I put something together on the subject of genuine leadership versus self-martyrdom this week. Take a look at it when you have a moment.

Ironically, I came across a further thought on it this week through an unexpected source.

I’ve been working my way through the TV show L O S T again through Netflix. (Yeah, I know – it will still end the same.)

Back in an episode called “The Whole Truth” when Ben Linus was still going by the name Henry Gale, Jack checked in on him during his time in the hatch. (And yeah, I know – I lost you… no pun intended… if you’ve never seen the show). Jack asked him about a book he was reading called The Brothers Karamazov, which is a classic Dostoevsky novel about redemption.

lostJACK: (referring to the book) How is it?

HENRY/BEN: (quoting) “Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.”

JACK: (pauses and ponders)

HENRY/BEN: So what’s the difference between a martyr and a prophet?

JACK: Either way, it sounds like you end up dead.

HENRY/BEN: (intrigued) That’s the spirit.

It’s an intriguing quote that is highlighted in this scene. It shows up right in the middle of a tension within the plot when everyone is holding back on sharing the whole truth and no one seems to know who can be trusted.

Does that sound familiar?

“Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.”

I saw this play out in the life of a friend who as a pastor couldn’t deal with the ways the “sheep” kept biting him as a “shepherd.” He endured it for years, until finally retiring. Only then, ironically during his send-off party, did some of his worst critics take the time to honor him.

People do not often want to hear the real truth. The only exception I’ve found is when there is a relationship involved, and even then we will struggle with filling the gaps between us. Andy Stanley has effectively pointed out you only have two options to fill that gap with – trust or suspicion.

Can you relate to this?

Anything you’d like prayer for?

Any perspective this offers you or that you want to share so we can help each other to keep serving?


Just finished reading Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley – easily one of the best books for church leaders of this generation. I loved the candid discussions about the history of North Point Ministries and then a full disclosure about the how and why they do what they do at their church. It was incredible getting an inside look into their values, the vagueness of leadership and blessing that God has given to that church. Couple things really stood out to me:

  • A couple times I immediately bristled at what he wrote – then Andy promptly called me out for it in the next sentence. Loved it.
  • They don’t have it all figured out, which is true of everyone but refreshing to hear!
  • As a leader, Andy constantly stands in the tension of going where the Bible goes and stopping where it doesn’t. Not afraid to tell the truth, not afraid to back away from things we have turned into “truth”
  • The church being a movement … that is an exciting way to see it. Not a building, not people, but a movement.

The books feels like another important book for the church to process as we unapologetically seek and to save the lost. I want to create the type of church!


Got a great question from a fellow youth worker this week about topics we cover every year in our youth ministry. It was a quick answer for me – and I’ll share those below – but would LOVE for you to share in the comments what you teach on each year as well:

Each year, I try to start the school year with a 1-off message or short series about your purpose in life, the purposes for the church and our new identity in Christ. Every year it is framed differently and people might not even recognize it is intentionally the same message every student needs to hear again and again.

This is the easiest one on the list – simply because this is by far the biggest felt need of students so we for sure cover it every year. It is the most widely promoted, best attended series of the year. Last year’s version was called Facebook Official and was really great.

Apologetic Series
This is a more recent addition to our “teach on every year” list but it has become more and more important to see that students are challenged to build a stronger foundation for their faith. The past few years we’ve brought in a special guest speaker who specializes in this (maybe you could find a local Bible college professor or something) to help you bring the heat that series.

Life/Teachings of Jesus
Every year I want us to do a clear Life of Christ series. Maybe 3-4 weeks on the teachings, miracles, statements, sermons, parables – something that centers on Jesus alone.

I think those are the big ones – oh, one last thing – I would have added that we do a Christmas series every year … but this year, we’re trying something new and doing a series called InstaLife in December then joining up with families/parents the week of Christmas. Hope it goes well!


From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about teaching/discipling checkpoints in their youth ministry. Weigh in!

I have encountered over the short time I’ve been in ministry a host of students that either have gotten a dose of poor theology or have many many questions that if they are believers (which most say they are) they should have a solid grasp of…I’m not sure how you do it, nor do I think there is a cookie cutter way to do it, but I’m seeking advice on how to build our Jr. High ministry from the ground up… I am wondering if maybe I should come up with 6-7…10 things that every student must know before high school? Maybe the concepts and some insights from the book of John, and James…answer critical questions like…

  • What is salvation?
  • How are we saved?
  • Who is God?
  • What is the church?
  • What is sin?

What would you say? Weigh in!


Football is a tough and often thankless business. Successful teams get the most out of their players and the moment they can no longer “get anything” out of them, the right move is to part ways. It stinks. It’s not fair. But, it’s the right thing to do for the best of a team.

In the past two weeks I have seen several of my favorite players cut from their teams. My Steelers cut their all-time leading receiver, Hines Ward. He caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than any other Steelers’ in history. But, he’s at the end of his career and his numbers have dropped off dramatically and the Steelers need salary cap room. Aaron Smith, regarded as the best 3-4 defensive end in Steeler history (and one of the best in NFL history) has suffered season ending injuries the past 3 years and, because of that, the Steelers cut him last week to save money. And now, Peyton Manning … 4 time league MVP … Super Bowl champion … Super Bowl MVP … one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in the history of the NFL … gone from the Indianapolis Colts. It’s harsh. It’s cold. It’s reality.

What I’m learning from these types of decisions is this:

– Being the one who makes the tough decisions is a hard job.
If you care too much about being liked, you’ll never make those types of decisions. I’m trying to become that type of person. Sometimes I do well. Sometimes I don’t do so well. But, I strive to be that type of person.

- You can honor the past well … but when it’s time to move on be willing to move on. In the church setting, just because you move on from a “program” or an event (or get rid of the organ), it doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the past. It doesn’t mean you don’t honor those who have set the foundation for ministry happening today. It doesn’t mean you are arrogant and only think of what you want. It means you’re evaluating what you’re doing and making decisions on what works and what doesn’t work anymore. The goal is to reach people for Jesus. If something you do (a program or event) doesn’t DO that any longer … it’s time to part ways and move on and stop wasting time, energy, and finances on something that no longer produces results.

- Emotions factor into all of this. I’m about as sentimental as they come. It’s hard for me to not do something because of all the great memories it’s brought about. The reason “fans” have trouble with teams letting go of long time players is because they are “fanatics.” Fans are irrational and that’s the beauty of being a fan. But, a leader needs to be fanatical about the ultimate goal, whatever that may be. In the church, it’s helping people come to know Jesus and see them thriving in a life with Him.

– If you’re on the way out, go out with honor and class.
Each of the three players I mentioned handled themselves with such dignity and respect. They burned no bridges. They were humble and grateful.

I heard Andy Stanley talk about this one time and he described a program, ministry, or event that no longer works as the “old, ugly couch in your parents living room.” When it was purchased in 1965 it was in style. It was fashionable. People enjoyed it. But, 50 years later, if that couch is still in the living room … well … it’s a bit out of style, to say the least. Truth and purpose remain the same. Methods can change and should.

I’m certainly no expert in any of this, but am striving to learn from these types of situations.

Rich Yauger is a youth pastor who blogs at The Yaug Blog. Be sure to check it out!

Weekend Teaching Series: 3D (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Your present appetites and desires if left unchecked can rob future desires and dreams.
Service Length: 77 minutes
Bible: Genesis 25

Understandable Message: The message this weekend was from the story of Jacob and Esau, where Jacob’s appetites were out of control and cost him his birthright. I heard a message from Andy Stanley from the Passion 2011 Conference and Justin Grunewald from Northpoint’s More series this Fall that heavily influenced this message – too many teenagers give up their future because of desires and appetites of the present. Lots of possible applications to cheating, purity, etc.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The program was simple this week – most of the element of fun came within the message itself. We had students in tons of places serving, and the greeting team was in full force and excited, too.

Music Playlist: Your Love Never Fails [Jesus Culture], Cannons [Phil Wickham], Blessed Be Your Name [Matt Redman], From the Inside Out, Communion Medley – Nails in Your Hands, Here I Am to Worship, Infinite

Favorite Moment: We very rarely do communion at this level program, but it fit really well with the message and made the series finale feel extra special. At the 6:30pm Saturday service, we also had a prayer commissioning for our Kenya team, 30 students and leaders that will be traveling overseas next week.

Up Next: “Q” with Sean McDowell (series premiere, week 1 of 3)

Merry Christmas!

 —  December 25, 2010 — 1 Comment

From everyone here at MoreThanDodgeball.com … wait a minute, it is just me here … either way, here’s hoping you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!


(love the iPad/iPod/iPhone music video from North Point)

Last week we met as a junior high team and finished mapping out the Fall Semester. We planned the talks and creative elements for every Sunday and Wednesday of the Fall Semester. Many people think that this is an easy task and it truly isn’t. Why not? Well because it started off with us going around and critiquing each other in ministry, and the ministry as a whole. This was hard but so healthy to do. Many organizations shy away from this because their pride will not allow them to do hear the things they need to change.
Then we went around and thought of ideas that we have to make things “better.”

As we were doing this the question kept coming up, why do we need to change it up, things seem to be working great?

Great question, in my opinion – here is why… we must be upgrading our system, if you do not upgrade your system then you will continue to be slow and in the past. This is so common in many ministries all over the world. They think that they can continue to use the same system for years.

Look at computers if they never upgraded then they would be so slow and old and no one could use them. TV’s now have to be upgraded or they will not pick up the digital signal. Look at Facebook, when it switched to the “new layout,” where all you saw at first was the status update page and everyone was all this is not good, bring back the old facebook layout…. Then all of a sudden, BOOOM! Everyone loves it and is updating their status like crazy. Sometimes change hurts and is confusing and people don’t like it! But in reality, change is good, it is really really good. What is in your ministry that needs to be reevaluated, what do you need to upgrade.

Here is a great quote from Andy Stanley – “If you were to walk out of your organization and come back in, what would you change?”

Michael Head is the junior high pastor at Second Baptist Church Houston. You can follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/mycoolhead, and his blog at www.michaelhead.org