Thursday, November 8


June 12th 2012, I was working at a church as a full time youth pastor.  I was at home in the evening, it was a Tuesday. I get a phone call from a parent.... one of my college kids took their own life. Kyle a senior in college who had been struggling with depression and paranoia.

He had been in therapy, he was even coming to church each week seeking prayer and counsel, mom and dad were in his life trying to help him every way they could.  A girl friend who was amazing and supportive.   He had been a volunteer in my middle school ministry the summer before and had been attending youth group sense he was a sophomore in high school.  

Here you had a young man in duress with loved ones around him.  He was actively seeking prayer, counsel and help and in the end he still took his own life. 

This makes any Christ believing man or woman or anyone for that matter scratch their head and ask themselves and God:What?!

Before I go further let me say that I knew he was saved, I led him to Christ at an alter call in youth group and baptized him just a year before.  On top of that while seeking prayer he was asked by a loving member two weeks prior to his death, "do you know Christ as your personal savior?" he responded, "yes I do"


How can I not think; if a person like Klyle was seeking God, claimed he knew God was seeking counsel then how come he took his own life?

I dont have an answer, I dont know if I ever will in this life.

All I know is Kyles death is not the only thing that makes my say; What?!  In my faith and outside my faith there are lots of things I do not know, there will always be things that make me say, what?!

Another aspect of my faith I do not understand, why would an innocent man go through torture and suffer a long slow death on a cross?


I wish I could end this post with some deep thought that wraps everything up nice and clean.  I cant, all I know is that God loves his people, he sent his son as one of us to be killed so we would not have to offer sacrifice after sacrifice to be clean so that we would not have to worry about spending an eternity in hell. We can ask these hard questions and know that just because we have questions it does not mean we do not have faith.            

Wednesday, June 1

Life is Not as Complicated as You Think

I just turned 30, and what I have learned in 30 years is this.  

Life is hard and takes focus and... 

Life is not as complicated as the world wants you to think it is. 

The two statements may sound as if they contradict one another but they do not. 

It all comes down to this.  

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

I am not saying now that I am 30 I have figured it all out.  Actually I have learned more this past year about how much I dont have anything figured out.  But, these two verses that Jesus shared with us, I can get my head around this.  

There are so many distractions around us and the world makes life complicated but when you try and live by these commandments it helps keep life simple.  Again life is not easy, but where we place our focus can make our life more simple.

What in your life seems to make things complicated and cluttered? 

Tuesday, April 19

Someone is not happy and it should not be you

Doug Feilds is a guy who creates awesome resources for youth ministry if you dont know who he is check out at

I was reading one of his blog post today and it inspired this post.  You dont have to read his post to understand this post but go ahead take a second, read his post then dart back here and read this post for the full effect.

As I hope, you read his post about criticism and here are a few ways to deal with it.

1. Don't take it personally as a reflection on your ability as a leader. Use the criticism to improve areas that may need improving.

2. Be thankful that they are actually talking to you about the problem and tell them that you greatly appreciate them talking to you about it.
If they have a problem and keep it to themselves and withdraw and you hear second hand that they are ticked off because of something you said or did or someone else said or did, that is hard.  So, be thankful they are talking to you about it.

3. Move on from the criticism, dwelling on it and making that criticism your focus can make things hard and get you off task.  Don't let it derail your vision.

4. Document the conversation somewhere with the who, what, where and when.  You may never revisit the problem but there have been times in my ministry having some kind of documentation about the conversation has really helped prove that I had done everything in my power to deal with the confrontation.  

5. Be proactive, don't wait until you run into them on Sunday morning.  Call personally leave a message and/or write an email explaining you have called and would love to talk with them and again intentionally communicate that you are glad that they called/emailed about something that is bothering them.

What are some of the ways you deal with criticism?

Wednesday, April 6

Yoga, DNA, Solitary Confinement and Discipleship

One of the biggest lies that we buy into is that we are alone.  My wife and I watched a special on Neflix about people in solitary confinement.  Prisoners are placed in a cell 23 hours a day to be by themselves.  This isolation creates a paranoia and a strong need and fear to connect to people even if its though violence. 

Haven't we all met people like this.  They are alone and have a fear and a longing to connect to someone somehow.  Our ability to connect to people as Jesus connected to the world has many different components but here are few that I believe are important. 

1. DNA: It is the what we are made of.  What is your Churches DNA.  Another way to put it is what is the culture of your Church?  Jesus spent three years with 12 men to change their DNA regarding their prejudices, faith and way of life.  Is the DNA or culture of your Church or you to reach people?  

2. Yoga: Personally or as a congregation we have to flexible and able to shift our weight to be more effective in reaching people who are alone.  It is not convenient, it usually does not happen during work hours.  When God parted the Red Sea there was no waiting around it was time to move.  Granted Pharaoh provided all the motivation they needed to move, but we dont read the story of how the people panicked and trampled one another.  There were leaders set up to move the people effectively and quickly and there were a lot of people.

3. Discipleship:  This is the goal given by Jesus.  Tony Morgan in his blog post, Unstuck: Mind the Gap lays this all out about the importance of a well thought out systems and strategies.  Here is the formula he presents.  

Vision + [Strategies & Systems] + Execution = Results

Granted not everyone fits into a system or even a strategy, but if you have the DNA or culture to reach people and create flexibility as apart of your system and strategy people will find ways to reach the people who are the exception.  

What are some of the other components that go into reaching people?

Tuesday, March 29

Making Splashes or Wave Machine?

Our staff and elders were in a meeting the other night and the question was purposed: how do we get people into Church? A few ideas flew around and while none of them really stuck, a train of thought did. One of the elders mentioned that we have been splashing around a lot in our planning.

What is the difference between a splash and a wave?

1. A wave has momentum. Look up Andy Stanley and look for momentum. Essentially something builds on something. For example if you have the most first-time guests on Easter, this is a good place to start momentum or a wave. Leading up to easter weekend is a great time to look at your follow-up for first-time visitors, does it need overhauling or adjusting?

2. A wave has its own momentum and will carry people along when they get close to it. We all have enough to do between logistics or work, family time and trying to eat and sleep. If it is a wave it will continue without you there. In fact, you may hold it back if its fully hinges on you.

3. A splash does not move beyond itself. A splash is fine except once it is over there is nothing to show for it. For example, having an after-church luncheon just because it would be good to fellowship is a splash. There is nothing wrong with it. But once it is over... it's over.

4. A splash is usually inward focused. Splashes, even outreach splashes, can be inward focused. Let's go door-to-door in a neighborhood and invite people/strangers to church. It makes the people who do it feel good, but when was the last time you went to anything a stranger invited you too?

5. A wave takes planning and is a long-haul kind of thing. If you do invade a neighborhood with the Christian intention of getting people to church, find an "in" with someone already in the community and plan on making yourself a regular in this neighborhood.

6. A good question is: will what we are doing change someone's life forever? This is why weekend retreats can be so incredibly powerful if done correctly with proper follow through.

What are some other wave-makers and how do you build momentum?

Monday, March 21

Don't shoot yourself in the foot

I have always tried to do everything myself.

If you have worked in ministry for three seconds you know this mindset is the fast track to burn out and eye twitching, no lie I sometimes get an eye twitch when I am over loaded.

You need volunteers. Real people who work full time jobs, 50 plus hours a week and most likley have families and pets.

After family and work they then give you time. The time you need from them should be an opportunity not shift work.

Questions to ask yourself,

1. Is your weekly ministry volunteer friendly. If all your volunteers get off work at 5:30 planning a ministry that starts at 6pm gives no one no time to go home let the dogs out, eat and kiss the kids and then make it to their volunteer opportunity. Move your ministry to 7 or 7:30pm.

2. Is your ministry an opportunity or a shift work? The work you need your volunteers to do needs to be fulfilling and rewarding. Yes sometimes you do just need someone to stand there and make sure the place does not catch on fire. Remember that ministry is about people and even if their volunteer position is just standing there empower them to reach out to the people in the ministry that they come in contact with.

3. See them as a real person. It is to easy to treat people badly especially when you are busy and you need a job done. I almost blew up when one of my best volunteers did not communicate to me they had to work that night and could not help me out.... after calming down I realized I should have called him at the start of the week. If you need people to help you, you need to make sure they are actually able to help you.

You can feel burned often when working in ministry when you feel people stand you up. Yes, sometimes people do stand you up. But, many times it can be prevented with a few phone calls each week.

Ed Young's Church approaches volunteers with the idea that volunteers do what you inspect not expect. Remember volunteers are real people with full times lives first a blessing to you second and your help third.

Thursday, March 10

I Need Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Need volunteers?  There is a good chance you may have to go out and seek help.  I wish I had people knocking down my door, but I don't, so here are some questions I keep in mind when I am looking for someone to help with any volunteer position.

1.  Are they a good fit?  I would rather have someone who knows nothing and gets along with the team then someone who knows everything and gets along with no one.  Remember people can learn the skills needed for the position.  If they are not a good fit for the team then you will be creating problems.

2.  Do they have an agenda.  There is a difference between someone who takes initiative and someone with an agenda.  People with agendas will use you, your ministry or organization for their gain.

3. Do they take orders well.  Now this is not an excuse to be a jerk and boss people around.  But, you do want to work with people who dont mind being told what to do.  Actually if done correctly people like being told what to do.  I help on the worship team and its great because I am not the leader, I show up and play what they tell me to play and its very freeing.   

4. Do you have something for them to do that is worth doing?  I have gotten volunteers for projects only to find out that I only needed one volunteer and I did not have a set goal for that one volunteer. Work on what your volunteers will be doing, try typing out a job description, this will help paint a good picture when you do approach a potential volunteer. 

Make a phone call and set up a coffee date and get to know some people and keep these questions in your mind.

What are some of your criteria for finding help and how do you do it?