I love Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I usually find myself on each one of them at some point nearly every day. There’s something great about reading about our friend’s lives 1000′s of miles away or chucking at someone’s pithy observation about life. But what if our Tweets were real?

  • My senior pastor is a jerk sometimes. I want to punch him in the face
  • I’ve been married 10 years, and still don’t have sex figured out
  • I’m pretty sure my whole youth group is filled with “that one kid”
  • The last time I read the Bible was in late 2012
  • I want to quit I want to quit I want to quit
  • Things aren’t good deep inside me, but the outside is as shiny as ever
  • If I could figure out where to dispose the body, I’d take out that parent

Don’t Tweet these! We need to continue to post those stunning sunsets, epic CS Lewis quotes and pictures of our no foam latte. I would die if my real life made it was genuinely Tweeted for the world to see, or pictures of my inner world made it online. But you need to be sharing it somewhere.

You need to have someone who knows the real you, not the brand, image or “always on” youth worker. You need to be able to confess, share, process and pray through the stuff you would never Tweet.

Simple question to kick off the week: is someone reading your real Tweets?



Weekend Teaching Series: Instalife (week 2 of 2)
Service Length:
75 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we wrapped up the incredible Instalife series. I Tweeted the other day about how much I had loves this series – for sure it was the most well-received series of the year. Didn’t mean it was soft or light, but the framework of Instagram really helped make it very relevant to their lives. This week we went after pretending and showing off on Instagram, and how pretty soon we start to get great at covering up. I walked students through some principles from Colossians 3 to help students deal with this destructive mindset. Really, really enjoyed this service.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a couple of great Christmas videos I can’t wait to show you. One was the classic “That’s Christmas” and a new video called A Very Colton and Travis Christmas special. We also played Who Wants to Be a Fraction of a Millionaire (Instagram edition). Lots of students involved, lots of laughs.

Music Playlist: He is Alive, Christ in Me, Mary Did You Know, We Are Saved, O Holy Night

Favorite Moment: At the end of the talk I decided to do an extended object lesson on stage where we built the “perfect Instagram” on stage, then deconstructed it to help teach the lesson. One of my favorites, such a powerful image that our students/leaders pulled off to help strengthen the lesson.

Up next: Christmas Services (all-church, 1-off)

Doing Youth Ministry Well

Josh Griffin —  December 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

I liked reading Justin’s post 5 Things You Need to Know in Doing Youth Ministry Well - thought it was some good stuff for you all to check out today. He’s got 5 good insights there, here are a couple to get you started before you run over to his site for the rest:

Be all in- Go all in. Get involved. Break the awkwardness of you being one of the only adults in the room. You know, the students know it, just jump in and break that awkward wall down. Greet them, get involved in the games, the worship, the message. They are watching you whether they know you or not and will determine if you are the real deal or not within two seconds. Is it going to be weird? Probably at first, but once they see you go all in, they will be right behind you.

Be real- Students are the best B.S. detectors I know. They can easily sniff out someone who is not genuine from the start. Don’t try to be the “cool” person because they are not interested. What I have found in doing ministry is that student respond best to any adult leader when they are open, honest, and real. You will not have every kid there liking you, but there is at least one kid that needs to hear your story and how you handled it that will help shape their spiritual life. Students will come to you once they know you are a “real” person.


Meeting with my one of my volunteers recently we talked about her small group, how it was going, how she was engaging with them and she confessed that she felt she was just not a good small group leader. I was astonished; she is a gifted, Jesus-loving, hard-working leader who has been one of our core team members for years. I needed to know why she was feeling this way and for how long… and I quickly discovered that one of the biggest reasons for feeling this way was me.

After years of listening to my sermons, retreats, and anecdotal accounts of my life she felt that; for lack of a better word, she was boring. That was hard to hear, that because of the person that I put myself out to be and all the stories that have I shared from the front she would feel that her life could not measure up and therefore her small group girls could never be satisfied with her. The reality is that I am a pretty boring guy – after all I am a frequent attender of estate auctions, I re-purpose antiques in my garage, sell things I make online, and golf. All of these things are pretty dull to the average teenager. But have I painted a misleading portrait of who I am and what I do, and have made myself out to be a caricature of an actual person? Am I even real to them?

This is a struggle that most pastors (especially youth pastors) have. We end up sharing lots of the crazy stories that have happened to us, including the ones many of us go out of our way to make happen because they might make great illustrations. (One time I drove 5 minutes past my exit of the freeway following a pick up truck full of loaves of bread because I was hoping some would fly out and hit my car – and sure enough three loaves did.) But I really enjoy spending time with students, especially my small group, one-on-one because if anything they get to see that I am a pretty normal guy. The ones that don’t know the real me look at my twitter and Facebook, and it’s one event or conference after another, one more “adventure” that I am on. This highlight reel is not in any way, shape, or form an accurate portrait of my life.

Then what do we do? I would suggest that you do what I try and do and remind people that you are normal, that you watch TV with your wife and cats, that you sometimes clean your garage on Friday nights, I don’t read my Bible all day either and that that’s okay. Remind your leaders that students desire for them to be real, not a superhero leader whose life is not attainable; to be a leader who is authentic, who struggles with things, who loves Jesus, and shows the ins and outs of their relationship with Him. Remind them that their story is God’s story working itself out through them and therefore is valuable and meaningful. Take every opportunity to be real with them and remember to do life with your team as well as your students.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

Sometimes little things get in the way of noticing the big things.

Often times I will notice a student’s behavior that’s a little out of whack. Maybe they’re not acting the way they normally do, or they are in a constant state of acting out (also known as being a 7th grader). While that can be extremely frustrating at times, especially if it affects the rest of the group, we have to remember that the behavior is usually indicative of a bigger problem. For example, you may have experienced sleeping problems at some time in your life. While there are definitely some things that ONLY affect sleep, usually sleep problems are a symptom of stress or another issue. You can treat your insomnia with sleeping pills, which might fix the problem for now, but it’s just a temporary fix to a long-term problem.

We don’t want to treat the symptom, we want to treat the problem. The same thing applies in youth ministry. When I see a student not acting himself, I know that there is probably something bigger happening in his life at that moment. Maybe the behavior change is masking the problem, and many times the student doesn’t even know he’s doing it. I have a student that would become the disruptive class clown any time another student in the group would start talking about home issues. It suddenly dawned on me that it was his way of changing the subject because he didn’t want to talk about home issues or dad issues because it brought negative feelings about the subject. When I talked to him, he didn’t even realize he was doing this, but we were able to address the underlying issue.

On the opposite side of the coin, there are times when I’ve noticed a typically happy, upbeat student acting a little off, not as happy as he normally is, or just generally not himself. When I ask him about it during small group, he can shrug it off as just “being tired” or “nothing’s wrong.” Even though he’s not admitting to it, there’s definitely something going on. Don’t be afraid to push a little more and dig a little deeper. Sometimes students need the extra push to get things going, and once they do, it starts a pain chain. Once the floodgates are open, feelings just start pouring out.

Don’t get frustrated when you see a behavior issue. Instead, ask God to help you recognize what the underlying problem may be. It might not be the best time to address it during your small group, but don’t let that behavior excuse the student from talking about what’s really going on. Pursue it, don’t excuse it.

Matt Reynolds and Steven Orel are volunteer youth workers at Saddleback Church. They approach youth ministry from two different generations and perspectives. Look for lots more from them in the future — for now you can follow them on Twitter and check out their previous blog posts here.

This past Saturday I spoke my last message to the students in our youth ministry. At the end of the month, I’ll be leaving my current position as a youth associate to take my first official youth pastor position at a church plant.

As I reflect on my last 9 years of youth ministry, I started asking myself, “What were the most important lessons I have learned about youth ministry?” I’ve found that one of the most important lessons we can learn is learning how to earn influence with students so we can make a lasting impact in their lives.

So how do we do this?

You Earn Influencing by Caring – John Maxwell has taught us all, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That’s a fact. Students know whether or not we genuinely care through our words, eye contact, and the time we spend with them. Be intentional when it comes to caring for your students. Encourage them, pray for them, be there when they need you, and point them to Jesus every chance you get.

You Earn Influence Through Creating Memories - Every time I am with students, I ask the question, “What could we do right now that would create a memory that we will never forget?” The more memories you make, the more influence you’ll have!

You Earn Influence Through Leading by Example – It’s true that students will do what you do, not what you say. You can preach the greatest sermon ever, but if your life doesn’t back it up, you will not earn any influence with students. If you teach it, make sure you are living it.

You Earn Influence by Being Vulnerable – I’m extremely vulnerable with our students. I am myself around them, I share my weaknesses, and I share my hurts with them. I remember asking some of our core students this summer if my vulnerability made my influence with them more credible or less credible. Without hesitation, they all said, “more credible.” Be vulnerable. Be Real. Be You.

I have learned and I believe that if we’ll do these 4 things consistently with our students and continue our most important job, pointing them to Jesus, we will make a lasting impact in our student’s lives.

Bubba is the founder of OnlyGod.us! He lives for God, is in love with his wife, loves to workout using P90X and Insanity, runs marathons, blogs at BubbaSmith.net, works at a sweet church and has a passion for helping people live their lives on purpose and grow to their maximum potential.