It’s one thing to desire to be in leadership…it’s another to actually lead people.

As I watch other leaders, consider my own life in leadership or think about all the people I have had on my staff, there are some common denominators in those that are effective in leadership. I can also think of a few commonalities I see hindering effective leadership. These are often missed at first glance, but over time they are usually seen clearly by those that open their eyes.

There are many definitions of leadership, but the one I refer to the most is: Leaders get people to do things they never wanted to do, and like it.

This definition has the idea of being able to positively effect someone’s actions AND desires. These leaders can get to the heart of someone in ways that cause movement. From a spiritual leadership position, where we view this as being used by God for His kingdom purposes, this is a lot of fun. Mature leaders are hard to come by sometimes, but we have some phenomenal leaders in the Church today. That said, there are also a bunch of “wanna-be” leaders that inevitably hinder their own leadership potential by thinking wrongly in the following 2 ways:

  1. They take themselves more seriously than their work. Effective leaders take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves that seriously. This allows them to encourage other people to lead and empower creativity/ingenuity in others. If leaders take themselves too seriously, they protect their position and seek to control what other people are doing through either micro-management or overly assigning things to do. This would be, at best, a manager – not a leader.
  2. They think they need a position to lead well. I know a lot of people who think they need to have a position before they can lead effectively. Granted, we do need a voice in people’s lives to positively effect them, but our lives are what give us that voice. If a position is required to lead people, you are not a leader. This mentality will actually hinder your leadership in the long-run.

What do you think? Have you seen either of these characteristics in yourself…?

Appearances aren’t everything.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely the “go-to” person for youth ministry in your church. Maybe I’m wrong, but play along with me for a moment.

Now let’s take a quick rabbit trail.

I was looking for an image recently using the keyword “expert.”

Google is normally my friend for this, but in this particular instance I came up short.


Google Images essentially told me that in all of the Internet’s pages, there was no picture that matched this word.

First off, that’s never, ever happened to me before.

Secondly, I found it completely satirical that this was the word Google said couldn’t be matched to anything that represented it.

I thought it might’ve been a fluke, so I typed in searches using other words. They all showed up, but again and again for more than 20 minutes, I couldn’t get an image for the word “expert.”

That all changed when I tried it again an hour later. But for a brief moment in time, there was no “expert” to be found.

Now… how does that relate to you?

expert2Should you have the appearance of being the expert on youth ministry (or whatever your area of responsibility) is in your church?

Or, should you help someone else become the expert on youth ministry (or whatever your area of responsibility is) in your church?

For that matter, should anyone be an expert… or should we all be learners?

Well, what do you know?

Any thoughts?


Myth Busters

 —  January 9, 2015 — 2 Comments


It’s always bothered me that just because somebody says something is true means it’s true.

Which must be why back in the day I loved watching MythBusters. The premise was great: Take urban legends, folklore and stuff we’ve always assumed to be true and put it to the test. What I loved most was that even though each test was meant to determine a “true” or “false” (“busted”) outcome, there was a very likely third outcome. A surprisingly high number of experiments proved to be “sorta true” or “partly busted”. In other words, there may have been some elements of truth in the urban legend, but but the outcome was far from being iron-clad; there was some wiggle room. Add in the fact that there were usually a host of variables, or factors, at play in each experiment and it was fairly easy to get a wide range of outcomes on virtually any experiment.

Youth ministry is ripe with urban legends, folklore and assumptions of our own; stuff we’ve somehow determined to be true that may, in fact, be false…or at the very least only partly true. Or they may be completely true! Variables and outside factors at play? Yep! Which is why I think a savy youth worker needs to view him/herself as a MythBuster of sorts. Here is a short list of things that I think need to be put to the test….are they true, partly true, or false? What variables and outside factors contribute to their validity at any given time in any given setting?

Here’s a short list of examples. I’d love to hear if you’ve put any of these to the test and what the outcome was. And, I’d love to learn what you’d include in a list of your own!

- Today’s teenagers are tired of “attraction” youth ministry.
- Traditional “youth sermons” are ineffective.
- Adolescence is a modern, western, construct.
- At least 60% of teenagers walk away from church after graduation.
- The primary reason teenagers leave the church is due to segregation of YM.
- Small groups are the best way to build community.
- Teenagers have a very short attention span.
- Sexting is normative for most teenagers.
- Social media has greatly hindered teenagers social skills.
- Social media has greatly hindered a sense of community.
- The church is in a state of rapid decline and irrelevancy.
- There are less and less paid youth workers.

That should be enough to get you started!


When you give just a little more, good things usually happen. A little more exercise, a little more family time, a little more quiet time….just a little bit more.

As you head into the new year, here are three areas in youth ministry I think giving just a little bit more might be worthwhile. Why only three? Because I’m hoping you will give these things serious consideration; something you won’t do if the list is twenty suggestions deep.

- A LITTLE MORE YOU. By ‘you’, I mean you and all of your volunteer leaders. More important than a tighter program, a shiny new event or paint on the walls of the youth room is the personal, physical, presence of adults in the lives of teenagers. Make a little more effort to attend their games and choir concerts. Pay a little more attention when they are talking to you. Care a little less about the look and feel of the room and pay a little more attention to the teenagers in the room.

A LITTLE MORE JESUS. More and more church-going teenagers know less and less about the real Jesus. This year, helping your students know Jesus Christ a little bit more would be time well spent.

A LITTLE MORE INTENTIONALITY. Quit doing stuff just because you’ve always done it or because it sounds good at the time. Determine why your youth ministry exists, what you hope to see God accomplish in the lives of your teenagers and plan your youth ministry….every aspect of it….accordingly. Awesome things rarely happen by accident.

2015…Time for a little more!

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:

Also, Don’t forget to Subscribe to get the most current episode emailed to you!!

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.