This year we are purchasing a Graduation Gift bundle for each of our high school graduates.  These are three solid books to send with them in their next season of life.  Years past we have given our graduates a Bible but all our students have Bibles and we give out Bibles out all year long to anyone who needs one, so this year we are changing things up and sending them off with a few solid resources. $25 worth of books for under $15, you got to like that!  What do you gifting your graduates this year?

While certain youth ministry “skills” are good…when it comes to ministering to junior highers, a certain mindset, or attitude(s) is arguably much more important. Skills can be learned, but attitude is often something that can’t be taught. Give me an unskilled, but properly attituded (is that a word?) team of adult volunteers any day!

Here are five attitudes that I think are toward the top of my list for junior high youth workers:

- An attitude of OPTIMISM!
Adults who can see the best in a situation, and believes that good things are always on the horizon is a big deal in junior high ministry. Ministering to young teens is undervalued, misunderstood and draining. Pessimists need not apply!

- An attitude of ENCOURAGEMENT!
Simply put: Young teens are dying for encouragement. They need a few extra cheerleaders in their lives.

- An attitude of EMPATHY! While things like a new pimple, getting dumped by our girlfriend of two days and wearing the exact same top as your best friend to the school dance may seem small….almost laughable…to us; they are a BIG deal to our junior highers. Junior highers need adults in their lives who truly “feel their pain” and want to walk alongside them as they navigate the many ups and downs, highs and lows, twists and turns of their journey through early adolescence.

An Attitude of GRACE! Very few people will try your patience like a junior higher. Junior highers will grate on even the steadiest of nerves. They will make the same foolish mistakes again and again and again. They need to be surrounded by grace-giving adults.

An Attitude of PERSEVERANCE!
Don’t give up. Your current junior highers need you…and so do the ones who will follow in their footsteps.

What attitudes would you include if you were making your own list?

Really enjoyed this post over on Matt and Steven’s Generation to Generation blog about Life Group leaders taking on tough topics during small group night. Here’s part of how they take it on, head there for the rest:


  • PRAY PRAY PRAY – The best thing you can do to prepare is seek out God’s direction. Know where God wants to lead your students and how he wants to speak through you.
  • Consider changing your location – In my small group, we meet at one of the guy’s houses every week. When we’ve planned these sensitive discussions, we try to go somewhere else that we won’t be overheard. This puts all the guys way more at ease and helps them be more open.
  • Have a game plan – Don’t go into something like this without having some kind of plan set out ahead of time. If you go in blind, it could end up making things more awkward and then you flounder around looking for ways to move forward.


An Andy Goodbye

 —  May 8, 2012 — 3 Comments

Goodbyes are hard. I don’t care how stoic you are; dare I say – and yes I dare: goodbyes can suck.

If you’ve been in youth ministry for longer than a second, you know what I mean. We graduate favorite (and not so much) seniors out of our ministry. If we’re lucky, we see them over a few college holidays. And if we’re really lucky, we get to do their weddings and a few baby baptisms over the next decade.

I want to say a “from my heart” goodbye to someone who has impacted small church youth ministry more than you may know. My friend, Andy Brazelton, is leaving Simply Youth Ministry to move back to So. Cal. His kids need to know their extended family. I get that and I support it.

But I don’t have to like it. Andy gave me several shots at creating a specialized ministry area designed for reaching the needs of small churches’ youth workers. Not one but two books came under his regime. He said “yes” to an 8-hour deeper learning track at the Simply Conference. He signed off on this blog. There are too many other things to name.

I will miss Andy at the Simply helm. I will miss Andy’s constant mocking me into 21st century technology. I will miss Andy shouting, “Hey, C!” I will miss him allowing us to make fun of him and trash his office. (Though I was NOT present for that event and Michael Novelli is my alibi.)

Andy came to the job young and leaves still young…but wiser.  We’d notice the gray hairs if there was any hair to notice.

Andy, you will always be in my heart like a mom (from a distance) proud of what another son has accomplished. I love you and won’t get to see you nearly often enough now. I don’t like it;  I don’t  like it at all.

Ah crap, now I’ve started to cry again…which is embarrassing sitting on this airplane surrounded by people going somewhere…just like Andy.


One of our amazing students, Ashley Donahue, wrote and performed this spoken word at the close of our Brainwashed series. So good – and I’m so proud of her!


Dropbox is easily the most used app I have.  I access it from my office PC, my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and my iPhone (and even my Droid X when I am using it).  I love the ability to set up folders that I can share with friends, and the public links I can create for a file I want to share with everyone.

If you do not have a Dropbox account click here and sign up.  By clicking here Dropbox will reward me with 500MB of FREE bonus space and if you get others to sign up you will get 500MB of FREE bonus space per person.  I have used several other “in the cloud” file storage sites (I am currently checking out Google Drive) but this has been the best by far, and it is a pyramide sceme worth investing in…since it TOTALLY FREE!

Last week we ran a contest with some great giveaways from WorshipHouse Media. Two winners were picked – the first winner from the random comment is Ryan:

And then there was a prize pack for the funniest comment … they were all fantastic, but this one wins hands down:

Congrats to both winners!


WorshipHouse Media

Companies and organizations often do “exit interviews” and they do so for many different reasons.  But the biggest one is that they get really honest answers.  While people are “under” you the faucet is often shut because there is usually too much to lose.  But once they don’t have anything to lose, people let it flow.  Companies do these exit interviews so they can learn, become better at what they do and more faithfully care for their employees.

I think student ministry pastors need to do this too.  Asking graduated seniors the following questions can help you become better at what you do, be more in tune with the actual needs of your students and provide a natural way for you to give a few things for them to think about as they move onto the next stage of education.  But mostly it’s about asking them questions and keeping your ears open.

Here are 10 questions to ask graduated seniors:

1. What is one thing you would NOT want to see changed in our ministry?

2. If you were me, what two things would you do differently in our ministry?

3. What questions are you thinking through right now? (note: this is a good one to ask because it can clue you into which questions you should answer for the next years seniors!)

4. What do you think the biggest need is of the students in our ministry?

5. What aspect of our ministry do you think is the most effective in helping students grow in their faith?  Why that one?  Anything we can do better?

6. What do you think the students at (name school here) want the most out of life?  What is a way that our ministry can meet/address that desire?

7. What was it that helped you best connect in our ministry?

8. Do you feel like you were invested in the way you expect churches to invest in people?  What could we do better?

9. Was there anything in our ministry that made you feel uncomfortable or discouraged?

10. Do you feel like you were encouraged in our ministry?  If so, what did you find to be most encouraging?

If you desire to be more effective in what you do, ask for the faucet to be turned on.