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Tag Archives | COMMUNITY

6 Types of Students in Your Community

I’ve been playing this vide (from Jonathan McKee) at the YS Team Training’s to help facilitate discussion about reaching students in our communities. The discussion has been incredible and it is an awesome setup! Use it at your next volunteer meeting, and check out other great training resources right here on DYM, too.


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First 2 Years: The Three Things I Thought I Knew

Thought I Knew

The past six months or so have made up one of the most transforming seasons of my life. The Lord has taken almost everything I thought I knew and turned it upside down. He had me ask myself some really tough questions and put me into situations that were way out of my comfort zone. Of course when you are in the middle of it the season seems crazy, out of control, and totally overwhelming, but as I start to come out of it I am seeing the incredible things that the Lord taught me. The way I see myself, the way I interact with Him, and the way I do ministry is completely different now. There are so many things that He has taught me recently but I thought I’d share my top three with you.

Myself- I thought I knew my strengths, my weaknesses, my spiritual gifts, and how I related to other people. I thought I had myself figured out—but the Lord disagreed. He made me face the parts of myself that I didn’t want to deal with and had me take risks that I thought I’d surely fail. However, in the midst of my journey, the Lord revealed to me gifts I never knew I had. He showed me the depth of my mercy for other people and the passion I didn’t know I had for different parts of ministry. I feel like I have started to come into my own and He continually reveals that to me in the fruit of this new perspective

Faithfulness- It’s in the middle of a hard season that the Lord shows you the clear difference between your will and His will. Naturally, I didn’t want to face any of this, but I knew that I was exactly where He wanted me. As tough as it was, God truly revealed to me the blessings that come along with faithfulness. I have learned so much, have had incredible ministry moments, and have been given opportunities that I never thought I’d receive. Overall, the Lord is good and will surely reward your faithfulness.

Community- I thought I had a good understanding of community. I considered myself a good sharer and wasn’t afraid to ask for help with day-to-day tasks. But what I started to learn was that when it came to the things that mattered, the last thing I relied on was other people. I hated talking about what I was feeling, how I was processing, or even saying that I needed something. The thought of being vulnerable and admitting that I wasn’t in control was the most terrifying thing I could think of. But I’ve learned that He uses people in your life to reveal pieces of Himself and things He wants to teach you. God has placed some of the most incredible friends and mentors in my life that have helped me learn to experience emotions and ask for help. It’s still scary and it’s still uncomfortable, but I now know that it’s not going to kill me.

As youth pastors, we will surely go through dark seasons. We will be tired, confused, and want to give up. But let me assure you that God is good and faithful. He will redeem the messy parts of life and, in time, reveal incredible truths. So take a deep breath and as hard or impossible as it may seem, place your trust in Him.

Have you gone through a similar season? What has the Lord revealed to you?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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New Resource from Katie Edwards: IMPACT


There’s an exciting new resources I want you to check out from my good friend Katie Edwards. You may know her from the DYM Webshow and she’s currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church.

Here’s a little more about IMPACT, a tool designed to help you create a culture of student leadership, serving, evangelism and community:

Forget about stuffing these things into one program and think about launching a movement. A movement students becoming people who IMPACT your church, your community, and the globe for Jesus Christ. IMPACT is a culture not a program. It’s something students become not attend. This resource outlines a 4-step process on building a culture of IMPACT in your ministry through student involvement, next steps, and opportunities to live out their faith.


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GUEST POST: Do You Know Your Community?

My assumption is very few of us are fortunate enough to do ministry in the area in which we were born. I am not talking about the state or province, rather the actual town/city/hamlet/village.

This leads to an interesting problem. Do you know what is happening in the schools? (hopefully) Do you know what is happening at the local Recreation center? What are the must see events? Where do you go for this and that?

Now I grew up in a suburb and now I do ministry in a suburban area. However the two suburbs are nothing alike. I went from a community of predominately blue collar workers to one of mainly white collar individuals. I went from a community that people drive across town to see people, to one where each neighborhood is its own entity.

I am also fortunate that I married a woman who grew up in the town in which I do ministry, and I lived here for three years before I entered full-time ministry here. But on occasion I am still stumped by the differences between where I grew up and where I live now. Which leads me to want to know my community more.

Here are some thoughts I had for ways to get to know your community more:

1. Sign up for the local recreation guide- This will tell you everything (or at least most of what’s) going on in recreation and sports for the area

2. Walk around- I have learned so much about the community by going for walks. You miss so many businesses and neat areas like parks by driving by. By walking I have found new places to hold events.

3. Get connected- I talk to my local coffee shop barista, I spend time having coffee with Young Life, Youth for Christ and other local pastors. I have a good friend in the mayors office, and a church member on District council. I talk to these people to learn more and more about this place, because it is always evolving.

I believe one of the keys to effective ministry is not just being able to communicate about the Gospel (which is of the utmost importance) but also being able to love and identify with your community. It is through the relationships you will make that your ministry will grow and flourish.

What are you doing to get connected or stay connected to your community?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years and blogs exclusively here on LoveGodLoveStudents.com. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. Hit him up on Twitter @CorbinKyle

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YS Idea Lab: Kara Powell on Balancing Family and Ministry

Sometimes it can be hard to create a healthy balance between time spent leading and serving in a ministry and time spent focusing on our own families and soul care. Kara Powell shares about her own experience trying to create this balance as well as some practical tips and encouragement to help others do the same.


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First 2 Years: What I Learned From the Ultimate Warrior


I have been a professional wrestling fan since the 6th grade. Call me lame, but I have always found something so exciting and interesting about the entire idea of the show, emotion, athleticism, and history of it. The Ultimate Warrior is one of the most famous wrestlers of all time. While he is well known for his time in the early 90’s, he is better known in the wrestling world for his poor reputation and his own self-destruction. Another title for this blog could be, “How to Not Be a Flash in the Pan.”  Here are a few things I learned from his mistakes that easily translate to ministry:

Don’t forget the purpose. The Ultimate Warrior was resented because most of the locker room believed that he didn’t actually care about the craft of wrestling and the history of it, he was only there to put on a show. He lost the purpose behind why he did what he did. He never pushed himself to get better and it led to consistent mediocre matches. We can’t forget the “why” behind what we do. Don’t get caught up in putting together a fancy weekend program for the sake of having a cool weekend. Make sure that everything you do points towards pushing students to know and experience Christ.

Don’t forget who you are. The Ultimate Warrior got so obsessed by his character that he even legally changed his name to “Warrior.” He found his identity in the person that he created. That is something that I have seen in ministry several times and have even fallen into myself. Don’t forget that you are not a youth pastor first. You are a Christ follower first. It can be so easy to find your identity in ministry and to find your worth in your performance. How you identify yourself determines where you place your priorities. Placing ministry as number one leads to a huge gap in your spiritual life, causing your ministry to suffer in a big way.

Don’t forget your community. The Warrior only looked out for himself. This led to the entire locker room turning against him and his complete alienation from the company. This translates into a couple different ways in ministry. The first is to not look out only for your own performance. Symptoms of this are throwing other people under the bus in order to make yourself look better, manipulating situations in order to get recognition or attention, and an unhealthy concern about achieving your own motives and goals. The second is looking out only for your ministry at your church. While you need to fight for your ministry (if you don’t, who will?), you also need to know that other ministries in the church are also important. Make sure you are always looking outside yourself.

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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POLL: How close to you live to your church?

Had an interesting conversation with some friends this week about the “right distance” to live from the church or ministry you work in. Is there a right answer to this one you think? How close should you live to your church/ministry? I’d say very close. What do you think? Vote now!


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5 Things That Make Small Groups Successful

We are gearing up this week for the launch of our small group registration. I am really excited for students to sign up for a small groups for the upcoming school year (you can check out our online registration at hsmlifegroups.com). It got me thinking about what makes a successful small group. I think these 5 things, when all going at once, make a successful small group wherever you are at.

Trained, Caring Adult Leaders- There would be no high school small groups without our amazing adult group leaders. They are incredible and make everything possible. Not only is it important to get an adult high school group leader who genuinely loves students but it’s important to make sure they are trained well in how to lead and care for their groups. Each year we start off with a long training with all of our leaders and we meet a few times during the year as well for other trainings and classes as well. In these meetings we go over how to lead well, how to adjust the curriculum for your group, how to make an authentic community, what do when a student is in crisis and mandatory reports. If we can get leaders who care for their students and are trained on how to make the group the best it can possibly be for them, it’s unstoppable.

(There are tons of great leader and volunteer trainings on DYM. Click HERE to check them out.)

Open, Honest, Authentic Community- The whole point of small groups is to be open and honest with what is going on in your life and what is going on with your journey and relationship with God. I always tell my guys, “If you can’t be open and honest here where else are you being open and honest?” I truly believe life change happens in small groups when you have an authentic and real community and trained, caring leaders. God moves in mighty ways with that combination. In order to have an open, honest and authentic community it usually starts with the leader being open and honest and setting the ground rules for the group. Students need to know it’s a safe place of no judgement and that it is a place where we can talk about real things, real struggles and real celebrations in a community of students who will love and support each other.

Great Curriculum- Walking students through the Bible is huge. Having the right curriculum for your group is huge. The sweet thing is, there is a ton of great stuff out there for pretty cheap. It will take a little bit of shopping around to find the right stuff for your students but it’s out there. What I love more (if you have the resources and the time to do it) is customize curriculum for your students. You know your students better than anyone else. So if you can, make your own small group curriculum and pass it out to your leaders. We just switched to our own curriculum our team just made this last year and it turned out pretty great. It’s more in tune to what we feel our student need to be going through.

(There is a ton of great small group stuff on DYM as well. Click HERE to check it all out.)

Age and Gender Specific Groups- I know everyone has opinions on this, but I really think age and gender specific groups are huge to being successful. If we want an open, honest and authentic community there are some things guys will not be open and honest about if a girl is sitting in the circle with them. A girl will not be open and honest with certain things if a boy is in the room as well. Same with leaders, we want guy leaders counseling guys and we want girl leaders counseling girls. If you do not believe me, watch what a freshmen boy does and how he acts when a girl walks in the room. You will see.

Fun- Fun is huge in a successful small group. If it’s boring, students won’t show up. I think it’s okay to be studying the Bible and to have fun. Our leaders do an amazing job at making small groups something our students want to be at. They do a great job at making it a safe, fun, genuine place where they can be open honest with each other and have fun while doing it. It’s something the leader makes happen and it doesn’t seem forced. They just love what they do and it comes naturally. Each group is different on how they do it. I have seen groups rotate dinners each night, girls do pajama groups and snacks, groups go to Starbucks, small group in the jacuzzi and some groups just go out some week and go bowling. It’s about doing life together. Fun will come with trained leaders who make an authentic community with students. So have fun.

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Provide the Opportunity


This week I went to the beach with some of my small group boys. I had the day off, my wife was working so I had the whole day to just chill. So the beach it was!  One of the boys asked if he could bring a friend to hang out. He did.

I brought a cooler full of drinks and told the guys they were responsible for their own lunches. We had a great time just hanging out, body surfing, talking. As the day was wrapping up, the friend whom I just met that day asked me, “So you guys are a small group? What does that mean exactly?” I explained to him what we did and what church we were from and he told me he has not gone to church since the 6th grade. He asked if he would be able to come check out what we do. “Of course”, I said. And that was that.

On my way home it got me thinking about how we make connections with our core students friends:

  • When we provide the opportunity for our students to hang out, they will.
  • When our students know that our group is open and a safe place to invite friends, they will.
  • When sometimes we provide an atmosphere that is open and fun and there is no real agenda besides just hanging out and having fun it can intrigue a student who is not used to church maybe think differently about what they once thought about it.
  • Having fun with our students is key. Having fun breaks down walls. It breaks down a new students walls as well. We had a great conversation and he got invited to come to hang out with the group on the weekend services.
  • You can really tell that students who do not go to church are searching for something. I really think a big part of that is real, genuine relationships. Both with friends and with God. If we provide the opportunity for them to see what that could look like, it can and will lead to life change.

I love hanging out with my boys. I love meeting their friends. I love providing opportunities for friends to come and hang out and are interested in the community our small groups provide.

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When Tragedy Strikes Your Youth Group


Travis Moersch (patterned shirt, center, pictured with his co-leader and Life Group guys)

Yesterday was one of the most difficult days in the history of our student ministry – one of our leaders, Travis Moersch, collapsed at a youth event on Friday afternoon and was rushed to the hospital. Right now the cause is still unknown, but this seemingly healthy 20-year old Life Group leader and mentor passed away just a short time later.

I don’t have any “how tos” or “what to do” when this happens because we’re right in the thick of it. I know God is working and so present right now in our ministry. I’d like to talk most about it later, but would for now sincerely appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the Moersch family and the grieving students in our ministry, especially his Life Group guys.


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How real are the sins of your small group?

Jon Acuff told a fantastic story at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference about a boy who had bought an ice cream. He wanted to put sauce on it or sprinkles or something, I don’t quite remember, but he picked the wrong dispenser and put mustard on it. Instead of acknowledging this, he tried stirring in the mustard to ‘fix it’. He was even offered a new ice cream, but refused, insisting that he was okay.

I think this is a perfect illustration for how many of us, but also many of our students, deal with sin. Instead of owning up to our mistakes and asking for renewal (the new ice cream), we try to hide it and fix it, ending up with really bad tasting ice cream.

The safe sin phenomenon

There’s a mechanism Jon Acuff called the ‘safe sin’ phenomenon. It’s when people start confessing their sins and all stay on the safe sins, the ones that are technically sins but really not that bad. For a student, that could be disrespecting his parents, or not praying the whole week, or forgetting his sister’s birthday. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the ‘accepted sins’, the stuff that we all consider not too bad.

The problem is that when others come up with sins like that, the next in line isn’t gonna confess watching porn online, or being drunk at a party, or having sex with her boyfriend. The safe sin mechanism makes us hide our sins, because we don’t feel accepted and safe enough to bring them into the open.

The 'safe sin' phenomenon results in students only confessing to relatively small sins, not the ones that are really impacting their lives.

The ‘safe sin’ phenomenon results in students only confessing to relatively small sins, not the ones that are really impacting their lives.

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What to do when your students are gossiping

We’ve been talking about the destructive effects of gossip and how you can address gossip amongst your youth leaders. Now it’s time to focus on our students and what we as youth leaders can do when they gossip.

Teens nowadays grow up in a world where gossip is rampant, big business even. Tabloids pay big bucks for stories about celebrities and many people have made a living spreading gossip about others. There’s even a whole TV series named after this almost favorite pastime for many teens, especially girls (‘Gossip Girl’).

That means our message that gossiping is a bad habit, a sin even, is a very counter cultural statement. Getting teens to see that may be a bit of a challenge, but it is the necessary first step.

1. Expose gossip as a sin

No matter if it’s counter cultural or not, we have to expose gossip as a sin. My best guess would be that a personal approach where you focus on the hurt and pain gossip can cause would be the best approach. There are plenty of verses in the Bible to choose from that speak out against gossip (Proverbs is full of them for instance) and there are also a lot of verses that positively state the opposite (verses that tell us to love others, think highly of them, etc).

It’s important to be lovingly, but consistently in addressing gossip amongst our students.

Continue Reading →

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4 reasons that developing community is difficult in ministry settings

Today I was teaching an introduction to ministry class at APU and taught 19-23 year olds on the concept of doing ministry within the context of [relational] community.

I wanted them to understand that in ministry we are “better together.” I wanted them to personalize the “iron sharpens iron” verse. I wanted to help them see that when ministry lives are interconnected, there’s a relational power that will sharpen them.

Those of us who have experienced true community with co-workers, we understand the benefits.

A few benefits include:
>Sharp edges aren’t ignored—unfinished edges aren’t hidden.
>Being known by others.
>Being loved and valued (as you are known).
>Others enhance one’s spiritual growth.

It’s fun to teach young leaders, who are a little idealistic, and assume that developing “community” within a Christ-focused ministry/environment is easy.

I assured them that developing an authentic intimacy with others isn’t as easy as it appears. While it’s attractive, it’s definitely a challenge.

Here are 4 reasons I believe community isn’t easy:

1. The temptation for leaders to “fly solo” is very seductive

• When it comes to getting things done…it appears easier to do it yourself

• Accountability slows you down

• Relationships take time

• It’s difficult to feel safe when everyone wants something from you

2. Some Senior leaders don’t value community

• Top-down leadership influences a church staff/ministry culture

• If the senior leader doesn’t value community, it won’t become a staff value

3. Church is viewed as a “have-it-all-together” culture

• “Put on your Sunday best” often equals “Don’t show who you really are”

• We [subtly] teach people to wear a mask

• Where does a minister go if he/she is struggling?

4. Community is only as strong as honesty is real

• Accountability is over-rated if honesty isn’t there

• Honesty is essential for community to happen

I know community is possible! I’ve experienced it… many times, over many years. But, I’m also a realist to know that it’s not a “given” simply because one works with other Christians.

What do you think?

Question: What makes developing authentic, caring, relationships [a sense of community] difficult in your ministry setting? Share your thoughts here.


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Book review: Building a discipling culture

Every now and then you read a book that changes your life. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened to me this weekend as I read ‘Building a Discipling Culture’. This book answered questions I’ve had for some time about discipleship, evangelism and how the church should function. Aside from giving me answers, it also challenged me in a huge way. Let me see if I can share some of my impressions with you, though there’s no way I can do the book justice in one post.

Building a discipling culture consists of three parts:

  1. Understanding discipleship
  2. Lifeshapes: our discipling language
  3. Using huddles to disciple people

Discipling culture

The first part of the book offers a fresh and biblical view on discipleship. This part was incredibly challenging, because author Mike Breen states that the church in general has a huge discipleship problem. Jesus’ last instruction for us wasn’t to build the church, it was to make disciples. And we have failed miserably in these last decades.

Breen offers his view on the crucial elements of a discipling culture: the appropriate mix of invitation and challenge, just as Jesus offered Hid disciples. A lot of churches have become way too comfortable, too cozy and soft. They don’t offer a challenge anymore.

Continue Reading →

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Eating together: the key to bonding with your small group

When we started as youth small group leaders in our church, we didn’t know any of the young people. We’d been visiting this church for a little more than a year and we didn’t know that many people yet. But we wanted to serve in youth ministry again and so we had decided to become youth small group leaders.

We didn’t get any training, there wasn’t a coach or mentor, we weren’t told what to do, so we just had to rely on our own instincts. And those instincts told us that we needed to get to know our youth, the faster the better. So we decided to have dinner together at our home, every Sunday before any youth activity. We had dinner before small groups, we had dinner before a youth service and we even offered dinner on the one Sunday where our youth ministry didn’t organize anything, but another in our town did and many of our youth went there.

Having dinner together turned out to be a critical success factor in our small group, aside from prayer. Looking back, what we did intuitively was the best thing we could have ever done for our small group. It really helped promote unity in our small group. Here’s why:

Eating together is fun

Having dinner together with a bigger group is simply fun. You laugh, tell crazy stories, share about your week, all while eating something nice together. It sets the tone for the entire evening. It also gives students something to look forward to, even if they like the ‘serious’ part of having small group less.

Eating together can really help your youth small group bond.

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