The series bumper video for HSM’s How to Raise Your Parents series. There are 4 steps in the video, and #4 will change each week of the series to be something funny to keep it fresh.


Oh please, don’t get caught up in the fact that I used the word “suck” inthe same sentence as “ministry.” I thought about it all the way to the airport and decided its the only word that fits.

Some days are harder than others. I’m usually a pretty positive person but yesterday was stinky. Not just one thing but several things piled up to leave me emotional and upset. Job, hubby’s health and problem children all mixed into a soup of…well, suckiness. (I am sure my family is uber glad I’m back out on the road today.)

I don’t know what you do, but I just can’t stay wallowing in that emo mud. Even though I may not WANT to feel better, I force myself through a few steps:

1) Remember and declare God’s goodness. I post it on FB and twitter because then its out there both for me and others. I did it yesterday and found out others felt the same way and were a little lifted by the declaration.

2) Claim Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good” for me. Its a fact, a promise. Never failing.

3) I sing. I may not feel like it but you REALLY have to be on the deep, dark side of things for singing up beat songs of praise not to work. (I got that from baseball great, Oral Herscheiser, who sang the Doxology when under stress on the mound.)

Ok, so hope that helps you for those ministry days that…you know.


My life can finally get back to normal (though that may still be crazy)!

I can’t believe how much goes into speaking in big church. 3 services, punch up meetings, outlines….

I have a new respect for lead pastors who speak every week! If you want to watch or listen to the message – you can check it out here. (Look for the message called Pastor Mommy)

I’ll be back to normal blogging this week…here’s a few topics we’ll cover this week:

Working with not against Parents, Current Events and Girls, Fighting the attitude of “Everybody is doing it!”

Should be a fun week! I hope you’ll join in!

Weekend Teaching Series: How to Raise Your Parents (series premiere, week 1 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: A good relationship between parent and teenager is built on trust: trust for your parents and trust from your parents.
Text: Proverbs, Ephesians 6
Service Length: 61 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend I had the chance to introduce the topic of trust as the foundation for a healthy relationship between teenagers and their parents. It was also the start of the series, so had some fun setting up my experience as a kid/teenager in my home. Lots of fun stories, and an object lesson about trust where I had a clear tube of colored water that sprung leaks as the parents lost trust in their teenager. We talked about trust-builders and trust-busters – students hopefully walked away with a clear understanding of how important trust is and how to build it between them and their parents.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week was a super tight program that included a fun opening song, a couple videos about upcoming events (HSM Summer Camp and Killball) as well as a funny video about parenting and trust. Clean, direct program, with lots of students involved greeting, cameras, band, control room, creating graphics, etc.

Music Playlist: Not a Child Anymore, Freedom is Here, You’ll Come, Your Love is Strong

Favorite Moment: The opener this weekend was written by McKenzie – it was about parents and how they are crazy and don’t trust their teenagers. At first, I was worried about the song’s message, then when the band got to the last line, it was a total payoff and super sweet. Incredibly creative and a beautiful tribute to parents masked in what really is going through a teenagers mind. Brilliant, I’ll post video when I can find someone who recorded it.

Up Next: How to Raise Your Parents (Doug Fields speaking, week 2 of 3) [read the whole series are here]

Today’s poll hits on the timeless classic youth ministry situation: you bump into a student and you can’t for the life of you remember their name. What do you do? Vote in today’s poll! And if you have a thought and/or another option – please leave a comment. Ha!


A few months ago, I noticed a major weakness in our student ministry administration. It seemed like we had a revolving door of student visitors with no sense of follow-up. We had informational cards, but it never seemed like we did anything with them. The result was seeing new students come week after week, but finding that we were ineffective in drawing them in to stay. A youth pastor friend of mine, Cody Mummau, turned me on to last November and it has changed the way we gather information and follow-up with students. YouthTracker is an online database system that inputs students, staff, leaders, and parents into one easily accessible dashboard. As a result, we have seen more consistency in our core group of students and it has given us an idea of the new students and MIA students that we need to follow-up on. The work on the front end is a little tedious, but it’s so easy once it’s set up. Here’s how we roll…

1) First, we have students fill out a basic info card that looks like this, just for some starting details to create a student profile.

2) One of my volunteers searches for the student via Facebook/Twitter and adds them. There’s a place where you can go into their YT profile and link it to their social networking profiles. This makes it easy for one of my volunteers to search for a student and makes it super easy to match faces with names. After that, we’ll invite the student to add or “Like” our ministry Facebook profile or page.

3) The next time that a student comes in to our service, all they have to do is sign-in with their name via one of our computer kiosks! An event is created prior to the service, but all the students see is a sign-in screen. At the end of the night, I can check the event details to see which students were present and which ones weren’t. You can even update it on the spot in case someone forgot to sign-in. When my volunteer inputs the new students and signs them in, the event details show “NEW” beside that student’s name.

Here are a few of the features we’ve found most effective:

  • Event Numbers — I know, I know, you’re NOT about the numbers. But that nifty line graph helps give you a true idea of your week-to-week attendence.
  • Contact Reports — This feature shows every student in your ministry along with two sections: the last time they attended an event and the last time they’ve been contacted (a leader has an option to record a contact {i.e. phone call, FB message, one-on-one time etc.}). This ensures that no student falls through the cracks. There’s also a sub-feature here where it will make a student inactive at a set time. Ours is 120 days. But if that student returns and signs in, no big deal. It makes them active once again.
  • Address/Google Maps — Ever had your volunteers call you looking for a student’s address? No headache now! Their address is synced up with Google Maps. Schwweeeeet!
  • Text Message/Email Service — You can text (5 cents per student) or email (free). The great thing about this feature though is that you can target certain students according to your events. So you can send a text to the students who were at your large group meeting saying, “Hey guys! Thanks for a great night! Remember to love extravagantly this week.” And to the students who could make it: “Hey guys! We missed you tonight. We read from Matthew 22:34-40 tonight and talked about loving God extravagantly. Hope to see you next week!”
  • Address Labels – This has saved us hours of time. To send out postcards, just go to “print address labels” and WAH-LAH! That information you put in from the info card transfers right onto an address label template.
  • Demographics/Schools – This gives you an idea of your student makeup from a list of schools (you can also input the school address and the student’s lunch), grades, gender, nationality, etc.
  • Student Growth – You can move students through various stages (core, committed, community, visitor) and log their commitments (salvation, baptism, filled with the Spirit, etc.).
  • Student Account — Your financial volunteer will love you. You can utilize the student account feature to keep up with retreats, trips, etc. It even has their T-Shirt size for that missions trip!
  • Areas – Want to track your middle-school and high-school ministry separate? No problem!

There’s a host of other details that would take me forever to explain. This resource has been so valuable to us. Though we all hate administrative duties sometimes, its kind of a necessary evil in student ministry. This tool makes it easy to get past the follow-up and informational stuff, freeing up time to do what’s important: build relationships with kids. The best $25 a month we’ve ever spent. Check it out!

Bradley K. Chandler is a graduate of Southeastern University and is the Student Ministries Pastor at Trinity Worship Center in Burlington, NC. Be sure to subscribe to his blog here — good stuff for sure.

Your schedule and mine? Too hectic. Reminds me of this old tv show where Ernie used to say, “If you’re too busy to fish, you’re just too busy!”

YMA recommends a process called a “rhythmic weekly schedule” which is used to help youth pastors get a healthy flow to the work week. Recently, a few friends helped me figure out a rhythmic month since my weeks aren’t normal. So many days are spent in the home office, a # of days are set aside for family, a certain # are left for travel, etc.

A friend, Mark DeVries, helped me with Sabbath days. They’re the first days now to go on my monthly calendar. I asked him to define what Sabbath looks like to him. “My goal is one day a week where I don’t open my computer.”

I totally get that. Once my computer’s “on” button is activated, its all over. 10 hours has flown by with no Sabbath rest at all.

Oh, I attend church almost every Sunday…but its more work than rest. Still worship but you know how that goes. No rest for the wicked! ;)

So now ask me to show you my calendar: you’ll see days blocked off in red marked Sabbath. Why red? You know why…


There is nothing more important when you’re selling a product than the branding you give it. That’s Business 101.

Out of all the logos listed to the left, you could probably identify the organization immediately. You know who it is, what they are selling and probably how you can get your hands on one of their products. They have relentlessly put their brand in front of you and convinced you it’s something you need.

Shouldn’t we be doing the same in ministry? I’m embarassed to admit, I haven’t done the best job in branding our ministry. As I was walking down the hall the other night, someone saw our banner in the hallway and said “Redeemed Student Ministry, what’s that?” The who we are answer was obvious but I haven’t done a very good job at explaining what we’re about.

The biggest disconnect between the church and student ministry happens when we fail to communicate our brand. Yes, they know that we exist and they know that we serve students but it’s not so obvious to what it is we do. It’s why churches want to cut the youth budget, or axe the youth guy first, whenever they run in to financial problems. They know that we play some wild and crazy games; or turn that music up a little too loud on Sunday mornings. Or even worse: video games!

What they don’t know is that our student ministries are a place for students to become more like Jesus, to work through life together with students their own age, and a place where they are loved on by caring adults. I’d love nothing more if the answer to the question, “what is the Redeemed Student Ministry about?” was the list mentioned above. What would happen if I communicated that clearly and relentlessly to our church family? The support for our ministries would come rolling in! Who doesn’t want that for their children? Yes, we do all of the silly things mentioned above — and they are an avenue for introducing students to our ministry. However, they don’t identify us — and they aren’t our focus.

Who we are is how the community feels about us — even if we’re dead wrong. If you could communicate your ministry in three words, would they be? Why? And would your students agree with your answer? (Quote from “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” by Rick Chromey + Stephanie Caro)

Zach Powell is the Pastor to Students and their families at Vienna Baptist church in Vienna, WV. You can check out his blog The Retreat for solid youth ministry insights.