summeryouthministryHow are you spending your summer with students?

I personally know of several youth groups that shut down because of their proximity to a lake or local activity that keeps teenagers busy, while other student ministries seem to amp up their programs and significantly grow during this season.

Youth worker Austin McCann offers some great thoughts that will help you spend more time with students, no matter what your situation may be.

Like many student pastors I struggle with finding time to hangout with students. In the summer I feel this struggle more than ever… Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend everyday with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? [ READ MORE ]

Austin believes it may be as simple as:

  • Get to the office earlier.
  • Take them along with you.
  • Do stuff at night.
  • Take them out to lunch.

 What have you found that works for you in the summer?

FlightTrack-ProI am a fan of the iPhone app FlightTrack Pro and TripIt. I seem to have seasons of busy travel and these apps help keep all my travel plans centrally located. TripIt is free, if you don’t mind ads, but FlightTrack Pro is $10 (their is a $5 version…but go big or go home!).

TripIt takes your trip details (confirmations from hotels, airlines, etc) and creates a helpful itinerary right on my iPhone (or Android). It will sync with your calendar app and online at After you have registered an email address with TripIt you can simply forward any of your confirmation emails from that address to You do not need TripIt for FlightTrack Pro to work but FlightTrack Pro will seamlessly use all your Tripit data…COOL!

FlightTrack Pro allows you to see flight details on zoomable maps and get real-time departure info, delays, and gate numbers.  This app has been super helpful when I am traveling to a youth ministry conference, flying out to speak at a retreat or events, or taking teams on a mission trip.

A Few Highlights:

  • Sync’s with TripIt and phone’s calendar
  • Share flight status by email, Facebook or Twitter (parent win!)
  • Offline mode for use in airplanes – maps still work!
  • Airtime, aircraft, and speed & altitude (Nerdy Flight Stats)
  • Real-time status for gates, delays and cancellations

If flying is your things you might want to check out FlightBoard too, it helps when monitor connections, delays, and arrivals ($4).

How is this app free? Well, I went to Starbucks today and saw that the $10 FlightTrack Pro app was their free app of the week.  That means you need to get to a Starbucks before Tuesday July 9th and grab a “Pick of the Week” card. If you do not have a Starbucks near you post a comment asking for a code…I grabbed a dozen to share.


All the codes are gone.  Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for more give-a-ways!

Senior Pastor questionsA healthy relationship with your senior pastor is a core part of a healthy youth ministry.

It doesn’t matter if your church is large, medium, small or a start-up – your roles can powerfully complement each other if you each discern how to powerfully compliment each other.

A lot gets in the way of that, and it isn’t just about ego or insecurities. Sometimes you both become so busy that a disconnect happens over time. The good news is you can nurture something healthier, starting today.

Here are four questions you need to ask your senior pastor to get the ball rolling:

    • “How often do you want to meet, and what for?”

      In one church I served in, my senior pastor wanted to meet each week so we could synergize our efforts together. It was full of great encouragement and brainstorming. I instigated that pattern in the next church I served in, only that senior pastor found it annoying to meet every week. It ultimately degraded our relationship as he assumed I didn’t know how to do my job and needed extensive coaching. Make sure you both know how often you need to meet and what the purpose of that time will be.

    • “Do you need a safe place to just vent?” 

      When I made the transition to become a senior pastor, I suddenly became aware of perspective I was clueless about as a youth worker. This space is too small to list it all, but I will simply say that it adds up and isn’t always something you can debrief with your spouse about. Offer your senior pastor the chance to dump out what they’re sorting out, be it as a spiritual leader, parent, organizational boss or a human being. Honor that with confidentially and prayers.

    • “How can I serve you this week?”

      You’ll likely be surprised by the answers you hear and don’t hear to this question. As I asked this of my senior pastors I’d sometimes get a quick response, such as “I really need someone to teach this class for me. Can you do it?” Other times I had to pull out something of them by saying, “It seems like you and your wife haven’t had a date night in ages. Can I watch your kids on Friday so you can go out?”

    • “Who can I confront or encourage to help you out?”

      This may be the most awkward question you ask, but it can be the most therapeutic. Your senior pastor has a network of relationships that are similar-yet-larger than yours. You can help pour water on flames that need to be put out and gasoline on the fires that need to grow. Be willing to confront a critic or help spur on the most recent volunteer.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but maybe it gets you started. It also helps you better live out Hebrews 13:7: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

What are some questions you’ve identified that we all need to be asking?

I recently hired a junior high pastor for our church. The process was long and tiring but now I am nearing the finish line…just one more thing to do before I close this file. I need to communicate the hire.  The levels I need to communicate to are:

  • My team (Verbal Communication)
  • Church Staff (Digital Communication)
  • Congregation (Digital/email Communication)
  • Parents (Mail, and Parent Meeting)

My Team:
This was easy.  They knew I was looking and even met with candidates as I was bringing them in. That said, it is easy to assume that those closest to you just know…sometimes they don’t. It is important to keep those close to you in the loop.

Church Staff and Congregation:
I sent the same basic letter to church staff, the congregation, and our parents. Our staff received and email and our congregation will hear about the hire through the website and our eNews email.

Parents did not receive any digital communication, they have access to the web and will receive our eNews, they received a parent letter. The added communication to parents is in the form of a parent gathering.  Cookies, carbonated beverages, coffee and a brief introduction with lots of mingling. This personal touch is so important for parents.

Here is what we sent in our parent letter:

Junior High Parents!


As you may know, we have been searching for a junior high pastor for nearly a year; a person to partner with parents, train up students, and bring a fresh wind into our junior high ministry.  After many hours of seeking, sifting, meeting and praying we have found God’s person for the position.

Please join me in welcoming (PERSON’S NAME) as our newest youth ministry team member.  (PERSON) will be taking the Junior High position as of (DATE).  He will oversee the entire junior high ministry at (CHURCH OR CAMPUS NAME).

(NAME) grew up in (TOWN). He has been serving as the (PREVIOUS JOB OR SCHOOL) at (CHURCH NAME OR SCHOOL NAME) in (TOWN) since (DATE). During his time at (CHURCH OR SCHOOL) (PERSON’S NAME) has attended (SCHOOL) working toward a (NAME OF DEGREE) degree.

I am eager for (PERSON’S NAME)’s arrival and am excited to see how God shapes student ministries in the months to come.  Please pray for us and with us as (CHURCH NAME) student ministries moves forward in this new season.

You and your junior high student are invited to come meet (PERSON) at the (CHURCH OR LOCATION) on (DATE) at (TIME). Refreshments will be served. Hope you can come!

Brandon Early


Final Thought:
Youth ministry gets a bad warp for beings irresponsible and too silly at times.  When communicating to parents I raise the bar on professionalism, I want them to trust me with their kids so I don’t try to be edgy and super funny in letters to parents. I recommend that if you add a photo of the person you hired, I wouldn’t choose one with him or her in a suit and tie (which may be appropriate in your setting) but I also wouldn’t send out an obnoxious, crazy pic either. This is all a precursor to building trust.

If it will help you, feel free to download a template of my “New Staff Parent Letter” here.


Not long ago a youth pastors forum I am a part of discussed the “bikini” issue.  It became a lively debate on how each of us handled the topic.  My favorite response was from a guy who currently serves in Europe.   He talked of culture responding,  “I wish they would wear two pieces here.  Yes it’s a one piece, only the bottoms for men and women.”   This one statement has stuck with me as I have talked about the need for appropriate swimwear with both my youth group and my own children. It made me realize that as we discuss the topic of dress in any way we must ask our students three questions:

  • When it comes to dress, is this a “girl only” issue?

Answer:    NO. We over focus on how visual guys are.   A girl dressed in just the right way causes them to think in the wrong direction.  However, a “hot guy” minus his shirt will garner the same response.  While in America, we usually don’t have to ask guys to avoid speedos,  let’s recognize everyone is  looking at each other.

  • Why are you wearing it?

Answer:  Is it the style or are you trying to be “seen?”    When you look around a beach there are women 8-80 in two pieces.  Guys are wearing certain things to make the girls “swoon,” or are they.  We can argue cultural norms,  however, why are you wearing what you wear?

  • What are you doing to stop the madness?

Answer:  We can place so much emphasis, especially on girls, to watch what they wear we can miss a vital teaching point.  Responsibility falls on both sides of this issue.  When we put on clothes,  we should be learning how to be pure in this area.  HOWEVER,  those peeping need to take responsibility for their lingering look.  So pose to your students: will they consider others when they dress AND will they work on where their thoughts wander when they see those around them?

These questions should be posed to all our students. I work with primarily unchurched inner city students,  and I work with them on this.  It’s a journey in learning to follow the  Lord,  this is one piece of the puzzle.

 What questions would you ask?






How many of us remember “Baywatch?”   The series spanning over a decade was known for it’s beautiful lifeguards jogging toward the water to save some poor drowning soul.  The running joke of course was that no one cared about the plot.  Guys wanted to see the very buxom Pamela Anderson and girls wanted to see guys with six packs.   Here is the irony.  While the beach scenes were full of two pieces, the female cast always wore a one piece.

In the last couple of weeks I have had numerous discussions about whether or not those of us in youth ministry should dictate the summer uniform of our students.

Bikinis, shorts, and tank tops are among some of what we must navigate.  I recently heard someone say,  “Well my unchurched kids just don’t know any better.”

The easiest approach is to just balk, “Modest is Hottest,” and move on.   However,  especially with our unchurched students if we merely give a list of rules,  they may or may not choose to follow them.  They may or may not care is they are causing another person to “stumble.”  (If they even have a clue what that means.)  So where do we begin the conversation?

  • Teach Purity- Not Modesty

Modesty is about clothing, or covering.  At the water we focus on a bikini. Yet, recently a guy told me,  “If I let my eyes linger and my mind wander it really doesn’t matter if a girl is wearing a large sack.”   The ongoing discussion should be on the struggle to understand purity.  This deals with what we allow to come into our soul through our eyes, mind, ears and heart.   It goes way beyond the clothes.


  • Year Round Dress Code

I am a firm believer in both dress codes and rules for our youth programming.  Rachel Blom did a great job of spelling this out in her blog here.  This is less about a set of “do’s and don’ts”  and about creating an environment of standards.  These ideals should be posted,  and gone over often.  Expectations should be clear of our consistent students.  New students are informed for the next time they come.  Guidelines help level the field whether churched or unchurched as to what they are “supposed” to do.

The question is less about what goes on our body and what is going on in our hearts.  Our unchurched students may have never been told  any of this before.  Our “churched” students may have heard  but never understood.Most importantly will we explain WHY this is idea is important to us?  In Part 2 we will discuss three questions we must ask every student in the great bikini debate.


Do you allow bikinis in your programming?

Always Be Ready

 —  June 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

Always be ready…

…to meet with the senior pastor

…to defend your spending to the church treasurer

…to get TP’d

…to discipline forgive

…to clean out the church van

…to counsel to a hurting student

…to share your story

…to wait an extra hour for the last kid to get picked up

…to replace the damage

…to head to the hospital in an emergency

…to pray with someone

…to train your volunteers

…to drop anything for a teenager in need

…to have to take a kid home after an event

…to show grace

…to coach your people lovingly

…to fail

…to get back up

Always be ready – add yours in the comments!


You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.

I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired; for others its situational. No matter what the reason you deserve some encouragement.

I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting no where. You are gifted no matter what your critics say, your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile.

Now for some of you, that isn’t enough. For others that is a good reminder. But I hope no matter who you are you know those things are true.

I also want to share a strategy I learned from someone else to get through discouraging times.

Create a folder in your email that has encouragement emails. Every time someone sends you an email that has some kind of encouragement put it in this folder. Then when you go through tough times you can look in that folder and be reminded of good things.

While it may not fix anything, it certainly helps to be reminded by the voices in your ministry and in your life that you have value and so does what you are doing.

What are some of your strategies for times of discouragement?

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: or Twitter: @CorbinKyle