When Death Shatters Faith

“Better luck next time.” Those words are forever seared into my consciousness. It was a phone call no one ever wishes to make. My wife, Beth, and I had come home after receiving confirmation our worst fears had been realized. We had gone from one doctor’s appointment where we heard a healthy heartbeat to another … Continue reading When Death Shatters Faith

Managing Rejection

If you were expecting something other than rejection, you probably should consider a different profession. It is par for the course, a when and not an if.

The Power of a Multi-Year Curriculum

Two years into youth ministry, I found myself exhausted and out of options when it came to teaching ideas and curriculum. I had done it all: stolen ideas from my youth pastors growing up, hijacked lessons from college professors and borrowed material from youth speakers I admired. I also had successfully ransacked curriculum off the … Continue reading The Power of a Multi-Year Curriculum

Emotion and Discipleship

I am not an emotional person. That doesn’t mean I am emotionless, that I feel nothing and exude a tough-guy persona that screams, “I’ll mock you, then take your candy if you cry in front of me.” I just mean that I don’t trust raw emotions. They are fickle and often lie. Still they play … Continue reading Emotion and Discipleship

Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer: Biblically Illiterate, Theologically Void Youth Ministry

I was raised in a conservative home, worshiped in a conservative youth ministry at church, and attended a conservative seminary. I’m thankful for my conservative roots. They are part of what shapes me. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that those conservative roots did not claim to be the sole possessors of truth. Beliefs and how they played … Continue reading Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer: Biblically Illiterate, Theologically Void Youth Ministry

How Tensions Can Change Your Ministry and Change You, Too

“Kara, we want to meet with you because we don’t think you’re teaching the Bible enough to our kids.” This was John and Patty’s greeting one Sunday morning as I was getting ready to speak to our students. Not only were John and Patty parents of two high school girls, but also influential leaders in … Continue reading How Tensions Can Change Your Ministry and Change You, Too

Team Building for Mission Trips

Successful mission trips require preparation. Proper preparation builds and unifies teams, roots them in Scripture, equips them for cross-cultural ministry, and focuses them on Christ. Regardless of what type or duration of mission trip your team will be taking, effective mission trip preparation includes team building, Bible study, cross-cultural training, and the creation of a … Continue reading Team Building for Mission Trips

Building a Three-Year Mission Cycle

Even if your bags are barely unpacked from this summer’s trip, it’s time to start planning your next mission trip. Before you zoom in on the specifics of your next mission trip, zoom out. Spend time with your church’s staff, as well as your youth ministry’s leaders prayerfully considering your ministry’s overall missions strategy. To … Continue reading Building a Three-Year Mission Cycle

Mission Trip Disconnect

It was all over in a matter of hours… Gone were the conversations revolving around poverty, hunger and injustice during our mission trip. They were replaced by the purchasing of our wants that had become needs, of $2 sodas and $5 ice cream in the mall food court, discarding the items with a consumeristic ease … Continue reading Mission Trip Disconnect

Maxing the Memories: Solid Ideas for Creating Rites of Passage for Students

I was 13 when my parents enrolled me in two years’ worth of confirmation classes. It wasn’t my choice, but I didn’t fight it either. It’s what kids in my church did. I had no expectations other than it would be boring. After all, the teacher was the pastor, and he was boring. My personal … Continue reading Maxing the Memories: Solid Ideas for Creating Rites of Passage for Students