Create a Compelling Vision

He sat at his clean desk on his first day at the church. A white sheet stared up at him from the desk, like the eye of a Cyclops. “Now what am I supposed to do?” he thought in a George-Costanza-ish moment. “I have all this training, done hundreds of hours of volunteer work. But now I am overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.” Mental paralysis sets in. Where do I start?

There are so many variables. So much to consider when giving direction to a youth ministry but something needs to be done.  It is one thing to have a general philosophy of youth ministry and quite another to implement it. Having a clear vision makes all the difference. Here are some steps for developing and inspiring vision.

The Secret to making Resolutions you can keep! (and a man who ate bicycles!!)


If you have given up on resolutions because they only deliver a sense of failure, I guess you could make easily achievable resolutions like these:

a. Get  out of bed most days of the week if you feel like it
b. Eat junk food when it’s available
c. Use the washroom a few times a day…  🙂

And maybe for some people, these would be a challenge… but if you want to make lasting changes in your life or ministry, there are a few painless secrets that winners get working for them, that you could start using today.

What Running Has Taught Me About Youth Ministry

Every year I am getting older…

…(I know, what a brilliant line). But as I get older I am finding that my fitness is declining rapidly.  To combat this a couple of years ago I started running.  I agree with you, I was not a fan of running, but I am a fan of training for a race.  My wife and I finished our first half marathon this past summer within our goal time.  Now I am starting to train for a full marathon.

As anyone who knows me would say, I am not an elite athlete.  In fact I don’t even consider myself an average athlete anymore.  However, running has taught me some key lessons that I think can help anyone that works in youth ministry.

Finding a Mentor

Need a Mentor?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an older, seasoned mentor who has gone down the road of ministry ahead of you who shares costly pearls of wisdom with you, one to one in a weekly meeting… I bet it would but don’t count on it coming from a senior leader in your church or organization! Frankly, while this is what we would love… it is a lot harder to find than most people will admit… So what can you do to find that coaching, wisdom and encouragement that comes from a mentoring relationship???

Well, I am glad you asked because I have discovered that there are ways to meet that void in my life without paying hundreds for a personal life coach or a personal trainer… In fact here are some mentoring possibilities that have worked and still work for me!

Depth vs Fun

Do you need to sacrifice one for the other?

I will often hear youth workers talking about and critiquing their ministry or another one. They often use the words depth and fun. It will go something like, “Ya, that youth ministry has lots of students but all they do is fun and games, there is no depth”. The other thing I will hear is, “In fact our numbers are down but there is depth to our youth ministry. We are just trying to dig deep with these students.”

In the important youth ministry book, Sticky Faith they make the case from extensive research that students want time for deep conversations and not more games (pg. 141-142). As I was reading this section in Sticky Faith I found myself agreeing but only to a point.

My question is why does it have to be depth or fun, why can’t it be both? Leonard Sweet called this approach to learning “edutainment”. I think that our efforts need to focus on discipleship that is engaging and yes, even entertaining.

Here are some ways this can be accomplished.

Beating Discouragement

We often feel inadequate for the task of youth ministry

and sometimes wonder if we should give up. I have been there but I have learned 3 massively motivating lessons that I have returned to when I start to wonder why I am doing this. These three quick life-giving lessons have helped me to find strength, vision, and passion to go the distance. The first of these is…

How Not to Make a Bad Decision

You’re two bad decisions from disaster…

At Vanguard College where I work we had a guest speaker come and do some training for the staff and faculty.  The one line this guest used that gets quoted by my president often is that, “we are only two bad decisions from closing our doors!”

You may not think that two bad decisions are not going to shut down your youth ministry but they may cost you your job at worst and at the least, your creditability will take a hit.  The key is that too often we make emotional decisions or decisions from the gut. Sometimes this works but often it does not.

The key to making a good decision is that it must be an educated one.  I have a view that for every decision that needs to be made there are at least a thousand options. The key is to look at as many of the options as you can, choose the best option, and then move on.

Here are three simple steps to making an educated decision.

Culture Soup, Maps and Mirrors

How do you make sense of it all?

The 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards 2013 took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on August 25. Over 13 million viewers, most of them under 25, were treated to the now notorious performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. One month later, a Google search of Miley provides 827 million pages in 0.26 seconds. Pop culture is currently consumed with everything VMA.

Welcome to the world of today’s teens. This is their culture. Culture is what we believe, what we do, and how we live our lives. It binds us to those who think and live in a similar manner. It’s the values, attitudes and behaviors that drive how we live our lives. might find it easier to think of it as the “soup” in which our kids are swimming. It is like lifting the lid on a pot of soup only to discover what you see on the surface isn’t really what the soup is all about. You need to stir it up to be sure of its contents. The same can be said of youth culture. There is much below the surface to be considered.