—  October 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

As my sabbatical is coming to an end this month, I had the opportunity to meet and share life together with an amazing group of youth workers at Group Publishing in Loveland, CO.sylvan-dale-guest-ranch-lodge During this summit, we had a chance to go out to spend some time alone with God at Sylvan Dale Ranch. I was able to find a very quiet place near the river. I happened to come across Philippians 3:8 during my reflection time.

As I was admiring the beauty of the mountains and rivers, for some reason, the word “garbage” stood out to me.

How ironic, right?

I started to ponder why Apostle Paul would use that word. The more I researched, I found out that, in fact, “garbage” was not a direct translation of the Greek word that Paul used– it is the word “Skubala.” Skubala means sh**.

This weighty definition is more accurate because Paul’s desire was to make known that nothing could compare to the worth of knowing Christ Jesus. As I was reflecting on this, Jesus was revealing to me my own “Skubala.” I’ve currently been applying for ministry positions, and while doing so, been faced with the temptation of relishing in my own accomplishments over the many years I’ve been involved in ministry; however, that’s the exact trash that Paul was talking about. It has gone from being all about Christ to all about me.

There is nothing wrong in feeling confident and proud of your hard work, but when it surpasses the worth of knowing Jesus, Paul sees it the same as Skubala. I knew that God was reminding me once again that He is above all else and everything in life is only done out of His grace, plans, and blessings to us.

Humility is key! Knowing Christ is greater than all of our own accomplishments!

- Estevao Yu

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1This week we continue with 4 tips on growing your youth ministry!!!

Here are a few things we want you to know.

  1. Kurt and I are committed to keeping the show around 20 minutes in length.
  2. Subscribe to the Let’s Talk Youth Ministry YouTube channel and check out other episodes that you may find helpful.
  3. Email any questions you may have to


Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

financialpinchThere is a financial pinch being felt among churches.

I shared in a recent article how my own church has felt it, and how we must all be “resigned to serve” in ministry.

It’s why I want to run something by you, given the tension we all likely know between your budget crunch and the vision still trying to be realized. It’s a philosophical question, as it will set a precedent throughout your ministry/church.

aliveI saw a sale today on door hangers for ministry outreach. My first thought was, “Cool idea. I wonder if we could/should get those.”

Then I remembered how we’ve attempted some great ideas in the past only to experience poor buy-in. There’s a box filled with fundraising supplies in our church building that we’re still trying to discern what the next steps on are.

I had a third thought, though: “What if we created a type of grassroots funding and ownership by letting people know about these opportunities and seeing which ones were sticky? We could create a webpage or some flow of communication that made information on these ideas available?”

Practically speaking, I get emails all the time like the one I got on door hangers – likely because church resourcing organizations have my email address. If I prop this out there in some way, perhaps someone willing to spend $4.50 for a package of outreach materials is the very person I’d want to start talking with regarding the vision/logistics of going door-to-door to hang them.

Wouldn’t this be a much better approach than a church buying materials and trying to convince people to buy into the idea? While that latter idea will still need to be in place from time to time, the former taps into the Millennial-esque bent toward random generosity.

  • Isn’t this why we ask the church-at-large to fund kids to go to camp?
  • Isn’t this why we park kids at the door after Sunday services with a box of candy bars and a change purse?
  • Isn’t this why we shop for food in bulk at Sam’s Club to supply the next spaghetti supper that people can buy tickets for “on a donation basis?”

Here’s the hurdle, though.

standardsThe precedent you’d be setting with the newer approach is that people could/should fund their favorite projects as it tickles their fancy. That has implications in a few different directions, including how some people might divert their giving from the church budget to do this instead. Then again, some might argue that people are itching to be generous – and if you can get them giving at all (even to their own pet projects) it will inspire them to give more holistically down the road.

Should funding great ministry ideas feel like an “a la carte” menu… or should we keep trying to get folks to give toward the church budget “household grocery list?”

When does fund-raising contradict faith-raising?

Is your approach to fund your next big idea contradicting the bigger big idea?

What do you think?

Saw this cool infographic on some great productivity apps. Here are eight project management apps that you might want to check out. Click the image and see a list of all 44.  44APPSa

The Damage Of Opinions

 —  October 22, 2014 — 3 Comments


A friend of mine says that opinions are like bellybuttons: everyone has one. We have them about EVERYTHING from frivolous things like the best flavor of Jolly Ranchers (cherry of course) to very serious “issues” like politics. As Believers in Christ we have particular thoughts on which translation of the Bible is “best,” when the rapture will happen, as well as every other “grey” area of Christianity where the interpretation is subject to human observation. The news these days is filled with stories of disease, war, pain and death. Truly when you break it down, Solomon was right.There just isn’t anything new under the sun.


I wonder if we are cautious enough in sharing all thoughts that come into our heads with the youth we serve. I am not talking about questions they ask or a topic that arises from a  small group study. Instead, there are times when leaders feel like they need to drop thoughts on the group like the time my daughter came home petrified that America was going to get blown up by nuclear weapons because, “The UN won’t take terrorists down.”

Before you decide to share your thoughts on a topic keep some things in mind:

Why Are You Sharing?

What does this idea have to do with anything?  Is it just so you can share a thought with a student? We can have opinion discussions with other adults. If a question is asked, or it’s where a discussion takes its course, obviously we can give “our thoughts” on a topic. Yet, remember there are times when a tween or teen may not fully comprehend the breadth of a subject and have no way to separate out the truth versus the opinion in a conversation. There are times we don’t NEED to share.

Opinions to Keep To Yourself:

My nephew started following politics when he was 15. Yet, the average 6th or 7th grader is telling you what they have heard at home and around other adults. Youth programming is not the place to discuss politics, the president,  or if we as a country are “reacting properly to a situation,” if no one asks. Think through what you are sharing and if it truly ought to be shared at youth group.

Age-Appropriate Conversations:

One of the small groups I lead is all 6th graders. One girl told me recently that an adult had told her to “get her heart right with the Lord,” because if “ISIS takes over the country you may have to stand up for your faith.”  It is this adult’s OPINION that terrorists can attack again. Scare tactics do not help students “get ready.” Help students see FACTS and not be forced to share your opinion. If the goal is to get students praying and caring for other parts of the world, be aware of HOW you share stories. Bring what’s happening without attaching your spin on the topic.Then actually pray.

Here is the damage that sharing said opinions can cause, if we are not really careful:


Recently, I have heard a lot of leaders share how they believe “Jesus is coming back soon,” (without it coming up in conversation). Let’s remember John and the other disciples were sure of the same thing. Are you approaching a topic in a way that is helpful or just leaves a student riled up? The Bible says we are supposed to live every day like it’s the day Jesus is coming. If we just throw our thoughts out there, it can cause students not to grow closer to the Lord but to merely panic. Remember, the words of 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Wrongful Thinking :

Students often take what we say as truth. I had a student once who ceased believing in Creation because a teacher told them it was “stupid,” and they made a great argument. So much of our thinking is based on our own life experience and the way we view certain topics. All too often students take our thoughts and mix them up, add something in that wasn’t even what we said at all, and treat it as FACT.

As a parent of teens and tweens, there are times when my own children have come home telling me an idea they heard that they now think is true. Thankfully, they ask questions and want to know what we think. They are learning to take it all in, put it up against what’s “real” and decide for themselves. However, on more than one occasion my husband and I have had to undo anxiety over the next “crisis” that will “take our government down.”

Instead of sharing our opinions, how about we teach students to look through the Word of God, see what it says and believe that when we belong to the Lord, God always has our back not matter “how bad” it all gets? Let’s really teach them to care about the world and get on our knees to discuss it with the only one who can really do anything about “evil” anyway.

What are your thoughts?

- Leneita


Hey Insiders!

It’s that time of the fall season when your pre-planned lessons and sermons may be starting to dwindle.

A refresh of your arsenal of youth ministry resources is due! In order to help you fill the gaps and keep the momentum going before the holidays arrive and it’s nearly impossible to get a hold of your students, we have a bunch of resources now on sale at great prices.

Here are some of the hot items at newly discounted prices:




Smart Stuff
5-Week Video Small Group Curriculum
By Kurt Johnston and Katie Edwards

Regular price: $34.99

SALE price: $9.99

You save: $25.00 !!

Learn more or purchase.

The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis
By Rich Van Pelt and Jim Hancock

Regular price: $14.99

SALE price: $12.99

You save: $2.00 !!

Learn more or purchase.



Pure Praise for Youth
A Heart-Focused Study on Worship
By Dwayne Moore

Regular price: $9.99

SALE price: $0.99

You save: $9.00 !!

Learn more or purchase.




Be sure to check out the MANY more awesome resources on sale right now and visit the sale section on!

We love you guys,

Amber / @youthministry

POLL: Cloud Storage

 —  October 20, 2014 — 3 Comments

Life Group

The above picture was taken last night, the first gathering of a brand new small group of awesomely awkward 7th grade guys. See me leaning in on the right? The smile on my face masks a ton of anxiety about the year ahead.

- I rarely lead a 7th grade group because should I need to skip a year I don’t want to leave them hanging as 8th graders. Last night reminded me of the VAST difference between 7th and 8th graders.

- I tend to miss about 1/4 of our small group gatherings due to a variety of reasons. This always puts extra strain on my co-leader to pick up the slack. The guy leaning over the back of the couch is Tom…an awesome dad who doesn’t even have children of his own in junior high any more…he just loves this age group. I’ve tried to tell him I’m a crappy small group partner, but he refuses to believe it. He will soon enough.

- The thirteen boys in our group are a true hodge-podge; from a few different schools, different faith journeys and varying family dynamics. Two have Asperger’s, one may die (his words) if he eats gluten, and another seems to have almost zero social skills.

I’m a terrible small group leader. I’m anxious, not very compassionate, and flakey. But I know this is where the good stuff happens; I know that wading into the rarely calm waters of sharing life with this group for the next two years will be life-changing for all of us.

Chances are you are “terrible” at some aspect of junior high ministry, too. It’s understandably tempting to avoid those areas. After all, why subject yourself, or others, to the misery of your efforts! Why? Because it’s when we faithfully enter the rarely calm waters, despite our shortcomings, that the good stuff happens.