An older picture of our family, but still a favorite.


We were both in “ministry” when we got married, and well, God decided to give us a family right away. Within 3 years of saying “I DO,” we were caring for 3 kiddos. So here we were, staying in ministry outside the home, while at the same time attempting to be a good steward of what God had blessed us with.

From the start our intentions were always to have family practices that were “ours” but, it was easy to allow those to be pushed aside when “life” took over.

  Instead of  “investing” in  our kids, we were dragging them with us.

As a couple we had to sit down and come up with a plan so that our children would always know that no other youth were ever more important. There are everyday practices and traditions that needed to be put into place (and quickly) for our kids.

What did we do?

Learned our kids:

 Purposeful time set aside for each child is important. How this looks is also unique for each child. We need to begin by learning who our kids are, what they enjoy and how they like to be with us. One of mine wants to sit and talk about life, while another wants to be “doing” something. Take the time to meet them for who they are.

 “Sacred” Family Time Once A Week:

This is an evening or a day when phones are off, and put away. One weekend evening is pizza and a movie night. Once a month, on Saturday, we do a “paid” outing.  This is the zoo or a museum or something fun (that costs money). Every year we go apple picking. The point is that the “rest of the world” is shut out and your purpose is just to spend time together.

At least ONE meal a day together.

Honestly, this can be the hardest one to stick to.  However, the importance of a time where you are all sitting together as a family once a day is vital. It might need to be breakfast, it could be an afternoon snack. We have a “no electronics” and no answering the ringing phone rule during this time.

Open lines of communication:

Deuteronomy 6 tells us to be talking about the Lord and his Word to our kids all the time. Have deep conversations every moment they present themselves: in the car, as they get ready for school, making dinner… you get the point. Start this young, and when adolescence hits, talking as a family is already a habit.

Start young and keep it up.

I used to think that there “would come a day when my kids would be too old for…”  Now that my children are either in or on the cusp of the teen years, we see they need and want us more than ever. They still want John and I individually to “put them to bed.” It no longer entails rocking them to sleep,  or a night time story. However, they treasure that few moments each day they get us to themselves. We pray and chat. Often this is the time we get the most information from them about their true feelings in life.

Vacations and Holidays:

This has been said by everyone, but I just have to. Taking an extended time with my family once a year is essential. It’s when we remember we like each other.  It doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive. Just take time. During holidays when ministry seems to want all of our time, we find something that is “ours.” We have a red-velvet cake on Christmas day for Jesus.

The list could go on and on. Pick some things that work for your family and stick to them.  They may need to change from time to time. You will need to readjust as your kids hit different ages and seasons in life. Just remember to not let your ministry outside of the home overtake the one that inside it.

What are your family traditions? Share them in the comments below!

- Leneita


Everyone is ramped up for school to be back in, rhythms to be brought back…and to implement all that we have planned.  We have new volunteers, new roles for veteran volunteers and we’ve cast out new vision.

All that makes it really easy to forget these things:

  1. The head of your ministry is Jesus. We can’t fall into having a Messiah complex where we think everything falls on us.  We have a role – and it’s important – but we are not the answer.  Jesus is.
  2. Your ministry is a part of something bigger – a church or campus ministry.  We must be aligned with the bigger picture and create windows of connection into that.
  3. People just want to feel like they belong.  Whatever age of people you are focused on, the bottom line is they are looking to belong.  And here’s the thing: belonging doesn’t come through programs or events or good sermon messages.  Belonging only comes through relationships.
  4. Ministry is and should be simple.  I have a friend and in many ways a mentor that often says, “only people count.”  He is right and we cannot forget that.  And, we must realize that “people counting” is different than us counting people.

question markI’ve worked with 18-25 years olds for over a dozen years now and one of the realities I’ve had to work through is the fact of having to walk alongside parents, too.  This can often be a time of deep relational tension and much of that comes from the hopes, dreams and expectations of parents not being met.  Their child might not be moving in the direction they think is best or had hoped for.  Or maybe their child isn’t moving in any direction at all.

In my book, Worlds Apart: Understanding the Mindset and Values of 18-25 year olds, I list out the 4 following questions that I have asked parents to consider asking themselves.  Maybe you would consider them too:

  1. What do I value about my child?
  2. Do I allow my child’s life and results to reflect on me so much that they dictate my relationship with and my counsel to my child?
  3. Do I really value my child for who he or she is today, regardless of what he or she does or becomes?
  4. Do I place a higher value on what I personally want for my child than I do what he or she wants?

If you are trying to deepen your relationship with your college age child, answer these questions honestly.  If you do, you just might find you and your child’s worlds coming together in ways you have always hoped for.

Screen shot 2013-07-11 at 1.06.48 PMI don’t know about you, but I have a fairly tough time “shutting off my brain” at any point of the day or evening.  And technology does NOT help this.  You’re probably no different.  So, I have recently been making some changes with my daily rhythms and use of technology that has helped me actually pay attention to the people sitting directly in front of me.  I thought I would throw them out in hopes they might be a benefit to you as well. Here they are:

  1. Drive home.  When I drive home from “work” I have decided to do a few things.  First, I don’t have the radio on.  This allows me to breathe a bit and process through my day.  Secondly, I turn my phone off.  This allows me to unwind a bit before I get home.  Lastly, I get to my neighborhood about 5-10 minutes before I’m supposed to be home, park under a tree and sit there.  I pray.  I process.  I unwind.  This allows me to really be at home when I get there.
  2. Cell phone.  I recently changed my voicemail to say that I check messages every Friday.  This gives me time and space to respond to people as time allows rather than stressfully trying to get back to everyone.  I spend Friday mornings getting back to messages.
  3. Kids.  I have made a decision to not check my cell phone until my kids go to bed.  There are a few exceptions to this rule, like if we are waiting for someone to get back to us as a family or if we are having someone over for dinner than they are running late (or things like that).  When I walk in the door my ringer is off.  I then set my phone down on our kitchen island, face down, and pick it up later.  I’m not perfect at this, but it something I’m trying to do…and when I do, I tend to mentally be with my kids when I’m physically with them.
  4. Meetings.  I’ve now made it a rule that when I’m meeting with someone my cell phone goes off.  No buzz.  Ringer is off and I don’t answer it.  If there is an urgent call I’m waiting for I let the person I’m meeting with know that that call may come in before it does.  I also have a little deal with my wife.  She can call me at any time.  If I don’t pick up, I’m in a meeting.  But if she REALLY needs to talk to me she immediately calls back.  At that point I will tell the person I’m meeting with about my deal with my wife and they tend to understand.

The bottom line to all this is I’m trying to actually pay attention to the people who are directly in front of me.  I know, amazing concept.

So, I’ve been hearing about different strategies to help new students get “plugged in” to youth group. I remember talking about that at the last church I worked at. So I anticipated it… worrying about plugging them in. But strangely enough our youth group didn’t have any problems with it. It just sorta happened. I was pleasantly perplexed, but when I thought about it more… it just made a whole lot of sense. The two things I think contributed to the easy transition were these…

Teach the Gospel every week. Being exclusive is a result of your students feeling in their hearts a need to exclude. To make themselves feel more important, to feel safe. Teach them the gospel week in and week out. How through Christ their needs for love and inclusion are completely filled. It takes their focus off themselves and turns them outward towards others. It works… the students around here are not perfect (I tell them almost every week they are a bunch of rag-tag sinners), but they are more outwardly focused. Not because of guilt, but because they know they are loved. If you remember high school at all that should blow your mind. High School is the most self-centered time of your life. Solution… teach them the Gospel over and over again.
Have older students help out in the children’s classrooms. For years we’ve had a program called Kids Helping Kids. I grew up knowing the older students because they were my old sunday school teachers. Relationships were already formed. So a new 6th grader coming into youth group already knows the older students! A few weeks ago a seventh grader expressed this during a sharing time. Basically he said… I was excited and felt comfortable coming to youth group because I already knew people liked me and wanted me there. Do I need to say more? I think not.
Teach students the Gospel and have older students help in the children’s classes. It makes the whole “promotion” thing into something very natural and easy.
David Misson is the Youth Pastor at Peninsula Bible Church in Willow Glen CA. You can follow him on Twitter: @davidmisson

First let me say that everything Google does for my Android phone is amazing. I mostly use an iPhone but on long trips I switch over to my Droid X because Google Nav is amazing (even better than my Garmin GPS). Google Voice is great for 3 main reasons; Free 2nd phone number, Free voicemail that gets transcribed (typed out for you), and Free text messaging…a 4th reason could be the perfect integration with the phone (which IS available for iPhone), it really is a great app. There are other great Google apps but I want to share my top 14 non-Google apps.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…In No Specific Order (all from the app store from my phone)

Top 14 Favorite Non-Google Android Apps…

Astrid - To do list with timers
Seesmic – Twitter
Youversion – Bible
Advanced Task Manager – Stop apps one at a time or all at once
Evernote – Remember Everything
Glympse – I can send an email link to let someone follow me via gps
Remote for iTunes – Remote for iTunes
Fake Call – Set a time for your phone to ring, looks like real call
Ringdroid – Create ringtones
TED – Video workshops from leading leaders
Shopsavvy – Best bar code reader/price checker
SportsTap – Great sports score app (better than Google’s)
Monkey Kick Off – Dumb game…I play it for hours
Toddler Lock – Keeps the kids occupied at crucial moments