4 Risky Steps to go from Rejection to Acceptance

Last Saturday morning the room was filled with a wide assortment of dedicated teens. I looked at them and prayed inside, “God help them understand that the way they accept or reject others can mean the difference between life and death….”

As I measured up the excellent youth group I was speaking to, I still felt desperate to get them to take radical steps to courageously move beyond their friendship circles to accept others.

I knew that if I was going to get this point across, I was going to do something risky. Here’s what I did…

2 Magic Words to Get Parents on Board With the Youth Ministry

If there were no parents then there would be no students.  I know basic biology, right.  But let’s be honest, we all have wished at one point or another that we could do youth ministry without dealing with parents.  I know that in the moment of frustration this thought can creep into your mind but it is dangerous to entertain.

If you truly want your students to continually look more and more like Jesus then you need to work with parents.  Every parent is an important part of a student’s spiritual development.  Yes even the unbelieving parent is important.  If they do not allow their student come to the church it will be much harder for you to spiritually impact the student.

I have found over the years that the vast majority of parents are great to work with if you remember two magic words.

Evil, Teens, and God

“I was raped by a man when I was 12,” a young man once told me.  A youth leader that I worked with, was sexually abused by her father for 8 years before she ran away at 13. Thousands of boys and girls are forced into prostitution each week. …Evil… sick, devastating wickedness is everywhere.

No wonder some teens and young adults have trouble believing that God exists. –Or, if He does exist, that He cares about us. There’s no easy explanation for the suffering in our world, but as I work with teens and young adults, I am learning how to respond. Here is a way to approach the question of evil which seems to work with teens and young adults…

2 Ways to Discover God’s will

Just recently I had to make a big decision about the direction of my life.

When these big forks in the road present themselves we can get stressed and feel paralyzed.  Or we can make a decision and move confidently in that direction.

I think everyone would choose to make a confident decision but let’s be honest, right now you are saying, “that is easier said than done.”  In some ways you are right, but in fact it can be just that easy.

When I was in college one of my mentors told me of two things we need to keep in mind when we try to discover what God’s will is for our lives.  I have been practicing this for the past 15 years and I can say it has gotten easier over time.

So what are these two things you have to do?  They’re really quite easy.

3 Reasons Why Every Teen Needs to be DIVERGENT

If corporate America has a plan for teens, it is that they remain constant consumers. If the university has a plan for adolescents, it is that they would be perpetual students. Hollywood and the gaming industry would be thrilled if today’s young adult Peter Pans, never grew up.
Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
But as much as the culture has a predetermined plan for teens, the movie, Divergent, based on the book series by Victoria Roth, presents a challenge for teens to be changed. How? –By thinking differently about themselves, rather than being squeezed into a mold. Didn’t the Apostle Paul write something like that? (Rom 12:1,2)

I feel inspired that social critiques like this and the Hunger Games, challenge teens in a way that parents, youth workers, and youth ministries should. If you have 2 minutes, let me explain the 3 reasons I believe we need to challenge every teen to be divergent

3 Small Things That Make Big Differences at Retreats


I recently spoke at a weekend youth retreat for Gospel Centre and I was again reminded of the importance of retreats in the rhythm of the youth calendar. However, just because they are important doesn’t mean that we always make the most of these opportunities.

The problem is that we see the importance so we try to do big radical things to get the most out of the weekend.  The results are often scattered.  What would happen if there were three small things we could do that would have a big impact?

Here are three of those small things you can do at your next retreat.

How to Stop Stumbling from One Video Series to the Next & Free Giveaway!

Most of us use a hit or miss approach to teaching in our student ministries. We latch on to the best new video series out there and look for the next before this one runs out. What is the result, after three years of our patchwork teaching? What have our high  school students got as a foundation for life, when we are done with them? Is there a better approach? I think there is!

Photo Credit: Cayusa via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Cayusa via Compfight cc

The Challenge

I was challenged by my prof, Dr. John Wilkinson, to do better than that. He asked us to compile a list of 100 Characteristics Every Fully Discipled Teen should develop in 3 years under our teaching. I was skeptical that it could be done! Like there are 100 attitudes, behaviors, and truths that every student should have when they left my ministry?! Really?!

Well, I took the challenge. Do you have any idea what I came up with? I am dying to share it with you!

3 Attitudes That Will Create a Successful Short-Term Missions Trip

I just recently returned from a short term missions trip

… in New York City with a team of 30.  It had fun, frustrating, and impacting moments throughout it.  However, I think it was a huge success because there were three attitudes we constantly reminded ourselves of.  I think these three attitudes are the differences between a good and a bad trip.