Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mountain Tops

Camps and Mission Trips provide very high mountain top experiences. Students embark on a week long journey where they are thrust into new situations, high energy environments, lots of new friends, and experiences where they can encounter God often.

By the end of the week student's hearts are soft, and they feel as though they are a new person.

They feel like they've reached the top of a mountain.

Then they come home.

Those friends aren't there. They aren't busy 24/7. God is a part of their life, but he's not being talked about every hour of the day.

How do you handle mountain top experiences?

Do you continually try to recreate them?

Do you accept that life has valleys?

What is the normal protocol on this?

You love seeing a student's heart being changed, and you want them to have those mountain top experiences. But what happens when you go home? Should you seek them out and try to maintain that feeling? Or should you advise students to be able to walk through a valley?

Life will have its valleys. And following Jesus is not just about a feeling. How do you explain that to a 7th grader?

Our student ministry just came back from an epic trip. Many students made life changing decisions.

How should I, as the youth pastor, assimilate them back into everyday life?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chattanooga Recap

Hello everybody!

I am incredibly sorry for those of you who wanted to receive updates from our trip during the week while we were down in Chattanooga.

Free time was at an absolute premium, and I actually never had time to sit down and weed thru emails, write a blog, or even respond to some text messages.

I hope you all can forgive me.

Allow me to recap our week.

Sunday- We arrive Sunday evening around 6:30. We were 30 minutes late. Apparently middle school bladders are much smaller than anticipated, additionally we ran into a crazy amount of post 4th of July traffic which slowed us down. As we arrived we sat down ate dinner, and did some "Get-to-know-you" type of things while the leaders had a meeting.

Five other churches were present and in total we had about 74 people at this church all at one time.

We sat down as leaders, and got to know one another, while students played, and got some orientation type of stuff for the week.

After all of that we had "Club." Club is basically a mini "Youth Group" where all 74 of us crammed into a small room. Following Club which was games, songs, and a little short talk we broke up into church group time and debriefed the day.

Monday-Thursday Monday thru Thursday morning the days all looked similar.  UBC's group broke up into two different crews. In total there were five crews. Crews are a collection of students and leaders from all the different churches.  My crew was named the "Free" crew. Jake and Michelle led a crew called the "Seek" crew.

Free Crew: 

Seek Crew: 

Each  morning we went out to a service site, ate lunch, then went to another service site.

Free crew
Monday: (AM) Kids club orientation (PM) Kids Club
Tuesday: (AM) Nursing home visits (PM) Kids Club)
Wednesday: (AM) Lookout Mountain clean up (PM) Nursing home visits
Thursday: (AM) YCap Youth Center (PM) Nursing home visits

Seek crew
Monday: (AM) Autobahn Acres clean up (PM) Nursing home visits
Tuesday: (AM) Autobahn Acres clean up (PM) Nursing home visits
Wednesday: (AM) Kids club orientation (PM) Kids Club
Thursday: (AM) Food Pantry (PM) Kids Club

After our PM service we would head back to the church for free time/shower time.

After showers we met up for dinner and then an evening activity.

Monday we went to a really cool place called Rock City.
Tuesday we went to a park with snow cones, a fountain, and some just played football or passed a frisbee.
Wednesday we went to a worship service at our host church called "Worship Out Loud."
Thursday night we grilled out at a park and the students swam in a lake, or other played in the sand.

After evening activity we had club and church group time then lights out by 10:30.

Thursday night was great where we had a footwashing service modeling the example laid out to us by Jesus. It was a very emotional night. Many students were crying as the Holy Spirit was moving in the room and was touching hearts.  Many students made commitments to follow Jesus or rededicate their lives to him. It was a very powerful night.

Friday- Friday morning we woke up super early, we cleaned up the church, then we hit the road!

It was a great trip! I want to again thank all of you who contributed financially or back home supporting us in prayer! We truly appreciated it. I know this was a life changing trip not only for all of our students, but also for many of our adult leaders.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Missions Trip Part 2

In case you missed it on this blog last week I had some of my most largest page views in the history of this blog.

Unfortunately it wasn't because I wrote something earth shattering or life changing. Instead it was because this blog turned into mission trip central!

If you didn't happen to read any of them, click on the "June" archive, right here to the right, and read any of the updates!

In fact, that trip is what has inspired my most recent blog posting and my most recent teaching topic on the power of prayer.

Make sure you check it out!

But I'm now going to be taking a bunch of middle schoolers down to Chattanooga TN for a week with Youthworks!

I'm very excited for this trip.

I ask that you please keep us in your prayers, and bear with this blog as it once again becomes a center for mission trips!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


How do you do in your prayer life?

If you're anything like me, terrible!

I just got back from a missions trip. We served a Spanish speaking church in the Valley of Texas. Every morning we went to a 5 am prayer that they had at their church. The church was built upon this principle. It was early. I was tired. It was dark. And often times sleep was knocking at my door. However, the pay off was incredible!

They decided that they would commit to spending the first part of their day in the presence of the Lord. How can you argue with something like that?!

It is such a great, awesome combination!

I decided I would try to start that when I got home, and wake up every morning and pray. Some mornings have been better than others.

This trip truly transformed the way I view prayer, and how important it truly is.

In the Old Testament we're told that priests could only enter the Holy of Holies one time per year.

When Jesus died the temple veil was torn into two, allowing us access into the most sacred of places and giving God and his Spirit a place to dwell, to live inside of us!

Yet, for whatever reason, prayer is the easiest thing to neglect. The thing that was once considered sacred and holy is what we push off to the side and say, "Ahh, I'll get to it later."

I'm deciding to commit to spending the first part of my day in the presence of the Lord, and I challenged our students to do that last night as well. Additionally I passed out a prayer journal to all the students.  We challenged them to utilize this in their prayer lives this summer.

What are some ways you have succeeded in your prayer life? Any hints, tips, or ideas for staying committed?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ultimate Youth Worker Giveaway Announced!

The winner of the ultimate youth worker give away is..

Alex Tufano!

Alex, DM me your email and your mailing address and we will get this stuff out to you soon!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Texas Update #6 6/27

I had to look back at the previous post in order to remember which update this was.

We've been here so long to this point that all the days are starting to run together.

5 AM prayer has been a staple of our schedule, and it has been amazing!

After prayer we ate breakfast.

Following breakfast we went to church, only to find that one of the women in the church made us breakfast burritos. Only then to find out another lady brought us in donuts. Only then to find out another lady made us more breakfast burritos!!

We definitely had enough to eat for breakfast.

We cleaned up the church for our last morning work day.

Following work we came back to church for a siesta.

A couple hours later we headed out, amazing race style, by splitting up our groups to do some church visitation.

Afterwards we headed over for a barbecue to end the night.

Check out our flickr gallery for more.

Texas Update #5 6/26

We are officially half way through our week!!

It's hard to believe that! This week has absolutely flown by. But at the same time, we feel as though we've done so much and have been here forever!

This morning started out just like every other morning so far. 5 AM prayer.

It has been such a great way to start the morning. Despite being tired. We have seen the hand of God move because of our dedication and time in the morning.

After prayer, breakfast, and maybe a quick nap we were off to our first ministry site.

Upon arriving at the church students and translators began painting, cleaning, and reorganizing the children's wing.

We worked for about 2 or 3 hours.

Around 11 a group of 7 of us, some natives of Texas, other from UBC went on a visitation.

The woman in the visitation was a newly wed, and was also expecting a baby!!

We prayed for her, and we prayed for her marriage as her husband had not yet made a decision to follow the Lord.

After the visit it was back to church for lunch.

We ate lunch, and then we practiced a little bit for the Wednesday evening service.

Siesta was waiting for us as we arrived back at the hotel.

Wednesday, on the Harvest Trips is mandatory nap day.  Joel, our leader, said he's been on many trips and Wednesday is a key day, and fatigue and tiredness begins to set in, so he requires everyone at least try to take a nap.

I am writing this first half of the blog entry in a dark room with two sleeping students. One of which assured me he would lay still for an hour but, and I quote, "Nick, I guarantee I won't fall asleep." Two hours later he is snoozin' like a baby!!

After our siesta we went to the church's Wednesday night service.

Pastor Joel preached.

We had a part of the service as we performed a drama that we performed this week. Also Jessica and Kenzie shared somethings God has done in their lives.  It was very powerful!

Take a look at the video from the performance and pictures on our flickr stream!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Texas Update #4 6/25

Hello from the great state of Texas!!

Today has been very similar to yesterday. We woke up at 4:45 in order to make it to 5 AM prayer. Due to the fact we were out til about 10 at the fiesta from the previous day, it made prayer very difficult.

I know I was having trouble staying away.

It is very hot today, and has been all week. It is very important that we continue to hydrate ourselves.

After prayer we all came back to the hotel and slept. We didn't have anywhere to be until about 9 AM.

We were back at the church and today we painted the interior of the newly acquired and remodeled children's wing. It looked great and our students worked hard.

Others helped clean out the church kitchen and wipe down toys and cribs that were used in the nursery.

After lunch we came back to the hotel for our siesta.

The evening consisted of a couple of house visits. One group went and prayed for a lady who was ill. The other group prayed and visited a family that has just recently decided to follow the ways of Jesus.  We encouraged them and prayed with them.

The night ended again with very good food, friends, and community as we sat around a table, joked, talked, and prayed for the family who served us our dinner. Not only did they serve us our dinner, but they have fed us lunch each and everyday at the church thus far.

They are a huge blessing to us.

Please continue to pray for us, for strength and for divine appointments to spread the name of Jesus.

Please also pray that this would not just be a spiritual high for our students, but that they would be called to something much greater!

PS: To look at un update on the photos, click here!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Texas Update #3 6/24

Today we had our first experience with the 5 AM prayer. The alarm went off at 4:45 "en la manana" (In the morning).

We went to pray at the church in the pitch black for an hour. The church here believes that the best way to start your day is in the presence of God. How great is that? Do I believe that? Yes! Then what keeps me from praying at 5 AM? On a typical day, my desire to sleep. Kinda convicting.

After prayer we came back to the hotel to eat breakfast and do some devotions.

Following breakfast we went back to the church we painted and hung out with students from their church.

Daniel steam cleaned the carpet all by himself in an un-airconditioned room.  He worked very hard we are all very proud, and glad that he did the job so we wouldn't have to.

A family from church cooked us lunch and we ate, and learned fun facts about the Spanish language and that blue frosting cake stains your mouth.

As lunch came to a conclusion we arrived back at our hotel to take siesta.

As dinner approached we went to a couple a visitations.

First, we went to a family who was older, and in poorer health so we were able to minister to them.

Finally the night ended at a family's house who just recently accepted Christ, they fed us (a ton of amazing food) and we played with other students from the church.

It was a great time.

I'm writing this at quarter to 11 knowing I will need to be up in 5 hours. So at that I am going to sleep!

Take a look at our full picture stream!

Texas Update #2 6/23

Today was Sunday. Church day.

We woke up, ate breakfast and headed off to church.

Church was really good. The worship  music was incredible! And the spirit in the room was very full, people were very into the music, clapping, and dancing. Even some of us got into the groove!

The service was completely in Spanish (see, told you this was a cross-cultural experience!)

After church we ate at an authentic Mexican restaurant, CiCi's Pizza (that was sarcasm), nevertheless, it was delicious!

After that we had a siesta time. Some napped, some swam, others, like myself, went to wal-mart to buy snacks.

After we went back to the church to get a rundown for the week, and the ministries we would be involved with.

Finally, a member of the church was having a birthday party at a local park, so we went to that.

We all found out very quickly that volleyball is not a sport that God has blessed us with abilities to play considering during every round-robin tournament we were the first team eliminated. We still had fun.

It is really cool to get to know all the people from this area! They are incredibly helpful and hospitable.

We were there until it turned dark, we ate food, had drinks, and cake.

It was a good day.

Monday morning begins with a 5 AM prayer time followed by a morning of construction and work at the church and an evening of in home Bible studies.

Please continue to be in prayer for our group!

We appreciate your support.

To see MANY MORE PHOTOS check out our flickr feed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Texas Update 1

Just ready to be there!
I'm laying here in my bed at 11:50 pm Saturday, night. Exhausted!

But, we made it!

Are we there yet?
For those of you who don't know, we left Dayton at 6:00 (ish) am on Friday morning and our destination was 13 hours away in Mt Pleasant, TX. Then we took off the following morning from Mt Pleasant at 5:30 (ish) am. We arrived at McAllen by 4:15 pm.

So after 22 hours of driving ad close to 1500 miles we made it!

Our students were really good, and understanding travelers. We made limited restroom stops, and we were able to drive pretty much straight though.

Upon arrival we went out to dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant. We could either have tacos (delicious) or a twice baked potato.  It was incredible. Tasted a little bit different than Taco Bell!

WooHoo we made it!
After dinner, and a Kmart run, we swam in the pool.  We splashed cannon balls and took pictures with our faces resting on the pool side (you'll have to wait to see the picture from Beth Sohn, I know it makes no sense, Kenzie and Sabrina's idea).

After a little while a cute little girl from Mexico came up and asked us something, however our only problem was that we didn't speak Spanish. We kinda pushed her aside, said, "Lo Siento" and went on doing our own thing.
Aww yeah!

Then we bumped into her again a few minutes later, and Jessica Sohn, Daniel Williams and I decided to try our hand at communicating with this little girl and her friend by utilizing the limited amount of Spanish in our repertoire. Reis tried to pull out his French. You'll have to ask him how that went :) Finally our translator for the week, Enrique, showed up, and he helped us out.

We found out they wanted to play 'tag' so we played with them. When you're it, you are "La Traea." So we ran around the pool with little Leon (6) and Natalie (7).

It was a great time!

We haven't even technically started our ministry yet, but it is amazing to already see God's hand at work.

Please continue to pray for our team, our attitudes, and our unity.

Thank you already for supporting our team!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


As this blog has mentioned endlessly, Summer is crazy!

Mine is absolutely no exception.

Our worship pastor and his now new wife were married on May 12th and that started this incredible domino effect of weekends in the life of my wife and I! Every weekend since then has had something scheduled. Between worship nights, landscaping, vision meetings, grad parties, and weddings our lives hare full.

Don't get me wrong, we've absolutely enjoyed everything!

This upcoming week (June 21-30) I will be taking our high school ministry, titled Impact, to McAllen, Texas to embark on some missions work.  I am very excited about this trip! I can't begin to describe how much time, effort, energy, and planning has gone into this trip, and we are finally about to experience the fruits of that labor!

I wanted to let you know that, because this blog will soon become mission trip headquarters.

I (hope to) blog frequently throughout our trips to keep people abreast of our progress, give parents a place to read about, and see things their students are working on, and just create an overall awareness of our mission work.

I hope that you continue reading, commenting, reposting, retweeting, and liking things as we are away!

Things will be less structured, a little more random, but all the while we will be doing the work of God in McAllen Texas!

Thank you for your support.

ATTENTION YOUTH LEADERS: Don't miss out on this giveaway of over $80 worth of youth ministry/discipleship products!!

Friday, June 14, 2013


For June we are giving away over $80 of youth pastor resources. Books, curriculum,  and resources just to name a few.

Make sure you tweet out the link from this page.
(include @nickclason in the tweet so I see it)
Like us on facebook or follow me on twitter
And Join this Blog Site (on the right side of the page).

You can enter as many times as you'd like, but only one entry per day.

Contest ends on June 30th.

Share it with your friends!

For complete "giveaway" guidelines check out our page here!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fighting with Mediocrity

Youth ministry is a such a week in and week out grind. It's easy to become complacent and put the ministry on cruise control. It's especially easy when you're not full time. When you have another job, family requirements, a life outside of church, and you're not always focused on doing youth ministry.

Having a job is not a bad thing, it just makes what we do in youth ministry harder!

There are a few areas in which I believe you must fight the mediocrity urge in order to be most effective when ministering to students.

1. Attendance- if you start having a consistent core of students showing up on a week in, week out basis, it may become easy to get complacent. Anytime you've prepared a night for youth ministry anyone who walks through your door brings you excitement.  I remember when I first started as a youth pastor. about 30 minutes before start time I would have this internal argument in my head. It would go something like,

"I've put an hour into setting up, I hope people show up!" 

"No one's really going to come, a few students at best" 

"No! I think this week is different, they're even going to bring a friend or two" 

"They never bring friends, who are you kidding?!" 

And this dance would go on and on swirling around in my head. I would literally rejoice when I started to build a solid core group of students for a Wednesday night event.  It is easy to get locked into that number because any number of students is a success. The consistent core of students is safe, and there is not danger in stepping outside of that group to reach un-churched friends.  Student ministries are most effective when you are reaching out. Never stop that. Fight the urge to be mediocre in your attendance.

2. Teaching- since life is busy. It is hard to sit down and prepare a solid week-in, week-out teaching.  The urge would be to put this area of Student ministry on "cruise control" and just talk about something. I mean who really ever remembers a teaching, or a sermon? Does how the room looks really matter? Do videos, powerpoints, and games really matter? It is only going to be the same few kids anyway! YES, all of these things are important! Because students can tell when there is only a "half-way" effort put in. They are not proud of the product, and therefore, the aforementioned "attendance" area dwindles. Youth group is kinda lame, and everyone knows it, but they still go out of obligation. However no one new will be checking it out anytime soon. Don't become complacent in  your teaching! (Of course if you need help, browse our database).

3. Your Spiritual Walk- this one is the most important one. If Christ is not the center of your own life first, everything is out of whack!! You can't take students to a place that you are not regularly going yourself. God's love will spill out of the overflow of your heart. Make spending time with him on a daily basis a priority. Don't substitute your youth ministry prep time for your own personal devotions. Time is the most precious commodity in our lives. Make sure God is getting the best, most important, most precious portion of your time. He deserves it.

Always fight for excellence in your student ministry. If we are offering this program up to God as a spiritual act of worship, it better be something that we will be proud of. Something we've done our best on. Something that isn't mediocre. Something with a hint of excellence.


We are having an enormous, youth worker give away. Click the image below for details!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Wednesday

It's officially summer time in youth ministry. now

Summer is a crazy time in youth ministry. It's one of those times that makes a part time youth worker definitely feel full time! It's insane! There is some much going on it's hard to keep up on all of it!

During the school year we have two separate groups that meet. A middle and high school group. During the summer we're smashing them back together to relieve our leaders and give them a breather from the weekly grind of youth ministry.

What are you doing for the summer?

Many of you may already have missions trips planned. Summer camps. Service projects.

Comment below and let us know some of the creative ideas you have for summer.


We have some AWESOME things going on this month, check them out below!

Don't forget about our giveaway going on right now through June!

Also don't forget about our Youth Ministry sermon database!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ultimate Youth Worker Giveaway!

Hello Readers!

Starting this month we are having a giveaway of astronomical proportions! The ultimate youth worker package includes:

These books and resources are all incredibly useful books that I have used in my ministry, and/or books that I have read that have shaped my thinking of how to accomplish ministry.

This is over an $80 value, all yours for free!

In order to be entered into the drawing for this package here are the rules:

1) You must follow me on twitter and/or like our page on facebook.

2) You may only enter once per day, but you may enter as many times as you'd like up until the contest ends on June 30th.

3) Click 'Join this site' on the right side of this blog to follow "Balanced Student Ministry."

4) You must share this post on facebook or twitter

Good luck and happy sharing!

Friday, June 7, 2013


We all experience failure in life.

I know I sure have.

I recently quit my other job so I could focus more time on my work at church, and better myself.

I set goals for myself, and gave myself a detailed written schedule so that I would work hard to maintain the time management structure that I put in place.  I even color coded it!

Since I quit, I think I've kept that schedule two days.

Yeah, I've royally failed at it.

And every morning when I wake up at 7:15 instead of 6:00 I immediately feel like a failure, and I begin to rush around, and get nothing done that I originally hoped for.

I mean I want to get up, but rolling back over to sleep for an extra ten minutes seems so enticing!

When I used to work my other job I was forced out of bed by a pesky alarm at 4:15 AM. Now I have flexibility. But with this flexibility I've seemed to lose my discipline.

How about you? Do you ever set goals, or have intentions and they just not happen?

Tell me about them!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Duck Dynasty Night

Last night at our student ministry we had "Duck Dynasty Night"

We set up posters all through out the church so people could have their pictures taken in front of it.

We also had nerf guns (terrible idea, trying to keep track of darts with students is a crazy chore)

We had shirts, mugs, cups, and books to give away all Duck Dynasty themed.

We played games

Watched episodes.

And made beards.

It was a great event.

Check out some pictures from it:

Junior High:

Senior High:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How do you...?

How do you spend the majority of your time?

I saw this yesterday and it hit me square between the eyes.
You can read the full post on Smarterym.com, click the image

This week I'm...

  • Preparing like usual for Wednesday night
  • Preaching on Sunday
  • Honoring our high school graduates
  • Facilitating move up day for all the grades
  • Coordinating our welcome team schedule
  • Making videos for announcements
So yes, much of my time is spent in front of a computer screen.

But as a youth pastor I'm called to be discipling students. That does not happen in front of a computer.

However, I would like to hope that my efforts in front of a computer come to light during Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings, but I can't always be sure.

The challenge for myself this week is to be intentional in the lives of people.

Can you relate? How does this graphic compare to your weekly routine?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kevin Durant

Prior to writing about Balanced Student Ministry this blog was actually primarily a sports blog. 
In fact it was called “Not Just a Colts Blog” those of you who are my faithful readers, like my wife (watch, now she won’t even read this post today).

Now that I’ve made that statement, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, and your point is…”

I’ve already declared my love for the Colts today. My favorite NBA team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, and I dare you to call me a front-runner. I was a fan when Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Luke Ridnour, Chris Wilcox, and Johan Petro were on the team. If you have no idea who any of those players are, my point exactly. That team was formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics and they have since moved to Oklahoma City.

As you know, and I touched on this briefly last week with Holly Tucker, who sang on The Voice, Oklahoma got hit hard by a tornado last week.

Kevin Durant, star forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, showed up and provided comfort for the people of Moore, Oklahoma.

They did a piece on him during Sportscenter last week. Look at it below:

I'm obviously biased, because I love Durant- but I think the way he rallied around the people who were devastated by the tornado speaks a lot to his character. He actually donated $1 million to the Red Cross for disaster relief!

God's heart is for those who can't help themselves.  He cares for orphans, widows, the marginalized, and those who are down and out.

Seeing an athlete who many idolize take on the same heart of God in a situation like this is really great!

Thanks Kevin!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Midweek Blues

Its almost time for youth ministry.

Do you know what you're going to be teaching on?

For the first 2 years of my time in youth ministry I worked two part-time jobs.

  • One at the church (My 'real' job)
  • One at a restaurant (Which felt like my 'real' job)
The church is not exempt from economic downturns, and paying a youth leader is tough.

If you are still not sure of what you want to teach on, don't worry, we have an answer for you!

Browse our free sermon database. Or for a nominal fee purchase:
  • Outlines for a topic
  • Powerpoints
  • Game ideas
  • Video links
  • Outreach ideas
  • Images and promo materials

Monday, May 27, 2013


It's finally here!

Most students share in that sentiment proclaiming, "YES! Summer is finally here!"

I, actually, tend to prefer the school year better for ministry.

Sure, I like sitting by the pool more, and the nicer weather, as does my wife, but all in all I prefer the school year.

I remember last year I got hired mid-summer. I tried all I could to take advantage of all the new relationships that were now sitting on my doorstep.  We would (try- see canoe trip) do stuff all the time. It was still in like that awkward-I-don't-really-know-or-trust-you-phase.

One day, in fact we met for lunch. I just tossed out a random invitation to students to come chill at Chick-fil-a with my wife and I.

I was still brand new to the church and it was kinda awkward. Only because didn't know the students very well yet. I felt like I was this crazy super awkward new youth pastor type figure now in their lives and I just expected to have completely natural interactions. It probably wasn't that bad, but to me, I felt like an awkward middle school boy on his first day. You know how that day felt, right? Everyone was seemly staring at your. You tried to fit in perfectly. But then your shoe got untied, you stepped on it and tripped and everyone pointed and laughed. Ok- that didn't really happen, it just was like my biggest fear.

I wore lace-less shoes to Chick-fil-a that day, hoping to avoid anything awkward, just to be safe.

Plus youth group was still weird, and everyone, including me, was trying to figure out the boundaries, identify expectations. Address protocol. Just navigating the unwritten rules.

Sitting at Chick-fil-a I uttered the most evil words that a high schooler could possibly have ever heard, "I can't wait til school starts back up."

I think I saw a trickle of blood come out of one of their ears.

I totally believed this lie: the school year is where true ministry happens. Volunteer youth workers are in town. Programs are much higher energy. Budgets are more plump. Students are in school, they are inviting more friends.

All of the above may be true, but when you believe that the school year is the only time true ministry can happen you are believing a lie from the enemy! Satan wants you to feel like an awkward middle school boy at a dance during the summer, so that you don't take advantage of it!

Here is why summer deserves our attention-

  • Students are out of school
  • More free time
  • More natural relationships to take place
  • Nicer weather, easier events to plan
  • More relaxed
  • More flexibility
  • Less strict rules and time constraints
  • Summer trips happen
Take advantage of the freedom that is now available to you and your students. Summer is often the most fruitful time for ministry, though it is outside our traditional programming. Things out of the norm can happen. Random fast food meals. Day-long trips. Summer trips.

There is nothing scientific about these trips, except for the underlying fact that we are together all the time, thrust into a stressful ministry environment, on mission together, and it's amazing to see the walls break down for students, chaperons, and leaders alike. Life change just happens!

Summer has incredible potential. Does that mean that the school year doesn't work? Not at all! But it is just different.

Instead of being intimidated by the different scheduling and flexibility, embrace it. If you do, incredible things can happen!

Just tie your shoe.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Week in Review

I'm back at it! I haven't blogged in almost a year, and this week I managed to find time to blog every day! I love doing it.

Here is a week in review for "Balanced Student Ministry"

Monday- Night of Worship

A quick recap from my students who put on an amazing night of worship for our church.

Tuesday- Midweek Blues

Need something quick to teach? We have your answer!

Wednesday- The Voice

Holly Tucker performed a great version of 'How Great Thou Art' on the Voice Monday night.

Thursday- Thursdays

How do you maximize your 'day after'?

Friday- Clear the Clutter

Sometimes we become blind to clutter in our meeting spaces.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Clear the Clutter

Have you ever been to a different church than the church you go to? Have you ever snooped around? Sneaking into rooms that are closed and lights turned off? Trying to find the lights so you can get a glimpse of the sanctuary? Trying to break into the sound room so you can see their sound board? Searching for a key to get into locked offices? Oh- right, yeah I would never do that.....

If you're anything like me you've done your fair share of "research" at other churches.

Have you even been to a church and met for small group Bible study, gone to a Sunday school class, or sat through a service?  Do you ever notice those things, those cluttered things that seem out of place? They are the elephant in the room to you, but everyone around you seems to completely ignore the elephant. Sitting on his lap. Ducking out of the way of his swaying trunk. Walking underneath it. Dodging its massive hooves (is that what you call an elephant's feet?) They even named him! Elroy. Elroy the elephant. They have a place reserved for him in the sanctuary. It's an aisle seat, he's a big guy. Meanwhile you're intently focused on him to the point that whatever study or sermon is taking place is the absolute last thing on your mind.

Often times this is what our youth ministry meeting areas look like. Elroy the elephant's bedroom. Yet we are baffled by the fact that no students come back to visit our ministry!

When I first started at the church I am currently serving the student ministry met in a garage. Well the side room attached to a garage. We still meet there, but it looks completely different than when I began.

When I started there were four massive industrial grade shelving units sitting back to back with a blue sheet Velcroed to the shelves in order to cover up everything on them but it was fairly obvious that something was stored underneath them because there wasn't enough storage and items were stuff on-top of the shelves and protruding out from the shelves making huge bulges through the sheet!  Additionally at the end of these "covered" shelves there were some more shelves chalked full of old game resources for youth ministry like pencil cases, Styrofoam cups, and get this, a beaten up, formerly wet, now dried roll of toilet paper!

Now it has been painted, and mostly removed of the clutter.  We aptly call it "The Shed" and you know what? We love it out there!  It just took some sprucing up.

Clutter often times becomes invisible to us.

Andy Stanley wrote a book called Deep & Wide and in that book he addresses clutter:

"The messages your environments communicate have the potential to trump your primary message. If you don’t see a mess, if you aren’t bothered by clutter, you need to make sure there is someone around you who does see it and is bothered by it. An uncomfortable or distracting setting can derail ministry before it begins. The sermon begins in the parking lot."

Though we are in youth ministry, this principle still applies!

Clean up your area. Let your students be proud of where you meet. Do you keep dried up toilet paper rolls laying around on visible shelves at your house, next to Elroy? Then don't do it in your youth rooms! Make Elroy pick up, behave himself! Visiting students aren't as comfortable with Elroy as you and your regular attending students are.

What are some areas or things that you have successfully decluttered in your youth rooms?

Thursday, May 23, 2013


If your big night is Wednesday night, which for most youth leaders out there it is, Thursdays are usually a pretty big recovery day.

I try to clean up everything on Wednesday so Thursday I can do actual work, not the janitorial aspect of it.

I also try to plan a meeting with a student that day. Whether it be my leadership team meeting which meets once every 3 weeks, or a meeting after school with a student at a local coffee shop or ice cream place.

I find if I don't plan it, it doesn't happen.

Thursdays tend to be a little more relational, so I ramp up and prepare big time Monday-Wednesday and I take my foot off the gas a little bit on Thursdays to coast into the weekend

What kind of stuff do you do on Thursdays to recover from your big ministry night?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Voice

I'm not so sure that I'm not letting the cat out of the bag by informing all of you that I watch the Voice. I'm not sure if that lessens my manly-ness (I'm also not sure if that's a word, as you can see I'm not very certain starting this blog today).

Despite all the uncertainty, which we've already established, there's a lot of it, I watched the voice two nights ago on Monday.

The show started at 8 pm, which Monday night at 8 pm I was at my church's Growth Group playing football and dominating the other team (take that Jake, Megan and Kenzie!), so I actually missed the "live" beginning of the show. Thank goodness for DVR, right?  I know I've had a lot of uncertainty earlier, but one thing I am very certain of is that I love our OTA DVR that allows us to watch TV on our time! However, this is not a blog post on the beauty of DVR.

The show kicked off with Blake Shelton's team member Holly Tucker. Holly is a country/gospel singer from Oklahoma (thoughts and prayers go out to Oklahoma, by the way), and she was planning on singing a Hymn that is traditionally sung in Christian circles.  Holly said during her rehearsal with Blake Shelton and Sheryl Crow that to not sing this song would almost, and I'm paraphrasing here from memory, be keeping a part of her from the audience.  Her concern was that she would not be showing the audience who she really is, she would be hiding her beliefs.

This is a tension that we all experience, right? I mean growing up a believer, when you're put in a situation, you want to "not be ashamed" of your faith, you want to use the platform that God has given you, to make an impact. You also walk the line of not being too overbearing or too "preachy."

Holly has been given an incredible platform, and decided instead of blending in that she would be different. That she would take that risk. I thought it was an amazing performance. Don't take my word for it, check out her performance below:

The reaction by the judges was borderline comical, they had no idea what to say, but as an evangelical Christian, who finds it of the utmost importance to be forthright with your faith, not aggressive and overbearing, but just unashamed of who you are in Christ, I thought her performance and step of faith was an amazing witness and testimony to the person that she is.

I hope that as we as parents, students, and youth leaders are out proclaiming and declaring Christ in our day to day lives. I pray that we can have the same kind of courage and boldness that was on display Monday night during the Voice!

What is your biggest obstacle to sharing your faith regularly?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Midweek Blues

It's the middle of the week.

Do you know what you'll be teaching on for Student Ministry this week?

If you work another job, you don't have the luxury of sitting in your church office to study and prepare for it.

In fact many youth workers aren't even paid by their church, and they work another 40-hour a week job, and as Wednesday hits, though you're excited for youth ministry, you're also scared spit-less because you have no idea what you're going to do!

Rest assured, Balanced Student Ministry already has a plan for you!

With minimal preparation required, you can download lessons from our website to teach from! And if you want to pay the cost of a Subway, $5 footlong, you can buy a teaching series chalked full of graphics, outlines, game ideas, and video suggestions that will set you up for the MONTH!

Check it out below!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Night of Worship

I have literally taken almost a year's leave of absence from this blog. What a slacker!

I've expressed with you, in the past, how I despise inconsistency. I could have conceivably written on this blog on and off at different times since my last post, but if I don't do something consistently, then I refuse to do it.

It's like working out. I know I'm supposed to work out, and not just hit the weights hard once, but I'm supposed to go back, and hit them again in a day or two or the results aren't as solid. That always just leaves me with, in my mind, excellent excuses to not work out.

Another reason I've abandoned my blogging ambitions was because if I couldn't do it the way Jon Acuff suggested, then I must not be doing it write (is that a bad play on words right there?) Jon suggests hustle. If you want to live out your dream, then wake up early, before the birds, and the sun, and the world, at 5am and spend time on your dream. My main issue was I had a job that required me to be at work at 5, so if I was to get up before I needed that meant 3 something. Despite the countless efforts to actually do that (yeah, call me crazy but my alarm went off a couple times at 3:30, my wife wasn't too pleased about that one) I failed miserably when sleep kept calling me back into bed.

Needless to say, I am trying to start this back up, mostly for fun, but also to keep you in the loop about what's going on in my life and student ministry.

On Saturday, my good buddy, Brandon, drove all the way here from Illinois to spend time with a bunch of my students and I.

This wasn't just any sort of "hanging out." He came across two time zones, three states, and 5 plus hours in the car, to help lead a band of students in a night of worship.

This night of worship was to help raise awareness (awareness not money because we weren't allowed to take a love offering, I didn't get it approved at the last business meeting in time, yeah I was bummed, and felt like a terrible youth pastor) for our summer missions trips.

I didn't want to invite the entire church (which we did) to a poorly produced event (which it wasn't!) To combat that, Brandon, and I set out, at 10 am that morning with all our students in the band, 6 to be exact, to spend a day working on this night of worship.

It was long. It was exhausting. It was tiring.

But it was AWESOME!

The day turned out to be incredible, and not only did we work on, and perfect these songs, but we almost did like a worship "workshop."

We taught the students about how worship is more than singing, it's more than sitting in pews on a Sunday morning, it's more than we typically attribute to the word worship.

We also expressed to them the importance of knowing the song very well, so that when you are upfront leading a congregation you can focus on worship, not on remembering the nuances of the song.

The event went off without a hitch, media worked, music was loud (very loud, good thing it was a student event) and people genuinely worshipped!

To top it off we raised an awesome amount of money for our missions trip by selling cookies (Who knew you could sell a cookie for $100?! I need to get the recipe for the benefit of my own bank account!)

Saturday was a great day!

What experiences have you had with student led worship events?