signlanguageforJesusImagine being a non-deaf child in a deaf household.

Lori Koch posted this video to YouTube of her daughter Koda (who isn’t deaf) signing the lyrics to some popular songs of the season. Lori and her husband are both deaf, and yet they were able to enjoy the concert through the extra efforts of their daughter serving them. You can tell Koda’s quite the ham – check it out.

This video is obviously inspiring and easily creates all the right warm fuzzies.

There’s something deeper here, though.

  • What if Koda represents what it means for you to share Jesus?
  • What if Lori represents what it means for someone to “hear” the message because another person (who can actually hear) explained it to them?

Around 3:08 in the video, you’ll notice something different happens for a few moments. According to Lori:

“Yea…that one was a whoopsie…obviously [the video] was done by a deaf person.  Ha.  I edited those few HA HA HA moments to slow motion because I loved how she acted it out, but didn’t think it would skew the audio.  That’s the one and only thing I would change, but a little too late now. ;-)

This is a great example of how we all flub a bit sharing the message… and yet, “So what?” Do those few seconds matter? Or is the greater win that Koda rocked the rest of it?

This Christmas you’ll have the opportunity to just go through the motions like everyone else around you.

On the other hand…

You’ll also have the opportunity to put in just a little bit more effort (and enjoy doing it) so that someone you love gets to hear what you hear.

Go… tell it on the mountain.

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:17-18)

I just spent the last 20 minutes of my day watching this video.  And, I must say, I don’t regret it one bit.

I don’t think you will either.

What were your reactions to the video? Would love to hear your thoughts!



If anyone comes to mind when I hear the words “Motion Designer” it’s Barton Damer.  Not only are we facebook friends but I have meet him twice…I feel like we are on our way to being best friends.

If you have any interest in motion design you should click to his blog  If motion graphics are not your thing you should still take 2 minutes of your day to watch his 2011/2012 Motion Reel.  Thanks for creating great work Barton!

I recently contributed to the SLANT33 blog when they asked the question – How do you decide what to teach? I gave a wide variety of answers from where I find my inspiration, here is a selection of them, head there for the complete article on the subject:

Create a focus group and run your ideas by them. Every Tuesday during the school year at 4pm, you’ll find me in my office surrounded by a select group of high school student leaders who are my focus group. I run everything by them: rough drafts of sermons, object lessons, ideas, icebreakers, series ideas. They give invaluable insight into what they and their fellow students need to hear and how the message can best be shaped to meet them where they are living. And yes, they have veto power. It kills me when they use it, but I know it is for the greater good.

Be inspired by others. I love nothing more than devouring sermon and series ideas from other people! Youth pastors are creative, so if your idea well is running dry, find some people out there who are killing it. Stolen ideas I’ve had recently: a series on Facebook and a question/answer message where students text in questions to be answered live in the service.

Hit the majors. There are certain topics we are going to cover every year in our youth group. The majors for us would be things like friendship and purity. We make sure that specific perennial topics are being covered, though we might change the number of weeks or the voice speaking so it always feels fresh.

Excited to unpack these and much more at my NYWC seminars this weekend, too!


I heard recently that a scary 90% of people who get into ministry fail for one reason or another. And I’m not na

As we wrap up the first month of 2011, one truth that has changed my ministry is surrounded by the word… inspiration. One of the greatest gifts we can give our students as their Pastors is inspiration. Beyond the obvious of helping them encounter Jesus, and promoting growth in their journey towards Christ; our students must be inspired. At the heart of our ministries needs to be a Godly fuel to change the world. An inspiration for our students that pushes them to live their faith in a relative and relevant fashion. However, this comes only by seeing it modeled.

Through genuine inspiration we are able to empower our students to know they can change the world.

Barnabas is a Biblical example that transcends time. As the mentor to Paul, he understood Paul’s impact would extend further than his own. By living a life of inspiration he empowered Paul to take the message of Jesus to the world no matter the cost. Paul saw the life he wanted lived out through Barnabas. Can our students say the same about us?

We are compelled to ask “Is there anything in our life our students want to emulate?” For my life I know this is something I personally need to strengthen and it’s always been a battle. I haven’t conquered it, but this is something I am actively trying to put into place.

Through a mixture of God moments since the beginning of 2011, which included attending Passion Conference with our college age group, as well as reading Sun Stand Still by Stephen Furtick, my 2011 mission is simple: Inspire my students by proclaiming Jesus and not myself.

Since sharing this with others this New Year’s proclamation has spread to some of my friends. Our first stop is connecting with the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization that helps bring awareness and help to those being violently oppressed through the tragedy of global slavery and human trafficking.

Our group of seven is joining around the anthem of “There’s a Bigger Story”. Meaning simply there’s a bigger story to serving Jesus than just attending church and doing little. We are on a mission to inspire.

So join us in our mission of inspiration as we pray a God size prayer to raise $100,000 to help those stuck in the tragedy of sexual slavery. And by doing so, we will inspire a generation of students to change the world.

Jay Porter is the Student Life Pastor at Christ Central Alachua. Hit up his blog right here:

I’ve been thinking about the big question of “what does it mean to have a healthy youth ministry?” I recently finished reading a book by Kenda Creasy Dean entitledAlmost Christian: What The Faith Of Our Teenagers Is Telling The American Church“. In it Kenda describes the growing trend within the american teenage culture of being “spiritual” but not Christian. Teenagers today are focusing less on who God is and more on how connecting to a higher power makes them feel. Christian sociologists have used the phrase “Therapeutic Moral Deism” to define exactly how this paradigm plays out. I don’t have time to get into everything about Therapeutic Moral Deism, but you can learn more by reading this article by Christian Smith who wrote the book “Soul Searching”.

So how can we build a healthy youth ministry in the midst of our current teenage culture? What do we focus on as we build our youth programs? As I am sitting here in a cafe writing this, I’ve drawn two different strategies on some napkins concerning where we as youth workers can put our focus. The first is what I am calling a “God-Centered Youth Ministry”. Here’s the concept:

In a God-centered youth ministry all of our teaching/small groups/etc. focus in on “theology” which is the study of who God is. We focus on what the Bible says about God (what He is like, His characteristics, His plan, Salvation,etc.). From there we then move on to “anthropology” which is the study of human beings. Simply put, it means this:



So what is the other option? What is the opposite of a God-Centered youth ministry? Below is my doodle concept of a “People-Centered Youth Ministry”:

With a “People-Centered Youth Ministry” the focus in not on Jesus, but on the students. This kind of youth ministry will focus on particular types of teenage behaviors and how those students attempt to navigate the ideas of spirituality. Simply put, a “People-Centered Youth Ministry” looks like this:



The problem with the second model of youth ministry is that religion will never save anybody. In our world today there are tons of religions and I hear students (and adults) say all the time time that “as long as your are sincere about your faith it doesn’t matter what you believe.” However, no matter how sincere you are, you can still be sincerely wrong. Check out this event from the book of Exodus:

“When Joshua heard the boisterous noise of the people shouting below them, he exclaimed to Moses, “It sounds like war in the camp!” But Moses replied, “No, it’s not a shout of victory nor the wailing of defeat. I hear the sound of a celebration.” (Exodus 32:17-18 NLT)

Moses has just come down from Mount Sinai where He received the Ten Commandments from God. Suddenly he and Joshua hear the sound of the entire people of Israel celebrating together. They here a united people shouting and singing and worshiping. However, just a few verses before we here what God has to say about their worship:

“The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.'” Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” (Exodus 32:7-10 NLT)

Even though the people of Israel were being sincere, God told them that they were sincerely wrong! We have to be diligent in our effort to point the students in our ministry to Jesus and not to the world. We need to place our focus back on to the study of God and not on the study of ourselves. If we don’t, we can fall into the same trap that the Apostle Paul spoke of in the book of Romans:

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23 NLT)

Which model above can be seen in your own youth ministry? Which aspects of your current programs would you have to change in order to bring Jesus back to the center?

Rob Ham works on the WILDSIDE Jr. High Team @ Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and blogs at I (Heart) Youth Ministry.

life-planningAs 2009 approached, I was doing some major introspection and asking God some serious questions. God and I have had some serious dialogue. It feels like my life has been on this roller coaster ride and I want it to end. There were certain things in my life that I did not want to repeat, endure, or continue in 2009. I needed answers, direction, clarity, but most importantly wisdom. I felt like some of my personal goals, visions and aspirations were slipping into a faint distance. Before the holidays, I participated in a one day teaser for a process called Life Planning; it was exactly what I needed in the right moment. Now this was only a teaser, but it ignited my need to pursue several questions with the facilitator. It was the missing piece for me. I also found out Zarat Boyd, who is a good friend of mine, is the only black female certified as an advanced LifePlan facilitator. Pretty amazing, Zarat is an awesome leader, mother, and wife. She actually sat down with me and answered all of my questions about the Life Planning process and why, as a believer we should embark on the journey to see the pattern that God is weaving together in your life. I knew from talking with friend that I was not the only one at a crossroads in my life. Many of my friends felt like their personal visions and goals have been placed on pause or the back burner of their lives. I asked Zarat a few questions and hopefully they will be helpful to others considering LifePlanning or those like me who are searching for what’s next.

Tasha: What is Life Planning? Define the process

•Zarat: The LifePlan™ experience is a proven, spiritually and behaviorally sound process designed by Tom Paterson, a surrendered follower of Christ, and an internationally recognized strategist and business leader. The LifePlanning process helps you discover your unique design, clarify your life mission, and apply your discoveries to your personal, family, vocation, spiritual, and community life domains.

•LifePlan is capitalized for a reason. A LifePlan is God’s MasterPlan for our life. We discover and live out that unique plan for His purposes, not our own.

Tasha: What does the process involve?

•Zarat: Prayer, meditation on God’s word, full reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide, intimacy, stamina, openness, honesty, confidentiality, a safe environment, love, and surrender

•Guided by a professionally trained LifePlanner, the process involves a series of exercises and tools to gain perspective, acknowledge emerging truths, and accept personal responsibility.

•As a result of the charted pathway and a spiritually-guided 2-day process, you develop a custom tailored MasterPlan that defines your total life strategy. Leading toward your focused LifeMission, it includes detailed, measureable action plans to help you begin to fulfill this mission. All work is done on flip-chart paper in sequential order and later put into electronic form.

•I require a full two days, uninterrupted, for the 18-20 hour process as well as a minimum 3 month commitment to follow-up, coaching for accountability, encouragement, and continued development.

Tasha: What are some of the key modules of the process?

•Zarat: Key expectations

•Detailed evaluation & picture of your life right now

•A detailed timeline of key turning points of your entire life

•Talent matrix that highlights key attributes, heart concerns, and top gifts

•Assessments that highlight your drivers, comfort zones, and ways of organizing the world

•Learnings Matrix

•Significance based action plans

•LifeMentors & partners

Tasha: What are some key questions that LifePlanning addresses?

• Zarat: Who am I?

•What are my talents?

•How did I get to where I am right now?

•How does my past contribute to God’s plan for my future?

•What perspective have I gained?

•What is my significance?

•What is the current match with my success profile?

•What is my plan or action for each area of my life?

Books:Purpose Driven Life-Rick Warren, Pathway to Purpose, Katie Brazelton