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Tag Archives | student ministry

Fear Of Failing

So I have completely transitioned about of Saddleback HSM (just in case you missed this news, click HERE to read what has been going on in my life and ministry). It has been bitter-sweet. Sad to leave people I love but excited to work with some amazing people in the near future. This means the last 10 days I have had plenty of time on my hands. We have moved, we are setting up the new place but for the past few days have had no computer or internet at our house. There has been a lot of great quality time with my wife but there also has been a lot of time to just sit, reflect, think and pray.

A lot.

Maybe not a lot, but more than I am used to on a regular basis.

I don’t know about you, but when things get quiet, things that we tend to repress and avoid because we are busy tend to pop up and be a louder voice than usual. I think for any leader the voice and fear of failing on whatever next venture is (whether is a new position, next event, next service, etc.), is something we will always have to deal with. This is where the enemy loves to sit, fester, and try to pry in our lives cause doubt in our lives where God clearly has called us.

No one wants to fail but it is a constant fear, admitted or not, it is there. So how do you move past it? I have been asking myself this over and over the past few days as I am about to embark on a new adventure in which I know will bring challenges I am not used to.

Here are 3 things I have been constantly reminding myself of when these feelings of fear of failure seem to creep into my life:

  1. Remember what God thinks about me. I think we say this to our students all of the time but we as leaders forget to believe it sometimes ourselves. I need to be reminded daily that I am His child, His friend and that He is for me… even if I fail.
  2. Remember I sit in God’s grace…always. Even if the people around me show no grace, I am always in God’s grace. And this should be enough to pick my head up and keep moving forward. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again.” This is the beauty of God’s grace.
  3. Overcome temptation. When it comes to leading there are many temptations. The temptation of if I fail, to get down on myself. The temptation of if I succeed, to become prideful and lean on myself only. The temptation to rely on me only and steamroll the team in which I work with. The temptation to try to do it all by myself because I know how I want it. As leaders, we need to over come these things and is something I have been in prayer about constantly.

Leadership is a great thing. Failure is not. But sometimes it takes some failing to make some great leaders.

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Weekend In Review: Volume 253


Weekend Teaching Series: Stress Out
Sermon in a Sentence: When you are anxious and stressed, God cares for you.
Service Length: 85 minutes

Understandable Message: This was a 1-off message the weekend of HSM Summer Camp. I decided to speak on a subject I felt we do not talk about often but more and more students are coming to me with wanting to know how to combat stress and anxiety in their lives. The message went through 4 ways we can overcome stress and anxiety in our lives and how do we allow God to comfort us in those times (This will be out on DYM soon).

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We started off the service with a great live action movie trailer of Dora the Explorer, really funny. It was fun to see the student’s reaction when they realized what it was for. We played In Touch with Your Emojis 3 (which will be coming out on DYM soon but to check out all the hilarious games by Travis, click HERE). It is such a clever game and the students always love it. There were some tough ones on there and it kept it challenging and there was a ton of laughing and yelling out of answers.

Music Playlist: This Is Amazing Grace, How He Loves, Sinking Deep, Your Great Name

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was that since it was summer camp weekend, the guys who usually run our weekends were on the early crew for camp and they were gone. So the summer intern under them, Chloe, stepped up to the plate and programmed, organized and ran the entire weekend herself. She did incredible! It was so fun to see her take on the beast of a weekend and do so well at it. It was flawless.

Up next: Summer Camp Stories Weekend (1-off)

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God Can Speak Through Your Spouse…

“I feel like we really need to be closer to family. It kills me a little bit every time we leave family and drive back here. I’ve tried to hold back the feelings, but I just can’t and I have to tell you and I think we should consider it.”

Heavy right? What does one do when their spouse brings up moving when things are going well? I’m going to be honest, it was not an easy thing to hear coming out of mouth of my lovely wife. If I’m going to be really honest, I was a little bit angry at first. I was thinking, “Why on earth would I ever consider leaving Saddleback and the HSM team? There is such a great thing happening here. I love the team. I love the ministry. I love the church. I love what I get to do.”

I remember going into the offices and having a conversation with Josh with tears in my eyes because I didn’t really know what to do in this situation. Neither did he. So we prayed and I had quite a few follow up conversations with Kristin to make sure this was not a one time thought. It wasn’t. I was praying the next night by myself, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me saying, “If you felt called to go to a church in Montana, Kristin would be open to have a conversation and be prayerful about what I am doing in you, don’t ignore what I’m doing in her.” Dang.

So I started to pray for her… for us.

It’s amazing what prayer can do. God can change a heart, a desire, and open up doors in which you thought would never open. Prayer is powerful and God loves to answer prayers. Over the weeks as we have been talking, praying and discussing where we feel God is leading us, we are taking a huge leap of faith. I know I am called to lead a ministry. I know I am called to lead a team. Saddleback HSM has been an instrumental part of helping me understand how a healthy and effective team. Josh and the team have showed me how to love students and run an effective student ministry. They are incredible people and amazing pastors.

This is why I have decided to accept the lead Student Ministries Pastor position at Christ’s Church of the Valley (Shift Students) in San Dimas, CA. I worked here for a few years right after college and I’m really excited to be back doing ministry in a city I love, where we will closer to both of our families, and get to work alongside some great friends. I will be overseeing Junior High and High School ministry and leading a team of great people to reach students for Christ. I am really excited/nervous/anxious for what the future brings and I am excited to see how God is going to use both Kristin and I in this new season of ministry.

Just a few things that I have learned through this process:

  • My wife is one of the bravest people I know. She had the courage to speak her mind even though she knew it would be a tough conversation.
  • I couldn’t just let this conversation pass and sweep it away because my wife would not feel comfortable with bringing up tough things again in the future.
  • When I read passages like the ones from Ephesians 5, it challenges me to love my wife, putting her needs in front of some things that I really like or enjoy, and see how God can bless those decisions.
  • Praying with your spouse is super powerful and very encouraging.
  • God knows what he is doing and looking back in the process, I can see His presence in every step of the way.
  • It’s really easy to leave things are tough, but it’s really hard to walk away from something that is really good and going well.
  • It sucks saying goodbye to people and students you have been with for years.
  • Taking leaps of faith is frightening, but God wants to bless those who put their trust in Him and follow where He is leading.

My time with DYM will still be the same and I’m excited to share my learnings and what I will take part in during this whole new process. I would appreciate any prayers you can offer our way. This is going to be quite a journey.

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4 Things To Remember When Dealing With Parents

So this week is HSM Summer Camp. I’m going to be up front with you, I have nothing to do with the planning of it. But the week before we head out, its all hands on deck fro answering questions for students, leaders and mostly parents. For the most part, summer camp runs smooth, but there always is the dreaded “putting the cabins together” and not everyone is going to be happy with everything. That is okay, it is part of it.

All this last week, I would say I spent a good 2 hours on the phone with upset parents. These parents were not out of control; they were just worried because they were looking out for the best interest of their child. My phone calls with parents were great and it got me thinking about how we as youth workers deal with parents and some things we need to keep in mind.

When dealing and communicating with upset parents we need to:

Listen- I have heard of horror stories where parents don’t feel like the youth pastor actually listens to them when they are upset about something. I think one of the most important things we can do is just to listen. Stop talking. Hear them out whether they are being rational or not. Most people think they will get backlash right back so when we don’t respond and hear them out, it automatically lets them take their guard down and allow you to say what you need to say in a loving but clear way. Parents want to know they are being heard.

Affirm – Whether you think so or not, how they are feeling is a real feeling to them. We may not agree with what they are feeling or why they are feeling it, but regardless, it is how they feel. Saying, “I can see how you can feel that way” or “I understand where you are coming from” shows that you are listening and hearing what they have to say.

Inform – Remembering that their feelings are very real to them, we still need to explain why something is a particular way. If it was an oversight, we can apologize and fix it if necessary. If there was a reason you made the choice they are upset about, this is where you would lovingly explain to them why it is that way.

Encourage – We are to partner with parents. We want to listen to them, affirm their feelings, inform them, and then encourage them. If you do the first 3 things, usually the end of the conversation is much different from the upset beginning. It allows us to cool down the confrontation and then turn it into a conversation about the most important thing (and the reason why they are calling you so passionately) their child. We are to speak life into their family whenever we can.

Granted, some conversations don’t always end so nicely. Hopefully you will be able to figure the best way to represent Christ with a passionate parent. But I feel remembering these things while talking with an upset parent will help us get through a difficult conversation and turn it into an encouraging one.

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Fun Twitter Campaign Idea For Summer Camp


This weekend we leave for HSM Summer Camp. It honestly is one of my favorite things we do all year long. The staff is pumped. The students are pumped. Our volunteers are pumped. I think it is easy to say, everyone and their mother is pumped for camp. One thing we have been trying to get pumped up (because we have not really focused on it besides the last few months) is our @SaddlebackHSM twitter. If I’m honest, we have neglected it but that has changed recently.

As I’m sure all of you know, many students are online in some way, shape or form. We have noticed many students have made the transition to Twitter so we want to communicate to them and get our ministry Twitter up on its game. So with camp coming up, I decided to launch a Twitter campaign of “100 Awesome Things About Summer Camp”. The goal was to get students to interact with it and in a way spread the word about HSM twitter to other students and friends while promoting our stuff. So we started to make a list of things about summer camp and used the hashtag “#100AwsomeThingsHSMCamp” and went to town.

I would have to say it was a success. Students “favorited” or “retweeted” many of the tweets and it was a really fun way to get students excited about camp. Go check out the rest of the tweets by clicking HERE.

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What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

There are times in ministry (and life for that matter) where I come upon a situation and I really do not know what to do. I get a very angry email from an upset parent and my first response will probably not be the best. There is a leader in which I know is not working out and I need to ask them to step down. There is a student in which seems not to get anything I have been teaching or saying and they just keep doing the same thing over and over again. There is a decision that only you can make but you don’t really want to make it because you know you are going to get back lash. I feel like I have been in a season of all of these things happening at once and I find myself just standing scratching my head thinking, “What do I even do here?”

Here is a few things I do when I do not know what to do:

Stop. Relax. Chances are it’s not the end of the world, it just feels like it. One thing I know for sure, the best decisions are not the ones out of immediate reactions of anger and annoyance.

Forget about the overall outcome. Many times just the thought of what is going to happen down the line will freeze us in making a right decision, or any decision for that matter. When we don’t get too ahead of ourselves, we stop and think, we can make the best leadership decision.

Think about the next right, immediate decision. So instead of thinking so far in the future, ask “What would be the best next decision now to get towards the solution?” We can worry about whether or not this is going to pan out and stay stuck or we can think about what the next move is and move forward.

Pray about it. Sometimes I feel like it’s really easy to skip this step. We get so caught up in the anxiety, we miss probably the most important step. We know what Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We have the power of the Holy Spirit to help guide us in decision-making. allow God’s peace to guard your heart and your mind. Give it to him.

Respond appropriately. When we give it to God and have spent some time in prayer about it, we can confidently know our decision is the best one we can make and we know we have gone about it the best way we humanly know how. Then respond appropriately and people will be able to see your leadership and how well you handle tough calls.

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Who Is Your Sounding Board?

In ministry we teach “it’s all about the community”. But sometimes we as the ministers don’t really follow our own advice. If you are not careful, leading can be a very lonely, lonely place. Because we are the ones students and leaders go to for help, the amount of time we actually have to get some help for ourselves get tougher. If we are not careful, this can cause some serious damage.

One of the most important things I would say in my own spiritual life is having people I have intentionally placed in my life who can be a sounding board for decisions I need to make in my personal, spiritual, and ministerial life.

These people I trust greatly. These people I know I can go to for anything. These people I know will tell me the truth and not just what I want to hear. They ask me the tough questions, question my reasoning, challenge me in areas of my life I need to be challenged in. All in all, they make me a better Christ follower which makes me a better pastor. When we do not have these people in our lives and ministry, you will not only pay the price but your students will suffer the consequences of your actions and decisions because you had no one to go to.

We really are better together. We were not created to do anything alone. God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to have relationships with others. Pastors and youth workers need relationships to thrive. Thriving ministers have people in their lives who ask them the tough things and thriving ministers have people they can go to for anything in life and ministry to be a sounding board.

So the question is: who is your sounding board and who are you being a sounding board to?

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5 Benefits Of Involving Volunteers In Future Planning

We are winding down the small groups year this week. Most of our groups take a break for the summer. But just because groups are winding down doesn’t mean we get to stop working. We are already planning ahead for next years groups. One thing we are doing is putting together a meeting with some of our key volunteers to get their input on the direction of small groups and curriculum we are going to be going through next year. It is a simple brain storming meetings asking for their thoughts on the direction we should be going, what they think their students need to hear, and what was missed in the material we provided for them this year. I figured, who would have a better pulse on our students than the ones who spent the most time with them?

Here are some benefits for asking for volunteer’s inputs:

They feel/are valued - In general, when people are included in something, they feel valued. In instances like this, they are valued greatly. what they bring to the table is the best weapon for prepping for next year.

They feel they have a voice - When volunteers have an input in direction of anything, they feel like we actually listen to them. It’s not as easy to be given something and be passionate about it as it is to have your hand in something and be passionate about it. Curriculum and structure won’t be something ordered rather than something they helped create.

They feel ownership - When you have a say in something you feel like you own it. You’re proud of the end result. Therefore, you are excited about it and want to get others in on it. this is exactly what involving volunteers in brainstorming meetings does. Especially if you are going to change things up a little bit (which we are next year), it’s important they feel like they have a part in it.

They have the inside scoop - Small group leaders are in the trenches like we are. Yes, we might be paid for it (or not even) but they are the ones who are talking with, hanging out with, spending time with the students in your ministry. they know what topics are right on and they know what topics are missing. Lean into that.

We have a ton to learn from them - We have so many leaders who are just total studs. Leaders in which I get to hang out with and I end up walking away challenged and encouraged because of the ministry they are doing. There is a ton of great things to be learned when it comes to leading groups from some leaders. When we get all of our leaders together, they get a chance to share their wisdom and experiences with each other and they walk away feeling heard, inspired and challenged.

Moral of the story? Get your leaders involved, it will only make you better.

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Get Some “Ups” In Ministry

Ministry is a whole bunch of ups and downs. There are certain things we need to keep in mind when it comes to working in ministry, working or volunteering in a church, speaking with students, staff or parents and much more. There are certain situations in which certain leadership actions need to take place. We all like to be “up”.

Here are some “ups” to keep in mind while we do this amazing thing called “ministry”:

Step Up- A goal is given to you but not clear direction. Sometimes we just need to take it and run with it. Step up into it and make it awesome. Make it effective. Someone dropped the ball on something, step up and own it. It shows your team you can take some heat for them and then you can go back with them and walk them through to help avoid it again. You see a student sitting by themselves but your busy. Don’t let the excuse of, “Surely someone else will talk to them.” Step up and be a pastor and care for your flock.

Back Up- Sometimes we just need to back up and evaluate the situation before we rush in and try to fix it. This is my tendency. I want to just get it done. Back up and see what the big picture is and then try again. Sometimes we want teenagers and parents to figure it out. Back up, let them work it out. Come alongside them. Sometimes we need to realize we cannot do somethings be ourselves, we need to back up, swallow our pride and get help.

Speak Up- This tends to be one of the harder ones for me. I am a people pleaser. Sometimes when I have a great idea I let it go because I was not asked. When I see something that went wrong or is not a good thing, I have been trying to speak up more. Sometimes it will better the organization. Speak up in someones life when you see something, in a loving way of course. Sometimes I rather the person not be mad at me instead of being their pastor and help them with sin in their life and walk them through a difficult situation.

Shut Up- I need to work on this too. Sometimes I say things when I shouldn’t. Or sthings have been said but could have been said later, in private, to that person and not in front of everyone. Something I have been working on even more is just shutting up and listening. I am finding the best counseling sessions I have done have been the ones in which I barely said anything and just listened. Instead of jumping in right away with my thoughts on how they should fix it, just shut up and listen and then ask if they want your input.

Show Up- Sometimes we don’t need to say anything at all. Just show up. Just like Job’s friends when he was in pain, they didn’t say a word and just sat there with him. Show up to that football game or play. Our presence means more to students than we will ever know.

Pray Up- We sometimes forget this. We are never doing anything by ourselves when we are in ministry unless we make it that way. Pray it up. Every situation, conversation, action or decision, give it God. The Holy Spirit will guide us in our decisions, actions, words and thoughts if we let Him. This one is the most important.

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Missed Opportunities

This past weekend I got to teach at all of our student services. I love it. The whole weekend was a recap and interactive service of the series we have been doing all month, Think Different. For part of the message I hit on forgiveness and how we are called to forgive others because we are forgiven and forgiveness helps us release the bitterness we hold on to. This part of the message, students would write down a name of someone they need to forgive, pray for them in service, and take the name and stick it on the nail of the cross we had on stage to signify this was the first step towards forgiveness of that person. It was super powerful.

During the last service, I saw a student I met during our “You Own the Weekend” series who came for the first time and has been coming ever since. I saw this student put their card on the cross and go back to their seat, alone. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to go over and say hi, right in the middle of the last set of worship songs. I fought it. It would be awkward. It would be inconvenient. I had to do the closing announcements in a few minutes and I was afraid I would miss the cue, but the urge was still there. So I went.

I came up behind the student and gave a tap on the back to say hi and the student turned around with tears streaming down their face. It caught me off guard. I immediately asked if they wanted to go outside and talk. So we did. This student was angry, bitter, and hurt by a huge betrayal of someone close. “I felt you were talking directly to me about forgiveness. I don’t want to feel this bitterness towards this person anymore.” We talked for a while. We prayed. It was a great moment. It’s why we do what we do.

My point? Don’t sacrifice a nudge from the Holy Spirit to minister a student to inconvenience.

The thought that raced through my mind after this interaction was, “How many great interactions have I missed out on because of inconvenience or uncomfortableness?” Guess what, the band noticed I was not by the stage and the service was dismissed successfully, without me. What a concept. It was fine. No one was hurt, but someone was heard, cared for and ministered to. When we act on His promptings, His work will always get done.

“ Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26.

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You are CRAZY!!

Youth workers are crazy!

Crazy with a capital C!! It’s the truth, I mean I don’t know many adults who would chose to give their lives to hang out with teenagers.


When you decided to accept the call into youth ministry, did you have any sense how it would change your life? That your hopes of a “normal” life would disappear. Did you have any idea that the call into ministry would mean sitting in the hospital with sick teenagers? Or having the experience of holding a teenager while they have a mental breakdown? Did you every picture that you would find a group of students at one of your events hidden away playing with dirty dice? (I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience on that one…) These are not the things that school prepared us for…but these are the moments that make up youth ministry.

There are moments of great joy followed by moments of great pain and disappointment. With every victory story there is a failure story…this is journey of youth ministry.

Can I just tell you that I believe…we are brave. I mean, we are crazy but we are also brave. We spend our days telling students to be brave and courageous but it is good for our hearts every once in a while to remember that we are brave for following this call!

I’ve met several youth workers at conferences and I have never met one yet that doesn’t really desire for the students in their communities to experience the goodness and love of Jesus. We give our time, our resources and our dreams to live into our crazy calling. It is okay to understand that this is the work of the brave.

You are brave and what you do is good. Even when you don’t feel it…this is true.

You are crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!!

Today, would you believe it for yourself and would you consider passing it on to another youth worker!

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4 Realizations For Managing Interns

During the summer it gets a little crazy in the offices. Not only are there students usually in there because school is out, but we also have quite a few full-time interns come in. It’s fun and crazy and loud most of the time. Last year was my first time really being in charge of any sort of intern. If I had to rank myself, I would give myself a “B” and I want to do better with the one who is going to be under me directly. I have been meeting with some great leaders and asking them about what I need to know when it comes to interns and leading them well. Here are some goals for me as we approach summer:

The internship is more about them learning than it is them helping me out with what I need to do.

  • My first thought when I think intern is less work. That’s a myth. It’s actually more work because in part of the learning process we end up walking next to them or with them through certain things. If interns are just making copies and getting coffee, you are wasting a good intern. For many, an internship is checking out ministry to see if this is a calling in their life. It’s our responsibility to help them determine if it is.

They are my shadow.

  • They go where I go. they do what I do. If I go to lunch with a student or co-worker or leader, they come with me when ever its appropriate. As a supervisor we want to make sure they are getting a 360 degree of ministry. the good, the bad ugly. This is one area I failed in last year and I plan to be more intentional with this year.

Don’t delegate tasks, delegate leadership.

  • Like a mentioned before, an intern can do copies and such, but if this was the main role for the summer, they won’t be better off when they leave. If the internship is more for them then we need to make sure we delegate leadership. Let them run an event from start to finish. Let them take the lead with following up with a student. Let them pray for a student instead of you. If they fail, we can use it as a teaching moment and help them become better pastors.

Debrief a lot.

  • This is another area I don’t think I did well in. This year I want to have weekly debrief meetings talking about the week. Experience is quite the teacher. So when they just got to experience something, it is important we help walk them through and process what just happened. ask lots of questions. Get them talking. Listen carefully. Then coach.

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5 Thoughts On Leading Students On A Mission Trip

This past weekend our student ministries went on our local missions trip in some nearby cities. We had a ton of jr. high and high school students give up their Memorial Day weekend (even some students give up going to their prom to serve), pretty incredible. It was such a great weekend. 3 days of different serve projects, night-time sessions and growing together. It is one of my favorite trips we do all year-long. When I got home I was thinking about trip and had some thoughts on leading a mission trip with students.

Have open hands - If you have ever run a missions trip before, you know there is a ton of planning and hard work that go into the details before the trip even begins. When we get out to do those things, not everything goes as pretty as it looked on paper. Don’t grasp on to your plan with closed fists, have open hands. Be flexible. Something might happen to switch it up and instead of freaking out, relax. Sometimes God moves in some big ways even if we didn’t plan them and we don’t want to miss them because we were holding on to our plans too tightly.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable - Mission trips should be uncomfortable. We tell our students before we get to whatever site we were going to be working at that its going to be uncomfortable at first. It’s okay, work past it. God shows up in our uncomfortableness because He uses those things to stretch us and grow us. Every time, students would rise to the occasion and they were glad they keep going even if it was awkward at first.

Have fun - It’s not all work and no play. Yes, we are their to serve and help our students learn what serving is all about, but we can have fun while doing it. I believe laughter breaks down walls. It allows us to be more vulnerable with each other and those we are serving. One of my favorite moments of the trip, we got done with our work early so we took our van to Starbucks to reward them. Some of the best conversations of the trip was from our super casual but fun detour.

Be the example - Students follow us. We are the leaders of the trip, they will do what we do. If we are sitting back, they will naturally want to sit back as well. If you are getting your hands dirty, they will see it’s okay to do the same. When students would get a little uncomfortable on the trip and hover around me, I would say, “Come on, let’s go talk to that person together”. Or “Let’s go clean this thing together.” And they would be all in. Lead by leading them into service. Serve them by showing them how to serve others.

Ask Questions - When ever you have a free moment, ask questions about what you just experienced. Ask about what they saw, what they felt, what happened, what did you like and dislike,where did you see God in all of this? The answers will be great.

I love being able to get to serve along side students. Love when we try and go make an impact on others and what it does is make an impact on us as well. It’s the best.

Have you ever done a local service-type trip? What did you do? Where did you go? Was it a success? Tell us about it below.

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What “The Voice” Taught Me About Ministry


So I got the sweet opportunity to go to the live finale of the hit show The Voice this week, VIP status. Perks of having a wife who works for our Worship Pastor who has worked with Mark Burnett, the producer of the show. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome. I also have to admit, it was not what I was expecting. They taped some things before hand, not live. They told us to stand up and cheer, clap, yell if we saw others doing it because I don’t always know what is being said. In total, we were there for 6 hours for a 1 hour show. The stage was amazing, there were people everywhere, and everyone worked together like I have never seen before. It made me look and reflect on a few things when it comes to leading our ministries.

Who is the spotlight on? There was one guy who’s one job is to hype us up and tell us when to clap, cheer and yell, even when we didn’t want to. He worked his butt off, working the crowd in between shots and on commercial breaks. He was all in. Which made us all in. Even though he told us when to do certain things and we were not feeling it, we did them because he was all in. Then the contestants began to play and our enthusiasm turned genuine and we forgot about the hype guy. In ministry, sometimes we tend to be the hype guy. We run around to try to make sure our students are in, having fun, engaged and stay engaged. But our main goal should be like the hype guy, get us to the point where we forget about him and focus on the performers. Our jobs as ministers to get our students to the point where they no longer focus on who we are, but focus on the One who we are worshipping. We need to be the hype people in our ministry, because if we are not, no one will be, but we should not be the focus of ministry. We need to continually point our students to Jesus and get them in a moment where they focus on Him, experience Him, and it could change their life. If the hype guy at The Voice kept focus on him, he would be fired. We need to not be the focus of our ministry, but help student focus on Him.

How well does your team work together? One thing I was amazed at was how many stage hands there were. After a segment there would be a set change. Out of no where, 50 men in black come out from the back and would begin to change the set. I’m not talking about a moving this to there, but I’m talking about ginormous set and design pieces hanging from the ceilings, lights dangling from the sides, fire and fireworks. It was incredible how well they worked together and were able to change everything in 3-6 minutes to make the entire stage look completely different. How well does your team work together? It could be paid staff people, it could be volunteers, whatever your team is, we know when things are running smooth major change can happen. It might not take 3-6 minutes, but when your team is on the same vision, same goals and they have a clear direction, the culture of your ministry begins to change. God shows up in a major way. God begins to work through your team and loves start to be changed. It’s amazing what a team with a clear vision can do.

All in all, it was a cool experience. I would do it again. I was amazed at what a well oiled machine it took to put on such a great show. All I can do is wonder how more epic it would be if we took some of these notes and realized we have God who can work amazing things in our lives and ministries. The experience would be so much cooler than a TV show.

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4 Reasons Small Groups Need Accountability

I’m certain we all can say that accountability in our lives has changed our lives. I know it has mine.

We know students fall into the trap of thinking that it is easier, therefore it’s better to keep all the messiness locked up in their minds for no one to see because they don’t want to have that first initial conversation. Students need people in our lives who know them and love them and will be bold enough to shine a spotlight on the areas in their lives that need work. There are many reasons for groups to seek out an accountability partner, but four stand out.

Confession is biblical.

  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Finding someone students truly trust can be difficult. Even after they find someone, setting aside pride and letting down their guard doesn’t come naturally. We all still have to work at it, to train ourselves, to practice it regularly. Accountability fosters honesty in our lives. It helps us to be more truthful with God, others, and ourselves. Maybe that’s why people say that confession is good for the soul. To have a healthy small group, the practice of confession is vital.

Community is developed and strengthened.

  • In a world of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, we live in a culture of shallow friendships. But just because we track someone’s social media prayer requests does not mean that we are in true biblical community with them. Community reveals to us that we are not alone, and our struggles, as difficult as they may seem, are ones others have wrestled with too. We are enabled to walk alongside and learn from each other on our journeys of sanctification, and we are freed from the temptation of comparison or performance. When the load is heavy or seems unbearable, we are able to share the weight (Galatians 6:1-6).

We are sharpened.

  • Sometimes we get lazy. It happens. It’s easier to slack off when there’s no one around calling us out and reminding us to walk worthy of the calling we’ve received. (Ephesians 4:1) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV) When students begin to permit others to hold them accountable, to point out their blind spots, and to speak truth into their lives, they are allowing them to sharpen each other, and in turn, they can do the same for their partner. You can see the relationships begin to deepen and deepen. When that trust is shared, the group begins to see the importance of accountability. They are not only sharpened by each other, but they see God beginning to work in them as well.

We are encouraged.

  • Hearing “great job” or “nice work” doesn’t quite do it. We need to cultivate a culture in small groups in which people bear witness in students lives and they see the importance of it. A group in which celebrates the evidences of grace for each other and cheer their friends on when they are limping. Students especially need to know without a doubt that they have someone in their corner cheering for them but also fighting fervently on their behalf in prayer. In a true environment of accountability, rebuke and exhortation is always accompanied with encouragement and love.

Not having accountability can lead to a private destruction. Students (and us pastors) need help seeing, confronting, and overcoming sin in our lives. The Holy Spirit reveals these things to us and empowers us to overcome them, but he uses our community to help us, remind us, strengthen us, and minister to us on our journey.

The Christian life was never meant to be lived in solitude, so let’s make sure our students know they are not in this by themselves and cultivate groups in which have accountability to help them grow deeper in Christ and each other.

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