things have changed at our church and in my job. Over the summer (2014) we 1) made some major changes to our churchRead More

  • Letting Kids Know We Miss Them: Sending Group Selfies

    So for the last few months, I’ve been pushing a little harder to see our team put more energy into making sure that every student in ourRead More

  • A Student-Centered Process for Planning Curriculum

    Every year, this is how we plan our curriculum for the next year. It’s all laid out in advance but, of course, we make changes asRead More

  • Let it Grow: Mission of the Church, Role of the Youth Pastor

    Like I said in my last post, I’m convinced that God designed the Church with the Spirit-driven desire and the innate ability to grow inRead More

  • Let it Grow

    I can’t help it…I’m humming the now famous song “Let it Go” performed by Idina Mensel, the voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen. We’ve seenRead More

  • Suicide and Self-Doubt

    A girl I know took her own life last week. She grew up in our church and was part of our youth group during theRead More

  • Sticky Faith: 4+1

    Another thing we’re trying to develop is a better approach to helping our seniors transition to college. We now ask all our 12th grade smallRead More

  • Dealing with the Headaches because of the Heartaches

    Why do I think and talk so much about systems, infrastructure, communications, process, curriculum development and all those other words that give every youth leaderRead More

  • Focusing our Meetings

    The more recent conversation in our Student Life Leadership Team has been about defining our roles (last post) and focusing our meetings (this post). NowRead More

  • Defining Roles on our Youth Ministry Team

    The more recent conversation in our Student Life Leadership Team has been about defining our roles (this post) and focusing our meetings (next post). NowRead More

  • Sticky Faith: Get Students Involved

    If you were to visit our church, you’d see students involved in just about every area of ministry at just about every level. On WednesdayRead More

  • Sticky Faith: Partnering with Parents

    What are we doing to help our students form a Sticky Faith? We Partner with Parents. Building a partnership with parents is vital to anyRead More

  • Simplify the Calendar for Your Families and Yourself!

    As I look back and try to understand why we’ve grown, I’ve noticed that simplifying the calendar may have helped. I think maybe this isRead More

  • Be Creative with Teaching

    I love to use mnemonics! 4 words that start with C. The first letter of each word in a sentence or series of points thatRead More

  • Three Principles for Growth and Balance

    As I look back on my life and ministry, I’ve realized that there have been three basic principles that have helped facilitate both growth andRead More

  • Blogging: Simple, Short, Often

    I am hoping to be ordained this Summer (June 2014). My final interview is tomorrow morning. I’m pretty stoked about it. I love our denomination,Read More

  • If Nothing Else … Grace, Identity, Mission

    Our annual Senior Banquet is coming up soon. It’s a milestone…a rite of passage. We invite graduating seniors and their immediate families to a niceRead More

  • Using Catechism to Set a “Rock Solid” Table

    Pushing back from the table is the best part of a meal with friends. That’s when the really good conversation comes out. That’s when youRead More

  • The Current Edge of Where We’re Growing – Lay Led Mission Trips

    We haven’t taken students on a mission trip since 2007. Prior to then, my personal practice was to take students on mission trips every year.Read More

  • The Current Edge of Where We’re Growing – High Capacity Lay Leaders

    So, right now I and our youth ministry are on the edge of several growing points. These are things that are currently in development. TheRead More

  • Preaching to Youth (Part 3): Creative Use of Stories from Your Own Life as a Teenager

    I love using stories in my messages. I usually “hook” them (I use the Hook-Book-Look-Took method) with a personal story from my own life…preferably oneRead More

  • Preaching to Youth (Part 2): Keep it Positive

    The black eye gave it away. There’s no hiding it from mom when you’re 10. Wearing sunglasses is a habit I won’t have developed forRead More

  • Limiting Our Growth on Purpose

    Our growth started reaching into a certain direction the last couple of months. But, it’s too much for us to handle well. So, we hadRead More

  • Preaching to Youth (Part 1): Keep Preaching

    Yes… …we all know that kids learn & grow effectively in a variety of ways. They learn by doing & practicing. They grow through extendedRead More

  • Infrastructure

    I’ve heard it said that a ministry without infrastructure is like a body without a skeleton…it’s just a 6 inch puddle of skin, fat andRead More

  • Growth Changes Everything (Part 3): What I Didn’t See Coming

    My personality is the type that’s always looking ahead. I have vision documents with goals and objectives from four years ago with projections that areRead More

  • Pastoral Whiplash

    Plan for my youth sermon. Then trouble shoot the sound system. Then meet with a volunteer to recruit them to be a team leader. ThenRead More

  • Growth Changes Everything (Part 2): The First Things to Go

    As our youth ministry has grown there have been a few things that we’ve had to let go. Some of them were difficult to letRead More

  • Growth Changes Everything (Part 1): Growth Requires Change

    I think I’d like to share in the next few posts some of the biggest changes that we’ve experienced and that I’ve personally experienced asRead More

  • 4 Step Process for Behavior Management

    To help our small group leaders stay in control, we use simple a four step process for behavior management (4 R’s inspired by Josh Griffin’sRead More

  • The Risky Reality of Releasing Responsibilities

    Risk. It’s always there. It’s something that every ministry leader has to calculate almost every day. Calculating the risk of releasing responsibilities is for sureRead More

  • I Want to Invest More in My Volunteers…

    …but I don’t. I’d really like to spend more time meeting with them, talking about the kids, their struggles, their successes, strategic steps for disciplingRead More

  • Core Commitments for Growing a Ministry

    There are probably a million little factors that contribute to the growth of any youth ministry ranging from the unilateral work of God to theRead More

  • A Fresh Start – Follow Up Strategies

    I’m frustrated with our follow up strategies. It worked just fine a few years ago but not so well anymore. I’ll tell you what weRead More

  • Sharing the Gospel

    I try to share the gospel as often as I can. Sometimes it’s with individual students. Sometimes it’s on a special bring-a-friend-to-hear-the-gospel night. Sometimes it’sRead More

  • My Role as a Youth Pastor

    I’ve always seen my role as a youth pastor as having four major objectives. Pastor the People. Mobilize the Ministry. Cultivate the Climate. Voice theRead More