FearThe one thing we all fear is not the devil. It’s change.Throughout history change has never been easy. The Pharisee’s didn’t hate Jesus because He was doing good things.They hated him because of the fact that He came to change things.They were so set in their ways of thinking that they missed the Messiah even though they knew He was coming the way that He did.The pain endured during the civil rights movement was all about certain people fearing change.

I remember when Blockbuster was the largest video rental store in America doing around 6 billion in sales year.Then came Netflix who said “Subscribe to us and don’t leave your home. We’ll send your movie rental to you.” Well, in the beginning Blockbuster could of taken Netflix out by turning millions of their customers into subscribers. But no, blockbuster who was comfortable with their 6 billion cushion, thought Netflix was a fad, and that they would eventually go away. Well, they were definitely wrong, and in 2010 Blockbuster was 900 million dollars in debt and had to file chapter 11 (bankruptcy).

We as human beings don’t like change. I would even go as far as to say we as the church don’t like it either. And if we are not careful we could end up like the Pharisees’ missing out on a great opportunity in advancing God’s kingdom…all because we allow change to scare us instead of motive us. We let our comfort with the way things are dictate how we react to change.

We have to understand change happens all the time. The world we live in now is completely different then the world our parents grew up in. My kids will grow up in a world different then the one I grew up in. Change is inevitable.

I love how Jesus adapted to change in His ministry. He used relevance to be relatable. He related to people where they were. He never told people you must conform to me first, then I will do for you or give to you. He just meets people where they are, and you never see them go back to the way they were before. I have to assume based on Jesus’s ministry 2000 years ago here on earth, that if He would have lived today, His messages would reflect the things of today. I have to assume that His parables could include the iPhone, TV’s, Ford Fusion hybrid, and yes, even Chick-fil-a. Jesus’s ministry was relevant.

Also, many times Jesus did things before He was supposed to. That’s why you see Him many times telling people not to say anything. He knew it wasn’t His time yet. So I can just imagine Jesus saying two things to us that He modeled, “Let’s stay relevant so people will have a interest in listening to us and let’s not fear doing things differently just because tradition says you can’t.” It seems like change gave Jesus a creative license to reach everyone. Now, Jesus didn’t change His message. He just changed the presentation so that He could reach everyone.

We must do the same. We must be willing to change with the times. I was listening to the radio and heard this song from the 90′s and they mentioned Myspace. (HA!) If you mentioned Myspace today, kids would laugh at you or look at you as if you are crazy, because times have changed. Myspace is no longer a cultural norm.

My prayer is that we don’t become like the Pharisees when it comes to change. Where we become so comfortable with the way we do things that we see change as a threat. And we do whatever it takes to stay the way we are, even at the cost of reaching more for Christ. I also pray we don’t become like Blockbuster doing ministry with our heads underground not paying attention to growing trends and innovation, thinking the way we’ve done things for 50 years is the way we can do things forever.

So the question is “Does change move you towards fear or innovation?”

hope it helps


article.2013.05.07The quarterback takes the ball, and hands it to the running back. The running back forgot the play for a second, maybe the quarterback goofed and was a split-second late either way there’s a problem with the exchange and before you know it the ball squirts from his hands on to the AstroTurf. FUMBLE!

Something went wrong and the end of the play usually leaves everybody wondering what it was and how to make sure it never happens again.

The children’s ministry is doing their own thing. The college ministry is on their own page, too. Big church is doing something completely different. Oh boy. Here come the kids there go the seniors. How can we be better at the crucial handoffs between our ministries? Is it possible not to fumble this important part of youth ministry?

That’s what we’re going after this week: lots of practical stuff coming tomorrow, but today let’s focus on the big picture.

1) The handoff is critically important.
Often times students leave in the transition. In junior high they were forced to come to church with the family. In high school they have some options. In college the have total freedom. In each life stage the handoff is a vulnerable time to lose students as they move from one ministry to another.

2) It is difficult to move from a ministry you love to the unknown.
Students who LOVE their junior high ministry might be intimidated by the bearded upperclassmen in the high school ministry, or maybe a young adult is so comfortable with the college ministry they have a hard time moving up to big church because it is largely unknown to them.

3) Change is challenging.
Even people who thrive on change feel the intimidation of it they just have a different response to it from there. Feel the pain of change, even if you love and trust the leaders in the ministry a student is heading to next!

  • Some things for you to journal about today:
  • What was your experience in the youth ministry handoff as a young person in the church?
  • Think of some people by name who have transitioned well, and some people who didn’t make it to the next level.
  • Describe the perfect spiritual life development plan from birth to big church.
  • Answer the question when is the best time to transition students up in your ministry?
  • What can I do today to make the handoff better for those entering my ministry and for those graduating?
  • Take some time to figure out where you’re at right now. Pray about where you believe God wants you to go!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter.Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Learning should not stop the day your ministry begins. Becoming an effective leader requires you to be stretched by shortcomings in order to become the best leader you can possibly be. Lifelong learners become stretched by shortcomings when they become aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves up to correction.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings
It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. That happens when you become comfortable with a certain way of living. Whether your shortcoming is that you jokingly make fun of people or that you are always late, you have first got to recognize the shortcoming so you can get on the right track.

Conscience effort
After recognizing your shortcoming you’ve got to put forth a constant conscience effort into making a change. If you are constantly conscience, you are able to catch yourself before falling. You will catch yourself and be back on the right track. Accountability is very helpful as well in staying on track.

Open to correction
All of us can use a little correction now and then. Opening yourself to correction allows you to grow in ways unimaginable. People who are open to correction are teachable; they are the lifelong learners who are stretched by their shortcomings. Put aside your pride, you do not always know what’s best. Be ready to listen the next time someone corrects you.

Though you may fail at a particular task, it is important you get back up and try again. Lifelong learners are aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves to correction. With a desire, you too, can become a lifelong learner stretched by your shortcomings.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

What in the world am I doing here? I fumbled my way through the Sunday morning lesson while 50 teens chatted and ignored me completely. I couldn’t do this. Why would God put me here where I was obviously not wanted?

Three years after we left volunteer youth ministry, God called us back in. This time as the leaders.

Our church had been without a lead pastor for around six months, and now their beloved youth pastor was moving on. They needed someone to keep the youth ministry going until pastors could be hired. For some crazy reason, God called my husband and me.

It was one of the hardest, sweetest, trying, and tearful 14 months of my life. It was wonderful.

The world of youth ministry was not foreign to us, but the world of leading one was. Without the proper training, our education came from the trenches. Here’s a little of what we discovered:

Own your ministry.

When we came in, we miserably attempted to recreate all the activities that everyone was so fond of. Every single one of them bombed. After about two months we realized that we had to be who we were. Things went much more smoothly after that.

God will provide.

I was convinced that God had closed that door forever on working with teens, and being back was not really where my heart was. I asked God to give me a love for these students because I simply didn’t have it in me. He was faithful to pour that into me, so much so that as the weight of it came over me, I second guessed that desire!

Establish healthy boundaries.

It didn’t take long for ministry to take over many areas of our lives, blurring some of our boundaries and creating a mess. My husband and I had to learn to respect each other and our differences. We established stronger time boundaries which also helped us in our personal lives.

Youth ministry is hard.

Yes, you know that. But seriously, volunteer sponsors really have no idea! We spent hours and hours helping, working, and serving in youth ministry, but still had no idea how much harder it is to be the guy in charge! It’s extraordinarily hard. And every youth pastor/director should be given something really awesome, like ice cream.

Simple can be good.

With our lack of proper training, an existing full time job, and not as many volunteers as we would like (can I hear an amen?) our students had to fill in the gaps. The amazing thing about this was that they did. And they were awesome! They learned and grew right alongside us. They got to experience the difficulties and take ownership of their ministry.

The biggest thing I learned was that God is in control and working bigger and better things than I can ever imagine.

I am just thankful he let me have a part in it.

Melissa Duggan  just wrapped up a year of working as the Interim Youth Director at her church and is now (again) happily being the support guy in student ministry.

Change is something that we all long for but not many of us choose to do what it takes to see it happen. We continue to live comfortable even if it means we are miserable rather than shake things up a bit and live the life God intended for us to live, a life full of abundance! John 10:10 mentions both of these kinds of lives, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Decide: What are you taking back?
First, you need to decide what are you taking back from the thief? Has he stolen your joy, your intimacy with the Creator of the universe, your drive? You may have never gotten a chance to see what he stole from you or maybe you use to thrive in what he has stolen; whatever it is that he has, it is time to decide it is yours and you want it back!

Take action
Now that you’ve decided what you are taking back, it is time to take action. To take action, you need to have a plan. To go without a plan, is like shooting without aiming; yeah, you took a shot but you missed too. Figure out what you need to do to take it back and write down the steps you’ve got to take to get there. Look back at them from time to time as a reminder and to track progress. Just remember, the little steps are just as important as the big ones.

Show yourself grace
When you decide to make a change in your life, you will make mistakes. Remember to show yourself grace and forgive yourself for the small and not so small mistakes. The more understanding and forgiving you are of your downfalls, the more you learn from them and the quicker you progress.

Go you! For deciding to take back your life.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

14 days until New Years Eve, Seven days until Christmas and 3 more until the end of the world (At least that’s what the Mayans say).  In the next several weeks a lot will be happening and that’s because everyone is in a season of transition.  During these times it’s so easy for a youth ministry to get derailed because seasons of change are messy, fast moving and crazy.

Especially during this time of year, nothing is of the usual. All of your students are away from school, some go away on vacation, while others are in the midst of midterms. Nothing is normal during a season of change.  But, when the dust settles, it’s important to keep moving as if nothing changed.  You need to keep the momentum of your ministry going.  If not, it’ll be a long winter and rough spring.  So, how does one make the transition from one season to the next?

Embrace God’s Grace: Do what you physically can do and allow God to do the rest.  It’s easy during season of change to overextend yourself.  Unfortunately, if you are depleted of all energy, there is no way to move forward without feeling burned out.  Make sure you schedule in time to sit with God, even if it’s just five minutes a day.  It’s essential that it’s scheduled in.

Pass On Future Tasks: During times of transition it’s easy to get focused on the now and forget what’s coming up.  Before you get in the midst of the chaos pass off future responsibilities to volunteers or coworkers.  Doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as stapling paper, just get it off your plate so that you can do what only you can do.  When the chaos settles down you can walk into the next because everything has been prepped.

Write Down Goals: Make a check-list of tasks that need to be done.  When you get moving it’s easy to overlook simple tasks and responsibilities.  Each day check that list several times and use it as a way of measuring your progress.  Celebrate each time you eliminate an item and then move forward.

Sleep, Rest and Sleep: As hard as it might seem try to get as much sleep and rest as possible.  During times of high stress it’s tempting to resort to staying up late, eating, and other bad habits that will slow you down.  You need to maintain your energy; therefore, with the free time you do have, take it to refuel and refresh.

Transitions and seasons of change can be difficult; however, with a healthy pace and focus you’ll make it through.  Build a system, don’t be afraid to rely on others and above all else know that God is walking with you.

How do you move through seasons of transition and chaos?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



I recall the first time we moved into an inner city neighborhood.   We laid in bed the first night listening to gun-fire for almost an hour.  In my half- asleep stupor I rolled over and said to my husband,  “What have we done?”

It had seemed like such an amazing and “noble” idea at the time.  Move onto the street with the families we “served.”  Instead of telling everyone how the “hood” should change,  why not live there and be a light in the midst of it?  It took less than 24 hours for reality to hit.

We all carry stereotypes and we didn’t even realize that our neighbors had certain pre-conceived thoughts about us.   Within 20 minutes of arrival someone had asked us for money.   The “Christian Folk, “ are supposed to give it all away.   Within a week a policeman pulled me over and asked if I was “lost?”  The color of my skin apparently did not fit “this place” in his eyes.  (This has since happened many times.)  No one told us  before we came that drug dealers lived next door.  In our mind it would all work out like a “feel- good” movie.  Within two hours we would swoop in,  everyone would “accept” Jesus,  and all would be transformed.  Instead we learned that seeing the effects of  generational poverty undone was a snail pace process.  Some days (many days) it felt like there was no movement in a forward direction at all.  Still the Lord seemed to have us there for a purpose and a plan, and he used us in spite of ourselves.

Several months ago the Lord made it clear that we were to move ministries, lives, and “hoods.”  We were FINALLY starting to see some progress where we were,  why would he  shift us?  Honestly,  there was little that I looked forward to in starting over.  My neighbors were sad to see us go,  as was the ministry and our friends.  I think I cried the first 6 hours of the 23 hour trip.  I knew this was what the Lord wanted,  but I thought that meant it would be much more effortless than this.

As we pulled the moving truck in front of our home this past Sunday,   I watched as those on the new street held their breath in our arrival.  Once again our faces, and the color of our skin appear to “not belong.”   As if to put an exclamation point on the situation as we were carrying in our couch a gentleman down the street screamed out,  “WELCOME TO THE HOOD!”   Reading between the lines we knew he was saying, “Do you know where you have moved? ”  The guys across the street pulled speakers onto the porch and began to blare Little Wayne in all his expletive glory to see our reaction.   The woman to our right sat on the porch and would not look us in the eye.   Once again I wondered,  “What have we done?”


Then something interesting began to happen.


Two little boys showed up from two doors down and insisted on helping us move in.  Later in the evening we stood outside and met their Mom.  While they did ask for money for the ice-cream truck,   they just want to be around us already.   Mom found out about our ministry and has them signed up for the fall.

The family next door turns out to be a Mom and Dad, with three kids, our own children’s ages.   Apparently up until about 6 months ago our house held the local dealer.  They were wondering why they were there.  They started to hope and pray a family with a 13 year old, girl who happened to be a sweet, bookworm would move next door. Hmmm?  We just so happen to have one of those.

Midnight the first night in there was a knock on the door.    Someone was coming around looking for a little “something” from the previous tenant.   After they took off we stuck our heads out the door to see who they could have been.  Miss Flo three doors down informed us that she told the bleep- bleep – bleep to take off.  We just moved in.  We are good people.  She wanted us to know that she has our back.  “That’s what neighbors do around here.”

I know you are looking to hear  it’s “that easy.”  We move in.   It all is different now.  TADA the problems of the inner city are gone!  There is no neat way to wrap it up with a bow like that.   Urban ministry doesn’t seem to work that way.  However,  I do believe that there was a shift and a groan  in “the world” as Christ pushed forward when we came here.  It will take years for transformation to be apparent to our sight and touch.  What has changed is that I KNOW that Jesus wants all around us to belong to him.  I AM CERTAIN that while I may not know the results I can trust his plan.   We start by simply getting to know our neighbors.   Those around us are watching and wondering who we are.  Another neighbor has already admitted that they were pondering why we would want to be the “only white people” around.   Already though the kids on the block are knocking to see if my children will come out to “play.”

In case you have never noticed,  ministry is really hard work.  We are clinging to Christ as our official “first day” hasn’t even begun.  All we have done so far is reside.   I guess maybe that is the point isn’t it?  Being about the business of the Lord has little to do with a building,  programming,  or hours kept.  Instead it is about showing up,  and remembering that Jesus was already there first.   We carry around the Holy Spirit with us as we “go,”  and wherever we wander,  those are the ones that need to see his reflection behind our eyes.   I know that when we got here we changed the face of this place, literally, figuratively and spiritually.   We are here for such a time as this as they say….  As a friend of mine says so eloquently there is a reason why the windshield is larger than the rear-view mirror… May we ever be focused forward….

Do you find that your Youth Group has fallen into a routine that isn’t bad; but its just okay? Maybe that it is too predictable and students aren’t paying attention as well? Or maybe you have taught the message at every single youth group for the past 3 years?

As you brainstorm what to change, your creativity dries up. You can’t seem to find ways to change things up to create a new and exciting youth group. Here are 3 ideas to help change it up:

Change the Speaker: Guest Posting on blogs has taken over the blogging community the past few years. In fact, I am guest posting right now. But what about if you “Guest Posted” in real life? Talk to another youth pastor in your area and ask if they would be interested in speaking to your youth group. Or even better, give one of your volunteers the opportunity to speak. I can ensure you that from a students viewpoint; we always pay alot more attention to a new speaker.

Change the Setting: Have you ever considered changing the place where you do Youth Group? If you are near the beach, what about if you did youth group at the beach? Or what about if you had youth group in your church’s main sanctuary? Changing the setting might have a bigger impact than you might think.

Change the Structure: Maybe your youth group has become such a formula that is isn’t reaching its full potential. What if you changed things up and did worship music for the whole night or your message was filmed ahead of time and played during youth group? It would be a big risk; but big risks yield the biggest rewards.

Chase Miller is a High School student from Orange County, CA. He loves to surf, Tweets occasionally and would love to Guest Post on your blog, too!