I suppose it’s sort of the new version of the “put your oxygen mask on first” story that we have heard a bizillion times. You know the airline attendant will always runs through the safety precautions before a flight.  They inevitably make the statement, “In the event of unexpected pressure drop in the cabin an oxygen mask will drop before you. Make sure to put yours on first before helping others.” We have heard it referenced often in Christendom as well. Take care of your relationship with Christ before reaching out to others. Now we look to Facebook (for those of us still using it) for analogies. It too has been “played out,” I’m sure. On our profiles, under the about section there is the space for you to declare a “Relationship Status.”  Every once in a while we see it change when someone gets married or breaks up with a significant other. When Facebook first became popular it felt like some pastor somewhere was always asking, “So what’s your relationship status with Jesus?”

Yes, us Christians like to over-use these “real life comparisons.”  Youth pastors are the worst. We think tying stories from every day life to our spiritual life will help others make the transition to “doing something” about their faith. Of course, when as I was thinking about this I actually had to go on Facebook to see what my “relationship” choices were. I just had to know. Here is the screen shot from my discovery on my own profile:


Screenshot 2014-04-16 12.12.07

Goodness it’s true. I have heard the analogies so many times I rolled my eyes, and said, “I get it. I should be close to the Lord.”  Then I saw this. It made me think of my own “relationship status” with Jesus. (Yes, I said it.)  I do have to go “there,” before I can even talk to my students.

I think of how many of these ideas I have indeed taken in my time with Christ.  I won’t belabor “explaining” each one, I think you are smart enough to have your own “AHA” moment.

How many of our own students would describe their God relationships as “open” or “complicated?” I guess those who have never heard are “single.”  For us in our heart are we “civil” or just “in a relationship?”

Yet, I believe His best choice for us would be to be “married” to Him. He wants us that close and intimate.

How many of us honestly are “separated” from the Lord right now as we struggle with disappointment, grief or frustration?  Do we accuse our students of being “engaged” and not taking the plunge when it’s more true for us?

Have you lost your first love?

I think as we celebrate Easter, it’s vital to truly figure out our “status.”  I guess analogies really can be convicting after all. At least for me. Now I need an oxygen mask or something.

Where do you stand?

Leneita / @leneitafix


A couple of weeks ago I turned to find my 6th grade daughter with her fingers in her ears as I answered the question of one of my students in our small group. We were having a night, well actually a series, on “the talk.” It had turned into an eight week series, on “Marriage, Dating and Sex.” This particular night there were a lot of questions about all things “sex.” My daughter was responding by hiding. I, however, was not phased by her reaction as there was a part of me that wanted to handle the conversation the same way.

Let’s face it. We can’t all be Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com and author of several Simply titles on the topic of sex. For some of us, this topic is entirely uncomfortable. Even if you think you have a handle on it, chances are there is going to be something at some point that makes you squirm. No, not about what the Bible says, that part it relatively easy to navigate. We want our students to have “God’s best,” and that’s why we know we need to discuss it. Yet, when the questions come it can be down right scary. (Believe me, I have had some really truly “special” topics come my way.) Sometimes I think they ask just to see if they can shock us. Other times they really want to ask someone they trust.

It’s not a question of, “Do we have the sex talk?” It’s more. When it all goes awkward, what do we do?

Communicate With Parents:

Before you head into these waters of this particular topic, make sure parents know the dates you will be talking “sex” especially. On the one hand, some may decide they don’t want their child as a part of the topic and that is their choice. Make sure you let them know that you are not going to replace them in any way. This is an additional place to have these conversations. After the difficult conversations, let them know an example of some things that you talked about. Avoid reporting things like, “Your child asked this.”  Instead, say something like, “These were some of the questions that were asked, and this is how we responded.” I can only imagine my 6th grader coming home to tell me she spent an hour with her fingers in her ears. I wouldn’t know what to think.

Don’t Be Afraid To Blush:

I tell students when we start on the topic of sex that I won’t know all the answers. I will blush, and I might stammer a little. I have been married 16 years and sometimes this still makes me blush. I let them know that giggles are alright. We laugh when we don’t know what else to say. We aren’t going to get out of control, and we aren’t going to ask things that are totally outlandish just to see if that will make me squirm. I will attempt to answer anything, but it has to be a “real” pondering.

What Have YOU Done?

Inevitably our students want to know OUR story. It is really up to you, in what you want to tell them. I do think what they are looking for is, “Have you ever struggled with your body wanting something it can’t have right now?”  If you have a “sorted” past, they will want ALL the details. DON’T. It’s not the point. I highly recommend in these situations using the phrase, “There are some decisions I wish I had made differently.”

Don’t Forget Marriage:

Our society today does a miserable job of showing God’s picture for marriage. In television, movies, magazines, music and just about everywhere else, sex is an action of only the body. Marriage in our society seems broken. Many of our students are growing up with bad or even NO representatives of what a marriage grounded in Christ looks like. In answering these questions, don’t ever forget to start with God’s best plan in mind. It’s not about purity- then dating and finally marriage. Marriage was the plan from the Garden. Help them see that.

I once had a student say to me, “I could never talk to my parents about this stuff so I have to go to my friends.” When I suggested maybe his friends were not always the best source for information, he balked then followed with, “I guess sometimes I do need to hear from another adult.” Our students sometimes need us to be a voice they trust no matter if we blush…just not with our fingers in our ears.

How do you navigate these “blush worthy” conversations?

Leneita / @leneitafix

In the last 24 hours I have read about (another) set of “famous” pastors leaving the pulpit because they were caught. There were allegations of mishandling money, affairs and other issues that had come to light (not all from one leader).

These stories keep coming to my doorstep.These are people in ministry who have given their lives to serving Christ, yet, they are falling down.The higher the pedestal the harder they seem to fall.Those with a name make the news. However, there is barely a week that goes by when I am not talking to someone in ministry who has or is struggling with affairs, porn addiction, divorce, or some portion of their life crumbling at the seams.

It has made me truly evaluate my own heart and the reality that I too am one step away from making these decisions. My heart breaks because none of us are immune to something like this happening, no NOT one.

What can I do to “protect” myself and my family?

1.  Know I Am Never That Important:

We say something someone likes and it just might go viral. We might have a little idea that lots of people like for today. John Acuff wrote a post last week, HERE on “Why Some Christian Leaders Fail.” He made the point that God is never “handcuffed by our failure or unleashed by our success.” Basically, God being glorified isn’t contingent on us.The Lord may choose to use me in a way that reaches multitudes. He may decide in my whole life I pour into one person. In His eyes both are “successful.” It’s about knowing I’m His and being with Him. It’s easy to puff up our importance because today people like to hear what we have to say.

2. Ask, “Is This Best For My Family Right Now?”

There are a lot of people talking about soul care, marriage and family ministry these days. All of these would say to, “Put your relationship with God first, take care of your family and then do ministry.” Unfortunately, the model follows with them traveling and speaking, AWAY from their family A LOT of the time. Maybe this works for them. However, it doesn’t for my family, or honestly for many of us. I had someone tell me recently if I really wanted my coaching and training  to “take off” then I had to commit to taking all speaking engagements that come my way. I have done that, and it didn’t work for us. I have met many spouses of those busy in ministry who are miserable, but feel “guilty” admitting it. Just because something is an awesome opportunity doesn’t mean it is best for you, your relationship with Christ, or your family.

3. Honestly, Is Ministry My God?

We can be out “doing” for God 7 nights a week. I recently was asked  to interview with a church that required “6 days of work.” You know what, I have done that without it being a requirement. There was a time when I was out almost every night until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. We never ate dinner as a family, I was exhausted, and I rarely saw my husband. I felt like I had to do more, be more, and offer more in the guise of “ministry.” That was until my husband sat me down and said, “You are losing us. Who is your God in this-Christ or what you do for Him?” I am thankful he called me out before he was so fed up it was “over.” I am also grateful I heard him.

4.  Accountability:

The busier we are the easier it is to go through the motions, with our relationship with Christ. Our own importance can “go to our head” as they say. We can think, “That person is so public how could this happen?”  I think the larger the scope the easier it is to hide our sins. Accountability systems are KEY. Who in your life is in your face asking you how you and Jesus are doing? Who will you listen to? Most important are you willing to admit that ANY of us are susceptible to ANY sin at ANY time? It only takes one choice.Think Adam and Eve.One choice.

I can’t reiterate enough how close we all are to choosing to walk away from Christ, instead of with Him.There are a variety of reasons. However, I think we have to start with being aware that we may never make the news, but we just might lose everything. None of us are immune.The wide gate which leads to destruction, never becomes less appealing. Instead, it has a really attractive wrapper. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be falling.

What are you doing to protect yourself from choosing the wrong path?

Leneita / @leneitafix

Almost every day I hear a different youth worker complain about a parent who doesn’t really “care” about their child. Have you ever done that? I know I have. The “untraditional” family has become the norm with divorce rates continuing at 60% (in and out of the church), parents cohabiting, and grandparents raising grandchildren.

Then there are the struggles our students are facing.  Bullying, abuse, and identity are universal.  However, there are also drugs, violence, eating disorders, cutting, and just generally being a teen.  We keep saying it’s “harder” for this generation.

Why do we think that? 

There was a time when truthfully by looking at someone’s fashion, taste in music, family make up, or “issues” it was easy to identify where they “lived.” There were definitive “sides of town,” with the particulars of what went on there. Now we have come to live in a “mash-up” society of culture, challenges, and tastes. Our idea of who is sitting in our pews, attending our youth groups or living in our community is no longer easily defined by how much money they make, location or the color of one’s skin.The other side of the tracks with their common misconceptions and problems are moving, and reaching each of us in ministry in some way.

Regardless of where you are currently located, I would venture I could place you in a room with 50 other church leaders from anywhere in America and there would be common stories to tell.

As I have had the opportunity to speak across the country I often talk with youth pastors who have students who have some families they struggle with. Everyone has a different “label.” Here are some of the labels I have heard:

Inner city- at-risk-urban- unchurched-spiritually immature- dechurched- and “The Community”Everybody's Urban

The common threads I hear are families living in some form of “survival mentality.” They just are trying to get through the day and “live their life.” You might choose a different term, but my ministry partner Jeff Wallace and I use the term, “new urban.” It does include demographic area, culture, multi-ethnicity, social ills, and socio-economics. However, we would argue, in terms of the Christian community, this title blurs those lines and moves beyond them. Families are dealing with deep-seated issues all around; honestly, some are just better at hiding it than others. Our book Everybody’s Urban can help you delve more into this idea and on how to reach your “new urban” students who are in a survival mindset and quite possibly stuck there.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop making assumptions. It doesn’t matter what we label we give, or what we see with our eyes; too many are stuck existing to survive the day when they need to know Christ wants them to thrive.

The question we must ask ourselves is will we stop thinking “those problems aren’t ours” or thinking some families are just too broken, and instead intentionally let compassion move us to action?

This is why Jeff Wallace and myself are partnering with LeaderTreks on April 29 – May 1 for a “Refuel Retreat” at Pawley’s Island in South Carolina. We want to help you embrace and support who is in your group. How do you partner with a generation of parents that seem more distant than ever?  How do you help students genuinely step up and know what it means to belong to Jesus? (For more information click here.) (It’s alright if you don’t want to talk to us just enjoy the free time and being at that beach.)

Won’t you join us in the conversation?

Unpacking Noah

Leneita Fix —  March 31, 2014 — 9 Comments


****Warning: Spoiler Alert****  If you haven’t seen it,  or don’t want to know details, avoid reading on.

There has been a lot of controversy in the Christian community as whether or not to see the “Noah” movie. I thought we were prepped and prepared for what we would see and feel. The articles suggested that this movie account of Noah, deviated from the Biblical account a little. So many “details” are missing in the Scriptural account that we expected there to be some “poetic” license, but we felt like after seeing the trailer, the movie would do the story justice.

The movie is extremely well-made and acted. The cinematography is stunning. My fourteen-year-old put it this way,  ”It’s like when they make a movie of your favorite book, and they get all the details wrong. It’s a shame that it got so off course, because by itself the actors were amazing and it was fun to watch.”

On the one hand we see the depth of human wickedness. Genesis 6:5 tells us, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”  It is obvious in the portrayal of violence, hurt, and the strange post-apocalyptic wasteland everyone lives in. I can only imagine how horrific it must have been to hear the cries of the dying as the flood waters over took the earth, and then to be cooped up inside while it rained and rained and rained.noah 2

On the other hand, I spent 2 1/2 hours in confusion. It began when the rock-like “Watchmen” appeared with a story that totally deviates from who they are in Genesis 6, and ran through most of what I saw. (Tubal- Cain is in Genesis 4, but did not kill Lamech, Noah’s father.) I could pick apart the details, however, there is a great article I found answering questions around the Noah “controversies”  HERE.

It wasn’t the misrepresented facts that troubled me though. Does anyone remember the Noah television mini-series that also held Sodom and Gomorrah from years ago?  What hurt my heart was the representation of “The Creator” (as God is called).

The God of Noah and the people of the earth is silent, confusing, and distant. It misses that in Genesis 4, Seth and his son Enosh began to worship the Lord by name. Yes, it depicts Noah as a “righteous man” but it misses a key part to Genesis 6:9, “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.”

Noah had a deep relationship with the Lord. God spoke with him clearly in the details of what he was doing, why he was doing it, and how to carry it out.  On at least two occasions in the account the phrase, “Noah did everything as God COMMANDED him,” is used. God closed the door to the ark, and GOD TOLD Noah when it was time to leave. He was close to Noah and clear about His desires.

Instead, in this account God is described over and again as being almost cruel. The Watchmen want to know why God stopped talking to them. Tubal-Cain screams at Him to say anything. Noah is left to his own devices to interpret God’s words and actions. It troubled me deeply though that Noah thinks he and his wife can override God’s will, and when they get it “wrong” it will nearly torment them to death.

My 13-year-old son summed it up this way, “If I was a teen who was struggling with my faith with God and I saw this movie,  I might give up on Him.  I would walk away thinking God is heartless, distant and down right cold. It missed the faith of Noah that held him because he knew God.”

So should you see it?  Some say a resounding, “YES!” so you can talk about it. Although, I had already re-read Genesis 5-9 by myself, with my children, and in my youth group to get ready,  I went back to my Bible again after seeing it. This is good. It forces you to really know what God’s Word does and does not say.  (Read it for yourself HERE.)

I would say this, be very careful about bringing the “unchurched” to see the film. The reality is when we see a movie “based on real events,” we take what we see to heart. There is a lot off in the film, and honestly the “themes” I expected to stand out did not.  Noah is supposed to be righteous, but allows a young woman to be trampled to death, almost kills his granddaughters, and lives in shame for a period of time? In addition, the graphic nature of the film can be difficult to watch. My 6th grader struggled with a lot of it, she spent more time with her eyes covered than watching it.

So what to say?  Weigh the facts before you go.  If you have a friend who desperately can’t wait to see it, then go and discuss it with them. If you are thinking this is the perfect evangelical opportunity, it’s not. The director is a self-proclaimed atheist, and it shines through in the back drop of the telling. In the end, I was struck with the realization that the best tool in telling people about Jesus is in relationship with them. For that matter then it’s time spent,  and really almost any movie can be a catalyst to a deeper conversation about God.

If I had to choose again I might skip Noah and see something else.

Have you seen it?  What are your thoughts?

Leneita / @leneitafix

I was doing some research for a study I was writing and came across this video from The Skit Guys called, “The Mourning Booth.”  It is a very powerful look at how we handle the “valley” times in our own lives and that of others.

I was convicted deeply that when the tough times arise how often do I try to “do” something to try and make it better. I lend a word of advice or push for the person to “get over it.”  Instead, do I take heed to the command Christ gives to simply be with the hurting? Could simply allowing someone to know they are not alone be the most powerful response?

When our youth, family or friends are struggling, will we see their pain and know offering our presence be more than enough?

I think perhaps I need to be a little more quiet when others are hurting and just learn to “mourn with those who mourn.”  Maybe being near is a “holy response.”

Who are you in this video?

Leneita / @leneitafix


If I ask you why you care students are in your youth ministry, you will probably say something about helping them growing in “their faith.”  I inquire, “Okay, who do you want them to be?” You say something about them being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Yet, if we are honest when we take a step back and look at how we RUN our ministries, it is not always with the end “result” in mind. We plan a calendar, take trips, run small groups, and do activities. Some of us will say our focus needs to be helping parents disciple their children, others say we need to build student leaders, outreach, share the Gospel, or simply pour into our youth. However, I would contend there are two questions that should drive everything we do in our ministries.

1.  When a student leaves us, what will they look like?

I, of course, am not talking about their voice and body changing into an adult. Let’s say a family enters your church and has a baby. This baby grows up in the church through all the ministries and then graduates, leaves home, and heads out into the “real world.” Who is that young adult? A fully devoted follower of Christ? What does that mean? Do they read their Bible everyday, tell others about Christ,  pray often, and enter the mission field?  What is it? How is everyone in your church working together to see this happen?  The time of the “siloh” between nursery, children, youth and adults needs to be over. What are we doing to work together to grow our children?  Let’s stop “starting over” every time our kids enter a new phase of life, and instead see each of us as part of their journey into their lives as a someone taking the world for Christ.

2.  How does what we are doing “influence” who they are becoming?

The second question has to do with our programming and approach. There was a time where I would say the main question we needed to ask before embarking on anything was, “How does this build a relationship?” That is still vital, and it’s a great filter. Yet, still we have a tendency to make plans based on who is standing in front of us today,  not in the future. When we plan this way, we run everything we do through a sieve of purpose. It helps us know what not to take on, and what might need readjusting. So you take students on a missions trip yearly. Why? How is this part of the journey in the Lord? What do you need to do to get them ready or to follow up with them afterwards? Are you teaching them about service and why that matters when they are 8 or 9-years-old and again and again before the trip ever happens? This helps with equipping parents and growing the body of Christ as a whole.

These are not questions we can ask once, but often. I contend they should be asked anytime the church does anything. At least quarterly, sit down as a full staff and see how you are working together. It doesn’t really matter if a student jumps in when they are 5 or 15-years-old.  When we do ministry this way we are all about moving with Jesus all the time.

Are you asking these questions?




It could be shoddy workmanship or a graphic designer hopped up on Red Bull and no sleep.  However, in the last month three retailers have come under attack for their “photoshop fails.” Target took a  giant chunk out of a bathing suit’s backside. The Limited took so much “meat” off of the arms on a shirt model that her elbows appear broken. Old Navy created “thigh gap” in plus-sized jeans.  (You can read a great article summing it up Here)

In early February American Eagle Outfitter’s lingerie company “Aerie” announced they would not be photo-shopping or air-brushing models in many of their campaigns. They wanted to represent “real” bra sizes, shapes and sizes. (I am not posting pictures of young girls in panties and bikinis to show you, sorry.) On the one hand I am excited that the young women appear to actually have texture to their skin, on the other they are still ridiculously tanned, toned, and thin.

Yesterday a friend of mine posted an article on what “actresses look like without being touched up.”  Who knows if any of the pictures were real, but they sure did look like the famous. It was actually nice to see that indeed it is true: None of us look anything less than dazed and crazy when we stumble out of a swim in the ocean.

Mash these together and sprinkle in the attempt to teach our young people about modesty and body image, and it still feels like a mess. I think we have forgotten that real people look real…and what on earth that could even mean?

Here’s what we forget: We were created naked. In our nakedness there was no shame. Why?  There was innocence, and we understood we were created in the image of God. We make a really poor decision that we need to learn the difference between good and evil. In the moment innocence is lost,  what do we do before anything else? We cover ourselves. We put on clothes. We forget who we look like. Male and female, we are a reflection of the Living Lord. Before we hide from His presence,  we cover our skin. That is the day looking like God became less important than presenting our bodies to each other.

Try this exercise with your small group this week:

Ask them each to take a selfie without thinking. They are only allowed to take one.  Notice that they will flip their hair or position their head to take it an angle they think they will like. Have them look at the picture. What do they like about it?  What do they hate?  Do they want to retake it?  Would they post it or make you promise it will never see the light of day? Ask them if they took the picture in a certain way so they would like it?

We want to use these media examples to show our students what we are comparing our selves to. However, the reality is they will look at that selfie and compare it to the world, not to the image of God. We all do it. We are still attempting to cover ourselves with fig leaves, as they say.

So as you talk to your students about modesty and body image, remember this: Real people are created in the image of our Risen Savior- not on a computer screen. We are not objects to be seen, but a house for the Holy Spirit. I am not so sure that God sees our freckles and crooked teeth, and dimples and fluffy eyebrows as a bad thing. He isn’t sitting around saying,  ”I wish I made that guy over there with a smaller nose.”  He’s laughing and saying, “That girl has my smile.”

Instead, teach them to take a look around. If we all carry the Lord’s DNA and not one of us looks alike, can you even fathom what God looks like???

Happy Friday :)