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

..to 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: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

From time to time I hear youth workers lament that they need to take care of certain things that they don’t care about al all – but things their supervisor values.

They begrudgingly do this punch list of stuff only because they have to. Filling out that report, keeping the database up to date, attendance stuff, pastoral care logs – all of the mundane stuff of ministry that can wear a person down and make them wish for the days when they actually did minister to students.

Let me let you in on a little tip: if you don’t value what your boss values, you’re not going to last long at your church. Sure, you may get lucky and the boss ends up leaving in the next year instead of you, but chances are you’ll be the one looking up open youth ministry position’s in your spouse’s hometown.

So value what your boss values! If he or she asks you for the most mundane reports in the world … spend some serious time on them and make them great. Do what is required, and add in some additional detail they might find interest in, too. Not sure what they value? Take them out to lunch and find out! There’s a chance you’re wasting a lot of time on things that don’t matter to them at all or ignoring important tasks they are dying for you to pick up!

I’ll be back with more boss tips throughout the week – from successes and failures in my own ministry career. Some from as recently as last week! Argh.

Your turn: share one helpful boss tip in the comments now, too!


Really enjoyed this take on time off, rest and sabbath from Doug Fields’ blog the other day. If you’re struggling with margin, balance and time away from ministry, read on:

Almost daily I get an email from a ministry leader who is tired and on the verge of burn out. There is so much about ministry-world that is exhausting. I understand this reality firsthand. It’s real and ugly!

Too many leaders don’t even slow down enough to be faithful to God’s call for a Sabbath rest.

When I was a young leader I received great advice from a mentor who urged me to faithfully guard and protect a weekly day of rest. I’m so grateful for that advice and encouragement! Without intentional action, it’s simply too easy for a leader to slip into justifying non-Sabbath actions like, I’m just going to pop into the office, or I’m so far behind, I just need to catch up or They need to spend time with me and I don’t think I can say no.

Sound familiar? Me too! Want to see how he approaches his day of rest? Head there for more!


Would love to get your response in this week’s poll – when is the best time for your as a youth worker to spend time with God yourself? Lots of different options for you to choose from – vote now!


Honestly, our ministry is going through a little bit of a crisis right now.

On the surface you wouldn’t see much out of the ordinary – youth group is fun and energetic, small groups are plugging along toward the end of the school year and the last big event had strong attendance and quite a few new faces. My boss seems happy, we may actually come in on budget this year and generally things are OK.

But under the surface, we’re dealing with some serious issues. God is choosing to bring us not 1, not 2 … but 6 big things to the surface right now. Some serious stuff we’ve got to process. Some stuff we haven’t dealt with before. Some difficult conversations that need to be had. Some stuff it is mandatory it be reported. The ugly side of real-life ministry is here in full force this week.

And you know what? God is faithful. God is changing lives. God is giving us wisdom. God is guiding. God is healing. God is providing. God is giving confidence. God is pruning. God is.

It seems like when it rains trouble … a flash flood of tough stuff isn’t far behind. If you are wading in some deep waters or think you may be in over your head, remember that God is there through it all. I know I could use the reminder right now, too.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10