What is the One Thing?

It is about to happen.

Here in the coming weeks there will a mass return from the camps, beaches, lake houses and vacations.

Summer is almost over and your program is in its final stages of gearing up for the Fall bump.

There are a million things probably swirling around in your head today; Do the teachers have their curriculum?, Is the worship ready to go?   I need to do that final run through of the small groups to make sure they are all equally distributed.  Don’t forget to order the pizza for the big kick off party.

The list goes on and on….

There are so many things on your radar screed that it looks like enemies are attacking from all sides!

All of these things are important, really important, but what is the one thing?

What is that one thing you are going to focus on above and beyond the daily “to-do” lists that make up everyday ministry?

What is your overarching goal for the ministry to achieve this year that will be an underpinning or overtone to the student ministry of your churches ministry to students for the next 12 months?

Don’t know?

Take some time over the coming weeks and think about it.  Ask yourself the question, “What big thing does the ministry need to move into its next God called incarnation”?  “What does this ministry need to focus on in everything it does, at least at some level, over the course of this next year”?

Over the past few years some of these grand overarching topics in my ministry have been; Hospitality, Sacred Community, Service and Relationships.  I only pick one a year and focus on it.

I try to hold these topics, just one a year, at the top of my list, always asking, “Is this happening today”? or “How can I infuse this event with this focus”?  I do not do this alone or in secret.  I make this vision known to staff, students, volunteers and though talks and studies.  I try to find practical ways to include it in conversations and empower those around me to practice it in everyday situations.

Each of our ministries have deficits or things that we need to work on.  It is not a weakness to recognize these, it is a strength and will strengthen your community.  So, what is the one thing?  What is that one thing that you are going to undergird your ministry, events, retreats and studies with this year?  Is it Community? Prayer? Accountability? Hospitality? Fun?

What is it?

What is your one thing?

It seems to happen every year.

The last frost has melted from the ground.  The first blooms are poking their heads through the surface of the warming ground and the air fills with the songs of birds.

Then they come…. the squirrels.

Most of the time they are easy, normal parts of the everydayness of my back yard but for some reason, in the early spring, the just get a little… well…. too Squirrelly.

They start digging in flower pots, messing up gardens, jumping on bird feeders and seemingly, for no reason, frantically searching around for something to dig around it.

We see them in the church as well.

Not the cute furry kind but the ones who walk with two legs, upright and seem to want to dig up areas that seem to be doing just fine.  You know what I am talking about, right? Continue Reading…

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy.  The Open Letter to Parents post blew up and had over 25,000 unique hits in just a few days.  The number of emails, calls, texts and personal conversations about the post have been absolutely incredible. Beyond the sheer number of people who have responded, retweeted and posted I find myself more impressed, and truthfully scared, at the number of people who this has struck such a deep chord with.  Now as WE move forward together in reclaiming our youth and our families lives, I offer some red flags that might pop up in your youth and family’s schedules.  These red flags are some that we struggle with and some that I hear from youth and parents that they struggle with on a regular basis.  Maybe they are less red flags and more check points for moving towards a more balanced life.

I also post this intentionally on the first day of Lent.  Lent is a time of self reflection and a time where many in faith communities strive for something different in their lives.  I encourage you to pick up these check points in your family during this Holy season. Continue Reading…

(I have not written on the blog in a while mainly because I have been working on an exciting new book that I will tell you more about in the coming weeks.  While there has been blog silence I have had some time to observe youth ministry around the country as well as in my own context and have decided to write an open letter about what I have observed.  This letter is not from all youth ministers and it is not to all parents, but I think it speaks to most)


Dear Parents,

We love your kids.

We love them enough to send you this letter.

Your youth are in a bad place.  We have never seen a generation of teenagers who are more stressed, full of anxiety, depressed, suicidal, over committed, over medicated, over worked and over extra-curriculared, and it is killing them, sometimes literally.  We know you want the best for them, the best grades, the best college, the best teams, performances, standardized scores, friend groups etc.  We all want the best for them.  But they are not the best at everything and they will never be the best at everything.  I was not, you were not and they will not stand atop the podium in every area they compete.  As I watch the Olympics I have thought a lot about what it takes to get to the Olympics, let alone what it takes to get to the top of that podium. It takes incredible amounts of raw talent, dedication, work, and single-mindedness about that discipline.  Unfortunately we see many parents pushing these standards and unrealistic expectations of every area of their kids lives.  They cannot do it all, they cannot handle the stress and are being crushed under the weight of the expectation. Now, please hear me, it is not just your expectation, it is the expectation of their coaches, teachers, administrators, colleges and the expectations of each other.  Expectations are good, they cause us to rise above where we, alone, would usually strive.  But they must be realistic expectations based on each student. Continue Reading…

So I am heading to the National Youth Workers Conference today in Nashville!  I absolutely love conferences.  They are a great time to get away, be around one of my tribes and explore my vocation in deeper ways.  When I first started in youth ministry I would often come back from conferences, excited, wide eyed, exhausted and sometimes frustrated.  Over the past 15 years in youth ministry I have developed some practices that allow me to get the most out of my conference experience, here are a few of them!

Do Not Go To Everything

Seriously, don’t.  If you do you will be completely exhausted and will end up missing out on some really good stuff because you are so tired and overwhelmed with the amount of awesome stuff you are receiving.  Pace yourself, these things are marathons not sprints. Continue Reading…

Ministry Architects is offering two incredible deals for this Fall!  These are being offered on a limited time basis so make sure to take advantage of these ASAP!

4 Hours of Free Coaching!

If you book an assessment for your church to happen before the end of 2013 Ministry Architects will give your church an extra 4 hours of Free coaching after your assessment!  This is a $320 value!  The coaching will help you and your church begin the implementation of the Ministry Architects Sustainable process that will put your ministry on the path to sustainability and growth.  Remember this only applies to assessments done before the end of the year.  It generally takes one to one and a half months to set up for an assessment so book before November to receive this great offer!!!

Free Coaching at National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville!!! #NYWC

Are you going to National Youth Workers Convention in November?  Want free coaching for your youth ministry with a nationally recognized and trained expert? Then I have good news for you!  Ministry Architects will be in full force at this years #NYWC in Nashville!  We will be offering Free one on one coaching throughout the conference for all attendees.  Spots are limited, so sign up now!!!

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