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, 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?