I’m currently on holidays… and I have a problem.

Like me, you have probably heard a lot about appropriate boundaries and taking sufficient annual leave. Each year, in our January staff meeting, we all lock in our holidays for the next 12 months. The problem, which I assume I am not alone in confronting, is the timing of my current holidays.

At the moment, in Australia, we are in the middle of a school term. Is it reasonable for a youth pastor to take time off during school term? (To be clear, I usually take time off when kids are also on vacation.) Is it reasonable for a church to “strongly suggest” that you cannot take a week off at another time?

I’m genuinely torn about the issue. I have known/worked for churches where this isn’t an issue and known others where it has caused major fallout. Trouble is, I can make an argument for both sides. If you plan ahead, let everyone know and adequately resource others, is there a problem? If you use this time to evaluate the ministries reliance on your personality and utilise this time as a chance to train up others, are your holidays reasonable? Additionally, if you have a jam packed “holiday window between terms” through camps/mission trips and forward planning, is it fair to go six months (or more) without time off? Alternately, there are plenty of “down times” in youth ministry due to the layout of the school year. Should it be your responsibility to arrange that your holidays fall in this time frame?

If other jobs, retail particularly, can dictate time frames where their employees cannot take leave (usually November to mid-January), why should those within the church be immune to this reality?

I would love to know how youth ministers and churches have dealt with this issue.

Graham Baldock is a Youth Pastor from Sydney, Australia and has a youth ministry blog worth checking out at grahambaldock.blogspot.com

Posted by Scott Rubin

Tomorrow is America’s day of Thankfulness, and this morning I was thinking about all that I’m grateful for things that I was also thankful for last Thanksgiving. The love of Jesus, supportive parents, best-friend wife, a mission to serve middle schoolers that fills me with passion, a friendship with a wise-man named Kurt Johnston…

But then I was also thinking of some things that have changed since last year — that I’m also super-grateful for. A couple of new friends I get to work with, an office that actually has a window, and some places that I’m growing this year that I wasn’t last year.

Here’s the 30-Second Challenge:
What are you Thankful for This year that is New since Last Thanksgiving?

I may actually try it out at my Thanksgiving dinner table with my family, & see what people say!

New Intern Program

 —  November 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

Are you looking for a place to intern? We’re launching a new program at Overlake and it’s going to be AMAZING!!!

Check out our Intern Promo (PDF File).

For more details -send me an email at neelym@occ.org!! Would love to have some ladies on the team with us!!

Just attended the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta. What a great time with great youth workers from all over the country. Also had an awesome time connecting with good friends in the youth missions and youth ministry world. These are people I love and respect in ministry. Folks like Eric Iverson from Youthworks/Youth Specialties, Doug Franklin from LeaderTreks, Mark Orr from NNYM, Jake Kircher from We Love Our Youth Worker. These folks are simply some of the best people supporting youth leaders out there. Each with their own gifts and roles to play. Some are national and some very specific. Some of these guys work directly in the youth mission world and some just love youth leaders and try to support you in your ministry. What a great couple days…

These events are awesome for this kind of interaction. I love how many ministries are represented here. Showing how much support a youth leader truly has. Just look at the names of the ministries represented above. Youthworks/Youth Specialties – dedicated to getting students serving and supporting youth workers with a convention and resources. LeaderTreks – completely about helping youth leaders develop leadership skills in students. National Network of Youth Ministry (NNYM) – they just want to network youth workers so they know that are not alone. We Love Our Youth Worker – a brand new ministry that helps churches better serve and support their youth leader. How cool is that. 4 different ministries. 4 different purposes. All about youth ministry. I love these relationships. I love these four people. And there were dozens of other ministries there that I don’t even know.

I hope you know that if you serve the students of your church. You are loved and supported. And if you ever get a chance to attend a conference like NWYC or Simply Youth Ministry Conference, please go. You are not alone… You need to know that.

My husband says I operate at two speeds: full blast when working and then full stop on a Sabbath. He claims I have no in-between speed. I do occasionally push myself pretty hard which is good…and bad. But my schedule isn’t this post’s “point du jour.”

I’m thinking of my ministry buddy, Jeff Dunn-Rankin. (That’s what he calls me – his “ministry buddy” and I like it.) Jeff is the VP of Consulting ? for Mark DeVries’ Youth Ministry Architects and in that role, Jeff’s the boss of me in my piece of the YMA puzzle as Lead Consultant. (I know, poor guy. Pray for him.)

Jeff pushes me. Jeff pushes me hard, at times. He doesn’t take any crap from me and is not afraid to give me push back. He knows how to manage me, yet never “secretly manages” me, which I would hate. A “Jeff-ism” that echos in my mind on a frequent basis, “Just because its hard doesn’t mean we don’t do it.”

I just finished up drafting a game plan for a possible new division of YMA geared specifically towards small church ministries. (To be unveiled January 1, 2012) My deadline to Jeff is today and I know I can’t send him “B” level work. He’s too smart for that. Furthermore, he thinks I’m too smart for that, too. Just because the required game plan involved an excel sheet, a matrix, a rhythmic weekly schedule, a draft assessment report, a business timeline, etc., doesn’t mean I’m allowed to slouch…because Jeff has pushed me to be better in my part of all things ministry to youth workers.

I really like that about him. And I’m thankful.




A while back I was in Costco Warehouse store [read: Sam's Club] for lunch and to stare at the display of magical flat screens that call my name when I walk in. Josh … you NEED a 75″ 3D cinema display…

After drooling over for the TVs for a while I like to head toward the food area, largely because of the incredible amounts of free samples they give out. They allow you to get a taste, see if you like it or the product speaks to you, and encourage you to buy it and then heat it up for dinner. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – either way it is a good experience and one that I began to think about over the next few days that translates to our youth ministry philosophy.

Youth Group is the sample
The purpose of our large group meetings is to expose students to the Gospel of Jesus and encourage them to see a step they could take in their spiritual life. The message is neither shallow nor deep – it is a sample of the whole counsel of God designed to push them forward i their relationship with Christ whether they are a devoted follower or even hearing about Jesus for the very first time.

Small Group is where pick up the package and inspect it
The large group is designed to give students a taste of what Jesus is all about. Small groups are the next step where students begin to experience Christian community and are surrounded by changed lives and an adult mentor. Small groups are the place for questions, doubts, fears and decisions.

Individual Life is taking it to the checkout and making it your own
Our desire that a student sampled who Jesus is in a safe, relevant way during our weekend services. We’ve challenged them to inspect their faith and examine their lives in community and study the scriptures together. Now we want them to own their faith, that they would grow on their own and express their faith well into adulthood with Jesus. They serve on mission trips, follow Christ’s example in baptism and have a walk with Jesus that is their own.

Costco wants you to sample, inspect and own. We want our students to expose, experience and express.


The Landing is a program that meets every Friday night to help students who are dealing with hurts, hangups and destructive habits. I asked Dennis Beckner, the director of The Landing here at Saddleback (and youth ministry blogger), to talk through some of the frequently asked questions about the program to help hurting students in case it would be helpful to you if you use the resource kit/program or not.

Is there a parental release form for The Landing?
There is a parental release form in the curriculum kit. We, however, do not use it at Saddleback Church. The biggest reason is some students would actually get in trouble or have to reveal information to their parents if their parents knew they attended.

How much counseling training do your volunteer leaders have?
Our volunteers are not professional counselors. They are only operating in a layman capacity. We do not pretend to offer professional counseling through this program. Students also voluntarily participate at no cost.

Have you had any troublemakers or issues where you needed security at The Landing?
Another layer of security we have is our security team. Security team sounds like a big church thing. Of course a big church like Saddleback would have that. While our security team is great, they are mostly volunteer police veterans who act as consultants when we need a little guidance or help. They’ve helped us report some problems to the authorities when mandated reporting issues come up. They’re a great safety net.

How do you train your youth leaders to help care for hurting students? You can download a free 74-page document that outlines our training, application, and several resources we’ve created since before we got started until last August when we had our Celebrate Recovery Summit. You’ll find that and a wealth of other resources by going to my blog where I’m giving away a ton of free stuff. You’ll see several freebies, nuggets of wisdom and guest posts on the topic.

What was your main focus during your early trainings?
1. Here’s what Celebrate Recovery is. Here’s our vision for students in recovery. Here’s what volunteering will look like.
2. Mandated reporting. We had a police officer come in and explain California’s laws on who is a mandated reporter, what must be reported and how to report it. The police officer happened to be one of our High School ministry volunteers. He shared not only the law, but the heart behind why a youth worker would want to report for ethical reasons as well as legal reasons.
3. Relational ministry. We discussed the youth ministry angle, what to expect when working with students and how to be a relational leader. We also walked through the first night which happend 3 days after this meeting and gave out leader T-shirts.

For more information on The Landing and see if it might be a good fit for your ministry context, hit up the link right here.


It’s what’s happening in the world of movies and books. Have you seen the latest Twilight movie? You can confess- I won’t judge you- because I probably saw it on opening night. (wink)

But I did also just start reading The Hunger Games too…since a student loaned them to me. Have you read them?

Have you seen the two new trailers for the two new Snow White movies? (If not, check them out online- one is called Snow White and the Huntsman and the second is called Mirror, Mirror!)

Or what about the new movie coming out from Pixar called Brave?

Seriously, a whole lot of girl power stuff happening…Makes me super excited!! What do you think?? Can you use this stuff with your girls?