Category Archives: Youth Ministry

Shouldn’t Church Be Fun?

Growing up, I loved going to McDonald’s. I loved the play area, the Happy Meals and the Happy Meal toy. In other words, I wanted the “Mickey D’s” experience because I knew it would be fun, I would get fed and I would leave with something. Shouldn’t the church be the same way?

Jelani Lewis on ministrytodaymag.com

via Children’s Ministry Magazine July/August 2011 pg. 22

Need Help Starting a Conversation With Kids?

For some of us, it has been a long time since we were a kid. And in the words of an epistle writer, most adults have put their childish ways behind them. So how do you converse with children (especially today’s children!)? What do you say? What questions do you ask?

This is a great resource for starting a conversation with a kid: 100 Questions to Start Conversations

HT Ministry-To-Children

Are We Doing the Right Things? (video)

Wow… convicting. I was talking with a friend the other day about the evolution of my thinking as a pastor. More and more I’m asking myself the question: “Is what I spend the majority of my time doing, what I should really be doing?” I spend a lot of my time planning events, curating and studying content and resources for teaching venues, archiving and linking video, curriculum and graphics, and other “computer” stuff. It seems to me that the organizational beast needs to be uniquely fed to continue to work. Most of the articles and thinking out there is on how to feed the beast, rather than asking: “Should we be feeding the beast?” Or “are we feeding the right beast?”

Another question: “Is what we are doing in children and youth ministry helping to disciple kids and teens?”

Hmmm…

via Ministry-To-Children
source YouTube

Passing on the Faith to the Rising Generation is Worth It! (video)

This video speaks for itself. But if I can say at least this: the time spent investing in the life (spiritually, emotionally, and playfully) of a child or teenager is time well spent.

via Kidmin1124
source YouTube

The Kinetic Love Project

Red Cedar Community Church in Rice Lake, WI is tackling a huge issue: human trafficking. Some of their high school students have started a project called Kinetic Love Project. You can find more information on their website here or on Facebook.

The Kinetic Love Project was started by a group of high school students wanting to take a stand against modern-day slavery and make a differerence in the lives of those victimized by human trafficking.

The mission of the Kinetic Love project is to educate and empower teenagers to think globally, by taking the global social issue of modern day slavery and being active participants in its eradication. It’s estimated that there are 27 million people in slavery in our world today. Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of organized crime generating billions of dollars each year.

The Kinetic Love Project is joining with World Hope International to stand against trafficking. This project seeks to raise funds and awareness in efforts to aid WHI as they assist girls who have been rescued from sex slavery.

Noah’s Ark Waterpark Trip (video)

On Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 27 middle school students and 5 staff people left Hayward, WI @ 4am and bussed down to the Wisconsin Dells, WI to spend the day @ Noah’s Ark Waterpark. It was a great day! The students had a blast! The staff had a blast! I rode on every single ride again! It was fun!

This was the 8th year that I took our middle school group down to Noah’s Ark. This tradition started all the way back in 2004!

via YouTube

Permission, Waivers and Release Forms (video)

Oh how I love having parents sign Permission and Release Forms! I wonder if some parents think that I relish the opportunity to get them to re-fill their information (child name, date of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, medical info, emergency contact, and on and on) many times!

Now I am NOT a lawyer, so please do not take what I do as the truth or defensible law. Nor is the Church Law Group your lawyer, so make sure you do your own important homework with these things.

I appreciated the advice and recommendations put forth in the video and in practice have used this same advice and warnings in our ministry setting with children and youth. We regularly and with prudent diligence obtain written permission from parents to transport and care for children and youth offsite. It is not always fun (and I know because we do a lot of offsite activities!), but it is extremely necessary. I’ve actually had to use the forms on a couple of occasions to bring children to the hospital, and they worked.

These are always tricky things to navigate and I wish there were clear-cut solutions, but when dealing with the courts and the legal system, things are far from clear-cut. What I’ve learned is that you do your best and try to safeguard the best you can and then go from there should the need arise.

HT Relevant Children’s Ministry
via YouTube

Wisdom? (sermon)


This past Wednesday, May 25, 2011, I spoke at Hayward High School’s Baccalaureate Service. The theme was “Wisdom?” and it was on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

During the talk, I used an object lesson with a rope, which just happened to be the school colors! (actually it was an extra yellow rope from our playground system we recently got at the church, with some black duct tape on the ends to keep it from fraying!).

Wisdom? (44.71kb, pdf)

Rites of Passage Project


This is fascinating… I wonder what kind of conversation this would spark, not only in the family unit between father and son, mother and daughter, but also in the faith community as a whole as we try to “intentionally” pass on faith (and wisdom) to the next generation…

As the parent of a teenager, you invest a lot of time, money, and energy into academic and athletic training into your student’s middle and high school years. As a believer, you know the importance of investing as much or more energy into their spiritual training; equipping them to become more like Christ as they cross over into adulthood.

The Rites of Passage Project is a strategic approach that helps parents acknowledge and celebrate key physical and spiritual growth stages with meaningful life-markers that their students will never forget.

Take 15 minutes to watch the WHY and HOW videos for your student’s grade level and then pray about how God wants you to lead them on the journey of a lifetime.

6th Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

Discipline in Ministry


I am really passionate about “discipline” in ministry. To me (and I think to God), discipline (especially to children and youth) is essential to their spiritual formation. When a student is in trouble, I think their heart is ripe and fertile soil for a “teachable moment.” In other words, discipline equals discipleship.

In a ministry setting, do all the children and youth ministry volunteers have this same perspective? This blog post does a great job consolidating my thoughts:

One of the first things we share with a new volunteerin our Children’s Ministry is our philosophy on discipline in the classroom. It’s really very simple: “We believe that every child has the right to hear the Gospel uninterrupted.” What do we mean by that? Well, first of all we believe that what we are sharing and teaching is incredibly important. Second, we want every child to hear the message. That means we cannot allow one child to prevent others from receiving the message.

Each Sunday morning when I stand before our kids in our large group meeting time I share the same statement: “We have only three rules in Kid’s View and we want you to know all three rules:

Rule Number 1 – Remember why we are here. We are here to meet with others and meet with God.

Rule Number 2 – When someone on stage is speaking you are to be listening. Which means you would not be talking.

Rule Number 3 – Have Fun! If we remember Rule #1 and we practice Rule #2 we will have a great time together.”

Again, I make these same statements every Sunday as a reminder to our kids. They know them so well that they shout the last word of each statement as I say it. Our desire is for every child to hear the message and enjoy their time in Kid’s View. The three simple rules go a long way to help that goal be accomplished.

We also have the Three R’s as our steps for correction when a child does choose to misbehave:

R – Request the behavior stop.

R – Reseat the child in a different area if the behavior continues.

R – Remove the child from the classroom after the first two steps if necessary.

If a child has to be removed the parent is called to the classroom. Rarely does the third R become necessary. Our goal is for every child to hear the Gospel uninterrupted and for them to enjoy their time in Kid’s View!

via CM Buzz

Alternate Reality

45% of kids say they feel more comfortable online than offline. The reason? “It’s easier to be who you want to be, because nobody knows you and if you don’t like the situation, you can just exit and it’s over.”

Children's Ministry Magazine May/June 2011 pg. 20 Group Publishing

5 Ways to Get Kids to Listen in Your Ministry


Wayne Stocks wrote a great article entitled: Five Ways to Get Kids to Shut Up! Humorous and intriguing title, right? Read below:

1. Keep them Engaged

When kids are engaged they are much less likely to talk and cause problems.  This isn’t always true, but it holds up as a general rule.  So, make sure you’re presenting the Gospel and the Bible faithfully, but also make sure you are doing it in a way that kids are engaged.  Get them involved, have some fun, convey the excitement and your issues with kids talking at the wrong time will decrease.

2. Have Clearly Defined Rules and Consequences

Come up with a short list of rules for your class.  Keep it simple, but make sure being quiet when they’re supposed to is one of the rules.  Also have a very concise and clear consequence pattern.  Go over both of those every week so the kids know what is expected and know what will happen with they don’t follow the rules.

3. Give them Time To Talk

Build time into your lesson when they have the chance to talk.  Ask questions, get them involved in presenting the lesson, have an upbeat worship time.  Give them an outlet to speak and they will be less likely to talk when you don’t want them to.

4. Build a Relationship

Kids will have a lot easier time interrupting you and being disrespectful when you don’t have a personal relationship with them.  Build a relationship and speak into their lives, and you will be amazed at the difference in their behavior.

5. Whisper

No really!  Try it sometime when your classroom is really really loud.  No matter how much they want to talk, kids also want to know what is going down.  As they get louder, you get softer in your voice.  When it works, it’s magic!  The kids will stop talking because when you’re whispering they want to hear.

via Ministry-To-Children.com

The Gathering (video)

Two months ago, Charlene Rohr called me and told me about a dream she had the night before. In her dream, she saw youth groups from around the area at an event together, in unity, in the metropolis of Drummond, WI. I thought it was a great idea and told her I would support her in any I could.

So Char went to work and did what she does best: organize! She pulled together youth group leaders from Hayward, Ashland, Cable and Barnes and we had a meeting. At that meeting we decided what the event would look like, time frame and such. We ended up calling the event “The Gathering.”

It ended up being pretty good. We played games, had snacks and pizza. Northern Lights Church performed a memorable skit and Sam Hansen shared his testimony. At the end, the students gathered in prayer groups and prayed.

It was a simple event designed to bring together youth groups from the area and help kick-start some things for youth in Drummond, WI.

It’s a start…

Youth Ministry: Are You Relevant?


I’m currently 33 years-old. I’m not that old, yet, But in a teenager’s world, I am OLD! And I feel it… not in a diminishing physical way, but in an ever-widening gap between me and the middle school students way.

I was in middle school (grades 6-8) from 1988-1991. There was no internet (as we know it). Most phones were still attached to the wall with long cords and long distance calls were expensive. Cassette tapes were on their way out and CDs were making their splash. Boom boxes and Sony Walkman’s were cool (no such thing as an iPod). Pants with pockets and rolled up at the bottom was in style. Tony Hawk was every skateboarder’s hero. And I could go on and on…

Today’s culture is very different, and considering… I am really OLD and out-of-touch with it.

The argument in youth ministry circles usually swirls around how much cultural relevancy does one need to have and how much biblical/scriptural relevancy does one need to have, and how the two interact.

Read this article:

Lately I’ve listened to a conversation going on in youth ministry circles on whether or not it’s valuable to be versed in youth culture . . . to be “culturally relevant.” I think this conversation is of vital importance to us as youth workers. Give me 4 minutes of your time to share my thoughts (and I welcome yours, as well).

I believe youth workers must strive to be experts in two things: Scripture and culture. Let me explain.

We know the truth of Scripture is timeless. It’s as effective today at spiritual transformation as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago.

However, culture is not timeless. Culture is fluid. It changes with time and geography. You would never attempt to reach a people group in another culture without considering that culture’s unique realities. You wouldn’t travel to rural Chongqing, China and teach the exact same lesson you would teach in Idaho Falls. While the underlying biblical truths have a universal application, the cultural “vehicle” through which your lesson is communicated would be wholly ineffective.

I believe as youth workers we should approach reaching our students with the same level of cultural awareness that we would take in approaching another people group in another culture.

Why? What are the benefits of a commitment to cultural relevancy? Glad you asked.

  • It’s Strategic
    Knowing youth culture helps you tailor your message in order to deliver Scripture’s un-changing truth in a way that is wrapped in the rhetoric of the society surrounding your students.
  • It Shows You Care
    Whenever I travel internationally, I learn some basic conversational phrases in the native language. When I need something and engage someone in their native language (however clumsily), they are much more inclined to help. It shows that I value their culture. Knowing youth culture says the same thing to your students.
  • It’s Proactive
    If you’re aware of a trend, movie, or TV show that you know you will need to respond to (such as this one), you can be proactive in engaging your students. By doing so, you have the opportunity to equip your students with a biblical response to whatever the specific issue is.
  • You Become a Resource for Parents
    I recently heard Josh McDowell say that the generation gap between parents and teenagers is wider than it has ever been . . . and parents don’t know it exists! You can become an invaluable resource for parents as they try and raise children in a culture that is pretty hostile to the ways of God’s Kingdom.

So, I’ve answered the “why.” What’s the “how”? How do we make sure we are as culturally relevant as we can be when it comes to youth culture? It’s actually pretty simple:

  • Behave Like A Teenager
    Watch the movies they watch. Read the magazines they read. Visit the websites they visit. Listen to music they listen to. By doing so you craft your cultural vocabulary. You will know the cultural factors influencing your students.
  • Engage Students in Cultural Conversation
    Titus 2:12 says that we are to “say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” You can help your students know how to say “no” to the harmful elements of culture by engaging them in conversation regarding the cultural influences in their lives.
  • Look for the bridges to God’s Word
    I believe one of your goals as a youth worker is to help your students develop a biblical worldview, to be able to see the world through the filter of Scripture. It’s vitally important to look for bridges back to Scripture as you discuss what you see in culture. By doing so, you help students rise above the negative effects of culture.

As I stated earlier, I believe all youth workers are called to be versed in culture. Want biblical evidence? Look no further than the way Paul conducted himself in Athens. Acts 17:22-23 says this:

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship.

Paul studied Athenian culture then used this knowledge to craft a Gospel message unique to his audience. It is our call as youth workers to be committed to the same level of cultural relevancy. The effectiveness of your ministry is at stake.

It’s a tricky dance. Some youth pastors strive to be “cool” and “hip” with the students. And they are… for a while. But then they get old… like me. And you either have to grow in cultural relevancy and biblical relevancy and connect the two, or you have to quit and go work at Starbucks or something else.

Here’s what I think: I don’t think teenagers care how cool or hip or cultural relevant or versed you are. They just want to know how much you care. They want relationships. They want adults who look past their quirkiness and accept them for the rapidly changing human beings they are (developmentally) and still like like them. They want relationships with adults who can converse and field questions and thoughts and be safe with them. It’s the risk to be relational that youth pastors or any adult mentor to a teenagers needs to embrace to be “relevant” with teenagers.

Trust me, being cool is fleeting and temporary. Being relevant relationally? Well that has withstood the sands of time. It seems like human beings were made for significant relationships. Interesting, eh?

Patriot Paintball Trip (video)

Last Sunday afternoon, May 1, 2011, the middle school students went down to the Patriot Paintball course in Chetek, WI and had a blast! The students (and the leaders) really enjoyed themselves.

The only negative part of the event was that it was really cold!! Note to self: Bring gloves next time!