Hey Simply Insiders! We have a great post today to encourage you in your relationship with your spouse from Jake and Melissa Kircher. Check it out!


Youth ministry workers usually have pretty funky schedules, and finding ways to have quality one-on-one time with your spouse, in the midst of an ever-fluctuating, always-demanding environment, can sometimes seem impossible.

But a healthy marriage can’t exist without making the time to connect relationally, emotionally, and physically. Without these basic connections, many marriages, and ministry marriages in particular, can really struggle.

So in the midst of a crazy, busy ministry life, how can you work on carving out time for your spouse?

Regularly ask your spouse if they are getting enough quality time. This seems like a no-brainer, but the reality is, most couples don’t regularly check in with one another about how well they are connecting. Talk to your spouse about how they feel. Ask questions about ministry evenings out, program demands, dates, weekends, days off, and so forth. There isn’t a formula for how much and what type of quality time will work best; it’ll look different for every couple. The key is to be on the same page about what’s best for your own marriage and to seek third-party help if the two of you can’t agree.

Turn off the technology. The idea should be that when you’re home, you’re home. Instead of repeatedly checking texts, Facebook statuses, tweets, emails, or sports scores, purposefully give your full attention to your spouse. Technology eats up time, and it takes away from the precious hours at the beginning and end of the day that you have to be with your husband or wife.

Prioritize a weekly date. This doesn’t mean doing the same thing every week. It also doesn’t mean a date must be at night; go out in the morning, afternoon, middle of the night…whenever! Get creative and try new things. The idea is to spend time doing stuff that will foster conversation, connect the two of you together, and create memories. Need some ideas? Click here for a date idea for every week of the year.

Get away. Be quick to say yes to the church member who offers you their vacation home for free. Actually use your vacation time, even if it’s just for a “stay-cation,” where you do fun day trips in your local area. Get a hotel for one night and don’t tell anyone where you are. Go on a marriage retreat…but not with your own church! (We’d love for you to join us, in partnership with SYM, for this amazing opportunity.) Spend time with your spouse that’s away from the day-to-day routine and responsibilities of life.

Talk every day. Share what you each did during the day. Discuss feelings or emotions that you may be dealing with. Vent to each other about struggles. Celebrate good things that have happened. Talking for 30 minutes every day can make a huge difference in your relationship.

~ Jake and Melissa



Don’t forget to take care of your relationship with your spouses! We love you guys.

- Amber


Living the Dream

 —  September 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

Happy Labor Day Simply Insiders! Hope you are enjoying a true day of rest.

We’ve got an amazing article from Rick Lawrence to read while you are relaxing and having fun! Read his response to a thought-provoking question:

rick_lawrence_BW NEW By RICK LAWRENCE

Right after my second daughter, Emma Grace, was born, a youth ministry friend asked me: “When your daughter is a graduating senior, what impact do you dream her youth group experience will have had on her life?”

What a great question.

Emma is now entering fifth grade, and I thought it’d be interesting to look back on how I answered my friend 10 years ago. I’ve listed eight things that seemed important to me at the time, and still seem important to me now. These five “dreams” don’t simply emerge out of the brine when she becomes a teenager—in the next year she’ll need a children’s ministry that has “run the good race” and can slap the baton into the hand of a youth pastor…

1. She’ll have a heart for the poor and hurting. I mean, she’ll have the heart of Jesus—who spent almost all his time and ministry energy on desperate people. Youth groups that are passionate about exercising “radical hospitality” toward strangers and outcasts teach kids the heart of Jesus. According to the latest Notre Dame research into how kids learn to be generous (see “The Science of Generosity” in GROUP Magazine’s September/October issue: www.groupmagazine.com), the most powerful way to impact kids’ behavior is to talk a lot about it while simultaneously modeling a radically welcoming environment.

2. She’ll know how to communicate with God intimately. Prayer at its best is akin to breathing—when you look back on your day you realize you’ve had a running conversation with God that includes “formal prayer,” but only as a sliver. If prayer is simply a bookend at the start and end of your regular activities, you may be teaching kids to compartmentalize it. Prayer that is modeled spontaneously, creatively, and naturally will break down the compartment walls.

3. She’ll be a veteran workcamp and outreach participant. The more research we do into how kids grow into a deeper faith commitment, the more we know that workcamps, mission trips, and outreach projects have transformed them from ministry consumers into ministry owners. The evidence is overwhelming. And as much as planning your own service project offers flexibility and control, I’ve seen firsthand how disconnecting yourself from program and administrative details can free you to engage kids when they’re most open to your impact. (You can’t miss with our Group Workcamps or Week of Hope programs—our team crafts the program and takes care of the logistics—www.groupworkcamps.com.)

4. She’ll know how to shoulder real ministry responsibilities. The more kids you have involved in teaching or leading or serving, the more kids you have growing at a deeper level.

5. She’ll have many memories of her parents’ involvement in her youth ministry activities. Research proves, over and over, that parents’ impact on their children’s faith is dominant. Do your kids’ parents see you as a partner or a service-provider? What if you decided to “unfairly“ shoulder 100 percent of the responsibility in that relationship? How would that change how you give?

6. She’ll understand biblical basics well enough to defend her faith. Today’s kids are experiencing God often and well, but they’re not very good at thinking through the rational reasons for their commitment. And research into the “rejection patterns” of young atheists suggests that churches have expected too little, not too much, of those who are looking for serious reasons to commit their lives to Christ.

7. She’ll be captain of her ongoing relationship with God. She won’t depend on church activities, or even her parents’ input, for her growth. Her ministry leaders would show her how to develop personal spiritual disciplines rather than short-term addiction to church-driven activities.

8. She’ll be clearly “in the world” but “not of it.” I mean, she’ll be so used to thinking in a Kingdom of God way that it will be impossible for her to listen to music or read a book or watch a film without her “gospel truth” filter kicking in.


Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 25 years. He’s author of 99 Thoughts on Jesus-Centered Living, the LIVE small-group curriculum Jesus-Centered Living, and wrote the books Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand and Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.



Love you guys!

- Amber


Have a spare email.  That’s the tip…You can stop reading.  Are you are still reading? Well, since you have the time here’s the scoop on how I use my junk email address. I give it out at stores, online shopping, registering at a site I will never go back to, etc. You could grab a temporary, disposable email from a site like guerrillamail, but once the email is gone, it’s gone. I like having the ability to possibly relogin to one of these sites or stores I gave my junk email address to…how?  Use the “forgot my password” link and make a new one. Or as Jimmy Fallon puts it, “Thank you forgot my password for being my password.”

There was a time when I had one email and it was flooded with junk.  Spam still finds its way to my personal account but not like before. Second email is priceless.

Hey Insiders,

I know you guys are so busy! But you made it to the long weekend, so congrats! We are excited too. During your down time, catch up on some good reading! I’ve got this week’s TOP 3 articles for you right here in case you missed them earlier in the week. Read on, Insiders….

1. Youth Workers Are Lazy by Kurt Johnston

Youth Workers are Lazy


2. Miley and Robin? Can’t Put into Words… by Steph Caro

miley and robin


3. 6 Things A Mentor Does by Chuck Bomar

6 things mentor


Have an incredible long weekend!

Love y’all!

- Amber

Here’s a funny reason why you shouldn’t wear flip flops to the county fair.


That “fair warning” comes courtesy of Mike Kupferer, who reveals the irony is it’s the foot of a parent of a 4H student. This was not her first time at the fair, which makes it even more unbelievable. From his vantage point, “She didn’t seem bothered at all by it.”

Quick question…

that next opportunity you’re about to step into?

There’s going to be some “dung” somewhere in it.

  • A person whose grumpiness you let make you grumpy, especially as you unconsciously try to make others grumpy about his/her grumpiness.
  • A broken and flawed person who by now you expect to be unbroken and unflawed. (P.S. Have fun waiting.)
  • A system that is full of “crap” (pardon me if that offends you) that doesn’t offend you like “crap” should (pardon me if that doesn’t offend you).
  • A major character flaw in you that affects people you’re trying to impact because it makes them more focused on what’s dangling off of you than what’s coming out of you.

This is the point where I’d perhaps suggest an action step – something you could do get better at this.

Instead, I’d suggest the opposite.

Simply be bothered by it versus walking around with it…

then surrender…

and let Jesus wash your feet.footwashing

“…so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. (John 13:4-5)

Maybe you assume the question is, “What is the ‘dung’ you wish other people were more bothered by?”

Then again, maybe the question really is “What ‘dung’ in your own life do you wish you were more bothered by?”


Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.33.47 PMAbout 10 years ago I purchased a logitech camera for video chat. The video chat was horrible because the internet speeds of the day were sloth-like. Internet aside, the camera was cool, well…that’s not totally true now that I think about it, it’s resolution was only 640×480 (an old flip phone has better resolution). I guess what I am trying to say is the software logitech created was fun to play with because it had the ability to be a motion detecting camera.  If it detected motion, it would record and then save that video footage.

A few years ago someone was stealing money from different church offices and mine was one of them. For a couple of weeks I setup my camera and software, turned my computer monitor off, locked my computer, and let things play out. Sure enough, Busted!  I did it again a few years later when thing came up missing in our high school room…BOOM, Caught!

Well…this week the Christian bandits struck again! This time it was only Diet Cokes and all of the student ministry ketchup and mustard but every condiment and beverage should be safe at a church…right? Brandon the Vigilante, super power…technology. My logitech camera is still around but the software will not load so I started looking for a motion dection app.

Presence, by People Power, turns any iOS device into a FREE WiFi or cellular video camera! The app features real-time audio and video streaming, motion detection video alerts, and 2-way conversation mode. You can set your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch up to capture footage with another as a monitor or you can just leave your iOS device in a secret location (all connected to wifi or a data plan) and it will email you footage when it detects motion.

Checkout this video and see if there are any uses for you.

Closer, Farther OR Bubblegum…


In light of the recent VMA awards, I wanted to share with you a favorite “goto” lesson I do often with my students. This works as either part of a series or as a “Quick” in between curriculum. 

Lesson Overview:

Purity goes way beyond the body and should be brought up often.  Purity is about the mind, the heart, AND the body.  One of the most difficult parts of navigating life as a teen is trying to figure out practically what living for the Lord means.  Our tendency as those in ministry can be to give our students a list of “do’s and don’ts”  that are really our opinions. You know: DON”T wear that outfit, listen to that music or watch that television show or movie. DO only wear this thing, watch G movies, and listen to worship music.  The problem with that approach is that it can encourage a student to modify their behavior without ever looking at what is going on in their heart. Instead, when we help them look at what they are they putting into their minds through their eyes and ears we can help them navigate if they are filtering it through a Christ centric world view,or if they even want to.

In this lesson you are going to be taking the lyrics of a popular song and go line by line through it asking if students know the reference or what it is about.  If they don’t understand something, you are going to explain it.  The point is to not be judgmental but instead to help them really learn what they are listening to and what it means.  We want them to be honest if the song is bringing them closer to the Lord, away from HIm in what they are thinking on or is it “bubblegum”  (just fluff),


Bible Passages:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8


The WEEK before you plan to do this lesson ask students to brainstorm their favorite songs on the radio.  (Blurred Lines, especially the rap version would be perfect for this right now.)  Tell them next week you have a surprise lesson planned.  (You can also pick a song off the radio but it works best if you use current songs students are listening to.  You can pick two or three.  It is up to you if you want to add that you don’t want to work with songs with explicit lyrics. Try to get them to be honest beyond what they think you want to hear.)

Find the lyrics online and print a copy for everyone in small groups the following week.

*Note: It doesn’t hurt to have 2 or 3 songs ready to go just in case they are “quick”  You may need to send a note home to parents letting them know what you are going to do this week.  In addition if a small group leader hasn’t heard the song you pick that is fine.  You might want to encourage them to listen to a snippet so they know the sound.  However,  what’s more important is the prep in making sure they have each read the lyrics and know what it is saying.

Opening Activity (Optional):

Name that song:

Play one or two lines from about 5 to 10 Different Songs.(Depending on the time you want to take.)  You will want them to be a mix of Christian Music, Worship Music, Oldies,  And Even Current Popular Songs (That you know and would consider “positive.”) Do NOT play the whole song!

The person who can name the most songs gets a pack of Bubblegum.

Say Something Like:

Tonight in our small group time we are going to see if you know what you are listening to.  We are going to go line by line through a song that is played often on the radio right now. (Tell them the song)  We are going to decide together if this song helps us learn about God, brings us away from him or is what I call “bubble gum.”  Those are songs that are full of “sugar” they aren’t overtly “bad” but they don’t necessarily help us get closer to the Lord.  Our goal for the evening would be that you can begin to truly pay attention to what you listen to

Move to Small Groups


We are talking tonight about (insert song) Why do you like the song?

Answers will vary.


Take the time to walk through the song line by line, explaining the song as you go.

Stop often and make sure they are understanding “hidden” references.  Pull it apart.  However, avoid judging whether or not they “should” be listening to it.  If they ask if you like it, give your opinion. Tell them why you do or don’t like it.  Sometimes you might even say,  “I understand why it’s so catchy and you like it, but it doesn’t mean it’s a song that is bringing you closer to the Lord.”



  • What is each line about?
  • Is it obvious or is it an underlying reference to something else?

Don’t judge the song or the thoughts just go through and help students understand it.

Now have them look at the song as a whole and ask:

  • If you are honest does this song help you think about the Lord and grow in your relationship with HIm?

Answers will vary based on the song.

Say Something Like:

I am not attacking your music selection.  I am also not saying you ONLY have to listen to Christian music or worship music. What we are talking about tonight is that what we listen to matters.  Those words, even if we think we are only listening to the “sound” are coming into our heads.  Have you ever realized you know the lyrics to a song from the radio you don’t even like?  There are times when music from the radio that isn’t written FOR Jesus makes us think about Him. There are times love songs are like that. We have to decide beyond Sunday morning what in the world around us helps us to not only focus on the Lord, but learn to live for HIM.  Let’s take a minute and just look at two really short verses.

Read Mark 5:8 & Philippians  4:8


  • What do you think it means to be pure in heart?
  • Why will they see the kingdom of God?
  • Why do you think we are supposed to think on things that are true, pure, lovely, etc.?
  • What does that mean?

Finish by saying something like:

Being pure in heart is not about being perfect.  It is about making choices that help us grow closer to the Lord. Seeing His kingdom is about knowing HIm.  Everyday we can make small choices in what we listen to, watch or absorb that either bring us closer or farther away from God.

Take some time to talk about other ways they can focus on the “pure” from Phil 4:8 in a practical way.  Challenge students to pay attention to the lyrics of the music they listen to in the coming week.  Follow up the next week by just asking them about pure, noble, etc.

*Note: You can also do this lesson focusing on movies, television, youtube, or any media.  It’s great to come back to it several times over the year as a reminder of what purity is, and that it isn’t just about our “bodies.”

Let me know if you have questions,  Feel free to pass this on.



video-screenI am no expert on video projector screens but I know there are different sizes, aspect ratios, surfaces, and types of screens (portable, rear projection, pull-down, etc), knowing what you need can be confusing at best. The only other thing I know is they can get expensive depending on the need.

We did a youth room redesign this summer and instead of buying an expensive screen that I am afraid will get messed up or hangs and looks clumsy, I justed used the wall that was there. Here are the few tips if you are thinking of trying this:

  • We added a reclaimed wood wall and simply squared up a space for a screen.
  • We make sure the wall was flat and without pits (basically fixed any imperfections with drywall compound).
  • We painted the wall white with a “Flat White” paint. (DIY screen paint is $65 to $300…flat paint is non-gloss and around $25).
  • I went to HomeDepot to by 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ flat (no design) trim and spray painted it flat black. This became the bleed area of our screen. HomeDepot had the longest available (needed a little more than 9′ and the other home improvement stores only carried 8′), I paid by the foot, and I could cut it any length (did not have to pay for what I did not need).

There are no magic numbers here, you can use any measurement for your screen and trim as long as you use the correct dimensions(16×9, 3×4?) and the trim looks natural with the size screen you chose.  I have never used screen pain, I am sure it is better but $300 vs $25…in the battle of good vs good enough the $25 flat white paint wins.

Are you using a DIY screen? What did you do differently?

Trim that still needs to be mountedscreen3

Trim is pretty thin and 1.5″ wide and just about as long as you need (HomeDepot).screen4

The screen without trip no projector.screen2

The screen without trip projector on (Same lighting…the bright screen forced a dark pic).screen