Thursday, July 26, 2012


One huge thing that is required of student ministry pastors is the ability to be flexible.  I was tested on this yesterday.

I had planned a canoe trip for my students, and I was fairly impressed with that fact that I was able to pull it off within about a week.  I planned it all on Monday and had it scheduled for the following Tuesday.

I was scrambling like mad on Monday to find drivers, and finalize the numbers for how many students would be attending.  Well, as fate has it, and God probably had this planned for a reason, I woke up and it was raining outside.  Rain is not a big deal, and often times it makes canoeing that much more fun!

I got ready, put on my bathing suit, and found a shirt that I wouldn't mind getting dirty.

As I hopped into my borrowed van (I needed something other than my 99 accord to haul students around) I realized it was actually raining pretty hard, and not only that but out in the distance I continued to hear thunder.  But then the clincher, I saw a huge bolt of lightning strike a few miles up ahead of me.  I decided it was time to can the canoe trip.

I was getting calls, texts, and emails about whether or not we were still planning on having the scheduled trip.

I was furiously googling bowling alleys, laser tag places, indoor rec centers, and anything fun around the area that would be open before noon.  The results? Nothing.  Except the mall that was right down the street.

I scurried together and created a 15 item scavenger hunt for items that would be in the mall.

I had students go to the pet store, find an Andrew Luck Jersey, and even discover a spatula from the kitchen store.

Concluding the scavenger hunt we headed back to church where we watch a hilarious comedian on dvd that a parent wisely allowed me to borrow, I ordered pizza with the money that students anticipated using for the canoe rentals, and we hung out. The storm got worse and worse, and at one point there were 80 mph winds tearing through our neck of the woods.

I had this whole trip planned, my first major event at this church, but God chose to teach me flexibility on this one instead.

How have you been forced to be flexible while being in ministry?

Monday, July 23, 2012

What we can learn from Penn State

I'm sitting here listening to the sanctions that came forward from the Penn State scandal.  If you haven't heard yet, check it out here.

If you are unfamiliar with the issues going on with Penn State, I would recommend you do a little research, but for a quick summary, it came to light that one of Penn State's coaches was mistreating younger individuals.  And it went unnoticed since 1998. To put it lightly.

I think this issue brings to light a very real truth in our world and how we need to be extremely careful in student ministry and interactions with minors.

The bottom line in what took place was an egregious crime, and a shame.

The reason this is such a big deal is that as student ministry pastors and leaders we need to be aware of what kind of interactions are going on between adults and students.  Regardless of what your opinion on the issue is, as a student ministry director/pastor you hope, and quite honestly need to be much more than hopeful, that you are never put in the position that Joe Paterno was put in.

As the student ministry leader/pastor you are put in charge.  You must answer for all the actions that are going on in your ministry.  You are the "Joe Pa" of your student ministry.

I know this may still be a sore subject, but "Joe Pa" was the leader of this organization, and we as pastors and leaders are the shepherd of our student ministry and we must answer for all the actions that go on inside our ministry.

What can we learn from this?

I think what we can learn is to be extraordinarily careful in volunteer and student interactions.

Know as much as you can about what is going on in your student ministry.

Do background checks on your leaders.

Don't just take any warm body who is willing to help, be able to say no to people if you have to.

Above all, be the leader, and make sure that you are standing up for what is right, no matter what the cost.

What do you think about the Penn State punishment, do you think it's too harsh? What are some other things we can learn as student ministry pastors in this?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Event Ideas

Summer is one of those times to kind of take it easy. If you can swing it give your volunteers a couple of months off from the week-in-and-week-out grind of youth ministry.  Scale back the weekly programming.  Kick your feet up.  Hang out with students in a "chill" environment.

Since you're not running your weekly programming as frivolously as you may be during the middle of October or March, what are some opportunities you may see to hang out with students?

Some quick summer ideas:

  • Movie Night
Watch a movie at the church, or at a youth leader's house.  It doesn't have to be an officially church sponsored event, but just a chance to get students together to hang out.
  • Beach Hangout
Go find a sandy beach. Pack some lunches. Play sand volleyball.  Hangout and chill in the water.
  • Canoe/Kayak Trip
Spend a lazy day out on the river with a bunch of your students in some rented canoes.  The best part about these trips is that no one stays dry :)
  • Bowling
Hit up the local bowling alley and just have fun being bad at a sport that so few people are skilled in.

The bottom line about summer is get out of your natural environment so that you can break down the relationship barrier between yourself and students.  Start building the rapport between students so that they trust you by the time you kick off in the fall!

What do you do during the summer to connect with students?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Risk pt 2

On Monday I talked about some risks that are important to take while being a part of student ministry.

One thing that I don't think we talk about enough is how to take a step out into the unknown.

One year I went to a camp, and I decided I would go down a zipline.  So I waited in line for my turn, and I was pretty nervous.  Then I finally climbed up the giant wooden structure to the platform where I would take off.  I was harnessed in and ready to go.  Still somewhat regretting this decisions and mildly freaked out.  I finally got attached to the zipline and the instructor said, "Ok, now walk to the edge, stick your toes off the edge, and squat like you're sitting on a chair, on my signal you'll step off the ledge and away you'll go."  It was at that minute that I realized I had one of two options, step or don't step.

When we come up on a risk that we need to take we have one of two options, step, or don't step.  When you get closer and closer to that "step" you begin to feel nervous, butterflies fill your stomach, and your heart is pounding outside of your chest.

But when we step back in our comfort zone I think we miss the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move.  The Holy Spirit will direct us if we step out into the danger zone.  That is where Jesus' promise comes into play that he will be with us to the very end of the age.

In the song "Give me Faith" there is a line that says, "Give me faith, to trust what you say, that you're good, and your love is great." That line says it all where we know we can trust the Holy Spirit.  Another incredibly line in the song goes, "I may be weak, your spirit's strong in me, my flesh may fail, my God you never will." And those lines capture the whole essence of taking risks.  We know that we can't do it on our own, but we have to trust that God's spirit has our best in mind.

Take a listen to this song, one of my all time favorites, and as you listen to the words, think about a risk God may be asking you to take this week!

Happy Fourth!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Yesterday I had the privileged of bringing God's word to the congregation at my new church, University Baptist Church.

I spoke on one of my favorite, yet most convicting topics, Risk.

Today on, Balanced Student Ministry, and for this week we will talk about how we as student ministers can take a risk.

Risk, and the fear of failure, is something that we create on our own.  Jesus gave us a commission to go make disciples, discipleship, which often we define as 'Bible Study', doesn't scare us.  But evangelism freaks us out, myself included.

Francis Chan, distinguished author and speaker, spoke about the posture Christians sometimes take when it comes to taking risks.

I don't want to head where the majority will head, will you?  And the thing is I know the correct answer, or how to avoid that, but for some reason I'm still a little bit afraid.

Why are we afraid? When Jesus says, 'surely I'll be with you always, even to the very end of the age.' He's with us!

Some risks that may be involved in being a minister to students include:

  • Getting into the local school for lunches.
  • Going to football games intermingling with students who may or may not acknowledge you.
  • Making changes within your local church.
  • Finding a way to follow up with students after they visit your ministry for the first time.
Regardless as a student minister there are a number of risks, and I realize I probably only scratched the surface, but what are some risks that you find in youth ministry?

What things have I missed on that may be risks?

Check back in on Wednesday to talk about how we can practically conquer our fear of taking risks.

Monday, June 25, 2012


As a recently married individual many times I am convicted about what it truly means to be a man.  There is a lot out there that our culture says about manhood.  Much of which is not found in scripture.

As a minister to students, many times they are looking at you as a role model to what true manhood looks like.

I think we have a man crisis in our nation, and men are not living up to their calling.

Last year I saw this video, it takes a minute to watch, but it is amazing, watch it, then I will pick up with the rest of my blog after the video.

The church today in America is running into a crisis.  If men won't finish well, who do the boys and teenagers in our student ministries have to look up to?  When men quit acting like men, and begin to act like boys, who leads in our congregations?

Pastors, Student Ministry leaders, the call falls on our shoulders.  If we don't step up, who will?

Are we ready to take the lead on this one?

If you want to check out this book I would recommend it, and not just simply for pastors or church planters, it is a book about how to lead a Godly marriage. I highly recommend it:

What, in your opinion, are we missing in the church today in regards to building up strong men?

How can we put a stop to this?

What are some ways in which you have tried to put a stop to this?

What were some of your favorite quotes from the video above? Mine was: "The story and the glory of the church, becomes bigger than the story and glory of God."

Guys, lets start today!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


What are some of your favorite youth ministry games?

I want this post to eventually turn into a page (I'm still working on the technical side of that and how to do it, so if you know how, let me know!!)

Here are a few of my favorite Student Ministry games:

  • Letter Game (10+ students needed)
In this game you can make a night of it. 
  1. Break your group up into teams.
  2. Instruct them to come up with a team name and cheer, then give them 10 minutes to do so.
  3. Have all teams come together and perform the cheer, award a winner, feel free to keep score or not (I usually choose not to, or give out bogus scores ie: 5000 points, a gold star, 3 thumbs up, etc.)
  4. Following that get on a perch, or if you're afraid of heights make a volunteer do it (stool, chair, table, catwalk, roof, be creative)
  5. Call out letters or numbers, after that the teams must lay on the ground and form that letter or number, the first team to form that letter or number, according to the discretion perch person, wins that round.  It can literally go on forever.
  6. At anytime you can call out pyramid, and the teams must form a pyramid using every team member.
  • Mafia (10+)
  1. Sit everyone in a circle and apoint a narrator (usually an adult leader, avoid students doing it)
  2. Everyone is a town's person in the city of (youth ministry's name)-ville, inside that city there are 3 mafia, 1 nurse, 1 sheriff.
  3. The goal is the mafia to kill off the towns people, and the towns people is to kill off the mafia
  4. Everyone goes to sleep, the narrator then appoints the people, one tap on the head is mafia, two is  nurse, three is sheriff (if you don't remember it goes alphabetically).
  5. Once the mafia is appointed and the town is all asleep, have them look up, make eye contact, and decide a person to kill, then put them to sleep.
  6. Wake up the nurse, have the nurse choose a person to save, put the nurse to sleep.
  7. Then wake up the sheriff, have him point to someone and you indicate by thumbs up or down whether they are good (towns person) or bad (mafia).
  8. Then wake everyone up and tell an elaborate story about who got killed (unless the nurse saved them).
  9. Now have everyone dictate who they think could be the Mafia. This is where the actual mafia people get to act a little bit by trying to confuse everyone that they are not actually the mafia.
  10. Once you come to a consensus on a person who they think is Mafia, you have a vote putting them on the chopping block, if the majority votes yes, that person is dead, if not enough move to the next person (you don't always have to kill someone at this stage, but usually it happens).
  11. Repeat the cycle by putting everyone to sleep (minus the person who died, they can watch, just can't talk). When there is only Mafia left, they win, if they all get killed off, the towns people win.

  • Powerpoint Games (any)
  1.  All you need is a projector, or tv of some sort.
  2. You can create little quizzes of 10 or so questions.
  3. Students can be individual or in teams for this.
  4. You can give our prizes for the winner at the end or just do it for fun.
  5. Google Powerpoint Games to find some, there are TONS out there!
Now its your turn, what are some good games that you know of? Post below and we will add them to the site, and give you credit!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fresh Start

Not all good things can last forever.

As a Colts fan (and as this blog was so aptly named prior to my revamping) we learned that back in March, when Peyton Manning choked out those famous last words before walking out of our lives and hearts forever, "I have always enjoyed being your quarterback."

Just scroll to 1:00 in the video and skip Irsay bumbling over his words and go to the heartfelt stuff.

The wise words of my idol on the football field, don't only work in competitive sports, they also work in life, and in youth ministry.  Not everything lasts forever.  God has a plan and purpose for you in your life where you are.

So in youth ministry, my guess, unless you are the rare exception, you will not retire from the same church in which you started with right out of college.  Which poses the question.  What are some good first steps when starting off with a new youth ministry?

I may not be the most experienced at this, but I did do it the wrong way the last time I entered a student ministry setting, and I want to make sure it happens the right way this time.

Here are just a few quick tips to make sure you start out the right way.

  • Get to know the surrounding adults
Yes, your job is with students, but if you don't get to know your peers you will be very lonely.  I think the key is understanding that students are not your best friends.  You have an obligation to them, but when you are hurting, where will you go?  What about your wife?  She will need to build friendships aside from the students you are ministering to as well.  So be intentional about setting up relationships with adults around you.
  • Don't change everything right away
You may already be knowing exactly what it is you want to change up.  But just wait.  Your goal at first is getting your self integrated into the fabric of the church.  If you're hired on a Sunday, and by Wednesday you have changed the name of the student ministry, the times, and the place of the meeting I bet everyone in the church already regrets hiring you.  Enjoy your early time at the church, learning names, meeting people, shaking hands, having conversations because eventually that will all go away.
  • Hang Out
Depending on the time you get hired, just find time to hang out with your new students.  Obviously be smart, don't hang out with a member of the opposite sex alone, but get groups together.  Bring them along when you start to paint the youth room or move couches around.  Go out for ice cream.  Attend the youth ministry events as just a volunteer for a couple of weeks before becoming the authority figure.  Student ministry is relational, and the sooner those relationships get built, the easier your job will be.

These are just a few quick tips that I would have as to how to start and make your mark on a church.  These are things that I would suggest.  Would I do other things? Absolutely!  But I guarantee that these things would help give you a good quick start to your new ministry.

But what about you? What did I miss in this post?  What else could someone do that would make a huge difference?  Leave comments below and lets discuss it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This is our first Guest Post, and it is actually written by someone very close to me, my sister, Natalie Clason.  Enjoy her post and comment away!

As a student leader who just graduated from high school, I have seen the good, the bad, and the
ugly in Youth Groups and Student Ministries. I grew up watching my dad’s student ministries grow to the
extremes. A student ministry should be 10% of the amount in the congregation at the church. In the
church we attended of 2,000 people, my dad’s student ministry, on a big even night, would average
about 500 students. That number? The good.

The bad? That’s when the church is satisfied with the number they have. Yeah, they have more
than 10% of the congregation, they’re good. No, continue to grow! Continue to reach out to the
unsaved and the hopeless! Hopeless is pretty strongly negative. But, why would one have hope if they
don’t know what is going to happen to them after they die? Those are the kinds of people fully-devoted
followers need to reach out to. Everyone has a friend who needs reached out to. Reaching out to
someone does not necessarily mean talking about Jesus with them every time you talk. And it doesn’t
mean to tell them what they are doing wrong in their life and how to fix it. Reaching out to someone is
being Jesus to them: love them unconditionally and love God unconditionally.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -
Matthew 22:37-39

The bad was bad, but the worst is the ugly. The ugly is the world. Our world is falling apart.
Everywhere you turn you find drugs, sex and alcohol. Usually the ones you find are doing these things
are between the ages of 13 and 18; underage. “Alcohol use remains extremely widespread among
today’s teenagers. Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a
few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade.” (http:// This is such an issue for me, because most kids grew up watching their parents do
drugs and come home drunk. Kids look up to their parents and normally obtain their habits. So, why
would my beliefs trump theirs?

Another part of the ugly is greatly related to the issue of the world: student leaders. Because of
the way people have conformed to the world, it is very difficult to find reliable and trustworthy student
leaders for a student ministry. In the church, the student leaders seem to be very mature and devoted.
But, as soon as they leave the church and hang out with their friends, they become conformed to the
world. They fall into peer pressure; they hang out with the wrong crowd and want to fit in. It’s hard for
them to bring friends with them to church who will make a decision in their faith. Because their friends
see the person who goes out and parties and has sex with his/her boyfriend or girlfriend. Their friends
may think that’s it’s easy to be a “Christian,” and the make the choice to do so. But, after the fact, they
don’t have anyone leading them in the right direction to the best walk with the Lord. How ugly is that? It
makes me so sad, and I have been so disappointed in the way my student ministry has gone. My youth
pastor is amazing, it’s just hard to minister to the kids of this world and trust some other student leaders.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you
will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Missions Trips

camera caseIt’s never too early to begin thinking about summer trips and plans. In fact I like to be planned out by beginning of fall school year prior to the trip.  I think the main reason I like to do it this way is because if a trip is $1000 you can tell students that it will only take $30 a month to fund the trip.

I like to be strategic in my summer plans.  I love mission’s trips, but I think if you take one every single year they can get a little daunting.  Students need to go on mission’s trips in order to see a different side of summer.  They can stay home, go to camp, play with friends, sleep in, and play xbox. Or they can take a week out of their summer and help others.

I have found mission trips to be incredible life changing weeks.  Students see God in a new and very real way during their time away in the summer.  I believe that mission’s trips should be a staple of student ministry.

The following summer instead of recreating the mission’s trip from the previous year, which your students will want, because of the emotional connection they made, take your students to a leadership training seminar.  One organization that I endorse is Dare2Share ministries.  Use Dare2Share to help train, teach, and equip your students to vibrantly share their faith.

Finally, the following summer do something local.  Stay home.  Acts 1:8 says, “You will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Show your students how to effectively minister in their Jerusalem.  You’ve already taken them to Judea, and you’ve equipped them, now show them that ministry doesn’t need to be thousands of miles away.  Ministry is where you are right now!

If you create this cycle you will stretch your students each summer in a different way.  Yes, a mission’s trip will stretch your students, but by their senior year, if they’ve done a mission’s trip each year, it’s no longer a stretch, it is probably comfortable.  This rotation keeps students moving outside their comfort zone, which will stretch and grow their faith.

What is your current summer plan?  Have you been successful setting up a rotation of summer events?

Monday, June 11, 2012


As many of you know I got married this past June 2nd.  And I know that this is not a "youth ministry" related post, but I also just wanted to keep you all in the loop as to what is going on in my life.

Another big thing and factor that is playing into my blog writing is that the current apartment that I'm renting is still "wi-fi-less." (Which, if you've gone your WHOLE life with wi-fi, and now you're without it, it is a tough cycle to break). So that makes posting my blogs regularly and on time a little bit more of a challenge.

I hope ya'll can be understanding.  Either way, here are some pictures!!

We got married at the Officer's Club at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  You don't normally hear the groom saying this, but everything went amazing. Like it was seriously picture perfect!

Our photographer was Lisa White, and she did a phenomenal job! (She travels too so if you need a good photographer, hit her up!)
This was our first dance, and believe it or not, this picture was taken by a student of mine from my old student ministry.  Good picture Josh!

So immediately following our wedding we took off and left for Palm Coast Florida.  Our flight left at 5:30 on Sunday morning.  Therefore we had to be up and out of our apartment by 4. YIKES!  But we had a blast in Florida, and I wish our real life was like that where people waited on you hand and foot!
We spent a ton of time on the beach.  We didn't get burned (until of course the one overcast day).  One day we even saw some sharks in the ocean (needless to say, we didn't spend much more time in that water!)
Life is slowly getting back to normal.  I just wanted to share with you all what has been going on in my life.  If you want to follow the new Mrs. Clason on twitter, just follow the link (she's got lots of wise things to say!)

Wednesday we will have a typical student ministry post up!

Thanks again for reading!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Week Out

Hey Balanced Student Ministry readers!

I hope things are going well for you!

As you may (or may not) know I made a contract with you all that I would blog Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

This past Wednesday was totally my fault.  Its my wedding week (getting married tomorrow) and all my groomsmen are in this week.

This next week I will be on my honeymoon, so I am going to be spending time with my beautiful bride.

Keep your eye out for a post on Monday morning June 11th!

Thanks, and I look forward to talking to you soon!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Its probably my upbringing, or my doctrinal background.  I believe in "Total Depravity" in essence, such as we can't save ourselves from the bad things that we have committed.  But all-in-all I believe that most people are well intentioned.  Well on Friday that belief came to a crashing halt.

My beautiful fiancee and I were on our way to a wedding that was three hours away, we thought the wedding started at 7pm, so we figured we would bug out of town by 2:30 and give about an hour buffer.  Upon getting in the car and checking the wedding invitation we realized that it actually started at 6, and we realized we were about an hour behind.

We could make it, we were just going to have to push it pretty hard.  Getting about 20 minutes down the road I realize that my heat gauge was pushing the limits pretty hard, which made no sense because the day before I had topped it off with coolant. Regardless I hoped the problem would just go away.

Finally, the air was far too hot, and the gauge was off the charts, and I needed to pull off the highway. Glad I pulled off when I did, because literally at that time Amanda goes, "Uh, Nick, look at your feet." and smoke was rising up in my car and out of my hood.  I immediately pulled off the side of the road and we called up AAA.

As any of you know with AAA you sit on the side of the road waiting for quite some time, at this point it was about 3:00.  About 3:15 a car pulls up on the other side of the road and a guy gets out wearing a ratty t-shirt and is smoking a cigarette. He tells me that he's a mechanic.  I think, ok well this could work out.  He's giving me all these tips and what he thinks is wrong, he even gets my car to start back up and pulls it down the side of the road.  He's actually becoming my buddy.

He tells me that it looks like I'll need a water pump, all this while indicating that he's an honest guy and he just wants to help us out.  I think ok, great!  He says that his brother lives about 15 minutes down the road and just gutted a honda and has a water pump for sale for $40.  He needs to pay his brother and I give him the money.  He writes me out a receipt because he wants to do things the honest way.  Him and I exchange numbers and call each other on the spot to make sure that we have the numbers in our recent calls.

It's now 4:00, Amanda and I are sweating through our clothes, but help is on the way! We're a little worried that it might be awkward between AAA and this guy if they come meet us at the same time.  Either way we figure things will be fine.  All the sudden Amanda gets a call from AAA saying they are on their way, and I think "Oh man, I hope this guy gets back before AAA." So I call him up and he says, "Oh, I'm 15 minutes away, I'll be right there."

4:15 comes and goes, he's not back.
4:20, still nothing, and he's not answering his phone.
4:45 Still no sign of this guy, and he didn't answer about three of my calls.

I realize that I trusted this guy, gave him money, and he totally left me for stranded and had no intention of returning. I totally got conned.

Like I said, I think I'm too naive, and I trust people way more than I should, and it came back to bit me in the butt this time.

Thankfully I was only out 40 bucks.

Has anything like this ever happened to you before?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Be Simple

If you want to check out my last three posts, check them out here, I wrote on Evangelism, Community, and Equipping.

I’m not a baby sitter. If you want a good baby sitter talk to my sister she’s been babysitting since she was in 4th grade (pretty trusting parents I know!).  But me, I make babies cry when I pick them up.  The exception to the rule is the baby in my twitter picture.  Don’t let his little deceptive smile fool you, he’ll get crying, and get crying good.  Especially when he’s hungry!  Fortunately for me, I didn’t get a degree in babysitting.  I got one in ministry.

Ministry does not equal babysitting.

The sad thing is I see numbers of student ministry pastors who are not being intentional in their ministry.  The whole idea is to run a program on a Wednesday night while the parents have a Bible study.  Or meet on Sunday morning before church starts because that’s when everyone meets
In essence, we are providing a babysitting service while parents learn, and they hope their kids have some Bible soak into them.  And I didn’t get a degree in babysitting, I got a degree in ministry!
How can we avoid being a babysitting service for parents?

I think we must be intentional and simple in our process.  A couple of really good ministry books that helped me define what I am doing with my ministry is “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger.
This book talks to the importance of being focused and simple, on a path to a predetermined goal. Setting a goal will help you reach it by the programs and ministry format that you set up.

Another book that knocked me in the head in my communication style was Andy Stanley’s book, “Communicating for a Change.”

The overarching message in these two books scolded the church and pastors with their preparation style, and if you are honest in your reading, you most likely fell into the American church’s trap that these books talked about. Church, has at times over complicated things, which make understanding of the word, and the vision tough to see.  You may have a vision statement, but so often we do so many different things during the week, we lose track of it.

The simple process I set up was impact, establish, equip (relating to my previous 3 blog posts). It works.  It’s intentional. It’s purposeful. It’s not babysitting.

What do you think? Have you read either of these books before? Could your ministry process use a higher dosage of simplification? Or are you pretty simple and focused where you are? I want to hear from you…

Monday, May 21, 2012


Evangelism. Check!
Community. Check!

How can we equip leaders to carry on the cause after they graduate or you move on in your ministry?

Invest time.

1. Invest organized time.

Yes teaching is important, but when you pour your life into an individual, that is when you see true transformation.

One thing that I did was have an intentional time for evangelism, and community, and equipping, and that was it.

I met with my leaders on Sunday morning, which allowed us to discuss the happenings of the upcoming night, pray for their friends by name, and provide support and encouragement to invite them to that evening. 

Another key component of equipping was talking about essential building blocks of a healthy ministry. Address and assess different areas of the ministry you are overseeing.  You must always be willing to listen to your student’s advice, because it is a ministry for them, not for you.

2. Invest personal time.

Get to know your students, figure out their likes, their dislikes, see them in their natural habitat, meet their friends, be present in their lives.

If you only spend organized time, you will never get to see your student for who they really are.  I think a lot of times we are concerned with shaping and molding a vision and a ministry, and we forget that we are working with actual people.

If you are willing to hang with students outside of organized time, they will see your heart, and it will allow  you the opportunity to practice what you preach.  Then something crazy that needs to happen: ACTUALLY DO IT! If you preach it, ACTUALLY DO IT!

Both organized equipping time and “on-the-fly” time are important, and each has their pros and cons.

What have you found helpful in leadership development? Is there a certain curriculum that you have found helpful? When do you typically meet?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post

Last week I posted about the opportunity to help the cause of this new blog.

We are very excited about this new endeavor that we are taking, as the main blog writer I want to tell you that I am very excited about serving you with balanced student ministry content.

In order to make this blog the best that it can possibly be, I want to incorporate you, my readers.

Soon we will post forums, share ideas on youth ministry games, and places to start when planning summer trips and retreats.

To start to generate readership, and make this blog the best it can be, if you are interested or willing to write a blog post for us, please let us know.

Obviously topics can range from youth ministry, to any realm in church ministry.  If this is something you would be interested, click here, and we can start the discussion today!

Excited about the prospect of working with you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


If you read my most recent post on Evangelism, you might have some questions or concerns. Specifically, (and forgive me for putting thoughts in your head, I just have to assume, unless I get comments) "When does the Bible study/discipleship happen?"

Don't worry, the Bible is absolutely essential (obviously) to, and is the crux on which we place our evangelistic message.

However, you must have a follow-up plan of action, an opportunity for discussion, a chance for student's to begin to discuss face-to-face where they contribute to the discussion, not another lesson.

What I am proposing is giving your students a chance to dig into the big group meeting time's Biblical text and answer some discussion questions. Thee main goal of this time is transformation and community building. With this you have the opportunity to unpack the scripture passage at a much deeper level.

Honestly the depth at which you choose to take this is all up to you and your group's maturity level.

I think there is value to taking this approach for two simple reasons.

1. Continuity- You maintain the same topic for all of your meeting times in a given time frame. You are not jumping around from curriculum to curriculum, you are maintaining your focus on one specific topic or book of the Bible. This helps your teenagers keep their focus in one area. Let's be honest, we adults need this too!

2. Expertise- By simply attending your large group time, any one student now has an opinion on the topic. When you sit in a conversation about a movie that you've never seen, do you have an opinion? No you probably leave the room so the ending isn't spoiled for you. Same with students if they attend your meeting time, they can have an opinion, and not do much extra prep work.

This model could give you the chance to prioritize evangelism, and also promote is if students invite their friends to this group. At the same time, it allows students to take their faith a step deeper and make their understanding of Scripture more full.

What do you think? Is this an outside the box type of mentality? What problems are posed with an Evangelism-Discipleship, on two different nights type of method?

How does studying the Bible take place in your student ministry?

Monday, May 14, 2012


Evangelism is one of those words that I think just scares people to death!  I also think it’s one of those practices that we shy away from.


If Matthew 28 is our commission to reach the world for Christ, then why are we not doing it?

Students sit by passively and watch their friends make bad decisions, and we are screaming at them to step up and share their faith!

But let's be honest, the very thing that we are calling them to do, we are avoiding in our lives as well.

To give you a little bit of background on myself, I do not like evangelism. I'm a discipler.  Evangelism frightens me beyond belief.  I get nervous, I get butterflies, I would much rather sit in a small group with a bunch of Christians playing “Catch Phrase,” because it’s safe. But I know that it is necessary.

Christians aren’t called to safety. So with that mission in mind, how can we prioritize evangelism in youth ministry?

Here is what I did.
I incorporated it right into our weekly programming.  It’s not rocket science.

Dream with me for a second.

Envision your student ministry, and basic weekly programming.

If you are like most student ministries in America, you play some games, give out some snacks, have a short little Bible study, and call it a night.

What I did, and I didn’t stray too far away from this already established model, I simply made evangelism a priority in our programming.

The first week of the month we would host a “Big Event.” The purpose of this Big Event was to cultivate relationships with students who don’t attend our church on a regular basis. We wanted to party with them.  Church doesn’t look like “Seventh Heaven,” which is how most people view church. Our goal is to show visitors that hanging out with Christians can be a good time!

The key to “Big Events” is follow up. Make sure you have some way of contacting and connecting with the new students that were at your “Big Event” so that you can get to know them better.  If a student took a risk and stepped into the unknown of your ministry, you better be able to take a risk and step into the environment of your visiting students to follow up.

Then the next 3 or 4 weeks of that month, during your main meeting time, teach on an issue with outsiders in mind.  Whether it is on the relevance of Scripture, choices, Why bad things happen, or an apologetics message. Make your weekly meeting time fun, and relevant. Your goal is to get the “Big Event” visitors to your weekly meeting time, and to make you weekly meeting time high enough quality that they are interested in returning.

Evangelism flows naturally from this model if your mindset in preparing your teachings is for those who don’t know Christ. It also takes away a little bit of the fear, since you’ve already hopefully made a relationship with them through your “Big Event.”

Come back tomorrow to read how we balance evangelism with community, and don't lose sight of discipleship in our youth ministry.

What have you done in your life and ministry to incorporate evangelism? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest Post.... Already?

No not really,

But I just started with refocusing this blog recently.  To make this the best it could be, if you are a writer, or have posts I would love to incorporate you.  I'd like to have a post every day, currently I'm posting MWF, so I'd like to have a Guest Post, with really any topic relating to ministry, on any given Tuesday or Thursday.

If this is something that interests you, or you would like to know more information, because I know it was incredibly vague, email me here, and we can talk about it.

Week in review:

New Focus
Youth Ministry vs Student Ministry

Follow NickClason on Twitter!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Youth Min vs. Student Min

Youth Group--The designated term given to any church program that takes place Wednesday Nights for students in the grade range of 6th-12th.

Movie night at the church for 8th graders at 7pm? Youth Group.

Small group discussion time for 12th graders at 6:15? Youth Group.

Game night for middle schoolers? Youth Group.

I don’t have a problem with the term youth, or the term group, it’s the fusing of these terms that irks me. Let me tell you why.

Let’s start with the word youth. 6th-12th graders are lumped into this category and are defined as youth in churches across America. For continuity sake across denominational lines I guess this is helpful, but I think that is the only benefit of using this word. 

Youth- The main reason why I abhor the word youth is that across America, youth is mostly used inside the four walls of the church. Otherwise in schools and in community events they are typically referred to as teenagers, or students. Since our job in the local church is to penetrate souls of individuals in culture, I think we should use terminology that is used by the souls of the individuals in that very culture.

Group- Secondly, the word group indicates staleness. Most groups have a tendency to be closed off, small-ish in mentality and size, and insider focused.  Similar to that of country clubs, small groups, supper clubs, senior citizen centers, book groups, etc.  As you can see, most of these “groups” in our culture are inwardly focused.

Now you are probably thinking, “Ok, so youth group, it’s just semantics, who cares, we’re not a culturally disconnected inwardly focused assembly, so it’s fine to keep up what we’re already doing.”

To an extent I would say, yes, it is semantics. But however, if you make a big deal of not using that term because you have a reason, I will contend it begins to indicate a mind-set shift.  When you start to call yourself a student ministry, as opposed to a youth group, you can start to show that you have a vision.  Not using the term “Youth Group” is more than just a pet peeve of mine, it is an intentional, missional, conscious decision that defines our reason for existence.

A “Student Ministry” attempts to regularly connect with culture, and it is concerned about reaching out to students who don’t know Christ.

Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you, and surely I am with you, even to the very end of the age.”

We are given a commission to go, not to be a closed off collection of adolescents who are more focused on inside jokes than the eternal destination of their friend’s souls.

That is why I chose to use the term Student Ministry.

What do you have to say about it? What terms does your ministry typically use? Is there another one that I’m not thinking about?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Focus

I actively wrote on this blog for months on end. If some of you still faithfully read my content, thank you! However, the reality is I have not written on here for months.

I am giving my blog a whole new makeover.

As you can see, I am shifting my focus from the Colts to a “Balanced Student Minstry” discussion.

I chose to write on Balanced ministry because I find that far too often churches and student ministries execute the week to week functions of a ministry incredibly well.  However that one function is the only thing they are profecient at.  Other areas are mysteriously absent or incredibly weak.

I want you to be successful.  To stretch yourself.  And to do all areas of ministry well, not just focusing on one segment.

I hope you continue to read what I have to say, discuss things with other readers through my comments, and honestly and openly evaluate how you are doing ministry.

Thanks for reading!