doveDove (skin care) made a commercial a few years ago that went viral…it was a great illustration of real beauty or our duplicity. Click here if you have not seen it, once you watch it you will probably be urged to tuck it away and earmark it for a future message you teach.

Dove has done it again! This is a great video illustration for youth ministry. Teaching on self image? This would be an amazing clip. Teaching on how others view you? This is a great video illustration. Watch this clip and earmark it for a future message.

Have you ever experienced one of the following scenarios in youth ministry?

  • The student you have poured your heart and soul into makes a devastatingly poor life choice.
  • Taking a missions trip where you have to send a student home due discovering they have not only brought drugs with them, but are sharing with their friends. (Or having to send a student home from a trip for any other horrible choice they have made.)
  • Looking at a youth and in your heart of hearts you can’t imagine them ever really having a vibrant relationship with Christ.
  • The constant nagging feeling that apathy is impossible to conquer, and that your constantly taking 5 steps forward and 6 steps back in your ministry?


I have been through each of these, some more than once (or twice, or multiple times.) It can leave me disgruntled, disheartened and wondering why on earth I remain in youth ministry at all. The bottom line is it can feel more like we are falling and failing some days than doing a mighty work with and for the Lord. There can be a tendency to cling to the one kid who graduated and fits our mold of having “made it.”  We think it’s alright because at least there was one. However, is that really the way the Lord wants us to look at it? He is looking to each student as one he longs to be His, fully and totally, in spite of what we see. So then what is success with students?

Personally I Start Here:


1. A Searching Heart

When the students are asking questions that cause them to wrestle with who this Jesus is to them, it is powerful. They may still not be making awesome life choices, but are they wanting more? Can we see a spark that the Holy Spirit is working?

2. A Changing Attitude

Sometimes we are so focused on the future of a student we forget to look at the small strides they are making. This is the student you have a deep conversation with, they appear to not listen, and all of a sudden you see something starting to transform in the way they see life. Look for an attitude in process as a sign the Lord is changing a heart.

3. Willing and Eager to Learn

Part of adolescence is to appear aloof. Are they asking questions? Do they pull you aside and want to know more about how to live for Christ in any way? Do they tell you about mistakes they are making with an eye to a remedy? It is a major push forward when our students desire to know more about who Christ is and how to know him past their time at church or youth program.

In the end we can never forget to celebrate every victory, no matter the size. To our inability to perceive it might seem minute, to the Lord he is treating is like the winning touch down. It is less about how much scripture they can memorize or their ours in service. Truly success is all about choosing to see every student as the Lord does: His.

How do you see your students as a success?

This video is quite honestly the best student video we’ve ever had in our high school ministry. You Own the Weekend is my favorite series of the year … incredible.


Overtime Legalism

 —  April 17, 2013 — 10 Comments

Working in youth ministry is an often dynamic and unpredictable work environment and I often find myself wondering how I get paid to do what I do. The events, conferences, cokes and relationships with leaders and students make being a youth pastor incredibly rewarding. One of the challenges of the unpredictable and relational nature of our job is the strange blending of our personal life and work life and knowing where one starts and the others ends can be blurry.

Most youth pastors who are full time work with a schedule of 40 hours a week + or – with expectations of volunteer hours as well pushing most work weeks to the 45 hours or so mark. Before I worked in the Church a 45 hour work week sounded like heaven compared to my 55+ hour schedule.

With the uniqueness of ministry and the blurriness of personal/work time there comes the need to claw back hours worked outside our your normal schedule. That meeting that is unavoidably on your day off, staying well into the evening for an event or overnight for the dreaded lock in, we sometimes go over our hours. There is any number of compelling and reasonable reasons that one could see those and many other activities that are part of the job and request time off in lieu for those extra hours worked. But just a few weeks back I heard about a youth worker who was taking it way too far.

This youth worker was in a constant battle with his Board of Elders about paid time off for extra time worked. This was not the normal every day type stuff, here is what he was asking for:

  • 3 days off for every 1 day he was on retreat with his students (his rationale being that he normally works 8 hours a day, not 24 and thus should be given the other 16 hours including sleeping time off with pay. After all he was not sleeping in his bed) for a total of 9 days off for a three day retreat
  • Half a day off for conversations he had with friends about Church in the past few weeks. (rationale being that due to his work at the Church, he ends up working by talking about “Church” while with his friends)
  • He counts his schedule down the minute making sure that he works his requirement exactly.

I have a great friend at a pretty large church that hosts a massive international conference every year, for the weekend that they host the world it’s all hands on deck. Everyone is serving all weekend and come monday morning everyone is back in the office ready to make it happen. I asked if they were given time off for working the weekend and he said yes, but people that work at the Church are bought into the vision and know that this weekend is core to the mission vision and value. He said they have a culture that being a part of the Church means serving the Church and that if his Pastor gets so much as a sniff of legalism around hours would be watching your taillights leaving the parking lot.

I can understand not giving up every waking hour of your life to the Church but this seems somewhat excessive:

So I have three questions for you:

Where is it appropriate to ask for paid time off for extra hours work?

Have you seen this abused?

We ask our volunteers to give up their time over and above their full time work, how much time should we give? 

-Geoff @geoffcstewart

(FROM STEPHANIE: You may or may not know this, but as part of the work I do with Mark DeVries’ company, Ministry Architects, I head up their Small Church division. I have three other team members and once a month, I’d like to feature them in a blog. So here is one from Brent Parker, my fellow Texan, who serves in a small church.texas_blue_bonnets)


Last weekend, as I drove down one of the many country backroads in northeast Texas, trying to make good time as I traveled from one place to the next, I was reminded of how these road-trips resemble a couple of the best and worst experiences I’ve had working in a smaller church youth ministry. I wonder if you have run into either of these situations…

Where is the next passing lane You are rolling along at your preferred pace, and then you find yourself slamming on the brakes to begin the creeping along with the slow driver in front of you. Don’t they realize you have places to be? You look around them to see if you can pass, but there seems to be an endless stream of traffic coming from the other direction. You’re stuck! Ever been stuck behind a slow-moving staff member who doesn’t work at your pace? Ever found your church membership stuck in its pre-technological age meandering? Ever began tapping your fingers on the steering wheel, wishing the person in the way of your progress would move over and let you by?

Look at those bluebonnets! Sometimes we are that driver who has lost track of time and has become engrossed in the beauty of the wildflowers or the fields of grain waving in the breeze. We have been moving right along in our ministries, trying to take in the beauty of God’s presence, only to have another persons agenda come flying up onto our rear bumper. You ever find yourself wondering why they can’t just slow down and enjoy the drive? Why do these parents insist on pushing us to speed up, or our senior minister drive us towards hasty results?

The next town is almost here. Whether you find yourself waiting to pass, or wishing the person behind you would get off your tail, there is hope up ahead. In the next town, there is a place to rest and refuel (and to let that other driver pass!). There is a stoplight or an extra lane of traffic that will allow you to pass by and get back up to speed. Either way…press on my friend in the grace of God!

Recap It

 —  April 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

Got back on Sunday night from our mission trip to Dream Center. The trip was awesome! Our students were impacted and I believe we helped Dream Center accomplish their mission for the week.


Here is a few of my highlights from the week:

*Seeing Dream Center was the first highlight. They do amazing ministry and are transforming their community. As far as what you would hope for your students…Dream Center offered it. If you are looking for a place to go- check it out!

*I had one of my more embarrassing moments in youth ministry. One morning we had a few moments to spare before we started our various ministries. Rory (my co-worker/boss) and I decided to do a little inspirational interpretive dance…to Firework by Katy Perry. It was going well…until I fell from one of my sweet jump dance moves. I landed flat on the ground. It was hilarious and embarrassing.

*KELLY! One of my small groups who has been with me since she was 9th grade and is now a senior had a major moment on this trip. When Kelly joined my group she was an insecure girl who made lots of poor choices with the opposite sex. Over the years, I have watched her grow and struggle to figure out her faith. One day she was with the group that went to serve lunch on Skid Row. While there she painted a few finger nails of some of the ladies. At one point, a lady asked Kelly if she would consider painting her toe nails. The Dream Center staff told Kelly she didn’t need to say yes…but that it was all up to her. She thought about it for one moment. She looked at the lady and told her she would gladly paint them. Kelly washed the lady’s feet and painted her toe nails. As Kelly retold this story to me, we both had began to cry…I told Kelly that in that moment was she never more like Jesus…and I was so proud of her. This is WHY I do youth ministry!

*On the flight home…I got bumped to first class because of my MVP status. 38 students in back of the plane…me in front with my chicken salad. I felt slightly guilty for a minute…and the the minute was over! It was so nice!

That was my week! Loved it!

What do you do for your mission trip?



6 Go-To Books I Recommend to Girls

Below you will find a list of my go-to books that I recommend to high school and college girls along with some of their thoughts of the books.

Before I suggest a book to a girl, I read it. My goal is that the book will give us opportunity to engage in conversations, so I need to know the content, not just that it is a good book. I want my girls to wrestle with what they believe or have always been told with fresh perspective, so that in the end they will think for themselves and seek God’s word for truth.

Love Does by Bob Goff


Love Does is one of my new favorite books. In fact it is one that I read with my children. It is an easy, fun read. But more than that, Love Does inspires readers to love completely and unconditionally because of the impact it has on everyone around us! “sophomore in college

It [Love Does] inspired me to be more spontaneous in what I did! I enjoyed it because I loved reading about how amazing his [Bob Goff] life was. “senior in high school

enjoyed reading it because I got to see up close and personal how a one on one relationship with Jesus can affect not only ourselves, but the people we share this earth with. It inspires me to unlock the boundaries that I put on love and love with all my heart in every moment in all my actions, just like Jesus did! freshman in college

Crazy Love by Francis Chan


I love going through Crazy Love with girls. This book helps them to view their obedience to God is not as an obligation but in the way that demonstrates our love for Him. It is exciting to see girls eyes open to this love that God has for them and how they can respond to Him.

Crazy Love was a great recommendation because it made me realize that I need to take my relationship with God more seriously, not out of guilt but because I want to. It encouraged me by reminding me that I didn’t want to have an average life; I want to do something amazing for God.sophomore in high school


His Princess: Love Letters From Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd


His Princess is a book I use a lot. It is full of love letters from God. There are so many letters that are great for so many seasons of the girl’s lives. Here is a thought from one of my girls about the letters in this book.

I like them because I feel like they are written specifically for me and no one else. They’re personal and written like how I imagine God to talk to me. They encourage me because it makes me realize that God really is that personal and loving, I’m just not diving deep enough to find out. They make me long to get to know Him and the other fantastic truths He is waiting to share with me. -senior in high school

I think the love letters help me see my relationship with God in a way that I always have trouble envisioning it. It’s hard for me to view God like a lover because the world has so distorted our views of love. The letters remind me of the way that love is supposed to be; the way God loves us. It reminds me that He is always there for me, has faith in me, and believes that I can do the things that everyone else says I can’t; because with my strength that I receive through Him, anything is possible. They remind me that God is the only one who can fill the holes in my heart. They remind me that He has a plan for me and He knows want I need, and He will provide for me. They show me the model for what the man I give my heart to should strive to be like. I like the letters because they remind me who God is for me. junior in high school


For Young Girls Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A


I use For Young Girls Only in two ways. One as a resource for preparation of a boy talk I do at our girls retreat. The other is walking through it with mature girls who are ready for the information that this book has.

I thought that was a great book, it really solidified the fact that boys have WAY different brains than us, and gave me little tips for how to treat guys. Either in a romantic way or just friendship way. And I also loved how it was still centered around God and also gave tips to how to encourage them in their faith too. sophomore in college

Lies Young Girls Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh


Lies Young Women Believe has been a good book to help girls process the lies they believe verses the truth of God’s Word. The conversations that have I have had from parts of this book have been life changing for some girls as the have realized the lies they were believing.

This book hit home with a lot of issues I was struggling with at the time and helped a bunch. freshman in high school

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis


This past summer we had the blessing of leading a student missions trip to Uganda, Africa. I personally enjoyed reading this book as Katie was able to say so much of what I felt and experienced on that trip

I like it [Kisses From Katie] because I can relate so much from it. It encourages me to have more faith in God and trust Him in everything. sophomore in high school

Other Books Worth Mentioning: Captivating, And the Bride Wore White, Bad Girls of the Bible, and The Hiding Place.

I’m always looking for new books to share with my girls, what are some recommendations do you have?


Kim Bowers is an amazing youth worker who is married to a youth pastor in Southern California. She recently wrote some amazing curriculum about the women in the sure to check it out!

alpha-gamesIf you have not heard of the Youth Alpha course you might want to check it out, if you were at SYMC 2013 you may have seen their booth. Learn about Youth Alpha here.

While browns the web today I found a slew of games ideas on their site…YES, I SAID A SLEW! Click over to their games site and grab a digital slide of a game for your ministry this week!