never say never

 —  February 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

I am not ashamed to admit…I have a soft spot for Justin Bieber. (Okay, I am a little ashamed to admit that…)

First, my 7 year old sings him in the shower. Adorable.

Second, I saw him on TV…being so kind and loving to some kids whose life was really hard. And it didn’t seem forced…he just seemed really nice. Which at times can be rare for any teenage boy, right?

Third, I watched this video…when apparently I was a little emotional.

I am not a huge fan of his music but I know plenty of girls who are…don’t you?

Have you seen his movie yet? If not, you might be surprised, like I was, to know that you can apparently find faith based curriculum for after watching the movie. Is that too much? Or would you consider using it?

What do you think about Justin Bieber? And confession time…have you seen the movie or are you planning on seeing it?

While I was away in Kenya this week my kids pushed the Xbox 360 over the 44,000 mark in Gamerscore. They played a lot of Doritos Crash Course (A), Kinectimals (A) and Sega All-Stars Racing (B-). Before I left I blasted through Front Mission Evolved (A) as well. Good times!


I have a little tradition of out of office replies while I’m away from the church office. Here’s the one that shuts off tomorrow (read others from Christmas here and last year’s Spring Break trip here):

Thanks for your email!

I’m currently out of the country on an overseas mission trip with 30 amazing HSM students and leaders to Africa. I won’t be able to get to your email until I return and recover a bit from jetlag. If you need help in the meantime, please email Alaina Hart ( and she’ll get you directed to someone else right away.

And since I won’t get to say it in person …

Happy Groundhog Day
Happy Charles Dickens Day
Happy Candlemas
Happy Bob Marley Day
Happy Thomas Edison’s Birthday
Happy Torture Abolition Day
Happy Boy Scout’s Birthday
Happy Chinese New Year’s Day
Happy Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
Happy Mexican Constitution Day
Happy Valentine’s Day


It doesn’t take long in college ministry before we come across a student that desires to be in ministry, vocationally. When you do, what do you say to them? Obviously there are circumstances that affect what you would say and depending on the person you’re speaking with you might emphasize one thing over another. But, here are some GREAT insight into some things you might consider making sure you bring out in that conversation:

I love a couple things about this:

1. I love the focus on being faithful in small things first.

2. I love the idea of making sure the calling is affirmed by a community of people, in one location, that they are living life with and have proved themselves in.

Like many of you, when I signed up to be a youth pastor, I signed up to help students do life with God. I also believed then, and still do today, that there is no shortcut. It simply takes time. I also know that there is no greater way to spend big chunks of quantity time with students than the retreat setting.

So far, so good.

But what I didn’t know was that in order to do those retreats, I’d have to sign contracts that would cause me countless nights of stress leading up to them. I had no idea that 12 months out I’d be asking my church to leverage thousands of dollar on the belief that students will eventually express interest and sign up. And for me, times have been a changin’…

  • Gone are the days where if a student went last year, had a great time, and even connected with God on the trip that they’d automatically sign up and bring a friend next year.
  • Gone are the days where families could afford to send students to special retreats and functions with relative ease.
  • Gone are the days where I am willing to roll the dice and sign random contracts based on faith and my “guesstimations”.

So what am I to do?

I still believe the same basic premises that started this post. I still believe in retreats and life change. But I no longer believe that camp contracts (or even doing contract-free retreats) is the only way, and certainly not the best way to get this done. I’d like to propose that youth ministries can learn a lesson from places like coupon based websites. If you’re unfamiliar, coupon websites that offers services that become active once a minimum number of people buy in. For example, someone offers a deal on tourist attraction or something for 50% off. If you’re interested, you sign up and give your credit card and then once 15 people buy it, the “coupon” is on and they charge your card.

So, in youth ministry, this might look like:

  • Summer camp brochure is made months earlier than normal. We promote the trip and encourage students in the same ways we always have.
  • But now, students are told 2 things. #1. The cost for the first “x” number people is “$$$”. Maybe we could offer some kinda early buy in discount. All prices could be refundable and the trip is tentative until we have ______ people going. Once we have ______ people going and maybe by a certain date, then the trip is on and a deposit of “$$” is non-refundable, but is transferable.
  • Here, if you need a minimum of 10 to do the trip, the onus is on the participant to invite friends and push the retreat. They want to go, so they’ll encourage friends that if they don’t go, he or she can’t go either.
  • As a youth pastor, I don’t have to pay now, and pray like crazy later. Or at least I can do way less of that.
  • I can spend more time encouraging students and less time being a travel agent.

Brian is a youth ministry veteran of 16 years, currently the student ministries pastor at Journey Community Church near San Diego, CA. And he blogs!

I love my friends at Group/Simply Youth Ministry/Group Workcamps. They’ve been a part of the fabric of my life for 20 years.? Most of what I know, I’ve learned from them. I love them with all my heart.

I love my friends at Youth Ministry Architects. The “Core Four” leaders have taught me all kinds of new things in the? last three years. I like being challenged to be better! I love the way they love their team members. I love them with all my heart.

I love my friends on the Inside Track Team and Connect (Affinity) Group Leaders. I guess its the maternal instinct kicking in:? I got to love the team into being and now they love each other like siblings in Christ should. I love them with all my heart.

I love my fellow youth and? children’s workers. Its not always a lovable job, is it? But I’ve witnessed the sometimes thankless love they? pour into kids? pay off.? I love these people? with all my heart.

I love my students, past – present – future. I love seeing what they’re up to and I love being a part of the group around each of them that loves them for who they are. I love them with all my heart.

I love my friends.? I love how FB has brought people back into my life. I love seeing what they’re up to even when I don’t post any comments. I love when friends check in on me and those that hold me accountable. Many have kept loving me when I’m not lovable.? I love them with all my heart.

I love my family. Kids, parents, siblings. I love how they check in on each other,? the special plans made for holidays and the gatherings when life gets tough. I love them with all my heart.

I love my husband. He is crazy about me and that is saying a lot because I’m not easy to love. His love has moved me into a place of self-confidence and self-worth. He thinks I’m amazing. I love him with all my heart.

I love God. Like the husband He put in my life, God loves me when I’m not lovable. He has blessed me in unmeasurable? ways. God is so good. I love Him with all my heart.

If you’re reading this? I love you. Really.



 —  February 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

Posted by Kurt Johnston

a friend of mine from church shared this:

During the year 2011 we will experience 4 unusual dates…. 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 ………

NOW take the last 2 digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be by the end of this year and it WILL EQUAL …. 111!


 —  February 14, 2011 — 1 Comment

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3.-5-6

The older I get, the more I recognize I don’t have all the answers. Unfortunately, I draw this conclusion from the instances I’ve attempted to navigate life on my own and failed to experience the self-affirming outcomes I desired.

The failure I’ve mentioned is a result of pride and our pride is, in part, a result of book shelves lined with resources, a consistent flow of email newsletters, and office door handles cluttered with conference lanyards. All of these resources and experiences are great in and of themselves but they’re not meant to be the central source from which we gain our motivation, creativity, or leadership aptitude.

I will admit that it’s more convenient to lead from past experiences than wait upon fresh revelation but its rarely most beneficial. You’ve heard it said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I believe the difference between an average leader and a revolutionary leader is their ability to take risks. The fear that every leader has is taking the wrong risks and that is where God enters the equation.

We will begin to increase success and decrease failure if we will intentionally and, at times, patiently wait upon God’s direction. God will do something in us that no book, newsletter, or conference can ever do; lead us to the calculated risks that will transform us into revolutionary leaders.

On Saturday, January 1, 2011 television history was made when the Discovery Health Channel became the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In terms of taking risks this is a risk few would have the stomach to take, largely due to its $160 million price tag and years of necessary planning. According to St. Petersburg Times TV/Media Critic, Eric Deggans, this move is, “likely the first time a 24-hour cable channel has focused on one person’s brand”.

This is not only a risk for the network but for Oprah Winfrey who is now faced with the challenge of converting a hour long syndicated TV show into a cable channel pumping out 1,200 hours of programming each year. The Oprah Winfrey Show began in 1986 and had been going strong ever since. Some would call her crazy for leaving that kind of legacy behind but I would call her revolutionary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in love with everything that Oprah produces and I don’t necessarily agree with her religious or political views but you have to admit she is a wise business person.

As followers of Christ we have direct access to THE revolutionary leader and we would be foolish not to intentionally keep him at the certain of our lives. We have to submit to the realization that we don’t have everything figured out. In the presence of God we lay down our desires and pursue His revolutionary plan.

God’s waiting. It’s your move.

Shon Bradford is the student ministry pastor of deviate student ministry in Buckeye, AZ.