The Scene: Working on the laptop at McDonald’s. A table full of pre-teen guys are trying to eat. The oldest (perhaps a freshman among them) is acting like a social rooster, pecking down the awkwardness of the younger guys, strutting for the girls sitting nearby, nudging the smallest one of out of the booth with his rear end… over and over.

I’ve been praying for several minutes about the best way to respond.

And then…

the others all suddenly had to leave. They hopped on bikes and peddled out. He looked like he was waiting for a ride – it was just him and I. I didn’t move toward him, but stood up while holding my drink and spoke.

Me: (slurp) “So, are you the oldest?”

Him: (a bit startled that I’m talking to him) “Huh? Oh, yeah.” (he smiles… like a security blanket… I’m “bigger than he is.”)

Me: “They look up to you, you know.”

Him: (he pauses, as if to realize it) “Oh, yeah. I guess.”

Me: (a half-step slower this time) “They look up to you.”

Him: (he catches my eye) “Yeah.”

Me: “Use that wisely.”

Him: (another pause) “Yeah…” (another pause) “…yeah.”

I go to get a refill, and return. A couple minutes later he heads out to catch his ride.

As he passes, he says, “Hey, see ya!”


Changing the world? Speaking Life into life? Serving students?

Maybe it happens just like this.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5)

Really enjoyed this simple author video from Leneita Fix and her new book No Teenager Left Behind. Definitely the first time a video like this has moved me to thinking about something important. Nice work!


You know these daily deals go fast – last month’s big sale sold out in 4 hours! Get in on this one quick if you’re interested. A solid resource to put in the hands of your volunteers or small group leaders to equip them to handle the tough stuff students throw their way. Half price today only!


Want to get your youth ministry book published? Big news this week from Simply Youth Ministry’s new project: Everyday Youth Ministry. Get all of the details in the video above or by clicking here. Here’s a clip to get you started, too. Gonna be fun to see what comes out of this!

1. Find your STS.
Everything depends on what you have to say—find your “Something to Say.”

• Assess the reason you want to write—We think the only legitimate reason to write in the ministry world is to “give from your good treasure.”

• Everyone has “good treasure.”

• Corrollary: If you have something to give to other youth pastors, but you don’t, you’re a hoarder.

2. Never forget that writing is hard work. No writer worth his or her salt thinks writing comes “naturally.” Writers are both craftsmen and artists. They put more stock in determination than in flair. There’s nothing especially romantic about writing…to a good writer.

The key is this: Write to express, not to impress. When you use big, showy words to try to capture respect from your readers, you simply telegraph that you’re stuffy and full of yourself.

• Corrollary #1—Get to the point right away. Most people aren’t patient enough to wait around for your message.

• Corrollary #2—Use concrete words and descriptions instead of abstract terms. Don’t write, “Our new outreach event was a spectacular success.” Write instead, “Our new outreach event attracted 15 unchurched kids to our regular meeting.”

• Corrollary #3—Great writing gets out of the way of great ideas. That means your writing serves the ideas you’re offering, not the other way around.

Darren Sutton is a youth worker and more recently a published author under Simply Youth Ministry’s Everyday Youth Ministry brand. He’ll be at this year’s Simply Youth Ministry Conference and blogs all of the time at

1) tell us about the story behind your new book, Two Sides: Finding What Fits in Your Youth Ministry!
Youth ministry is rarely cut & dried. Don’t get me wrong, there are some definite rights and wrongs in working with students – but most of it isn’t. So I asked some of my veteran youth ministry buddies to weigh in with their takes on those ‘gray areas’. No right or wrong answers – just personal philosophies accompanied with some direction that might help youth workers find their own place to land of some issues that might not have such a clear-cut answer.

2) what was the process like getting published for the first time?
In all honesty, it wasn’t the grueling, heartless prospect I had heard it could be. It took a little longer than expected to get the project off the ground – but the actual process was relatively painless. I submitted a couple of different ideas to the publishing team – they landed on this one pretty quickly and I began to assemble a stellar group of amazing, experienced youth workers to do the heavy lifting of writing down those philosophies we’ve always debated over Starbucks and Sack Chairs.

3) any great stories that didn’t make the cut in the book?
The best stories are in the book! But we did have a few gray areas that will have to remain in the gray, at least for now, because we just didn’t have enough pages to cover them all!

4) prove that you’re human. Give us a classic failure story!
Wow. Where to start? I’ve always been a pretty black and white kind of guy – so if you had told me ten years ago I’d be writing a book an ‘gray areas’ of youth ministry – I probably would have laughed in your face. I’ve always held some pretty serious philosophy on student ministry – but as I read through the segments my friends wrote, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me question some of my well-thought-out ministry plans. One of my biggest failures (which I have worked hard to correct) has been thinking I know it all and my way is always right!! There’s so much veteran-wisdom in this book – my friends have honored and humbled me by agreeing to be part of the project!

5) what would you tell other youth workers hoping to get published?
Publishing isn’t about the author – it’s about the message. Never confuse the two.

Get his new book in eFormat or print-on-demand right here!