“Nothing happens until something moves.” Albert Einstein

Conferences are always mountaintop experiences.  Training, sessions, tracks for days…then the real work begins when you return home. Here a few things you can do to make your ministry move:

Do something new.  Do something you have never tried before.  Totally new.  Try something you believe will fail or seems non-relevant.  Who knows?  It might just work.

Do something different.  Make little changes. Normally break small groups into gender? Try it by grades, school, favorite subject, etc.  Write your message in your office?  Try a local coffee shop, at home, in your car, or at the mall. Present your message via video (edited/non-edited) or Skype in from a different location at the church or a local school.  Always have on-stage games? Try a group game.  Fully reliant on technology during your service?  Try a service that doesn’t use any computers, projectors, screens, or microphones.

Do something else.  This is a “totally different.”  Normally have small groups?  Do away with them for one month and replace it with baking cookies for the church nursery.  Maybe this is something you have done before and shelved it for some reason or another.  I always hold meetings somewhere else other than my office, but this week I asked everyone to come to my office.  This decision reaped huge dividends.  It was different, and shook the conversation up.

Nothing happens until something (or someone) moves, so go do something!

What can you do this week to make your youth ministry move?

Andrew Brashaw is a youth pastor of 8+ years in New Lothrop, MI.  He doesn’t blog or own an iPhone, but he does Twitter once a month @andrewbrashaw.

Have you ever walked into a place where you did not know anyone? Do you remember what you were thinking? Just imagine this story:

The day before Wednesday night, you were invited by a friend at school to come to church. Your friend even gave you an invite card with a cool design on it. Even though you aren’t a “church person” you decide to give it a try. Your Dad begrudgingly decided to take you but made a few comments on the drive. He said, “you know son, churches are all messed up, that is why I don’t go. I think it is good you are going but son, don’t get your hopes up, most of the those people are hypocrites anyway.” As he gets out of the vehicle, he quickly notices the buzz of people whizzing by. He sees people smiling. He watches adult leaders giving high-five’s and fist bumps. He is unsure. He thinks, “Is this church filled with uncaring people? What will happen when I walk in? Is my friend inside? I wonder where I will sit? I don’t have a Bible, I sure hope nobody calls on me to read or pray.” He decides to go for it. He walks in the door as an adult leader welcomes him with the love of Christ. He begins to wonder, “Will I belong here? Will I find people who truly care about my life?”

You see, this is a powerful moment. We must always think like this student. If we become too focused upon the status quo of the ministry, we can easily miss the people who walk in each week who need the love of Christ.
The key to building an environment of acceptance is by meeting people at their point of need. Each student who walks in the doors of the church is loved by God. Every student matters to Him so much that the heartbeat of the ministry should be to meet them with the unconditional love of Christ.

Here are a few steps we take on welcoming students:

First impressions. In the first 30 seconds of the student arriving, the goal is for a student to have some type of interaction. Any type of welcome (fist bump, high-five, kind word and smile) is huge to ease the pressure when each person enters.


Intentional Conversations. Some students do not have quality conversations. The intermittent attention spans of students are a result of our media saturated culture. We should make it a priority to have face-to-face conversations with students in our ministries. One of the goals should be for each leader to have 2-3 quality conversations with students each time. Whether it is a few minutes or if a student is pouring their heart out, the importance of an encouraging conversation is the key to building an environment of acceptance.

No One is Isolated. Look out for students who tend to isolate themselves and try to sit by themselves. Lead students and volunteers to always be looking for opportunities to build relationships with other students, especially those who are new.

Greeting team: We include a grade per month to come early and help the adult greeters welcome students. They help pass out information and encourage people as they enter. Each student has a name tag with “greeter” on the lanyard as well as adult volunteers.


New students: They will receive a Source tube filled with random candy as a gift as they arrive. Inside of the tube also has a wooden coin. The coin has our logo and it is a $1 token towards the café.

Once a student has visited, I send out our first time guest postcard with a personal note thanking them for being our guest and some encouragement. On the postcard there is a note for them to bring back to receive a free Source Student Ministry t-shirt!

What tips do you have on welcoming students? Add to the conversation below in the comments!

Josh Robinson is a the Pastor to Students at Church @ The Springs, a husband and a father. Check out his blog at joshrobinson.cc or follow him on Twitter: @josh_robinson

We all are called to a mission greater than ourselves. “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) Our love should reach out to our neighbors and in turn, reach the world. But how do we get this message out to our kids? We can start by being an example, and then bring awareness of their neighbors to them and make a difference.

Be the example
Kids and even people in general, learn the most when watching. Show them what a true neighbor looks like. A neighbor includes: family, friends, those placed in authority, and even enemies. As an example, we should go out and choose to love our neighbors regardless of how they choose to treat us. When our neighbor gives us a dirty look, look back with loving eyes. When the elderly man who is constantly grumpy and speaks negatively towards you drops his cane, pick it up for him. By planting seeds of love in your neighbor’s heart, you are planting seeds of love in the hearts of the kids you minister to.

Bringing awareness
What is going on with your neighbor? Are they in pain? Are they in a time of need? Have they just made a big accomplishment in their life and want someone to celebrate with? You can make your kids aware of their neighbors by involving them. When your neighbor is in pain, have the kids make a card for them and take a small group of kids to their house to pray over them. When your neighbor is in a time of need, have your kids host a fundraiser for them if funds or needed or grab a group of kids to clean your neighbor’s home if they are depressed and their home is a mess. When your neighbor needs someone to celebrate with, involve the kids in planning a surprise party for them.

Make a difference
As you involve the kids and bring awareness to them, their creative juices start flowing and their desire to love their neighbors will significantly increase! Looking for ways to reach out to their neighbors will become natural to them and they will make a difference in their communities and have the means to change the world!

Get out into your community with the kids God has placed under you and show them what it truly means to love your neighbor. Lives will be changed and hearts will be filled with the love of God because you chose to make a difference!

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

Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

When I was in Bible College we took a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a backpacking trip. There were 27 of us in total: 20 students, 4 teachers, and 3 guides. Our goal was to backpack from one side of a mountain pass to the other in 3 days. Before we set out from basecamp we took a vote to choose two students from our group and make them trip leaders. The role of the trip leader was to join the guides in learning navigation and group leading skills. The ‘trip leaders’ were also in charge of choosing when to stop for the night and when to take meals etc. I was selected along with a girl named Courtney. We were chosen because each of us had experience from spending time in the outdoors and we knew how to read maps and use a compass. Off we went for three days; everything went great until the end of the second day when we decided to push forward so we could have a more relaxing third day. A problem arose as we headed towards our last camp we pushed the team too far. We didn’t listen to the fact that everyone was too tired and didn’t want to press on. In the end we had a group of tired and grumpy people; tears were shed, words exchanged and people were just downright miserable.

Fast-forward two years, and I am leading a trip of 16 teens as a guide. We have been pushing forward for a couple days straight and have to choose where to make camp for the night. I turn to my friend and co-guide and we start to decide whether we should push it or just take it easy for the end of the day. Suddenly I stop; it hits me that this could be a complete do-over of my Bible School trip. So I turn to the campers and ask them for their opinion, they leave it up to us guides but I can tell by their reaction that we should take it easy and stop short.

Making the decision to stop was one of the best decisions I could have made on that trip, and to be honest I almost didn’t make the right decision. But I took hold of a lesson I had learned in the past and put it into practice.

There are a number of instances in the Bible where we see God, teaching leaders to become learners. We can see examples in the life of Moses and the life and teachings of Jesus.

Moses was stubborn; God gave him numerous chances to really rely on Him; and Moses pushed back against God over and over. In the end it was his refusal to open his eyes to what God was showing him that prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land. On the flip side we see Jesus; fully God and fully man; even went through a period of growing in wisdom (Luke 2:52). We also learn from the parable of Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27) that God will give us a little bit to start and if we are faithful and learn from that, we will be blessed with more.

What are some ways that you are learning?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

Just yesterday, I took a US Government test and made a 60. Good news is though, the instructor told me what I missed, I got to go back and study and I was able to retake the test and I bumped the grade up to an 88. If it were not for retakes and second chances on this test, I would not have done so well. If it were not for retakes and second chance in life, every one of us would be left beaten down and abandoned because we all make mistakes. We all fall short somewhere in our lives.

God forgives
No matter what we have done or how far gone from God we may be, He still loves us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This kind of love shows us that He has forgiven us from the beginning of our sin. He sent His son and washed our slate clean. He will not stop loving you when you abuse yourself or abuse others or even when you are angry with and protesting against Him; He is too wise and all-knowing to turn His back to you when you are down. When you are scared and all alone, He walks with you through the darkness. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is in love with you.

We should forgive
When I made a 60 on that test, the instructor could have said, “you should have studied harder.” or, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.” But she didn’t. She chose to show grace, forgiving my low score and allowing me to retake the test. In turn, I made a much better grade. Imagine if she would have forgiven my score again…and again. Imagine how much better I could have done, how much I would have grown in understanding. God says forgive 70 x 7 times. Matthew 18:22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” One of the reasons I believe He wants us to forgive others is because He knows how much we learn and grow from our mistakes when forgiven and are shown grace and redirection from each other. The temporary discomfort we get from forgiving another and giving them a second chance far outweighs the bitterness when we live in a work where cycle is never ending torture.

Thankfully we serve a God who is forgiving and loving, one who will continue to guide us in the direction we should go no matter how many times we turn around. This same God will guide you to a lifestyle of forgiveness and freedom. Just ask Him! And it won’t be long before you are the one giving second chances!

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

Sometimes it’s maddeningly difficult to discern where in the world God is taking you. Other times, it’s painfully clear to see where He’s leading. I’m stuck in a furious limbo between the two. So where does that leave me? or lead me rather?

This past September, I just finished out a summer internship with Saddleback Student Ministries worship (Cluster of Students). Before the fall semester started, I was asked by the worship pastor if I’d like to continue interning through the year. I decided to think and pray about it before giving an answer, and after a couple weeks of prayer and counsel I didn’t have total peace about continuing as an intern. As a result, I did what I thought was best for me.

I ignored the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Sure enough, I could feel fatigue setting in. I was spread thinner than a crepe (those really thin pancakes). Between all of the responsibilities that I had, I can’t believe I knew which day was which. It’s funny how tightly we hold onto our own plans. Let’s face it though, we all do it. God says “No,” and we say, “sweet, I was thinking yes too.” By the grace of God, He redeemed the next few months for His glory, like He always does. He also convicted me and the pastor that I was working with that God wanted me elsewhere. We communicated after heavy prayer, and we both heard the same thing. He knew that I couldn’t be a key contributor everywhere. He KNOWS what you need.

What an example of God’s conviction and His grace! I disobeyed; He redeemed it. Next time you find yourself at a crossroads, between decisions (Del Taco or Carl’s Jr?), here are a few things that you can do first to save yourself from your plans.

Ask Your Dad . . .  your heavenly one. Trust me, He has a better way. We don’t consult God because we want to include Him in OUR plans as if we have any idea what we’re doing. We invite God in because HE has a better plan than we do, and He wants to guide you for your benefit.

Address Your Sin . . . like I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be, well wanted. As soon as I found out that somebody wanted to work with me for the next year, I had an opportunity to fulfill that insecurity. Instead of listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I listened to that little voice that craves the approval of people. Sin has a habit of blinding you to the picture that God is painting. It’s a beautiful picture, it’s worth seeing.

Abide . . . in the vine. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the joy and peace of God. He has an abundance to give, and He wants you to overflow with it. Be in the word, be in fellowship, and be in REST. Practice sitting in your room or on a couch, and soaking in the Lord’s presence. No pretense, no rules. Just soak. Some hang time with your creator will make any decision sound much less daunting.

Chance Espinoza is a college student from Orange County that loves Jesus, music, and eating breakfast until he falls asleep. He has been serving in youth ministry for 7 years with a heavy heart for worship and creativity.

When God places you in a role of leadership, it is not to be taken lightly. He wants to live through you and wants to make a life changing impact in the lives you come in contact with. To do this, you have got to be willing to lead by example so they will have someone to imitate. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

Living in transparency
We all have short comings. It is important to allow others to see that in you. It is especially when you are in a role of leadership and all they ever see is the perfect side of you. I like to invite the children in my ministry into my world and allow them to live in my imperfect world if only for a moment. I show them it is okay to be imperfect and God can and will still use you anyway. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Love when it hurts
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God–for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) Love does not stop loving when it doesn’t feel good anymore. Love keeps on loving even when it hurts. It goes to enormous lengths to comfort, to guide, to protect and to lead. With God’s love, we can lead our youth to Jesus.

Speak life
Whether with your youth at church, at a concert or at home; you should watch the words you choose. Words have the power to either lift someone up or drag someone down. It is never okay to speak down on someone even if it is only meant for fun. We are raising up planet shakers and our words should reflect just that. Speak life into your youth group. Speak life to the kid who no one would give a second look. God has incredible plans for each of them. Speak life, see life.

Let’s take our leadership role seriously and choose to lead by example, allowing God to use us to positively impact the lives of the youth of tomorrow.

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

One of the books that I have been recommending a lot to students recently is “Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods” by… Rick Warren. In the book, Rick gives 12 different ways for us to dig into scripture. It is the perfect book for a student who wants to switch things up with their time in the Bible. The methods are:

1. Devotional- Meditate on a short piece of scripture and then find a personal life application for it.

2. Chapter Summary- Read a chapter of the Bible at least five times and then write down your thoughts about it.

3. Character Quality- Pick a character trait that you would like to have/grow in, then look at and study what the Bible says about it. Find out how you can apply that to your life!

4. Thematic- This is one of my favorites! Start by picking some theme of the Bible and write down a few questions you have about them and try to answer them by looking up the theme in various areas of the Bible.

5. Biographical- Choose a character from the Bible and read all that you can about them. Take notes about their traits and character and see how you can apply them to your own life.

6. Topical- Organize a list of scripture about a certain topic. Put it into an outline from that you’d be able to share with another person.

7. Word Study- Choose an important word from the Bible and see how it is used and how many times it comes up. Go and find out what the original meaning of the word is!

8. Book Background- With the use of Bible reference books, study the historical context of a book of the Bible to understand how the history affected the meaning.

9. Book Survey- Read an entire book of the Bible several times to get a good idea on what the book is about and then study the background of the book and take notes.

10. Chapter Analysis- Take a careful look at one particular chapter of the Bible. Take it apart word-by-word, verse-by-verse.

11. Book Synthesis- After you’ve used the Book Survey Method and the Chapter Analysis Method on every chapter of the book, summarize the contents and the main themes of a book.

12. Verse Analysis- Select a passage of Scripture and examine it in detail by asking questions, finding cross-references, and paraphrasing each verse. Record a possible application of each verse you study

I love this book because there is really something in here for everyone, no matter if they are in high school or seminary! Each method is unique in its approach and in its complexity. The methods are organized from simple to complex, so I usually advise that students start in the front and work their way back. So far, students have loved this book! It has helped many of them get out of their quiet time “slumps” because it shakes up the way that they have gotten used to looking at scripture. It is perfect for a student that is looking at taking their time in the Bible to the next level!

Some people that often hit “slumps” are college freshmen. This could be a really great gift for some of your recent graduates!

What is a resource that you have been giving your students recently?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.