Churches/Youth Ministries I’m Visiting During my Sabbatical


Immanuel Baptist Church

Sandals Church

The Grove

Saddleback Church

Harvest Christian Fellowship

The Well Community Church


Internship Revamp

My church is gracious enough to give our staff a 4-week study leave every 5 years.  I’m spending my time working on a revamp of our internship at the church.  Here are a few reasons why:

Our Location: If you’re not familiar with Magnolia, we’re located directly across the street from CBU – a Christian college with nearly 5,000 students.  We are being bad stewards of our location if we don’t intentionally invest in this up-and-coming generation of leaders.

Our History: There are currently 4 of us on staff at the church who started out as interns.  I started at my church as a non-paid intern 12 years ago and now I’m on full-time staff.  Our internship won’t be designed to guarantee people jobs, but the reality is that it creates a pipeline of leadership for us for years to come.

Our Situation: We use interns, but it’s here and there, and not necessarily requiring the same thing of all interns.  My hope is to come out of February with a workable document and process to recruit, place, and develop interns.  At one point we had 4-5 paid interns, but our church (like many others) had to make budget cuts and those positions have all now been eliminated.  Our new approach is to develop a non-paid internship that provides value in itself because of the experience and opportunities it opens for interns.

Test Post

Test Post: P2X5TS77BRV7

Relational Time

I’m in a season of rethinking and retweaking much of what I do in ministry.  And to be honest, most of it really basic stuff that I never really started doing as I got going in ministry.  One of the items I’m currently attempting to tweak is relational time.  So here’s where it’s at…

I’d like to spend one-on-one time with 3 different people each week:
1) An ongoing time with a student I meet with every week.
2) Coffee or a meal with a different volunteer each week.
3) Coffee or a meal with a different student each week.  I realized a couple days ago that in just this school year with a little bit of planning, I could meet with every high school guy who’s regularly involved in our ministry.  I’m excited about this concept in particular.

Do you have a strategy for how you spend time with students and volunteers?

Youth Ministry Follow-Up

What are you doing for follow-up with students in your ministry?  To be honest, I’m pretty horrible at it in ours.  But there are two key things I’ve been trying to do in the last couple weeks following our Wednesday night program to hit two different types of students:

First Time Guests – On Thursday morning I send a hand-written postcard to the new students thanking them for coming.  I made a simple little postcard a few years ago with our logo on it and ordered a ton of them from Overnight Prints.  These are great to have as a youth pastor (for any occasion) and to provide for volunteers to use.

Prayer Requests – I take each request on Thursday morning, briefly pray for what the student has written, and then send them an email just letting them know I prayed for ___________.  So far, I’ve gotten responses from most of them.  I believe this proves that students do still check email (just not nearly as often as adults).

Both of these are no-brainer, easy things you can start doing tomorrow.  We don’t have a fantastic follow-up strategy going on, but we do have these two baby steps rolling that are more than we did before!

What do you use for follow-up in your ministry?

Full Circle

It’s so cool to see former students become ministry partners.  We currently have three former high school students who are now serving as volunteers in our ministry (two in jr. high and one in high school).  I think there’s a few really great things about seeing your ministry come around full circle:

Former students “get” your ministry vision & strategy – Sometimes they may not be able to even verbalize it, but ultimately they know the culture and feel or your ministry.  So, if the culture and feel is the direction you’d like to be heading, they can be a huge asset to continuing that in your ministry.

Former students “get” you – It can take time to feel comfortable with a new volunteer sometimes and for them to feel comfortable with you.  The former students who are drawn to your ministry are typically going to be ones you’ve had a good rapport with.  From Day One of serving they will probably more comfortable quicker than the average volunteer.

Former students help you stay in it for the long haul – Youth ministry is tough!  We don’t get a ton of encouragement from students and it can be hard to stay focused long-term.  But when you see former students now serving alongside you, you know that you have made an impact.  You know that God has used you.  And that means…..that the punk 9th grade boy who you can’t stand right now…..might be one of your best volunteers in 5 years.


Found this draft of a post I started back in 2007 and never posted to the blog.  I’m quoting it as is.  Three years later, I still struggle with learning this same lesson.

I’ve been reading Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I’m loving it as it’s a huge reminder of God’s grace in our lives – that grace that is completely undeserved and completely lavished upon us. I’m still sorting through a lot of this. I have a tendency to be very self-critical and one of the things I think I’m slowly realizing is that somewhere deep inside I believe that I’ve earned God’s favor. There, I typed it. I say that I must believe this because if I fully believed that grace and a relationship with God were completely dependent on God, then there wouldn’t be a need to be so self-critical. When I accept God’s grace, how can I be critical? Constant self-criticism implies that it all depends on me, not that it all depends on God. I don’t think I’m alone here. I think many of us, to some degree, are in this same boat. We profess with our lips that it’s all completely dependent on God’s grace, but then we live lives that declare otherwise by the way we focus on Christian performance.