The weekend I was gone to Winter Camp Taffy spoke and challenged students with the word “devotion”. He talked about being a disciple, detective and doer. He just posted a handout he made for students that weekend called How to Read God’s Love Letter to Us. Thought you might want to grab it and/or subscribe to his blog, especially if you’re into music, worship or creative arts.


Fun video from this past weekend announcing band auditions for HSM and Wildside.


Soul Surfer

Neely McQueen —  January 27, 2011 — 1 Comment

You are a performer. Every day, you rise to the occasion and give a performance. It is built into every presentation, interaction and talk you give. And this book will guide you to success in that new realization. I really enjoyed the quick read The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn (author of The Fred Factor). It reminded me of the size of a Patrick Lencioni book and the insights of a Seth Godin masterpiece. Together, it makes for a powerful combination to process and challenge your thinking. Lots of quick applications for youth ministry – you are always on stage with parents, your talks can sink or swim and practice makes a world of difference which of those happen. Here’s the 5 main sections in the book:

Passion: The fuel for remarkable performance
Prepare: How remarkable performance begins
Practice: It won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better
Perform: How to engage your audience
Polish: Making your performance shine

Good stuff!


I’m headed back to Kenya for 10 days this February on a mission trip with the High School Ministry at Saddleback Church. Each day on the blog I’d love to have at least one really great youth ministry guest post – I already have some solid ones lined up and would love to add yours.

Are you up for it? Just shoot me an email with your submission as well as a little bio/link you’d like at the end of the piece and I’ll check it out (get it in by February 1st to make sure it gets in). Join in on the fun – youth ministry needs your voice!


Ran a little contest over here a few days ago, happy to announce the winners of this fantastic new product called Score Keep. Congratulations are in order for:

Justin Pardee at 12:57pm January 24
Holla! We do sex and dating series every year in February for 3 weeks kicking off after the Super Bowl with a running “Battle of the Sexes” competition and last year I hacked Apple Keynote into working as a scoreboard & timer up on the big screen right over the stage… but this looks a hundred times better. I totally want to use this year to make things so much more legit!

Josh Byers at 9:38pm January 24
This was made for eating competitions and games are a given — but here are 5 out of the box ideas
1. Try and time your talk to end exactly when the countdown ends
2. For the younger VBS crowd — who brought more visitors, guys or girls? You could really work the crowd by clicking up the numbers slowly, pause and then do a whole bunch and pause and…
3. Keep a running tally of ideas that get accepted or shot down by your senior pastor during a staff meeting
4. When teaching a passage and a certain word appears numerous times and you want to point it out for effect — well there you go.
5. Tally up the number of minutes I spent trying to come up with a fifth idea that would knock your socks off — then I realized the counter wouldn’t go past 100… #fail

Phillip at 7:07am January 25
Being a new Youth Minister with a smaller youth group, no funds and a white board that has been doodled on with permanent marker (but they are good drawing of Jesus)…. I’ll say I can use it in almost every game we do…

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Spin That Wheel … you have to check it out, too. Awesome!


SYM Conference

troy —  January 26, 2011 — Leave a comment

Well, if you haven’t been to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference before, you’re missing out. I can honestly say that I love this conference. Over the past five or so years I’ve gotten to know many on the team at SYM and Group. They truly have a passion for student ministry (which college ministry is a huge part of!). It’s one of the few, possibly the only, student ministry conference that has slotted a significant chunk of time out for our ministry.

This year they prove that by having me teach 8 hours of seminars on college ministry and also have a couple other people that speak to this issue as well, doing other seminars. That may not seem like a lot for a 4 day event, but make no mistake about it: there is no other student ministry conference (that I know of) that places this high of a value on it. This year it’s in Chicago. It was here last year as well and it’s a great, intimate venue (as intimate as 2k-2500 people can get). I’ll be doing the following 4 hr tracks:

Why College Ministry Matters To Your Student Ministry, And How To Start One

Session 1: (Saturday 10:30am-12:30pm)
Erasing the “Finish Line” of Youth Ministry
Session 2: (Saturday 2:30pm-4:30pm)
Steps to Starting a College Ministry From Scratch

Description: Many youth workers want to do something for college ministry but either don’t have the time to invest or the understanding of what’s truly needed. Is college ministry really about having another church service or having an older, youth-ministry-onsteroids approach? Or is it much, much deeper? Learn about the things churches are embracing that truly engage and connect with the minds and hearts of college-age people.

College Ministry 201: Meeting The Needs Of A Lost Age

Session 1: (Sunday 10:30pm-12:30pm)
Discipleship Issues With College-Age People
Session 2: (Sunday 2:30pm-4:30pm)
Integrating Our Philosophy Into Our Ministry Context

Description: Want to know more about the (actual) lives of young people? Their values and mindset are worlds apart from previous generations and in this track, you can learn how this all affects you? College-aged people find themselves in-between just about everything. And this impacts just about everything. This seminar paints a picture of insight into their minds and hearts so that you can understand what they need and desire from you, your church, and your ministry.

Survival Instincts

Kurt Johnston —  January 26, 2011 — 7 Comments

Posted by Kurt Johnston

For a whole lot of my junior high ministry career, there was a whole lot about junior high behavior that really bothered me. I was bothered partly because the behavior was bothersome, and partly because I felt the pressure (mostly self induced) that if I was a good youth worker, I would be able to change the behavior of my students. If you work with young teens, you certainly know the behavior I’m talking about: The gossip, the teasing, the selfishness, the insecurity, and so on.

Years later, I’m still bothered by the behavior…but not as much. Not because I know longer recognize the consequences of the way they treat each other, but because I have a better understanding of the motive behind it. Let me explain.

The junior high years are tough (remember yours?), and most young teens find themselves, consciously or subconsciously, in survival mode. They gossip because they think that helps them survive, they tease because it’s better to be the teaser than to be the teased. They are selfish because in order to survive middle school, they can’t afford to look out for anybody but themselves.

Again, this probably isn’t a conscious decision (for most, they are simply survival instincts),but when you remember the physical, social, emotional and intellectual changes our students are experiencing at this age; it makes sense that behaviors like this manifest. Shoot…behaviors like this manifest in adults who should know better!

I wonder, if instead of teaching “against” these behaviors we might find more success in focusing our efforts toward helping our students understand themselves a little better, and develop biblical “survival skills”. Perhaps. But today, I’m reminded that behaviors like this are a part of the human condition. Mine, yours and the junior highers we lead.