Thursday, May 31, 2012

FREE STUFF // video download tool

Here is a great tool anytime you need to download a clip from YouTube or Vimeo. Check out this website if you want to make sure you next video clip is ready to use in your environment. We use several different tools here at our office for this kind of stuff but this site works across many different platforms and the quality is amazing. You never want to rely on showing a video clip using the internet in a live venue because you never know when it might glitch. Try to always have a hard copy of the file on your computer. Next time you need to grab that clip try this free website out. The puts new meaning into free STUFF! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When you are overwhelmed...

There are seasons every year that are intense. Seasons where the work seams to never end, projects pile up, your iPhone won't top dinging, and the pressure is on. I have come to the conclusion that this is just part of leading any ministry. There are times when you have to push hard because you are leading "that event" or pushing "that idea" that could be the key to reaching more people and making more disciples. For many of us who work with teens and kids, summer is one of those seasons that can get a little crazy. For our family ministry team we have several amazing events that we are working on because we want to carve out experiences that will help kids and teens know what it means to follow Jesus with all of their life. Summer is our time to pull these events off and we are all working hard to make them happen. We are also all working to prepare for fall when people get back to school and get back in a normal routine. Summer can get a little out of control. I can easily get overwhelmed. When you are at the overwhelmed stage here are a few steps that will help you keep leading effectively...
  • Block out solid blocks of time to work // When the work around you seems too much to handle block out time and get to work. Don't answer emails, or talk on the phone...WORK. Protect blocks of time so you can focus and get things done.
  • Ask your other staff and volunteers for help // When you are overwhelmed you have to ask others to come around you and help. Your team wants to help but they can't if they do not now you need it!
  • Manage your attitude and emotions // You control your attitude and you can work to manage your emotions. Self control is so important when we are stressed. When you choose to have a good attitude you are going to get more done and be ready to lead each day.
  • Don't neglect rest, exercise,  prayer, and time reading God's Word // I know you are busy but you have to care for your soul, mind and body in the middle of the crunch. Your strength comes for God, never forget that. You are not invincible so yes you need rest and exercise.
  • Use lists and prioritize // Write stuff down so you don't forget important tasks. Also make sure and prioritize how you use your time. There are some things that just have to wait.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

great small group leaders...

Strong student ministries are made up of many great small group leaders investing in the lives of teenagers. I know that is not what grabs our attention but it's the heart of any student ministry that is making a difference. I also know that every student pastor wants to add 10 more great volunteers to their team. Most of our volunteers in the student ministry I lead serve as small groups leaders and that has enable us to have many youth pastors on our team instead of just having 2 leaders in charge. Great small group leaders make it possible to give every teen a mentor and encourager. Tonight we celebrated with our small group leaders and I was reminded what makes a great small group leader great. Here are a few things great small group leaders do...

  1. Great small group leaders listen as much as they talk.
  2. Great small group leaders help reach new teens.
  3. Great small group leaders don't give up.
  4. Great small group leaders ask for help when they are not sure what to do.
  5. Great small group leaders show up consistently.
  6. Great small group leaders connect relationally.
  7. Great small group leaders point teens to Jesus and God's Word...not just their opinion.
  8. Great small group leaders set healthy boundaries.
  9. Great small group leaders help teens take their next step in following Jesus.
  10. Great small group leaders laugh often and trust God when nothing seems to be working.
I'm thankful our student ministry is built around many people who love teens and not just any one staff member. Student ministry is meant to be about a team not a personality. Thanks to every small group leader out there going for it. What you do matters!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free Stuff / Sing Off game

Summer is coming and I'm sure you are all looking for different games for your different summer events. Hope to be able to share a bunch of these this summer that we do in our children's and student ministry. Here is one we did called the Sing Off. Basically we picked fun songs that kids were familiar with and had a small group leader compete against a teen. We just challenged them to sing along with the song and then we used the crowd to judge the competition. It was fun and a good way to use some fun songs in our environments. Below is the graphic for the game...enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

small matters

We live in a culture where "big" seems to matter the most. People want big important jobs. People love living in neighborhoods with big houses. We love the big city with lots of buzz. We love to talk about our big goals and big plans. If you are in ministry like me people talk about big churches and try to imitate them at all cost. Big is a big deal and most of us spend our lives chasing after the idea that we are a success when and if we get that big promotion, big paycheck, or gain big influence. Nothing wrong with big but I think we often forget that in the Kingdom of God big does not get the same attention by Jesus as he gives things, people, and place that others in the world would consider small and of less importance. Jesus understands us better than we think He does. Jesus knew that how we handled small responsibility would be a indicator of how we would balance great responsibility. Jesus said it like this...

Matthew 25:29 (NLT)
29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Matthew 18:4 (NLT)
4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I could list time after time where Jesus gave attention to people who were considered small and unimportant. Jesus even called us to use what we have been given so that we can be trusted with more later. Truth is that in life if we want big influence, big leadership, or big responsibility we have to learn to be responsible in the small. For most of us that means being fully present and fully focused on where God has us now. Serving when no one is looking. Taking care of the small things that are hidden from plain view. Being faithful to lead the people God has called us to lead and not wishing God would give us a to serve. When we learn to manage thins we consider small then we just might be ready for a bigger challenge. Never forget, small matters!

Monday, May 21, 2012

You'll never connect with everyone

It's impossible to create a ministry that will connect with everyone. I know it's true because I have spend years trying to reach every teen through the ministry I lead. Year after year the hard reality is that no matter what, where, or how we do what we do some people are not going to connect. Sometimes teens are going to go in a different direction and you will be left wondering what you did wrong. Most of the time you didn't do anything wrong. I'm hoping that today I can give some of you a little dose of freedom because you are living in a cycle of frustration as you try to adapt your ministry to do the impossible...reach everyone. It's not possible for any one ministry or church to reach everyone and that is why God has established all kids of churches doing all kinds of great ministry for reach all kinds of people. If you try to make the ministry you lead fit everyone you will only discover chaos and and dysfunction. You can't reach everyone but you can reach some. Your job is to make disciples of the people you reach. Your job is to strive to do all you do with excellence. Your mission is to create the ministry God is calling you do lead and not copy the ministry other "church people" tell you that you should be. Some people are going to walk away. Reach out to them, encourage them, pray for them but please stop believing that everyone will stick in the ministry you lead. Sometimes people walk away. They walked away from Jesus and they will walk away from you. Lead strong anyway.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

right place at the right time

I was reminded today of the power of simply being in the right place at the right time. I had the chance to go hang out with the family and be at my 3rd grader's award ceremony today. As I was walking out I got the chance to connect with a parent from our church who is moving this week out of state. It was so incredible to be at just the right place to encourage this family and I had nothing to do with it besides being at the right place at the right time. God made that meeting happen by allowing us to cross paths. In life we often forget to power of being faithful to the things God has called us to. When we consistently show up where we are supposed to be God gives us opportunities to serve others. We all want to make a difference but it starts with showing up consistently where God has called us to be. Be present and be ready to make a difference.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Taking time to reflect.

Tonight is our last night of The MIX and REMIX of the school year and I am pretty much overwhelmed with gratefulness to God for how he worked this year. We change our summer schedule up so we can better serve families and teens in the summer with chaotic schedules so tonight is a time of closure and a time to launch into our summer ministry ahead. I'm just grateful and I thought I would just process a little of why I'm overwhelmed today here on the blog...
  • I'm grateful for small group leaders who have invested in the lives of teens every week all year.
  • I'm grateful so many teens became followers of Jesus this year.
  • I'm grateful that we have been able to connect with so many teens at different schools.
  • I'm grateful that we have been able to help so many parents work through challenges this year.
  • I'm grateful we have a church that supports us financially and allows us to try to reach teens.
  • I'm grateful to have been able to do ministry with my friend Brandon Reed this year.
  • I'm grateful that God has refueled my passion and calling to serve teens.
  • I'm grateful to have such an incredible summer ahead to invest in teens and lead them toward Jesus.
  • I'm grateful that even now we are planning and dreaming about new ways to connect with teens in our team embraces innovation and risk.
  • I'm grateful that God has answered so many of our prayers and allowed us to serve so many schools!
I hope as you wrap your year of ministry you have the chance to step back and reflect also. Many of us who lead student ministry are good at charging ahead and do a poor job of slowing down to reflect and rejoice. I hope you will take some time to reflect this week...God is moving!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Give your idea away!

A few years ago I was able to start a family experience at Grace Community called Cross Street Live. Once a month we gather kids and parents and create a worship experience where families and can worship and learn together. Since we started that years ago I have been on a journey to give my idea away and let others make it better. I was reminded of the process yesterday when our kids pastor showed me a new logo he was having made for the our FX. Honestly, for just a minute it was hard to see a new look. I felt a little sad seeing the logo we had made years ago being replaced...then 2 seconds later after that thought I was pumped because new leadership has embraced the idea. I have given the idea away and trust me, our FX is 100 times better because of it because we have an amazing team leading it. The more you can give your ideas away and let others advance them the better your organization will be because of a few reasons...

  • Your idea can always be improved > Allowing other people to shape your idea allows for more creativity and faster innovation. You may have had the idea but that does not mean you are the one to advance the idea. Be willing to allow ideas you have to be shaped and carried out by others.
  • You maintain balance when you let things go > If you don't give away ideas then you will become burdened by ideas of the past. You can only keep advancing a limited number of projects. To maintain balance and keep your vision aimed ahead you have to let some things go.
  • Giving ideas away will reveal new leadership opportunities and new leaders > If you want to find great new leaders then give your ideas away to them. Nothing reveals leadership potential like having to work on a project. Giving away ideas allows you to invite more people into the leadership process!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Parenting is 90% effort!

We just got these pictures from our photographer and this one may be my favorite. Can't believe we caught this moment because this is our home. One thing about our family is that we laugh way too much. Chelsea did not marry me for my looks, she married me because I can make her laugh and we are best friends. One thing we learned about our marriage is that we have to keep working at it. When our marriage is at its best it's because we are putting in the effort to pray, laugh, talk, serve each other, and listen.  I am beginning to believe that parenting is no different. At the heart of parenting is a relationship between a child and a adult God has placed in our life. I think often we link parenting to a responsibility and not a relationship. Parenting is not only a responsibility because it's not a job it's a calling and a privilege. God chose us to be the parents to our kids and in that he has given us the most sacred relationship we will ever have. Remember as you parent this to put in the effort needed to build a healthy relationship with your child. Work on connecting with your children just like you work on strengthening your marriage. In the circles that I run in we call that fighting for the heart. A healthy relationship with your son or daughter will take your responsibility as a parent to another level filled with joy. There is no magic formal for parenting but if you want to get better at it just put in the effort!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Are you stuck?

This morning a few of our staff got stuck in an elevator...seriously...this is the picture Brandon Reed took while we were trying to figure out how to get UNSTUCK. I am going to be telling this story for years but it reminded me of how bad it feels to be stuck. Stuck in a job. Stuck in an emotional funk. Stuck in circumstances that we brought on ourselves. Stuck with no options we can see. Being stuck is never a good feeling. Most of the times we feel stuck because we have our focus on the wrong target. We begin to trust what we can see rather than God who has the perfect perspective on our journey. When I am feeling stuck in life I do three things that help...
  • I make sure I am carving out time for prayer and time to read the Bible // When I am not in God's word and spending time in prayer I lose touch with how God works around me. God is at work all around us and in reality we are never stuck. Going back to see how God worked in the life of Abraham, Paul, and Daniel reminds me that my God is a God who has a bigger plan!
  • I change my pace and routine // I control my schedule so when I am stuck some things needs to change. My routine needs to change. My office may need to be rearranged. I may need a vacation or I may need to work harder so I can accomplish a new challenge.
  • I need to make sure I am running away from isolation and toward community // When we feel stuck we tend to isolate. Nothing helps to break the power of feeling stuck like living life with others who can help us see the bigger picture. Isolation just brings more doubt and frustration. Community can bring direction and clarity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Your preschool ministry needs a WORSHIP EXPERIENCE!

For my first two years serving as family pastor here at Grace Community Church I made very excuse I could as to why we did not need a large group experience for our preschool environment. Let me try and list a few  excuses that you may have embraced like I did. We don't have enough volunteers already. It will be chaotic. We don't have space to pull it off. Preschool kids will not pay attention. Small group leaders will miss sharing the story. The list went on and one. We finally decided to try a large group experience as an experiment in our largest service. After two weeks of the experiment we made the commitment to make large group a priority with preschool kids in every service. For our preschool environment (Wonder Warehouse!) large group has become the glue for our effort to communicate truth to kids weekly. Here are just a few things we learned in the process...
  • Kids learn as they sing > Songs are powerful when used to deliver truth. As preschoolers sing they can learn about the God who made them, loves them, and wants to be their friend forever!
  • Small group leaders thrive when they are supported by the large group team > Small group leaders can care more when they can focus on caring and connecting with kids!
  • Leading preschool worship is amazing > There is no group in our church more excited about worship than our preschool kids. Our large group leaders lead and the kids are 100% ready to go!
  • Kids hang on every word of our storytellers > Preschoolers remember what is being said in large group. we know because they go home and tell their parents. That did not happen before we had large group.
We partner with First Look because they give us great small group and large group resources for our preschool environment. Right now you can try it out for free...yes go and check it out. Embrace large group for preschoolers and you will begin to see your core truths stick.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What your senior pastor needs from you...

Hang out with a group of children's, student, or college pastors for a while and at some point someone will bring up the topic of their senior pastor. What's discouraging is that most of the time when the issue is brought up feelings of frustration are revealed next. For many next generation leaders there is a disconnect between them and their senior pastors. There usually is a long list of things next generation leaders wish their pastor would start doing. Yea, that's normal but what if we took some time to work on the relationship instead of always complaining about it. I have had the joy of working with some amazing lead pastors and here are 7 things your pastor needs from you if you are going to have a healthy relationship...

  1. Support of the bigger vision // Your pastor needs you to be as passionate about your church's vision and mission as you are about your ministry's vision and mission. You are on a team. Support your team!
  2. Prayer // The level that you pray for your pastor will be a prime indicator in the health of your relationship with them. There is not a day that goes by that you don't need to surround your pastor with prayers for protection and wisdom.
  3. Shared Creativity // Next Generation leaders are some of the most creative and talented people on the planet. Be willing to share that creativity with your senior pastor to help your church become a better church.
  4. Stories of life change // Your senior pastor needs to hear how God is working in the ministry you lead. Share and share often. Senior pastors get enough complaints and things to worry about. Make your ministry a place of encouragement for them.
  5. Important information // Keep your senior pastor in the loop about important moves in your ministry. Make sure they stay informed.
  6. Consistent support and encouragement // Make sure you are a building a relationship of trust with your pastor. Stand up for your senior pastor. Encourage your senior pastor.
  7. Visionary and reliable leadership // Do your job and do it well. The best gift you can give your senior pastor is a reliable ministry area that is making a difference.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Changes at Grace Community Church...

The past few weeks have been a real time of change for our team at Grace Community Church as one of our co-pastors is leaving to lead another church. I have loved serving with Ron Edmondson and we are excited for his next adventure. You can read about where Ron is headed on his blog. I have been here on staff at GCC for five years and I have loved every minute of serving with our team. Change is a difficult process but the strongest organizations learn to embrace it and lead through it. I am super proud of how our team of staff and volunteers have dealt with our staff changes the past few weeks. Here is a video we shared with our church this week as we try to answer some questions people have about our direction as a church. After five years here I feel like our best days are yet to come. Check out this video...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New resource for small group leaders!

One of my favorite things about leading our family ministry team here at Grace Community Church is getting to connect with our small group leaders at every level. Every week, in every environment, with every age group we have leaders who invest in others as small group leaders. We believe that when we give kids, teens, and college students a small group leader we are helping them find a mentor that will walk with them through life. This past week some friends of mine launched a website called Lead Small and it is designed for the small group leader who wants to make a difference. Most of the posts on the site are actually written by small group leaders for small group leaders. These ideas have been tested and thought out in the middle of group life. So many times small group leaders feel like they are alone in the battle to connect with their group. This site is designed to help you know that you are not alone. Being an effective small group leader is hard work but in the end it is work that can change the course of a life. Go check out the site and see if this is something you could use to help train your small group team. Thanks to the team at Lead Small for investing in those of us who are trying to do big things by investing in one life at a time!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New resource for middle school leaders!

The few, the brave, the proud. These are just a few words for middle school pastors who invest in some of my favorite people in the world every week. I admit it...I have always been passionate about middle school ministry. I believe it's our last chance for preventive ministry as we serve teens. Investing in a middle school teen can change a life forever. When you search the web there are not many resources out there for middle school leaders. On September 4 a group of my friends are launching a website called and it is going to be a gathering place for middle school pastors. I hope you will check the site out, spread the word to other middle school leaders, and start using the hashtag #uthmin in some of your tweets so you can start connecting online. You can already follow along on twitter at @uth_min so go look them up. I'm excited to see how God uses this online resource in the coming years to fuel collaboration and partnership with middle school pastors across the country.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm HURT...and it's my fault

Sunday after church my youngest daughter was headed out the door to go play. That's pretty normal because both my girls love to play outside. What was different Sunday was that when she closed the door she did not use the door knob and the door closed on her hand! It closed hard, she screamed loud, and her had was pretty banged up. She was hurt and it was her fault. We hugged her, got her an ice bag, and lovingly reminded why people invented door knobs. Hurt is something next generation leaders have to face often. We walk with teens and kids who have been hurt by life. We encourage parents who are hurt by the choices their kids make. And many times we are hurt because we feel we are not supported or people we are trying to help turn their back on us. Hurt happens. Truth is many times we experience hurt and we only have ourselves to blame. We often bring hurt into our own lives when...

  • Our pace is out of control. // Busy does not equal productive. Being BUSY opens you up to hurt because you lose connection with people. Busy will ask you to sacrifice everything for one thing. An out of control pace will lead to hurt and it will be your fault. You control your calendar.
  • Our focus is in the wrong place. // Hurt will sneak up on us when we lose focus. Are we trying to impress people with our leadership? Are we trying to push people to do what we want rather than what is best for the organization? Are we trying to be somebody we are not?
  • We try to fix people. // You can't fix people. You can't make everything right. When you try to fix people you invite hurt into your life. We walk with people in the mess and lead them out of the mess; we don't own their hurt in a repair process.
  • We ignore God. // Hurt is right around the corner when we have no time to be with God. When we stop hanging out with God daily we choose to see the world through our eyes and not God's.
  • We choose happiness over trust. // Happiness leads us to make choices in the moment to make us feel better. Trust says wait on God to deliver us and bring peace. We bring hurt into our lives when we make excuses for sin in the name of happiness.