I am a Southerner.  I have lived in 3 cities in my life; 18 years in a rural town in North Alabama, 5 in Atlanta and 12 in Birmingham, Alabama.  I grew up middle class, white in a small racially divided town.   I grew up in a culture where rebel flags were flown off the back of pick up trucks, they were worn on hats and raised on makeshift poles in people’s yards.  I was taught that these were symbols of heritage, reminders of who we were and who we are.

I grew up with parents that used the word “nigger” in regular conversation, when they were angry and when they talked about the people who lived in “pepper town”.

One of my earliest memories of my dad is him coming home from work covered in wisps of cotton, a machinist in the local cotton mill, wearing a white t-shirt and his black, fishnet work hat embossed with a rebel flag.  I remember being very young and carefully helping him place a bumper sticker on his lime green, late 70’s beat up pick-up truck.

The sticker was a rebel flag with the words “Keep It Flyin”

I remember being in 4th grade and calling another little boy, an African American 5th grader, “nigger” because that is what he was in my world.  A nigger.

This is my pedigree.   Continue Reading…

Hey All!

I am really excited to announce my new book Organic Student Ministry!

Do you find other youth ministry programs promise you can “plug and play,” only to fall short of expectation, forcing you to “adopt and drop”? An organic student ministry allows each student ministry to exist and live in its best possible way, its natural way! Organic will show you how to:

Develop practices instead of just programs

Minister to students where they are instead of spending your time pleading with them to “get with the program”

Focus on a way of doing ministry that grows naturally from the distinctively rich and fertile soil of your unique church

I am really excited about what this book is going to help youth ministers and volunteers do as well as how I believe it is going to  change the face of youth ministry in your church!

Click Here to Order Now!

Great New YM Resource!!!

December 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

There are millions of youth ministry resources out there.  Some scholarly, some practical and some just … well nuts.  There is a new resource I want to introduce you to just incase you have not heard about it yet.  My friends Elle and Kenny over at StuffYouCanUse have developed an awesome new podcast made by youth ministers for youth ministers.  The beautiful thing about the new Youth Ministry Answers podcast is that it is founded and ingrained in the everyday practice of youth ministry.  These youth ministry pros are giving youth ministers all over the country the opportunity to dial in and get immediate help with some of their most important ministry needs.  I hope you will go and check them out and even “dial” in yourself!

I am from a small town.

One small town in fact, Piedmont, Alabama.

It is a beautiful little place nestled in the foothills of Appalachia.  It has some of the most gorgeous mountains in the fall and some of the best football in the state.  I spent the first 18 years of my life there and am grateful for so many things from that tiny town.

Piedmont is also a troubled place.

Recently an organization from Wisconsin called Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the city of Piedmont demanding that they immediately cease prayers over the intercom at their football games.  The organization threatened legal action against the city and the school system if they did not comply. This tiny town, which has only really been in the national news for tornadoes and marijuana dealers, was now thrust into the spotlight.  The board complied and they, like many other schools, now observe a moment of silence before each home game.

That is not the end of the story. Yesterday, Piedmont once again was in the national spotlight.  Fox News did a story on our little town and its newest religious debacle. Piedmont and its leadership, many of whom I know and respect deeply (especially the mayor, whom I have known since I was a child) decided to make the theme of their Christmas parade “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  This was no doubt in reaction to the recent decision to change the format of the prayer at the football games.  So, as I am sure everyone expected, the group from Wisconsin issued another complaint and the city once again had to back off of their stance.

Here is the problem: The very fact that people feel that it is their duty to mandate Christ in Christmas is, in and of itself, an act of heresy. Continue Reading…

I hope you are gearing down and are getting ready for some well deserved time off to spend with family and friends. Thanksgiving, like so many holidays, can seemed packed, rushed, angst filled and even miserable.
Expectations from self and others combined with guilt and anxiety are a toxic cocktail so many Americans abuse over the holidays. I want to give you some hope, encouragement and maybe even a little peace.
You are good enough.
You are loved.
You are loved.
You are loved.
That is all you need.
You do not need a golden turkey, beautiful place settings, a seemingly perfect non anxious family (like that exists) or anything that resembles Normal Rockwell or Pinterest.
Simplicity, community and rest.
These are valuable and these are things you need.
Spend time with the ones you love, put down the devices and the expectations.
Eat good food, whether you cook it or buy it.
Laugh. (I mean this, laugh, laugh until you cry because you let yourself go enough to be overtaken with joy)
Take a nap.
Breathe intentionally, deeply and thank God for the air that fills your lungs.
Really, actually look at that people who fill your home, look deeply at them, not their position or role in the family, but them as people, real people.
Hug your kids tightly, even if they pull away or make a face, I want you to know that it means more to them than they will ever be able to say.
Tell stories and make new ones.
And, finally, be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving

I am so excited to tell you about my new 365 day student ministry devotional called Extraordinary Time.

365 Ordinary Moments with an Anything But Ordinary God

“I love the heart of this devotional. Stephen provides students with a great tools they can use that won’t make them feel guilty for missing a day or two. Insightful, honest, transparent and real. He nails it with so many relevant topics powerful scripture and action items that line up well with students learning how to engage the world with their faith. It’s also huge which parents will appreciate because they get a lot for their money”.

Lars Rood, author of Freshman-Senior High School Devotionals (Group publishing) and the just released 7th grade and future Middle School series

“Behind the scenes, a new generation of youth workers has been quietly learning, thinking, growing. They’re not just trying to “keep kids in the church.” They’re trying to form followers of Christ who will be leaders in the church of tomorrow. Stephen Ingram is one of the architects of this new approach to youth ministry, and I’m grateful for his example and voice.”

Brian McLaren, author/speaker (brianmclaren.net)

(Extra)Ordinary isn’t like other year-long devotional journals. Because of its unique design, teens have control over where they jump in each day based on how the feel or what they are going through

(Extra)Ordinary features the following sections:

Ordinary Times: Over 100 image-driven devotions perfect for everyday life.

Crazy Times: 10-days each, issue specific devotions for when life gets crazy.

Holiday Times: Special devotions for Lent, Advent/Christmas, even their Birthday!

(Extra)Ordinary is ideal for:

• Helping teens grow deeper in their faith

• Challenging believers of all levels with daily content

• Gifts for Students

Click Here for a Free Sample

Click Here to order (Extra)ordinary

Read AverageYouthMinistry’s Review HERE