It’s not a leadership principle most would subscribe to; in fact I’m not sure it’s a leadership principle at all….but it makes sense to me most of the time:

Be confident enough to under-promise and over-deliver.

Lebron James reminded me of this last night as his much-anticipated return to Cleveland fizzled with a mediocre performance and a loss for the Cavs. Now, to be fair, Lebron wasn’t entirely responsible for the hype, but he certainly added to it with antics like his Twitter campaign asking followers whether or not they wanted his return to be accompanied by his trademark chalk-dust toss (95% of his followers said yes).

Most leaders like hype…they like to get people excited about their vision and rally the troops to take the next mountain.

Youth workers do this stuff all the time:
“This summer camp is going to change your life!”
“I want to tell you the funniest story ever!”
“Bring a friend to this event…I promise you that you won’t regret it!”
“I believe we can change the destiny of the continent of Africa with this missions project!”

How often have our deliverables failed to measure up to our promises on the front end? For me, more times than I car to admit.

I don’t know how often, or in what areas, you should become comfortable under-promising and over-delivering instead of the other way around….I just know it’s worth thinking about once in a while.


 —  October 30, 2014 — Leave a comment


What a powerful word.

It’s been a part of my email signature for years for that very reason. Today I learned it was the title of a powerful video featuring Lebron James.

I like how one Cleveland area newspaper worded it:

On the day LeBron James makes his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Nike has released James’ newest commercial, which celebrates the pride and emotion felt around the city. The message is chilling. Together. One city. One goal.

James’ return goes beyond basketball.

together_lebronjamesHaving watched this video, I offer two questions:

Does this video on any level symbolize how you feel within your church? 

Why or why not?

How about your student ministry?

Why or why not?

Parents Matter

 —  October 30, 2014 — 1 Comment

family worshipThrough my years of serving youth ministry, I have been very blessed to have support from my students’ parents. Although there have been some ups and downs, I wouldn’t have been able to operate the ministry without their prayers, compassion, fundraisers, and representation. With such strong parent support, the students and I were able to have many memorable years together.

Sharing life together with the parents allowed me to set an example to strengthen the relationship between the students and parents. As I saw the students distance themselves with their parents, it was important to teach them to embrace their cultural and generational differences. It was beneficial to share life and build relationships with their parents because through it, the students were able to witness how to communicate, honor, and tangibly express love to them. This journey also opened lots of door to having parents and students worship and serve together.


I hope this will get you motivated to start sharing life together with your students’ parents. Here are some tips:

P- Pray: Take pictures of the core parents (PTA staff) and store it in a cloud drive as a visible reminder to lift up a quick prayer for them and family members.

A- Ask for advice: Don’t just ask for advice when it comes to making important decisions for ministry. Be open to seek wisdom in your daily life.

R-Reach out: They need some loving too. When the opportunity is given, minister to and serve them with all your heart.

E-Encourage: A simple text, email, or card with words of encouragement gives them strength and empowers them to keep on serving.

N-Never quit: The parents will make mistakes. We’re all human. It’s in these moments you don’t quit on them; rather, meet them face-to-face and learn how to stand up together.

T-Teachable: Have a teachable heart for Christ. This allows the parents to also be teachable with God’s Word.Core Parents

I know it’s very difficult to reach all parents. Begin with your core parents and allow them to reach other parents. The youth need their parents to be involved in their spiritual life.

I would like to dedicate this blog to all the parents of SRCC English Jr. & Sr.
High. The journey with you was amazing and fruitful throughout the past years. Thank you for sharing life together with me.


- Estevao Yu / @estevaoyu


The panic has been seeping in for a few years now. There are all sorts of statistics out there about “teens” leaving the church. Some say it starts around fifteen years of age. Others say 80% of the 19-25 age group will go out the door and never come back.The Barna group tells us 6 out of 10 of young adults will leave and never come back. Other stats contend that even the “regular” church goer doesn’t go every week.

In doing some digging everyone has a different reason they go and a different method to “stop the madness.” My favorites have been by those who are actually that “young adult” age. I thought it might be good to give some perspective from a family who has a college-age student, a High School student, two in Junior High, and a married couple in their forties, all dealing with life together. We are in ministry, but you know what? I get why students are leaving the church. I see frustration bubbling in my own home and wonder where it might go.

I think we forget that you don’t just show up one day and decide you hate church, walk out, and never come back. There is something that seeps in and starts the downward trend, then when they make the decision to walk away we are shocked.

Here are three frustrations my “churched” kids have:

They Have to Go Where the Parents Go:

One of my kids hates Sunday morning. It has nothing to do with our church. It’s pretty much anywhere, and it totally has to do with her personality. Small group discussions or interactive teaching are her thing. Sitting for a long periods of time taking in information honestly bores her. It wouldn’t shock her Dad and I if she picks more of a house church model given her choice as an adult. Most kids are not picking out their own church and aren’t talking to parents what they don’t like about the one they attend. Then they move away from home and don’t really know what they are even looking for. They may think, “I don’t love the one I came from, but I don’t know what I am looking for now.”

The Bar is Set Too Low:

That’s right, my kids want to have more asked of them. Students will reach as high as you expect them. They want to grow in their faith, and they want to learn to be leaders. The problem is we tend to play to the lowest common denominator in our ministries. This means our tendency is to have the attitude that teens are just complacent so we should constantly be trying to get them out of their apathy. What if we saw them as mobilized and then helped them reach that goal of becoming deeper followers of Christ and not just at youth programming?

Nowhere to Belong:

Students can go to church without ever feeling like they belong there. It has happened in the past to my own children. Outside of the youth setting no one really talked to them or asked them to be a part of anything. This makes it difficult for them for really feel like they fit into the larger body of the local church. Again, people tend to see them as the parent’s child. Sure they can take ownership of where they are involved with students, but what about really knowing they are not just wanted but needed as part of a larger whole.

Maybe it is really all summed up in the idea that too often teens have things to do at the church, but don’t really feel included. It makes it easy to treat church as one more activity that may or may not fit into their schedules. They miss the idea that fellowship, and corporate worship is for the whole body, including them. We once attended a smaller church for almost a year and no one outside their small group leader ever even said hello to them.

So here is what I believe can happen. A student leaves home for college or life after High School. They now can “choose” their own place of worship. As I mentioned, they don’t even truly know where to begin or what they are exactly looking for. Perhaps they try a couple of places and nothing seems to fit. They are busy, and stop trying. If they find a campus ministry, well that becomes “church” and the cycle of not “fitting-in” at a place that isn’t conducive to their age set continues.

I have no scientific proof here on anything. All I know is there have been days where I wonder if my own kids will be part of the masses that seem to not want to attend church anymore.

What trends (beyond what’s out there already) are you seeing?

*Shameless plug. Take thoughts from Why Nobody Wants To Go To Church Anymore, the “Four Acts Of Love” found within this book’s pages, and make sure to remember the students ARE a part of the larger body.

- Leneita

Sick Games

 —  October 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

Every student got the flu… really bad.

This was the quick story I shared with our church’s youth pastor last week, right before we were about to do something short-sighted.

20141022_191640He’d be leading one of our student groups through a popular curriculum for the past few weeks. It just so happened that the suggested game for this particular week resembled a game I’d led 15 years ago in another youth group.

It involved teams taking turns sticking their faces into a tray of flour… to find sour gummy worms.

Back in the day, I did something similar (the only difference being that I used gummy bears, and we did it all as one team). Where I was short-sighted then?


One of the kids in our youth group had the flu. Within 24 to 48 hours, I learned that a majority of Our youth group had also started developing dramatic symptoms.

I’m not a doctor. I have no idea if the flu can translate that quickly, nor am I aware of any studies involving the transmission of germs involving healthy kids opening their mouths to sift through flour that a sick kid has also openly-mouthed. If such a case did exist, my guess is you’d find a short-sighted youth worker involved.

(Again, allow me to raise my own hand on this.)

Which is exactly why after our youth pastor explained the game and begin to move the trays to another table I covertly snuck up to him and explained how what we were about to do was not in the best interests of any of the kids… all ebola news headlines aside.

20141022_192120The catch? I didn’t want to make him look foolish in front of the students. My suggestion was the concept of the game could be saved with a simple adaption – plastic utensils. We gave the kids the option of a fork or a spoon, and the game played on… all the way right up to the takeaway of how sometimes finding the sweetness in life takes some digging.

His reply? “That’s one of the reasons why I love that you volunteer here.”

My wife’s reply, later on in the night? “There’s one more difference. This time, our kids are a part of the youth group. I’m a bit steamed this almost happened.”

Better safe than sued?

Take this as a lesson learned, however you’d like.

  • Where in your student ministry do you see little slips like this that could (if left unchanged) affect your overall credibility as a youth group or as a youth worker?
  • Any takeaways or stories on being confronted in private versus publicly on something?

- Tony / @tonymyles

stuffI have a lot of gadgets in my Timbuk2 Commuter TSA friendly messenger bag but these 9 things are the most used when I land at a study spot.

1. Portable Power Strip
2. Book (1 real book and dozens of Kindle books)
3. Headphones
4. Americano (my battery)
5. iPad/iPhone stand
6. Device charger
7. NOMAD Key Charger cable
8. PlugBug
9. Extension cord

These gadgets are nice at a coffee shop and are often a lifesaver at the airport. Other than your tablet, phone, and/or laptop what are your “must have” travel gadgets?



OK, Small Church Peeps, let’s huddle up! For the next 8 weeks, there are as many ministry moments possible as there are falling leaves. You can do one of two things: 1) Use the calendar as a way to bounce into memory-makers OR 2) Miss the moments and do blah stuff or nothing at all…and sometimes doing nothing is better than dull and boring.

Here’s just the beginning of a list of possibilities you can still pull off:

1) Go trick or treating with your students Friday (Halloween). They’re going to go anyway.

2) Have an All Saints Day bonfire or fire pit. Use it to remember those that have lost someone. Buy up the leftover Halloween/harvest supplies which will now be at least 50% off.

3) Canned food scavenger hunt. Give point values to more desirable items like tuna, tuna helper, canned chili, spam, spaghetti sauce, etc. Go as a group to take the items to a local food pantry.

4) Ask for the leftover pumpkins from local Pumpkin Patches and use them to bake stuff to sell during November.

5) LOTS of stuff you can do for fun when sales on candy corn begin. Google “candy corn ideas” and see what you get. A great way to teach on the Trinity…or just thrown them at each other till someone loses an eye. J/K.

6) Go Thanksgiving caroling. I found some funny songs online to the tune of popular carols. Deliver bags of candy corn to the lucky recipients of your group’s musical mash-ups.

7) Rake and Run = a van, a bunch of kids with rakes and black bags and you got yourself a mission outreach for others in the area.

8) Offer to put up Christmas decorations for infirmed or elderly members of your church. Many hands make “light” work. (Get it? See what I did there?)

9) Holiday Week/Day Camp is a great way to serve the parents around you who have little ones. When school is out, parents who are already barely scraping by, are scrambling to make plans for their little ones. This is sort of like a Parent’s Night Out but daytime instead.

10) New Year’s Eve Parent’s Night Out and Lock-in could be a great way to fund a mission trip in one night!

All I got for now. What do you want to add to the list?


Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.14.24 AMI’ve always said, “Giftedness can get you places, but character will keep you there,” for more on that, click here.

I believe that statement. But one of the toughest aspects of leading younger people who want to be in ministry is teaching them that being developed sometimes means limiting the use of “gifts.” This can be viewed as hindering them, misunderstanding them, devaluing them…on and on. Now, to be clear, we don’t want to (and cannot) unnecessarily hinder God using people. But, in leadership there is a balance. And this can be a relationally tough line to walk sometimes.

Here’s the consistent bottom line issue I’ve seen the past decade or so: Millennials (and in many cases anyone who wants to be developed for ministry) can view the Church as an object where their “gifts” are developed rather than a subject they humbly serve. In other words, in the former view, the “gifted” person is at the center of the equation whereas in the latter view, other people (i.e. the Church) are in the center.

The discipleship battle is really felt when someone thinks that to be developed for ministry means they should gain more exposure to decision making, they should gain more influence over people (particularly in teaching) and they should have more experiences in developing their giftedness. Those aspects can be and most often are part of developing people for ministry. However, experience in these ways can NEVER be a hindrance to developing character in someone. And, sometimes, limiting their exposures is what is best for the development of them as a human being. In my view, developing the person for ministry is less about giftedness and more about the leadership heart. And this is less and less cliche for me. In the development process there are many battles to be fought..most of which are not chosen by the younger person being developed.

Too often I see the development of giftedness being at the center of “leadership development.” And, well, I think this is detrimental to those being developed. Being short-sited in the development of leaders in this way, in my mind, is simply poor leadership. Developing people includes both sides, but even though God using someone in the life of other people (i.e. gifts) is important, I happen to think God is more concerned about the heart of the person we are leading.

- Chuck / @chuckbomar