Boundaries Are Good

 —  October 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

I live in an area that actually registers a little below sea level.  Yet,  I was able to spend the last week in Colorado at heights like 5,000 and almost 12,000 feet ABOVE sea level.  The Rocky Mountains are awe inspiring and my husband with the geology degree likes to geek out and tell me why the rocks look the way they do.  If you have ever wondered just how BIG God truly is, drive up a road called, Trail Ridge through Estes Park to Grand Lake.

As we drove to my friends cabin near Grand Lake (something like 11,000 or more above sea level) I was in the passenger’s seat.  Here is something you need to know.


The lack of guardrails puts your heart in your throat. There are hairpin turns.  A sign that reads, “Icy Road” is less than comforting.  On the sides of the road are random 9 foot high sticks that seem to have no purpose. (I forgot to get a picture.) Then we found out  that when the snow gets too high it allows plows to identify the boundaries of the road.  You could not pay me enough to be a plow driver in that situation.

We looked out the window and realized something.  We feel better when there are guard rails.  Yes, my friends who live in Colorado tried to convince us that you “stay on the road” when it is flat so the same rings true when traveling upward.  However, when the thought of plummeting to your death occurs if someone needs to swerve out of the way, then a guardrail to reign you in looks very appealing.  The boundaries are clear as to where the road “ends” and the “downhill” begins.


When coming “down” the mountain you actually have to climb higher to go down.  This means you are actually eye level with the cloud line.  Due to something about the way the clouds come down the other side of the mountain (yes my husband the ex-earth science teacher explained it four times),  you go through intense fog. (See below.)



Now you can’t see anything at all.  However, my husband made this distinction.  “The fog actually makes me feel safe when combined with the guardrail.  This way I can’t see just how far up we actually are.”

I think you see where I am going with this analogy.  Boundaries are a VERY good thing.  They keep us safe.  Whether it’s a guardrail or fog plus a guardrail,  you clearly know when safety ends and danger begins.  You know that if that icy patch causes a spin out you will bounce and not fall.

Our students need the same thing.  They need clarity on where the road ends.  Boundaries keep them safe.  They can have a great time moving upward and enjoying the scenery when they know exactly where they can and can’t go. There are even times when the Lord might purposely obstruct our view to keep us focused.  Too often in ministry we get afraid of creating a “boundary system” for our students.  That seems “too much like children’s programming.”  YET,  God doesn’t say we “get too old” to follow His ways.  Instead, He tells us over again how much He loves when we are faithful and obedient.  Allowing students to understand what a boundary is helps them to see it as safety and not a hinderance.  It’s not about doing “right” or modifying your behavior instead we allow them to have their world view transformed.  When you learn just how comforting the guardrails are you want to stay on the other side of them.


-Leneita @leneitafix

Want to know more about the “boundary system” my ministry has in place?  Don’t hesitate to write me at

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.33.20 AMWe all know college has become an important and, in many cases, a necessary step for people to take in our culture. In 1950 only about 9% of 18-24 year olds were attending degree granting schools (which included those attending high school) whereas today 77% of 18-24 year olds are attending degree granting institutions (not including high school). However you look at this and whatever we think might be the cause of such an increase, this is a massive cultural shift. Over the course of this trend there have been waves and cycles that have effected a number of things in both the Church as well as culturally, too long to discuss in this post (if you want to read more of on this subject, click here). For this post, I would simply like to share one shift in how college is viewed that I see having a tremendous impact on how we can minister to college-age people.

Put simply, the shift is that fewer people view a college degree as a right of passage.  What does this mean? Well, the bottom line is people/employers/etc are less concerned with a degree and more concerned with experience – or at least we are moving that direction. The shift that is beginning doesn’t necessarily negate a college degree, but the key is to realize it’s not limited to it. Actual work experience will increasingly the most critical element in our culture.

I consult with churches, denominations as well as businesses that hire recent college grads. And although the degree can be important for many positions, employers are starting to see the benefit of hiring people with experience over those with degrees.

Does this mean employers are devaluing a degree? Not entirely, but it is losing some value.

It used to be that a college degree was a right of passage into the workforce. For lack of better terms, it was viewed (and still is in some cases) as a ‘hoop’ to get through to do what you want to do. It was viewed this way by all parties – parents, children and employers. Not to take away from the necessity of a degree for most middle-class suburbanites, but the reality is fewer people want to just get a degree…and I believe you will continue to see fewer and fewer employers viewing a degree as a necessity for positions in their company.

So, what does this mean for those of us in ministry?

Here are 2 things you might consider doing in your church with this in mind:

  1. Emphasize and promote work experience. Encourage college students to get work with organizations like GroupMissionTrips.  Organizations like this would give perhaps the most important “work experience.” That is, experience with leading and organizing people. If someone wants to be an engineer, this probably won’t be the biggest factor in an engineering firm hiring someone. But there are a lot of businesses that see experience like this as a HUGE benefit.
  2. Make intentional connections for students. Connect the students you know to real life people that are actually doing what your students want to do. Encourage older individuals in your church to offer internships and maybe even consider going to larger businesses in your area and ask if they have any internships available for students…and then you be the one to make the connection!

We see it emerge all the time in our  students.  They “forgot” to turn in their camp permission slip on time, and we “just have to” let them come anyway. There is a conflict between the Saturday mission trip fundraiser and a game for the sport they play. We “need” to change the date of the fundraiser. After all we ARE the ones that required them to be at said fundraiser in order to go on said trip in the first place.

Perhaps it comes out in the everyday interactions with our students.They sort of barrel through life with a “you owe” me attitude.

Honestly, I see the same “issues” in my own heart.

I am selfish. I think I deserve:

  • A cup of hot coffee on a bad day.
  • A parking space up front when I am running late.
  • An “easier” life because I “chose” ministry as my job.

Something needed to change for the cycle of selfishness to end. While whining about the apathy of the next generation I wonder if I have fed it? So many (including me) believe that this mentality of “entitlement” is what makes this generation ineffective.

Where do we begin?

1. Change Our Vocabulary:

I used to talk about sacrifice and “giving up.” That makes me feel good about all that I am doing. Instead, I started implementing the word “choice.” It used to drive me insane when I would “share” my defeats in ministry only to hear, “That’s the life you chose.” “Well, yes,” I would say, “It doesn’t make it easy.”

Here’s the thing. I did make the choice to follow the Lord down this path.That means there are consequences like trials…and blessings…but it was a choice. Let’s remind our teens the beauty in the choice to follow the Lord.

We need to teach students to ask, “How do we love others like ourselves? What does that mean?” Measuring what we say and how we say it makes us think about why we talk the way we do.

2. Change Our Thinking:

This is a hard one. This one is about constantly refocusing our thoughts on the Lord. We must understand that we merit eternal separation from God. There is nothing we are “owed.” Not a thriving ministry (whatever that even really means.) Not family members walking with the Lord. Not a great salary. Now, the Lord may give me some of these things as blessings. He has promised grace and mercy. However, it’s more like a gift on some random day of the week than Christmas morning. The presents will come, but not because they are “supposed” to. He loves us so desperately and wonderfully that He WANTS to be faithful to us. Remove the words, “deserve, owed, earned” out of your mind and mouth. Changing our perspective, gives us different Christ-centric world view, and helps us to encourage students to do the same.

3. Change Our Teaching:

Yes we need to set up places for our kids to serve. In my own children they thrive on outreach days when they can “help.” Later that evening we will return home where they fight with their siblings over touching “their stuff.” Just because they gave up an afternoon, does not make them give up themselves. Our teaching needs to be focused on the soul issue and not as much about the action. When our heart understand the vastness of Christ’s love that is undeserved we WANT to spend ourselves for him. Teach this over and again.

Ridding ourselves of what we are “owed” is a process, for adults and students. I think the first step is to stop complaining and to actually address it.

- Leneita


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As part of all the Spooky Awesome fun, we also got in touch with our prankster side! However, we learned we are not the best scare-ers out there.

Watch the worst scare video ever below!!


Thanks for being Spooky Awesome Youth Workers!

- Amber / @youthministry

A diverse group of young adults on a white background

I’ve been watching, and admiring, the success of The Youth Cartel’s YMCP (Youth Ministry Coaching Program) from a distance for quite some time. And having talked to some men and women who have been part of it, I’m convinced it’s worth every penny of investment.

So I was super excited when Marko asked me and my great friend Katie Edwards if we would consider leading the first-ever YMCP dedicated specifically to middle school ministry!

YMCP, in case you don’t know, is a whole-life personal and leadership development program for youth workers. You’ll find a safe group of peers who listen and speak into your life, as well as training and personal application from the lead coach. it’s full of variety and customization. Most cohorts meet six times, for two days each time, with online interaction and coaching phone calls in-between meetings. And while this is the “skeleton” of the program, each cohort takes on a unique flavor based on the participants, the coaches, and the focus. In the middle school cohort, we will obviously focus on middle school ministry but will also talk about leadership, life, longevity in youth ministry and so much more. And….we will have a TON of fun (because that’s kinda how me and Katie roll)!

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; rookie or veteran; full or part time; man or woman; baptist or pentecostal…if you are called to this crazy thing called middle school ministry, this is the Cohort for you!

Here are some basic details:

Middle School Ministry cohort
Location: Orange County, CA
Launch date: Hopefully February 2015
Coach: Kurt Johnston and Katie Edwards (two coaches for the price of one!, plus Marko and April Diaz will lead sessions at some meetings)
Approach: full ‘open’ cohort (anyone can be in it), with 6 meetings of 2 days each (every other month)
Price: $3000
(We are currently accepting applications for this cohort. Contact Katie Edwards at, or April Diaz at

Sound interesting? We’d love to have you join us!

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Andy Stanley recently said something to the effect of, “The church should be the safest place to talk about anything.” I’m no Andy Stanley, but the other day while talking to one of our interns I said something that I thought was equally brilliant: “Always make extending the conversation one of your goals.”. Now, if you combine these two thoughts, you have a golden nugget of wisdom for youth workers!

“Church should be the safest place to talk about anything, and once a student opens up about something, don’t shut them down with easy answers or judgmental proclamations…instead, extend the conversation!”

Some related questions for you to ponder (and feel free to answer in comments if you’d like!):

- If students think there are taboo questions or topics at church, where will they go to talk about those things?
- Do you trust the input they will get from the other sources concerning those questions?
- How much pressure do you feel to always have an easy, confident, answer for every topic a student raises?
- Many questions deal with doubt…can helping students embrace doubt be a good thing?
- Where does that pressure come from: Self-imposed? Parents? Your church culture?
- Why is the art of “extending the conversation” so vital for youth workers?
- when scripture doesn’t speak clearly or directly about a topic, how do you address it with students?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being best) how “safe” a place is your youth group for students to ask honest questions and express
doubts and struggles?


It seems like I’m in a bit of a learning season…or perhaps a relearning season.

- Learning that clear is always better than cute. A few times recently in my never-ending desire to be clever, cute and creative in my lesson writing or other areas of communication I’ve been embarrassingly un-clear. As a result, things that should have been very simple turned out overly complex.

- Learning that knowing people’s love languages, and acting on them, truly makes a difference in relationships. I’ve specifically targeted my teenage son in this area and as a result our relationship is stronger than ever.

- Learning that social media can turn conversations, news items etc. into “run away trains” in a matter of hours! Whether it’s the Mark Driscoll scenario, the current fiasco the NFL finds itself in regarding violence, our awareness of ISIS or a seemingly benign post or comment on facebook, our 24 hour social media addiction is radically affecting how news spreads, public opinion is formed and policies implemented. For better and for worse.

- Learning that it’s always better to utilize volunteers in areas of their passions and giftedness rather than in areas of our need.

- Learning that I’m not as good a surfer as I once was….and paddling out in big surf (which there has been a ton of lately) is a lot tougher on me, mentally and physically than it once was.

- Learning that there are lots and lots and lots of ways to do youth ministry and that just because somebody says “this won’t work anymore” or “this is where things are headed” or “this is the best way to do it”….doesn’t make it true.

- Learning that I’m more in love with youth ministry than ever before!