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!