Pretty excited to give you a quick update to the YouthPastorDiet that is just about to cross the halfway point in the 90-day challenge. Couple cool numbers:

  • More than 688lbs have been lost so far!
  • That’s like 6 entire junior high students
  • Personally, I just hit my lowest weight since we moved to California (298.6)
  • There is a horse race for the top spot – both are over 32lbs lost!
  • 46 days remain
  • $1700+ in cash up for grabs
  • insane prizes for the Top 3 losers


Last week’s post You Might Be a Youth Pastor’s Wife that I linked to got a good response so I was really happy when YMJen convinced her husband to write 20 ways he knows his place as a youth ministry spouse. Here’s a few, head there for the rest:

1. You’ve ever celebrated your anniversary on Taco Tuesday.

3.You go back to work from the mission trip so you can rest.

5. All your weekend plans start on Friday night and end on Saturday night.

9. You’ve been marketed as a “2 for 1″ deal.

10. You’ve introduced yourself as the youth pastor’s wife.

15.You’ve been mistaken for a hired bus driver.

17. You’ve ever sat in the the back of an annual meeting wondering if your wife was going to leave the room with a job.

18. Your first theological question about any church is their stance on women in ministry.



We’ve searched high and low for this newest SYMC speaker. They’re awesome! They have the biggest heart for Jesus and youth. We can’t wait for you to meet….


I can’t tell you just yet who it is?! I have to build up a little bit of suspense…

Come back tomorrow morning and I’ll have an awesome video for you announcing who the NEWEST SYMC Key Note Speaker is…

Seriously.. Come back… You won’t want to miss this!

In the mean time, if you haven’t registered for SYMC yet do it! NOW!

Take advantage of the Advanced Registration prices!


Register here!




There’s ONLY 2 days left to register with the advanced registration price!

Lecrae, All Sons & Daughters, Shane & Shane, and Jordan Howerton Band will all be performing.

Register now and save!

You don’t want to miss this time to be strengthend!

Plus, over 190 hours of brand NEW training!

Take advantage of the advanced registration price now


This week’s poll question comes from Steven (from GentoGenYM) and asks about how often you meet up with your volunteer team. There are lots of different strategies to this – I’ve heard people meeting every week before youth group to as little as once a year.

In my current ministry setting we’ve moved away from the formal meetings every month to quarterly, to now maybe 3 times a year. In between we make sure to stay in regular contact with our team and pour into those that need more coaching over meals or coffee. Vote now!


Indianapolis Is Coming Up!

 —  January 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

SYMC conference shotWell, soon I will be in Indianapolis speaking at SYMC. I always love being at this conference. But this year I’m doing something a little different.

In years past I’ve done “Half-Tracks.” These are 4 hour tracks for people to go on and I’ve typically done workshops focused on doing college ministry in a local church context. Each 4 hour track was broken up into two 2-hour workshops. They were fun and, I think, fruitful.

However this year will have a little different focus and will be in a little different format. I will be doing a “Deeper Learning Track” that will be 8 hours long, broken up into four 2-hour workshops. 4 hours will be on Saturday and 4 hours will be on Sunday. I will also be doing a Monday morning workshop on my latest book, “Better Off Without Jesus.”

So, I thought I’d post the descriptions for these for anyone interested:

The 5 Targets: Fueling Growth and Maturity In Older Adolescents (and In You!)

Our goal as spiritual leaders is to disciple younger people, but defining how to go about this and prioritizing areas of focus can be far more ambiguous than we would like sometimes. We often look at younger generations as a unique demographic and then adjust our approaches to ministry. But the reality is at the core of the human soul we find the same issues that need to be addressed, regardless of which generation we are a part of. This seminar series unpacks 5 areas of focus and their unique generational aspects, but does so from the premise of a deeper understanding of what we all desire.

Session 1 Generation Human: understanding generational differences from a place we all identify with

Session 2 The Search for Self: helping others discover their identity from a deeper understanding of our own

Session 3 Desire to Belong: understanding the vitality of peer and inter-generational relationships

Session 4 Forgotten Values: pinpointing theological concepts that cultivate the church culture we all desire


Better Off Without Jesus: Listening to the Holy Spirit in Youth Ministry

Most Christians can at least intellectually articulate the idea of the Holy Spirit being inside of them, but that doesn’t mean they know how to practically embrace Him. In fact, to most this truth seems overly ambiguous and subjective at best. The idea of having Jesus physically alongside them seems far more practical. Based on a forthcoming book, this workshop investigates the inner tensions of our pursuit to hear God speak to us and provides down-to-earth and practical ways to be certain you are hearing God speak. By the end of this time, the hope is you would leave more confident in your ability to hear God’s voice in your life and ministry.

Grey Matter(s)

 —  January 14, 2013 — Leave a comment


I’ve been thinking lately about the (seemingly) lack of absolute clarity/certainty when it comes to aspects of faith and ministry. And, I find it interesting that so many people really do seem to have a hard time embracing nuance, “the fuzzy middle”, uncertainty….the idea that many times there is no black and white but mostly shades of grey.

And I get it; especially when you look at scripture. God’s Word is full of declarative statements, warnings of the dangers of being lukewarm, proclamations against wishy-washiness, foundation-building instructions (rock vs sand, by the way) and on and on and on. It’s obvious that God is certainly a god of absolutes.

And here’s where things seem to get grey: When we mix our understanding of so much of scripture with the day to day experiences life and ministry hand us. To that we add our pride; or desire to always be “right” about an issue or to have a definitive answer. To this we add the (whether self-imposed or others-imposed…or both) expectation that “leaders” always know what’s best, can articulate it AND get others to buy into it. Then we mix in a little bit of outside influence through the books and blogs we read and various “thought leaders” we listen to. And finally (not really finally because I could go on and on….) we sprinkle in the expectations of parents, students, volunteers and peers to confidently proclaim truth and clarity to vast issues those under our care and leadership deal with.

In my experience, lots and lots of situations we face can easily be reconciled (or at least honestly evaluated) by the clarity and straightforwardness of God’s word. LOTS! Because so much of life is about black and white, right and wrong, God’s way vs. the world’s way.

And in my experience, lots and lots of situations require the willingness to live in the grey zone…the world of “both/and”, “neither/nor”, “sorta”, “maybe” and “gosh…I’m not quite sure.” Simply put: Life is often at least 49 shades of grey.

-Grey isn’t sexy.
-Grey isn’t provocative.
-Grey doesn’t build an audience on the book/blog/speaking circuit.
-Grey doesn’t build a following: “hey, follow me…I’m not sure about lots of stuff!”
-Grey doesn’t answer the questions so many people are hoping somebody will answer for them.
-Grey doesn’t give easy answers to issues.
-Grey doesn’t allow me to take side, therefore having a “camp” I belong to, and allies from whom to gain support.
-Grey doesn’t allow me to make a declarative statement, put the issue to rest and move on.

Life and ministry are easier in the world of black and white. Absolutes are fantastic…when they exist. But when they don’t, let’s avoid the temptation to be lazy thinkers and laborers. Let’s be willing to do the hard work of living, leading, loving and learning in the midst of uncertainty.

Want to think a little more about this? Here are some prompts:
- In what areas have you settled for a “black and white” answer that may actually require some “grey thinking”?
- In what areas have you settled for “grey” that may actually be a “black and white” issue?
- How comfortable are you NOT always having an absolute answer for your JH students?
- How might you help your JH students develop the ability to wrestle through, and be okay with, uncertainty?


Weekend Teaching Series: Life Group: STORIES (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: Real-life stories where Christian Community makes a huge difference.
Service Length: 68 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we continued a regular 1-off we do on occasion called STORIES. Students share their life and faith on stage in front of their peers – the idea started a couple years ago and has been so successful we now have a Stories weekend every 4-5 months. This time the stories all focused on the power of Christian community, and we tied it into a mid-year push to join a Life Group as well. Really powerful stories of how God has used students, leaders and groups for His glory!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week the program was very straightforward – lots of student stories, some strong video content and great music. Not a whole lot of extra programming, but really well put together and powerful.

Music Playlist: Break Free, Always, Grace, Everything, Christ in Me

Favorite Moment: I loved the last song and how it tied into the message so well. “Let my story lift you high.” So strong – LOVE it when students share their faith on stage.

Up next: You Are Here [What On Earth Am I Here For? Campaign] (series premiere, week 1 of 6)