Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1In this episode of Let’s Talk Youth Ministry, Kurt Johnston and I give four practical tips to the youth worker who may be feeling disgruntled towards leadership. This is a topic that will come up at some point in your time in ministry. Check it out!!

If you have any questions or topic suggestions send them to: Also, Subscribe


Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt

Three brand new things that I’m SUPER excited about!

Junior High Ministry Coaching Cohort!
I’m teaming up with my good friend and long-time (18 years) ministry partner, Katie Edwards, to lead a year-long coaching cohort designed specifically for men and women who focus on junior high ministry. You can read more about the program here (nothing specific about the JH cohort), or you can email Katie at


New Book: Reframing Jesus
While I’ve only written a few books specifically for teenagers, I find that they are typically my favorite. And Reframing Jesus may be the best one yet! Co-written with Rick Lawrence and illustrated awesomely by Jeff Storm, this little book will help teenagers look at Jesus Christ in a new way. I couldn’t be more excited about it!

New Small Group Video Curriculum: Reframing Jesus
Along the same theme as the book, this 4-week video curriculum will provide some fantastic discussions about Jesus Christ and challenge some assumptions many teenagers have concerning what following him is all about. Shot on location at the beach, in an arcade, at a restaurant and at a baseball field, the videos will set the stage for some great small group conversations.

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1In this episode I called on Kurt’s 25 years of youth ministry experience. Check it out!!!

Email any questions or topic suggestions to:

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Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt


my favorite part of being wrong is when I admit it out loud.

That may seem like the average person’s least favorite moment.

Let me explain why I feel the opposite about it.

When you’re wrong, there’s usually someone who is passionately trying to point it out to you. Perhaps they’re on a mission to highlight what is plain to them that you’ve somehow been blind to. They’re attempting to get you to be mature or responsible about something you may have been immature or shortsighted about.

This tends to amplify when they feel you wronged them.

On your end, it’s likely not easy to admit that you missed something or made another person feel awkward. This is why when you actually do own it as a genuine step of maturity to the situation or the relationship… something amazing and unexpected happens.

The other person is also now tasked to choose if they’re going to be mature or immature in response to your response.

coneofshameAgain, this individual was on a quest to point out something you missed. In doing so, they situationally claimed the high ground – perhaps for all the right reasons, or maybe for the wrong reasons. They may not have even expected you to own it.

Only… you did. They had a great point. You confessed it, along with a desire to grow.

This is where it’s revealed if that person truly is a friend who will stick with you into the next curve or simply was a critic who wanted to lay a zinger on you. You once were being small in not owning something big, and now that person has to decide what they’re going to do with your mature ability to own your immaturity.

Unfortunately, this is where many conscious accusers become unconsciously divided.

  • They have nothing new left to say… yet they don’t know what to now do with any remnants of the unspoken negativity they felt toward you seconds earlier.
  • They have nothing left to point out… yet find themselves still wanting to be a critical spirit when they generally look at you.
  • They have nothing left to get you to admit… yet find themselves wanting to become your personal “life coach” and show you other things you’ve been blind to.

I adore this moment, not because I’m waiting to see if the accuser will be hypocritical… but because what once was a one-sided pursuit in my direction gets to be a defining moment in every direction of the relationship.

Will the person who felt you were wayward choose to let it go and walk into the future with you?

(By the way – think about how you handle this when you’re the one trying to expose another person to something they’re blind to.)

Reconcile_With_One_AnotherThe reason this is a defining moment?

Because it shows what the relationship is really made of and if two Christ-followers will keep following Christ together. Jesus said in the Lord’s Prayer that we should pray for forgiveness from God that is equal to the way we’ve forgiven other people who have wronged us:

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)

So the best part about being wrong?

It’s an opportunity for everyone involved to put Jesus on display in what happens next between those involved.

Then again…

I could be wrong.


Everybody likes guarantees, and in youth ministry there are few. But if you are hoping to stay involved in youth ministry in a local church setting for the long haul, I know the secret, the silver bullet…guaranteed:


I’ve been traveling the local church youth ministry road for over 26 years, and there have been all sorts of times that I could have exited; “off-ramps” that nobody would have argued if I would have taken. But I refused to exit. Because I’ve simply refused to take an off-ramp, I’m still on the road.

Some typical youth ministry off-ramps:

- Graduating college and need a full-time role. Nobody would blame you for that.
- Getting married and need to make more money. Nobody would blame you for that.
- About to have first child and need a job with more regular hours…
- Child #2 is on the way and my wife would like to work part-time…
- Being burned by the church…
- Feeling tired, on the edge of burnout…
- Being successful and loved by the church so a “promotion” is offered…
- Getting older and feeling a little out of touch…
- Realizing how much money your friends in non-church-based work make…
- Failing, being fired, or in someway becoming disqualified for a season…
- The opportunity arises to teach, write, or speak about YM full-time….

Why do men and women leave local church youth ministry? Because they take an off ramp. Nothing wrong with that.

Want to stay in youth ministry in a church setting for a long time? I can guarantee you a long youth ministry career in one simple step:


Fill It Up?

 —  November 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

10475979-largeA minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.

“Pastor,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

I’m not sure who the original author of this piece is. I came across it in a compilation of funny illustrations that someone in my church passed along to me, but this one stood out to me in particular.

On one hand, it’s easy to see why you might want to share this as a teaching illustration. It certainly does paint a picture of how many people view God and faith. He certainly does seem to get the last burst of many people’s time.

prayingOn the other hand, might there be an inverse message for you and I? Specifically, people like us who are so busy doing the work of God that we aren’t letting Him adequately work in us?

  • “I probably should start my day out in prayer, but let me just check (the news/email/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/texts) first.”
  • “I’m really feeling spiritually dry, so maybe after I work on this lesson for everyone else I’ll spend some quality time with God.”
  • “Sure, Bob. I’ll pray for you.”

    (days go by, you see that person again)

    (to God, as the person is walking up)

    “Dear God, I pray for Bob. Amen.”

    (to Bob)

    “Hey Bob! I’ve been praying for you!”

Can you relate?

Any wisdom on how instead of running on fumes as we serve we might all more regularly say to God, “Fill it up?”


Been wondering lately about why some people seem to have a much better ability to handle adversity well. People who love Jesus, seem firmly rooted in faith, often have completely different reactions to the struggles they face. I’ve come to a simplistic conclusion that because there are so many factors in one’s “makeup” and none of us come anywhere close to being cookie-cutter versions of each other, it would make sense that lemonade making comes easier for some folks than for others.

My simple formula looks something like this:

Personality + spiritual journey + family dynamics + Past history + current mental health + security/insecurity + approximately 23 other factors = How somebody responds to crisis and adversity.

Now think about the teenagers in your youth group and add to this formula the various, and numerous, aspects of adolescent development. At this point it becomes glaringly obvious how pointless….and perhaps damaging….it becomes to give our students cookie-cutter answers with three easy steps to overcoming their hurts, habits and hangups.

Life hands our students lemons on a regular basis. Don’t respond by handing them a simple recipe for lemonade.

Note: As I was writing this, I suddenly felt like it was inspired by something I’ve read on Adam Mclane’s blog, so I went on a hunt to see if he had written something similar recently, and found nothing. But, if you don’t read his blog, you should because it’s full of thought provoking stuff on a regular basis!

Well, if you work with college-age people (or most anyone that breathes), these are “hot” topics to discuss. But they cannot and must not be dodged. For any reason. Yet, I’ve found most leaders dodge these subjects because they have questions and fears themselves. They are intimidated, at least, by the thought of leading discussions on these topics. This is just too far into the wilderness of the unknown, too deep into the chaos of more questions.

But beyond our fears, most of us can’t seem to reconcile these ideas personally. We simply can’t articulate how they fall in line with our ideas of the God we have come to love and serve. But what if understanding the larger story of scripture, who God is and what He does on an ongoing basis, actually lends to these ideas? And, what if, great exegesis (i.e. drawing truth out of scripture) and in depth theology/word study, actually leads us to conclusions that few, if any, conservative or liberal scholars have articulated up to this point?

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 8.52.47 AMWell, it’s of my opinion that Josh Butler articulates scriptural truth in these areas in a way that very few, if any, people have up to this point. Now, okay…I know the very idea that someone has articulated things that nobody has up to this point might be scary for some. But despite articulating unfamiliar conclusions in these areas, Josh has not only won theological awards (even from conservative seminary) for his work on these subjects, but in his book, Skeletons In God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, The Surprise of Judgment, The Hope of Holy War he writes with simple creativity that makes reading about these topics not only fascinating, but fun for the “average” church-goer.

There have been some books written lately on some of these subjects (especially hell), but this one lands differently in so many refreshing ways. From pastors on my staff, to friends who are theological geniuses, to my wife, to college students…everyone I know who has read this has said a very similar statement: “I’ve never thought about it like that.”

Because I know that could easily sound like a “sales pitch” for something let me bring full disclosure here: Josh IS a friend of mine and I have a ton of respect for him on a personal level. But that said, I have a lot of friends who write books…that I don’t post blogs like this for. And, to be 100% forthright here, Josh and I don’t know each other that well AND I was not asked nor am I paid to post this. I simply posted this because I mean what I’ve said. You may not agree with everything Butler writes (I’m trying to wrap my head around a few things myself), but I genuinely think this is a must read for anyone working with college-age people. No question. So, for whatever it’s worth, there you go.  Get it today. Seriously.