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Tag Archives | family

POLL: How many nights are you out in a typical week?

Was talking to a youth worker this week at YS’ National Youth Worker Convention about nights out in youth ministry – inspired this week’s poll! Vote now.


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My Non Youth Pastor Spouse Is An Incredible Youth Pastor

I know I am biased, but my wife is pretty awesome. I’m sure if you met her you would agree. But let me tell you something, she does not serve in our student ministry. GASP! I do not know if your spouse does or not, or maybe they are “expected” to as a two for one deal or something. But here is the deal, even though she does not serve in student ministry, she is still a phenomenal youth pastor. It’s amazing.

I think whether our spouses serve with us or not, if we are in youth ministry they are, for most part, a part of the youth ministry world. My wife Kristin, works here at the church but in a different department. She works on our Worship arts team. So she does her ministry and her job separate from me but here is why she is still an amazing youth pastor. This might be the same for your spouse as well if they do not serve in student ministry.

  • When I invite students over to my home. She is there. She hangs out with us. She bakes snacks. She is hospitality queen. She is there hanging out with my small group guys and investing in their lives. She leaves when we get into study, but she is there and knows them.
  • When we are out and about, we see parents of students. They meet her, she get involved with them in conversation and will see them at church on the weekends and ask them how they are doing. She is in parent ministry.
  • When we are out and about, we see students that we know. She meets them, talks with them, encourages them, and prays with them right then and there if they are going through something.
  • She remembers student’s names when she sees them at church on around town; even when I am not there. She is better at that than I am!
  • In her ministry, many students volunteer for her. So she talks with them, invests in them, ministers to them. Those students have an “in” because they know she is my wife so they talk to her and she engages.
  • She mentors girls. Students that I have grown close with I want to help move them to their next steps in their faith. When it is a girl and I do not have one of our staff or volunteers near me, Kristin steps in and ministers to these girls and will follow up with them. She is quite incredible.

So my wife is not a “youth pastor” but she still is an incredible one. She is my partner in crime and ministry. I love it. She loves it. I am grateful we both get to work in the same church for the same purpose and be in different departments but still do youth ministry together. That goes for most spouses in youth ministry. Even though they might not directly be involved in your ministry, they still are a part of it and get the chance to interact with students at some point during the week just like we do, it just may not be during youth group time.

Does your spouse volunteer with you in your ministry? Does your spouse volunteer in another ministry at the church?

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Youth Ministry & Parenting: Should we bring our own kids to camp?

Fields' kids 2As I write this, two of my three kids are at camp. The 24 year old is on a youth ministry staff where she has been in charge of running this particular camp, and her 21 year old brother went to help out (a last minute counselor cancellation).

My kids know camp. My kids love camp.

They should… they are children of a youth pastor.

They tagged along to camp before they could walk and have seen just about every time of camp/mission trip/overnighter there is. I loved having them there and they loved being there.

FAST FORWARD: Today, fortunately, all 3 of my children love and follow Jesus, value the collective gathering we call church, have deep/meaningful friendships, love their family, and even enjoy their parents (which talking about that is the easiest way to get me to cry).

I realize all of that could change at any time.

I talk with youth workers almost every day, and this summer it seems like I spoke with more insecure youth workers/parents than normal. My use of the word “insecure” is different than you might imagine–I don’t mean they couldn’t look me in the eyes. I mean they were insecure in their parenting/youth ministry decisions.

PAUSE: I understand the fear of raising kids in the ministry… for Cathy and I, working with teenagers was a form of birth control early in our marriage. I always wondered, “Are my kids going to be freaks because they grew up in youth ministry?”

Here was the most common question I heard: “Are we doing the right thing by bringing our own kids to camp?”

I’m sure there are many who disagree with me, but that specific question is always met by an immediate “yes” from me. Yes. Yes. Yes.

A significant part of who my kids are (now, as young adults) is because they were constantly surrounded by amazing people (teens & adults) in fun environments (like camp!). I believe one of the key factors in their faith development was watching older “kids” live and fail in their pursuit of Jesus on these trips. As PK’s, my kids went to school on other kids.

Today, many of our friends will ask how we infused a heart for the world into our children (they ask because all of my kids frequent Africa). I’m not exactly sure, but I know that every Spring Break (from when they were in the womb all the way to teen years) they would join us as we ministered in impoverished communities in Mexico. I’m not positive that’s why they have a missional world view–my theology leaves a lot of room for God’s Spirit outside of our parenting decisions–but, I know taking them along contributed.

I realize that this broad-sweeping “yes, take your kids with you to camp” begs more questions and it’s definitely not as simple as I’m making it sound. But, as you evaluate your summer and consider next summer… I would encourage you to make your kids part of your camp. Don’t feel guilty for bring them. Don’t second-guess yourself.

Okay, bring on the questions (parenting and youth ministry) and I’ll do my best to answer some of them.

Enjoy your parenting… they’ll leave the house before you know it (our youngest leaves in 24 days, 3 hours and 18 minutes). Dang, more tears.

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5 Reasons You Need to Go On Vacation


I recently just got back from vacation. Let me just say it was awesome. Ten days of getting away with my lovely wife and some friends. Now that I am back, I cannot even tell you how refreshed I feel. As I was sitting back in my office looking at my phone at the pictures of the good times I just had feeling refreshed, I thought of 5 reasons why we NEED to make time to go on vacation and why it is VITAL to our ministry.

Spend time with your family- Ministry can be taxing. We all know that. Summer time is usually when all things are going at full speed. Between the normal services, you have game days, park days, serve projects, summer camp, etc. That is a ton of time away and spending time with students. I got to get away with my wife for 10 days. Mixed in their were friends and family time. It was amazing to have uninterrupted family time. I don’t even know how vital this is for my wife and I. Her top 3 love languages are quality time, quality time, and…you guessed it, quality time. So having that much time to hang out was not only re-energizing me, my wife’s batteries are fully charged. I love that.

Get away from your ministry- Promise, it’s going to still be there when you get back. Getting away is a really good test to see how well you as a leader have delegated authority to your key players that help you run a ministry. When you are gone, not only do you get to get away and relax, it allows others to step up and run the show. I think you would be surprised to see how great that can be.

It’s ok to have fun- Have fun! Really. Since you left the ministry in great hands, you can let your hair down and just enjoy the quality time with your family. Do something you have never done. Do nothing! Read, run, sit by the pool, go on a date with your spouse, go to a nice dinner, stay in the room, go jump off a cliff into a sweet pool of water… point? Have fun. This is your chance to be the student and just enjoy.

Your eyes are hurt- They do. You just don’t realize it because we stare at our phone, tv, computer, emails, blogs, etc. We are making graphic slides for a game, preparing for a message or answering the never-ending emails, now it’s time to turn it off. I turned off my email notifications completely on my phone. First time I ever truly did it. It was amazing to not get that little red circle with the number in it just looking at me. I didn’t even think twice and it was freeing. I was able to pretty much leave my phone in my room the entire day and not even think about it. My wife loved it! I would try it.

It’s healthy- get away for your own sanity! BEing able to do the 4 things listed above is completely healthy for anyone in ministry. I want to last in ministry. I want you to last in ministry. It’s healthy.

Now go plan your vacation if you do not have one already planned.

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The Fantasy Youth Ministry Team

The last Sunday afternoon of every August I sit in my living room with 11 other guys. We’re intensely focused as we type away on our laptops while looking through stacks of papers covered in handwritten notes. A planning retreat? No. A curriculum development meeting? Nope. An anointed brainstorming session? No way. It’s my annual fantasy football draft.

It sure would be nice if we could pick our youth ministry teams like we pick our fantasy football teams: looking at statistics and match-ups and choosing based on need. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way but if there were such a thing as a “fantasy youth ministry team draft”… here are five categories I would consider:

Love the Gospel – I don’t care how hip or influential a person seems to be. If it isn’t obvious they love the story of redemption and are centering their lives on the goodness of Jesus, then I don’t want them on my team. I’m not talking about perfect people. I’m talking about people who are entirely aware of their imperfections and modeling a lifestyle of faith and repentance.

Love the Family – Youth ministry is not just about teenagers. Youth ministry is about partnering with and supporting the work of discipleship happening in the home. Youth workers that try to take the place of parents or try to make parents out to be the enemy would go undrafted by me. If parents are unsaved this may look different but it’s still a non-negotiable.

Love the Team – We’re better together. Sometimes talented individuals and natural leaders have a hard time believing that. I want people on my team who love that they’re a part of a team and are glad to have a role to play. I don’t need someone with a messiah complex or a lone ranger.

Love the Journey – We’re all in process and there’s never been a teenager who emerged from youth ministry a finished product. 15+ years after high school and I still have so much growing in grace to do. I would select youth workers who patiently trust in God’s progressive work of sanctification as opposed to trying to be the Holy Spirit in teenagers’ lives while forcing behavior change that is disconnected from heart transformation.

Love the Vision – This one starts with me as the leader. What’s the vision, why does it matter and how can you be involved? The vision should me memorable, engaging and regularly repeated. I would be using my draft picks on people who feel the tension of the problem that the vision exists to solve, buy into that vision and can share it with others in a compelling fashion.

We can’t draft our youth ministry team but we can intentionally recruit them and we must strategically develop them. Consider using these five categories as areas of development in your team and you just might be on your way to leading your very own fantasy youth ministry team.

Question: What would you add to this list? Share it here and let’s learn from one another.

Guest Post: David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the District Youth and Chi Alpha Director. Prior to that he served as a youth pastor for 11+ years at Trinity AG in Clay, NY. He’s married to Erin and has two daughters, Lilia and Caraline. He loves his girls, his extended family, good music, good food, his Weber grill, his Taylor guitar, Liverpool Football Club, the Yankees and the Gospel. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidHertweck.

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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The Need for Daddy

GUEST POST by Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site! He is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.

“Show me a girl that dresses like that, and I’ll show you a girl whose father was absent.”

That’s what my friend said. I didn’t believe him when he said it. Sure, he was a 20-year youth ministry veteran, but I thought the statement was dogmatic and shallow. How can he make such a generalization!

I was only a couple years into youth ministry at the time and I hadn’t spent but a few years with teenagers. Years passed, and as my wife and I ministered to a growing number of teenage girls who dressed especially risqué and craved sexual attention, we began to notice a common denominator: the absent dad.

Perhaps my friend was right.

This goes beyond my personal observation. More research is surfacing, even in the last few months, pointing to the vital need for “Daddy’s” presence in his kids’ lives. Presence extends further than just being there physically. Our kids need dads who are actually available for conversation.

The journal Pediatrics released an article on October 15, 2012 titled Paternal Influences on Teen Sexual Behaviors, available for download as a PDF . This review concluded the simple fact, “fathers influence the sexual behavior of their adolescent children.”  The review investigated 13 different studies about the effect that fathers had on the sexual behavior of their kids. The studies suggest communication between fathers and kids is especially influential. Or, in their educated words:

“Paternal attachment was associated with decreased older adolescent sexual behavior, whereas maternal attachment was unrelated, and paternal disapproval of adolescent behavior delayed adolescent sexual debut slightly beyond the effect of maternal disapproval. Specifically, adolescents with increasing paternal or maternal disapproval, independently, were less likely to ever have sex.”

In short, it’s important for parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about sex… especially dads.

Interestingly enough, these studies all emphasized “conversations,” not rules. The review suggests kids are actually more likely to have sex earlier if they have either extremely strict or extremely lenient parents. Either extreme is bad (not the first time you’ve heard me talk about the overprotective and over-permissive parents’ guidelines). A balanced approach of providing information in frequent conversations is what made the big difference.

In my 20 years of youth ministry and talking with parents after my parenting workshops, I have witnessed the impact a dad can have. Dads make a huge difference when they choose to actually be present in their kids’ lives. The question dads need to ask is, “Do I want to work those extra hours for that Christmas bonus… or do I want to give them a gift that will actually make a lasting difference in their lives: my presence?”

The gift of presence helps your kids in numerous ways. A new study published in the August issue of Child Development proposed that a parents’ time spent with their kids may even raise a teenager’s self esteem and social confidence, especially if it’s time spend with Dad. US News summarizes the study.

Something about the father’s role in the family seemed to boost self-esteem among the teenagers in the study. What most differentiated some families from others was how much the dad was typically around and whether he devoted some of that time to be with his children.

Dads… are you listening?

Question: What do you think? Why do you think these studies are discovering the role of a dad to be so important?Do you think Jonathan’s friend was right about a “promiscuous” girl’s relationship with her dad? Share your thoughts here.

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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Wake up, Notice, Pay Attention… win big!

 As part of the debut of my new series, “Be her hero: how NOT to suck as a husband” this week’s posts will focus on marriage.

Years ago if you found me in a mall, you probably would have seen me in Best Buy or a sporting goods store. Now you’d find me in Aldo’s looking at women’s shoes, or the Clinique make-up counter at Macy’s.

No, I haven’t lost my love for electronics and sports… I just love my wife, and finally have grown all the wiser.

Men are funny. They always want to know the secret to keeping their wife happy, but when I ask them about their wife’s interests, the question is often met with, “I don’t know. Women stuff.”

Let me introduce you to what I call “Duh” wisdom—the stuff we should already know.

The secret to a happy wife is this: Notice her.

“I love the way you did your bangs today, it draws attention to your eyes. Wow, your eyes are beautiful.”
Try that one on for size.

Or next time you’re walking out of J.C. Penney’s and your wife stops at the Sephora counter and starts looking at eye shadow, don’t exhale and tell her, “I’ll meet you at Cabella’s in the gun section.” Instead… notice! Take note of the shade of shadow she’s looking at. Make note of the brand. Does she look at nail polish? What color? Jot it down.

Two days later, place a small box on her pillow with that shade or color in it. Better yet… paint her toenails for her.

Dads, this doesn’t end at your marriage, it applies to your daughters as well. My daughters both love shoes. Alyssa loves any kind of boots (and boots are the rage right now), Ashley, my tom-girl, loves sparkly heels and high top Converse (I can’t figure that one out). If I ever want to get some one-on-one time with my girls, all I need to do is poke my head in the door and say, “I’m thinking that you and me hit DSW Shoes and follow it up with some Tasty Time Yogurt.”

Never fails.

The crazy thing is, if I popped my head in my daughters’ room and said, “Hey girls, how about you join me at Wal Mart looking for some sprinkler pipe, and then maybe we get a Del Taco Burrito?” They both would probably just look at me, “Ew!”

I get more opportunities to hang with my daughters because I take the time to just stop and notice their interests.

Is this materialism? No… this is wisdom. I know a guy who thinks that this is materialism. His kids hate him, and he hasn’t had sex with his wife in a month (I’m sure someone’s gonna be offended by that comment… sorry Doug). But this also doesn’t have to revolve around shopping. My daughter Alyssa loves to draw and paint. I can earn big points stopping in her room and asking, “Whatcha painting?” or looking through her drawings and commenting, “This one’s my favorite!”

Don’t underestimate the simple power of noticing.

Next time your wife (or daughter) stops at Bath and Body Works, take note of what lotion they like. (Brown Sugar and Fig!)

Ladies this works the same with men. There’s nothing sexier than my wife asking me the difference between a Plasma and a LED flat panel!

Question: What about you? What are ways you apply this in your marriage? As a parent? Share your thoughts here.

GUEST POST by Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site! He is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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GUEST POST: Being a Good Pastor is Great But…

If your life has been anything like mine lately, things have been pretty busy.  The days go by fast, but the To-Do lists seem to grow.  Too often I’ve seen people excel as pastors, but fail miserably at being a husband, parent or friend.  I’m realizing how important it is not to let things and people slip through the cracks.  So for now, this will be a daily checklist I make for myself, and I¹d encourage you to do the same:

  • Thank God for everything you have.  This is one of the more difficult things to make a discipline, but the more we touch base with God, the more he’ll reveal Himself to us.  It’s pretty rad.
  • Tell your wife, husband, fiance, boyfriend or girlfriend how much they mean to you.  Think of something new every day.  Re-live old memories, or just tell them how awesome you think they are.  Remember, you are committed to them, too.  Being in youth ministry, my rule of thumb is to schedule dates and make plans with students and leave the last-minute spontaneous outings for my wife.  It makes her feel special, and there is no better way to show students what a healthy marriage looks like than having fun together.  There’s nothing wrong with telling students that you don’t want to leave your wife hanging. (note: obviously things come up sometimes, but students move on and wives are forever).
  • If you have a kid, NEVER leave without kissing them and telling them how much you love them, even if they¹re too young to understand.  You’ll never get times like that back, and even if you have over 50 kids because you’re in youth ministry, your own kids get priority.
  • Touch base with close family members through email, texts and phone calls.  Try to manage at least one phone call a week, and if you have a spare hour or so, stop by.  It¹ll mean so much to them.
  • Make sure your close friends feel like close friends.  We should never be too busy for each other.  Family is important, but friends fill voids even family cannot.

These are five easy things that will ensure the people who mean most to you know you¹re always thinking of them.  Yes, it could get crazy, but there are simply people in our lives that we shouldn’t let fall through the cracks.

Adam Knowles is the Junior High Director at Inland Hills Church in Chino, CA. Check out his blog HERE and you can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @Adam_Knowles

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Guest Post: What Our Kids Hear from “Some Nights"

GUEST POST by Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site! He is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.

This week I emailed four different people, all friends of mine with master’s degrees (i.e. smarter than me), and asked them what they think the lyrics mean to Fun’s new song Some Nights.

I received four different answers.

So what are teenagers without master’s degrees hearing from this song?

Vague lyrics are nothing new. I’m still trying to figure out why a guy riding through the desert on a horse with no name is seeing flying alligator lizards? (Perhaps hallucinogenic drugs were involved?) Fun’s lyrics to the title of song of their new album, “Some Nights” is no exception:

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they’d just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…
Google the lyrics and you’ll find the rest of the lyrics to be just as vague.

So what do we know about the song?

1.The song is catchy.
When I heard the song for the first time, I found myself singing the chorus the next few hours, making up lyrics in the gaps (I do the same with Elton John’s Rocket Man, don’t you?)

2.Teenagers sure like it.
I’ve been on three different outings with my girls (14 and 16) in the last week and heard their friends playing it or singing it on all occasions.

3.It’s doing well on the charts
It’s #3 on iTunes as I write this, and it’s #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s getting plenty of airplay. I’ve heard it in the grocery store, the mall and the radio nonstop.

4.The lyrics raise questions about the meaning of life
One of the catchy parts of the song is when they repeat, “What do I stand for?” a question that probably resonates in the minds of the listeners. The music video doesn’t seem to offer much clarity, possibly serving as just one interpretation of the lyrics. But the message of “emptiness” seems to penetrate through most interpretations.

5.The band’s songs seem to think we’re all alone in this world, so make what you can of this temporary time.
If you look beyond this song to songs like their hit, We Are Young, and their rather bleak song, One Foot, you’ll get a more holistic picture of Fun’s philosophy. One Foot, for example, reveals a little about their view of God and the church. He describes passing a chapel and thinking about what happens inside:

I happened to stumble upon a chapel last night.
And I can’t help but back up when I think of what’s happens inside.
I got friends locked in boxes. And no way to live.

But you call it a sin. Isn’t up to them.
After all, after all I thought we were all your children,
But I will die for my own sins thanks a lot.


The question parents are asking me is, “What are our kids hearing?” And “Should I let my teenagers listen to this?”
That’s a good question. In all honesty, I don’t think young people are understanding much of Fun’s poetry. When parents compare this song to the typical popular hip hop “get low and shake your…” …Fun is probably a sigh of relief to some. If you listen to the band’s two hits, We Are Young and Some Nights, you’ll find a curse word here and there, but not a whole lot that will cause parents to worry.

But, should they worry?

I guess I’ll answer that question the way I answer it to most parents: “Why don’t you use these popular songs as a springboard for conversation with your teenagers?”

It’s okay to react to these songs, but don’t overreact.

If your kids like these songs, print out the lyrics to several of Fun’s songs on their album, “Some Nights” and ask them what they think the lyrics mean. Show them the lyrics to the song One Foot. Ask them what the think the group is trying to say. Rather than jumping on your kids and banning the song from your house, ask questions about it:

1. Do you think any of your friends have this temporary outlook of, “I don’t need a new love or a new life just a better place to die.”
2. What does the band seem to think of God and the church?
3. Do you think any of your friends have this view of church and God?
4. How would you respond to your friends if they talked about church or God like this?

These songs by Fun are yet another chance to turn our “overreaction” into “interaction.”

Question: What about you?
What do you think the title song of this album, “Some Nights” is about?
What do you think about allowing your kids to download a song with one curse word?
Do you think parents should allow their teenagers to download songs with clear secular philosophies?
Share your thoughts here.

If you want to talk music and/or how to discuss music with your kids, check our more articles from Jonathan

What is This #1 Song Whistle Really About?

Can I Download Nicki Minaj?

Overreacting or Interacting to Rihanna’s #1 Song

If you liked this article, you’ll love Jonathan’s book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, including the chapter titled, “Dad, Can I Download This Song?”

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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Video: What's the FAM conference all about?

We’d love for you to join us at the FAM conference on May 10-12, 2012 at Azusa Pacific University!

We have invited some of the most respected thought-leaders in the area of family, marriage, children & teenagers.

It’s going to be a great time think a little deeper, be in smaller conference-type environment, and come away with a stronger vision to help the families that God has entrusted to the care of your leadership.

Check out the details here.

Here’s a short video of Jim Burns and I talking about it.

[if the video doesn't appear in your RSS feed, go here]

I really look forward to hanging-out with you!

Leave any questions about the FAM conference in the comment section and I’ll answer them.

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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Help Families Win–give them dates…early!

Every week Cathy and I block out time to “talk calendar”—it’s as official as our weekly date night. In our home, calendar-time is vital to making our family function.

A detailed, accurate, up-to-date, clearly communicated calendar is an essential part of our lives. Like most families, we’ve got a lot going on: work, ministry, kids’ schedules, housework, yard work, friends, exercise, etc… and the sooner we can plan, the better.

One of the significant parts of our weekly calendaring experience is trying to know what’s going on in our kids’ lives—especially in the areas of (1) school, (2) sports, and (3) church.

When I talk to other parents, most agree that school and sports organizations do a better job of communicating dates than the church.

If you happen to be someone who works with, oversees or influences the church calendar (children/youth/general), here’s the principle to help families: the earlier we know important dates, the better it is for our family.

You want to help families? Serve them with dates early. Let us know WHEN and WHAT it’s going to cost us. We don’t need all the details (what time you’re leaving, your exact locations, etc…), just enough to block out the dates and think thru how it may impact our budget.

Also, your communication doesn’t need to be fancy (three color brochures)… just make sure it’s clear. Here’s an example of a daily email I get from my daughter’s high school. While it’s basic (even boring), it gives us everything we need to help our family plan ahead.

I know you want to help families… get them the dates ASAP so they can plan–it may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s real important for families.

Question:: What steps do you take to communicate clearly to families? Share with us here.

[Are you getting Doug's daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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10 Signs you might be married to your job

My good friend and podcast colleague, Josh Griffin, wrote a humorous Twitter a couple days ago:

This Twitter was funny because it had a sting of truth connected to it that so many of us could relate to.

I “do-life” with Josh and I know he was kidding… partly because when you’re married to your work you’re usually not self-aware enough to make jokes about it. Josh is one of the few guys I know who is able to carefully juggle work, ministry, and family. He’s an amazing minister, dad and husband.

But, not everyone juggles work so well. I have one friend who confessed, “I was married to my wife, but I was having an affair with the church” (where he worked).

One of the common cries coming from American homes is: “You work too much!” Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if this cry was even louder from the homes of ministry leaders (where ministry never stops because there’s so many needs to meet).

In no way am I suggesting that these are the only signs, but here’s 10 I listed after reflecting on Josh’s Twitter:

1. You come home and immediately jump into work: or if you don’t work immediately, you’re thinking about it while you’re “paying your family dues.”

2. You’re regularly giving your marriage/family your emotional table-scraps.

3. You find yourself saying, “This pace is just for a season” but your spouse would say, “You’re always saying ‘it’s just a season.’”

4. You routinely saying “yes” to “more” without cutting anything out of your schedule or off of your responsibility list.

5. You miss family events (or kid’s activities) and easily justify your absence.

6. There’s looming (if not active) tension at home with “how much you work.”

7. You wake up thinking about work.

8. You go to bed thinking about work.

9. The majority of your friends are the people you work with.

10. You can’t go more than an hour or two without checking email.

Obviously these aren’t the only signs, but 10 is a good place to start.

Let’s create a list! I bet that we could collectively create a “365 ways to know you’re married to your work” document. Each one of these ideas could require a page of journaling and self-reflection and really help people.

Question: How do you know your work is getting more attention that your primary relationships? Comment.

Follow up question: What “alarms” or “gauges” do you have in play that keep you from having an affair with your work? More comments!

[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

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My Family in Africa [7 photos]

Today a friend asked me why I didn’t blog while I was in Africa. Two reasons: (1) I had great guest posts lined up for while I was gone, and (2) I rarely had access to internet.

Three-fifths of our family arrived home last night after being in Kitale, Kenya. Cathy and my daughter Cassie (16 yrs old) arrived there a week before me (I was delayed because of our Student Leadership Conference). My oldest, Torie, graduated college in May and immediately left to oversee a group of 20 college-aged students who are in Kenya for the summer. And, as I’ve mentioned in other posts (like this one….and, this one), my son Cody (19) has been in Kitale since January. Being all together for the first time since January was an incredible family-affair. There are no people in the world that I’d rather be with than the 5 of us.

Here’s a little sampling of some Fields’ family photos (with a slight emphasis on Cody since he’s been there for almost 7 months):

Cody’s heart breaks for the orphans who live on the street, sniff glue, and have no family. While there are 1000′s, this is one of Cody’s favorite boys:

These kids have no home. They beg for food, sniff glue to stay warm and numb their hunger, and occasionally hang-out at a drop-in center where they receive some teaching and love.

One of my highlights of the trip was to see the influence my son has had in such a short period of time. Not only does he now speak (almost fluent) Swahili, but everywhere we went there were kids shouting his name and running up to him for a hug. All week I was referred to as, “Cody’s Babba” (Cody’s dad–which I’m proud to be).

The kids in this photo are at an orphanage where they are either “infected” or “affected” (meaning they’ve lost their parents) by HIV/AIDS. On this day, they got new mattresses for their beds (although 20 kids still sleep on the cold concrete).

Torie is the one who led the way for our family to fall in love with Kitale, Kenya. She first went to Kenya 6 years ago when she was a junior in high school (and has been back 5 times). She has an amazing heart, and as the leader of the group this summer, her leadership-learning-curve is very high. She’s doing a great job!

One of the highlights of my trip was delivering blankets to street kids at midnight. They typically cover themselves in plastic bags and try to find any shelter they can. It can be very scary, but here’s a shot of my brave daughter (Cassie) giving-out a blanket with the prayer that he’ll wake up and realize that someone in this crazy-world loves him.

Saying “hello” was a lot sweeter than saying “goodbye”…here at the airport our family gathers for one last photograph as Cathy, Cassie & I return home and leave Torie & Cody to continue their mission. We’ll reunite with them later in August.

For those of you who are still in the stage of life where your children are young, I encourage you to take them on your youth ministry mission trips (when you can). Our kids went with us every year on our spring break mission week to Mexico when they were toddlers. Unintentionally, we exposed them to a bigger picture of God’s family and planted the seed of serving others. I’m so grateful that our church (and my wife) allowed them to tag along. It’s an incredible blessing to have children who serve Jesus!

Thanks for indulging me as I share a little about my family (it really is just a little…I took over 500 photos)!

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Is Facebook Killing Family Time?

Yesterday I wrote a post about Facebook & Google+ and what the “new kid on the block” might mean to the future of Facebook. As I was thinking, writing, and reading the comments, there were thoughts in the back of my mind like, “Do we really need another social medium that is going to distract me, my kids and my family?” As a parent of 3 young adults (22, 19, 16), Facebook is a dominate medium in our family. My kids are on it all the time!

Because of the Facebook reality, the title of the blog on the Orange Leaders site definitely captured my attention (“Is Facebook Killing Your Family?”). It was an easy click-thru for me and I devoured the content. Here’s a snippet:

So, what’s the deal with technology? Is it good? Bad? Indifferent? Inevitable? How is it impacting your family, and what can you do about it?

Here’s what we discovered. Only 35 percent of tweens and teens feel emotionally close to their dads, and only 59 percent feel emotionally close to their moms. Those were just two of the findings we uncovered a few months ago when Orange partnered with the Barna Group to commission an unprecedented survey of over 400 families—asking both parents and teens about their use of technology and its impact on relationships in the home.

Alarming as that statistic is, is it really Facebook that’s killing your family? The study suggests that maybe the answer is “no.” What if technology isn’t good or evil, but simply reveals and amplifies what’s already there? [READ the entire post here]

Because Cathy and I have been in youth ministry for so long, we made conscious decisions to limit the technology influence so it wouldn’t dominate our lives. For example:

1. We didn’t have any type of gaming systems in our house as our kids were growing up. Because of the age of our kids, gaming wasn’t as big back then as it is today, but we just didn’t want it to consume us. A couple years ago we purchased a Wii system that we’ll use when friends are over and it’s a total blast.

2. During the school year, we didn’t watch TV from Monday thru Thursday. School nights consisted of sports’ practices, dinner, homework, church, etc… but, not TV.

3. We were late to the game in allowing our kids online and very late to get them a cell phone. We always got the line, “I’m the only 8th grader at school who doesn’t have a cell phone.”

4. Cathy and I don’t use our mobile phone, in the car, when our kids are with us (that’s what voice mail is for).

5. Even now, as our kids are older, we have to say, “no phones” at the dinner table or in restaurants. I wish we didn’t have to remind anyone, but the temptation is always there to check.

Bottom line, Cathy and I have had to make several unpopular decisions with our kids to make sure “family wins” in the battle between media/technology & family. I’m not suggesting this is what others should do with there families…it’s more sharing the practices of the Fields’ family. We may be wrong in what we’ve done, but at this point in our parenting, we don’t have regrets.

Question: What are your media boundaries? Share your thoughts here

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Does your church do enough (or anything) to help marriages?

The more I talk to people, read and engage with the mission of HomeWord… the more desperate I feel for the condition of marriages.

Many churches are great at focusing on children, youth (for which I’m grateful), preaching, teaching, Bible studies and mission/service. But what about marriage?

I’d love to see/hear about a church that has an intentional marriage ministry that is staffed and resourced as much as a children/youth ministry. Is there such a church? Honestly, I don’t know.

Divorce rates continue to skyrocket! The chance of a first marriage ending in divorce over a forty-year period is 67%. The number increases by 10% if it’s a second marriage. Half of all divorces occur in the first seven years of marriage.**

Unfortunately, the divorce rates are not that different for those inside the church.

As a life-long youth worker, I’ve seem firsthand the devastation that divorce has on children. And, even when divorce isn’t the final outcome, it’s clearly harmful to raise kids in a home where hostility between parents is the norm. Children of divorce suffer far more from truancy, depression, peer rejection, behavioral problems (especially aggression), and low achievement at school.**

Personally, I dislike books, radio programs, TV shows, and blogs that simply present the problem. It doesn’t take much intelligence to identify the problem. But, that’s what this post is doing. I don’t pretend to know what the answer is to this growing issue, so I’m just as bad as those mediums I dislike. I don’t know the answer.

I know the church needs to respond! I think youth ministry needs to consider the marriages of the kids they minister to and engage toward a different outcome. We’ve got to do something! I just don’t know what it is…

Here’s my questions:
(1) What’s your church doing to help marriages?
(2) Who is the church that is leading the way to help marriages (that others need to be learning from)?
(3) What are your suggestions?

Chime in on one or all three HERE.

**(Research from Dr. John Gottman, University of Washington)

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