Michael Conaway sent along a great post his wife wrote on her blog that I really enjoyed this morning. You Might be a Youth Pastor’s Wife If is a fun post, totally relatable that begs for you to add a couple of your own. Here’s a couple of my favorites, head there for the rest:

1. You schedule your pregnancies around youth camp. Being down one parent every other week for 2 months is difficult enough, no need to add a newborn to the picture.

5. When your toddler says “crap” in the church nursery and you let the nursery workers assume she heard it from the teenagers…even though you know where she REALLY heard it…mental note to self stop saying “crap”.

10. Taking students home after church becomes a game to beat your best time and not cross the midline of town more than once. Students are divided based on gender and location. Who takes which vehicle is based on who has to take more students home.



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Finally finished up a book I started a couple months ago – that ever happen to you? Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents Into Miracles by Austin Gutwein is a great book to challenge teenagers to rise up and make a difference in the world around them. If you’re unfamiliar with his story, Austin founded Hoops of Hope and is using his basketball skills to raise money to help needy people all over the world. This is a great book for your students, as I read it I imagined our students going through it and using the discussion questions in the back of each chapter to talk through the book over a couple of months. Good good stuff here to help them rise up, understand their purpose and make a difference.


One of the most difficult obstacles I had when I started out in youth ministry was overcoming the feeling of being patronized by parents and adult volunteers.  Some of my feelings were due to a bruised ego because I thought I knew it all.  But, the rest of my feelings were legitimate because people did not see me as a professional.  They saw me as a youth minister; however, they didn’t see the professionalism in this industry.

What needed to change?  Simple, how I was presenting myself.  While there will always be people who will talk down to and treat those younger than them with inferiority, there are a few steps you can take to be seen as a professional.  They might be hard to embrace because of youth ministry’s push to be relational.  And relational can still be professional, in fact it should be.  In order to improve the ways you are treated, embrace these four steps:

  1. Dress Appropriately: This means two things.  First, it means dressing for your audiences.  Make sure how you are dressed makes your company feel comfortable.  How would a student feel if you were always wearing a shirt and tie?  How would parents feel if all they saw you in was shorts, ball cap and t-shirt?  Secondly, it means making sure what you wear is clean, ironed, and appropriate.  It’s not about having the latest fashions or dressing to impress.  When you dress well you show others that you are organized, ready and focused.
  2. Prepare For Meetings: Whether it’s a meeting for volunteers, parents or coworkers make sure you prepare and follow an agenda so that it’s worth their time.  If you are hosting the meeting start and end on time.  If you are attending a meeting make sure you are not late.  Lastly, be sure your materials are in order and that your not constantly checking your phone.
  3. Communicate Professionally:  Once you are out of college it’s time to put the fancy fonts, funky email address and clever voicemail greetings away.  Make your emails clear and scannable.  Respond to your voicemails promptly.  Have someone edit your letters.  And if giving a message or speech practice, practice and practice.  When you can communicate clearly, people will respond well.
  4. Be Fiscally Responsible:  When you are responsible with your budget it shows church members that you care about their investment in God’s kingdom.  That means researching the resources you purchase and knowing when to make sacrifices.  If you take care of what has been given to you, you will be blessed.  People will trust you and God will reward your stewardship.


The push back for some is that youth ministry needs to have a “Come As You Are” type of attitude.  If you come off careless, disheveled and haphazard who is going to trust you with their teens?  A certain level of professionalism will improve the relationships you have with the people that invest in your ministry and make it happen.  Let them know that you can be trusted.

How else can we be more professional in youth ministry?  Do you think I’m being too harsh?


article.2013.01.08What would Jesus do? The saying that launched a zillion wrist bands! But it’s a timeless question that has some fun implications when you apply it to youth ministry. Here are a few of the things we believe Jesus would do as a youth pastor.

Teach with lots of stories.
Without a doubt the Master teacher would teach with stories. He would fill his message of hope and salvation with illustrations and object lessons. He would probably be criticized as being “shallow” for his talks, but crowds would flock to hear him teach.

Spend time with core leaders.

Jesus had an inner circle he spent the majority of his time with. He would pour into a few key students in whom he saw potential, and world-changing opportunity to work through them. He would be criticized for ignoring some people, and would undoubtedly have more than a few parents complain that he played favorites.

Focus on relationships.

Jesus didn’t seem to be big on programs. When he did an overnighter, everyone fell asleep while he prayed. Instead of building great programs and youth rooms, he was a man of the people who ministered outside of the church walls.

Trust his volunteer team.
When Jesus left…he left the disciples in charge. In fact, he never came back! Talk about ownership… He was focused on building them, and then set them loose to change the world…and they did!

If you teach with lots of stories, pour into student leaders, focus on relational ministry, and empower your volunteers, you are following Jesus’ example. And while there certainly is more to the modern church, you are most like Jesus when you serve this way.

Blessings as you serve others this week!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

I don’t know what is harder about working in ministry, staying informed on what is going on in the lives of our students or keeping up with the expertise in the many field required to keep the ministry going. For any youth group in any size church you are by all intents and purposes running your own small church and for most of us, that means that we have to fill the roles of each person on a regular staff of a church and that can be daunting. Being good at a few things is easy, but being good at dozens of important jobs can be overwhelming and off the top of my head here is a list of regular parts of many youth workers jobs:

  • Pastor
  • Cousellor
  • Mentor
  • Coach
  • Photographer
  • Logistics coordinator
  • Videographer / Video Editor
  • Sound tech
  • Musician
  • Graphic Designer
  • Accountant
  • Handyman
  • Bus Driver
  • Activity Coordinator
  • Public Speaker
  • Camp Director
  • Web Designer
  • Carpenter
  • Chef
  • Janitor
  • Theologin
  • Secretary
  • Marketing Director
  • Any many more…….

My brain hurts thinking about it, but for each of us we are faced with the reality of needing to wear many hats and be talented or at least competent in each of them. When you look at your ministry area are there any that we missed, any other jobs that you do? 

-Geoff @geoffcstewart

True Dat!

Kurt Johnston —  January 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of about 500 youth workers from the Church Of Christ. I shared four truths I’ve been learning the past few years that have simultaneously led me to a deeper faith experience AND exposed my areas of shallowness.

1) Life Is A Squiggle.
This one isn’t really new, and it has sort of become a “calling card” of sorts for me. I’m convinced that when we embrace the reality that life is unpredictable, that we are slaves to sin (sorta like Paul), that twists and turns are all part of the journey we actually begin to rely on God in deeper ways than ever before.

2) I Need A Travel Parnter….Or Two.
I’m not talking about traditional accountability where you sit together with your accountability partner (whom you often really don’t have deep relationship with) and go through a list of accountability partners. I’m talking about a friend or two who know and love you deeply; who know the good, bad and ugly about you. A friend with whom, as my buddy Scott Rubin says, you can put “your worst foot forward”.

3) Busyness Will Keep Me In The Shallow End.
After purposely bragging in my intro about how much I have going on in my life (as part of a set up for this part), I then shared the sickening story of my recent complete unawareness that my neighbor was in her 3rd round of chemo for breast cancer. A guy who lives SIX houses down was the one who told me. The Pastor on the block…who is so busy doing great ministry…isn’t even connected to his next door neighbor. I talked about the fact that Jesus despised the Pharisees for their “cup issues”; being impressed with their outward appearance. Can you imagine me bragging to Jesus about the outside of my cup with him knowing about my lack of concern for my neighbor. Yikes.

In Life, And In Ministry, I Need A Long View
We are infatuated with the here and now, with instant gratification. But most good stuff in life takes time to develop.

Those are some things God has been teaching/reminding me of lately. If you haven’t done so in a while, take a few minutes sometime soon to jot down what He’s been teaching you.

Finished up a little book on the airplane on the way out to plan the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this week. One Word (That Will Change Your Life) by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page is a simple book that is a perfect read here at the beginning of the New Year. The book is a short read- literally took me 44 minutes but has a chance to profoundly impact your focus each year. Instead of a resolution to start 2013, the book challenges you to start your year in reflection, prayer and a search for a word that will define you in the 365 days ahead. I had so much fun with this little twist on the typical beginning of the year process. I’ll write more about the word I chose a little later in the week. Loved it!