(I’m picking up the convo where we left off last week; see Steps 1-5). 

You’ve been fired, you didn’t see it coming (though, I’d push you back on that and say, “Really?”), you’ve gone home to sequester yourself for 24 hours. Now what?

#6 – Determine if you’ll agree to “resigning” or if you’d rather be “asked to leave.” Whatever you decide, don’t vacillate. Either direction has its own course and you need to stick to one path.

#7 – If you decide to “resign,” determine what your severance package needs will be before signing the letter of resignation. 3 months is minimum; 6 months is better. With severance agreed upon, you are also agreeing that you will “finish strong” by leaving things in fabulous order and will not participate in any negative conversations. You will stick to the story that you resigned and you are exploring the call God has for you elsewhere.

#8 – If you decide not to “resign,” tell your boss in a written form with other leaders cc’d. Keep it very professional; eliminate any passive aggressive snarky-ness. Give them a target date for finishing up your position (unless they already gave you a date). 1-2 weeks is long enough. Anything more is too tempting for political messiness. Include in the letter what your transition plans will be as far as files, data, calendar, etc. Keep your tone very helpful. You might suggest that you’d like someone to help you take your stuff out of the office so that person knows you’re leaving behind what belongs to the church. Most importantly, be sure to share that your intent is to finish well. When asked by members, tell them succinctly without attitude, that you were asked to leave, you honor the leadership, and you are exploring the call God has for you elsewhere.

#9 – Begin working on your resume. Google what’s new, sharp, and eye-catching. Look at what jobs are available on the biggest YM job boards like tools.simplyyouthministry.com, ministryarchitects.com, or youthspecialties.com. Remember: if you want another ministry position, you don’t want to burn bridges.

#10 – TAKE THE HIGH ROAD! I mean it, friend. There is no other way to do this. The reality is that if you’re picturing a courtroom scene in your head where you get to present evidence as to why you were wronged, it won’t happen. The more drama you create by whispering here and there, the more it hurts your career, your family, the church, your youth, the Kingdom. Yes, I know you weren’t treated fairly. “Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord” – in other words, let God deal with your “former” church. I’m watching one of my FB friends play out their depression and co-dependency online and really, it isn’t helping anyone. In fact, it may actually prove why that person were asked to leave.

It gets better. The lessons learned, if you’re willing, will be one of the best things to ever happen to you. Trust me, I know.




At least that was David’s attitude as a teenager. Then he went on a Group Mission Trip and everything changed. Now, as a youth pastor, David takes his own students to serve on a Group Mission Trip every summer because he experienced the life change that happens first-hand.DaveThanepohn_youthgroup - Copy

“I was a typical teen, and I was looking forward to basketball and getting into high school. I didn’t want anything to do with God anymore, but I knew that there was a God. Then in the fall of my freshmen year, there was a new youth pastor at my church and he was taking teens to this thing called Group Workcamps. He called me up and told me that he signed me up and that I was going, then hung up the phone. I went and visited him because I was mad and couldn’t believe he would do that…I decided that I would go and help people. It seemed like the right thing to do, BUT I was not going to go to youth group or Sunday school.

So, summer came and it was time to go to Workcamp. I loved the work, and I loved helping people…God was slowly working in me all week that there was more to the work we were doing. Thursday night hit, and we were told the gospel story. It was the first time I had ever heard it in that way. I had no clue that God wanted to know me personally. He wanted to have a personal relationship with me. He sent His Son for me!! Then I heard the nails being driven in His hands, and I felt for the first time what Jesus actually did for me.

DaveThanepohn - CopyIt changed my life. I went home and became a follower of Christ…I still had my ups and downs of life, but I went from wanting to do nothing with God, Jesus, and all that came with it to being a person that is sold out for Christ. I went on to serve as a worship leader at Group Workcamps for 4 years.

My life changed from being a teen wanting to do nothing with God to an adult doing nothing but serving God…Now I am a youth pastor bringing kids just like me to Group Mission Trips.” – David Thanepohn, Yorksville, IL

When your teenagers see how God can work through them, their lives will be changed forever, much like David and his students. Picture your students bringing joy to others in need through community service and home repair mission trips. Will you join us for life change? Call an advisor today, at 1.888.644.1588 ext 2 or visit GroupMissionTrips.com for more information.

Let’s create moments of #LIFECHANGE this summer!



Does your church or youth ministry need small groups?

Allen White had a great post on this and it got me thinking about the varying forms of community that people of all ages crave at different levels:

  • communityMassive: Conferences, conventions, concerts, local cross-church gatherings and workcamps can serve this.
    • Mentality, “I’m a part of the Church, and not just my church.”
  • Big: Weekend services, mid-week ministry gatherings and a big day of serving can serve this.
    • Mentality, “We’re getting together – a bunch of people I do and don’t know to do something important that is larger than all of us, but involves all of us.”
  • Medium: House parties, block parties, informal holiday get-togethers, potlucks and summer camp can serve this
    • Mentality: “I’d like to generally hang out with the circle around my circle, but still specifically hang out with my circle.”
  • Small: Small groups, classes, table discussions, travel to-and-from places and even a smaller mission trip can serve this.
    • Mentality: “I hope a core group of people take the time to get to know my story and others allow me to get to know their story.”
  • One-on-One: Accountability relationships, friendships, mentoring and personal Bible studies can serve this
    • Mentality: “It’s important to me to not just be known, but to be personally understood and better understand.”

Toss in that some prefer informal versus formal approaches on each of those, and the problem only compounds for people like us trying to get them into some meaningful community. Add introvert versus extrovert and you’ll want to throw up your hands altogether.

Which… is probably where it needs to start.


Literally: “God, what is the dominant form of community we should impress upon folks? Or should we let them impress their favorite form of community upon us?”

hourglassOne of the chapters in “Uncommon Wisdom From The Other Side” explores this. I’m including one of the graphics here for you to ponder and consider. I call it the “Relational Hourglass.” For a full explanation of how it plays out at each level, check out the chapter “From Life Change to Life Changers.” At the end, I share this summary:

You may also notice how the curves of an hourglass slope, first to shrink and then to expand. The pool of students you can track at each level thins out as they move forward, but then inverts as they take on love and responsibility for others. You can high-five numerous kids at the door but only truly track the intimate details of a handful of youth. On the other hand, as they invest in their friends, you become a part of that as you influence the student leaders.

Just remember that this is an hourglass. It may take a while to move them to the next level you think they should be at. Don’t let that stop you from loving them wherever they are today. [ read more ]

What has been your experience on the type of community that’s working best for your ministry versus what you’d like to be working?

Is it a matter of making our approach that we feel God has ordained work…

or a matter of joining God in what’s already working?

Who needs community (and which kind)?

Does your church or ministry really need the type of community being pushed out on the people? Or are they looking for something else?

What do you think? 

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1We are super thankful for those who serve in youth ministry AND children’s ministry!!! Steve Adams, our children’s pastor at Saddleback Church, was our special guest on the show this week. We discussed the importance of building relationships.

Subscribe here!! Remember, if you have a question you can send it to talkyouthministry@gmail.com. We are also now on iTunes check us out for the audio only. Excuse the quality…a permanent location is in the works. :)


Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt




I hadn’t been online all day on Thursday. Then around 10:00  p.m., I pull out my phone and hit “The Facebook” for some down time. At first I was confused as a friend’s post read, “I think it’s white and gold but my kids insist it’s blue and black.” I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I started to scroll through and literally every post was debating this issue. It took me about four posts to realize that we were all discussing an ugly dress (no matter the color). People thought it was an illusion or mind trick. The same dress looked like two sets of colors at the same time to different people. There were articles. There were hashtags like #teamwhitegold. By Friday articles began to creep up about the “science” behind the phenomena. The manufacturer confirmed the dress only came in blue and black. Photographers started to talk about the bad lighting and photo manipulation. I kept thinking, “Why do I care about this?” (I know *gasp*) Honestly, I didn’t. However, when I brought it up from main stage at a camp I was speaking at the crowd erupted. It was still at the center of our world on Saturday as I overheard the young adult aged worship team have an hour debate about it after lunch. By Sunday the trend was waning. Yesterday, I awoke to the usual onslaught of weight loss, Floridians and Californians making fun of your winter, people’s children being funny, Time Hop and of course the invitation to play Candy Crush (will that ever go away?). The dress had come and gone, so fast that I almost missed being able to blog about it.

Youth leaders and parents live among a sea of Digital Natives. We on the other hand are Digital Immigrants. This means you and I remember a time when we were not tethered to our devices and certainly not social media. We recall a moment in history where everything we thought was not a PSA. Our youth however, do not remember these days. All they have ever known is a time when you share everything to everyone. The methods might change (My Space is always a running joke around group) however, the need to be seen and heard publicly is only growing. If this is true we need to intentionally teach our students three things. These may seem like “no brainers” to you, but I literally have conversations about these topics weekly:

What Are Real Relationships?

Sociologists share that there are three types of ways we are tied to others:

  • Weak Ties: These are “acquaintances.” People we interact with but are not emotionally attached to. These are people who we don’t truly know in real life. These are public Instagram, Twitter or Google Plus followers. We have never actually interacted with them in any “true” way beyond online.
  • Strong Ties: Those people most important to us. These are friends and family that we actually come in contact with beyond the online world. These are the people we share our true selves with. They are the ones who celebrate our birthdays WITH us not just by posting a “Happy Day” on a timeline somewhere.
  • Intermediate Ties: Those that fall in between the two. There are some online relationships that can turn into true friendships. You might really interact with people and get to know them. However, these are people that at some point in time we actually met in the “real” world.

Teach your students online safety on who they interact with. YET! Also teach them the difference in actual relationships. Famous people they interact with online, even Taylor Swift who sends presents from time to time, are not real friends just because they “liked” their picture.

 Just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to share it.

Someone told me this once, “Before you post a thought or picture think to yourself would you share this with a pastor and your grandma?” The point is teach your students to wait before they post things that are hurtful, embarrassing, controversial, demeaning or bitter. Curt Schilling retired Red Sox player celebrated his daughter’s athletic achievements publicly the other day. What crawled out of holes were creatures who thought that making disgusting, rude and even vile comments about sexual acts with a girl they had never met were alright. In what world did anyone think it was ok to be this degrading? Well, we live in a world where if you think it, you share it. Teach your students the old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Remind them of this often.

There is “Fake” Online

This summer the phenom was the ice bucket challenge, this weekend it was the dress, and tomorrow we will get caught up in something else entirely. We move on to the latest and greatest with barely a hiccup. Our students SAY they know the difference between real and fake. Yet, the next time someone doesn’t like an Instagram picture they are having a deep discussion with us about, “What did I do wrong, my friend doesn’t like me anymore.” We can’t possible just not have seen said picture. I think the downside to the Digital Native is that they have never learned naturally how to separate out that we present ourselves online in a different light (and literally a filter) than our everyday lives. They get caught up in the latest craze and don’t even realize it’s insignificance. We need to teach them to understand what matters and what’s fluff. A debate about a dress may have been a silly pastime but if we get over invested in it then something is off.

There are times when the digital world can be used for truth. Curt Schilling used his blog to call out the guys who were attacking his daughter. Some of them have been suspended from college and have been held accountable to their actions. A Dad whose daughter was being bullied used YouTube to get noticed, and the school finally stepped up taking it seriously after it went public. Injustice can be exposed and dealt with swiftly and this is good. Technology we must remember is not good or bad, it’s how we use it. Team blue/black is silly until you start taking it to heart and losing friendships over it. (Stranger things have happened.) The KEY is teaching our students WHEN and HOW to post and HOW to be ourselves ALL of the time. Apparently some guy tattooed a picture of the “dress” on his leg.  Really, did no one tell him “Dressgate” is already done?  Let’s teach students to navigate the world ahead before the next proverbial dress appears.

What are you doing to teach your students?

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Facebook is taking a leap into suicide prevention by introducing some new tools in its ecosystem. While you can report what you think is suicidal content here, this week Facebook will be rolling out an option inside of our post that lets viewers click “Report Post” on any post that seems dangerous or self harming.  When the person who was “reported” logs in, Facebook will provide ways to contact the person who is concerned about their post or help them connect with suicide prevention specialists.

Engadget reported that…

The social network has teamed up with mental health organizations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org to make it easier for users to show their concern. The feature will be available initially to those in the US and Facebook says it will complete the rollout within the next couple of months. It’s also vowed to improve its tools for users in other parts of the world.

Here is a walkthrough of the process from cnet.com. Take a few minutes and click through their gallery. While many of my students have left Facebook, there are still enough using it that need to know this exists. I will be mentioning this feature in the near future…even if it is just a side comment in a message it is worth sharing.
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Sometimes the unexpected can happen. It can be hard to know how you’ll respond to a tragedy.

At a Workcamp last summer, a crew of teenagers and adults were two hours into building a wheelchair ramp for a West Virginian resident when the unimaginable happened. The resident of the home collapsed; emergency personnel were called; and not too long after, they found out that their hours-old friend would not be returning home. With renewed purpose, the teenagers embraced a new mission: finish the wheelchair ramp; love the resident’s family in every way possible.

We’ll let the late resident’s daughter, Heather, tell you the rest of the story and how Workcampers made a difference for her family in their time of need.

“My father was walking to his building in the back of his yard to look for some supplies he had stored for this project. As my father returned to the job site, he fell hitting his head on the concrete and stopped breathing…Ultimately the doctor informed my family and I that he was probably dead before his head hit the ground…I packed my bags and drove home as fast as I could arriving the next morning . . .

“As I pulled in the driveway, the crew pulled in and started their work for the day. I could not believe these kind souls returned the next day. I cried as they asked if they could complete the task they had been given. I responded with a ‘yes please’ as tears rolled down my face.


“You see, this ramp was not just for my dad. It was also so that my dad could try to take my mother outside. My mother had just come home from the hospital after being there almost 7 months and being on a ventilator for 3 plus months. She ultimately began to live, breathe, eat and talk again. My father was her caregiver. He was looking forward to taking my mom for a walk in her wheelchair. But this was not in God’s plan.

“I was very impressed that day. The children and their leaders had bought and signed a beautiful card and given it to my mother. Everyday they prayed for our family and would play with my sister’s kids and my son. They brought gifts of love for the grandchildren to help ease their pain and grief…

“As the family and friends came in and out, the mission group was very kind and respectful. They soon felt like part of our family…I look at these beautiful young adults and pray that my 9-year-old son, Ian, turns out just like them. I want him to be a kind Christian with a heart filled with love for Jesus and respect for others.

You see … these people are not just ordinary people. They are angels here on Earth that God sent our family. My family cannot express how thankful we are … Thank you and God bless you all.” – Heather and the entire Valentine Family

God can call us to love others in unexpected ways that can change us, as well as those we encounter.

Will you join us for life change? Let’s create moments of #LIFECHANGE this summer.

Call an advisor today, at 1.888.966.8982 ext 2, or visit GroupMissionTrips.com to get started.


Infinite Jukebox makes your favorite song last forever, literally. When I find a song I like, I can be guilty of hitting repeat on my office stereo and letting it play in the background all day. With Infinite Jukebox I can hear one song with zero pauses for as long as I want. If you thought The Allman Brothers Band’s “Mountain Jam” was long, just wait until you hear Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off for the entire day.

Infinite-JukeboxInfinite Jukebox parses any songs (search their site or upload your own mp3) into beats and matches patterns so it can jump around the track, making it sound like one continuous song. Click play and Infinite Jukebox jumps around with near perfection, you can even see what part of the song is played most and lines to where the song will possibly jump.

If listening to a song on infinite repeat would drive you nuts, think of some other possibilities. This site would be great to pull up on your smartphone or youth room computer and play background music for discussions. games, and opening and closing ambiance music.

Worship Band from Start to Finish
Whether from our computer for ambience or from our worship team, music is a key element in our gatherings. Step up the music everywhere and check out “Worship Band from Start to Finish.” It is a great resource for you to use for your worship team or to hand to a volunteer who is building your youth worship team.

– Brandon / @iamBRANDONEARLY