Wait On The Lord

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

(This post was written for the Broomfield United Methodist Blog and originally posted on Friday, Sept 9th)

I hate waiting! I am NOT good at it. I’m good at some things. I can tie my shoes like nobody’s business. I’ve had that down for a while. And after years of practice, I’ve finally nailed my husband’s family recipe for authentic Italian gravy and meatballs. But please don’t ask me to wait. I’m so bad at waiting.

The light turns green and the car in front of me is obviously texting and not interested in driving. I can’t even deal. Yes, I will honk my horn at you! Green light, Go! Why aren’t we driving? When I’m shopping I always use self-check-out. I quit waiting in line at the store years ago. Is waiting something I’m working on? Honestly, no. Not most of the time. Not even half of the time. But is it something I recognize I’m not good at and can’t improve on my own? That would be a yes.

A truth that keeps presenting itself to me is this: sometimes we have to wait. And most the time waiting brings strength, courage, humility, and a deeper and more mature love for others. When we struggle with real life issues, things that are more important than whether we make a light or not, we have to wait. And it’s hard.
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Leave a Legacy

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

For better or for worse, we are all currently building a legacy. When we move on to whatever comes next in our life journey, the next generation of leaders will inherit the foundations that have been laid in our youth ministries as well as everything we’ve left unfinished. If we truly believe that the ministries we are honored to serve with are bigger than ourselves, we must be emphatic about serving our ministries in a way that blesses future leaders.

3 areas of a lasting legacy:

Sustainability: A legacy of sustainability is built while we live out the difference between serving others and serving with others. Serving with others is more than delegating tasks. When we serve with others we share the mission and vision of the ministry and trust those we serve with to lead while giving them room to fail. Leaving a legacy of sustainability means we’re working toward this: our volunteers, parents, and students could care for each other and stay connected in a meaningful way, could run every area of the youth ministry, and could serve with the next leader if we were to leave our position.

Resources: More Than DodgeballThe Indispensable Youth Pastor

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Wrecked by a Stranger

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

(Written for the Broomfield United Methodist Blog originally posted on April 29th, 2016)

She loved me within seconds. I’d never met this stranger before and I had no reason to believe she’d have more to say to me than a simple hello. But she seemed delighted in me. Her eyes looked straight into my heart. Then she held my face and said my name with the voice of an angel, “Theresa, a beautiful name and a beautiful person. Bless you.” The compassion and pure joy in her voice made time stand still. With one sentence and my face cupped in her hands, I felt like I had always known her.

I’d love to reveal that this angel of a woman was a famous celebrity but she wasn’t. I was having lunch with a local pastor a few days ago to introduce her to the work of El Porvenir, the clean water non-profit I work for. As I began talking about El Porvenir she recognized an elderly couple and stopped our conversation to introduce me to them. The wife asked me what I was sharing with the Pastor, so I explained “I work for an organization called El Porvenir. We partner with rural Nicaraguan families so that the poorest communities in Nicaragua have access to safe, clean water.” With conviction in her voice she repeated everything I said back to her husband, then she wrapped her arms around me and said, “that is beautiful, you are beautiful, how wonderful, Bless you, God bless you.” We talked for total of 8 minutes, the entire time this gracious lady was encouraging me and blessing me.


This stranger was so delighted in me that I didn’t know where I was. If she hadn’t been so genuine it would have been awkward but it wasn’t. Most the time, when I meet people, if they seem too interested in me I get kind of creeped out. But the loving soul of this stranger has convicted me. The truth is I can’t say I often take the opportunity to delight in people, especially people I’ve never met before.

When I meet people it usually goes down like this…

1. “Hey nice to meet you”, polite hand shake, then small talk “jeesh this weather is crazy right”, we go our separate way within a few minutes of being introduced with no expectation of ever having to talk to one another again. Phew, so glad that wasn’t awkward.

2. A friend introduces me to someone for the first time. While they talk I study new person’s vibe. Does new person seem friendly, are they funny, what are they about, what do they do, etc.? So many questions, so little time.

3. I meet someone new and we hit it off. Conversation is flowing easily, in fact, I’ve wanted to meet this person and I’m happy we’ve finally been introduced. We say we would love to hang out sometime but then we never get around to it.

4. Stranger says hi to me, I say hi back, we both nod and walk away.

This is a post I wrote  last year that I feel an urgency to repost. In the recent months, we’ve all been reminded how important it is to keep in mind the safety of our students when they are in our care.

If your organization has not implemented safety procedures or policies ensuring the safety of the teens you serve, here are some tips. Any step forward is a great place to start. I’m going to focus on keeping your group safe from unwelcome strangers.

Background Check. Do a background check on every staff member and volunteer. You need to be confident that your teens are with safe adults. If your church or denomination does not provide background checks, call your local police department. They can help.

Youth Protection Policy. Protection policies may not be the best advertisement for volunteer recruitment however  I’ve never met a good volunteer who was unwilling to read through our protection guidelines and commit to them. Provide policies and training to keep your team on the same page when it comes to the safety of students. Here are some sample policies you might include…
-I agree that I will not drive a student home alone
-I agree, when I meet a student for mentoring, it will be in a public place
-I understand that if student shares information of sexual or physical abuse I must report it.

Working with local law enforcement. Make sure your local police department knows when you have programming for young students. Give them your schedule and contact info. Tell them you want to be contacted if there is ever a dangerous person in the area. Continue Reading…

Please Offend Me

August 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

photo(14)It was a crazy night in the mosh pit. Fists and limbs swinging through the air-kids colliding, shoving and rolling off each other. And, like Moses standing before the Red Sea, I needed these rolling waters to part so I could get through to the other side. I had to move quickly or I’d miss my window.

So, with my right arm locked and my fist straight out in front of me, I sliced through the masses, collecting their sweat and bracing myself against their scream. As I reached the other side, I dragged with me our only injury of the night-a broken nose. I could tell by the way he flew back and hunched over at the impact.

But this poor kid had a long way to go before he could declare himself a mosh-pit warrior. He didn’t just break his nose-he broke at least three key cardinal “warrior”rules:

1-Never plunge into the pit hesitantly. An appropriate entrance to a mosh pit is announced with the sort of big elbow-y swings that say: “I’m coming in!” If you, instead, communicate “I’d like to get in, please,” you’re likely to get hurt. Continue Reading…

“If you could give a youth pastor a ministry tip, what would it be?” That’s the question I recently posed to a group of teens on Facebook. Some of the responses were things I’d expect, but others made me stop and think. See if you feel the same way…

If you could give a youth pastor a ministry tip, what would it be?

Kristoff: Any time you are teaching, try to relate the lesson to a real life event.

Nair: wooow.. that’s a really good question.. I’d say.. keep a nice balance between being social and strict.. ’cause kids need to be straightened out at times but sometimes they need that care, love, and attention too.

Brook: Hmm I would say make the kids feel comfortable with speaking to the leader be a friend rather than just a “teacher” so you can relate better with them and laugh with them and stuff!

Christian: Just be yourself!! Relax, and set an example by how you talk to people, how you make decisions and how you express Jesus.

Dalton: Youth love energy and are more willing to do things when the person telling them is energetic and compassionate about it.

Hannah: Incorporate our interest, like music and skating. This is the best way to get keep teens interested.

Jeremy: Just love. Don’t talk about Jesus all the time BE Jesus all the time. Talking about him can push people away but if you listen people are always telling you what they need to hear so just love (be Jesus, be available physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and that is irresistible.

I’m so thankful for these insights and reminders. Here are my takeaways:
+Relate teaching to real life events.
+Balance being strict and structured with being social.
+Remember to be approachable. You are a leader and a friend.
+Express Jesus. Live by example and be yourself.
+Infuse everything you do with energy, purpose, and compassion.
+Don’t just talk about Jesus, Be Jesus.

I want to close out this post with a tip from Jeremy. I pray we remember this above everything we do as youth ministers…


The love of God is the source of all life. Keep loving!

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If you’ve clocked in over 24 hours in the church van this summer, I salute you. You are a road warrior. You deserve all the payoff that is sure to come with the investment of time you’ve given to your students. It’s true, road trips bring people together and teach us things about our students we’ve never discovered during youth group. You’re surprised Jeremy isn’t as shy as you thought he was after all. You’re encourage by Samantha, who stepped up and showed her leadership skills. You’re taken back by tough guy Sean, who showed everybody his spiritually sensitive side.

When all the road trips are over, remember what made this summer unforgettable!


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Have you ever worked with a student who just couldn’t stand you? I have. You know the deal – the rolling eyes, snarky comments, being completely ignored, blatant efforts to be disruptive, and the heaps of sarcasm. Having a hater is totally awesome. Ok, not true. No one likes to be hated and it’s not awesome at all. We want all of our students to love us, but the reality is, they don’t. Sometimes they hate us.

In most cases, haters hate for reasons beyond our control. It’s important not to take it as a personal attack. We do well to keep things in perspective.

Why all the hate?
You’ve replaced their former youth pastor.
You represent authority
You’ve embarrassed them
Their parents make them attend youth group
They fear getting close to adults because of abandonment issues
Other various insecurities and fears

Here are few things I’ve tried to remember and practice that have turned some of my haters around. Continue Reading…

Youth group is fun, full of surprises, and so encouraging. It’s a place where students feel God’s presence – teens feel cared for and are reassured that they matter. This is awesome! But for some students, what they experience at youth group is nothing like what they experience at home. To focus on a student’s youth group experience alone would be a huge mistake and missed opportunity.

Students with wrecked home lives need youth pastors willing to step beyond their job description and far beyond a students youth group experience. These students need youth pastors who keep their word and minister beyond the walls of the church on a regular basis.



Beyond the job description
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Good Morning America: Uh Bob, uh, tell us your impressions of Baby Steps.

Bob: Mash potatoes and gravy, Marie. I couldn’t be happier about Baby Steps. I was a terrible disaster and now, because of Baby Steps, I’m on TV in front of millions of people. I’m very excited.

what-about-bob-TV-show-murray-dreyfussDr. Leo Marvin’s book Baby Steps transformed the life of his patient Bob Wiley who was, in Dr. Leo Marvin words, “an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic.” Bob also claimed to have a rare case of Tourette’s Syndrome.

In the movie What About Bob Dr. Marvin gives Bob his new book and life-changing advice, Baby Steps. Bob is encouraged to stop obsessing about the huge issues that paralyze him with fear, and to start tackling the smaller things right in front of him that he can handle by taking one baby step at a time.

You may not be a multiphobic personality like Bob, but maybe you’re in need of a similar breakthrough.

What about youth ministry is paralyzing you?

The pace of youth ministry never slows down.
I plan from week to week and never seem to get ahead.
I’m pushing as hard as I can and still not reaching my (and everyone else’s) youth ministry expectations.

Start taking youth ministry baby steps. Continue Reading…