Hurting Youthworkers Wanted!!!


Too often I see that AD. Hurting youthworkers wanted. Apply within so we can hurt you again. I know the old urban legend of its 18mths and the youthworker jets to the next church. I'm wondering though, there are too many hurting youthworkers, too many churches that have fangs. And too few people to say "STOP IT!"

My encouragement to the youthworker is hang in there, keep pressing on. The benefits are worth it.

Go check this out


Adam challenges the church and youth workers with a post about teenage rebellion. As Yoda would say, "read it, you must."

Junior high ideas


Being in a small ministry of about 30 students it's tempting to keep the students together, but I know that this is not truly the best thing. One thing I hear parents say is that they would like to see more unity in the youth group. And by this, they mean for their kid to be friends with every kid in the group whether a 6th grader or 12th grader. I'm not sure that this is a biblical model of unity.

I guess what I'd like to hear from you veterans is, how to strike balance in a ministry of 20-40 students with such a diverse age group? I'm the only staff member with only a team of abuot 5 adults with a heart for working consistently with these kids. What do you do to meet the challenges of programming at appropriate levels with limited time and resources so that you don't spread yourself too thin while at the same time making every age group feel like they are important to you?

I'm at a church family that takes a traditional approach to Sundays and Wednesdays, so Sunday mornings I do keep the 6th-8th graders separate from the HS students. Does anyone have any good ideas for curriculum for JH on Sunday mornings?

When The Answer Isn't The Answer


As many of you know, my church is now in the process of looking for a teaching pastor. We've had a couple of informal meetings with a few guys to see if they were interested in applying.

I'm noticing something. A couple of times we've asked pretty straightforward questions and the response is like listening to a political party speech.

"How would you define a sucessful ministry?"

Life change, does it produce life change.

"So, what then are your tools or means to accomplish this goal and how do you measure that?"

Well, when Jesus enters a person - it makes them different. That's what we want to see.

"See what?"

And on and on it goes. It's exhausting. I don't remember taking that class in seminary. Do you guys?

Do any of you know of ANY good small group material for teens (High school or Junior High)? I've been looking around and I'm not coming up with much.

A Blind Eye?


Allison is out tonight so I am catching up on my TiVo and I just finished watching Sunday's 60 Minutes program. The first story was about the teaching of abstinence only pledges in schools and churches. They focus in on a particular group called "A Silver Ring Thing" started by Denny Paton who is a Youth Pastor. Over the last two years ASRT has received over $1,000,000 dollars in federal funding to teach abstinence only sex education to teenagers. ASRT can receive this money because it does two shows, one that has a spiritual focus centered on Jesus, and one that does not. The 60 Minutes report was careful to point out that ASRT not only focuses on abstinence, but also on the negatives of using condoms.

Paton says he believes that kids have been lied to by adults who say that sex can be "safe" when two people use a condom. ASRT is eager to point out that pregnancy rate for teens who use condoms is over 16%. The rates of STD's is much higher since a women can only get pregnant four days out of the month. Check out this exchange between Ed Bradley and Denny Paton:
Ed Bradley: A kid is part of your program, he comes to you and says, "ya know, I'm gonna have sex. I've reached a point, and I'm going to do this." Should I use a condom? What do you say?

Denny Paton: I'll simplify it for you even more. My own daughter comes to me, my sixteen year old daughter, and she says I am going to be sexually active. I would not tell her to use a condom."

Bradley: You wouldn't?

Paton: I would not.

Bradley: Why?

Paton: Because I don't think it will protect her. It won't protect her heart it won't protect her emotional life and it's not going to protect her...I don't want her to get out there and think that she is going to be protected using a condom.

Bradley: Won't she be more protected using a condom instead of not using one?

Paton: Not long term.

I wish he had stuck with the Pastor / teenager example instead of upping it to a father / daughter one. In any case, I believe that sex can do tremendous damage to a person emotionally and spiritually both outside and inside of marriage. The absolute safest place to be sexually involved with another person is within the safety of a committed, loving, and healthy marriage. One of the most important things to me is to help teens navigate adolescents in a way that will leave their spirit and soul intact. I also want to protect them from the physical dangers that teens can encounter as they go through adolescence. Things like suicide, violence, and reckless driving are all things teens have to navigate. Sex is also one of those things that can have a tremendous physical consequence. Those physical consequences are real, permanent, and can be deadly.

So I feel confident about my pastoral responsibilities in the emotional and spiritual issues of sexuality. However, when it comes to the physical ones I am not so sure. Mr. Paton's quote about his daughter seems to be irresponsible if not reckless. However, there was a Bush administration official who summed up the reason why they work on a failure assumption of condoms as opposed to a success rate. He said that telling kids to not have sex is the best, but if you do have sex to use a condom sends a mixed message. He likened it to telling teenagers to not drink and drive, but if you do at least wear a seat belt. I can see his point, but there are some real world problems with that argument.

So is it irresponisble for me to just assume that the schools will handle the physical side of sex and I will just deal with emotional and spiritual? How do we create a situation where we would have a teen come to us and say, you know I am going to do this, how can I have sex in the most protected way possible? Am I supposed to react like Mr. Paton and totally disregard the possibility of physical protection with regard to sex?

PS: I posted this on my personal blog with a different question at the end.

Camp Shiloh


Hey There friends:

I have a great post in mind, but before I put it up here I wanted to put out an opportunity that might be of interest to some of your Seniors in your youth groups.

Camp Shiloh is a Christian summer camp for at-risk kids from New York City. I was the director there for ten years and I can personally attest to the power of serving there. This year, for some weird reason, they have been having a very hard time getting male counselors to fill out their counseling staff for the summer. With camp less than a month away they are still short two male counselors and they are trying to get the word out to as many people as possible.

It is my hope that among all of your ministries there might be two exceptional young men who would jump at the opportunity to come and serve on an adventure like this.

If you have a lot a questions please feel free to call me at the church. In short here are some of the details that you might need to know in passing along this opportunity to your guys.

1. Shiloh needs two 18 year old males who have a heart and nerve to serve at-risk kids from the inner-city.
2. The summer is divided up into four sessions with 80 kids at each session (40 boys and 40 girls).
3. There are 30 staff members total that primarily come from ACU, Harding, DLU, and Pepperdine.
4. There are 5 male and 5 female cabins with two counselors in each cabin.
5. The stipend is $750, round trip airfare to New York, food stipends for off weekends are included in the work contract
6. The dates are June 16 - August 12
7. Download the staff application here.
8. The campers are between the ages of 9 and 15.

If they do not find these two remaining staff members it would mean that 32 kids would not be able to come to camp because they would only have four male cabins instead of five. If you have any students who might be interested you can have them e-mail Sallie Chase who is the Camp Director this year.

I appreciate the opportuity to get the word out here.

The NSYR (National Study of Youth and Religion) has posted their findings on teens and religion. It's a comprehensive study, you can read it here.

Anakin's Rest


Saw SW III for the second time - caught a lot more and yes - the love scenes are just as painful the 2nd time but the saber duels are twice as it's a wash, I guess. Plus I caught a sighting of the Millenium Falcon! The all-time greatest ship in science fiction lore.

Anakin incarnates something that hit me at Emergent Conference this week. Rest. Anakin couldn't get any because he thought he had to control everything. And he knew that he couldn't.

One of the prayer stations at Emergent YS was about rest - and I was struck by the complete lack of it most of those in my profession have. I think it's for the same reason.

"I'll rest when I get things done."

No, that isn't rest. That is exhaustion, crashing, burning, cratering. It isn't rest. It might could even be labeled as recovery...but it's not rest.

Rest is getting 7 to 8 hours sleep only to wake up to take a nap with Jesus.

Rest is awaking from a nap to enjoy a quiet walk in the cool of the day.

Rest is turning off the cell phone, pager, computer and not responding to every 'crisis' that clamors for attention.

And that is only going to happen when we realize we can't or don't control ANYTHING. Rest is the result of completeness. The job is finished. The work is complete. The deed is done. At least my part of it.

Hence why REST is (should be) a spiritual discipline. It is a bold statement to our flesh that isn't on us to get it done or complete the work. It is on Christ.

And he will do it.

On his own schedule.

In his own manner.

And I can rest in that....sometimes.

Welcome to Gerrard Fess


Welcome Gerrard Fess to our little corner of the blogosphere. We are glad that you could join us, and certainly are looking forward to your years of experience and insight here.



I'm here!!




Welcome to Chad Nall, youth minister in Baytown, Texas.

It's great to have you with us.



We have a new member, welcome to Adam Ellis. Adam blogs with us from West Virgina. If you are unfmailiar with his blog, go ahead and check it out. It is definitely a must read.

A Little Help


I recently had one of the girls in my youth group tell me and Allison that she was three months pregnant and when her parents found out they made her have an abortion. This was two weeks ago. She has been a member of the church (along with other family members) since she was a little girl. I was wondering if any of you have some good resources to pass along that might help her deal with her grief surrounding this loss. The loss of her innocence as well as the loss of her baby.

How To Stay Motivated


....when your pastor/best friend/co-hort in crime abandons you!!

Okay, seriously, I'm not bitter but my 'former' best-friend has just left our church to be a pastor somewhere else. Have any of you guys been through this? What helped? What kept you motivated? What sunk you and I should be probably avoid doing as well?

Honoring Seniors


We had our annual senior banquet last week. It's when we (the body, the whole church) tell the students how we saw God use them in their time at our church. It's stories of transformation, stories that hopefully will be a spiritual marker for them.

And there is a risk in doing a banquet this way...what about those who never showed up, never fit in, never served? Is the banquet a penalty to those kind of students? What if their investment in the Kingdom was outside the church walls?

So, is it worth the risk (and complaints) for the purpose of celebrating the life-changing work of God AND to cast vision to the younger students of what is going to be said at their banquet OR do you play it safe and find another way to honor seniors?

advice needed


have you ever done an inductive bible study with your teens?
if so, how did it go?
if not, why not?

i'm currently writing an inductive Bible study about the Holy Spirit. just wondering, what your response is to the idea.



OK, to break from the norm of very serious talk about stuff that is quite important. I needed to update you with this information (I hope no one minds)

No Child Left Behind Act

In response to President Bush's federal "No Child Left Behind" Act (NCLB), it is proposed that students will have to pass a test to be promoted to the next grade level. In the hope that this proposal will be uniformly adopted by all of the states, the new test will be called the Federal Arithmetic and Reading Test, or FART.

All students who cannot pass a FART in the second grade will be retested in Grades 3,4, and 5 until they are capable of passing a FART score of 80%.

If a student does not successfully FART by grade 5, that student shall be placed in a separate English program known as the Special Mastery Elective for Learning Language, or SMELL. If, with this increased SMELL program, the student cannot pass the required FART test, he or she can still graduate to middle school by taking another one-semester course in Comprehensive Reading and Arithmetic Preparation, or CRAP.

If by age fourteen the student cannot FART, SMELL, or CRAP, he or she can earn promotion in an intensive one-week seminar known as the Preparatory Reading for Unprepared Nationally Exempted Students, or PRUNES.

It is the opinion of the Department of Instruction for Public Schools (DIPS) that an intensive week of PRUNES will enable any student to FART, SMELL, or CRAP. This revised provision of the student component of the House Bill 101 should help "clear the air" as part of the "No School Left Standing" Act.

I found this on Tyler Smith's blog, it is hilarious.

Welcome Grant!


So, somehow I typed in my heading "Welcome Grant!" and that is what I posted. So, I am coming back to edit right now and here it goes. I meant to welcome Grant yesterday, but busy isn't the word (or should I say excuse?)

Grant is the Youth Pastor at Grace Church in Little Rock, Alaska (just kidding- I hope you all know where Little Rock is, cause I'm too confused to try and put the state abbreviation down and I'm too lazy to write it out, although I guess I could have written it out and it would have taken me less time than writing this jumbled ramble down, oh well.) Grant has an awesome blog, and I have really enjoyed reading his stuff. So, everyone send a hearty welcome to Stu, I mean Grant! It's good to have you brother!

My First Post....


I appreciate the invite to the Forum, CL.

But after this post, you might want to vote me off the island...

Fire away but be gentle!! haha

Attendance ≠ Engagement


I was reading in Youth Specialties new Magalog...which is kinda cool. It's got articles in the front, all the resources in the back.

Anyway - I'm reading this article and for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it but the first line slayed me. Don't mistake attendance with vulnerability or engagement. You can have a student who shows up every week and still no one knows them. You can have a student who makes it twice a month but is vulnerable and has lots of "off-line" contact with others and/or a mentor. That second student may just be more on the journey than the one who shows up every week.

How true is that? And it puts the emphasis back to where it ought to have stayed. I'm the guiltiest of the guilty of equating events with ministry. Not necessarily with the calendar, but with my evaluations. How many people showed up? How many walked the aisle/cry/rededicated? Did it flow? How many glitches did we have/not have? (Right...if you are in student ministry and have had an event without a glitch, move to Rome and let the cardinals know. They picked the wrong Pope.)

The point of all this stuff is a life transformed by Jesus. And more often than not - that is close work. Like life on life work. Salt and light kinda work. That means engagement, not just mere attendance.

As we cruise into the summer - engage. Choose to engage. That doesn't mean one more meeting on the calendar. It might mean a little longer coffee break. A little sneaky off work early to go hang or catch a movie. It might mean cooking a little extra and inviting someone over.

I love roast, by the way!

(This was written by Grant - you can check out his blog at
Grant is the youth pastor at Grace Church in Little Rock, AK)



I know some of you guys are really good at designing logos and art pieces that you use in your ministry. What are some of the programs that you use? Or do you outsource everything?

One more time!!!


Welcome to J-Wild! I just wanted to take a second and welcome J-Wild to the mix on the YMF. It is good to have you Jason. Jason is an awesome writer and also has some great thoughts that he has shared here. I have enjoyed reading his blog. He is the youth minister at the Manhattan Church, in the real big city! Holla at J!

A BIG FAT welcome!


Just wanted to send out a huge welcome to Jeremy Walden who just joined the forum. I have known Jeremy for a long time and really respect him a whole lot. I think we can all learn a lot from him. Check out his publishing company that does awesome materials for teens and emerging resources as well. He is also the minister for Mosaic Family Church in Auburn, give him a shout! Welcome Jeremy!

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