What’s your little one now? 2? 3? High school graduation is a long (and short) way off.  It comes all too soon; I know I don’t have to tell you that.

As a youth worker, here’s something I do know that you may not know yet: it’s getting harder to keep your high school grad in church, especially come college. And Sunday morning worship? Often a very hard sell.

I think what you do now will make all the difference later. Just change how you talk about church because your kids are listening  Here’s what I mean:

Dad, instead of saying “Its my only day to sleep. You get the kids up for church,” what if you were the first face they saw waking them up with, “Hey kids! We get to go to God’s house today!”

Mom, what if getting ready began on Saturday in a fun way, not just a check list? Maybe Saturday night becomes a family fashion show for the next day. Combine the importance of Sunday with practical steps and bake something really special as a family for Sunday breakfast? Or have a breakfast table decorating game Saturday where prizes are awarded Sunday morning?

What if we all changed the passive aggressive language we use with our kids, beginning when they’re young, from “We gotta go” to “We get to go”? What if we never again called it “going to church” and started saying “worship our God”?



We use WorshipHouse Media stuff regularly in HSM – most recently we used the “Your Light” video to end week 1 of our Brainwashed series. I think WorshipHouse Media is a great place to get church videos – I was talking to Luke over on their site last week and they offered up some prizes – so simply leave a comment and you could win! Do it!

  • Random Comment Grand Prize: DVD Bundle with Mini-Movies, Worship Backgrounds and WHM T-shirt worth over $100
  • Funny Comment, as chosen by me: $30 Promo Code to be used on any product(s) at WHM


WorshipHouse Media

Weekend Teaching Series:  Brainwashed (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: A look at how we are brainwashed about God the Father.

Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I wanted to go into a few final ways we are brainwashed about God and our relationship with Him. I took students through Romans 5 and helped them better understand God’s love for us, His forgiveness and desire to be in a friendship/relationship with us - these things directly contradict how we are brainwashed into thinking we will always be unloved, unforgiven and apart from God. I tried to have the message pull together the themes from the earlier weeks with the Gospel being clearly presented as well. We ended the service with prayer with all of our volunteers scattered around the room. Had some awesome conversations and times with students after the service, love it when I see our team scattered around a room after a service talking with students instead of everyone just filing out of the room.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we played a “Get to Know You” game where we used polleverywhere + random trivia facts on the screen. Students would use their phones to text in their guess which person on stage the fact was about. Lots of funny bits were built into the game – super easy and fun. We also had a good push for Student Leadership, Summer Camp and had lots of students serving in greeting, lights, camera, sound and cleanup. Oh, and we played the best dodgeball promo video ever, too.

Music Playlist: Blessed Be Your Name, Take It All, God Above All, Learn to Love, Hosanna, Grace

Favorite Moment: Without a doubt the spoken word at the end of the message was the moment of the weekend. One of our students named Ashley wrote a piece that summed up the whole series – it was super powerful and I’m so proud of her.

Up next: Summer Camp Speaker Weekend (1-off)

I really enjoy conversations where we dream and strategize the future of our youth ministry and church. While many of them are positive and really encouraging there are of course few that can be challenging and at times frustrating to be a part of. What I find the most challenging is when we are talking about an element of our youth ministry, or a function of the church that I am wondering about changing so I start to dig in a little bit. Maybe you have moved into a new Youth Ministry or are just starting out, it’s important that we dig.   So you have some context of what I am like, I was that kid that took everything apart to find out how it worked and why it did what it did, and I am no different as a Pastor.  I am thirsty to understand the process behind the event.

Part of that need to know can be asking tough questions about what motivated a decision or program and there are few words that I don’t like hearing from someone explaining the rationale for a decision than “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” I don’t disagree that many of the things we do are proven best practices, but I worry sometimes that “the way we have always done it” is simply an excuse to avoid making difficult changes and potentially rocking the boat, when sometimes boat rocking can be a good thing. Doing things out of habit and not out of purpose is how we end up coasting and end up complacent to what God is wanting for our ministry. It’s a slow, steady march to irrelevance and ineffectiveness.

Challenging the status quo and the traditional ways of doing things allows us to understand:

If this truly a best practice: If this is the way its always been done, is that because it’s the best way of doing it? Best practices are just that, the best way of doing things. Is the way that we do outreach working, is the framework of our weekly youth gathering in fact that best way to reach and grow students. If it is working, that’s great, but if its not, am I willing to say its not and make the changes necessary? I have found the less time I spend in the word, praying and listening, the more willing I am to accept the status quo as good enough.

If this a change worth making now? There are some changes that need to be made right away, but for others it might be best to wait until we slow down for the summer before making non-critical changes. After all change nearly always has collateral damage. So discerning when the best time for change is part of good leadership and takes patience when sometimes you just want to pull the trigger. A Pastor here at my Church said it really well when he said, you can’t always fix a plane while its in the air, sometimes you need to land, fix it and fly higher afterward. I really like this idea, sure it needs to be fixed but does it need to be done immediately. I’m a sucker for a metaphor.

This year I have looked very objectively at the ministry I oversee and am sensing a few things that are being done simply because they are the way we have always done them and I don’t think that is good enough. We are actively searching for better ways to do things, are you? Is there something you are thinking about making a major overhaul on? Maybe you need to change something, but you are not sure to what. Post a question in the comments and we will put it out to the community.


Those were the words that began my awkward conversation this weekend with a young girl standing outside of our student room. She went on to tell me that she has attended this church for years and every week someone asks her if it’s her first time or if she is a visitor. My first response was to defend my lack of ability to remember anybody’s name or defend the fact that our youth ministry is large and sometimes it’s hard to remember everyone. But instead I just listened…and after spending a few minutes of asking her more questions about her story…I left her with a promise that I would remember her name and that I would find her each week!

This awkward moment in youth ministry got me thinking:

Bigger isn’t always better! If a ministry doesn’t have the capacity to REALLY care for each student…it shouldn’t be trying to get bigger. Each student, each story matters and if students don’t feel that they as an individual matter we aren’t doing are jobs right.

Leaders need clearer training.  We have trained our leaders to look for new people and in doing so we have created a culture that assumes that if we don’t know a student (maybe because the student hasn’t commited to small groups/gone to camps) than they must be new. As leaders we treat people differently when they are new…”what’s your name?” – ” Is this your first time?” All good questions unlesss you aren’t new! With a little clearer trainer and communication that problem can be solved!

Hurt Students feel Hurt.  Sometimes it’s not about us and our ministries. Sometimes students are hurt and wounded…and we happen to be in the right place for them to responde to us in a hurt way. We, as leaders, need to not respond with defensiveness but with grace. See the hurt and offer grace.

Have you ever had an awkward conversation with a student? What did you learn?


I really enjoyed reading Thom Shultz’s Holy Soup take on why students are leaving the church post-high school. There’s been so much discussion about this issue I enjoyed a fresh angle on how to help fix it. Here’s a clip, head there for his complete thoughts:

So, why are our young people losing faith in the church and God? It’s a relationship problem. They don’t think of Jesus as their friend. He’s a concept or an historical figure. He’s an academic subject that their churches teach. And once they graduate from youth group, they forget about the Jesus subject—just as they forget about their other high school subjects. Jesus gets left behind with algebra and early American literature.

Ironically, many youth ministry analysts suggest that the cure to the young’s exodus is . . . more academic religious knowledge. They insist what’s really needed is “deeper study,” “stronger biblical teaching,” and “more robust theology.”

Thorough Bible knowledge is a good thing. I’d like to see more of it. My organization publishes Bibles and Bible resources. But kids aren’t walking away from the church because they lack an adequate accumulation of Bible facts.

They lack relationship. And relationships—of any kind—rarely grow and bond primarily due to the accumulation of data. Relationships—with people and with God—develop through demonstrations of unconditional love, building of trust, forgiveness, reliance, and tons of two-way communication.


There is many common issues we all deal with in college ministry and same sex attraction is certainly among the top.  If you have longevity and trust with those you work with, you know this to be true.  Well, here is a fantastic…and I mean fantastic example of what a healthy relationship with someone who struggles with this looks like and the positive impact it can have in a church context.