Archives For Coaching

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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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…

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…

Sometimes being a youth worker means reaching out to angry, confused, and disoriented students. It’s not easy. It requires risking the favor of parents and supervisors. It means making unpopular decisions. During the 2013 Simply Youth Ministry Conference, I spoke about my own experience reorienting the hardest students to God’s love.

Check it out! And don’t forget to register for SYMC 2014!



The majority of us agree: We all need to talk less and stop lecturing our teens. I try to keep my youth talks no longer than ten minutes. The truth is, while most of us agree we should talk less, the majority of us are still talking! I get it. I don’t want to stop talking either. I do believe a powerfully engaging message can open the minds and hearts of teens. Getting the opportunity to engage a captive audience on a weekly basis is a gift. But as Darren Sutton wrote in his article for Group magazine, youth ministry and preaching don’t mix.

Youth Pastors using teenagers to fulfill their preaching needs is merely a way of holding youth ministry hostage and demanding ransom from the church family.
Darren Sutton

I agree with Darren. We don’t need to preach at kids, but we do need to take our calling to guide and direct students to a new level.

So if preaching and youth don’t mix, what does? Continue Reading…

Every kid in the country can taste summer! It’s time to jump in the pool, sleep in, and hang out with friends for hours on end. But summer time also means transition is inevitable. Soon a new crew of middle schoolers will enter spastically and awkwardly into youth ministry. Uprising freshman will finally experience high school youth ministry. For most, it is an exciting time and welcome change, yet others students may get lost in transition.

Will they fit in? Will they know anybody? Will it be fun?

Continue Reading…

Mother’s Day is just a few days away. I’m thinking about the relationship I am so blessed to have with my mother. Honoring her has never been a dilemma. But I’m also thinking about teens who approach this day with a strained relationship with their mothers. How can they honor someone they don’t respect? What do they have to celebrate? What can they write in a card to someone they resent?

Teens need help with this Dilemma. It’s not just a Mother’s Day dilemma, for some of the teens in our life it is an everyday struggle. How can we help teens who are at war with their mothers?

Three words fill my heart when I see teens struggling with their mothers.

Continue Reading…