Smart Phones, Devoted Users
Courtesy of: Online Colleges

Pushing Paper: Revisited

 —  November 28, 2012 — 6 Comments

More than a year ago, I wrote a post called Pushing Paper where I laid out a case for encouraging students to bring a “real” paper Bible and to not rely on using one the many great App based Bibles for their phones. I felt my case of bulletproof, signed sealed delivered and the jury would be unanimous. Of course it was not that easy and lots of people had some well thought out arugments for and against the case that I laid out for using paper Bibles over electronic:

Status: I may seem obvious but in most cases, a student’s cell phone is the most expensive thing they own, its their treasure and something they have worked very hard for. I respect how important the phone is to them but I ask them to respect or request to put it away in place of a paper Bible. We do allow phones and have had students text in questions, but for the most part, we ask that they be present and resist outside distractions, allowing them to focus on God.

Less Distractions: I don’t often find students thumbing through Leviticus instead of listening to my Sermons but I know that there are tons of distractions on iPods and cell phones and if I were honest, I would be working my way through Angry Birds some nights. Limiting distractions is helpful to keeping students focused, and help to not be a distraction to those around them. After all paper Bible ddoesn’t get texts, tweets, instagrams, tumblr, facebook or any other sort of digital distraction and the battery never seems to die on my NIV either.

Bibles are Cumbersome: This is a good thing! I love seeing a student walk in with a Bible under their arm. They are distinct and beautiful, many decorated with stickers, duct tape and they are unmistakable. Carrying your bible around is a statement, it’s a stance, it shows that it is something you value and that you are willing to tote around this obvious symbol of that.

So I am bringing the issue back for your consideration because a few weeks back, I messaged our leaders and asked them to please bring their paper Bibles to youth group and refrain from using their phones. For most of the team, it was business as usual and they understood the rationale and were more than happy to not use their phone Bible App.  But one my leaders; who often asks good questions, asked me if I was simply delaying the inevitable and that paper Bibles were a thing of the past and why not just accept it.

So my question is: Is my paper Bible going the way of the Commodore 64 / Blackberry? Am I just being a thirty-year-old fuddy-duddy? Is this a hill worth dying on?

geoff -@geoffcstewart


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I think I am pretty “Hip with the teens” I use social media and guess what, so do they. So here is 5 best practices that I have for myself when I am using Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

On Being Political – I am Canadian and am often fascinated by the U.S. political system, the parties, the leaders, the “dangling chets”, its all very entertaining. That being said, as a leader and a person of influence, I have to remind myself to be mindful of what we project when it comes to politics. I can’t think of a time that it would be healthy or wise for a Youth Pastor to wade into any sort of heated political discussion with their students / parents as potential audience.  Political views are divisive and division among believers isn’t good for anybody. There is a place to debate but Facebook is probably not that place.

On Being Critical – Last week I wrote about being careful where you criticize, because its confusing to students. Whether explicit or passive aggressive, criticism is not really helpful to your students. Being critical of other Churches, denominations and decisions they make can cause more harm than good for students and friends that don’t understand the issues as well as you. Being educated and informed is important, just be mindful of when, where and with whom you have those conversations.

On Being Sketchy – Always remember your audience, and that video your friend sent you, that awesome Meme or funny cartoon will be seen by your eight grade student and his mom. Avoid innuendo, crudeness and anything that could be taken the wrong way. Save that joke for your next dinner party or just save it you know? One of my leaders recently told me he shared something he found online with his students and I nearly fell off my chair, not because of what he shared with them but that he was unsuspectingly endorsing the website it was from. Be thoughtful about what doors you might accidentally open.

On Being Transparent – If you are going to be on social media, and let people into your living room so-to-speak, give them an accurate picture. If you have kids, make sure that every photo isn’t staged and that people can get an understanding of your daily pursuit of a Christ-like life. The good the bad and the ugly.

On Being a Follower – Follow your people! What I mean is people close to you, your students, leaders, your church members. Not following or connecting with the people you minister too makes Twitter a shout of information more than a catalyst for conversation. Following your people allows you to know what God is doing, in all aspects of their life and allows you to know how you can pray for them or find common ground to connecting. Good leaders are great followers.

Geoff – @geoffcstewart 

a little thanksgiving…

 —  November 27, 2012 — 1 Comment

being thankful over thanksgiving weekend is easy. it’s every other week that my sense of gratitude can be lost.

i would love to be able to say i never take things for granted, but am instead grateful.

but i can’t if i’m honest.

this past sunday at Colossae i taught on Romans 5:12-21 paul here is comparing the man Adam with Jesus his point is clear: they are different people and each leads us in a different direction. here is the comparison he makes between these two in this section:

Adam led to: sin and death (12, 17, 21); Condemnation (16); Disobedience (19)

Jesus led to: Justification (16); Righteousness (17, 19); Obedience (19); Grace (15, 20)

polar opposites. here is what i know to be true about gratitude in my life: when i take my focus off man (which includes self) and put it on Jesus gratitude is a part of my life additionally, when i look at where i came from (i.e. the life of Adam) to where Jesus has brought me, i’m grateful and it’s when i can keep these things at the front of my mind that i remain thankful more than just a weekend a year.


Back in September I shared about a mild diet/exercise/lifestyle change adventure thing I would be on until Thanksgiving…you can read about it here.  I just wanted to follow up and say it went well and the technology I used was super encouraging and helpful.

My favorite helpers were my Fitbit monitor, my Aria scale, and watching my progress with my free account (and I should add in the elliptical I used at the YMCA that had an iPhone adapter so I could watch Netflix while elliptisizing) . States were fun to watch and helped keep me on track.  I know there are differences between pounds and inches, I never let myself get discouraged when things did not happen fast but the good news was things happend.  I lost 20 pounds from September to Thanksgiving…YAHOO!

Hopefully some of the these tools could be a help to you if you are thinking about taking the plunge into watching your diet and moving away from the computer desk.  The sedentary lifestyle ministry professional lead can be trouble for the waistline and the chins.  Christmas is around the corner, if you are a hard person to shop for, fitbit just can out with a couple new models and  their wifi scale is pretty cool, even of your not looking to lose weight…these could be good gift ideas.

How To Stay Creative

 —  November 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

The good thing about busy work is how it helps you feel productive.  Budgets, forms and emails are all tangible tasks with tangible results.  You might hate doing them; however, when you clear that pile of paperwork off your desk or you inbox is empty you feel good.  To get through the busy work you just need to focus.

Then there are those times when youth ministers need to be purely creative.  There are messages to be written, curriculum to be designed and problems to be solved that demand your creativity.  Unlike busy work it’s hard to stay focused on creativity because it requires so much more of our emotions and energy.  To stay creative is a challenge.

To consistently think outside the box is not only a challenge but a skill.  To keep the ideas flowing and to overcome potential roadblocks you need to be consistently:

  • CAPTURING IDEAS: Whether it’s writing them down in a notepad or putting them in your Evernote folder you need to be capturing every thought or idea that runs through your mind.  Even if you do not know how you are going to use it put it down.  Then take some time each week to review those ideas to determine how you might use them.  Staying creative means creating a bank of ideas to resort to later on.
  • EXPLORING STORIES: Readers are learners.  Doesn’t matter if you what you are reading is fiction, an auto biography or a classic read.  Exploring stories written by others will open you to new perspectives and thoughts.  It will give you examples and analogies you can draw from later.  While it doesn’t really matter what genres you are exploring it’s important to mix it up, so that you can continuously challenge yourself and learn from new paradigms.
  • FUELING YOUR PASSIONS: When I hit a writer’s block I love to go out for a run or cook.  There is something mindless; yet, rewarding about those two passions of mine.  If you are stuck on an idea or need a new one, go to the things that bring you joy.  It’s a way of connecting with God that frees you from the burden of a creative cramp.  A true passion is something that allows you to take a step back from the craziness around you, clear out the junk and focus on the idea in front of you.
  • SITTING IN SILENCE: It’s so important; yet, silence is something many people fear.  If you sit in silence either two things will happen.  First: You might discover that you are tired and need rest.  If that’s the case go and sleep because an obstacle to creativity is a lack of rest. Second: You might begin to hear God’s soft whisper.  The reason you need silence is so that you can hear God’s promptings.  He will guide you and direct you.  You just need to slow down to listen.

While there is no exact science to getting your creativity flowing, there are definitely habits you can develop to keep them moving.  Making your creative time a planned part of your schedule; but at the same time give yourself some flexibility.  It will stink when your mind can’t go further, but trust that God will see you through.

How do you stay creative?

Chris (Twitter)


I really liked this simple approach to promoting our upcoming Winter Camp. Simple, clear ask – not super clever or funny but a direct approach to someone who wants to grow spiritually. Love it.