Friday, June 10, 2011

Last Post on Blogger

I have moved my blog from here to Word Press and will be hosting it  through Go Daddy.  I will be making several big changes in the next couple weeks on my site.  This will give me more freedom to add some new things.  Please join me on this adventure.

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to

Friday Flashback in Youth Ministry...Songs on Transparencies

As graduations finish up this past weekend I thought of when I graduated high school.  I got a lot of money for graduation gifts.   I used part of my money to buy several boxes of blank transparencies, a black transparency box, and a Fender guitar.  I knew that at sometime I would use them when I started in Youth Ministry.   Later that summer before I left to come to the University of South Carolina I went up to my church and spent several hours making hard copies and transparencies of my youth pastor's song box.  I look back and laugh as now I have all my music saved in PDF and view my music on my iPad as we stream it through Media Shout and ProPresenter.  I think back of having to have someone manually move the songs.

To this day I still have my box of songs and my original songbook with all the hard copies of the songs.  I think sometime soon I might do a Sunday Night youth program using these ancient forms of youth ministry!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Green Gorillas and Church Signs

The other day when I was at home in Augusta, GA, I saw several men in a local car dealership tying balloons to antennas in their lot.   Not too far from them was a big 20ft inflatable gorilla that said "SALE".  I don't know about you, but I have never stopped at a car dealership to buy a car just because the car had a balloon attached to it.  I have also never been lured in by a big 20ft inflatable gorilla telling me that there is a sale going on.  Mainly because I know that it is a gimmick.  When I need a new vehicle I will take my time, research what I want, check the internet for the best price, and then go to the dealership.

I think often that as churches we try to be like car deanships with our cute sayings on our church signs.  And often our church signs are as bad or worse than having a gorilla with the word sign.  A lot of church signs have messages that speak in Christianeese or telling people to turn or burn.   They can often be too witty.  I wonder sometimes what non-Christians think when they see all the church signs on their way to work or on their errands.

When it comes down to it, I'm going to buy a new truck for my needs or from the suggestion of a friend. I think that is how we need to focus and teach our congregations.   They are the best church signs by their daily living and experience in our church

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another.
-- Hebrews 10:24-25

For many churches, summer means we shut the doors on all our programs and take a summer break.  So is that a good or bad thing.   We are instructed to spur one another on and not give up the habit of meeting together.  So why do we?

May churches use the time to give their volunteers a break.  Others are afraid of a small turn out during summer months.  And others just don't have the people power to have events all summer long.

For the last couple weeks I've been catching up with a lot of friends in youth ministry and have heard various plans for the summer.   The are several churches that have stopped small group ministry during the summer, but are continuing to have regular youth program time.  Several others are stopping programing and small groups and going the event based summer plans.  Others have some type of program, camp, retreat, or mission opportunity going on all summer every week.   Others are having event based events in place of program and continuing small groups during the summer.  In the past I have tried each one of these a time or too.

For us, we have two mission trips, a beach retreat, Sunday Night events, and small groups meeting every week through the summer.   This is my first summer with this group and we will see if it works.  One important reason we did not stop small groups for the summer is because we just started them in the Spring and things are going great.

I do events, such as pool party, going to the river and lake, bowling, movie nights, and other things to help build our group through fellowship.  I also see it as a great opportunity for students to invite their friends and not feel threatened by the church experience.  Over the years, I have seen many of my strongest leaders come from being invited during the summer. 

No matter which route your youth program goes this summer, take time for your students and remind them of this verse in Hebrews.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is there downtime in Youth Ministry?

I know that I've been guilty as the next youth worker in saying, "After this next event...things will slow down..."

But do they and should we allow there to be downtime in our ministry?

There should be downtime so we can rest and prepare for our next event.  I typically see towards the end of the school year and the beginning of summer as down time.  Its a time to reflect and see where things should change for the fall.  It is a slow down time before all the summer missions and retreats happen.  For me personally I have always changed from program based to event based ministry in the summer.  And always in December, youth ministry slows down with Advent events so it gives everyone a breather.   I think we need them, but we also have to create other downtimes throughout the year to keep us from going crazy.  I think you have to have unplanned and planned down time in ministry

There is no downtime, because we are always planning and getting ready for the next Sunday.  But the way around this is to delegate.   So when you are having downtime, someone else is picking up.

What are your thoughts?

Back to the grind

Hard to believe that I haven't posted in several days, but things got crazy at the end of the week.
Thursday I had planned to write several blogs.  I first had to drive to Charlotte to meet with a realtor about putting our house back on the market, then had lunch and hung out with one of my old youth and then came home and was ready to blog... but the power went out and my laptop was not charged.  Then Friday and Saturday I went to Augusta.  While in Augusta I went to Friday nights worship at St. Mark UMC for the Augusta River of Life.  It was an amazing time of worship and a great message on King David.  After worship, I hung around to talk with Mark and Scot about our Summer Camp.  Really excited about what we have in store for our students in July.  
Then I hung out in the St. Mark UMC parking lot talking to an old friend/old roommate/old youth pastor for three hours.  It was great to catch up with Chip and pick his brain on youth ministry.  Really helped me through some thoughts I had on planning for the next year...more to come in a future blog on this....

Sunday was Confirmation Sunday.  We confirmed eight out of ten students who were in the class.  The other two were out of town and we will confirm them soon.  Then we had our kick off to summer pool party.  Had a great turnout and a great time.

Summer is here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Finding a job in Youth Ministry: Communication

The biggest thing I learned in the search process last year, was Communication.  And I want to break down the communication into: Sending your Resume, Follow-up, and negotiations.

1.  Sending your Resume
   In the past I have just emailed or faxed a cover letter and my resume.   Lars Rood helped me change my resume.  Over the past 14 years, I have led camps and mission trips, spoke at many retreats and events, led worship, and many various other things outside of normal paid youth ministry.  Instead of having a five page resume, Lars helped me consolidate it into small sub areas of worship, program, speaking, and multi-media.   Lars also had me not only send my resume via email or fax but also send a hard copy.   Every church I met with or talked with said that was how I stood out over the hundreds of applicants.  Very few people send their resume in as a hard copy.   Lars pointed out to me that it takes ten seconds to email a resume, but it actually takes time and effort to buy resume paper, print it out, fold it, and mail it.  And that was one of the best tips he gave me.   I also enclosed in my packet to the churches a folder that broke down my different areas of youth ministry along with an audio or dvd of me speaking and leading worship.

2.  Follow-up

I always would send an email and call the head of the search committee and the staff person to make sure he/she received my resume.

Churches at this point separated themselves from me being interested or not.  Many of the search committees did not have a time frame, so they were very slow.  Several I did not interview with because it took too long and I was already into final rounds with other churches.

After having an interview I always sent a hand written thank you note to the Senior Pastor as well as the search committee.  I also sent an email and would sometimes call to personally thank them for their time.

The best interview processes at several churches was when they would weekly call me or email and let me know where they were in the process.  But the sad thing is that was only about 3 churches.  The other churches I had to call or email to find out if I had made it to the next round.

3.  Negotiations

This was a problem with several churches I was very interested in.  They put out a job search, a job description but failed to have a final number of what their package would look like.  Many churches want years of experience and education but are not willing to meet the packages of someone who is married and has a family.  Several offers were very embarrassing to try to negotiate.  Others were very willing.  My hope and prayer for all churches currently looking for someone is that they take care of the youth workers.  I really feel that if they treated the negotiation process and gave better packages and benefits, we would not see as high of a turnover in youth ministry as we currently do.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finding a job in Youth Ministry

Little over a year ago, I started the process of searching for a new position in Youth Ministry.  My wife and I felt called to move, so we started to look.  During the beginning process we were getting calls from churches, when we had not even posted a resume or let anyone know that we were looking.  It was a very exciting yet scary time on where to look.   With the help of a good friend in ministry Lars Rood, I updated my resume and put it on YS Job Bank.   I searched the YS job bank daily as well as several other sites.  But the YS job bank was where I had the most success while looking.

We traveled as far west as Hoover, AL, south to Tampa and Orlando, and throughout the Carolinas and Georgia.  It was a long process.

As I was finishing my Masters of Arts in Christian Education with an emphasis in Youth Ministry through Pfeiffer University and Wesley Theological Seminary, I was daily searching for a change.   I was mostly trying to stay in my roots in the United Methodist Church.  I saw bad communications, bad search committees, horrible follow-up, great people, frustrations, and roadblocks.  These were things that I had never experienced before while searching for previous youth ministry positions.  It amazed me how churches would publish one thing in their online ad and then be a total different church when I looked them up online or went to visit the church.  I'm glad I did my homework on the churches or I might be looking for another position right now if I would have taken one of them.

One major thing that helped was having a network of friends in Youth Ministry.  Lars Rood was beyond a friend with his help and support during my searching.  I'm not sure where I would have landed if it weren't for his guidance and suggestions.  I was in unchartered territory while looking.  My previous searches for positions in the past were very short, but with the economy and state of some churches, the process was very long with many dead ends.   One of the biggest dead ends was with my education and experience.  Many churches want someone with a Masters Degree in Youth Ministry, certified in Youth Ministry through the United Methodist Church, and with over 10 years of experience.  But the problem was that they did not have the pay or support church budget for youth ministry.   The one thing that Lars kept telling me was not to sacrifice the well-being of my family for the hard work I had put in for my education and experience.   Then on the other end of the spectrum, there were some churches that could, but felt that I had not been in large enough churches to be a part of their staff.  So for quite some time in the month of June I felt that I was stuck in between the two types of churches on an island.

We learned many things during our six month search.  
During the next couple days, I'm going to dive into several of these topics.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coming soon...two blogs

In the upcoming weeks I will be adding another blog.   This blog will evolve into more of a youth ministry help/idea/suggestion blog while my new blog will be more devotion/weekly lesson review/church blog.

More to come in the upcoming weeks

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A time to slow down

After small groups on Wednesday night, we packed the Explorer and headed to Myrtle Beach for a mini vacation.  Thursday morning we woke up early and grabbed breakfast and then headed for the beach.  It was a great time of just sitting, watching the waves, enjoying the sun, and listening to Pandora radio.  After several hours we moved to the resort pool area.  We played around in the lazy river and then took Mallory to the kids play area that was in a Pirate ship.  

We had a couple text and phone calls wishing us Happy Anniversary but neither of us paid attention to our phones mostly because they weren't charged.  But for once we didn't care.  We just enjoyed the silence.

It was great just to take a small break and have family time.  It was also great to be at the beach and just look out and enjoy God's beauty.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Missing posts...

Tuesday and Wednesday I was very busy so I was unable to really check my blog. Lately I take a few hours and write multiple blogs and then schedule them for the near future. Wednesday night after small groups I took my wife and daughter to the beach for a small get away and to celebrate our 4 year anniversary. And for the first time in a while I didn't use my MacBook or iPad. I just enjoyed our time away. Surprisingly when I just logged on I noticed that all my scheduled blogs were gone and also not published!

So I just to apologize to my daily readers for an empty blog over the past couple days. I hope in the future that does not happen. But it also just seals the deal on me changing from blogger to another blog host.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Third Day - I've Always Loved You (w/ Lyrics)

"I've always Loved You" by Third Day is probably my favorite song of all time.  I still remember the first time I heard it.  I purchased it the week that it came out in 1999, but being busy I didn't put it in my CD player until I took a road trip that weekend.   A few weeks prior, my grandmother had a stroke and I went by myself to Atlanta to visit her.  
My grandmother was the first person in my life that saw God's calling.  She told me and my mother before she passed away that she saw that I was going to go into ministry.  My grandmother was the church organist and pianist for years.  She was a very Godly woman and did more for others than I can even write.  She was always there for me.  She always sent cards on every holiday, where she would put a couple dollars in, and if she didn't have the money she would put a few sticks of gum in there.  When I lived in Atlanta in the Summer and Fall of 1998, every time I had an opportunity I went over and visited with her.  I still can see her smile every time I met her for lunch and for church.  I know that I made her really proud.  But after she passed away and I heard the number of stories of how she showed God's love to others, she made me proud.
In 2005 when we started a contemporary service at Lithia Spring UMC, we wanted to play this song, but I had a tough time with it.  The weekend before, I went home and my brother Michael showed me how to play it.  I had several opportunities later at River of Life and other retreats to play it with my brother.
Every time I hear that song, it brightens my day.  Anytime I'm down, I pull out my guitar and play it.  It reminds me that God is always there and no matter what I do or whatever happens...He loves us!

"I've Always Loved You"

I don't know how to explain it
But I know that words will hardly do
Miracles with signs and wonders
Aren't enough for me to prove to you

Don't you know I've always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away
I'll tell you still
Don't you know I've always loved you
And I always will

Greater love has not a man
Than the one who gives his life to prove
That he would do anything
And that's what I'm going to do for you 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Monday...I had a chance to guest blog

Last Monday I had the privilege of guest blogging on Carl Jones blog

I've shared this part of my life with only a couple people until I wrote this.   I invite you to take a couple minutes and read it.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

check out the Josh Ridings Band

In 2001 and 2002 I had the opportunity to play guitar with Josh Ridings at USC FCA.   In recent years I've had Josh and his band lead worship for a retreat and my youth group.  They are amazing!  Go to iTunes and download their stuff!

Josh Ridings Band formed in 2009 when Josh Ridings, Shag Tucker, and William Tucker began writing songs for Hope Point Church, in Spartanburg, SC, where they lead worship weekly.  Their albums, Sing Out Loud (2009) and Kingdom Come Down (Fall 2010), are filled with honest, energetic songs intended to be catalysts for both individual and corporate worship of Jesus Christ.  Each song has its roots in real prayers and experiences of the band.   Josh Ridings Band believes the Lord has given its members a unique gift of writing deep, biblical truths that are melodic and easy to sing.   Josh Ridings admits, “It is my goal to declare and display Jesus Christ with every song I sing.” 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Do you need surgery?

”The word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
    --Hebrews 4:12
The other night I was flipping through the channels on my TV and stopped on of the shows that show an entire surgery.   It was very interesting to watch the precise detail of what goes on in the Operating Room.  It is kind of like how God works on us and our Spiritual lives every day.  

How often do you let God do major surgery on your spirit as his Spirit uses the Word to encourage, judge, motivate, convict, instruct, and inspire?  With such a  great tool so readily at hand for most of us, let's not let a  day go by that we don't let God use his word on hearts.

God has a will for our heart's desire.  We need to realize that we need to be fed more consistently by His Word revealed in Scripture.  Ask God to give you strength and consistency  in your walk with God through His Word.    Through His Spirit,  be inspired to change what needs to be changed and to be blessed  and encouraged in the areas that you need it most.  Turn to God and trust Him in the works He wants for you and your life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

RESPECT...Find out what it means to me...

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.    --Titus 2:2
Worthy of respect?  It seems like in today’s world, we have forgotten the meaning of the word Respect.  If you go to, you can will see that Respect means:  A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem, The state of being regarded with honor or esteem, Willingness to show consideration or appreciation, respects Polite expressions of consideration or deference. 

Taking a look at Titus 2:2, what a goal for our lives whether we are men or women!  Don't you want your life to reflect the character of God because our faith expresses itself in a life of self-control.  This work of the Spirit in our lives happens only as we dedicate ourselves to being what he is at work trying to accomplish in us. 

Take a look at your life and see how you can gain better control of your passions, your  speech, your  example, your daily lifestyle, and your habits.  Ask God to help you give up the things that take away from your spiritual passion and your influence for good to those who do not know Jesus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have
watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. -Isaiah 55:10-11

Rain... We have been all too familiar with it these days as we awake to a grey sky and humid drizzle.  It is uncomfortable to have to endure the weather - the extra coat or umbrella, perhaps a pair of leaky shoes
whose inefficiency is made worse by patches of soggy ground.  Yet as troublesome and depressing as a
sullen, grey sky and falling water can be, in a sense rain is a wonder, too. Where we have built hard surfaces of asphalt and concrete, building roofs and gutters, the water rolls off and is whisked away.  But where there is a space of ground or a bit of growth, the rain sinks in and returns to the earth the life-giving water necessary for growth.

In Isaiah, the prophet compares God's word to the life-giving water of rain and snow.  It is a life-giving word which goes out from God, a word which showers upon the earth to accomplish God's purpose.  Like the rain, God's word comes upon us seeking us in love so that we might live more and more to God and for God. And though in the end God's word will not be thwarted (even the hardest of mountains are, in time, worn away through the power of water and wind), we certainly have a knack for building hard places in our lives that whisk the word away.  Where is the "rain" of God's word falling in your life this week (Where is God in all of this?)?   What are those "hard places" which make it difficult to for the word to sink in?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do not call list

" God called to him…And he said, ‘Here I am” –Exodus 3:4

When God calls us we treat it like a wrong number or a telemarketing call and give no answer.  Sometimes we even put God on our “Do Not Call List”.  Moses’ response to God’s call revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready.  Readiness is being in a right relationship with God and having the knowledge of where we are.  

But too many times, we are too busy telling God where we want Him to be or where we want to instead of being ready for what God has in store and where He is.  We  sometimes wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something will be coming our way and when it does, we are quick to say “Here I am”.  

Instead we need to come to God humbly and lay it all down and say “Here I am”.  God has so many great things in store for us if we would only allow ourselves to be ready and willing to be in His purpose.  Stop putting God on hold, not answering, or putting him on a “Do Not Call List” and put Christ in the center of your life by answering God’s calling in your life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inked by Forgiveness

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  “Matthew 6:14-15”

"Inked by forgiveness.   Too often in our lives we are stuck at holding on and not forgiving.  This verse is such a staggering statement, when any of us fail to forgive another person; our lack of forgiveness is a barrier to God forgiving us.  Not forgiving ourselves and others places us outside the gracious forgiving love of God.

BUT THERE IS GREAT HOPE…God wants you to have freedom:
When we realize how much we have been forgiven, it enables us to make the choice to forgive others; it allows the Holy Spirit to do a deeper work in us.

CHALLENGE:  Who in your life do you need to forgive?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last Stretch

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never
ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:21-24

It seems like we always have so many plans and so many hopes and aspirations for how things should be or how I want them to be. And yet, as we head into this last stretch before another School year is in the books, we find ourselves already tired.  Not just sleepy, but tired.  At times it is as if we are trying to run the 100 meter dash wearing a pair of concrete shoes.  And yet we are reminded of the fact that perhaps our fatigue lies not so much in our busy-ness, but maybe in our poor focus.  

It is not that our daily activities, sports, hobbies, projects, and hanging out with friends, are trivial or are not worth careful attention.  They are indeed important, I believe, a part of what God has called us to do and be at this point in time.  No, the problem is often that we find ourselves trying to do too much, too perfectly, under our own power instead of trusting in the renewing love of the One who is Perfection and Power.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fishers of Men

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”-Matthew 4:19

Remember when you first became a Christian and you were so excited about outreaching and getting everyone you know to come to church.   Often we only get excited about reaching out to others after a retreat. Most of us normally don’t excited about our relationships with God because we fail to cast a vision, and don’t see the big picture of who God is and how much he loves us.
Instead we need be excited!  

We're not just attending Bible Studies; we're preparing to impact our generation for Jesus. We're not just doing a little service project; we're changing our world. 

We need to build our vision and watch the excitement of it grow in our families, friends, schools, and community.

So what is our vision for our: personal lives, youth group, church, schools, and community?  How will put our vision into place?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Are you blind?

Many times in ministry we walk through things blindly.  When we get to new churches, we have no clue what tradition, retreats, annual events, translation of the Bible is acceptable, which rooms the youth are not allowed in, and so forth.  Many times we just go with the flow.  But just like in life, we cannot survive long if we do that.  

“…the Lord Jesus…has sent me that you may receive your sight…” Acts 9:17   

Paul received his sight, he also received the Holy spirit and insight of God and Christ.  From this point on in his life he was filled with the Living God.  Paul never again allowed anything to hold him down and take his focus off of telling others about Christ.  We must learn to maintain a strong will and determination so that we have a new focus and that our vision stays strong on Christ.

We must take the time to discern and see what God is calling us to do in our ministry and in our life.  We must take off our seminary, workshop, daily blog, mega church, YS, Group, or Simply shaded glasses and allow God to give us His sight to see and discern where He is calling us.


”I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Seven years ago, Mandy Moore was interviewed about her role in the movie “Saved.”
She said, “I have faith. It only becomes cultish when people start to think that their way is the only way.  I feel bad for Hilary Faye (Mandy’s character in the movie) ——her whole identity is her relationship with Jesus.”  (Teen Vogue, May 2004, p. 118.)

Wow.  I hope someone can say that about us.  Think about someone might say,  “Their whole identity is in their relationship with Christ.”  Wouldn’t that just been awesome for that to happen.  But sadly that isn’t how we sometimes live and if we do we don’t let others see it.
It saddens me to think that sometimes nobody sees our relationship with Christ is not part of our identity.   Instead it is our favorite music band, our favorite sports team, or our hobbies and all their accomplishments.  And we don’t show an ounce of Christ in our identity.

Is our identity in Christ, or in ourselves?

The world thinks we’re crazy, fanatical, even “cultish” to be so wrapped up in Christ.  My prayer is that the world doesn’t see me, but Christ in me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


“…But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. John 20: 25   

Just like Thomas, we all feel at times we need more evidence of who Christ is and what He did for us.  Many of us go through life, asking God to give us this big sign that says, “HEY I’M GOD, AND I’M HERE, BELIEVE IN ME!”  

But the majority of the time God doesn’t have that big sign for us.  He has little road signs that say, “I love you unconditionally.”  We are too lazy to stop, or we are too busy looking for that big billboard on the side of the road.  

If you have a doubt, like Thomas, pull up your Bible and read on of the gospels, or go see the depiction of the crucifixion in the movie the Passion of Christ, so you can see it first hand.  God is all around, and has a constant and endless love for us.

Have you seen it lately?  

Have you shown it lately?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."  Matthew 16:24-25

     How do we define ourselves?  Some of us do it with the company we keep: I'm so-and-so's friend or I'm my parent's kid.  Others of us do it by what we do: I'm an Athlete or I'm a Band Member.  But is that how*God* defines us?

     When Jesus tells us in the verse above to deny ourselves, that means we have to give up the titles and recognition and familiarity that we have and become what God wants us to be.  God called Moses
to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  Moses was shocked!  He didn't define himself as a "Leader."  But that
didn't matter--God did.

     In fact, throughout the Bible very few people were called to do God's work in the field that they thought they were meant to serve in.  People had to deny themselves, leave their old lives, and often take
on symbolic new names to show their new path in life.  Sometimes we aren't immediately told what the new path is.  God just decides to take away a gift, like speaking ability or physical prowess or singing ability.  Then we have to sit and wait and pray for our new assignment to be revealed to us.  Either way
we've got to be ready for any change of plans that God gives us and set out on that new path.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dirty Dishes

"Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of salvation, and uphold me with your free spirit." Psalm 51:10-12
I hate doing the dishes. I mean, I really hate doing the dishes. I suppose I could come up with some deep psychological reason why I hate doing the dishes.  Frankly though, I think that the problem is more simple than that. I think that I simply hate doing the dishes. I only do them after either after I run out of creative ways to cook a meal with the pots and pans available or I get tired of eating out!

Our relationship with God is like doing the dishes. Everyone has those little "things" that we don't do for some reason that we should have done or things that need to be done and we don't do them.  Eventually, these "things" that are left undone begin to accumulate. Instead of a mountainous pile of plates and cups, a weaker relationship with God develops, because of those "things" that are in the way.

The awesomeness of God is that God washes away these dishes, if you ask him to.  The dishes are washed away and the counter is clear. Your relationship came beg in again.
What are your "dishes" that you need to have cleaned away by God?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Great Choice

" I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."   (Ephesians 4:1-6) NRSV

We live in a world where anything goes. Things we counted on suddenly change. People break their promises. What we thought was true turns out to be false.  At times it seems that there's little to hold on to any more. But life doesn't have to be that way.  

We have one great choice. The choice is Jesus. He doesn't change. Jesus never breaks his promises. His words always prove to be true.  You can hold on to him. You can also hold on to the cross. Jesus died on the cross for one reason - He loves you. After Jesus died and came back to life, he made a commitment to you.  He promised never to leave you or forsake you. Jesus has kept his promise and always will.  You can bet your life on it. Jesus only asks for one thing: for you to make the same kind of promise to him.  

Committing yourself to Jesus doesn't mean you won't have any tough times. But it does mean you'll have some help when you do. But you can't do it halfway.  You've got to give it your all.  And don’t forget you have a large family here to support you and help you in your walk with Christ, through Sunday school, Sunday Worship, Youth, Bible study, retreats, and mission trips.

Friday, May 6, 2011

This time of year...numbers go down

After Spring Break and Easter across the world of Youth Ministry numbers seem to go down.  Why?
Some say its because its the end of the year and students have more homework and projects.  Others say that after Easter everyone just becomes busy.  Others blame it on spring fever.  Others blame it on the warm weather.

Every year I have seen our youth ministry numbers go up in January and February and then in April and May they decline.  I hear every "excuse" from sports to homework to forgetting we had youth.   It amazes me how teens and parents just take a break from God when the weather gets warm.  But without a doubt when we start doing "fun" events in June, the numbers go back.  Is it because they get fired up about Pentecost and are ready for church activities again or is it that they have nothing better to do in the summer and so church is the natural hang out spot?

This is just a question I was wrestling with last week with a friend in ministry and wanted to see everyone else's opinion.

Hebrews 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Copy Cats on FB, Twitter, and Ministry..

The other night I posted this on my Twitter account and FB account.

I dislike when people tweet other people's tweets and not include RT ...   

Just a small pet peeve that I have.  But I also see it in ministry all the time.  I see it in blog posts, hear it at times in podcasts, and have also heard it live in sermons.  And this is nothing new.  I just don't understand why people have to be copycats instead of just saying they heard it somewhere and give the original author the credit.

Why is this so hard?
Why do we have to try to look like the smart person?
And what do we do if we get caught?  I've seen it happen and the person just said, "Oh it was in my nights, I was just in the zone and I forgot to quote them."

I've seen and heard several pastors give entire messages of Andy Stanley's, Doug Fields, Francis Chan, and even Billy Graham where they failed to quote and claim it for their own.  I use other pastors material from time to time, but I make sure to give the brothers credit.  And I hope that you do the same.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Event Based or Bible Based Summer?

Over the past fourteen summers I have been part of both Even Based Youth Summer Ministry Programs and Bible Based Summer Youth Programs.

Event Based Youth Summer Ministry Programs consists of one retreat after another and having an event every Sunday and Wednesday.  Its all about keeping busy and doing cool things.  I've seen this where this has helped youth groups grow by having more non-threatening events to allow students to bring their friends and become part of the group.

Bible Based Summer Youth Programs consists of one continuing to have Sunday night programing and small groups during the summer.  I have seen groups become very solid during the summer as they got ready to start the new school year.

Both have worked in different seasons at different churches for me and other youth pastor friends.  I have also seen both wear out adult volunteers, youth pastors, and families.

I have also seen where youth programs shut down for the summer and the only events they have are their summer camp and their mission trip.

This summer, my adults and I discerned for our group that on Sunday nights we would have fun activities all around Columbia, SC and on Wednesday nights we would continue small groups during the summer.

So what does your youth group do during the summer months?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What if #lovewins with #OBL?

So for the past 48 hours I have watched many Christians, pastors, non-Christians, and others put their two cents in about Osama Bin Laden.  I've seen the blogs, the tweets, the facebook posts, the photoshop pictures, and the news stories.   I really debated about writing this post.  I wrote it originally yesterday but held it until tonight.

Really if you look at all the post.  Some said it was all about justice.  That it was the ultimate consequence for being behind the number of terror attacks.  Others went with that but also said that it made the world a safer place with him being killed.  While others said that this could put us in more danger and cause more deadly attacks.

Some of my twitter and facebook friends were very patriotic and very happy.  Others were somber.  Some misquoted MLK and others.

While looking at all these I just had the thought of what if Osama was visited last week by a missionary or was given a Gideon Bible?  What if sometime during the last week, Osama was like the thief on the cross and changed his life and gave it over to Christ during his last moments.  What if God's Love won over the face of terror?   What if after everything is declassified we find out that Osama became saved?

How would the media react?
How would Christians act?
How would non-Christians act?

Just a thought...

"I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways & live. "
-Ez 33:11

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Claymation History of United Methodism

I'm currently on our Confirmation Retreat with my students.
When I went through confirmation back in 1993, this movie really helped me understand what the Methodist Church was.
For the last ten years I have made this a part of my teaching to my students. I also used it in my Methodist history class for a project.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Are we too Connected?

Facebook, Twitter, Smart phones, Apps, Four Square, Linked In, Text Messages....and the list keeps going!  Are we too connected to the world?  When do we turn them off?  When do we say no?  When do we disconnect?

In ministry we use all of these to stay connected with our students, parents, and congregation!  But are we still staying connected with Jesus and our family?

There has been numerous times my wife has asked me to just set my iPhone or iPad down and just chill. She brings up a great point that too often I am too connected.

The first thing I do every morning when I get up is pick up my iPhone, check the weather, my email, twitter, and Facebook.  When I have a free second in the day I repeat the cycle, just to make sure I'm on top of everything.  And at times this causes me to miss time connecting with Jesus and my family.  I'm ashamed to type this, but its true.  And I know many other youth pastors who do the same thing.

I have been working really hard of late to just say no to being connected.  When my wife and I go out to eat or to a movie, I turn my phone off or leave it out of sight.  When I'm spending time with my daughter, I turn it off.  I have been working on waiting till later to return a phone call or text.  Its not the end of the world if I do not return an email, tweet, text, or Facebook message immediately.   I've just learned we have to take time for ourselves and UNPLUG social media and our phones.

Time with Jesus and time with my family comes first.  It is something I'm working to take back.  So if I don't respond to your email, tweet, text, phone call...know that I will.

So how connected are you?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Youth Workers Convention

Last night I talked with my adults and it looks like we are going to be bringing our entire team of volunteers to National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta November 18-20.  I'm really excited about this, because I have always dreamed of having my adults see, hear and experience NYWC.  
Every time I go, I have information overload and it is hard to express and bring it all back to my adults and get them as excited about Youth Ministry as I am after being a part of an amazing weekend.
It is so awesome that Youth Specialties has lowered the price and the time frame to allow this to happen for not only my group but for others.  Thanks Tic, Mark, Adam, and the rest of the YS staff!

Who's at your dinner Table?

Yesterday I saw this at

Who’s at your dinner table?

Okay, you’ve got 7 spots at your dinner table. You can’t invite family. Invitees have to be alive. And has to be people you’ve never met. Who’s getting the invites?

So here are my Seven:

1. Doug Fields
2. Tim Tebow
3. Kid Rock
4. Kenny Chesney
5. Mike Huckabee
6. Jon Foreman
7. Francis Chan

Who are yours?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pictures in Ministry part I

I really love the age of digital pictures in youth ministry.  You can take hundreds of pictures on retreats and then post them on facebook, make digital albums, make a cool website, import them into iMovie and make a cool slide show with the latest cool Christian Music.  But oh not so long ago, we only took a couple disposable kodak cameras with us.  And then we would bring them back and pay the cost equivalent today to a digital camera in hopes that we might have half of them turn out good enough for us to make a scrapbook or collage to hang in the youth room.  I have a digital picture frame on my desk in  my office and have pictures of my family but also from every church I've ever served at.  And btw I am looking for old pictures from Asbury UMC and Tucker UMC to complete if you have some from that time, please let me know!

I'm going to do a part II to this post later today...but need your help.

How do you use pictures in your youth ministry?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leftovers...Time with Family

Too often in ministry our families get the last of us.  They get the leftovers.  We give so much at times to our jobs in ministry and often our families suffer from this.  We give hours upon hours above what we are paid for at times to do "ministry" while our parents, siblings, spouse, and children get what is left of us.  And sometimes that aren't even lucky enough for that.  

I look back at the past fourteen years where I have put my family second or third too many times because I have been burning both ends of the candle in ministry.  I see that if I would have had better time management and delegation my family would have had more of me.

Yesterday, I had an amazing day with my wife and daughter.  We took a spontaneous trip down to the beach and to Charleston for the day.  We played on the beach, had seafood, shopped in the market, and finished the evening having dinner with Jessica's cousin.  It was an awesome day.  Jessica and I try to make one day a week where we spend time with just us.  A lot of times we go to the movies in the afternoon on a Thursday or Friday and have a meal together.  We both turn off our iPhones and enjoy each others company.

Ever since my daughter was born 18 months ago, I have worked really hard to make sure that my family doesn't just get the leftovers of me.  Sometimes it seems like they do, but I'm trying really hard to keep that from happening.

Here are a couple tips to keep from giving your family leftovers:

  • Use your time wisely in the office
  • Take your day(s) off every week
  • Divide your days into thirds and make sure at least 1/3 is at home
  • Set aside time for vacations
  • Turn off your smart phone when spending time with your family
  • Have weekly/monthly dates with your spouse
  • Have weekly/monthly dates with your children
  • Learn how to say No
  • Track your hours and how you spend them
  • Try to work only the hours that the church pays you (there is no need to work 70 hours!)
  • Have someone keep you accountable on this
If you have any others please leave a comment.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday...the Easter Hangover

On Easter I tweeted, "Will you let the story of the empty tomb of  be a story you hear every  or will you make it personal today?"
I also retweeted my friend Jonathan Pearson who wrote, " Easter is a great day to celebrate. If it ends the day after, though, we fail the One we celebrate"

Every church I that I have served at during the past 14 years, the Sunday after Easter is always the lowest attendance of the year.   For me it really blows my mind how you can experience an amazing service on Easter (and lets face it, every church amps it up for Easter and takes it the next level...its like Super Bowl Sunday) and then the next week have the lowest number.  It just doesn't make sense!
It's crazy talk!  It's just flat crazy.   How can you experience an amazing worship service that celebrates the greatest miracle of all time...Jesus raising from the dead and then the next Sunday not be jacked up about it?  

The Sunday after Easter really should be our highest attendance of the year.  Everyone should hear the Easter message and want to bring someone back the next week!  But sadly it often goes in one ear and out the next.  We fail to make it personal.  We fail to celebrate it on Easter Monday...instead we have an Easter Hangover.  And we become numb to what we just celebrated.  Maybe its too many candbury eggs and chocolate bunnies.  Or maybe we just don't get it.

I challenge you to continue to daily celebrate Easter and to invite someone this week to church.  Let's get past the Easter Hangover and introduce someone new to our Risen Lord!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I saw this remake of the Resurrection Video by Rob Bell.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

While researching something else a while I back I came upon this.   As we prepare for Easter Sunday tomorrow take a look at this and use today to find time for "teaching moments" with your family and friends.

Holy Saturday (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum), the 'day of the entombed Christ', is the Lord's day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. We recall the Apostle's Creed, which says "He descended unto the dead." It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. For this reason no divine services are held until the Easter Vigil begins that night. This day between Good Friday and Easter Day makes present to us the end of one world and the complete newness of the era of salvation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

Ideally, Holy Saturday should be the quietest day of the year (although this is not as easy in a busy household with children as it might be in a convent or monastery.) Nightfall on Holy Saturday is time for joy and greatest expectation because of the beautiful liturgy of the Easter Vigil, often referred to as the Mother of all Holy Vigils, or the Great Service of Light. The Easter Vigil was restored to the liturgy in 1955, during the liturgical reform that preceded the Second Vatican Council.

During the day, the preparations at home that must be made for Easter Day are appropriate, however, because they keep our attention fixed on the holiness and importance of the most central feast of the Church. Working with our children to prepare for Easter can offer us many 'teaching moments', as well.