Trying to have some fun with announcements – been kinda dry lately, this got a good laugh and possibly also helped give the announcements. Fun!



I believe that one of the big reasons that youth workers come and go so quickly in churches is that they are not team players. Too many, for reasons of insecurity, pride or both, come into a ministry convinced of how they want to “do ministry” and after a year or two wonder why they keep butting heads with either students, parents, church leadership or all of the afore mentioned. Chances are that if you end up having conflict on a somewhat regular basis with any one of these parties, the problem is you.

To me, being a team player in youth ministry means being committed to the vision of your church’s overall youth ministry and ultimately the vision of the church you are working at. As a good team player, you need to know your role and how that role fits into the overall vision of your ministry and church.

This means that you need to be a student of your church. You need to be a learner. I will talk more about this later. But for now, one of the best things you can do, especially for the first year or so, is to learn all you can about your church. Where has it come from? What are some of the significant events that have shaped the church culture and youth ministry? What is your church’s vision for the future and how do they plan on seeing it fulfilled? How do they expect the youth ministry to fit into that vision? Make sure you go to different leaders and members of your church for this information.

Every church has its unique culture and getting to know that culture takes time. Lots of time. It’s just plain crazy to think that you can execute your plans for your ministry and hope they will succeed if you don’t understand the culture in which they will be executed. What works wonderfully at one church may totally flop at another often times because of the different church cultures. If you don’t take the time to get to know your church’s culture, you will most likely end up not being a team player and find yourself constantly bumping into problems.

You need to also work at being a team player with other churches and youth ministry organizations. Never assume that your ministry, however established it is or becomes has all the answers. Your ministry will have a specific role in your community. Because you are going to want to have a ministry that has an impact on your community, you need to know who the other players are in your community. Who else is ministering in your community and what does their role seem to be?

This is not a very popular thing to do in most youth ministry circles. By default, most churches, and especially youth ministries, become very ingrown and focused only on what their calling is in their community. This makes sense because running a ministry takes a lot of work. But this still gives you no excuse to not engage with other youth ministry colleagues in order to better reach your community.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.

Inspired by last week’s posts, we’ll be posting quotes from students about their mission trip experiences over the next couple weeks.  God uses these experiences to change lives.  We believe that teenagers encounter Jesus in the context of a mission trip in ways they don’t with other youth ministry experiences.  I hope these quotes will help people understand why we believe this.

“Devoting a week of my summer to help families in need is so rewarding. This mission trip has truly influenced me as a person, as I appreciate and am so much more thankful for everything God has given me. The trip has shaped my life, as my relationship with God is so much more meaningful to me. I have made some amazing new friendships with people in our youth group and people I met on this trip. I have developed a better understanding of what it means to be a leader, and the memories I’ve shared  will always remain with me throughout my life, as I continue to grow in my faith.” –Emma

We all know the gay/lesbian debate is nothing small these days.  But one article I read that speaks to the Presbyterian and Episcopal decisions of late, breaks down the perceptions of different generations toward this issue:

The generational divides in the Presbyterian vote also suggest that for churches who are interested in keeping younger members in the pews, strong opposition to equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans may an be increasingly difficult stance. Strong generational divides on same-sex marriage persist in the general population, with two-thirds (67 percent) of Millennials (age 18 to 29) supporting same-sex marriage, compared to about 1-in-3 (32 percent) seniors (age 65 and up).

It seems as though church-growth is, at least partially, driving some of these decisions to be made.  I find that fascinating.  Here’s another brief section:

There is some awareness of the potential for more conservative stances on gay and lesbian issues to estrange young adults from churches: half (50 percent) of white mainline Protestants overall agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues. The perception that Christianity itself is opposed to gay rights is also strongly felt among young adults: according to the 2012 Millennial Values Survey, 55 percent of white mainline Protestant younger Millennials (age 18 to 24) say that “anti-gay” describes present-day Christianity somewhat or very well.

Thoughts on this?

I just wrote a column in Group Magazine on using your Apple TV (ATV) for ministry purposes and have received some good feedback on it. With that said, if ministry is your excuse for buying an ATV STOP!!!!

No, I am not retracting my column, the ATV is a killer ministry tool but if you do not own one you might want to save your money and check out AirServer. For less than $15 you get all the functions of Apple’s Air Play and a little more.

Side Note: The ATV will do more over all, Flickr streaming, Netflix, iCloud, etc. but if you are only looking for the live screen mirroring from you iPad or iPhone that AirPlay offers save your money and try AirServer‘s 7 day trial.

Someone asked me a few weeks about what adapter I used to get my ATV (with HDMI out) to my older video projector with only VGA/RCA in.  I told him about the Kanex adapter ($59) that I purchased.  I told him that I was disappointed in the performance of all the adapters I tried but this was the best so far…and it still did not fill the projector screen properly. So far that is $158 that I have invested (vs $14.99 with AirServer) and the ATV is not guaranteed to look great. If I want the ATV to look great I need to teach from a projector with HDMI inputs or from a TV.

I have heard about AirServer on a few blogs but saw it in action for the first time on  Click that link and meet my friend Brad, is one of my favorite podcasts.

It’s mid-August and that means one thing: book bag shopping time! Back to school is right around the corner for your students. Yikes! Where did the summer go?

Even though my kids are grown, I’ve had the recent pleasure of coughing up my credit card for a few brand-name bags myself. Sure they were Angry Birds and Hello Kitty for two grand kids but the experience was similar: what to pack inside?

If you’re like me, I use this time of year to help my students freshen up their “faith to school” habits. I got to thinking about their backpacks and what I could provide them to help them make God the center of their school year. Here are three ideas you could try:

1) A monthly devo booklet: Fill it with scriptures and “things to think about” geared towards what they’ll be talking about at church. Include prayer ideas and birthdays.

2) Pencils: Students still use pencils, right? What if you gave them customized pencils with the scripture of the month on it? It’s a subtle way of helping them memorize their verse.

3) A snack with a purpose: Each week, put a note of encouragement on a granola bar or snack bag. When they come to youth group or Sunday school, stuff it into their bag to eat when they need a little pick-me-up at school.

Ok, I gotta jump onto my flight. More ideas to come.


make God


Summer is coming to a close for us – in some parts of the country school is already in full swing. So how was it – this poll is obviously going to only track the big picture, but I’m curious to see how it went for you! I’d vote 4 … but only because I’m exhausted. Vacation next week – woohooo!


This post is part of the Lessons Learned series. Read part 1 here.

I remember being a new in youth ministry and craving to know how to best do all of the things necessary to have a successful youth ministry. I read every book I could get my hands on. I found though, that the best thing I ever did was connect with and build relationships with other, more seasoned youth workers. Picking their brains, even observing their programs gave me tremendous insight.

As a matter of fact, I found networking with other youth workers to be such a tremendous blessing to both me and to them that I did it right up until I left youth ministry. I found that networking was so encouraging to me that I once headed up a network of youth workers in my area for a few years mainly so that we could come together to support and pray for each other along with sharing some ministry insights with each other. We collaborated on a few events, but that was not our purpose for meeting. We needed each other.

As the adage goes, “You need to stand tall on the shoulders of those that have gone before you.” Some things about doing ministry you just need to figure out for yourself. But don’t waste time trying to figure out things that people have already figured out and will work great for you.

In my 30 years of ministry, especially in my earlier years, I admit that I very often didn’t keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. For me the main thing is actually two things; my relationship with God and my family. As a single guy you will be tempted to work way more than you should (I sure did, even after starting a family). As I stated earlier, being faithful in ministry means working hard and smart. You also need to work hard and smart so you can stop working. Those that are undisciplined in their work habits will often find it difficult to stop working at the end of the day and never really “clock out.” Things don’t get done during the workday so work is taken home, either physically or mentally or both. This is detrimental to your spiritual, personal and family life.

If you can never put work away, both in front of you and in your mind, the constant distraction will cause you to pay the price in the form of a dry personal and spiritual life. Work will begin to invade your prayer life (as a distraction, not as matters of prayer). Work will invade you personal life by constantly invading spaces that should be reserved for friends and family.

Some suggestions:

    1. Put everything on your schedule/calendar, including your quiet time and times with friends and family.
    2. Keep a daily to-do list and stick to it as much as possible.
    3. Keep a clean office and desk. A cluttered office and desk only add to the chaos and make it more difficult to focus.
    4. Decide which nights you will keep sacred for friends and family (as much as possible).

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.