Just got my tale handed to me from a guy in Texas. Actually it was through a message from last years Right Now Conference by Tim Ross of the Potters House in Texas. The message was a challenge to make sure that we are being the person that others should be following.

If you consider yourself a leader think back to when you played the little game “follow the leader” on the playground. You are the guy in the front of a line taking all of those behind you where you want them to go. You are the one at the front of the line that is being imitated by everyone behind you. I know it may be a bit over simplified but in essence that is what you are doing as a leader.

Do you ever stop and consider where you are taking them and what they are imitating.

In Romans 12:8 Paul encourages those who have been given the gift of leadership to take that responsibility seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously…or at least think that I do.

Tim Ross brings out 1st Corinthians 4:3 where Paul speaks these words…
“For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to IMITATE ME!”

It’s one thing to play a silly little game on a playground where you see where you can get people to go and how funny you can get them to act. But it is a CRAZY BRAVE thing to URGE…not just ask…but urge people to “IMITATE ME, follow me, do what I do”. But Paul is not just telling people to follow him up a hill or through the swings, flapping their arms while barking like a dog.

Paul is telling them in 1st Corinthians 11:1

As a Spiritual Leader (whether you are a pastor, church staff, department leader, team member, FATHER or MOTHER, or BELIEVER) it is our responsibility to lead others to and in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Can you make the same declaration as Paul…”IMITATE ME as I IMITATE CHRIST. Because, if you imitate me then you are becoming more like Christ?

If they do imitate you are they be becoming more or less like Christ?

OUCH…I know it hurts me to…

But think about that for a moment.

There are two groups of people that we are leading; those that we lead because we have been given that place or position. Then there are those around us who are following without ever being asked to do so. They do because of our relationship with them. Maybe they have seen us pass by and have just jumped in line following us around the playground of life.

Either way we have been given the “gift of leadership”and we must take that responsibility seriously. Imitate Christ…so that when they imitate you…they are really only imitating Him.

Steven Moore is the husband to a beautiful woman, father to TWO adorable daughters, pastor to amazing teenagers, son of the Father (Romans 8:15-16). Check out his blog right here.

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winter camp

 —  February 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

About ready to leave for winter camp.
I love camp time!
Excited to share some highlights and learnings when I get back.
What’s your favorite winter camp experience?

As we wrap up the first month of 2011, one truth that has changed my ministry is surrounded by the word… inspiration. One of the greatest gifts we can give our students as their Pastors is inspiration. Beyond the obvious of helping them encounter Jesus, and promoting growth in their journey towards Christ; our students must be inspired. At the heart of our ministries needs to be a Godly fuel to change the world. An inspiration for our students that pushes them to live their faith in a relative and relevant fashion. However, this comes only by seeing it modeled.

Through genuine inspiration we are able to empower our students to know they can change the world.

Barnabas is a Biblical example that transcends time. As the mentor to Paul, he understood Paul’s impact would extend further than his own. By living a life of inspiration he empowered Paul to take the message of Jesus to the world no matter the cost. Paul saw the life he wanted lived out through Barnabas. Can our students say the same about us?

We are compelled to ask “Is there anything in our life our students want to emulate?” For my life I know this is something I personally need to strengthen and it’s always been a battle. I haven’t conquered it, but this is something I am actively trying to put into place.

Through a mixture of God moments since the beginning of 2011, which included attending Passion Conference with our college age group, as well as reading Sun Stand Still by Stephen Furtick, my 2011 mission is simple: Inspire my students by proclaiming Jesus and not myself.

Since sharing this with others this New Year’s proclamation has spread to some of my friends. Our first stop is connecting with the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization that helps bring awareness and help to those being violently oppressed through the tragedy of global slavery and human trafficking.

Our group of seven is joining around the anthem of “There’s a Bigger Story”. Meaning simply there’s a bigger story to serving Jesus than just attending church and doing little. We are on a mission to inspire.

So join us in our mission of inspiration as we pray a God size prayer to raise $100,000 to help those stuck in the tragedy of sexual slavery. And by doing so, we will inspire a generation of students to change the world.

Jay Porter is the Student Life Pastor at Christ Central Alachua. Hit up his blog right here: http://jayportercca.wordpress.com

I’ve been thinking about the big question of “what does it mean to have a healthy youth ministry?” I recently finished reading a book by Kenda Creasy Dean entitledAlmost Christian: What The Faith Of Our Teenagers Is Telling The American Church“. In it Kenda describes the growing trend within the american teenage culture of being “spiritual” but not Christian. Teenagers today are focusing less on who God is and more on how connecting to a higher power makes them feel. Christian sociologists have used the phrase “Therapeutic Moral Deism” to define exactly how this paradigm plays out. I don’t have time to get into everything about Therapeutic Moral Deism, but you can learn more by reading this article by Christian Smith who wrote the book “Soul Searching”.

So how can we build a healthy youth ministry in the midst of our current teenage culture? What do we focus on as we build our youth programs? As I am sitting here in a cafe writing this, I’ve drawn two different strategies on some napkins concerning where we as youth workers can put our focus. The first is what I am calling a “God-Centered Youth Ministry”. Here’s the concept:

In a God-centered youth ministry all of our teaching/small groups/etc. focus in on “theology” which is the study of who God is. We focus on what the Bible says about God (what He is like, His characteristics, His plan, Salvation,etc.). From there we then move on to “anthropology” which is the study of human beings. Simply put, it means this:



So what is the other option? What is the opposite of a God-Centered youth ministry? Below is my doodle concept of a “People-Centered Youth Ministry”:

With a “People-Centered Youth Ministry” the focus in not on Jesus, but on the students. This kind of youth ministry will focus on particular types of teenage behaviors and how those students attempt to navigate the ideas of spirituality. Simply put, a “People-Centered Youth Ministry” looks like this:



The problem with the second model of youth ministry is that religion will never save anybody. In our world today there are tons of religions and I hear students (and adults) say all the time time that “as long as your are sincere about your faith it doesn’t matter what you believe.” However, no matter how sincere you are, you can still be sincerely wrong. Check out this event from the book of Exodus:

“When Joshua heard the boisterous noise of the people shouting below them, he exclaimed to Moses, “It sounds like war in the camp!” But Moses replied, “No, it’s not a shout of victory nor the wailing of defeat. I hear the sound of a celebration.” (Exodus 32:17-18 NLT)

Moses has just come down from Mount Sinai where He received the Ten Commandments from God. Suddenly he and Joshua hear the sound of the entire people of Israel celebrating together. They here a united people shouting and singing and worshiping. However, just a few verses before we here what God has to say about their worship:

“The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” (Exodus 32:7-10 NLT)

Even though the people of Israel were being sincere, God told them that they were sincerely wrong! We have to be diligent in our effort to point the students in our ministry to Jesus and not to the world. We need to place our focus back on to the study of God and not on the study of ourselves. If we don’t, we can fall into the same trap that the Apostle Paul spoke of in the book of Romans:

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23 NLT)

Which model above can be seen in your own youth ministry? Which aspects of your current programs would you have to change in order to bring Jesus back to the center?

Rob Ham works on the WILDSIDE Jr. High Team @ Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and blogs at I (Heart) Youth Ministry.

Got this idea as I was driving to the airport this morning. All credit goes to God and KSBJ.

For those groups meeting Sunday night: Score BIG time with ur church staff by making it Love That Sticks night by affirming ur church people, showing them the uth grup luv!

Have post it notes and markers ready. Office Depot sells heart shaped ones even. Simple to do: have uth members write notes specific to each staff person. Then decorate that staffers office door or space so they have a loving surprise ready for them on Monday, Valentines Day.

Even better: make the whole night around the theme of Love That Sticks – even to a Cross. The night could involve a prayer activity where students show their love to God by leaving post-its on a cross.

To send it over the top, send kids home with post its printed with a loving verse from Jesus.

OK, how’s that for 4am?


Between 1919 and 1933, a small amendment changed the face of American culture…for a few years anyway. The Noble Experiment, as it was called, introduced the Prohibition Era with the banning of alcohol manufacturing, transportation, and sale. It was a huge failure. Repealed just over a decade later, we learned that legislating the lifestyles of Americans is actually quite difficult. Even today, questions of “legislating morality” still pepper the discussions of Congress, boardrooms, and classrooms all over the country. Can we give people a list of do’s and don’ts and call that morality?

Discipleship is a bit of a soapbox for me. The vagueness of that term discipleship is exactly why I want to explore the idea from a different perspective. When I think of discipleship, small groups, curriculum, Sunday School classes, and student leadership are usually the first things that come to my mind. Discipleship, in other words, is “smaller” in retrospect to your larger corporate worship service. It usually involves some sort of structure, schedule, curriculum, or teaching notes. If it’s done effectively, it creates good conversation and interaction. But if it’s done poorly, as the structured version often is, it usually leads to one person doing all of the talking while a small group of people (that gets smaller every week for some odd reason…) “listen.” As is, this is what we define as discipleship.

I love people. Really, I do. If I didn’t, there’s no way I could be a student pastor. But even I tend to get task-oriented from time-to-time. Between writing sermons, filling out POs, hosting weekly meetings, vision-planning, and keeping the student ministries building in tact, life can get pretty busy. It’s that task-oriented mind that usually defines discipleship by the terms mentioned before rather than what discipleship is actually about: PEOPLE!

Discipleship is a cycle of leading and following that finds its life and vitality in one thing: relationships. Without relationships there is NO discipleship. No matter how savvy our programs, how extensive our small group curriculum, or how many ministries we have for students to get involved in, if relationships aren’t a part of it all…we fail. Now don’t get me wrong: small groups, student leadership, and Sunday school classes can be good tools to facilitate spiritual growth and even build some form of relationships. Oftentimes, however, we tag these programs with the umbrella of discipleship and they have nothing to do with relationships at all! It’s just another gathering to fill up time during your week, which in turn takes away from the relationships you should be building in the first place.

Let’s reel this in: Can you legislate discipleship in your youth ministry? Can you make students follow this program or buy into this vision or that ministry? I’m learning that the answer to that is absolutely, positively, “NO, NO, NO!”…without relationships. You cannot disciple a student that doesn’t want to be discipled. If they don’t want to follow, they won’t. It’s a little disheartening, but I’m finding it to be so true. But a student WILL follow if they know their teacher. They WILL follow if you’re spending time with them outside of your programs. And they WILL follow if your discipleship ideas facilitate the centerpoint of relationships.

To be honest, a lot of our discipleship programs exist for one of two reasons: 1) We’ve always done it that way. 2) It’s the next big thing from a youth ministry, yet we ignore the purpose and reason behind why THEY actually created it to begin with. Let’s take the concept of Sunday School for example. This discipleship program was very popular in the 50s and existed as a forum to ask questions and facilitate discussion that usually wouldn’t happen in the context of a sermon. Many youth ministries have carried on this program from generation to generation. But I wonder if you were to ask them now WHY they actually do it. I think I would shudder at the answer and I know what it would be for most of us: We would get crucified at even thinking about not doing Sunday School as it were. Heresy!

The course of my youth ministry has its own sacred cow in student leadership. Directing a student leadership program was one of the first things I did in youth ministry. To think of not doing student leadership is hard for me because it collides with my sentimentality. But the idea of legislating discipleship has never glared itself more true than in my experience with this program. The idea and concept behind student leadership is fantastic: allow students to lead. But what often happens through the application process, laundry list of student tasks, rigorous reading plans, and unorganized meetings is that we lose focus on relationships in the process. We begin investing in the program rather than investing in the students. Am I saying that student leadership is wrong? Absolutely not. Veterans like Doug Fields and Josh Griffin swear by it and have great success with it. But what I am saying is that I will not, nor will I ever again, sacrifice my students on the altar of programming.

As a youth ministry, YouthQuake has made a few changes to facilitate relationships in our discipleship process. By no means am I saying that we are the perfect model, but this is what we are experimenting with to see more effective ministry. Our Sunday School slot is being replaced with a short 10-minute talk about practical issues like dating, picking a college, time management, etc. through a biblical perspective. After that, we break away for a time of hanging out and relationship building so that our leaders can be more intentional about KNOWING our students. This slot immediately follows our weekly staff meeting so that all of our leaders are present. Our spiritual emphasis programming is on Wednesday nights so this is a more practical approach that simply acts as a conversation starter.

In place of a student leadership program, I spend time weekly with 3 small groups of my high-school and JV core students. With no plan or agenda in place, we take time to break open the Scriptures and just enjoy each other’s company. Out of these times, we’ve seen some incredible revelation happen and even creative ideas for how to move forward. Now these students get excited about the ministry that’s happening and they invite their friends like crazy. The meeting is not oppressive or something that the students dread going to, but its refreshing and encouraging. Its refreshing for me. This saves our energy to turn around and build more relationships. They come because they want to come, thus discipleship happens very naturally through the refreshing relationships that are built.

The key to all of this is to simplify your programming to align with your youth ministry’s vision. For YouthQuake we want to teach our students to LIVE extraordinary, LEAD creatively, & LOVE extravagantly. It just makes sense to free up as much time and energy to accomplish this. What you’ll find is that this process duplicates itself and students disciple other students. And that is the gospel lived out. After all, STUDENTS are what discipleship is all about.

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.

This week Doug Field’s has blogged about Student Leaders – some great post about how to caring for student leaders. If you haven’t read them you should check them out here.

Also, this week I saw a post about the Revolve conference(a big event just for girls- AWESOME)! And I noticed a comment by a youth pastor about needing to know Revolve’s stance on women in leadership before they could bring their girls. And it’s safe to say I was annoyed but I held my tongue…

I don’t mean to be controversial but I do want to make it clear that God calls young girls and old girls into a collaborative relationship with him to bring about change in the world. Check out the multiple examples in the Bible (Esther, Ruth, Jael, Deborah, Mary, Mary, Dorcas, Lydia…). We can agree to disagree on the title of that relationship (pastor, director, volunteer, paid) but the truth is God shapes, gifts and calls all of his children to a life filled with ministry.

Can you lead and be a girl? Yep.

Are there girls in your ministry who have been gifted and shaped to be leaders? Yep.

What do you think about being a girl and being a leader?

Life is hard. Ministry is hard. Balancing ministry and family and school and my own soul is hard. It just is… and it’s so hard, that life has a way of knocking good people out of the game. I’ve been in ministry long enough to have seen first hand the casualties of marriages, careers, families, and personal faith all destroyed by hard stuff and poor choices that followed.

In an effort to not become a casualty of the same statistics, I had to confess this past December that I was becoming a victim of my own bad habits and neglecting the care of me for the care of others. I know this to be theologically and practically wrong, but I still was doing it. First to go was exercise. Then reading. Then sleep. Then eating right. Then…. I started kicking the dog. It was bad.

So I have had to make the following adjustments before my kids call dog protective services on me:

ME TIME IS NOT SELFISH TIME, IT’S NECESSARY TIME. If I don’t take care of my own body and soul, I quickly lose the energy I need to be a decent dog owner. Nevermind the husband I want to be, the father I need to be, and the minister I was called to be. This time is the easiest time for me to give away to other pressures. I’ve had to make strong steps and seek accountability to not let this slide anymore.

I CAN’T BE ACCESSIBLE ALL THE TIME. I’ve had to fight back on the “I’m a youth pastor 24-7″ mindset. I’ve been trying to come home, put down my computer and cell phone, and be fully present to my wife and kids. I’ve had to limit my time on Facebook, Twitter, and even e-mail at work. I’ve had to block out “do not interrupt” time on my calendar where I can get stuff done. Truth is, I’m really not this important and I don’t need to be this accessible. They invented 911 for things that can’t wait. Everything else can.

I CAN’T DO ANYTHING THAT IS NOT MY JOB. It feels super good to be helpful to others. I’m not saying I can’t be a team player. But I am saying, sometimes my life gets too stressful because I take on that which was not mine to do in the first place. I can’t be the 911 dispatcher and I can’t be superman either…

… and when I let these walls down, the first thing that goes is exercise and then it’s only a matter of time before I’m kicking the dog again.

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!

Affordable Housing

 —  February 10, 2011 — Leave a comment

Posted by Kurt Johnston

….In case you were interested in buying a vacation home, here is a steal!