I’m so excited to be traveling to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference! This is my second year and I’m even more pumped than I was last year! Stories of transformation will connect us to God and to each other. Moments of honesty and discovery will launch our hearts into a new season of youth ministry. And we’ll meet up with new youth ministry friends, friends we can collaborate with to extend our reach to the teens who haven’t been introduced to the amazingly loving God we serve.

There are some amazing youth ministry friends I can’t wait to see and you need to meet if you haven’t met them already. They will inspire and encourage the youth work you do. Meet these awesome ministry friends in the Shelter Area on the second floor near registration.

Ministry Architects

YMA specializes in attending to the big picture stuff so you can stay focused on the day to day work of running your ministry. If you’ve struggled with volunteer recruiting, building a purposeful curriculum plan, implementing regular processes, setting clear targets for your ministry, and tracking your progress, we know the reason.

The Youth Cartel

The Youth Cartel’s mission is to encourage and challenge adults who minister to youth through holistic professional coaching, strategic consulting, transformational events, and inventive resource development that advance youth ministry in new ways.


We’re better together! God never intended that we do youth ministry in isolation… we need each other. A local ministry network is a community of youth workers, students and caring adults who unite by praying together and sharing relationships, resources and strategy to reach and equip teenagers for Christ.

Simply Youth Ministry has provided us a full platter of workshops and general sessions. I will be facilitating three of them and would love to meet you if you decide to attend one of the workshops I’ve listed below. And in between all that’s happening, I will be roaming, looking to connect with old and new friends, maybe sitting for a moment to process and sip coffee.

If you’ve got time to connect, or want to process and sip coffee with someone hit me up on Twitter @Therersa_Mazza. Here’s my schedule. If one of these workshops I’m facilitating speaks to your ministry needs, I hope you’ll consider joining me!

Saturday 9:00 am – Creating a Powerfully Welcoming Environment

Saturday 1:15 pm – Peer Panel: Re-thinking Evangelism

Sunday 9:00 am – Extending Your Reach to Fringe Kids

Monday 9:00 am – New! Navigating Multiple Roles in Ministry.


For the full list of SYMC workshops and schedule, go to



Nope not those four letters. The four letter word that has my attention has been overshadowed by the word love. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves but it certainly has the power to change US.

The word is LIKE.

What if I spend less energy defending my love for others, and more energy and time LIKING people I don’t like? I’ve always claimed to LOVE everyone! Love is the foundation of being a Christ follower, and I think I’ve taken love pretty serious. But the truth about the whole “I LOVE everyone” thing is it doesn’t feel completely honest. I wonder how often the love I claim to have for everyone, really reflects God’s love at all.


For years I’ve said I “love” people that I really can’t stand. These people get very little of my time, and even less of my heart. This kind of proclaimed LOVE is only ink deep. It looks good on paper (like on pages of the Bible), but it doesn’t really mean much in my heart, and it doesn’t change the way I live every day life with people. This kind of “ink deep” love offers itself when necessary, in times of crisis, or when a hero is in order.

I LOVE, but don’t like… Continue Reading…

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…

Part-Time Youth Ministry Perks

September 7, 2013 — 1 Comment

Does part-time ministry have you singing the blues?  I did some gritty blues singing when I was part time.  Something like this…

20 hours a week (blues riff) , no benefits (riff riff), they won’t give me more (a lil’ harmonica), but I can’t give them less…I got the blues…I got the…part-time – ministry blues.

Can’t get a church credit card (blues riff), tired of using my own (drum fill), spent a grand on pizza (a lil’ more harmonica), I need to take out  a loan….I got the blues….I got the…part-time – ministry blues.

It’s easy to get the part-time ministry blues. But what about the perks? What are the upsides to part-time ministry?


Meeting Exemptions! Oh shucks, staff meeting is on a day that you’re not in the office. And because you don’t qualify for benefits, you don’t have to attend the annual benefits meeting. Sweet!
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…

I can’t believe the summer is almost over. It’s been an amazing summer of activities and trips and now it’s just about time for another school year.
Of course your youth group doesn’t want summer to end, so give them an encore!!!

Here are three awesome water games you can enjoy with your youth group! Summer might be coming to an end, but in youth ministry, the fun never stops!!!

Giant Slip n Slide






Giant Slip N Slide







Water Balloon Baseball

water gun tag





Water-gun Tag

Keep having fun and building memories. Add a water game in the comments.

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“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!


Continue Reading…

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
Continue Reading…