(Here’s the 2nd installment from Brent Lacy from his new book, Rural Youth Ministry. Enjoy! – Stephanie)

Article 2) The Value of your Community in Rural Youth Ministry

You won’t be very long in your new place of Rural Youth Ministry before you hear some form of the following statement – “you’re just a transplant; what do you know?” How do you react to such a statement? You may be a seasoned youth worker of many years, but that fact might not be worth much more than rat poop to many in your community,  or even your church!  You’ll gain a lot more buy-in when you have a plan that focuses on preparing for the challenges of your transition.

  • Attitude is everything-Your initial attitude can make or break your time in a rural ministry. In some denominations, you have no say where you go; it’s what you signed on for when you accepted the Call in that denomination. Your assignment there isn’t the fault of the congregation or community members who are a part of your new rural environment.
  • Rural will almost never be the city, deal with it. If you’re coming into a rural setting after serving or living in an urban or suburban community, please realize that rural ministry is not the city, nor will not ever become the city (in 99.99999 of situations), so don’t try to make it the city. The same utilities, stores, restaurants, attitudes, or leadership that you had in the larger population may not be available in your new setting. It doesn’t make your new community a bad place, just different.
  • The Lie of “Blank Slate.” In most rural areas, you’re not the first person to do youth ministry in your community. You may be the first paid youth worker in your church history (which I am), but not the first youth worker ever.  Don’t buy into the well-intentioned lie of “you have a blank slate here.” Someone has done youth ministry that has impacted your church’s perspective toward youth ministry. This can be either very good or very bad.

If you are ministering in your hometown…Perhaps you’re a youth worker living and serving in your hometown. Maybe you never left—or you moved away and came back to serve in a church where
you grew up. Once I interviewed for a position in the church I attended growing up and it
was the hardest interview of my life! It wasn’t the questions that made it so tough. No, the
biggest hurdle was the internal mind game I played of “the people in this room have known me since I was in diapers, and they want to hire me?”  There are good situations that can come from serving in your home church. You have an edge: an understanding of the history of the area and church that other “outsider” youth workers don’t have.

Great News!

 —  January 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

FROM SIMPLY YOUTH MINISTRY: BIG NEWS!! Youth Ministry Architects (YMA) will be at SYMC this year! Jason Ostrander wrote a little something: “This year at SYMC we are pleased to announce that Youth Ministry Architects will be on hand to assist youth workers with all of their student ministry consulting needs.  We have partnered with them –because they want to partner with you!  Look for their booth, and sign up for a personal consultation.  See you in Indy!”

Since I am teaching at SYMC (Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches) and am Lead Consultant for YMA (and Director of Small Church Ministry Architects – SCMA), I love seeing these worlds collide! One of  the SCMA Specialists, Duane Smith, will be a part of the YMA Consulting Team and waiting to chat with you. Hey, I’m always open for a cup of coffee as well.




(Dear Small Church Friends, I am SO pumped to bring you this 3-part series from Brent Lacy, a rural youth ministry guy. He recently published his first book, Rural Youth Ministry through Group’s new line, Everyday Youth Ministry. I asked him to write this series because I know that many of you serve in rural settings and so I thought he could serve you best in this area. Enjoy! – Stephanierural church)

Article 1) The Challenges of Rural Youth Ministry 

Youth Worker: Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to impact a generation of forgotten students. Many come from low socio-economic status in dysfunctional families facing problems like drugs, cohabitation, divorce, alcohol and domestic abuse. These students are scattered in remote parts of your ministry area, often in hard-to-reach places like farms and small towns. This message will not self-destruct. This is your calling. Welcome to Rural Youth Ministry.

What does the school district look like?
The rural school district is a remarkable beast. You often see two types of school districts. First you see districts that were created by consolidating multiple smaller districts. Then you have districts that were created because the existing districts were too far apart. Either way, you are left with this reality: You may have a lot of driving ahead of you! My county in Western Indiana has a population density of about 39 people per square mile. Within that total population, about 1,150 seventh- to 12th-grade students are enrolled in three school districts (not including home-school students). That makes just over 2.6 teenagers per square mile. That means I do a lot of driving to connect with students and parents.

Who are the subcultures?
It is also very important to identify any subcultures that may exist. Unlike workers in many urban or suburban settings, you probably don’t have the same level of ethnic diversity in your community. You have the opportunity to study your main subcultures with greater depth. This will allow you to minister more relevantly and connect more effectively with individuals and families.

Where I live, a major subculture is the Old Order Amish. In 1990, a group of Old Order Amish from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, made the decision to relocate to Parke County, Indiana. They sold their land in Pennsylvania for top dollar and were able to buy farmland in Indiana at much cheaper prices and in larger quantities. They have a totally different culture that segregates them from “the English”. Our community of believers try to take advantage of every opportunity we get to share the love of Christ with their community.

Brent Lacy serves as Youth Pastor in rural Western Indiana. He has served in rural youth ministry for 13 years. His first book, “Everyday Youth Ministry: Rural Youth Ministry: Thrive Where You’re Planted” is now available from Group/Simply Youth Ministry and on the Amazon Kindle Store. You can check out his blog at http://ministryplace.net

“And the time came for her to be delivered, and she gave birth to her first-born son, wrapped him swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger – because there was no room for them in the inn.”

What will your youth ministry give birth to this coming year? I’m thinking that, by now, you’re 1) taking a little breather from a hectic church schedule and 2) considering what you want to change/add/delete in your youth ministry come January. If that’s so, you’re right on track with the rest of us.

Here’s a few questions I’d like you to noodle on in that spaghetti bowl of multiple thoughts for the future:

“No room in the inn” – What do you need to “close the door on” in your ministry?

“No room in the inn” – What habits send the message to your family that there’s no room for them in your schedule? What can you do about that in 2013?

“No room in the inn” – When students come for the first time to your youth group, what message do they get: “The door is always open!” or “Really, there’s no room for you here”? What 5 steps can you take to maximize one and minimize the other?

“No room in the inn” – What rooms in the “home of you” have you shut God out?

I’ll be thinking about this, too.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!


Magi Lesson

 —  December 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

Here’s a lesson for you to use for teaching from Matthew 2 about the Magi.


(My grandson, who is 5, calls them the 3 Henchmen. I need to review the details with his parents!)

Thanks to Mark DeVries for this lesson from his Spice Rack downloadable curriculum at ymarchitects.com


You’re welcome!



(This is a list from the blog of Rick Eimers at http://teenbuilding.wordpress.com. It speaks for itself and was exactly what I’d been looking for. Thanks, Rick, for being a pastor to this CT youth pastor and for allowing youth pastors everywhere to know exactly how to pray. It could have been us.)

December 19, 2012 by eimrickconnecticut_shooting

We are all still reeling from the school shooting that happened this past weekend.  This afternoon, I had the privilege of talking with a youth pastor from Newtown, CT.  He works with children and teenagers in his community just minutes from where the shooting happened.

There was a lot that he and I talked and prayed about.  Here are a few of the prayer requests that he said that I could feel free to share.

1.  For his personal healing.  Help him find joy in suffering.

2.  Many of the families in their church were friends or associates with victims families. 

3.  That God would use this tragedy for His Glory.  Provide a spiritual awakening in the town.

4.  The town is crawling with media and it’s proving difficult to try and live any semblance of normal living.

5.  The church wants to help and is trying to find their role in the healing process.

6.  There were kids from the youth group that had recently gone off to college that had known Adam Lanza.

7.  Healing for kids and teens who are trying to reconcile so much during this time.

8.  For Christmas joy.  Newtown is a town that always makes a big deal of Christmas and many people have taken down decorations because of the guilt they feel for celebrating.

9.  How to address the youth group kids in the coming days, weeks, months.

10. Wisdom for the youth ministry network of 8 guys in the area.

I’d encourage you to take a moment to pray for these 10 requests.  Feel free to post in the comment page any encouragement that you’d like to share with these guys.  I’ll be emailing him this post.

A Christmas Lesson

 —  December 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

shepherd-with-crookHey Small Church Ministry Friends! I know resource money is hard to come by for small church youth ministry budgets…so here’s a FREE lesson from Spice Rack, a great online curriculum by Mark DeVries. It’s based on Luke 2, from the angle of the Shepherds’ story. (You can find more downloadable lessons at http://ymarchitects.com)

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/VPc8yx



3 Broken Children

 —  December 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

baby Jesus12-14-12: What a horrific day.

The First Broken Child: All those innocent wee ones showed up to school like every other day. Excitement built as time passed closer to Christmas. Now? Presents will go unbought or unwrapped in many CT homes. Hearts are breaking;  eyes are crying. It makes no sense.

The Second Broken Child: A young man named Adam heads to his mother’s work. Excitement built as time passed closer to fulfilling the deadly thoughts taking over his mind. Now? His life is over or had it really ever begun? Hearts are breaking;  eyes are crying. It makes no sense.

The Third Broken Child: A god, The God, heads to earth to fulfill the rescue set before him. Excitement builds over 33 years till the moment of complete brokenness on a cross. Now? His earthly life was over so our lives could begin beyond this horrific day. Hearts are breaking;  eyes are crying…but at least He has made some sense of it all.