Timothy - A Young Person Who Needed Expanding

Monday, August 31, 2020

2 Timothy 1:6-7 says "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."

Do you feel like your flame is fading? Are you feeling timid?

Let the Spirit of God arise in you.

Don't be distracted by what you don't think you have. Step into those things that you do have.

Timothy received encouragement from Paul from these letters. They expanded him into leadership within the early church, and you can expand into a person of greater influence. Someone who can be an agent of God's love in your community. Someone who can take God's power into circumstances that need it. Someone who is not thrown around by whims or fads, but who has self-control, who can live a life of example to those around them.

Can you feel the oxygen coming back into your soul? I hope you can.

Your flame is not out. The gift of God is still in you to see breakthrough in your personal circumstances, to see change in lives that have seemed stagnant, to see resource where before there was just lack.

Look to the God of the harvest, for he has plans for you and he still loves you.


Marinate in that for a bit, then send some encouragement to someone else who needs it. Another leader, a young person, a parent, who needs to feel encouraged and expanded.

Dealing With Failure And Restoration

Friday, August 28, 2020

Sometimes, the wheels fall off. Whether it is an adult volunteer or a student leader, you need a process to identify the issue and resolve it. Some of the key areas that we can see failure are communication, culture, competence, character and compliance. Hopefully we have some helpful ideas on how to fix them and move forward. There may be some internal policies that already exist in your church. So become familiar with those to help formulate your own responses when these failures happen in your youth ministry.


Failure in Communication

You don't have to be in leadership long to experience a failure in communication. What one person felt was clearly communicated, may not have been as clearly understood. So the execution of the task or project is not what was expected.

Communication is a two way street - the communicator and the receiver. Both should do their best to be clear, polite and make sure they are on the same page. If I give instructions, I try and make sure that the other person understands. I may even make them repeat things back to me if I am unsure. If I am receiving instruction, then I try to ask clarifying questions if I have any doubts.

Nevertheless, there are still moments of miscommunication and actions do not match to instruction.

Do your best to identify it for what it is - a simple miscommunication. Sometimes we jump to conclusions that people did something on purpose. We begin to question their motives, but it may just be a misunderstanding. I love this video of kids instructing their dad as a great example of how things can be miscommunicated.

  • Have the conversation with the other person about what happened
  • Believe the best until proven otherwise
  • Acknowledge any part that you may have played
  • Work out how to better communicate in the future
  • Do any damage control that you may need to with affected parties
  • Move on and do your best to maintain the relationship



Sometimes there is a clash or mismatch of cultures. I am not even talking about ethnic cultures. Your family, your previous church, your school, or youth group, all have a sub-culture. Ways of doing things that may be different from others. Most of them are not wrong, just different. And they change over time with different leaders and seasons.

Culture also often reflects our values. When I was a teenager, the culture of our youth group was definitely one of humour and mocking. I knew I was part of the group when I was getting mocked for things I did. It meant they knew me well enough to know what my line is between funny and offensive. If you didn't know someone well enough to know their sense of humour, then you wouldn't joke with them. Was it all healthy? Nope. Was it all bad? No. I remember our youth leader trying to change the culture by creating a list of things that we couldn't call each other. It did not go well.

There is also a difference between the culture of our youth group, and the leadership culture that helps produce it. I think fun should be a value in every youth group. Not because we want to only entertain and attract young people, but because fun builds connections and opens the heart. So young people may only see the fun, but leaders see chances to connect and opportunities to speak into teenagers' lives in a greater way.

A failure in culture, is when a leader does something without understanding or carrying the value that under girds it. This then can become legalism. They can start to focus on external things without carrying the spirit of it.

Maybe an example will help. Let's say you value engagement and involvement because it builds relationship and connection. You are having a messy games night and there are a couple of youth who are standing back. One of your leaders knows that engagement and involvement are keys. They push for these youth to get involved, not understanding that one of those youth is on the autism spectrum. That young person is barely coping with the overload of sound. To then require that they engage with the touching or eating or playing with something that is messy would push their brain over the edge. Relationship and connection is the leadership value that the leader should be operating under. It plays out as engagement and involvement for most youth, but not all.

A failure in culture is similar to a failure in communication and so is the remedy.

  • Have the conversation with the other person about what happened
  • Believe the best until proven otherwise
  • Acknowledge any part that you may have played
  • Reinforce the culture you are building
  • Do any damage control that you may need to with affected parties
  • Move on and do your best to maintain the relationship



A failure due to competence is one where the person does not have the the right set of skills for the role, responsibility or task. There are a couple of scenarios that generally at play here:

  1. The person never received training
  2. The person received training but did not fully grasp it
  3. The person claimed a skill that they did not have

In the first two scenarios, the plan of action should be to review how roles/tasks are delegated and how training and supervision is managed. The student leaders are still learning and so there will be times when there is a mismatch between a task and skill. Sometimes they will surprise you and step up, other times the gap will lead to something falling over.

In the third scenario, there probably needs to be a conversation around honest communication and the results when there isn't. I would probably lean towards including them in any "damage control" that might need to take place. It is important for them to see that their actions have consequences and that leaders take responsibility for their actions.

In any of the scenarios, if there is an ongoing competence issue, despite training and supervision, then you may need to consider whether that person is right for that task or role.



Character failures are one of the hardest areas to deal with, because character speaks to the very heart of a person. Character failures can include:

  • Ego or selfish tendencies - there is a difference between confidence and ego
  • Anger or frustration that is poorly managed
  • Bullying
  • Inappropriate relationships - however you define that
  • Disrespect of leadership, including parents
  • Unrepentant when confronted on issues
  • Lying, stealing, cheating etc

Of course there are others. The challenge is how you handle failures that are character or moral failures. Leadership is influence and relies heavily on trust. Character failures erode trust. But we are also in the business of love, grace and forgiveness. So below are some of my thoughts.

First thing to consider is how you found out. Did the leader approach you about a struggle or failure, or did they get discovered? If a leader or student leader comes to me and admits that they have struggled or failed in a certain area, I am going to lean into a restoration process. And that process is likely to be a little shorter. But if they are discovered and I have to confront them then that will be a different story.

The next thing that will influence the outcome will be their response in that first conversation. If they are minimising or blaming or not taking responsibility then the path forward is a longer and rockier one. If they take ownership, show remorse, ask for help, then we have a softer heart to work with.

How they respond to the consequences is also another indicator on how things will proceed. If they submit to correction and consequence then we expect a smoother path. If they are antagonistic and push back then not so much.

The last thing that will determine the path forward is the nature and breadth of the character failure. A one off lapse in judgement that led to getting drunk at a party is very different to regularly taking underage youth to parties and getting them drunk.

Some guidelines that I try and follow for these conversations:

  • Don't have the conversation if you are still steaming or emotional about it
  • Get some advice and support
  • It may be good to have a third-party present
  • Do your best to maintain the dignity of the leader and preserve relationship, even if the relationship is no longer in a youth ministry context
  • Do not compromise on the health and well-being of your youth
  • Involve the parents, if it is a student leader
  • If possible, leave an open door for students to attend youth group
  • If possible, present a pathway of restoration with key milestones

What I want to be able to say at the end of these situations, is that I did everything I could to love and disciple that young person or leader. If I offer a pathway forward that they have rejected, then that is their choice.

There are certain scenarios that, in my opinion, disqualify you from being a youth leader forever. But that is probably best expressed in the context of a conversation and not a blog post.



My need to use all Cs in this post, means I am using a stronger word than is really needed. A failure to comply is essentially the person who cannot or will not get on board with the decisions made by the main leader.

I do not want a team of people who just say "Yes" to everything. I want robust conversation that produces the strongest outcomes that we can. In tension with that, the main leader has been appointed to that role. That means they carry greater responsibility and a degree of anointing for it. There are also conversations that the main leader is having that other members on the team are not, which gives them perspective that others do not.

If there is a leader on the team who pushes back on every decision, who stubbornly refuses to support or enact decisions, then it is time for a hard conversation.

In a similar vein to the character failure, I would try and have the conversation when I am not feeling emotional. I would do my best to understand their perspective and their history. I would try not to go into the first couple of conversations with ultimatums, but trying to get on the same page. If you can't win them over, it might be time to help them find an area where they can fully support the leaders. With full acknowledgement of the time, energy and heart that they have put into the youth and ministry, help them transition.


So there you have it. A few thoughts on failures and how to manage them. Communication, Culture, Competence, Character and Compliance.

What are your thoughts and experiences around this? What failures have you seen and how did you handle them?

Student Leadership With Doug Franklin

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Doug Franklin is a great leader who runs an organisation called Leader Treks. He has some great thoughts on student leadership in the video below. Enjoy,


Onya Marx

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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Barnabas - Son of Encouragement

Monday, August 24, 2020

Barnabas is one of my favourite people in the Bible. His name means son of encouragement and that is the role that he fulfils.

In the life of Paul, he is the first to accept the change in him and commend him to the other apostles and followers of Jesus. He partners with him in his early ministry. And it does not appear that he has much ego. The relationship starts as "Barnabas and Paul", but then shifts after a period to "Paul and Barnabas". And we don't see any change in Barnabas' choices.

There is a moment later in their relationship where Mark let's Paul down. Paul writes him off, while Barnabas continues to believe in Mark and his potential. It leads to a falling out and a separating of Paul and Barnabas. Neither lose their focus for the gospel and the kingdom. Later on in Paul's writing he asks for Mark because he is "useful" to Paul.

I don't think Paul was wrong, as much as Mark needed someone different in that season. He got Barnabas, who worked with him and brought him to the point where there was restoration with Paul.

As we lead, we need people who are Barnabas to us. We also need to be a Barnabas to others.

See the good and the potential, and help develop it. Help others see their potential and then release them into their purpose.

Systems And Processes For Student Leadership

Friday, August 21, 2020

To run a student leadership program smoothly, there are some systems and processes to consider implementing. Below is a summary of some things that I think will be helpful for you.

Application Process

The application process can include:

  • a form
  • a spiritual gifting assessment
  • a personality assessment
  • an interview
  • a discussion together with the parents of the youth.

Having all these might feel too heavy for your purposes. In my opinion, the bare minimum is the interview/conversation and the discussion with the parents. Some of the assessments can come during the process of development to help the student learn about themselves and how they are wired.

The application form - this doesn't have to be complicated. It might include things about their faith journey, about what they hope to give and gain from student leadership. It is a starting off point to open the conversation.

Spiritual gifting assessment - there are loads of these online and I have one that I have used. You can request a copy in the comments or by emailing. This is just to see how they are wired for ministry and leadership.

Personality assessment - again there are plenty of options here. Enneagrams seem to popular at the moment. There is also the Keirsey Temperament sorter, or Myers-Briggs, to name a couple. I am never looking for a specific personality type, just good information. We can see in the Bible that God used every personality type for his kingdom.

The Interview - this is a conversation with the student. You are looking to see where they are at and why they might want to be part of your student leadership program. It is a chance for them to ask questions as well.

The discussion with the parents - it would be foolish to try and involve a student in this type of thing without the involvement of the parent. Hopefully the student has had their own conversations, but as the leader you should also engage with them, even if they are not part of your church. It becomes exponentially harder to have a student involved if the parents are not positive about it. If they are against it then further conversations need to be had. We may need to be creative so that we honour the parents. Maybe there is a compromise or you may need to understand that this may not work for this student in this moment. When I say compromise, you could suggest a trial period with some criteria agreed. Maybe it is for 3 months and the student's school work can't suffer. Or whatever is agreed to.


Expectations & Boundaries

Unstated and unmet expectations are one of the greatest tensions in any relationship or leadership setting. In order to make sure that this is minimized, I suggest you start with clear expectations and the consequences if they are not met. If you expect your student leaders to be at youth an hour early, then state that. If you expect them to be an example, then define what that means. If student leaders are not to be hooking up or getting drunk, then state it. These are requirements for student leadership, not youth group attendance. If the student chooses to engage in non-leadership behaviours, they are still a loved member of youth. But they are also choosing not to be student leaders, if they don't correct it.

For me, expectations are things that I want them to live up to, and boundaries are things I want them to stay away from. You need to communicate those so they know what they are signing on for, and so that you can hold them to account when they may be missing the mark.


An agreement

If you get through the process and things are moving ahead, then an agreement should be in place. The agreement should state the roles & responsibilities, expectations & boundaries, and the benefits. It's not legally binding (as it is with a minor), but it is a foundation for the relationship and shows both parties that they are taking it seriously.



One system that should be in place for your student leaders is mentoring. Ideally this would be with another adult who can meet regularly with the student and offer encouragement and a listening ear. This is also something that will help the student to process what is happening and help them grown on their journey. Helping them find the right mentor can be challenging but is totally worth it.


Failure and restoration

Failure is inevitable. At some point in the process, each student leader will make an error in judgement. They will attempt something that doesn't pan out. They will fail to meet one or more of the expectations. How you handle that is the topic of next Friday's blog post.


We hope this information is helpful. If you have questions or feedback, or you are looking for resources then let us know what you need and we will try and point you in the right direction.

Fullness of Christ

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Growing Leaders And Habitudes

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Growing Leaders is a non-profit organization in United States that partners with schools, colleges, athletic depts. and organizations to develop today’s emerging generation of leaders.

They equip educators, employers, coaches, youth workers and parents to understand and connect with this generation, and offer resources to spark conversations and life-changing experiences with them.

They believe our hope for the future rests in how well we prepare our young. Far too often, we have prepared the path for the child, instead of the child for the path. Students graduate loaded with talent and potential, but remain unready for a career or ill-prepared to pursue their dreams because established leaders have not equipped them to lead the way into the future. At its core, they believe leadership is about solving problems and serving people.

Their most helpful resources for NZ are their online resources and books. Some of that information is below.

Within their organisations, they have:

  • Habitudes - an image-based leadership development curriculum that empowers educators, coaches, parents and adult leaders to prepare any student to become a leader. Using stories, images and experiences, Habitudes teaches youth and young adults valuable perspectives and leadership habits
  • Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum - Self-awareness, impulse control, empathy, teamwork, and responsible decision-making are just some of the social emotional skills that help students succeed in and out of school. Unfortunately, many students aren't developing them. What if there was a straightforward way for teach students empathy and other social emotional skills? That's why we created Habitudes for Social and Emotional Learning.
  • Character Education - Integrity, emotional security, self-discipline, determination, and initiative are just some of the necessary skills students need to succeed both in and out of school. Unfortunately, many students aren't developing them today. What if there was a straightforward way to teach students integrity and other essential character education skills? That's why we designed Habitudes for Building Character: The Art of Self-Leadership to be used as a character education program.
  • Career Readiness Program - Critical thinking, adaptability, resilience, and innovation are just some of the necessary skills students need to succeed in college or their career. Unfortunately, many students aren't develop them today. What if there was a straightforward way to teach students resilience, problem-solving, and other career readiness skills? That's why we used the research conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium to design one of the Habitudes courses - Habitudes for Career Ready Students - to be used as a college and career readiness course.
  • Books - Their Habitudes books, books around culture and other trends, and all sorts of other resources.
  • Videos - Input from Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders


There are some great resources for developing student leaders.

If you are interested in ordering in any of the books, then let us know. We try to combine orders from interested parties to reduce the cost of freight.

100 Things To Do Before You Die

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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Peter - Failure and Restoration

Monday, August 17, 2020

John 21 tells the story of Peter after his denials, Jesus' crucifixion and the resurrection. Peter has returned to where he was when he first met Jesus, he has gone back to the familiar. In fact there is a degree where he has gone so far back that John calls him Simon Peter. Referencing who he was before Jesus and who Jesus declared him to be.

I suspect Peter felt a little down and confused. He had been so bold, so confident in how he would respond, so sure he would stand with Jesus no matter what. But when the heat came on at the priests house, Peter caved. He let Jesus down, he let himself down.

In response to this, he has returned to his home town, and engaged in something he knows he is good at. It is reasonable to think that Peter was reimagining his future, as a fisherman.

I am not sure there are many youth leaders or youth pastors who haven't felt that way. A Bible study didn't go how we hoped. An event didn't get the turn out we planned for. A young person decides that they want to go to the youth group up the road. A parent or leader has a criticism of something. All these and a thousand other scenarios might make you wonder if you are the right person, or the leader you thought you were.

When Jesus got some alone time with Peter, we don't see him dwelling on Peter's failure. He affirms their relationship and Peter's call. He also starts with how Peter has identified himself, as Jesus calls him Simon.

On the journey to becoming who God has called you to be, there are failures and restorations. There are times when we want to go back to where we felt competent, even if it is away from where God is calling.

But Jesus meets us in those places and works to restore us.

Where in your life, world, ministry are you feeling like a failure. Let Jesus approach, walk through the restoration process, and then step back into it.

Identifying And Calling Out Potential

Friday, August 14, 2020

One of the greatest roles of youth leaders is seeing and calling out potential in the young people we lead. We need to train ourselves to see and speak to the potential in all our youth, but especially those who have stepped up as leaders.

Too often, our default is to draw attention to the times when things went wrong, as we teach and develop. The good things become the expected normal and almost go unnoticed.

Young people need regular reassurance and confirmation, because many of them have internal voices that are full of doubt. Some of them have external voices that say these things too.

So how do we train ourselves to see and speak potential.


Pray for your young people. Ask God to show you something about a specific youth that would encourage them, that would speak to them about their potential. Then make time to listen. Once you feel you have heard something, find a way to communicate it with that youth. It may be a text message or instant message. It might be a letter or a card. It might be face to face. It may be from the platform. It may be as part of a small group or the student leadership group. There are any number of options, the most important thing is to communicate what you believe God sees in them.


In talking with your youth, you may discover something about them, or see something in them that you should encourage and speak to. See it, speak to it, elevate it. Maybe they express an interest in singing for the youth band. You may see not just the gift of singing but worship leading. Encourage them about singing but then elevate their vision to one day possibly worship leading.

Now I am not saying to fabricate an unrealistic future for them. But speak to their potential that you see and help them understand that you see great things in them.


Sometimes we see things. We see behaviours or skills. The young person may just see it as normal because they don't know any different, they think others are like that. But in actual fact, it is something that is unique and should be identified and encouraged in them.


Identifying and calling out the potential in young people can feel awkward if you haven't been doing it, but it is worth pushing through those feelings. It is what many of our youth need. And our student leaders need it even more as leadership has its rewards, but also has it's challenges.

A New Command To Love

Thursday, August 13, 2020

DYM Student Leadership Downloads

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

There are loads of resources out there, but one centralised place for easily downloaded and reasonably priced resources is DYM.

Check out their Student Leadership Downloads

They have application forms, packs for starting your own student leadership program, programs for retreats etc. Almost anything you could need for your student leaders.

Truck Push Fail

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Thomas - Not Condemned for Doubt

Monday, August 10, 2020

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 
John 20:26-29

I personally think Thomas has a bad rap when he is labelled Doubting Thomas. How quickly we forget that the other disciples didn't believe the women initially either. They went running to the tomb to confirm that what the women had said. Thomas does take it to a new level when he says that unless he can put his finger in the side and see the scars, that he wouldn't believe.

Anyway, what I love about the above passage is that Jesus did not condemn Thomas for his doubts. Jesus entered the room, he proclaimed peace, then he gave Thomas the chance to set his doubts aside. Jesus invited him to come and see and touch.

We sometimes fear that our doubts will distance us from God, that they will cause him to shake his head in disappointment. I don't see that in Jesus' interactions with Thomas.

Jesus didn't leave Thomas ashamed in the corner because he hadn't believed his friends. He invited Thomas to interact, to alleviate his doubts and see the truth for himself.

God is a big God. He can handle our doubts. He can reassure those that need reassurance. He can encourage belief in those who are struggling. So don't deny your doubts, but bring them to Jesus. I don't believe he is upset by them. He understand our human frailties and embraces us with love. He addresses the doubts with the truth.

What doubts are you struggling with? Is there a truth that you need to embrace that will address your doubt?

Come to Jesus, doubts and all, and see him embrace you and help you to understand.

Foundations Of Student Leadership Program

Friday, August 7, 2020

When running a student leadership program, there are some foundational things to set in place before you start. Understanding why you are doing this and how you will implement it are important before you launch in.

Why Student Leadership

As with any ministry decision, you need to understand why you are starting this. Your "why" will sustain you when things don't go as expected. Or when you ask people to help. Or when you invite young people to participate.

Some reasons that I can think of that you might be considering a student leadership program:

  • You believe in the potential of young people. You believe that developing their character, their ability to serve and their leadership is a great opportunity to help them be life long disciples
  • You have some great youth who are faithful and keen to get involved
  • You read this or another article, or you heard a podcast about it and think that it is a good idea
  • Your pastor/leader has "requested" it
  • If you can train them, then they can do some of the tasks and take some pressure off you
  • Recruiting adult leaders and volunteers has been a challenge. So let's utilise young people with their potential, energy and availability

Now obviously some of those are a little tongue-in-cheek, but make sure that you work out your why.


Who can help you

I don't know many youth leaders and youth pastors who aren't already busy. So if the idea of a student leadership team or program is new and you want to explore it, then try not to do it on your own. I would suggest that you are actively involved, but that doesn't mean you do everything.

John Maxwell talks about the rewards and priority of leaders developing other leaders. Developing 3-6 student leaders multiplies the capacity of the youth ministry. Those student leaders should understand your heart, the heart of the church and of the youth ministry. That is only caught. That means you do need to spend time with the students, or have a leader who carries the DNA.

Some thoughts around who can help you:

  • An adult leader that is a good mix of pastoral and leadership, who can care for these students and develop them
  • Your church's leadership development pathway. Partner with them, so they do the heavy lifting and you add a youth flavour at different times
  • Resources and programs that will give you material to teach leadership/discipleship
  • Another youth leader at another church. Share the leadership teaching parts and split for things specific to your context.


What will the program entail?

Once you have determined why and who will help, "what" is the next big question. One thing to consider is how much this program runs separate and how much it integrates with existing structures. My student leadership experience was "on the job". I was invited on to the planning team and given roles and responsibilities over the time. There was no specific training or development. We had planning meetings and tasks were delegated. And in some instances that is the most viable option. Other than that, you should think about:

  • How often will you meet with youth who are part of it?
  • What outcomes are you hoping for?
  • What areas can you get them serving and/or leading in?
  • What material will you teach?
  • How will you monitor their growth and development?
  • How will you deal with failure and challenges?
  • Will it ease off around key school moments during the year, such as exams?
  • What expectations and boundaries will you be placing on those who commit?



Once you have all these things in place, the final step is to identify and invite young people to be part of it. During this process you should have been praying and observing your youth to see who would be suitable.

Be as clear as you can regarding their involvement. The time commitment, the expectations, the boundaries, the benefits etc. Encourage them to think and pray about it. Let them know that you are inviting them because you see potential in them.

Invite early, so that they have time to make a good decision and not over-commit and regret it later.

I would make sure that you communicate with the parents as well as the young people during this process. They are one of the key support people in the teen's life and if they are on board then life goes a lot easier.

And after all of that, be ready for some rejections. The timing or program may not suit everyone. Some are also getting great leadership input through sports involvement or other activities. If that is the case you may need to figure out ways to partner with those processes. Find ways to bring a Biblical perspective outside of your own program/structure.


We hope this is helpful as you continue to serve young people, developing them into life long disciples and helping them to learn to take their place in the world.

The Lord is my Light and Salvation

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Help I'm A Student Leader

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

I am aware that I am a little too much of a Doug Fields fan boy, but when his resources keep on hitting the mark then how can I ignore them. 

The synopsis from Amazon says:

You are a student leader for a reason. Maybe you chose to be, maybe someone else chose it for you—no matter how you got here, God has a plan to use you in ministry. You and your youth worker know that you’re new at this thing. You have leadership abilities, but you’re still a student—so how do you do it? Doug Fields has been a youth pastor for a long time, and he has helped a few students here and there figure out how to be leaders in his ministry. Now he’s here to help you. You may be afraid or overwhelmed, or you may feel privileged … or even a little cocky ... whatever the case, the tools in this book will help you get the most of your time as a leader. Here’s a little bit of what’s inside:

  • Learning how Jesus led others
  • Lightening the load of your adult leaders
  • Discovering the secrets of getting others involved
  • Deepening your own faith by serving others
  • Balancing your schedule—family, school, faith, leadership
  • Becoming an encourager

You’ve been entrusted with leadership responsibilities, and Help! I’m a Student Leader! is full of hands-on leadership ideas and guidance that’ll help you discover the leadership role that you were created to fill.


The other great thing is that you can get your hands on a kindle version for US$6 from Amazon, at the time of this writing. That is a reasonable cost to test a product that you could buy for your student leaders. Physical copies can be purchased from:


We hope this is of value as you lead young leaders.

What Do You Put On Strawberries

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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Through Jesus - Your Testimony

Monday, August 3, 2020

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

This is part 5 in a 5 part series.

Colossians 3:17 has a broad scope - whatever you do. There is no part of our life not encompassed in that phrase. The way you drive, the way you interact with people, how you manage your money and assets. The broad scope is followed by a big ask, to live your life in the name of Jesus. Essentially, that means we are his representatives. We are supposed to do live just how Jesus would, or in a way that he would approve of. It then goes one step further and requires a big attitude - thankfulness. So everything we do is supposed to be as Jesus would, and we are to be thankful through it.

Thankfully the verse doesn't end there, with a big scope, big ask with a big attitude. It closes off with "through him". We are not left to flounder on our own, trying to do all this in our own ability. We are to do this through Jesus.

Over this series, I want to explore what Jesus has done that allows us to live this life through him.

This week, let's consider that through Jesus, we have our own testimonies.

You may not feel like you have any or many stories of God's goodness, and that is why God puts us in community. We get to hear other people's stories and it boosts our faith. And when we remember God's goodness in our life then it boosts us.

Some of my stories:

Moving to Auckland
When I first moved to Auckland, I didn't have permanent accommodation. I only had something lined up for the first 2-3 weeks. The first Sunday in Auckland I met someone whose flat mate had just said he was leaving, so I had a place to stay.

Meeting wife online
It can be a much longer story, but a guy in Auckland happened to be on the same trial period as a woman in Dargaville, and they happened to connect. One thing lead to another, and we are 15 years married.

The first time we got pregnant, my wife miscarried while we were in transit to a wedding in Fiji. It was a difficult time but God put us into a situation where we had dinner with a pastor who had counselled a number of couples in our situation. He gave us advice and input that helped us process our grief and move through it. We have since had a son and are believing that there are more kids to come.

Our business this year
Even pre-COVID, our business faced some challenges this year. We have always considered God as a partner in our business and so we went through the process of seeking God's input each week. And each week we felt a new priority, and even when it was difficult, we pushed through. The business is now in one of the best positions its been in for the 3+ years that we have owned it.

What stories do you have that show that God is with you?


Read previous posts in this series:

Part 1 - Through Jesus - New Creation and Identity
Part 2 - Through Jesus - Peace with God
Part 3 - Through Jesus - Conquerors
Part 4 - Through Jesus - Holy Spirit

August - Student Leaders

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The month of August will be a month where we plan to look at student leadership. If done well, this can be one of the most transformative areas of your youth ministry, as young people are trained and empowered to own and grow the youth ministry.

There area number resources we plan to highlight and we want to look at things like the foundations of a student leadership program, identifying and calling out potential, some systems and structures and the importance of expectations, and dealing with failure.

Keep your eyes pealed for posts from this month, and if there are any topics that you want covered, then please let us know.

Links for Week 1/8

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week. Hopefully they are helpful. If you have any helpful blogs or resources then let us know and we can monitor them for content.

Youth Ministry




Culture / Current issues


Soul Care


Family related



    Making The Bible And Theology Relevant

    Friday, July 31, 2020

    It has always been the role of the preacher or small group leader to take the Bible or a biblical concept and interpret into the current context. And it is such an important part of what we do with teenagers in youth ministry.

    We all have filters based on our life experiences, how we are wired, the voices we listen to etc. No matter who our parents were or where we were brought up, those filters and those world-views need to be re-aligned with God's word. That is what preaching and small group Bible study should be doing for our teenagers. We take ancient texts, some of which can be obscure, we find the transferable or timeless truth and bring it into our context. We do that so young people can form a godly world-view.

    Through out this month, we have looked at tools and skills that can help with that. You can see all the posts from this month by clicking the "July 2020" tag below. Some won't help with the task of interpreting Scripture, but hopefully some will.

    What are some ways that we can help us make Theology, The Bible and biblical principles relevant?

    Understand it well ourselves
    If we are going to teach it, then making sure we understand it is the first step. Even better than our understanding would be that we are living out of that truth. If you have personal application because you have understood and applied it, then you can teach and share with more authority and clarity.
    Now, in an ideal world, we would only teach what we are living out, but there are some phases in life where that might dramatically limit our content. I know that has been true of me. I am ok standing in front of a group of people and teaching a Biblical principle that I understand but am still in process on the application side. I just make sure that people know that I am in the boat with them in terms of application. I try to never claim understanding and application if I am not there.
    Teaching from a place of understanding with limited application, is better than not teaching the whole revelation of truth found in God's word.

    Use stories and testimonies
    One of the best ways to make a Biblical truth relevant is to have stories or testimonies. And they don't have to be yours. Young people, other leaders, people in your church, people you know, videos etc. All of these are valid ways to share stories and testimonies to help young people understand and apply the truths that they are engaging with.
    The one caveat is to make sure that the emphasis is on the principle, not necessarily the application. Take generosity, faith and obedience for example. I know people who have fund-raised, earned and saved for missions trips. God told them to give that money away to a specific need. They obeyed and then God miraculously provided the finances for them to still go on the missions trip. I know of other people who gave their missions money to an offering, believing that the same would be true for them and they never made it to their trip.
    I don't know if the second set of people did or didn't hear from God, or that God didn't have some broader plan at play. But from what I know of the situation, I believe they mis-applied the principles.

    Get some input on your talks
    I understand the busyness of life. We can often be week to week and event to event, but if you can, plan and prepare a little further out. Then try and get input on your talks. And specifically get trustworthy young people to vet your illustrations. You want to connect with your whole audience. So if you are heavy on sports analogies and nothing else then there will be a some who don't connect with you or your message.

    Rely on the Holy Spirit
    I am amazed at how people will hear things that I never said (or don't remember saying), but it is what God wanted them to hear that morning. Acts says that the audience each heard the disciples speaking in their own language. I don't know what was coming out of mouths of the disciples, but what was going into people's ears was praise for God in their own language.
    It is not an excuse to not prepare and "wing it", but God will work his plan through us, and sometimes despite us.

    Find the balance
    We want to present the truth, in a way that is true to scripture and that young people can hear it openly. There are some topics in society today that are "hot button" issues that we need wisdom in addressing. I also believe there is a hierarchy of truth. I know that sounds controversial, so let me try and clarify what I mean.
    Our pathway of discipleship leads us to be more Christ-like (Romans 8:29). In my observation of Jesus, he maintained his own integrity, connection with the Father and holiness, and he loved the broken. His life mission, from ministry to death and resurrection, was about restoring relationship with God. So we work on our relationship with God, and we show God's love to others. Now showing people God's love does include the presentation of the Gospel and the principles of a godly life, because if no-one shares with them then how will they know (Romans 10:14). But it is sharing those things from a position of love.
    So to me the balance is making sure that the young people we lead know that they are loved first. So when we present them with a biblical truth that may be more difficult to process, they know it is coming from someone who loves them and wants the best for them.

    Those are just some thoughts on ways to make The Bible and theology relevant in your youth ministry. What are some ways that you make The Bible relevant?

    Be Doers Of The Word

    Thursday, July 30, 2020

    Theological Training Providers

    Wednesday, July 29, 2020

    For some of us, the best way to learn is in a more formal setting, whether in lectures or distance programs, so below are some options for you to consider if that is for you.

    Laidlaw College
    Laidlaw College is the largest interdenominational Christian College in Aotearoa New Zealand, offering qualifications from certificate to doctoral level, in the areas of theology and biblical studies, mission, ministry, counselling and teacher education. We provide a dynamic learning environment for students throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world, with two campuses in Auckland, one in Christchurch and great distance learning opportunities too.
    Laidlaw College has at its core a deep commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to which the Bible bears witness and to an encounter with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as we learn together. Our programmes bridge the gap between faithful reflection on God and a deep engagement with the world.
    College life is relational and community oriented and we are committed to seeing our students flourish academically, socially and through encounter with God and others. Our College reflects and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand and its bicultural heritage.

    Carey Baptist College
    We specialise in training leaders for ministry and mission. Our pastoral leadership training programme is unique in New Zealand, but we also provide a range of pathways for anyone wanting to grow in their faith and participate more fully in God’s work of renewing this world.
    Established way back in 1926, Carey has grown from a small denominational seminary into an NZQA‑accredited theological college, serving not just the Baptist movement but churches right across the denominational spectrum.
    We are New Zealand’s highest ranked non‑university research institute. Our qualifications range from Certificates and Diplomas through to Bachelors and Masters degrees, including PhDs (in partnership with the University of Otago and AUT University).
    Carey is the only tertiary education organisation in Aotearoa to offer degree‑level study in applied theology. We also offer the only NZQA‑accredited theology programme in Mandarin.
    Alongside these academic programmes, we provide a set of outstanding leadership formation tracks. These combine theological study with supervised ministry experience and intensive personal mentoring to help students integrate their head, hands, and heart.
    Carey’s uniquely integrative or applied approach to theology, together with this emphasis on holistic formation and personalised development pathways, produces leaders who can engage faithfully and effectively in God’s work in this world.

    Alphacrucis College
    Alphacrucis, originally called Advance Ministry Training Centre, (AMTC) was established in 1986 to equip men and women to fulfill the call to Christian ministry both in New Zealand and overseas. In 1997 it became the National Ministry Training School for the Assemblies of God in New Zealand. In 2006 AMTC entered a partnership agreement with Southern Cross College in Sydney, Australia and in April 2009 it became Alphacrucis.
    The College also equips Christians who do not have a call to become a pastor, with Christian skills and worldview, which will enable them to be effective in any profession or sector of the community.

    Vineyard College
    At Vineyard College, we believe you grow the most when theology meets practice. That’s why our programmes are balanced between practical training and academic study, enabling you to learn and grow while you outwork your calling.
    Our programmess inspire your mind and lay foundations to help you become a student of the Bible and a passionate follower of Jesus.
    What sets us apart? We’re a distance college, so you can serve and grow in your own church and ministry context while progressing through academic coursework online!

    Faith Bible College
    We seek to help Christians develop their leadership potential, particularly in the area of identity, outlook and attitudes so they will be effective, sensitive and helpful in whatever specific line of ministry they move into. Faith Bible College is not just another school. In fact, its not just another Bible school. What is it that sets it apart from the rest?
    Faith Bible College exists to produce servant leaders. As our Mission Statement declares we are committed to the task of preparing Christian leaders and workers for revival ministry worldwide, who manifest the character of Christ and who minister in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
    Another way that Faith Bible College is distinctive from other institutions is the strong balance of spiritual and academic disciplines. While some schools sacrifice the spiritual for the sake of the academic (or vice versa), Faith Bible College is strong in both areas. Faith Bible College concentrates on nurturing whole persons, developing their spiritual gifts and calling, together with natural gifts and abilities, such as academic and reasoning skills, speaking skills, manual skills etc. That balance is quite unique among Bible schools.
    There is a great atmosphere at Faith Bible College for the dealings of God. Students can often be heard saying things like, God’s dealing with me in this way. While it is unlikely that Faith Bible College is the only place where this happens, the school does seem to be a place where divine dealings are normative to Christian experience.
    To sum up, Faith Bible College seeks to serve the Kingdom of God with leaders who are, first and foremost, servants focused on spiritual reality, but also academically competent, healed in heart, filled with the Spirit, fortified in a wealth of practical experience, and committed to labour in God’s end-time harvest anywhere.

    Through Jesus - Holy Spirit

    Monday, July 27, 2020

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
    Colossians 3:17

    This is part 4 in a 5 part series.

    Colossians 3:17 has a broad scope - whatever you do. There is no part of our life not encompassed in that phrase. The way you drive, the way you interact with people, how you manage your money and assets. The broad scope is followed by a big ask, to live your life in the name of Jesus. Essentially, that means we are his representatives. We are supposed to do live just how Jesus would, or in a way that he would approve of. It then goes one step further and requires a big attitude - thankfulness. So everything we do is supposed to be as Jesus would, and we are to be thankful through it.

    Thankfully the verse doesn't end there, with a big scope, big ask with a big attitude. It closes off with "through him". We are not left to flounder on our own, trying to do all this in our own ability. We are to do this through Jesus.

    Over this series, I want to explore what Jesus has done that allows us to live this life through him.

    This week, let's consider that through Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit

    Through Jesus' death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension, we have the Holy Spirit in our lives.

    John 16:7 - But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

    As a Christ-follower, then you have the Holy Spirit. Now you may disagree but I believe that all who believe and confess receive the Holy Spirit. Then there is an additional option for baptism in the Holy Spirit, that is also available to all who believe. Those are topics for a discussion on another day. But the Holy Spirit is crucial to us achieving the scope, the big ask and the attitude.

    Here are the functions of the Holy Spirit that we find in scripture

    Teaches, reminds and comfort John 14:26
    Conviction of sin John 16:7-8
    Fills us and dwells in us 1 Cor 3:16
    Revelation and wisdom 1 Cor 2:10-11
    Eph 1:17-20
    Power to be witnesses Acts 1:8
    Guides into truth John 16:13
    Tells us what is to come John 16:13
    1 Cor 2:9-10
    Gives us gifts 1 Cor 12:7-11
    Is a seal and guarantee of salvation Eph 1:13
    Helps us pray and intercedes for us Rom 8:26-27
    Gives us life Rom 8:10-11
    Makes us more like Jesus Gal 5:22-25

    That is a serious job description, that is all about God bringing his kingdom in and through us.

    Today, you have access to the Holy Spirit. He wants to partner with you, in your life, your relationships, your ministry etc.


    Read previous posts in this series:

    Part 1 - Through Jesus - New Creation and Identity
    Part 2 - Through Jesus - Peace with God
    Part 3 - Through Jesus - Conquerors

    Dealing With Tensions In Theology

    Friday, July 24, 2020

    As much as Christianity is a unified set of beliefs, there are some of these beliefs that are held in tension. They don't seem to live harmoniously. For example God is love and the judgement of God. To many in our world, if God is really loving, then he wouldn't judge, he would accept everyone without judgement. God's judgement comes from his holiness, his perfection.

    If God was not holy and perfect, then he is a flawed god and not truly worthy of being worshipped. But he is not holy and wicked, which would lead to a situation without hope of redemption. We would need to be perfect but would have no way to achieve it so would be condemned from the start. He is holy and loving, which means he provided a way for us to be redeemed and have a perfect record, through Jesus.

    If anyone is going to discover and ask about these tensions, it will be teenagers. They are going through a time in life when they are asking questions and looking to see if Christianity stacks up in the real world.

    There are other tensions. A few right off the top of my head are:

    • Already saved, being saved and to be saved
    • Already but not yet work of redemption in our world
    • Rejoice in suffering, but life to its fullest
    • Freedom but with boundaries
    • Greatest in kingdom, is servant of all
    • To save yourself, you need to lose yourself
    • We are saints and dead to sin, yet temptation still has its influence on us

    So how do maintain our faith and belief system when living with some of these tensions?

    1. Understand that tension is part of life
    We live with tension all the time. We only have 24 hours in a day and we have to manage the tension between work/family/social/ministry etc. We often like life to be clean cut and tidy, but we know that it is not. So why would we expect faith to be?

    2. Tension can be good
    Tension can keep things in balance. As with the example above, the need for money means we can't be lazy, but the responsibilities of family should balance that to stop working too excess. In one of the examples above, there is the tension of already but not yet. The Bible says that Jesus has conquered sin and death, and yet that truth has not yet been fully express in our world. And so we live in the tension, with the world in its current form, knowing that there is a hope for the future that Jesus brings. We know there is more and we long and work towards it.

    3. Explore the tensions
    Some people call faith blind, but the BIble says to love God with all your mind. That means that God expects us to explore those things that we don't yet understand. Seeking God through these pursuits.
    If teenagers bring these tensions to you, don't give them the answers. Explore it with them, look into it with them, help them wrestle with these tensions themselves. You will not always be there when they next face a challenge or tension, so you need to give them the ability to process it themselves.

    4. Know God's character
    Ultimately we know that God is good, he is love, he is righteous and he can be trusted. So even if we are wrestling with a tension, you can trust God. Whether you find a satisfactory conclusion to your enquiry on the tension, you can still trust him.


    So understand that there are tensions and they can be explored, but with or without a conclusion, God's character can be trusted.

    God's Word Is A Sword

    Thursday, July 23, 2020

    The New Testament In Its World

    Wednesday, July 22, 2020

    I have seen and skimmed this book and from what I have observed it is a useful tool for understanding the New Testament.

    Book Depository's description says:

    In The New Testament In Its World acclaimed biblical scholar N. T. Wright draws on a lifetime of distinguished scholarship to provide a thorough overview of the New Testament for students, church leaders, and everyday Christians.

    Wright, along with prominent New Testament scholar Michael Bird, explores the history, literature, and theology of the New Testament with an emphasis on its relevance for Christians today. Beginning with an overview of how to read the New Testament, the authors then survey its historical background to orient readers to the world of Jesus and the early church. This is followed by an in-depth study of Jesus' inauguration of the kingdom of God through his life, ministry, death, and resurrection.

    The next section explores the life and theology of Paul, who continues to unfold the significance of Jesus' life and ministry, and applies these to the issues faced by the early churches. Wright and Bird survey all of Paul's letters, providing a compact commentary on each, while explaining contemporary scholarly discussions on Paul and his teachings.

    They then turn to the gospels, written after Paul's letters, followed by the general epistles and Revelation, explaining the background, critical issues, important teachings, and contemporary applications for each.

    This is followed by a description of how the New Testament came to be, guiding the reader through issues of textual criticism and canonization. A concluding section brings all of the previous threads together to encourage readers to consider how their personal story fits into the larger story of God's redemption narrated in the New Testament.

    Students of the New Testament will not only be equipped with all of the technical information needed to understand the New Testament today but will see it as one cohesive story in which they are invited to play a vital role through their own lives and circumstances.


    You can get the book here, you can also get access to video lectures around this here

    Treating Mosquito Bites

    Tuesday, July 21, 2020

    Blog tags: 

    Through Jesus - Conquerors

    Thursday, August 20, 2020

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
    Colossians 3:17

    This is part 3 in a 5 part series.

    Colossians 3:17 has a broad scope - whatever you do. There is no part of our life not encompassed in that phrase. The way you drive, the way you interact with people, how you manage your money and assets. The broad scope is followed by a big ask, to live your life in the name of Jesus. Essentially, that means we are his representatives. We are supposed to do live just how Jesus would, or in a way that he would approve of. It then goes one step further and requires a big attitude - thankfulness. So everything we do is supposed to be as Jesus would, and we are to be thankful through it.

    Thankfully the verse doesn't end there, with a big scope, big ask with a big attitude. It closes off with "through him". We are not left to flounder on our own, trying to do all this in our own ability. We are to do this through Jesus.

    Over this series, I want to explore what Jesus has done that allows us to live this life through him.

    This week, let's consider that through Jesus, we are more than conquerors with heavenly resources

    Romans 8:31-32 - What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

    Romans 8:35-37 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    In our world there is so much uncertainty. Anxiety is at record levels. In the midst of that, we know that through Jesus that we are able to be more than conquerors. More than that we have access to resources, and it sets us on a firmer foundation. We just need to learn to embrace that as the truth. Sometimes that is our challenge, embracing and owning truth.

    The principles of powered flight existed before there were any airplanes in the sky, we just needed to learn and apply them. Don't let the perceived facts stop you from learning and applying God's truth and principles. The Wright brothers did not let the status quo stop them from building their plane.

    The facts for you might be a diagnosis, it might be your bank statement. It might be a broken relationship or study schedule that is over-whelming. It may be ministry challenges or growth you didn't expect. It might be team challenges, an unfulfilled dream, or a prayer that hasn't been answered yet.

    Its not over yet. Position your heart and mind in the truth of what God says. And the truth is that we are more than conquerors and we have access to the resources of heaven.


    Read previous posts in this series:

    Part 1 - Through Jesus - New Creation and Identity
    Part 2 - Through Jesus - Peace with God

    Principles Of Biblical Interpretation

    Friday, July 17, 2020

    Interpreting the Bible—hermeneutics—is the science and art of understanding, translating, and explaining the meaning of the Scripture text. There are a number of things to apply to this process.

    1. What kind of literature is it?

    The Bible is made up of a bunch of different books of different styles. There are narratives, which tell the story. There is prophecy that deals with future events, and may be include symbolism. There is poetry, gospel, apocalyptic, epistle and historical.

    They each have different styles and structures, and should be interpreted differently.

    2. Consider the context

    The context includes the historical, social, political, religious, and literary.

    When was it written, to who and by who. What was happening in the world at that time. Those cover the first four.

    Literary is about the context of the passage in relation to the verses around it. Where is it in the book overall. What do the verses before and after it say.

    3. Read for the obvious meaning

    A common misconception about the Bible is that its real meaning is hidden behind the surface message.

    Even though the Bible uses symbolic or figurative language, most of it is clear to the reader. Even when you do not know about the people, places, and events in question, you can grasp the point of the text.

    4. Figure out the author's intention

    Study to find the original intention of the author. The intended meaning of the text writer will also be the intended meaning of the Holy Spirit who inspired him to write. As you read his words, you are dealing with a revelation from God. The same Holy Spirit who inspired these words in the first place wants this message to be preached again through your sermon.

    5. Look at the words, phrases and sentences

    Words communicate thoughts. This may involve delving into the original languages, because that is what the original author used. So when you see the word love in the New Testament, it is one of a possible four words, each with a different sentiment. 

    6. See the various theological themes 

    Though a text has one intended meaning, it can have a number of significant theological themes. It can also have a number of different applications. Identifying these themes and how they relate to one another in your text is a helpful key to understand its meaning. These same theological themes will show up in different combinations in various texts throughout the Bible.

    7. Interpret in a God-centred way

    This means looking at the text in terms of what it reveals about God and his interactions with his creation, particularly man. This is theological interpretation. It arises from the assumption that the Bible is really God’s means of making himself known to us. What it says about him will always be central to every text. Even texts that give instructions as to how we should behave reveal something about God.

    These are modified from Facts and Trends website



    Below is the text from another article that also has helpful principles.

    Hermeneutical Principles by R. C. Sproul

    The Analogy of Faith – (Sacra Scriptura sui interpres) – Scripture is to interpret Scripture. This simply means that no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. For example, if a given verse is capable of two renditions or variant interpretations and one of those interpretations goes against the rest of Scripture while the other is in harmony with it, then the latter interpretation must be used.

    Since it is assumed that God would never contradict Himself, it is thought slanderous to the Holy Spirit to choose an alternate interpretation that would unnecessarily bring the Bible in conflict with itself. The analogy of faith keeps the whole Bible in view lest we suffer from the effects of exaggerating one part of Scripture to the exclusion of others.

    Interpreting the Bible Literally – The literal sense offers restraint from letting our imagination run away in fanciful interpretation and invites us to examine closely the literary forms of Scripture. The term literal comes from the Latin litera meaning “letter.” To interpret something literally is to pay attention to the litera or to the letters or words being used. To interpret the Bible literally is to interpret it as literature. That is, the natural meaning of a passage is to be interpreted according to the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax and context.

    The Bible may be a very special book, being uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit, but that inspiration does not transform the letters of the words or the sentences of the passages into magical phrases. Under inspiration a noun remains a noun and a verb remains a verb. Questions do not become exclamations, and historical narratives do not become allegories.

    Literal Interpretation and Genre Analysis – The term genre simply means “kind,” “sort” or “species.” Genre analysis involves the study of such things as literary forms, figures of speech and style. (E.g. Miracles – Jonah; Hyperbole “a statement exaggerated fancifully, for effect” [see Mt. 9:35]; Personification “a poetic device by which inanimate objects or animals are given human characteristics” [see Isaiah 55:12]).

    The Problem of Metaphor – A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or a phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (e.g., Jesus saying: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.”).

    The Medieval Quadriga – The “fourfold” method of interpretation examined each text for four meanings: literal, moral, allegorical, and analogical meanings. The literal sense of Scripture was defined as the plain and evident meaning. The moral sense was that which instructed humans how to behave. The allegorical sense revealed the content of faith, and the analogical expressed future hope. Thus passages, for example, that mentioned Jerusalem were capable of four different meanings. The literal sense referred to the capital of Judea and the central sanctuary of the nation. The moral sense of Jerusalem is the human soul (the “central sanctuary” of a person). The allegorical meaning of Jerusalem is the church (the center of Christian community). The analogical meaning of Jerusalem is heaven (the final hope of future residence for the people of God). Thus a single reference to Jerusalem could mean four things at the same time. If the Bible mentioned that people went up to Jerusalem, it meant that they went to a real earthly city, or that their souls “went up” to a place of moral excellence, or that we should someday go to heaven. During the reformation there was a firm reaction to this type of allegorizing. The Martin Luther rejected multiple meanings to biblical passages, he did not thereby restrict the application of Scripture to a single sense. Though a scriptural passage has one meaning, it may have a host of applications to the wide variety of nuances to our lives.

    The Grammatical Historical Method – The grammatical-historical method focuses our attention on the original meaning of the text lest we “read into Scripture” our own ideas drawn from the present. Grammatical structure determines whether words are to be taken as questions (interrogative), commands (imperative) or declarative (indicative). For example, when Jesus says, “You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8), is He making a prediction of future performance or issuing a sovereign mandate? Though the English form is unclear, the Greek structure of the words makes it perfectly clear that Jesus is not indulging in future prediction but issuing a command.

    Other ambiguities of language can be cleared up and elucidated by acquiring a working knowledge of grammar. For example, when Paul says at the beginning of his epistle to the Romans that he is an apostle called to communicate “the gospel of God,” what does he mean by of? Does the of refer to the content of the gospel or its source? Does of really mean “about,” or is it a genitive of possession? The grammatical answer will determine whether Paul is saying that he is going to communicate a gospel that comes from and belongs to God. There is a big difference between the two, which can only be resolved by grammatical analysis. In this case the Greek structure reveals a genitive of possession, which answers the question for us.

    Source Criticism – For example if we follow the notion that Mark was the first Gospel written and that Matthew and Luke had Mark’s Gospel in front of them as they wrote, many of the questions of the relationship of the Gospels can be explained. We see further that both Luke and Matthew include certain information that is not found in Mark. Thus it seems that Luke and Matthew had a source of information available to them that Mark did not have or did not choose to use. Examining further, we find certain information found in Matthew that is found neither Mark nor Luke, and information that is in Luke that is found only in Luke. By isolating the material found only in Matthew or only in Luke, we can discern certain things about their priorities and concerns in writing. Knowing why an author writes what he writes helps us to understand what he writes. In contemporary reading it is important to read the author’s preface because the reasons and concerns for writing are usually spelled out there.

    Authorship and Dating – If we know who wrote a particular book and know when that person lived, then of course we know the basic period when the book was written. If we know who wrote a book, to whom, under what circumstances and at what period of history, that information will greatly ease our difficulty in understanding it. By using methods of source criticism we can isolate materials common to particular writes (e.g. – most of the material we have about Joseph is found in Matthew because he was writing to a Jewish audience and the Jews had legal questions concerning Jesus’ claim of messiah-ship. Jesus’ legal father was Joseph, and that was very important for Matthew to show in order to establish the tribal lineage of Jesus).

    Grammatical Errors – When Martin Luther said the “Scriptures never err,” he means that they never err with respect to the truth of what they are proclaiming.

    From from Chapter 3: Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpretation from R.C. Sproul. Knowing Scripture. IVP: Downers Grove, IL.: 2009.

    The Holy Spirit Will Teach You

    Thursday, July 16, 2020

    Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem

    Wednesday, July 15, 2020

    There are a number of theology books. Some are systematic theology, which means they are arranged based on subject. Some are Biblical theology books that are more focussed on the overall Biblical narrative, stories and themes. One of the most recommended systematic theology books, is from Wayne Grudem.

    The reason this is recommended is because it doesn't just present one angle, it gives all the perspectives and how that view is supported.

    Amazon's write up says:

    The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, of studying biblical teaching on centrally important doctrines such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. Wayne Grudem's bestselling Systematic Theology has several distinctive features:

    • A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine
    • Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum
    • A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today
    • A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect
    • Frequent application to life
    • Resources for worship within each chapter

    Bibliographies in each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.

    You can pick this up from a number of sources:

    Book Depository


    We hope this helps. What theology books or resources have you got or use?

    Cookies Improve Performance

    Tuesday, July 14, 2020

    Through Jesus - Peace With God

    Monday, July 13, 2020

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
    Colossians 3:17

    This is part 2 in a 5 part series.

    Colossians 3:17 has a broad scope - whatever you do. There is no part of our life not encompassed in that phrase. The way you drive, the way you interact with people, how you manage your money and assets. The broad scope is followed by a big ask, to live your life in the name of Jesus. Essentially, that means we are his representatives. We are supposed to do live just how Jesus would, or in a way that he would approve of. It then goes one step further and requires a big attitude - thankfulness. So everything we do is supposed to be as Jesus would, and we are to be thankful through it.

    Thankfully the verse doesn't end there, with a big scope, big ask with a big attitude. It closes off with "through him". We are not left to flounder on our own, trying to do all this in our own ability. We are to do this through Jesus.

    Over this series, I want to explore what Jesus has done that allows us to live this life through him.

    This week, let's consider that through Jesus, we have peace with God

    Romans 4:25-5:2 - He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

    Peace with God is an amazing gift . We have peace because of forgiveness and justification. The sacrifice of Jesus has paid my debt, the debt that I could never pay. 

    Peace with God is also a means of guidance. When you have the peace of God, you are confident that you are in his will. If you lose that peace then you may have stepped out. The peace of God has been my guide on many decisions.

    So what is the peace of God? Do you remember the moment when you put your faith in God and you asked for your sins to be forgiven. Most people do. There was a feeling in that moment that is peace with God. You can't necessarily describe it, but you will always remember it.

    How does the peace of God help with decisions? If you are unsure about which way to go, take a step towards one of the options, if you lose the peace, then take a step back to where you had it, and select a different option.

    Let me give you an example from my life. I have a reasonable level of intelligence and so as my time at high school was coming to an end, my plan was to go to university, studying science and business. I felt a call to youth ministry but figured I could serve on campus or at the church that I attended while studying. Without much thought I took a step towards university by applying for a halls of residence at my preferred place and had to put a character reference, which I put as my pastor. My pastor, for as long as I could remember, had encouraged the youth to get an education. The Halls of Residence obviously reached out to him for a reference. Not long after, we were travelling together and a conversation ensued where he asked me why I was going to university. This man that I trusted and who had encouraged us all to go to university if we could, was now questioning an academically gifted student about their choice to go to university. The question rattled me and stirred something in me. I took a step back from the university option and began to explore Bible College. As I moved towards Bible College, I regained the peace. The final decision was mine and I was equally open to university as I was to Bible college, but God led me there by disrupting my peace.

    Thank you Jesus, that we have peace with God. We have peace that allows for relationship that we couldn't before. We have peace that can help lead and guide us.


    Read previous posts in this series:

    Part 1 - Through Jesus - New Creation and Identity

    Questions to Help You Understand and Apply the Bible

    Friday, July 10, 2020

    This first section was copied from an article on The Gospel Coalition, and is 8 questions to ask the Bible, and was written by Matthew Harmon, who authored a book on the topic that can be purchased from Amazon


    Sometimes the most important things in the Christian life can be the most difficult.

    That can certainly be true of understanding and applying the Bible.

    As believers we know that reading Scripture is essential to following Jesus. But if we’re honest, we often find it difficult to understand and apply. The Bible talks about so many different things; how do we know what to focus on? It’s set in a world very different from ours; how do we apply it to our lives today?

    One simple and effective tool is asking good questions. The questions we ask when we read the Bible largely determine how we understand and apply the Bible. So we need to make sure we are asking the right questions, the kind of questions the Bible was designed to answer. But how do we know what those questions are?

    The Bible is first and foremost a story about God displaying his glory through creating and redeeming humans. It makes sense, then, that the Bible is designed to answer questions connected to this central theme. Jesus confirms this dual focus on God and humanity. When asked what the greatest commandment is, he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). But Jesus wasn’t done. He continued, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39). Love God. Love others. This is the heart of what God wants from his people.

    Based on this foundation, there are four questions for understanding any passage, and four questions for applying any passage.

    Four Questions for Interpretation

    1. What do I learn about God?
    God is the main character of the Bible, so he should be our starting point. Every passage of Scripture reveals something about God, even if he’s not specifically mentioned. Look for his character (Rev. 4:8), his conduct (Ps. 23:1–6), and his concerns (Exod. 22:21–22). Also pay attention to all three persons of the Trinity (Matt. 28:18–20; 2 Cor. 13:14).

    2. What do I learn about people? 
    As the pinnacle of God’s creation, humans are at the center of his purposes. Think through what the passage reveals about our identity as divine image-bearers (Eccl. 3:11). Look for the fallen condition—the sinful beliefs, attitudes, feelings, actions, or tendencies mentioned or implied in the text (Prov. 6:16–19). Consider what the passage reveals about living as those who’ve been redeemed through the work of Christ (Rom. 12:9–13).

    3. What do I learn about relating to God? 
    Loving God with our whole being expresses itself in a variety of ways. Start by looking for reasons to praise God (1 Pet. 1:3–5). Consider what sin you need to confess and repent of (1 John 1:5–10). Identify any promises God calls us to believe (1 Pet. 2:4–12).

    4. What do I learn about relating to others?
    God created us to be in community with one another. When he saves us from our sins, he makes us part of the body of Christ. Start by considering what the passage shows about interacting with others—family, friends, roommates, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, fellow believers, non-Christians, etc. (Eph. 4:25–5:2). Look for what the passage teaches about pursuing reconciliation with others (Rom. 12:18). Reflect on what the passage teaches about loving, serving, and caring well for others (Luke 10:25–37).

    Based on that foundation, we can then ask four simple questions to help us apply the passage to our lives.

    Four Questions for Application

    When it comes to applying the Bible, we tend to gravitate toward what we should do in response. But since the goal of reading the Bible is being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:20–24), we must ask a set of questions that lead to more holistic application.

    1. What does God want me to understand/think?
    God has given us the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), but we are still tempted to think the way we did before we knew Christ (Eph. 4:17–19). Deep and lasting transformation begins with the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:1–2). Reflect on any wrong ways of thinking that the passage exposes.

    2. What does God want me to believe?
    We may understand a truth at an intellectual level without letting it shape how we live. Jesus makes this distinction in the parable of the soils; those who initially receive God’s Word with joy but have no root will subsequently fall away from the gospel, since they fail to “hold it fast in an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15). Consider what false beliefs the passage reveals and what gospel promises you need to believe.

    3. What does God want me to desire?
    This question targets the affections—the combination of desires, inclinations, feelings, and will that are the spring of our actions. God calls us to desire him above all else (Ps. 42:1–2), but apart from the work of the gospel we will desire what’s evil (Prov. 24:1–2). Reflect on how you see the sinful desires mentioned or implied in the passage show up in your own life, as well as the kind of godly desires you should be cultivating.

    4. What does God want me to do?
    When God’s Word changes how we think, what we functionally believe, and what we desire, it will produce tangible change in what we do and don’t do. Sometimes a passage gives us direct commands (Rom. 12:9–17). But many are far less straightforward, requiring us to think carefully about specific actions in light of our current place in redemptive history. Think through what sinful actions the passage exposes in your own life as well as what godly actions you should pursue.

    Armed with these eight questions, we put ourselves in a position where God’s Spirit can take God’s Word to transform us into the image of God’s Son. Why not open your Bible and try them today?

    Editors’ note: For more on this topic, see Matthew Harmon’s new book, Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (Crossway, 2017).



    Some further questions that might be of benefit, targeted more towards preaching, that are found on Theology Along The Way:

    • The Biblical Question: What does Scripture say?
    • The Theological Question: What does Scripture mean?
    • The Memorable Question: What is my Hook (i.e. “big idea”)?
    • The Apologetic Question: Why do we resist this truth?
    • The Missional Question: Why does this matter?
    • The Christological Question: How is Jesus the Hero-Savior?



    As a pentecostal, I can't help but add one last question. Is the Holy Spirit revealing anything to me?

    Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us out of a passage by his wisdom. It may not be an accurate interpretation if you strictly stick to all the rules of hermeneutics, but it is what God is saying to you in that moment. We see multiple times in the New Testament that scriptures were quoted with very little reference to the original context. But it was what God wanted to say. Now it is shaky ground to build a whole doctrine on one of these moments, and more often than not they are just for you, and not for the whole church, so hold them loosely. The "revelation" should still be tested. Test it:

    • against the whole revelation of Scripture and the character of God - God will not "reveal" truths that contradict other clear Biblical revelation
    • by discussing it with other mature Christians that love you
    • against the testimony of the Holy Spirit - do you have peace and does this align with what God has spoken to you about previously?

    We hope this helps you as you don't just read scripture, but look to understand, embrace and live out of the truth it contains.

    Your Word Is A Lamp

    Thursday, July 9, 2020

    The Basics Of Bible Study Aids

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020

    Today, I want to cover the basics of 3 types of resources that you should have access to as you engage in Bible study. I will do my best to point you to reputable resources, free online if I can but you may have to spend some money as well.



    A survey is essentially a summary of each book of the Bible. It carries information like who wrote it, who did they write it for, what purpose did they have, when did they write it. It will also show any natural divisions within the book in terms of topics or time periods etc. It will also show you where each book falls within the timeline of other books and events, which can be helpful.

    Many Bibles have an introduction to each book with some information. The survey is a deeper look.

    If you don't have one in your library, then a reasonable starting point would be Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament and Jensen's Survey of the New Testament. They are a good initial point to launch from, and reasonably priced. You can dig deeper into other options if it is something you want.

    Old Testament - Amazon (best price at time of posting)
    Old Testament - Book Depository
    New Testament - Amazon (best price at time of posting)
    New Testament - Book Depository

    What survey's have you found helpful?



    A commentary is essentially a verse by verse or passage by passage break down of the Bible. The author takes what is said and do their best to explain it based on the historic context and the author's understanding. These can help us understand at least one perspective on the scriptures.

    These commentaries come in various forms. They can be the notes found in a study Bible. They can be volumes of books. They can be online. And there are generally four types.

    1. Expository commentaries are typically written by pastors and expository Bible teachers who teach verse by verse through the Bible. These commentaries usually include teaching notes, outlines, illustrations and practical applications of the authors' study and teaching on the books of the Bible.
    2. Exegetical commentaries are typically written by Bible scholars and theologians. They are more technical or academic in nature, concentrating on the original languages, context or grammar of the text. These commentaries are written by some of the most knowledgeable theologians in church history.
    3. Devotional commentaries are designed to enhance the readers' personal reflection and practical application of the Bible text. They are geared for times of soul-searching and listening for the voice and heart of God through the text.
    4. Cultural commentaries are meant to help readers gain an understanding of the cultural background of the Bible text.

    Some well known commentaries:
    Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
    The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

    Some free software

    Some online options
    Matthew Henry's Commentary Online



    A Bible concordance is a concordance, or verbal index, to the Bible. A simple form lists Biblical words alphabetically, with indications to enable the inquirer to find the passages of the Bible where the words occur. The most common ones I have seen are:

    The New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
    The NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance

    Some online options too:
    Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Online
    Bible Hub Concordance


    We hope this helps you as you engage in Bible study, both personally and for ministry.

    The Princess Bride Summarises 2020

    Tuesday, July 7, 2020

    The Princess Bride is an iconic movie and one of my personal favourites. I hope you enjoy these images that summarise the year.


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - qwawantine


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - get used to disappointment


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - wrong way in grocery aisle, boo, boo


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - in the pit of despair


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - Coronavirus like most likely kill you in the morning


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - let me sum up


    Princess Bride Meme 2020 - clearly can't choose the school option in front of me


    Through Jesus - New Creation

    Monday, July 6, 2020

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
    Colossians 3:17

    This is part 1 in a 5 part series.

    Colossians 3:17 has a broad scope - whatever you do. There is no part of our life not encompassed in that phrase. The way you drive, the way you interact with people, how you manage your money and assets. The broad scope is followed by a big ask, to live your life in the name of Jesus. Essentially, that means we are his representatives. We are supposed to do live just how Jesus would, or in a way that he would approve of. It then goes one step further and requires a big attitude - thankfulness. So everything we do is supposed to be as Jesus would, and we are to be thankful through it.

    Thankfully the verse doesn't end there, with a big scope, big ask with a big attitude. It closes off with "through him". We are not left to flounder on our own, trying to do all this in our own ability. We are to do this through Jesus.

    Over this series, I want to explore what Jesus has done that allows us to live this life through him.

    This week, let's consider that through Jesus, we are a new creation with a new identity.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

    Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    We have a fresh start, and the great thing is that we can claim that moment by moment. The mistakes of 30 minutes ago can be forgiven, we can re-clothe ourselves in the new creation and move forward.

    For a number of years, I have been using the phrase "That's not who I am any more." It is a phrase that I use to reset my thinking and behaviour. When I am tempted to do think or do something sinful or that would not reflect Christ, I remind myself of my true identity. It acknowledges the weakness and the history, but brings me into a sense of my new identity.

    There are loads of lists already out there that help you understand your new identity. Try Googling "in Christ I am" and you will get a bunch of results. I know some people that read those types of lists regularly to remind themselves of their new identity. Others will pick one aspect and focus on that for a week or a month.

    However you want to do it, I want to remind you that you can move towards a life where whatever you do can reflect Christ, with a thankful attitude. You can do this because in Jesus, you are a new creation.

    The Trustworthiness Of Scripture

    Friday, July 3, 2020

    When I consider the issues that arise around scripture, I can see four main areas of doubt. They are questioned around: inerrancy, inspiration, perceived contradictions and relevance. So let's look at each of these in turn and see if we can address them satisfactorily in one blog post.

    Before we dig too deep, there is one key question that needs to be answered. Why is it important that The Bible is trustworthy?

    The Bible is the foundational document of the Christian faith. It contains historical accounts, laws, poetry, prophecy, allegory, wisdom etc. . All of these combined are believed to be the written revelation of God to people. If it is not inerrant, inspired, unified and relevant then it is of little value. If the authority of one area is in question, then the whole Bible is in question. People would pick and choose which parts they want to believe and follow, and which parts to ignore.

    Are there gaps in our understanding? Absolutely, we are humans in one period of time. Does all of it match to current scientific thinking? No, but that is neither one way or the other because scientific understanding changes over time as well.


    Inspiration of Scripture

    2 Timothy says that all Scripture is God-breathed. What does that mean? It does not mean divine dictation. God did not speak the exact words to the authors and they simply wrote down what God said. It is clear that the styles of the author's impacted on the writing. Paul's letters have different style than Peter's letters. The Gospels were written for different audiences, and so they wrote in ways that would best reflect their purposes. Matthew was written for a Jewish audience and so the use of genealogies and prophesies makes sense. Mark was probably written for a more Roman audiences which is why is was more action oriented and very little reference to Jewish prophets etc.

    The authors recorded historic events, or prophecies, or poetry, or wisdom, or advice, as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    The Bible says that if anyone preaches, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. When I prepare a sermon, I believe that the Holy Spirit will breathe on me in the preparation and in the preaching. I hope to present God's word to that group of people in that moment. I write, I edit, I pray, I read Scripture, I scrap and restart, I do my best to hear the Holy Spirit and respond to his prompts. There is a part of me that wonders if the authors of Scripture had similar experiences. I can imagine Paul writing or dictating a letter, and pausing. Realizing that what was just written was not what should be on the page, and then editing it, as the Holy Spirit leads.

    My sermons are intended for the audience in front of me. If the content goes broader and has a positive influence for God's kingdom then that is a blessing. I believe when the author's of Scripture were writing their text, they did it to fulfil a purpose in their heart. Then God inspired other men and women to see that the content was meant for a broader audience. They followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to accept some texts as Scripture and others as not.

    What also speaks to the inspiration of Scripture is that even now the Holy Spirit can breathe on those words and they can come alive to us today. We can read a passage that we have seen many times before, but today it is full of meaning and depth we did not see before.

    Inspired authors, inspired compilers, inspired readers, inspired Scriptures.


    Inerrancy of Scripture

    One of the common questions is about the inerrancy of scripture. How can we trust that these words haven't been changed over time? Surely errors have crept in, especially over all those centuries before the printing press and then computers. It is a legitimate concern. Let's assume that we believe that the original authors were inspired. God used their style and voice and various literary tools to form the books of the Bible. The issue is then whether the words we have in front of us are accurate to the original text.

    The appearance of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 gave much confidence in the processes that have kept Scripture accurate. It is probably easiest to watch this rather than read my comments.

    We can assume that the processes that were used to keep Isaiah accurate were applied to the rest of Scripture. Then I would say that we have reason to believe that the text is functionally accurate. It gives us the meaning and intent that was intended by the inspired author.


    Perceived Contradictions

    I have looked at some of the conflicts and contradictions that have been raised. I am torn because bias plays both ways. The pure antagonist to the trustworthiness of scripture will not be convinced, even by logical and valid explanations. The faithful believer will also hold their position around Scripture. Even if it requires some serious mental gymnastics to justify, they will hold their position.

    With or without contradictions, at the core of it all, does any of it change the reality of Jesus? His life, his death and his resurrection? There is significant proof that Jesus existed. Beyond the Bible there are sources, like Josephus and Tacitus, that attest to his existence. Those sources are historical accounts that scholars accept. The belief in the resurrection of Jesus is recorded as a core belief of his followers. I would recommend reading Surprised By Hope by NT Wright for why the resurrection can be believed.

    Back to the perceived contradictions. I would suggest that many of these can be explained with an appreciation for context.

    There may be disparity between Old Testament and New Testament. Then we need to remember that the Old Testament is a record of God's dealing with the nation of Israel. It was God pulling a group of people together into a nation that was supposed to be an shining example to other nations. The New Testament is a shift in strategy from nation states to individuals. I think Andy Stanley does a reasonable job outlining this in his book Irresistible.

    Even between Old Testament texts, there is context. Israel start as a family with a patriarch, to slaves, to tribal nation establishing itself, led by judges, then by kings. Being subdued then gaining freedom mulitple times. Whether as one nation or two, they have periods of following God and periods of apostasy. Eventually both Israel and Judah are subdued and taken into captivity. Then a remnant returns and rebuilds. There is a lot of ground to cover and different generations needed different messages.

    Sometimes the version and language used can create issues. One contradiction I saw related to the use of the word tempted in Genesis 22:1, to describe the moment when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It then says that God doesn't tempt as per James 1:13. I would have to say the word in Genesis is more accurately interpreted as tested, as other translations use.

    I also think that understanding the context of human history and God's will also plays a part. There are things that God sets up as his ideal, as how he would like us to operate. But we are broken and sinful, and so our choices don't always bring about God's ideal outcome.



    The final "attack" on the Bible is relevance. How can a bunch of books that were written 2000+ years ago still be relevant for the modern world. We have science, computers, psychology, progress. We understand so much more now and live in a far more complex world.

    While those things are accurate, to assume that humanity has progressed that much is an over-estimation of our condition. Knowledge does not produce meaning. Information does not create purpose. Data does not produce a more productive member of society. Just because I can Google almost anything, does not make me more kind and compassionate.

    The Bible is essentially a book that deals with the human condition. We are lost, broken souls, longing for meaning and relationship, both with people and our creator. The Bible is a message of reconciliation and hope. Our hope is not just that tomorrow will be better, but that we will be better.

    The content of the Bible goes beyond that. It has practical advice, from money to relationships, from business to health and family. And plenty in between.

    It is possible to apply the principles of the Bible without a faith or belief in the Bible. But eventually this will lead to entitlement and self-righteousness. We have been made to live those principles in the context of a community of people, and out of a relationship with God. Working hard and earning income worth your effort and skill is Biblical. But it is balanced by our responsibility to our neighbour, widows and orphans. Justice and holiness are central themes, but balanced by love, grace and forgiveness.


    So in this month, where we focus on Bible study and theology, I firmly believe that the Bible is inspired, trustworthy (inerrant) and relevant. We can build our faith and life on it, as long as it is in partnership with the God who breathed it into being.

    All Scripture Is God Breathed

    Thursday, July 2, 2020

    July - Theology & Bible Study

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020

    The topic of theology and Bible study may not feel like the most exciting for youth ministry. But I can tell you that your understanding of God, the world and His Word will impact your ministry more than the next big event or program idea.

    So we are going to look at topics like confidence in the Scriptures, asking the right questions and principles of Bible interpretation. We will also look at the tensions that we can see, and making theology relevant for our young people. We will look at resources like commentaries, surveys, local courses etc.

    If we are serious about making a kingdom impact in the lives of young people, then don't neglect these important topics.

    Some Want To Watch The World Burn

    Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    Blog tags: 

    Acts Of Obedience

    Monday, June 29, 2020

    Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience
    Steven Furtick

    Our independant and self-sufficient ways of living often get challenged when the work obedience is used. And yet if we are followers of Christ then he is Saviour and Lord. As saviour, he has set our relationship right with God and done everything necessary for forgiveness of sin. As Lord, he is to be obeyed.

    I know there have been many prophesies about a move of God. There is even talk that the current circumstances around COVID-19 is causing a resurgence of faith. The skeptic in me is not sure if it is happening and if it will last. The optimist in me hopes that there is a move and we will steward the Spirit and the people well, so that those that are gained are not later lost.

    But where is God asking for obeience from me? Where is he asking for obedience from you?

    I want to be someone who carries the Holy Spirit in greater and greater measure. I want him at work in me, more than I want to stay cosy and comfortable. I want him in my preaching more than I want a well structured sermon. I want him in my interactions with youth, parents and leaders, more than I want to be the "cool" guy.

    I remember the story of an man who was working to be more obedient in his every day life. One day he was walking past the break room and God told him to go and share the gospel with the person in there. He was nervous but he obeyed. When he was done the other staff member berated him and told him he didn't want to know about it. He went on his way, back to his desk, unsure if he had heard God. Later a man in overalls approached him. He had been working in the break room, unseen by our faithful Christian. He had heard the gospel message and wanted to respond.

    We sometimes don't see the fruit of our obedience, but we should learn to obey anyway. Our obedience may not always lead to a great move of God, but I don't believe we will have a move of God without obedience.

    Take a moment now, to check in with God and ask if there is anything that he wants to speak to you about that requires your obedience.

    Planning And Running Events

    Friday, June 26, 2020

    This topic is very broad in the context of youth ministry. It can cover from your weekly program to a massive annual event, and they need different considerations.

    If you are planning a massive annual event then the scope of the event planning may span 15+ months. 1-2 months before this year's event, you may need to be looking at next year's line up of speakers or bands or venu. Then you can do an early bird promo and registration at this year's event. And then post event there will be 1-2 months of tidying up accounts, following up on last minute details etc.

    If you are planning a small social activity, then 2 weeks can be sufficient to ensure bookings are made and promos sent out.

    Below is a list of the areas that I consider as I plan events. I have a couple of templates set up in a project management tool that I duplicate each time I need to plan. I have also created a 12-14 month schedule for a camp we run. If you are interested in seeing these then please make contact with us, either through the Contact Us page, or Facebook

    • Overview - what is the purpose or desired outcomes, when is the event and what is the timeline
    • Team - who needs to be involved and in what roles
    • Administration - how are people registering, how are we communicating, how are we managing money being paid in etc
    • Venue - where are we hosting this, do we need to make a booking, will there be a cost, what equipment do they have, what will we need to bring, are there any restrictions that we need to be aware of
    • Catering - will there be food, will it be provided as part of the event or as items for sale to attendees, who and how much
    • Finances - what is the budget, who will be monitoring and managing this, are there structures and systems in the church that I need to follow and be aware of, do we fundraise or get sponsorships
    • Speakers and/or bands - are we bringing in people or using our own people, are they available, what is the cost for not just honorarium but hosting (food, accommodation, transport, general care etc)
    • Production - what sound, lighting, media equipment do we need to have, will there be equipment on site, will we need to set up and pack down, if taking equipment off site then is our insurance sufficient
    • Transport - do we need transport, how much and what type.
    • Health and Safety - are the volunteers police checked, have we completed the RAMS forms, have we got first aid covered, are there any H&S items from the venue we need to consider
    • Volunteers - do we have all the people we need and in the right roles, how are we training, preparing and thanking them
    • Program - what is happening at the event, do we need a run sheet or program printed so that the various people in their roles know what is needed, what games and activities and do we have all the props and prizes ready for them
    • Marketing - how are you promoting the event and how are people registering and paying
    • Communication - how are you communicating with your pastor or overseer, how are you communicating with parents, youth, leaders, volunteers, venue, guest speakers, band, hireage companies etc
    • Ministry - if there is a God component that might require response, do you have people to pray with and the right resources to capture details and give to youth, how will you follow up
    • During event - do you want to capture photos or videos, who will do this and with what equipment, when will it be posted to social media, will you need a coordinator to run the event

    I am sure there are components that I have missed, but I think this is a good place to start. Some events, like ten-pin bowling won't require some areas and minor thought about others. Other events like an annual camp will need more.


    When it comes to running the event, if you are the primary youth leader, try not to be the event coordinator as well, especially if it is a bigger event. This will free you up to connect with youth and guests, and to lead from the front. You may need to be available for trouble shooting and final decisions, but try not to be the one making sure everything is running smoothly. The more complex the event, the more likely you should have a run sheet, especially if you want it to run smoothly. For a youth service, having your tech and up-front people on the same page can make the difference between smooth and bitsy.

    Depending on your context, the run sheet is more about the sequence than the timing. But if you have tight timing then this needs to be more closely monitored and communicated. Good planning will also go a long way. If you have a game that takes 10 minutes but everything depends on it be 6 minutes then you have tension. Vice versa, if the supper is going to be ready at 9:30pm but the program finishes at 9:00pm, then you have some tension.

    We have templates of previous run sheets that we can also share with you if you are interested.


    So plan as best as you can. Communicate with people clearly. Put good and competent people into the right roles. And whether it is a movie night or a 4 day conference, it will go better. (Notice I didn't say perfectly smooth, that would be a lie because even the best planned events have hiccups.)

    If you need any help, we are happy to have a conversation with you about what you need, just reach out to us.

    Faithful With A Little

    Thursday, June 25, 2020

    Youth Min Nuts & Bolts Course

    Wednesday, June 24, 2020

    To help youth leaders get their heads and hearts around some of the more practical aspects of youth ministry, we do offer a Youth Ministry Nuts & Bolts course.

    Currently set up as 9 sessions with a total of 8-10 hours, this course covers the essentials for youth leaders to run an effective youth ministry.

    Topics include:

    • Personal preparation
    • Ministry foundations
    • Team & team-building
    • Student leaders
    • Maintaining key connections
    • Culture of evangelism
    • Health & growth
    • Practical skills
    • Handling the hard parts

    Enquire about this course

    Pier Pressure

    Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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    The Will Of God And The Grace Of God

    Monday, June 22, 2020

    The will of God will not take us, where the grace of God cannot sustain us.
    Billy Graham

    It is not in God's character to set us up to fail. John 10:10 says that Jesus came that we might have life, even life abundantly. And so as we journey along this road of faith, relationship, ministry and leadership, we need to understand that the grace of God is with us to uphold us and sustain us.

    I recently read Pilgrim's Progress for the first time. Through out the book Christian, the main character, finds challenges and difficulties. In some instances the internal conviction that God had developed in him helped him to overcome. Sometimes he was helped by a companion. There were times when God intervened directly.

    In terms of Billy Graham's quote, there are two parts. The will of God and the grace of God.

    The Will of God

    On our journey, we have to be conscious of whether we are in the will of God. That is a deeper topic than we have time to explore today, but at its very foundation, you need to check two things:

    1. How is my relationship with God? Have I been spending enough time with God so that I know his voice and have heard his voice recently?
    2. How is my responsiveness to his guidance? Have I responded to his voice with obedience?

    The Grace of God

    If we are in the will of God, then there is grace to sustain us. That grace may be found in us taking a period of rest or a weekly Sabbath, to refresh ourselves. That grace may be found in the friendship or support of someone near us. That grace may be found in our praise, worship, prayers or thanks. That grace may be found in an opportunity to enjoy a loved one's company.

    God's grace to sustain us is many and varied. It may be found in a Biblical principle that we have neglected,or it may be unique to you for this moment.


    I honestly believe that God has you on his heart. He wants to walk with you in each and every circumstance of your life. Not just spiritual or ministry areas, but in your family, in your finances, in your business or job, in your health, in your friendships. He has not abandoned you, he is moving things around to bring about his kingdom in your life and world in a greater way. It is not always comfortable but it is always rewarding in the end. God's richest blessing on you.

    Key Tips For Calendar Planning

    Friday, June 19, 2020

    Social Calendar

    If your weekly program is primarily social, then this some keys to managing that style of ministry.

    1. Set the annual events in place
    Do you have a camp or conference you attend every year?
    Do you have an annual kick-off event?
    Put in details like Easter, Christmas, long weekends, school holidays, and school exams etc
    Does your church have any annual events that impact your planning?
    Put all these items into the calendar first.

    2. Repeated events noted
    There are some events that are keepers and can be done whenever you want to, list these out as options. If there is a particular time of year that they are more suitable then note that too.

    3. Decide on your cycle
    There are some events that are more costly, some events that are more set-up intensive. So gauging your youth and your team, decide a rhythm. Maybe it is a 3 week cycle where one week is off-site and costs a bit more like laser tag, one week is on-site and low-key like a board games night, one week is high energy like a car rally. Maybe it is a 4 week cycle and one week is a serving or out-reach night.

    4. Look for opportunities to combine
    Maybe another youth group is hosting an event and you can join in with that. These are great chances to connect with your youth and another youth group.

    5. Set your calendar
    Whether you make your calendar for a month, a term, a quarter, 6 months or a year, begin to fill the dates you have with events. Do your best to balance the various aspects of cost, set up effort etc. Remember that external influences will impact on attendance. Exam schedules, cultural events, school sports etc.

    6. Review
    At then end of each event and each period, review how things went. What events will be done again next year, what will not be done again? How is your team coping? Have you had any comments from parents, youth or leadership etc. Factor those into the coming period.


    Service Calendar

    1. Set the annual events in place
    As with the social calendar, set the big annual events on the calendar.

    2. Determine how many often the primary youth leader/s will speak
    It is important that the primary youth leader has a regular voice into the youth and youth ministry. Some of that will depend on the phase of your youth ministry. If you are just starting in the role, then you might speak more often, just to help the youth get to know you. If you are going through a phase of change, then you might also speak more often, to help communicate in that phase.
    It is also important to allow other voices to speak into the youth, so the primary leader isn't always speaking.

    3. Internal leaders and external voices
    You should give other leaders in your ministry an opportunity to speak. And you should give voices from outside, that you trust, an opportunity as well. This is important for you, for them and for the youth.

    4. Format and variety
    Not every service needs to look the same. There are many varieties for services. Panels, electives, small group discussion, interactive and others. Decide how often these types of services will be held.


    Mixed Calendar

    With this style, it is about finding the right balance between services and social. Find your rhythm and what works for your youth and your team. And that may change over time. If your youth ministry grows, then you will have to adapt. It is harder for groups of 30-50 to do "together" social events, than a group of 20 or less. But there are things that are better with a larger group.


    How do you plan your calendar?

    The Lord Directs Our Path

    Thursday, June 18, 2020

    A Message on Programming

    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    Below is an audio file of a message shared a number of years ago at a Youth Leaders Summit, about the value and values of programming. We hope it is helpful.

    It covers everything from understanding why we run programs, to some practical thoughts around scheduling larger events strategically.

    Download MP3

    What tips do you have for successful programming? 

    What events do you run every year that work for you?

    What regular programs are you running?

    Who Wrote These Vows?

    Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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    Align Your Habits With Your Drean

    Monday, June 15, 2020

    "If your habits don't line up with your dream, then you need to change your habits or change your dream"
    John Maxwell

    Many people live and die with frustrations and unfulfilled dreams, and it is often because they have not considered the importance of today's habits. Because dreams are future oriented, we can make excuses for today's behvaiour, rationalising that one day in the overall scheme won't make the difference.

    But if we repeat those decisions and habits across multiple days then all of a sudden we have a lifestyle that may not be taking us where we hoped to go.

    The Bible says that he who can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with much. If we can't manage the lesser responsibility of managing just ourselves, then our capacity to lead and manage others will be restricted.

    In parenting there is the concept of parenting with the end in mind. In other words, what kind of adult do you want your child to be? Do you want them to be kind, generous, hard-working, healthy etc? Those attributes are formed over a life time, so you need to determine what you put into them at each phase. What does the child need to understand about money at 6 years old? What does the child need to know about sexuality at 10 years old? What resources do they need at 12 to have a healthy self-esteem?

    In our lives we need to align our habits with our dream, in a similar way.

    If we are happy with our habits, then we need to make sure that the dream matches to those habits. Where are your habits taking you?

    If we have a dream, then we need to build the right habits today to move towards that dream. What habits will build towards your dream?

    Tips for Running Great Games

    Friday, June 12, 2020

    One skill that youth leaders should learn to master is how to run a game or ice-breaker. We know that the purpose of youth group isn't just entertainment and fun, but if we don't have fun then we limit our reach and impact.

    Below is an article from Jonathan McKee's website on the Seven Deadly Sins of Game Leading. And we agree with all of them.

    Deadly Sin 1 - Tell the crowd that you’re going to play a game!
    The best way to ruin a game is tell kids that you’re going to play a game! Youth groups across the nation consistently use this pathetic transition: “okay, we’re going to play a mixer now!” First of all… does the average youth off the street know what a mixer is? Yeah! It’s the thing their mom uses to stir cake mix.
    When starting a game… just start doing it. For example: “hey, before we get started today I want everyone on this side of the room to scoot one foot that way while my staff run this rope between you …”
    Just start it. Ten minutes later kids will be looking at each other saying, “hey … we’re playing games!”

    Deadly Sin 2 - Don’t be prepared
    Time is always crucial because attention span is short. In this fast food, microwave, quick cut, MTV, minute rice, Taco Bell generation, kids are used to having what they want, stimulating their eyes, ears and mouth EVERY SECOND. Now if we stand up to play a game that required two marshmellows with a piece of string tied around them … if you walk up with a bag of unopened marshmellows and uncut string that is NOT ALREADY TIED … you’ve already lost. Have everything ready.
    If you’ve never done the game before … test it. So many times I thought I was the “Game Master” and all of a sudden I’m up short in front of a bunch of kids. Not a pretty sight. Test it!

    Deadly Sin 3 - Don’t have your leaders playing with them
    Hopefully your leaders are there to hang out with kids, not to be just a chaperone. Chaperones are no fun and no kid wants a relationship with one. Your leaders should get on the teams with the kids and participate as much as possible. I have students to this day that still remind me of times we annihilated another person with Q-tips when I was on their team during a Q-tip war. Fun memories make lasting impressions.

    Deadly Sin 4 - Explain the game for more than 30 seconds
    As we talked about above on #2, time and attention span are short. Part of being prepared for a game is knowing how to explain it quickly. Give the basics, maybe with a visual example and jump straight into “ready, set, go!”
    Don’t be afraid to start a game even when some are still confused. Your leaders can help push these people along once you start.

    Comment: this would mean that your leaders already know the game and how it is played. That means that you have already explained and possibly played the game with them before the event.

    Deadly Sin 5 - Take more than 30 seconds to divide teams
    Same principle as above. Have a quick tactic planned to divide teams fast. Always try to use natural divisions: grade levels, gender, half of the room, etc. Only # off as a last resort!

    Deadly Sin 6 - Have someone without ability or even a personality leading the game
    Game leading isn’t something you should just throw on a new staff member. They should be trained in the basics and given an opportunity to lead a game every once in a while. You’ll find that some people just aren’t gifted in being up-front. Don’t use these people. A key to a successful program will be putting people in areas that they are gifted and feel comfortable.
    By the way … if something goes wrong, play it off. Games will go sour- it’s a fact. If they do, use the opportunity to make fun of it. If a game goes wrong and the leader is funny about it, kids will still have a good time … and that’s the point, right?

    Deadly Sin 7 - Make sure the crowd can’t see those playing the game.
    “Of course” you say. But how many times have I seen some cool crowd breaker where a kid is getting dowsed with syrup or a girl is about to suck a jelly bean out of some jello and … I couldn’t see cause some stupid game leader was standing right in the way! If you’re leading a game … STEP ASIDE! If you’re in a level room and you have a visual game … elevate it somehow! You get the point.

    You can check out other articles and resources from Jonathan at The Source For Youth Ministry


    So if you want games to go well in your group, then avoiding these sins will help. Take the time with your leaders, to train them, help them succeed, make sure they are prepared and can explain the game quickly and clearly.

    What would you add to this list?

    Youth Group Games Aus Website

    Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    This is a very helpful website, Youth Group Games, with good categories and a broad range of games. They have games, icebreakers, ideas and activities for youth groups, team building, summer camps, scout meets, churches and more.

    There is a huge collection of fun group games is constantly growing and evolving with the help of the vibrant community who contribute and share.

    Go and check it out and let us know which games you like and use.

    Non-Stick Pan Meme

    Tuesday, June 9, 2020

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    Remember The Joy

    Monday, June 8, 2020

    I recently started to feel like my responsibilities were becoming a burden. Whenever I sat down to work on things, it would be like pulling teeth. I had overdue tasks piling up, projects stalling and unread emails going back days.

    I reflected on the various roles and responsibilities that I had. I knew that they were all my doing, they were things that I had said yes to for one reason or another. I also reflected on the current environment. COVID-19, lock-down, returning to the work and other situations that were beyond my control.

    I acknowledged my emotional, mental, spiritual and physical state. But also needed to find a pathway forward. After prayer and reflection I landed on joy.

    Joy is described in Theopedia as “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.” Happiness is emotional and generally situational. Good things are happening and we feel happy. Bad things happen and we feel sad or angry. Joy doesn't ignore circumstances, it just operates at a higher level. The Bible says that we are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. So we aren't to deny emotions, we just shouldn't let our lives be decided by them.

    I liken it to a sailing ship on the seas. A ship takes a different posture depending on if the wind is favourable or unfavourable. Similarly our emotions respond based on circumstances. But joy is the captain at the helm who is steadfast, adjusting for the wind and weather but never wavering in their focus and position. Joy knows that God is good and trustworthy; that he will sustain us. It knows God can redeem any situation for his glory; that he is worthy of praise. And joy knows that God is committed to completing his work.

    So over the following weeks, and even still today, I try to remember or find the joy in each of my roles and responsibilities. I'm involved in youth and preteen ministry because there is joy for me in connecting with young people, seeing them connect with God and learning to thrive. I am involved in Youth Min NZ because there is joy for me in helping youth leaders be healthy and effective. I mix sound and dabble in web design because there is joy for me in combining creativity with technology.

    When your roles and responsibilities begin to weigh heavier, start with a review. Review where you at emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically and relationally. There is wisdom in managing those areas of your life. But also look to where the joy is for you. Why did you say yes? Put aside any current tensions, whether with leadership, parents, personal insecurities or failures etc. Then reset to find the joy you felt when you first took on the task.

    I had to find my pathway forward because I did not feel release from God for any of the things I was carrying, I am working on joy, and I hope that helps you in your season.

    Tips For Preaching To Youth

    Friday, June 5, 2020

    There are many resources out there to help you improve your preaching. Books, podcasts, videos, courses, and Youth Min NZ does a communicators course, if you're interested. Rather than cover the same ground as others have covered, I thought I would do some thoughts, ideas and tips that might help you prepare to preach.

    Don't prepare in isolation
    Young people live in a particular context and we need to understand that as well as we can. We can then connect the Word of God with their context. I know some who even invite people into their preparation process. They ask another communicator to look over it and they may ask a couple of young people to look over it.

    Be yourself
    There is always a temptation to model yourself off of other effective communicators, but it always feels a little off. Now by all means study great communicators. Find the principles that they use (pace, humour, tone, eye-contact etc) and apply them to your own preaching style. So adopt principles not styles.

    Record and review yourself
    You will be your own worst critic but it is helpful to review yourself. Your learn if you have mannerisms or habits that are distracting or detracting from the message. Recording and reviewing ourselves is a helpful tool in this. I recently had a conversation with a young leader that was MCing a youth service and encouraged him to record and listen to his inflections. He had a habit of his tone going up at the end of a sentence, which made him sound uncertain and more like it was a question than a statement.

    Find your sense of humour
    A sense of humour is a great tool in communicating to teens, but do your best to avoid awkward or off jokes. Funny personal stories help young people relax and get to know you a bit more.

    Express yourself with passion
    It is my observation that to a certain degree, young people equate passion with truth. If you are bored or boring then you are irrelevant or untrue. If you are passionate and engaging then you are worth listening to and considering. As much as a long-term faith should not be based on emotions, I do believe that emotions are a gateway that God can use into the heart and soul of young people. So express your passion for Jesus.

    Trust God with the results
    It is not uncommon for preachers who thought they did well to receive very few comments or compliments. And when they think they bombed, they get people giving feedback about life-change and timing. All we can do is pray, prepare and deliver with the skill and anointing we have, and trust God with the outcomes. I also lean into Acts 2:6, on the day of Pentecost. There was baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues, but the NIV says that the people heard them in their own language. It wasn't so much what was coming out of the mouths, but what they were hearing. So if God wants to get a message through to someone, then he will. I remember a number of times when someone approached me after I preached and they talk about a point that I didn't remember making. Now my preaching can have ADHD moments where I go way off script, but I didn't remember making the point they said I made. Did the Holy Spirit interpret my words into something they needed to hear? I don't know, but God is capable of it.

    Stay sensitive to God
    I consider myself a pragmatic pentecostal. I know some who lean more pentecostal and would say "just rely on the Holy Spirit". And I know others who are preparing weeks ahead. I like to try and fall along the spectrum. My philosophy is to pray and prepare before hand, then listen to the God's leading on the day. I don't remember a day when I scrapped a whole message, but there were definite shifts in the focus that came on the day. There is something about the corporate presence of God that can bring a revelation or perspective. Also, inspiration can come in many forms and environments. So while preparing and in the moment, stay sensitive to God's leading.


    Those are some thoughts I had about preaching. What random tips would you add?

    Use Your Gifts To Serve Others

    Thursday, June 4, 2020

    Speaking To Teenagers book

    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    When Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins get together on a project, you know it is going to be good.


    Get ready for a crash course in effective communication. More than just a book on how to "do talks," Speaking to Teenagers combines the experience and wisdom of two veteran youth ministry speakers, along with insightful research and practical tools, to help you develop messages that engage students with the love of Christ and the power of his Word. Whether you¹re crafting a five-minute devotional or a 30-minute sermon, Speaking to Teenagers is essential to understanding and preparing great messages. Together, Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins show you how they craft their own messages and give you the tools to do it yourself. They'll guide you, step-by-step, through the process of preparing and delivering meaningful messages that effectively communicate to your students. Fields and Robbins walk you through three dimensions of a message - the speaker, the listener, and the message itself ‹ and introduce you to the concept and principles of inductive communication. You¹ll also get helpful tips on finding illustrations for your talk and using them for maximum impact, as well as insights on reading your audience and effective body language. As Speaking to Teenagers guides you toward becoming a more effective communicator, you'll find that this book's practical principles will positively impact the way you view, treat, and communicate to teenagers.


    This book is broken down into 3 sections. Section 1 is How to Think about Effective Messages, and covers aspects related to your character, the purpose of preaching in building a bridge to people with God's truth, and understanding your audience. Section 2 starts to look at creating messages that stick. They use STICK as an acronym for Study, Think, Illustrate, Construct & Keep Focussed. Section 3 covers delivery of the message.

    This is a helpful book for those who want to or do preach to teenagers.

    Book can be purchased from:

    Dogs Don't Prepare You For Parenting

    Tuesday, June 2, 2020

    June - Practical Skills Month

    Monday, June 1, 2020

    Our focus for the month of June is on practical skills.

    Youth ministry is more than just hanging out with young people. It can involve a number of other tasks and responsibilities. There are loads of them, but this month we thought we would focus on skills like preaching, running games, planning and running events.

    So check out our posts this month for some skills and resources to help you.

    If you have some skills that you want to write about or want us to write about, then let us know.

    Links for Week 30/5

    Saturday, May 30, 2020

    Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week. Hopefully they are helpful. If you have any helpful blogs or resources then let us know and we can monitor them for content.

    Youth Ministry




    Culture / Current issues


    Soul Care


    Family related



      The Peace Of God

      Thursday, May 28, 2020

      Some Ways To Partner With Parents

      Friday, May 29, 2020

      We have already covered some aspects of this earlier in the month in our post Starting A Parent Ministry. But what are some other ways you can partner with parents?

      Communicate the good things about their youth
      So often we only notice the exceptions to the normal, either the misbehaving or gifted. And it is only usually the misbehaving that we raise with parents. But parents love to hear about the good things we see in their young people. So make sure you observe and see who is regular, who is committed, who shows kindness, who gets involved etc. Then mention it to their parents when you see them. Let them know that you saw their young person showing an admirable attribute.
      Your positive comments about their son or daughter will be encouraging for them.

      Get to know them
      The default conversation with parents can be about their young person, it is the most obvious thing that we have in common. But get to know the parents. Where do they work? What are their hobbies and interests? What is their story? What movies/TV/music etc do they enjoy? Get to know them and do your best to remember the answers for future conversations.

      Encourage them
      Find ways to encourage them personally, and not just as parents. Write cards, make up little gift packages, send texts etc. Acknowledge their other talents and gifts. If they are serving in other areas, then go out of your way to give genuine compliments.

      Help strengthen their marriage/family
      It is not uncommon to hear of couples who either separate or have to rediscover each other once the kids had left home. Their time and energy was so focussed on the kids that they lost each other. Families can also become very busy with weekly activities and they miss out on quality time. So help them strengthen their marriage.
      You may need to partner with another department in your church, but run a marriage event. Maybe an enrichment evening, day or weekend, that gives couples a chance to connect with each other. In my opinion, a healthy family is centred around a strong marriage first. It is from that, that the children are loved and nurtured. Families that revolve around the children are not healthy.
      You can strengthen families by having family centred events as part of your calendar. Events that bring the family together rather than separating them out. An amazing race or car rally type event with families as teams. Or a quiz night that requires multiple generations. Or a father/daughter dance type event. And there are many other ideas out there.

      Help them win
      We need to help parents win. I know your heart is to see young people reached and discipled, just remember parents are generally partners in that vision, not opponents. Now I understand that the programs and events takes time, effort, prayer, energy, money etc. . We obviously believe that what we run will help the youth we lead, we wouldn't run them otherwise. So when a young person misses our youth program because of a family commitment, we need to support the parents. And not just a token gesture but full support. Rather than tell the young person what they missed out on by not being at youth, ask them about what they were doing and who they were doing it with. Reinforce godly family values. Don't make it hard for the youth to honour their parents. So rather than you having to be the hero, let the parents be heroes and support their decisions.
      Give them resources as well. If there is a good book/website/podcast you've read about parenting or culture or marriage etc, then share it with the parents. Every body wins when the family is strong.

      Consult with them
      Before you make decisions about programs or events, especially big ones, get some input from parents. Whether it is the timing of your camp or the content of a more sensitive talk, give them a chance to have input.
      A number of years ago, we had a youth camp that was planned to start just after Christmas and end just after New Years. With that being a common time for companies to shut, we ran into some issues. Many parents had planned family holidays. There was tension with some families and some youth didn't make it to camp. Every camp since then has been planned to start after 10th January. By then parents are back (or nearly back) at work and they want their kids some where safe. Had there been a discussion about the timing with parents earlier, then we could have avoided the issue entirely.

      Recruit them as volunteers
      Parents can make great volunteers, we just need to give them a chance. They can drive, they can cook, they have homes, they have other resources and connections, they care about their youth. Now I understand the tension with this. Youth group can be a chance to have a break from their parents in a relatively safe environment, so you do need to be careful how you proceed with this. You also need to gauge why the parent is getting involved.
      If you have parents who are overly involved in their young person's life and volunteering is a chance for them to monitor and "control" them, then be wary. You might need to find volunteer positions that keep them away from their child. If the relationship is healthier, then there are more options. I would still try and put them in roles that don't directly connect to their own young person. The value of church and youth is that you can have other caring adults connecting with teens, and that is healthy for all involved.


      Those are some of my thoughts about ways you can partner with parents. What do you think? What ways have you tried? What worked and what didn't? 

      The Source For Parents

      Wednesday, May 27, 2020

      The Source For Parents is a website created and populated by Jonathan McKee. Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller – The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on Jonathan and his wife Lori live in Northern California.

      The website has articles, podcasts, resources and more that includes:

      • Youth Culture
      • Video games
      • Music
      • Media
      • Parenting Curriculum

      He as written books for parents and youth ministry, and you can sign up to receive his newsletter. He has a parenting one and a youth leaders one at The Source For Youth Ministry

      These are worth a look and passing on to the parents of your youth.

      Introducing Baby To Pets

      Tuesday, May 26, 2020

      As we near the end of our month on parents and parent ministry, a funny cartoon that we should all live by.


      Blog tags: 

      God's Guidance From Moment To Moment

      Monday, May 25, 2020

      In 2 Samuel 5:17-25 we see David as a new king, facing off against the Philistines in two separate but similar encounters. In both instances the Philistines had entered the Valley of Rephaim as an act of aggression and in each instance David sought the Lord about what to do. God gave different instructions for each scenario in order to bring a victory. And each time David obeyed and won the battle.

      In life and ministry, we often look for patterns, systems and policies that can guide our decisions. We see the same or similar circumstances and we apply a formula to it. It saves us from reinventing the wheel every time. We can think it makes us efficient, because it worked last time, it should work this time.

      Now don't get me wrong. There is a place for systems and policies, they can help us to reserve our energy for more important matters. The issue becomes when we create a formula for something that is not formulaic. Or we create a permanent system for something that should only have been for a season.

      I would be wary of applying formula and labels to people. They are unique and complex beings and while I understand the need for processes, those processes need to be covered in prayer. If we are simply ticking a box without seeking God for his wisdom, insight and grace, then we are not honouring people as Jesus did.

      Be careful of how firmly you hold on to your systems, events and programs. Always be willing to openly review them. Periodically bring your programs before God and ask for his guidance. We can sometimes fall into the trap of making plans and then asking God to bless them, but never ask his thoughts about the plans.

      David engaged with God for his guidance. We are at the great advantage of each having the Holy Spirit and direct access to God. And he wants to be your partner in your life, your relationships, your finances, your ministry, your work etc.

      Take a moment this week to ask God if there is an area of life or ministry that he wants to speak into. Then listen for his answer.

      Links for Week 23/5

      Saturday, May 23, 2020

      Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week. Hopefully they are helpful. If you have any helpful blogs or resources then let us know and we can monitor them for content.

      Youth Ministry




      Culture / Current issues


      Soul Care


      Family related



        Working With EGR Parents

        Friday, May 22, 2020

        So the first thing to explain is that EGR stands for Extra Grace Required. Today's post is about working with parents who require extra grace from us. There are less polite versions of this sentiment, and there are times when we feel less polite about them too. But they are a reality of most youth ministries.

        Don't get me wrong. There are some parents who can be your biggest supporters and a great resource. Many parents that are in the middle. But there are some parents who can challenge us. So how do we do ministry with parents that need extra grace?

        1. Understand that you are not alone

        One of the hardest thing about EGR parents is that we can take it personally. Maybe it is a parent that has expectations around how you should treat their young person. Maybe it is a parent that has constant questions or suggestions that would place an even greater load on you. Maybe it is a parent that questions your suitability. Maybe it is just a parent that monopolizes your time. Or maybe something else.

        We have all had parents in our ministry that are more draining or demanding. You are not alone.

        2. Seek first to understand

        In interacting with EGR parents, you should always try to first understand their perspective. We tend to exist on a spectrum between pastor and leader. A leader loves people but tends to be more problem-solving, decision-making and prescriptive. They hear something and try to quickly resolve. A pastor would tend to sit and listen, looking to let the person express themselves.

        Interacting with EGR parents should initially be more pastoral as we seek to understand their circumstances and perspective. Engage in active listening, where you are not listening for the purpose of formulating your response, but to fully understand. Using phrases like "I hear you saying..., is that correct?", or "what do you mean by that?", or "where did you get that from?"

        Do your best to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Maybe they don't have a good support system, so when they get a chance to speak about their kids or life, they jump at the opportunity. Maybe they or their youth have had certain life experiences that make them view things differently. Maybe they have a legitimate concern.

        So before you disregard a parent, listen and seek to understand.

        3. Make it face to face

        Much of our communication these days is written, whether it is email, text, messenger etc. The problem with the written word is the lack of inflection and non-verbal cues. We interpret the words on a screen or page through our own filters. Filters of past experience, current mood, insecurities etc. People also seem to have less self-control when typing words on a screen than if the person is in front of them. They write things that they would never say out loud to the person.

        So if you receive an email from a parent (or anyone) that has a level of seriousness, take steps for the next communication on the topic to be face to face.

        Don't respond defensively, but simply say "Thank you for this message, I would like to discuss this with you more. When can we meet?" And do your best to make sure that the timing for the meeting gives you enough time to be calm, prepared and have discussed it with your supervisor.

        Written communication is great for information, but never emotion. Dates, times, agenda, location etc are all fine in written form. Interpersonal issues should be done face to face, and if not possible then over phone or video chat.

        4. Find common ground

        Often friction with EGR parents is due to differences and unmet expectations. So if we can find common ground and understand expectations then we have gone a long way to finding a long term resolution. I have seen issues diffused when both parties have agreed on the core belief. They have different strategies but want the same outcomes.

        5. Keep your pastor/overseer informed at every step

        When you have EGR parents, communicate this with your pastor and/or your overseer. They may have insight into their circumstances that might help you show more grace. They may be able to run interference for you and help resolve issues. They may have advice that will help you. At minimum they will now be aware of it and will not be caught unaware if someone raises it with them.

        6. Pray for them

        One of the greatest things we can do for EGR parents is to pray for them. And I don't mean manipulating prayers where you ask God to change them or move them on, but prayers for their blessing. Prayers for peace, faith, hope, love, wisdom, finances, relational blessings. Prophesy over them as the Holy Spirit leads you.

        There are some seasons where we are helping others, and there are seasons when we need help. So give the parents the grace in the seasons when they may need it more.

        7. Be humble

        None of us is perfect and sometimes we see the parent as the EGR, but it is us that needs the grace. Is it possible that there is something you need to grow in? If there are parents complaining about communication, then maybe the problem isn't the parents.

        Make sure you take time to check your heart and attitude. Make sure you take the time to check your systems and ministry. Is there any kernel of truth to a complaint? Is there a way to better care for the parent who needs more time and energy?

        If we remember that we are fallible humans in need of grace, then our interactions with parents (even EGR parents) are improved.

        8. Keep records

        We never want an interaction with a parent to devolve into a major issue, but sometimes it does. We are all broken and that brokenness impacts our relationships. So sometimes it is good to have a record of our interactions. Make this as secure as possible to respect the other parties. Write the notes as early as possible so it is as fresh in your mind as it can be. Share the notes with your overseer as appropriate.

        If there has been a meeting, then it is always helpful to write a draft set of notes that can be shared and amended by the parties who were in the room. Once the notes have been checked, amended and agreed, then you have a record for later reference.

        9. Establish boundaries

        If your EGR parent is in the needy category, and tries to monopolize your time and energy then put boundaries in place. Have a start and finish time to meetings and stick to it, even if you need to schedule another meeting after to have a reason for ending on time. In informal settings have a plan with some of your leaders to interrupt after a certain time.

        If your EGR parent is more on the criticize and complain end, then you equally need boundaries. You have to lead and balance a whole ministry with all its constraints. In these instances it is good to have a strong and supportive relationship with your pastor/overseer. One that supports your vision and programs. But beyond that, find ways to disconnect when you are not in youth ministry mode. Manage when you do and don't check emails, read texts or answer calls. You shouldn't be available 24/7, especially for these types of EGR parents. But don't ignore them completely, just limit the time you give them.

        Guard your heart. Remember why you are serving in youth ministry. If you feel a calling then reflect on that. If you are getting caught up in the details and problem solving, then pause and remember what you enjoy about youth ministry. Think about the wins and what God has done in and through you. In this way you can put boundaries around your heart to help protect it and keep it fresh.

        10. Maintain a clear conscience

        When all is said and done, do all you can to maintain a clear conscience before God. Do your best to show and express love and grace in your interactions. Do your best to not carry unforgiveness or anger. Do your best to not speak ill of people.

        God's grace is sufficient for us in each circumstance. And He has wisdom for us if we ask.


        Ministry is both challenging and rewarding. If you need help with a specific circumstance then we would love to pray for you and support you in anyway we can.

        Discipline Your Children

        Thursday, May 21, 2020

        Raising Giant Killers

        Wednesday, May 20, 2020


        As children grow and experience life, they face "giants" in many forms--the hurts, struggles, fears and temptations of the world that seduce countless young people away from their divine call to represent Jesus in both purity and power. It is vital for parents to train children to defeat these giants--to become giant-killers. 

        With honesty, humor, and keen biblical insight, bestselling authors Bill and Beni Johnson help you discover the keys to successful parenting in God's kingdom. "Parents, we rule for the purpose of protection, but we also serve with the purpose of empowering," they write. "We want to release our children into their destiny--that's the privilege of parenting."

        In these pages you will gain the wisdom, kingdom concepts, and practical tools you need to help raise your children to their best.

        You'll discover how to parent to their uniqueness, gifts, and strengths, as well as how you can demonstrate and reveal who God is to your kids. The authors also address pressing issues parents face today, including how to

        • be fully engaged in hearing what the Lord is saying over each child
        • maintain relationship and discipline
        • develop character
        • train your children for worship
        • fan the flame of what God has put in their hearts
        • and more

        No matter what age your kids are, you have an incredible opportunity to shape their hearts, minds, and values. Here is everything you need to help your children walk into the destiny of their lives and see them become the awesome people they were created to be.


        I read this book last year because I loved the purpose. We look to not just survive as parents but to grow confident and bold children, who know their God, their purpose and who believe they can change the world. We try to parent with the end in mind, looking to the adults we hope they will become.

        Some notes from the book that I took:

        God's kind of leaders lead best when they live conscious of the following facts:

        • Nothing is impossible
        • God is very personal and is aware of our thoughts and intents
        • We are not God
        • God is not under our control
        • All of us will give an account to God for our lives


        If he did not learn to use the weapons himself, he would have to depend on the help of others to be okay. The four weapons are these:

        1. The blood of Jesus
        2. The Word of God
        3. The name of Jesus
        4. Praise


        The book can be found:

        Had A Bad Day? Watch This

        Tuesday, May 19, 2020

        Some of these made me laugh so hard. Sorry for those whose pain caused my entertainment.

        Blog tags: 

        Be An Example To Parents

        Monday, May 18, 2020

        1 Timothy 4:12 says Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

        Last week we looked at being an example to the youth we lead. This week, let's look at being an example to the parents. In what ways can we be an example to them?

        Respect & Honour - there can be tension between youth leaders and parents sometimes, we can still be examples of respect and honour with the parents of our youth. Do all you can to show respect and preserve relationship. Sometimes this is not easy. Sometimes preserving a relationship is not possible because of the other person. But as much as it is within your ability, speak and act with respect and showing honour.

        Culture - culture is ever changing and it can be hard to keep up. It can also be hard for some to find the redeeming factors of a culture. We can be an example to parents by how we engage and influence the culture of our youth. Not everything in youth culture is bad, but not all of it is good either. We can help parents see the good, and understand how to engage in conversations with their youth about the things that need to be redeemed.

        Faith & Hope - as people who are one step removed from the day to day lives of our youth, we can add some perspective. Some parents can get caught up in a moment or season of crisis. They may lose sight of hope. We can be an example of faith, speaking hope and life into the circumstance. That is not about trying to make it better with Christian cliches, that is about pointing parents to Jesus, who loves their child too. And a God who can redeem circumstances.

        As youth leader's we have the privilege of partnering with God, partnering with parents and serving young people. We won't get it right every time, but we can ask God to help us be leaders that love. Leaders that show grace. Leaders that look and serve, not just the youth but their parents.

        With God in you and with you, you are able to make a difference.

        Links for Week 16/5

        Saturday, May 16, 2020

        Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week. Hopefully they are helpful. If you have any helpful blogs or resources then let us know and we can monitor them for content.

        Youth Ministry




        Culture / Current issues


        Soul Care


        Family related



          Hosting A Parent Event

          Friday, May 15, 2020

          One of the most common ways to connect with parents is with a parent event. It is a great way to connect with and communicate with multiple parents all in one hit. Whether it is an evening, a breakfast or a meeting after church.

          Of course the challenge these days is getting people into the room at the same time and place. Even pre-COVID, people were busy and difficult to coordinate for a combined meeting. But there is benefit in those face to face moments, which is why they are still part of youth ministry.

          Why have a parent event?

          • Connection - connection between youth leaders to parents, and connection between parents
          • Inform - to discuss the youth ministry, programs, events, camp, fundraising etc
          • Input - bring helpful resources or content that will help the parents
          • Buy in - whether to gain support or volunteers, sharing vision and need can be part of a parent event
          • Feedback - sometimes you need feedback from parents 


          Organising a parent event?

          The five big things to consider when planning a parent event are purpose, time, place, content and communication.

          Purpose: why are you having this event/meeting? You may be able to achieve multiple aims, but there should be one key purpose. This will help you make informed decisions around other parts. It will also be a crucial part at the end when you ask if the event was a success.

          Time: when will you be holding this event. What day of the week? What date? What time? This is definitely the aspect that you should get good input from parents on, if you want people to show up. There is never going to be one particular time that will suit everyone, so you need to make a decision on when you expect to get the most people there. You also need to choose a date far enough in the future that will give parents time to plan to be there.

          Place: where will you have it? Make sure you find a suitable space that will help serve your purpose. If the main purpose is social then a cafe type setting is probably going to serve you better than a class room. If you are aiming to present information then a space with a large TV or projector may be needed. Make sure it is convenient for the parents to get there at the date and time you have set.

          Content: what will happen? Will there be food and drink? Will there be time for socializing? What information do you need to present and how will you present it? Will people walk away with something in their hand? Will you need people to help present or serve or coordinate? Will I need a runsheet to help coordinate? Will this honour the time and effort parents have made to attend? All these and more will need to be answered to make your event run smoothly and achieve your purpose.

          Communication: how will you make sure that all parents are aware? Remember that they need to know early enough that they can make best efforts to be there. Choosing methods for communication and regularity will help make this more successful. Do as much as is reasonably possible for all parents to have heard about the event multiple times.



          There is value in the face to face interactions when a parents event that is held in person. But in person events have their challenges. So it is worth considering other options. And maybe you plan 1-2 in person events each year and then have a couple of other alternatives at other times. This list will age quickly as not these technologies will be available in 6 months, but the principles should continue.

          Online video chat - tools like Zoom or Skype create an opportunity for group calls, video or audio. This still requires a date and time, content and communication, but it eliminates the need to travel to a specific location. This can make it more convenient. Managing the attendees can be challenging, especially if there is any discussion or Q&A. So I would recommend having a co-host who can focus on the tech.

          Live Video - Facebook and Instagram have options where you can broadcast live, and interact with comments from viewers. This has some value when presenting content live but has limited interaction. Again, there is a date, time, content and communication required.

          Online chat - chat using text and emojis etc. You need to be very cautious using text based interactions, as there is no non-verbal cues. You have to try and interpret the tone of the writing. And what one person thought was playful banter, someone else may read as rude and confronting. Use this sparingly.

          Pre-recorded video - this gives people the chance to interact with the content at a time that is convenient to them. It is primarly one way but can be useful. It requires content and communication but removes the need for date, time and place. Just make sure that you have good quality audio on the video. Nothing more frustrating that not hearing things clearly.

          Mixture -  mix and match the alternatives. You could record the video chat and post it so people can watch it later, to at least get the content. You could pre-record a video and then host multiple Q&A sessions at different times so that people can interact and get more information.


          If It Doesn't Work

          We have all had events that didn't go how we hoped, and parent events can miss our expectations too. So somethings to keep in mind:

          • Be positive and hopeful, but temper it with realism. The chances are that not all parents will be there, so don't expect it.
          • During the meeting, focus your energy on those that made the effort to be there.
          • Review afterwards - what went well and what needs work, make adjustments as necessary for future events
          • Follow up - follow up with those that were there, thanking them for coming and get their feedback. Follow up with those that weren't there and let them know that you missed them and pass them any important informaton that they may need.
          • Use positive parents to help promote the next event. If there were parents that found value in the event, then use them to help promote the next one you do.


          Tell us about your parent events and communication. What has worked in person and online? What hasn't worked?

          Train Up A Child

          Thursday, May 14, 2020

          Artificial Maturity

          Wednesday, May 13, 2020

          Book Blurb

          How to raise kids who can handle the real world.

          Today's Generation iY (teens brought up with the Internet) and Homelanders (children born after 9/11) are overexposed to information at an earlier age than ever and paradoxically are underexposed to meaningful relationships and real-life experiences. Artificial Maturity addresses the problem of what to do when parents and teachers mistake children's superficial knowledge for real maturity. The book is filled with practical steps that adults can take to furnish the experiences kids need to balance their abilities with authentic maturity.

          Shows how to identify the problem of artificial maturity in Generation iY and Homelanders Reveals what to do to help children balance autonomy, responsibility, and information Includes a down-to-earth model for coaching and guiding youth to true maturity Artificial Maturity gives parents, teachers, and others who work with youth a manual for understanding and practicing the leadership kids so desperately need to mature in a healthy fashion. 


          My Thoughts

          I found this book a great read to help understand the current generation as well as how to help them. This is good read for both youth leaders and parents. I think one of the most striking parts was how we have not properly prepared our teens for life because we have not communicated the right messages. Below is a summary of one part of the book.

          During their first eight to nine years of life, specific messages should have been sent their way:

          1. You are loved
          2. You are unique
          3. You have gifts 
          4. You are safe 
          5. You are valuable

          Once the above foundation has been laid, what emerging adults need to learn:

          1. Life is difficult 
          2. You are not in control
          3. You are not that important 
          4. You are going to die
          5. Your life is not about you


          Try and get your hands on this book, whether purchasing it or getting it from your local library. it is worth it.

          You can buy the book from:

          Treehouse Insult

          Tuesday, May 12, 2020

          Something to make you chuckle today.


          Blog tags: 

          An Example To Youth

          Monday, May 11, 2020

          1 Timothy 4:12 says Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

          Simon Sinek says "Leaders are the ones who have the courage to go first and open a path for others to follow."

          As youth leaders, we are an example, no matter our age. We are an example for the youth that we lead and we should take that seriously.

          We should be an example of respect. We should speak respectfully about parents, youth, other leaders, other members, our community. I know what it is like to go for the quick and cheap laugh. It feels good for a moment but does not feel good in the long run. Now I am all for some healthy humour, just learn the line between humour and disrespect.

          We should be an example of grace. We all mess up. We all need God's grace. Encourage your youth to stretch and grow in their faith. Encourage your youth to believe the promises of a big God. Encourage your youth towards obedience. But remember that God has extended his grace to you in your weaknesses and failures. So when a young person messes up. extend that same grace to them. And when their parents mess up, extend grace to them, and teach the youth to do the same.

          Let's be leaders who set the example of how broken humanity has been reconciled to God, and how broken humans can serve and love others.

          Links for Week 9/5

          Saturday, May 9, 2020

          Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week.

          Youth Ministry






          Soul Care


          Family related



            Starting A Parent Ministry

            Friday, May 8, 2020

            If you thought that your role as a youth pastor or youth leader was just to plan and run programs and events for youth, then think again. Those young people are part of a family with parent/s or care-giver/s that are responsible for them 24/7, even when they are with you.

            The statistics have not changed in the overall influence of the parents or long-term primary carers in young people's lives. Caring adults definitely have a role. But parents are how God designed it.

            So we can either push against it, or we can partner with it. In my experience, resourcing and partnering with parents is the best long-term strategy if we care about young people.

            I can almost see some of you rolling your eyes. You are thinking "Great! So I connect with young people, organise programs, communicate, relate to my pastor or direct report, manage my team, manage the budget. And now you are telling me that I also have to take care of parents? Really? When?"

            And the answer is, "Yes, as you are able."

            It would be unrealistic to expect some gold class program next week that will serve the parents of your youth, and win you youth worker of the year. You need to look at what level you can achieve and also who you have that can help. So let's have a look at some thoughts on this.

            Settle It In Your Heart

            Before stepping towards parent ministry, you need to settle in your heart that this something that you should prioritise. If you do this only because someone has said to then it will not last. Some ways that you can do that:

            • Pray it over, asking God to show you his priority on parents and family, and how you can honour that
            • Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and see how the Bible puts the primary care on the parents to be spritual leaders first.
            • Read Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
            • Do some of your own research into family and parent ministry

            Once you have settled it in your heart, then some practical aspects to get you started.


            Communication Basics

            At this level of parent ministry, you do what you can to make sure that parents are aware of the details of your program and calendar. You may need to do a little research into the best communication channels to use and find the top 3-4 options. Some current channels to consider:

            • Church newsletter/bulletin (printed or digital)
            • Email (use MailChimp or similar)
            • Text messaging
            • Church website / youth page
            • Facebook - church page, youth page, parents group, all of the above
            • Instagram
            • Postcards at your church's information desk
            • Printed monthly calendar
            • Whats App group
            • Twitter

            There are multiple other ways, you just need to find the ones that most parents actually use and check. Also try to partner these with ease of distribution. If you can create one graphic that can be easily adapted to 2-3 channels then that is ideal. And if you can find tools like Buffer or Hootsuite that can schedule social media posts then make use of them.


            Communication Plus

            This level of parent ministry takes the previous one up a notch. It has all the components of Level 1, but adds extras. So not just information, but resources. For example, give the parents an overview of the content from a sermon or Bible study. Include some questions that might spark conversations with their young person. Add to that any articles or resources that might be able to help them. Every Saturday I try and post a bunch of links to articles that might help you, and there is a family section. By all means have a look at those articles and pass one or two through to your parents.

            This is a simple move from communicating information to adding value.


            Meet A Need

            There are many needs and concerns that parents have. You won't be able to meet all of them, but take a poll of the parents with a short-list of 4-5 topics and see if there is interest. Pick one of the top two topics and then find a way to present helpful materials on that topic. Some thoughts on how to meet the needs.

            • Host a meeting - communicate date, time, location and content, and make sure it is high value
            • Host an online meeting
            • Consider who the best communicator would be. If you have credibility and the time to collate the materials, then take the opportunity. Maybe there is someone else on your team or in your church who are more suitable.
            • Outsource to external providers - if there is another organisation then find a way to get them in front of parents
            • Find and provide resources - books, DVDs, online material etc
            • Create a small group resource that can be used within existing small groups
            • Do an interview with an expert either live or recorded
            • Make it as practical as you can

            Once you have done this once, learn the lessons and try and do another one at a later time.


            Find a Volunteer

            If you are serious about serving parents and families, then find a volunteer who can serve in this area. Someone who's main responsibility is for parents. Anyone with a heart for it can serve in this area, but one to consider is an empty nester who has raised teens and who has a heart for other parents. They don't have to have been perfect parents (there is no such thing) but some level of credibility is important.



            Connections between parents can be helpful. This may already be happening through your church's small group structures, and if it is then that is great. If it isn't then look for ways that parents can connect and support each other. Promote open diaglogue and honesty in these moments. We often think that our circumstances are unique and no-one else has seen this, but often there are others. Letting parents know that they are not alone can be very helpful for them.

            You may want to consider short courses that gather parents to help develop and resource them. Maybe every so often you can run a cafe at the same time as youth, so parents can bring their youth, hang around and chat and be resourced. Online opportunities are good, just make sure you have the right privacy settings to protect the parents and youth.


            A Resource Library/Database

            Think about creating a resource library. I don't just mean books, but websites, DVDs, YouTube videos, courses etc. I know of some churches that have a database of experiences. They find people who have navigated difficult situations and are willing to be support people. So it could be spirituality, attitude and behaviour, self-esteem issues, mental health challenges, technology, pornography, sexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, or many other areas. Our world is complex and having resources and people available can help the parents navigate and care for their youth.


            Those are just some ideas that are out there. You may have come across or be running others and we would love to hear what has worked for you. If you have questions or want some help or guidance then let us know and we would love to assist.

            The Shema

            Thursday, May 7, 2020

            Local Parenting Courses

            Wednesday, May 6, 2020

            Today's post is a couple of courses to help parents, one of which will also benefit youth leaders. Obviously the timing of the actual courses is fluid at this moment in time but bookmark them for future.

            The Parenting Place

            Parenting Place is the charity with a heart for New Zealand Families

            We’re here to walk alongside you and your whānau from the moment your little one is born, until the time they raise tamariki of their own. Whether you have a newborn, a teenager, a troupe of grandkids, or nieces and nephews, we have a range of programmes, courses, camps and resources, tailored for you and your whānau.

            Everything we do is designed to inspire, encourage, and support the strengthening of your relationships. We make sure it’s fun and entertaining along the way too.

            Our Toolbox parenting courses are bursting with practical strategies, ideas and insights to inspire and equip you on your parenting journey – wherever you’re up to (Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years or Teenage Years).

            Toolbox courses are held over six weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The courses – Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, and Teenage Years run nationwide all year. There is also a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren resource available.

            Courses are facilitated by trained local volunteers who are friendly and supportive. They keep each session flowing smoothly and will support you to engage with the material. Each session will leave you with a range of activities and strategies to try at home.

            Brainwave Trust

            Our aim is to raise public awareness about new findings in brain research and to educate everyone who has an impact on the early life of a child about the important implications of this knowledge on our children’s physical, social, intellectual and emotional development.

            They have a course called Unravelling the Adolescent Brain. 

            In this informative, entertaining presentation the audience will gain an understanding of the latest information on brain changes and hence the behaviours we observe as a child transitions through adolescence to an adult.

            These seminars and workshops are for parents and professionals who are working with adolescents – school teachers and board of governors, youth workers, foster and care providers and families; corrections, CYFs, police, health providers and anyone else who has contact with teenagers.

            Our information is entirely based on up-to-date scientific medical research. Our work is scientific and evidence based, our message is positive and is important to our whole community.

            I thought that Focus On The Family NZ might have had some courses but they only had some online videos and other resources. I was more impressed with the parenting resources available on the Focus On The Family US website, so go check those out as well.

            Matt McGill - HazMatt

            Tuesday, May 5, 2020

            This guy is seriously hilarious. Some of his earlier videos are pretty funny, but here is the most recent one for your amusement (and slight trauma).

            Ask For Wisdom

            Monday, May 4, 2020

            James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

            I firmly believe that much of my teenage and early adult life was impacted by me praying this prayer. Knowing myself and what was happening, there are a number of things that can only be explained because God gave me wisdom.

            As we approach the topic of parents and parent ministry, wisdom is needed. You are dealing with families and people can be very emotional and protective of their families. Both youth and parents. Wisdom is needed in those moments.

            We are moving forward in these times with the COVID-19 virus having it's impact. We need wisdom in regards to how we proceed. What we restart and when. How we reconnect with others.

            No matter how much experience or how much you may know, godly wisdom is always beneficial.

            I am reminded of a church consultant that I know. In 2007, he was approached by a couple of churches who were looking to purchase their own property. Without any imperical evidence, but by the wisdom of God, he strongly urged them to wait. 2008 was the Global Financial Crisis when property values dropped dramatically. Not only were they saved from having a mortgage with negative equity, but were able to buy their ideal buildings at a much better price.

            Whatever situation you may be facing at the moment, pray for wisdom. Whether it is about a leader, a volunteer, a student, a parent, a resource, a program etc, God is able to give you wisdom to get through it. And not just scrape through it, but maybe even to come through with a win/win result.

            God, we ask you for wisdom. We ask you to give us wisdom for our personal lives, wisdom for our ministry life, wisdom for our relationships, wisdom for our work place and wisdom for our finances. Let us hear from you and let our lives reflect your kingdom and your heart. Amen.

            Links for Week 2/5

            Saturday, May 2, 2020

            Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week.

            Youth Ministry






              Soul Care


              Family related




                May - Parent Ministry

                Friday, May 1, 2020

                Our theme for the month of May is parents and parent ministry.

                Some of our greatest allies and the greatest challenges we can have are the parents of the youth that we lead. If we can understand how to partner with parents, how to resource parents and how to communicate with parents then we can make our life a lot easier. We ignore or mistreat parents at our own peril.

                This month we are going to look at the how and why of parent ministry; running parent meetings; handling difficult parents; and partnering with parents. There will also be some resources that you can share with your parents.

                If you have questions or need resources in this area, then let us know, we have more ideas than there is time to share in this month. And your circumstance might require some specific assistance.

                Iron Sharpens Iron

                Thursday, April 30, 2020

                Small Group Video Resources

                Wednesday, April 29, 2020

                One great way for us to help students engage with studies and discussion is to use video clips as part of the study. So to help you with that we have found a few websites that will help you.

                We hope that is of some assistance as you lead students.

                A Conference Call In Real Life

                Tuesday, April 28, 2020

                In the current life of video calls, this is hilarious.


                Certainty In Uncertain Times

                Monday, April 27, 2020

                Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

                We are living in times where there is a high degree of uncertainty. Politicians used to be respected and trusted, they were considered public servants. I am not sure there are many who would consider politics as an honourable profession. Doctors used to be more trusted and respected, now we are sceptical about whether we can trust their prescriptions. Journalism used to be an industry that would find the truth even if its unpopular, now so many have an angle and an agenda.

                Now, we have this season where a virus has disrupted the world. And most of the time we just wanted to go about our life and love on young people.

                I am reminded that our confidence is not in politicians, doctors, media, celebrities or even our pastors. Our confidence is in God. The unseen but ever present God. The loving God who came to earth as a man and lived through moments where things looked uncertain.

                How do we stand with certainty during uncertain times? Because our hearts and mind are set on our God.

                Ministry may look and feel different. Work may look and feel different. Relationships may look different in this season. Our God is still faithful.

                Dealing With Distracting And Disruptive Youth

                Friday, April 24, 2020

                It won't take you long as small group leader to come across one or two youth who are distracting or disruptive. To be honest, on any given day, any of your youth can be a cause for disruption. We all have our days when we don't want to pay attention, or we feel like we need to be the centre of attention. And teenagers who have a lot happening are going to do this too.

                Handling distraction and disruption is a key skill as a small group leader. Below are some pointers to help you manage these moments.

                Start with a light-hearted approach. If a young person is being disruptive or distracting, don't jump down their throat and embarrass them. First try to brush it off and get them back on track in a friendly manner.

                Believe and speak the best. If we interact with youth believing the best and speaking that into their lives then you are going to win more times than not. 

                Prioritise relationship. We can sometimes lose sight of the big picture. It is not just about getting through a Bible study but about discipleship. Discipleship is part informational but the larger portion is relational. do your best to preserve relationship. If your relationship with them is weak, then intentionally work on that. If the young person is asked to spend time away from the group for a period, than a leader should be connecting weekly at minimum.

                Have some agreed ground rules. As a group, setting some ground rules for how you operate and how you treat each other is a good idea. It gives a clear understanding of what is expected. The hard part is enforcing those rules. But if you have the ground rules or guidelines, then you have a basis for the initial conversations and what expectations are not being met.

                Get them involved. Sometimes young people are disruptive because they are bored, uninvested or unchallenged. So find ways for them to not just show up but to have some responsibility. If you see leadership potential then let them know that you see it and want to help them develop it and express it in a way that helps the other young people.

                Speak with your supervisor/direct report. If it is an ongoing issue then get some input and help. Sometimes there are things going on in the world of the young person that you weren't aware of. Sometimes they can help with support and resources.

                Have a discipline process and follow it. It is important that this process is set before you have an issue and that the process is primarily restorative. A reactive process is a relational minefield. When needed, the process needs to be clearly communicated to all parties, young person and their parents. And if it gets to the point where it needs to be enforced then follow through with love and a heart towards restoration.

                One helpful article had this list of things to think about:

                1. Kids are imperfect. They are going to distract, disrupt, and disrespect.
                2. We can choose how we come off to kids who do the above things.
                3. How we choose to treat kids says a lot about what we believe about the Gospel.
                4. We should never embarrass a student, no matter what they do.
                5. In the context of our relationship with a student, we should plainly lay out the expectations of how to behave during our events. When those expectations are violated, we should be prepared with simple discipline measures.
                6. We should make parents aware of any problems that persist, and ask for their help in dealing with it.
                7. We should be patient. I know a lot of on-fire Christian adults who were the biggest troublemakers in their youth groups.

                Some other articles, including the one with the above list are:
                Behavior Issues: Disruptive Behavior on Teen Sunday School Place
                How to handle difficult and disruptive students on Life In Student Ministry
                Simmer Down Now on The Source For Youth Ministry

                What have you done to help with distracting or disruptive youth?

                Keep Encouraging Each Other

                Thursday, April 23, 2020

                All Together - Small Groups

                Wednesday, April 22, 2020

                Another great NZ resource by the team at All Together, especially designed for small groups. The website has resources on how to establish intentional disciple-making church small groups and has a number of gifts, videos and links.

                • The first relates to mobilising outreach through church small groups.
                • The second relates to making ‘disciple-making disciples’ through church small groups
                • The third is links to a few other resources.

                We hope this is helpful as you continue to develop and grow your small group ministries.

                Student Ministers During Quarantine

                Tuesday, April 21, 2020

                Finding some humour during these difficult seasons. Enjoy

                For Such A Time As This

                Monday, April 20, 2020

                Esther 4:14 reminds us that God has his timing. We may feel underqualified, we may feel uncertain, especially during the times we are going through. From my experience, the more unqualified and uncertain we feel, the more we lean into God.

                And that is exactly where God wants us. He wants us in a place where we are just out of our depth. If we could do it on our own then why would he send the Holy Spirit. If we had all the answers then we wouldn't need to ask for and receive His wisdom.

                Don't feel bad in those times you are struggling, we all have them, even youth workers with decades under their belt have moments where they struggle.

                Step into God's presence. Listen for his voice again, confirming to you that you are in the right place, and giving you wisdom and faith for the path forward.

                Remember that you are never alone and if there is ever anything we could do then you can contact us any time.

                Links for Week 18/4

                Saturday, April 18, 2020

                Building Small Group Connections

                Friday, April 17, 2020

                The role of a small group leader is part Bible teacher and part relationship builder. As a small group leader, there are a number of connections and relationships that you need to be aware of and work on. Below are some thoughts on how you can build those relationships.

                Connection with young people

                The obvious job is to connect with youth people, and to connect those young people with God. Making time during small group for conversation about their life and praying for their needs should go without saying. But outside of group time, here are some ideas for connecting:

                • Attend one of their extra-curriculars like a sports event, school production etc
                • Message them during the week, share something funny or interesting you found that they might like.
                • Call them during the week
                • Take them on an errand with you
                • Get them to help you on a project
                • Invite them for dinner or take them to their favourite fast food place
                • Do a fun activity together like an arcade or whatever
                • Pop over to their home for a visit
                • Let them know you were praying for them
                • Remember and celebrate their birthday
                • Remember other significant dates. For example, if they have lost a loved one then remember that person's birthday and day of death. These are traditionally the harder days to get through

                There a many more ideas and they can be as individual as the youth you are serving. Be wise in your interactions. If you can take at least 2 youth for outings (or a youth and another leader) then you increase connections and have a degree of protection for your reputation. And share the love, don't just pick your favourite youth all the time, make sure you try to connect with all of them.


                Connection between young people

                Beyond your connection with young people, you should be working to connect young people to each other. Friendships formed in small groups can last a lifetime. If we can facilitate those connections then we are helping them grow. Some ideas that can help facilitate that are:

                • Serving together - when a small group serves others together, they build stronger bonds
                • Use technology that can help foster connection, like a WhatsApp group or Facebook Group for your small group to communicate
                • Foster trust between youth, so that if someone shares something personal then it stays in the group
                • Have the youth pray for each other
                • Have fun together

                Connection is best built over positive shared experiences. So build those into your program and calendar.


                Connection with parents

                This is really important but that many leaders forget or don't prioritize it. Depending on the age of your youth, they are the gate keepers and determine if they come to small group or not. Also, biblically, they are the principle carer for the young people and the one who God will hold most responsible for them. Being a small group leader is a balancing act between confidante and appropriate disclosure.

                You need to have clear guidelines from your church leadership on when to keep confidentiality and when to escalate and disclose. The main thing is to make sure you never promise 100% confidentiality to a young person. If they believe that is what they have and you share something with a parent then you have broken trust. To connect with parents:

                • Communicate information early and often
                • Use multiple communication channels but try and find the best
                • Make time before or after small group to connect with parents as they drop off and pick up
                • Never speak badly about parents
                • Find specific things to speak well of their youth to them
                • At least once a year, (probably early in year) try and gather with the parents so they can meet you and have a conversation about the year
                • Ask them about themselves and their family


                Connection with your direct report

                Everyone's structures are different, so make sure you know how you answer to directly and anyone else who might be in the authority chain. In some contexts, your primary connection may be the youth pastor, but also have connection with the small groups leader for the whole church. Make sure you and all the parties are clear on who the main point of contact is.

                Some things to consider when connecting with your direct report:

                • What information do they want and when do they want it
                • Share positive stories
                • Share challenges or areas you need support
                • Thank them in meaningful ways


                What ways have you found to connect with youth, parents and supervisors?

                Spur One Another On

                Wednesday, April 15, 2020

                Blog tags: 

                Starting Small Groups Strong

                Wednesday, April 15, 2020

                DYM have a freebie available that was a training presented by Steve Gladen, who has written multiple books on small groups while pastoring the small group team at Saddleback Church.

                Starting Small Groups Strong is currently a freebie on Download Youth Ministry, and we hope it is a blessing to you. If it ever stops being free, then let me know and will share what I have downloaded.

                This kickoff training video was originally part of the 12 Conference - an online conference to help train small group leaders. And while there may be a reference to “this event” here or a “broadcast at your church” there, it is still incredibly valuable tool to help your small group leaders grow in their basic leadership skills.

                This lesson focuses on the “why of small groups” and how to help them start strong. While it might not be youth ministry specific, there’s a lot of good content in it for a good youth ministry training event (or just for you).

                Really Bad Analogies

                Tuesday, April 14, 2020

                The following are bad analogies written by High School Students. Enjoy.

                • Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
                • He was as tall as a 6'3" tree
                • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master
                • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00pm instead of 7:30.
                • John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
                • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
                • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
                • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
                • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
                • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
                • The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
                • The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
                Blog tags: 

                The Power of Connection

                Monday, April 13, 2020

                We are designed to live connected. Connected with our family, connected with our church, connected with our community and connected with our world.

                We are living in a time when connection is being stretched and under stress.

                As leaders, we are having to use different ways to connect with our people. Some ways are successful, others not so much. And as the leader, we are initiating most of those connections and feeling it when it doesn't work. So today, make sure you have the right connections.

                Connect with God - don't miss the opportunity with less happening to connect with God, for your own relationship.

                Connect with life-giving friends - find creative ways to hang out. I have seen options where you can watch a movie together from different locations. You might be able to play games online against each other with video or audio calls.

                Connect with mentors & counsellors - don't feel that just because you can't speak face to face that they aren't available for you.

                Find meaningful and soul-filling connection, so you can be sustained in this season.

                Writing Your Own Bible Study From Scratch

                Friday, April 10, 2020

                Pre-prepared curriculum is great, but sometimes you have to write your own small group study. Maybe there is something on your heart, maybe you have some budget constraints, maybe there is a specific need. Whatever your reason, below are some steps and advice to help you prepare a great Bible study.

                1. Prayer is the foundation

                So often we want to launch straight into the the "ductive" side of thproe process, reading texts, getting words down and coming up with ideas. But we need to remember that we are stewards for God, stewards of his Word, stewards of the young people and stewards of the opportunity. As faithful stewards, praying and inviting God into the process, product and outcome is crucial.

                Writing a Bible study without praying is like using an electric beater but without power. You will get a degree of result but it will take longer, it will be more draining and it won't be as good. So pause in your process to pray. Pray for wisdom, for faith, for courage, for insight and creativity.

                2. Make time to prepare

                It is shameful the number of times I have thrown a Bible study together in a last minute rush. My history means I have a reasonable amount of depth to draw from. But I know my lack of preparation short changed those young people more often than I knocked it out of the park, when I hadn't properly prepared.

                Set time aside to prepare properly. The pay-off for you and the youth you lead will be noticeable.

                3. Borrow but don't rob

                We should be having regular time with God for ourselves. Those times with God can be moments of inspiration and moments that influence you for ministry. So it is ok to take the things that God is doing in you and use them in the context of ministry. It is not ok to substitute time with God with time preparing for ministry.

                So borrow from what God is doing in you when you lead and minister, but don't rob your quiet time to spend it on ministry prep.

                4. Have good study aids

                Good study aids include things like a study Bible, a concordance, commentaries, solid articles/websites. Many of these can be accessed through the internet, just make sure they are reputable.

                A study Bible will often have some degree of commentary and will have links to similar scriptures so you can follow the thread.

                A concordance can help you find scriptures with similar words, it can also help you understand the depth of the original language. So when you read "ask and you shall receive" you can understand that the original context of "ask" was not a one-time and done deal, it was continuous. So it really means "ask and keep on asking, and you shall receive".

                Commentaries can give you context. So when you read the gospels you understand them to be a narrative with a particular focus and perspective. Like Matthew aimed his gospel at the Jews, so he had genealogies and prophesies. But Mark was more Greek and so it was more action packed. And when you read Revelation you can understand that it is prophetic and allegorical/symbolic. So when it talks about the mark of the Beast on the forehead and hand, that it is more likely to be about the mind and actions of the people, than it is to be about a physical microchip. They also help you understand the context of the letters that Paul wrote.

                Solid articles and websites can help us process and even challenge some of our ideas so we can wrestle with them.

                5. Have a list

                If you are regularly preparing Bible studies then having a list of topics, scriptures, Bible stories, characters etc, is helpful for some inspiration. Of course if you read one of our earlier blog posts then you might already be working through your own scope and sequence. This topic list could be part of a 3 year strategy, or it might just a list collated when you surveyed the youth on topics they wanted to discuss. However you get it, it is helpful to reduce the paralysis that can come when you have to come up with another topic.

                6. Select an idea and define the purpose

                When you select your idea, it is also helpful to state the purpose for the study. The purpose is the one thing you want to achieve. Your topic could be relationships. So your purpose this week is to explore and discuss what the Bible defines as a healthy relationship.

                When you define your purpose it helps you cull out the unnecessary. Let's be honest, just like YouTube can be series of rabbit trails through various broadly linked videos, Bible study can be the same. You follow one line of thinking that opens up a couple of other ideas. You follow those a bit and they might be good and juicy, but if they don't serve the purpose of this study then they are for a future moment. Record those thoughts some where and then get back to the purpose.

                7. Research and gather

                This is the bulk of the time. It is collecting scriptures. It is reading commentaries. It is reading articles. It is jotting down thoughts etc. Try and reference it back to the purpose but don't be too rigid in the early stages. Once you start hanging things on your structure you can exclude and cull. Find what works for you. Whether it is post its, paper, computer etc, however you want to collect and organise is up to you.

                8. Double check idea and purpose

                Sometimes in the research and gathering phase we realize we want to go in a slightly different (or totally different) direction. So just do a check in with that and make sure the idea and purpose are still what they were. Take the opportunity to pray over it once again. Once that is settled then move on.

                9. Hang it onto your structure

                However your group operates, this is where you take that basic structure and start putting content and questions into place. For example, we used to run a 5 part structure.

                1. Hook - something to get their attention. Maybe a story, a video, a question. Something that gets their attention and frames the topic
                2. Scriptures - look at the key scripture/s related to the study. May include questions to help clarify and explain
                3. Key question/thought - linked to your purpose this is what you hope the night revolves around
                4. Discussion - questions, answers, push-back, debate etc
                5. Action - what do we want them to do with this? Is there something to start doing, stop doing, think about, pray about, wrestle with. Sometimes we don't wrap things up with a nice bow. Sometimes things are left hanging and we have to encourage them to wrestle with it and touch base later on

                Your structure may be totally different, but whatever it is, put together the scriptures, thoughts and discussion questions.

                10. Look for creative ideas

                How are you going to add creativity to the study to help engage the youth? Is there a video clip, a song, a story, an object lesson that might help make it stick better? Maybe you switch up the night and you split the group up to research for themselves. Or they have to prepare a short debate as a team. Maybe you go offsite to another location that will help with the topic. Maybe there is someone in your world that has a testimony or understanding that will add a different voice. There are many ways to mix it up, but try not to crowbar a creative idea into a study. If it feels forced, then it will be.

                11. Get some input

                Try and get a couple of trusted people to have a look at it. If you can get a student to check it over, then that can help. As words on a page it may not quite be the same as you leading it on the night, and they may not know your group, but it is worth getting some other eyes looking at it.

                12. Review with grace

                A post meeting analysis is going to happen whether you plan it or not, just review the night with grace. Did you feel properly prepared? Was it relevant? Did the youth engage?

                Remember that there are some nights that are just off nights. For whatever reason, you can be fully prayed up, prepared, great topic and ideas, and it just falls flat. Maybe one of the key youth had had a fight with their family and so they didn't bring their usual energy and input. There are a million reasons that it didn't work. All you can do is figure out if there is anything you need to do to grow and do better next time.


                We hope that helps you as you prepare Bible studies and as you disciple young people. What do you do to prepare? What creative ideas have you used to help youth engage with the content?

                Double-edged Sword

                Thursday, April 9, 2020


                Wednesday, April 8, 2020

       is a set of resources for building and maintaining a healthy small group ministry. It has resources to help you develop the ministry and leaders as well as Bible studies. Now these Bible studies are not youth specific but there are plenty of other places were you can get youth Bible studies. We use Orange, but DYM has some, Life Church, Grow Curriculum are all some of the many options.

                We hope that these resources help you establish the basis and team that you need to build a strong small groups ministry.

                What resources have you used for your small group ministry?


                Rubbish Bag Prank

                Tuesday, April 7, 2020

                This is probably one of the best I have seen and made me laugh. Enjoy

                Blog tags: 

                An Open Letter to Small Group Leaders Everywhere

                Monday, April 6, 2020

                An Open Letter to Small Group Leaders Everywhere first appeared on Mark Howell Live

                We hope it is an encouragement to those who lead small groups.


                Dear small group leader,

                I hope this letter finds you well (and that may have never been a more important hope than today).

                I also hope this letter finds you ready to play the part God designed you to play. He designed you to have a particular shape and wiring. And like a fingerprint, your design is unique to you.

                And that unique design ought to direct you to an important reality; an important truth.

                In order for you to hear well done, you need to lead your group in keeping with the way God has designed you.

                Have you ever thought of that?

                It's true! Your unique design indicates how you can best lead your group. And the way you can best lead your group is not identical to the way another leader might best lead her group. Or another might best lead his group.

                In other words, in order to hear well done we will each need to lead in the way we were designed.

                Hearing well done is always the result of stewarding well what we've been given (see Matthew 25: 14-30).

                Finally, I hope you caring well for the members of your small group! There has never been a more important season in which to be in regular contact with your members.

                Social distancing and sheltering-in-place make it even more essential for your daily activity to include phone calls and FaceTime, text messages, Facebook posts (or messages), and emails to everyone. Encouraging your members to do the same will boost awareness of belonging.

                When you check in with each other, add "Do you need anything?" to your conversation. One of the marks of the early Church was their reputation for sharing what they had with each other (Acts 4:32). May that be true of your group!

                And while you're at it, be sure and pray for and with your members. And encourage them to do the same for each other.

                These are interesting times! May you lead as never before! And may we all hear well done!


                Links for Week 4/4

                Saturday, April 4, 2020

                Below are a series of links to articles and resources that I have seen this week.

                Youth Ministry






                  Soul Care


                  Family related



                  Blog tags: 

                  Small Group Discussion Skills

                  Friday, April 3, 2020

                  One of the biggest skills in being a small group leader is how to lead a discussion. It is a learned skill, and we all have our good days and our bad days, but let's have a look at some skills that can help.

                  Know your content

                  When leading a discussion, the better you know the content the better. Also understanding your own beliefs is also helpful. Its like trying to get someone as a local vs someone trying to look at a map. A visitor is unfamiliar with the side roads and is only comfortable sticking to the main roads and they way they know. But a local knows that there are about 5-8 different ways to get where they are going. So if things take a different turn than expected, they can get it back on track and to the right destination.

                  Just understand that the destination is not necessarily that all the young people finish the time with the same belief as you. If it is a core Christian belief then obviously that is the desired long term result, but let them wrestle with it. Then just be present for the journey towards their own faith.

                  Use open-ended questions

                  Discussion needs to be that, it needs to be two-way. If the whole time is just the leader talking then it is of limited value. This is especially true for the current generation that grew up actively participating in most areas of their life. So learn to use open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than yes or no answers. These are useful for general conversation as well as small groups. A closed question is "did you like youth group on Friday?", and open ended question is "what did you like about youth group on Friday?"

                  Questions are a great way to get participation. They cause the young people to process the information, because they are now expected to give feedback.

                  Give opportunity for non-study chat

                  This is best done before and/or after the study, but youth are social beings. They also need to have their social skills honed. Because they are so used to online or cellphone interaction they can struggle with face to face interactions. So make sure you allocate time to this relationship building part of your time. It is not a waste of time. It is valuable time for you to connect and learn about the youth too. This is important information because you need to present the discussions in a relevant way. So the better you know your teens the better you can lead.

                  It is an aside, but limit mobile phone use. There will be some who are legitimately looking at their Bible app, but we all know that won't be all. We used to have a rule in one small group I ran that phones were on silent and away. If a message came through then it would be read to the whole group. If the phone rang then one of our more characterful youth would answer it however they pleased.

                  Don't put down or mock

                  Youth can come up with some unusual questions and thoughts. Some of them are trying to be intentionally funny, which is fine. Some of them have a legitimate question but they think it seems silly and so they frame it as a joke. Others have questions and comments that are genuine but seem silly to us. Learning to gauge these and respond appropriately is complex. Do your best not to put youth down for their comments or questions. It can quickly cause other youth to shut-down and not engage. If they think that they might get mocked then they aren't going to put their head up.

                  Respectfully and actively involve the shy

                  There are some in the group who will be more vocal and some who will naturally sit back. We are all on the spectrum between extrovert and introvert, and it can depend on the situation where we are at any given moment. Some will be easily drawn into discussion if you ask them a direct question. Some will not be drawn in no matter how hard you try. Don't ignore them just because they may not participate in the group. Continue to give them opportunity with an easy out. Try to connect with them one-on-one, whether before or after, or outside of small group. Connect with them online. If your personality is vastly different from theirs, then it can be helpful to find someone with a similar personality to connect.

                  I remember one girl who was friendly enough, who would answer when called on, but not much else. After group I would tidy up and then do some tidy up work in my office and my online messenger would start up. She would have things going on that she wanted input on, and so we would message about life and God for a bit. We have to be open to these engagements as well, up to a point.

                  Learn how to redirect conversation

                  There is a high chance that discussions will get off topic. It doesn't take much. Sometimes it is important to follow the thread. If you sense there is a need that should be addressed, or God is leading that night's discussion in a different way, then follow it. Don't be so rigid that you can't adapt in those moments. Then there are times that we should follow the topic. Learning how to get discussion back on track is important.

                  • Having questions or an attention grabbing story or truth that pulls attention can help
                  • Remind people that there is time for other discussions afterwards but for now we are focussing on this
                  • Object lessons can be helpful to break up discussion time and minimize distractions
                  • Funny punishments, depending on your group
                  • A raised voice to get attention

                  Try not to raise your voice in anger. Often anger is caused because we feel like we are failing and we are expressing our frustration. And sometimes our frustration is born out of love. We want to help these young people grow and we feel they are wasting the opportunity. A raised voice to get their attention, can then move to a conversational tone where love and the importance of the topic is expressed. Let them know how you would like them to constructively participate. Just be careful with the raised voice.

                  There are lots of different ways. Try a few different ways and see what works for your group.


                  Being a small group leader for young people is an immense privilege. It is not just about working through topics and Bible studies. It is about walking through a season of their journey, helping them to navigate life, relationships and faith. And we should bathe it in prayer, understanding that we have a responsibility to them and to God.

                  What are some skills that we have missed? Let us know in the comments.

                  Gathering in Homes

                  Thursday, April 2, 2020

                  April - Small Groups Month

                  Wednesday, April 1, 2020

                  Our theme for the month of April is small groups.

                  One of the greatest strategies of modern ministry is small groups. You can run a great program that draws a crowd, but can just as easily lose them to the next attractive opportunity down the road. If we take our obligation to make disciples, and not just build a crowd, then small groups need to be part of our process.

                  This month we are going to look at various aspects of small groups. How to create a Bible study, how to lead a discussion, dealing with the difficult ones, resources to help you develop and create a small group program.

                  We hope this is helpful for you as you serve young people and build disciples that last a life time.

                  Country Song - Truck Leaves

                  Tuesday, March 31, 2020

                  I have a love-hate relationship with country music. I love to hate it and any opportunity to mock it a little is an opportunity I can't miss. Enjoy a laugh today.


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                  Not Alone

                  Monday, March 30, 2020

                  As we near the end of the first week of isolation here in NZ, we want to let you know that while you may be limited in your face to face interactions, you are not alone.

                  We are praying for you as you navigate this season with your youth, leaders and parents.

                  God is not surprised by what is happening in our world. He is trustworthy and he loves us. That doesn't make these moments easy, and it doesn't give us a license to ignore best practice when it comes to isolation and distancing.

                  You can do this and if you ever need someone to talk to, please contact us.

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                  Links For Week 28/3

                  Counseling Youth

                  Friday, March 27, 2020

                  There is load to unwrap in this area, and if it is of interest to you then seek training and even qualifications.

                  The purpose of this blog post is not to give an in depth understanding of the various techniques in therapy and counseling. It is some basics for pastoral care and appropriate referral. First, let's quickly cover the levels of helper.

                  1. Untrained person - a leader, parent or adult with no training but can listen and offer thoughts from life experience and from their faith journey.
                  2. Semi-trained person - a leader, parent or adult who has done some courses to help them up-skill and understand the issues and how to handle various situations.
                  3. Semi-trained pastor - Done some theological and ministry training and gained some recognition with a ministry credential or official recognition.
                  4. Fully-trained counselor/therapist - completed a degree level or above course and has the official qualification and accountability structures to practice and even get paid for their services.

                  Each level can be in operation in a healthy youth ministry, it is just about understanding when a young person needs to be moved up the levels to get more skilled and focussed attention.


                  Below is a summary of the Counseling Youth chapter of Josh McDowell's Youth Ministry Handbook, which I believe creates a good foundation to build from.

                  The chapter is intended to do three things:

                  1. Make you a more knowledgeable and sensitive friend to a young person in crisis
                  2. Provide you with a biblical foundation and spiritual direction in counseling
                  3. Enable you to better direct a young person to professional counseling when advisable

                  Some Biblical Assumptions

                  There are four important principles to understand when counseling young people. They are all based on the principles and teachings of the Bible:

                  1. God is love (1 John 4:16), and God is truth (John 14:6). God's love motivates Him to reveal His truth to us. We believe the truth makes people free when they believe it and obey it (John 8:31-32).
                  2. Though not all crises or problems are spiritual, they are interrelated with a person's spiritual beliefs and spiritual state.
                  3. A crucial factor in achieving healing and wholeness is a personal relationship with God.
                  4. Healthy relationships are the linchpins of mental, emotional and spiritual health.

                  One final assumption. I assume that you will take the appropriate steps at the appropriate time to challenge the young person to accept Christ as Lord and Savior if he os she has not done so already. People are often more receptive to spiritual things in times of personal crisis; it is hoped that you will seize that opportunity wisely.

                  Qualifications for Counseling Youth

                  Empathy - A youth worker, parent or other adult who hopes to effectively counsel young people must be able to truly empathize with them. Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Sometimes the most helpful responses we can give to hurting young people are empathetic expressions of understanding: "It's terribly hard to put such strong feelings into words." "You were scared." "Everything seems so confused now." Empathy can have a healing impact.

                  Warmth - Jesus is a great example of this. He demonstrated caring, accepting, and loving feelings toward those He met. He exhibited a sincere interest in people He talked with and felt genuine concern and compassion for them. People trusted Him, turned to Him, and confided in Him because the warmth of His care and concern invited them to do so.

                  Genuineness - A genuine person is someone who is "for real" - an open, sincere person who avoids phoniness or playing a superior role. Genuineness implies spontaneity without impulsiveness and honesty without cruel confrontation.

                  A Humble Spirit - A humble spirit seeks to understand more than to be understood. Much damage can be done by a counselor who is arrogant or self-centered. A humble spirit focuses the counseling around the thinking and feelings of the counselee.

                  A Relationship with Jesus Christ - For many reasons, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is crucial for anyone who intends to counsel others. There will be times when the counselor must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to provide insight into a problem or solution. There will be times when the only solution is prayer and dependence on the grace and forgiveness of God.

                  A Knowledge of Fundamental Biblical Teaching - A counselor of youth does not need a seminary degree, but a knowledge of the Bible and its central precepts and principles is vital.

                  The Object of Counseling

                  Many caring adults believe the object of comforting and advising a young person is to make that young man or woman happy. The object of ministering to youth, however, is not happiness but wholeness.

                  1. Spiritual Wholeness - The first object in working with youth is and must be spiritual wholeness. The centrality of a real, personal, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be overemphasized. Moreover, as Larry Crabb writes, "Paul wrote in Colossians 1:28 that his verbal interaction with people (counseling?) always was designed to promote Christian maturity. Only the maturing believer is entering more deeply into the ultimate purpose of his life, namely, worship and service. Biblical counseling therefore will adopt as its major strategy the promotion of spiritual maturity"
                  2. Emotional Wholeness - Dr Henry Cloud points out that emotional problems such as depression, panic and feelings of guilt are related to "the underdeveloped image of God within the soul." Emotional wholeness, Cloud believes, "lies in the working out of the image of God within us." Teens or preteens who are being guided to spiritual maturity in Christ can also be helped toward emotional wholeness, toward an understanding and healing of the emotional problems that plague them.
                  3. Relational Wholeness - Another goal of ministering to youth is the promotion of relational wholeness. So much of the pain and dysfunction suffered by youth today is a result of unhealthy or broken relationships. Key among these is the parental relationship. A major goal of any adult who cares for young people is to achieve healing and restoration of that young person's relationships - first with God, then with parents, then with others. Do everything you can to encourage communication and facilitate understanding between parent and child. Make yourself available, not only to youth, but to parents as well. Resist the temptation to take sides; try not to defend or excuse actions of parents or their children. While some situations call for extreme caution (such as a youth who is suffering abuse), you should strive to inform and involve the youth's parents as soon as possible after learning of a crisis situation; in some cases it is your legal and ethical obligation to do so.

                  Words of Wisdom

                  Several words of wisdom will help you avoid unnecessary risks in ministering to young people:

                  • Never counsel anyone behind closed doors; meet in public places that offer the opportunity for "private" conversation, such as a school cafeteria, park or restaurant
                  • Set clear limits regarding your involvement, particularly if dependence is beginning to develop. For example, how often do you meet with the young person? Anytime? Under what circumstances? For what purpose? Such limits are not intended to separate the adult and the youth but to help the adult be as objective and, therefore, as helpful as possible to the youth.
                  • Limit interaction with members of the opposite sex to group settings. If you must interact with a member of the opposite sex, take along a third party, a trusted companion.
                  • Be alert to signs that you are being manipulated or exploited. For example, are you doing things for young people that they could and should be doing themselves? Redefine healthy boundaries in your relationships.
                  • Make your obligations and limitations clear to the young person. You might say, for example, "No, I can't promise not to tell your parents, but I'll go with you if you would rather tell them." Do not make promises you can't keep, and don't foster expectations you can't meet.

                  Counseling Techniques

                  The counselor must try to give undivided attention to the counselee. This is done through

                  • eye contact - looking without staring as a way to convey concern and understanding
                  • posture - should be relaxed and often involves leaning toward the counselee
                  • gestures - natural but not excessive or distracting

                  This involves more than giving passive or halfhearted notice to the words that come from another person. Effective listening is an active process. It involves

                  • being able to set aside your own conflicts, biases, and preoccupations so you can concentrate on what the counselee is communicating.
                  • avoiding subtle verbal or nonverbal expressions of disapproval or judgment about what is being said, even when the content is offensive.
                  • using both your eyes and your ears to detect messages that come from the tone of voice, posture, gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal clues.
                  • hearing not only what the counselee says, but noticing what is left out.
                  • waiting patiently through periods of silence or tears as the counselee summons enough courage to share something painful or pauses to collect his or her thoughts and regain composure.
                  • realizing that you can accept the counselee even though you may not condone his or her actions, values or beliefs.

                  It should not be assumed that the counselor listens and does nothing else.

                  • Leading is a skill by which the counselor gently directs the conversation. "What happened next?" and "Tell me what you mean by..." are brief questions that can steer the discussion in directions that will yield useful information.
                  • Reflecting is a way of letting counselees know we are "with them" and able to understand how they feel or think. "You must feel..." or "I bet that was frustrating" or "That must have been fun" or "I hear you saying..." are all statements that reflect what is going on in counseling. Be careful not to reflect every statement; do it periodically.
                  • Questioning, if done skillfully, can bring forth a great deal of useful information. The best questions are those that require at least a sentence or two to answer ("What sort of things are making you unhappy?") rather than those that can be answered in one word ("Are you unhappy?").
                  • Confronting is not the same as attacking or viciously condemning another person. When we confront, we present an idea to the counselee that he or she might not see otherwise. "Have you considered...?" Counselees can be confronted about sin in their lives, failures, inconsistencies, excuses, harmful attitudes, or self-defeating behaviors. Confrontation is best done in a loving gentle, nonjudgmental manner.
                  • Informing involves giving facts to people who need information. Try to avoid giving too much information at any one time; be clear, and remember that when people are hurting, they respond best to information that is relevant to their immediate needs or concerns.
                  • Supporting and encouraging are important parts of any counseling situation, especially at the beginning. Support includes guiding the counselee to take stock fo his or her spiritual and emotional resources and helping with any problems or failures that come as a result of this action

                  All of these requirements are specialized forms of psychological education. The counselor is an educator, teaching by instruction, by example and by guiding the counselee as her or she learns by experience to cope with the problems of life.

                  Good counselors are not skeptical people who disbelieve everything a counselee says, but it is wise to remember that counselees don't always tell the whole story and don't always say what they really want or need.

                  As you counsel, therefore, mentally try to sort through the counselee's words. What is he or she really asking? What does this person really want? Are there problems other than the ones that are being presented?

                  The Referral Process

                  Most crisis situations do not have simple answers. There are good, biblically sound Christian counselors who specialize in helping people sort out emotional problems through biblical solutions. It is vitally important that you find a qualified, biblically based Christian counselor if and when one is needed to help you with a youth in crisis. That counselor can then aid you in your ministry with the young person as you encounter a crisis that calls for a specialist. We suggest the following steps:

                  1. Ask for a list of Christian counselors from other local youth leaders, pastors, or trusted friends. You may also search out Christian counsellors through NZ Christian Counsellors Association.
                  2. Set an appointment for an interview with one or more Christian counselors in your area. Call for an appointment and explain that you are looking for a Christian counselor to whom you can feel comfortable referring your young people. During the interview, ask questions on the following topics:
                    1. Spiritual qualifications. What does a potential counselor mean by identifying himself or herself as a "Christian counselor"?
                    2. Educational and professional qualifications. Does the counselor have a degree from an accredited, reputable university or Bible college? In what field of study? Are they licensed or certified?
                    3. Experience level. How long has the counselor been providing services? What methods does the counselor use? Does he or she have an area of specialty or particular expertise?
                    4. Rates. Is there a set fee or a sliding scale? When is payment for services expected?
                  3. Pay attention to first impressions. Is it apparent that the office or counseling center is staffed by Christians? Are clients treated with courtesy, warmth, and respect by everyone from the receptionist to the counselor? Are intake procedures, including forms to be completed and signed, professional yet clear? Is confidentiality assured?
                  4. Ask additional questions. Ask if the counselor has previous experience with a specific problem. Find out if other churches or those working with youth refer their young people to this counselor. If so, ask if you can contact those churches for references.
                  5. Above all, pray for wisdom in locating a Christian counselor. You need to find someone who will help you carry the burdens of the person in need and help resolve his or her problems. God can lead you to such a person.


                  Perhaps more than anything else, young people today need someone to love them without conditions. They may not have experienced that kind of love at home. God may be using you to reinforce the foundations of a crumbling home, or He may simply use you to reinforce the influence of a healthy home. Whatever the situation you can provide a refuge, a safe place, an "oasis," where youth in crisis can feel loved without conditions and where they find comfort, encouragement, and support.

                  We hope this excerpt is of value as you lead and care for young people.

                  Truth Will Set You Free

                  Thursday, March 26, 2020

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                  Help For Hurting Youth

                  Wednesday, March 25, 2020

                  We have a course available for you and your team called Help For Hurting Youth.

                  Currently set up as 10 sessions with a total of 8-10 hours, this course covers the essentials for youth leaders to prepare themselves to assist young people who are in pain.

                  Topics include:

                  • Sex & sexuality
                  • Drugs & alcohol
                  • Mental health - including stress, anxiety & self-esteem
                  • Technology and internet
                  • What teenagers need
                  • Counselling 101
                  • Dealing with suicide
                  • Sexual abuse
                  • Divorce, broken families, mixed families
                  • Third-culture youth

                  If you are interested in learning more then please contact us or make a course enquiry

                  John West Tuna Ad

                  Tuesday, March 24, 2020

                  Don't Lose Perspective

                  Monday, March 23, 2020

                  In difficult seasons, we can sometimes lose perspective. We can get caught up in the busyness of life and ministry, running from fire to fire, trying to manage it all. The truth is that as a leader, putting out fires is part of the job description. Helping people who are struggling, encouraging leaders who might be struggling, resourcing parents who aren't sure what to do. It can all be part of modern youth ministry.

                  There are seasons where this can feel like that is all you are doing. I want to encourage you that there are also seasons where it feels like things are going smoothly, that leaders are confident and performing, young people in need are getting the right help, programs are running smoothly.

                  In both instances, don't lose perspective.

                  1. We are partnering with God for His Kingdom
                  We serve and we lead in response to God's love for us. We are building his kingdom, but we do not do it alone. We do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Know that God is so committed to people that he sacrificed all for those relationships. His love is for that young person in your youth group who lifts their hands in worship and for the one that sits with their arms folded. For that leader that doesn't quite get it yet and the one that is killing it. For that young person who has relationship with God and the one who has yet to hear the gospel message. For the parent that goes out of their way to support you and the one that causes you grief. It is not easy, but in good times and difficult, thank God for the season and the privilege of serving.

                  2. Protect your relationship with God
                  When life and ministry is busy, we often relegate our relationship with God to the side, as an optional extra that we will pick up again when we have the time. Really, those times should be the ones when we lean into God more.

                  3. Protect your key relationships
                  Much like our relationship with God, we can be tempted to de-prioritize our important relationships during busy times too. I think we can assume that they will always be with us so if they are neglected for a season then it will be still be ok. After all they have to forgive us. I am not sure that is a correct perspective. There are seasons that require us to be more present in one area, but it should be balanced by a season where key relationships are prioritised.

                  4. We are stewards
                  We must remember that whether it is a role, a responsibility or a resource, we are only stewards, and only for a season. Eventually one day someone else will have the responsibilities and role that you currently have. So during the season that you are serving, you need to be a faithful steward, because one day we will all answer to God.

                  5. It is a season, and by God's grace we can overcome
                  If you are in a difficult season, remember that it is a season, and that God's grace is sufficient. You will come out the other side. Romans says that we are more than conquerors.

                  No matter what is happening, keep your heart right and don't lose perspective.

                  Caring During Crisis

                  Friday, March 20, 2020

                  Below are excerpts taken from Josh McDowell's Youth Ministry Handbook. The chapter was written by Rich van Pelt and is called Helping Kids through Life's Tough Stuff.

                  We hope that it helps in this moment around COVID-19 and for future crises that you will help youth through in the future.

                  If we are not equipped to help kids in crisis in today's culture, we are not equipped to do effective youth ministry.

                  It is important to recognize that sometimes - often - good kids make poor choices. Others will live with the consequences of the choices they have made. We cannot control the choices young people will make, but we can control how we respond.

                  Madeleine L'Engle said, "In a very real sense, not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God chooses the most unqualified to do His work, to bear His glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there's no danger that we will confuse God's work with our own or God's glory with our own."

                  God is calling each of us to be stretcher-bearers, just like the four men in Mark 2:1-5

                  There is no indication that these men were professional stretcher-bearers. They only knew that Jesus had the power to heal the paralytic, so they did whatever they could to get him to Jesus. Jesus was moved by their faith and perseverance. Do you have the same faith? Do you have the same perseverance? Will you do whatever it takes, even when you feel inadequate?

                  Crisis situations offer an opportunity to come alongside kids and their families, in the name of Jesus, and make a difference.

                  Practical Principles for Helping Youth in Crisis

                  1. They must know that they are loved unconditionally
                  If young people are going to survive life's bumps, bruises, and major challenges, they must experience unconditional love. People who have acted irresponsibly and made poor choices need acceptance and support. it is possible to affirm a person's inherent worth without condemning negative behaviour. People suffering loss, grief, uncertainty, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts etc. all need unconditional love. People who are broken do not need to be lectured or preached to, they need to be accepted and loved unconditionally.

                  2. Who we are is more important that what we know
                  What you know is important, but a theoretical understanding of crisis will only get you a college degree. First and foremost, youth respond to people who care. A crisis helper has:

                  1. Humour - kids are attracted to adults who have a healthy sense of humour. When all else seems hopeless or lost, humour can provide a sense of perspective. The last thing kids need in a crisis is someone who sees only the negatives. An appropriate sense of humour can go a long way.
                  2. Empathy - empathy is feeling your pain in my heart and is very different to arrogance. Arrogance assumes an understanding of how a person is feeling, while empathy works hard at understanding. This can only be accomplished through listening - allowing people to tell us their stories while we patiently listen.
                  3. Presence - a phone call is only the next best thing to actually being there. When people are going through tough times, they don't need a video, a sermon or a book. They need you. Your willingness to be available communicates how much you care. You don't even need to have the right words. Just sitting with them, crying with them, acknowledging their pain, making them food and drinks etc. means so much.
                  4. Right Motives - We have the privilege of being stretcher-bearers for Jesus' sake as we help young people through some of the most difficult experiences of their lives. Sadly, many youth workers become involved with kids for their own personal gain or ego. They like to be the answer. Youth have a strong radar for fake or phony people and will avoid them.
                  5. Training - while who you are is more important that what you know, what you know is still important. Keep an eye out for courses that can help. Courses around grief, counselling etc can help up-skill you and your team.
                  6. Servant Spirit - the men in Mark 2 brought a paralyzed friend to Jesus because they knew their friend couldn't possibly get to Jesus on his own. Although they couldn't fix his legs, they could build a stretcher and carry him to Jesus. They bore the weight so their friend would be healed. We must have the same servant spirit - doing what needs to be done with little concern about our own convenience or the thanks we might receive.


                  The Crisis-Intervention Process

                  1. Diagnosing
                  Half the battle is identifying the problem or recognizing that a problem even exists. Without the right diagnosis, subsequent treatment will have little effect.
                  Diagnosis requires knowing people, which takes genuine connection. Without genuine connection you will rarely be able to offer substantive help to a young person in crisis.

                  2. Gathering Information
                  This is a critical step in the helping process. Listening is our greatest tool in gathering information. We must learn to listen to words as well as to body language. Young people often say one thing with their words and another with their body language. Also, seek information wider than just the young person. If there is an issue that involves others, then seek to understand their position. If there are people who know the young person better, seek their thoughts and input. Of course understand that any perspective is not necessarily the accurate picture, it is one person's angle.

                  3. Determine Lethality
                  You should always question whether a young person might be suicidal. If you are not sure, then simply ask (and don't worry, you will not give kids any ideas they have not thought of before). They need someone who is not afraid to talk about it. This helps kids to know that you understand how deep their pain is. By asking this question, you give them the freedom to talk openly.
                  If a kid says, "No, it's not that bad", then ask them to commit to you that if suicide is ever a consideration, you will be one of the first people to know. Even go so far as to create a written formal agreement that they will let you know. Research shows that majority of young people will honour the agreement, giving you opportunity to potentially save their life.
                  If a kid says yes, then always take them seriously. Do not leave their side until you get help. Call parents or emergency personnel for assistance.

                  4. Focusing
                  Be sure you are dealing with the real issue, not a side issue. Kids will sometimes test the waters to see if you are really willing to listen. This is why I always ask kids in conversation, "So how is everything else going?" This communicates to kids that I am interested in their whole lives and gives them permission to continue talking if they have more to share.

                  5. Creating a Plan of Action
                  The whole point of the process is to help come up with a plan of action. This will either resolve the problem or move toward a lessening of the impact that the situation is having on a teenager's life. We may not be able to fix the problem, but we can help the young person come up with a workable solution to cope. Sometimes the best we can do is help young people connect with community resources that can help.

                  6. Following Through
                  Even if you refer a young person to professional help, it's important to continue to stay connected. Continue to be a friend even if you are not primarily responsible for the young person's continuing journey to health and wholeness.


                  Make sure that in all this, that you maintain your sanity. Check out a previous post about boundaries and balance, that is crucial when dealing with crisis.

                  His Burdens Are Light

                  Thursday, March 19, 2020

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                  Sacred Pathways

                  Wednesday, March 18, 2020

                  If we are wanting to develop life-long disciples then it is important to understand that people connect with God in different ways. So often we have these default answers to how people should connect with God, but it is not how all people are wired. Heck, it is not how we are wired, but it is the advice we receive and so we do our best.

                  Sacred Pathways explores 9 styles of connection with God. As with all styles, people are often a mixture of a few. The better you understand the styles, the better you can lead people to find their primary way of connecting. A quick summary of each style is below.

                  Naturalist - people who connect with God best through the outdoors and nature, being in creation helps them connect with the Creator.

                  Sensates - people who love and connect with God through their senses. Sounds, smells, beauty/visuals, taste and touch. Things like beautiful art or architecture, the smells of incense etc.

                  Traditionalists - people who connect with God through tradition, ritual and symbols.

                  Ascetics - people who find God through solitude and simplicity.

                  Activists - people who love and connect with God through confronting injustice and unrighteousness.

                  Caregivers - people who connect best with God when they are loving and serving others

                  Enthusiasts - people who love and connect with God through mystery and celebration. They like excitement and awe in their worship.

                  Contemplatives - people who love God through adoration. They seek to lovingly gaze into God's face and be caught up in the enjoyment of a lover's experience.

                  Intellectuals - people who find connection through their mind. A stimulated mind that grasps something new about God unleashes these people's worship and love.


                  Those are very brief summaries, and examples of each can be found through the Bible. I encourage you to read and guide your youth so they can learn to connect with God in ways that are meaningful to them.

                  You can find the book at:

                  • Amazon
                  • Book Depository
                  • Your local library may have it (Auckland libraries have the physical book, the ebook and the audio book formats)

                  Always Sow Hope

                  Monday, March 16, 2020

                  Research shows that young people are the most anxious we have seen. According to one article, the youth of today live day-to-day with anxiety levels that 50 years ago would have them diagnosed as having a mental health issue. In NZ we continue to have one of the highest suicide rates globally, most of those in under 25s. While the rates in NZ have not moved dramatically, some of the demographics have.

                  All that to say we have a responsibility to sow hope into hearts.

                  Guard your heart and the hope you have, and sow it into others.

                  Our world can look dismal and dark. It can look confusing and scary, especially when adults are as uncertain as the young people who are entering it. But it is not hopeless. We have hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow, hope that our yesterday is redeemable, hope for ourselves, hope for others.

                  Here is the thing about sowing hope. Just like a seed, it can sometimes take time to germinate, to begin to show evidence. It can also take time to bear fruit. But that doesn't mean we stop sowing seeds or watering the ground.

                  In uncertain times, don't give up hope, and don't stop sowing hope into the hearts of those around you.

                  Take a moment and read Romans 5. I like it in The Passion Translation. Verse 5 says "And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hears through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!"

                  Social Distancing Greetings

                  Tuesday, March 17, 2020

                  In these times, we still need to find humour in difficult moments.

                  Make Your Own 3 Year Scope & Sequence

                  Friday, March 13, 2020

                  Sometimes as youth leaders, we get caught in a week to week cycle. We look to the next event, the next Bible study, the next sermon and don't spend time planning what we are teaching the young people in the long term. If we are serious about discipling young people into life-long disciples, then we need to take the time to plan what we are teaching them. Whether preaching to a large group or in a small group discussion, we should be intentional.

                  The new language around this having a scope and sequence. The scope is the overview of what to teach. The sequence is the order to teach it in. Below is a summary of steps to take, for you to develop your own 3 year scope and sequence. I suggest a 3 year period for your scope. Realistically you won't cover everything in one year odds are you won't have most of your youth for the 5 potential years of High School.

                  I have no issues with purchased curriculums either. If you can find one that is suitable for your group and that you can afford, then by all means make use of their resources. There are a few out there. Orange has XP3 Curriculum, Stuff You Can Use developed Grow Curriculum, YM360 has the Formation Series, lots of other places have one-off studies or series that you can use. I just find that sometimes it takes a significant effort to crowbar the studies to fit the context of our youth.

                  Take the time to think through how you are teaching and guiding your young people through their faith and its application to their life. Find the right fit for you.

                  If you want or need to write your own scope and sequence, then below are some steps to help you on this journey.

                  I have not included it as a step, but it is worth noting that this process should be bathed in prayer. God cares about these young people and his input, inspiration and wisdom are invaluable.

                  1. Assemble a diverse team

                  It is a big undertaking and to try this on your own is a mammoth task, especially when you have topics that you naturally lean into and some you don't. So you need the balance. Don't overload the table, but a mix of guys & girls, ages and stages, and giftings. Have a couple of youth and a couple of parents, some young adults and older people. The main qualification is that they love God and young people.

                  2. Research

                  I have already given some examples of purchased curriculums, but look at their scope and sequences. See if you can find other churches or websites who have something already in place and see what they cover.

                  3. Context & Parameters

                  Understanding your current context is important, because it gives you the current framework. This covers things like:

                  • Where will the topics be used? Small groups, preaching to large group, both?
                  • What are your current structures and rhythms? Do your small groups do a monthly social event or community initiatives every term? Do you preach once a month, once a week? Do programs run during holidays?
                  • From that, how many weeks a year of content do we need to be thinking about?
                  • Will small groups be doing the same studies at the same time? Or will they only do the same studies at key strategic moments and the rest of the time will be group dependent?
                  • If running a flexible small group topic system, how will the groups be tracked to ensure that they cover all the required topics?
                  • Who decides on the topics and when?
                  • What else do we need to consider?

                  4. Brainstorm

                  Get ideas written down. I would suggest that if you can, doing this using post-it notes can be helpful. Later on, you can move and group similar topics into possible series far easier using post-its. The question here is, what do young people need to learn and know in order to become more mature and grounded in their faith?

                  I would set aside a solid 2-3 hours for the first initial brainstorming and sorting. Set up the environment for good creative thinking and processing. Post-its, white boards, scribble paper, drinks, snacks, breaks, stress balls etc. Find ways to help stimulate discussion and ideas.

                  5. Sorting

                  Group similar topics together. Identify topics that should be covered every year vs topics that can be covered once over the 3 years. I know we used to have a relationship series and evangelism studies every year. You may have others.

                  Also determine which ones should be a series, and how long a series should last. Which ones can stand alone? I find it is good to have a mixture. It can sometimes be good to mix up the rhythm. Have a couple of stand alone topics after a series, and the timing around exams and holidays can be a factor too.

                  6. Review against parameters

                  Do you have the right number of topics to cover the required number of weeks that you need to fill? Do you need more topics or less? Work to get these numbers to match. If you need to cull topics, then see if you can find the base principles and see what can dovetail into that principle. A relationship series doesn't just have to be about dating, it can also be used to speak about parents, siblings, bullying, authority, forgiveness, trust etc.

                  If you need more ideas, then go back to step 2 and see what they have that you might be missing.

                  7. Consider timing

                  When you start putting topics and themes into the calendar, if you are planning at that level, then consider the timing. There are some things that fit more naturally into the rhythm of your year, both with local events, seasons and school cycles. Be aware that there will likely be a drop off around study and exam times. Use the Easter for related topics. Some of this is can be trial and error, so be patient and take the long view.

                  8. Gather materials

                  As a team, gather materials over time to help with topics. If there is a new movie that has a scene that would fit for a certain topic, then note it. Empower the team to keep an eye out as well. Even if you have just done the talk and someone comes to you with a resource that could have been helpful, don't be frustrated, note it down for next time. In 2-3 years time, it might not be the most up-to-date, but it might be more current than your original idea. Always be on the look out for articles, clips etc.

                  If you don't have an idea gathering system, somewhere you can find an store ideas and resources, then start this. I like Evernote. It has free option and you can store text, links, photos etc. You can tag and file notes for easy searching. It can even find words in photos. But there are other tools, so find what works for you.

                  9. Review and reset

                  Each quarter, look back over what was achieved and look ahead to the coming months. This is good to do with key leaders and the team that is helping you. You can adjust the coming months based on what is happening and what your youth need. Be flexible. Things can happen that we didn't plan for, but need to be considered.


                  You may go through all the early planning phases determining what topics need to be covered and realize that there is a curriculum already available that suits you. That is great, because you can focus on other areas. But don't try to wing it from week to week and expect well rounded followers of Christ. Our natural tendency is to focus on our strengths and personal preferences, which means there are some topics that you may never cover.

                  If you ever need assistance in this process, then we are more than happy to have a conversation and offer our assistance.

                  Do you have any resources that can help with this? Share them in the comments.

                  Remain In Me

                  Thursday, March 12, 2020

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                  Shaping The Spiritual Life Of Students

                  Wednesday, March 11, 2020

                  I read this book a number of years ago, but it still holds true as a good tool for discipleship and pastoral care.

                  The core principle of the book is about walking beside youth in their journey, at their speed. And walking with them in all areas. The author calls this pacing.

                  Here is an excerpt:

                  Pacing is the language of love not only for effective parenting but for effective student ministry. Pacing requires me to listen to the heart of an adolescent, seeing beyond words and behaviors. Pacing therefore demands time, the time it takes to go beyond the surface in a conversation or to enter the social turf of a student - a band concert, a dorm room. Pacing is costly. The payoff, however, far exceeds the cost. Choosing to listen or to engage personally in an adolescent's world communicates, "Who you are matters to me. I care about what you think, how you feel and why you make the choices you do." Pacing builds trust. Trust produces relationship. Relationship conceives spiritual life exchanges. Such exchanges are the sacred places where the Holy Spirit reaches through the life of a Christian spiritual caregiver to change forever the life of a student."

                  The book can feel a little intellectual at points, but the knowledge and skills are worth it.

                  Pick up a copy at:

                  Chicken Memes

                  Tuesday, March 10, 2020








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                  Not All But Some

                  Monday, March 9, 2020

                  Exodus 4:2 - Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied.

                  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the needs and opportunities. I see hurting young people, struggling parents, youth leaders with good hearts that may not have all the support they need, schools struggling, youth falling through the cracks. The list could go on and on.

                  The truth is, I can't fill all the needs I see, neither am I supposed to. Just as Moses was overwhelmed by the magnitude of setting his people free, God told him to look at what was in his hand.

                  What is the opportunity right in front of you?

                  You can't do it all, but you can make a difference in the place and moment that you are in right now.

                  We all live with opportunities and limitations. If we see all the opportunities but never act on any, then we sit in an overwhelmed state and never make a difference. If we see the opportunities and try to act on all of them then we become ineffective at any of them. If we focus on our limitations then we get depressed. But if we see the opportunities, understand our limitations and then take action within that tension then we can have an impact on one area. And we leave room for someone else to see the other opportunity and have an impact as well.

                  You can make a difference, not necessarily in all, but definitely for some.


                  Biblical Principles of Youth Discipleship

                  Friday, March 6, 2020

                  The article Biblical Principles of Youth Discipleship was first published on I have added a section into The Process of Discipleship section, because I believe that some practical aspects are helpful as well.

                  Biblical Principles of Youth Discipleship

                  Larry Lindquist

                  Defining discipleship can be difficult. At times, I feel like jazz great Duke Ellington, who was asked for a definition of rhythm. “If you got it, you don’t need no definition,” he responded. “And, if you don’t got it, ain’t no definition gonna help!”

                  Most of us in youth ministry have a tacit understanding of what we want our students to know/believe/experience/do before they leave our ministry; but many leaders lack a clear definition of discipleship, and this lack of clarity may hinder efforts to guide students toward being full-blown disciples of Christ.

                  The Bible tells us about three key aspects of this important topic:
                  • Dimensions of Discipleship (What knowledge, experience and relationships are essential?)
                  • The Process of Discipleship (How does one become a disciple?)
                  • The Marks of a Disciple? (What is the nature Christ-likeness, and what curriculum can we use to teach this?)

                  In reality, most of us emphasize one dimension of discipleship more than the others. Some of us default to the practices that helped us grow. Perhaps taking a serious look at the subject will help us be more theological and intentional in our approaches.

                  The Four Dimensions of Discipleship
                  Luke 2:52 gives us a window into the adolescent years of Jesus, telling us that He grew in two ways: horizontally (in favor with man) and vertically (in favor with God). These two dimensions also are modeled in the cross. Vertical discipleship includes being reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10), while horizontal discipleship means we must be reconciled with others (Matthew 5:24; Matthew 25:40).

                  This two-dimensional approach is superior to the one-dimensional “Jesus-and-me” approach promoted by some leaders. Although the vertical dimension is critically important, no one can grow as a disciple of Christ in isolation.

                  Still, I don’t think the two-dimensional model goes far enough in describing the multi-dimensional reality of human experience. I prefer a four-sided approach modeled on the pyramid, which has three visible sides and a base. I use the pyramid model to illustrate the following four dimensions of discipleship.
                  A) Belief—This is the cognitive side of making a disciple. What are the core beliefs students need to know to provide them with a biblical foundation? Teaching and rehearsing these foundational truths is a critically important dimension of discipleship. Romans 10:2 speaks of those who “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” It is a scary thing to observe ignorance on fire! Yet in our effort to disciple students, we sometimes have more zeal than knowledge, more pep rally than content. The reverse can be true, as well, when we create brilliant slugs.

                  B) Relationship—Accountability comes with relationship. Fruit of the Spirit is exhibited in community. In John 13:35, Jesus tells us exactly how people will be able to recognize His disciples, and it is not by how well they do on a Jesus pop-quiz. He reminds us that we will be identified as His disciples by our love for one another. The knowledge is important, but the context of community is where discipleship is practiced and observed.

                  C) Conviction—This backside of the pyramid may be unobservable at times, although vital to discipleship. This is the passion that drives our obedience. Without it, students are simply duty-driven in following Christ. Paul speaks of this dimension of discipleship in 2 Corinthians 5:14 where he declares the love of Christ compels him because he is convinced. These two words are filled with passion and personal conviction.

                  Here are three concepts you need to understand. Orthodoxy means I know the right things. Orthopraxy means I do the right things. Orthopathos means I have right passion and conviction to motivate me. If we ignore this attitudinal dimension (as difficult as it is to observe or measure), our discipleship endeavor is simply the dead obedience of legalism.

                  D) Mystery—This fourth dimension of discipleship is the hidden base of the entire pyramid. Though often overlooked, the role of the Holy Spirit in discipleship is an essential dimension that we cannot orchestrate, manipulate or control.

                  How often have you planned a discipleship event that seemingly fails to produce any fruit? Then later, at a time and place when you least expect it, God decides to move in and students are profoundly changed. We plan, plant and water, but growth and sanctification are under God’s control (1 Corinthians 3:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It is His timing, and there’s not a thing we can do to manipulate it. Prayer is our most powerful resource in cultivating this mysterious dimension of discipleship.

                  The Path and Pace of Discipleship
                  God has wired each of us differently; although we might embrace this conceptually, we don’t always acknowledge it practically when we disciple students. Each of us experiences God differently; and the rhythm and pace of our growth will vary, as well.

                  In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas identifies nine paths of spiritual formation. The naturalist grows closer to God while summiting a 14,000-foot peak in the Rockies or looking in awe at a spectacularly starry night. The intellectual finds God most profoundly in the pages of the Bible and books of theology. The enthusiasts encounter God when they participate in full-throttle, unashamed worship. The ascetic finds spiritual growth in the places of quiet solitude with God.
                  Students who may experience nothing while having their “quiet time” may be profoundly deepened in their relationship with Christ while actively helping the poor or building a home for the homeless. One size does not fit all.

                  One of the most common and costly mistakes made by youth leaders while discipling students is the assumption that their students will encounter God most profoundly in the same way the leaders themselves did.

                  Part of the cure is to accept the idea that God has wired students differently. The other part is to identify how our students are wired and lean into their lives appropriately. Youth ministries that focus on a single type of spiritual path will frustrate the discipleship of those who need other paths.

                  The New Testament depicts the disciples’ variety of pathways and pacing.

                  The Apostle Paul was biblically accurate and theologically sound. He was well-trained and wrote letters filled with deep truth and instruction. Maybe you have some students in your group who find spiritual growth through profound study of God’s Word. How should you disciple them?

                  Thomas seemed to experience God most profoundly when he could see, touch and speak with Him. Although some of us have been a bit skeptical and suspicious of our senses, there are those such as Thomas who find in them an important part of their spiritual growth. Henri Nouwen sat in front of Rembrandt’s painting “The Return of the Prodigal” for days, visually learning the detailed story the painting told. I’m too ADHD to spend three hours staring at a painting. However, music, strong visual presentations and experiences such as touching the roughness of a cross may be exactly the way some of your students find deep, significant, spiritual insight. How would you disciple a sensate such as Thomas?

                  Peter was emotional and impetuous. He had a short fuse. He hacked off ears and blurted out statements that came back to bite him. It seemed Jesus had to repeat things to Peter a few times before they stuck. He tended to act and then think. I anticipate if we had Peter in our worship service, he would be jumping on chairs or on his knees. Yet, he seemed to grow most deeply when he was actively engaged with Christ. Peter wept bitterly when he realized how he had hurt Christ, and ultimately he died a martyr’s death. How would you disciple an enthusiast such as Peter?

                  Some additional thoughts. The above helps young people to connect with God in meaningful ways, which is very important. Too often as youth leaders we connect youth to ourselves, our leaders and our churches but they need their primary connection to be with God. Our part in their discipleship is also to:

                  • Walk with them as they have questions, not necessarily giving them answers, but helping them find the answers for themselves.
                  • Help them connect with the whole body of Christ, not just youth group. A connection with the broader Church will set them up better for when they graduate from school/university. They will still have a family and relationships to help sustain them.
                  • Help them find a place to serve. Discipleship isn't just about what they know and believe, but about serving others with our abilities
                  • Walk with them on their journey to find purpose. They may or may not find their calling or purpose while in school, but you can help them understand how God has shaped them, using tools like we talked about with Knowing Your Team

                  Marks of a Disciple 
                  If our goal in youth ministry is to graduate fully devoted followers of Christ, then describe what it means to be such a follower. I am amazed by the quizzical looks and the pushback I receive when I have that conversation with youth leaders. Some resist creating lists of behaviors, fearing the rigidity of legalism. Others create a vague, fuzzy picture of some uber-spiritual creature that sounds wonderful but unrealistic.

                  I believe most leaders never have articulated a clear description of a discipled student. When students graduate from your ministry, how will they be defined? What is your curriculum for Christ-likeness? If you don’t have a clear understanding of where we want them to be when they leave our ministry, they will have a difficult time knowing what is expected. Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it.

                  Sometimes we better grasp a concept by understanding its opposite. In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard includes a chapter titled “Curriculum for Christlikeness” in which he describes what this curriculum is not:
                  It is not simply external conformity.
                  It is not special experiences.
                  It is not faithfulness to the church or a profession of perfectly held doctrine.

                  When I have asked students in my courses at Denver Seminary to begin writing a definition of a fully devoted follower of Christ, their descriptions include the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) and other great biblical citations.

                  Let me challenge you to do a similar exercise. Create your best definition of discipleship, keeping your “finger in the Text” and resisting the press of political correctness, as well as cultural relevance.

                  New Testament Models of Discipleship: Paul and Jesus
                  Explore with me the words Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica and the words of Jesus as He defines those who would be His disciples.

                  In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul commends the Thessalonican believers for following his example. Then in 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul describes himself so they better can understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

                  First, Paul cites his perseverance under great persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Nothing makes him quit. No temptation makes him cave. When push comes to shove, Christ wins over everything—even his life. He doesn’t own his faith, Christ owns him!

                  Second, Paul is pure in his motives and his statements (1 Thessalonians 2:3). He speaks truth and never seeks to manipulate others. His language and motivation is pure.
                  Third, he is a God-pleaser not a man-pleaser (1 Thessalonians 2:4-6). Fully devoted followers of Jesus give up the whole idea of trying to manage what others think about them. What a freeing thing never to need the applause of anyone but God. We need to ask ourselves if we are content with the idea of being forgotten by everyone but God. There will be no plaques, memorials, awards or buildings bearing our name. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

                  Fourth, Paul was a giver, not a taker (1 Thessalonians 2:6-9). In the great in-and-out box of life, the disciple of Jesus gives more than receives. Travel light. Instill in your students the habit of holding their material possessions with an open hand. Practice giving stuff away and live with less.

                  Fifth, Paul claims to have lived a blameless life before a watching world (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Blamelessness is not perfection. A blameless life is one without disclaimers. If we find ourselves repeating, “Yeah, but…” in our effort to rationalize or justify our behavior, we are no longer living a blameless life. Fully devoted followers of Jesus do not live a life of disclaimers. Paul challenged the Christians in Ephesus not to allow even a “hint of immorality be spoken of them” (Ephesians 5:3). How often have our lives displayed more than a hint?

                  In these two passages, Jesus describes those who follow Him:
                  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
                  “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

                  Following Christ requires dying to our agenda and comfort. As Bonhoeffer suggests, when Jesus calls us, He bids us come and die.

                  Finally, Jesus says, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).

                  A fully devoted follower of Christ surrenders everything to Christ. As we pray the Lord’s Prayer and we get to, “Thy Kingdom come,” we must first pray, “My kingdom, go!” We cannot be fully devoted until we have fully surrendered our agenda, our life, our rights and our expectations.

                  The dimensions of discipleship, the path and pace of discipleship, and the marks of discipleship provide a solid foundation on which we can discuss methodology. Without that foundation, our discipleship endeavor will be susceptible to fads and formulas that may provide immediate but unsustainable growth.

                  For further reading:
                  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
                  Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal
                  Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways
                  Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

                  Baptize All Nations

                  Thursday, March 5, 2020

                  The Bible Project

                  Wednesday, March 4, 2020

                  The Bible can be a complicated book, especially if you have never been taught about it's structures, styles, authors etc. So it is important not just to tell our young people to read the Bible, but give them tools to help them understand it.

                  The Bible Project is a YouTube channel with short videos that help explain different aspects of The Bible. Hopefully, this will help youth be less confused and more likely to read their Bible.


                  What resources have you seen that would help with this important area?

                  Just Stop It

                  Tuesday, March 3, 2020

                  Not the most recommended form of counselling or pastoral care, but amusing all the same.

                  March - Discipleship & Pastoral Care Month

                  Monday, March 2, 2020

                  Our theme for the month of March is discipleship and pastoral care.

                  The Great Commission tells us to go into all the world and make disciples. We use programs, fun, small groups etc, but we do them with the purpose of discipling young people. Taking them from wherever they are in their relationship with God and moving them to greater understanding, greater relationship and more Christ-likeness.

                  This month we want to explore discipleship, teaching calendars, crisis and counselling, as well as some resources that can help us and the youth we lead.

                  We hope this topic is helpful for you, as you serve this generation.

                  Defending Our Faith

                  Friday, February 28, 2020

                  Apologetics is the logical defense of our faith. It has its place and it is good to have a working knowledge of the various arguments for and against our faith. Having said that, there is only a percentage of people who will come to faith through pure logic. In my experience, respectful discussion around logical barriers to faith can be a part of people's journey, but is rarely the tipping point.

                  Having said that, some arguments can cause young people to question their faith, and so I encourage you to equip yourself and your youth with knowledge. When engaging in a discussion, remember some key things

                  1. God is a big God and doesn't need us to defend him
                  2. God is more interested in love, dignity and relationship than winning an argument
                  3. Love people

                  There are also some good guidelines at

                  I recommend you look for resources that you can engage with, but below are a few that are around:

                  Please make sure you always express truth with love.

                  If you know of any helpful resources then please share them in the comments.

                  By Our Love They Will Know

                  Thursday, February 27, 2020

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                  Ministry in Schools

                  Wednesday, February 26, 2020

                  Schools are a fantastic opportunity to reach into our community. There are always needs that we can serve and ways we can connect with young people who may never come to our youth groups otherwise.  A lot of this comes down to yoru availability and resources, but think about how you as a youth ministry are engaging with your school. Some initial ideas:

                  • encourage and develop your youth to engage or lead a Christian group in their school
                  • organise a clean up event to spruce the school up
                  • coach a sports team
                  • buy the staff easter eggs or hot cross buns for Easter
                  • become a teacher aide
                  • speak to your local principal or the head administrator about what needs the schools have
                  • run leadership programs (Habitudes from US is one I recommend)
                  • run life skills programs

                  Below are a number of websites that also have ideas and ways for you to engage in a meaningful way.

                  God Talk has some resources and ideas you can utilise

                  101 Ideas from New Generation in UK might help you

                  24-7 YouthWork is a New Zealand organisataionthat gets Christian youth works into schools with some paid hours of work

                  Church Leaders in the US has some ideas and thoughts as well that might help.


                  Would love to hear what efforts and initiatives you have tried in schools. What has worked and what hasn't?

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                  Bike Gymnasium Video

                  Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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                  Our Privilege, Our Responsibility And Our Authority

                  Monday, February 24, 2020

                  2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

                  We are Christ's ambassadors. Ambassadors represent their king and country to the country of their current residence. We are representatives of God's kingdom to this world. This role is a privilege, a responsibility and has a sense of authority.


                  Our Privilege

                  Being a representative of the king is a great honour and privilege. It is a position of trust and respect.

                  Have you paused recently and thanked God for the privilege of being his representative to your world. To the young people in your youth ministry, to your family, to your work mates, to your team mates, to the checkout operator.

                  You are trusted by God to be his representative to a world that needs him.


                  Our Responsibility

                  It is our responsibility to represent the king accurately. To speak and act in a way that reflects his priorities and his character.

                  Have you considered how you are fulfilling your responsibilities? Not necessarily the job description of your role in youth ministry. Not the spoken or unspoken expectations that are placed on you by leaders, parents and youth. But the responsibilities that God has placed on us to be salt and light, to be agents of his love and grace and truth.

                  We have a responsibility, but not one that we have to carry alone. We have the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and teach us. Giving us power, wisdom and all we need in each moment.


                  Our Authority

                  An ambassador speaks with the authority of the king. He does not speak for himself, his words carry the weight of the kingdom.

                  1 Peter 4:11a says If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

                  Matthew 18:18 says "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

                  We are entrusted with the words of God, with his authority, to speak, to bind, to loose. To see God's kingdom take ground. What are you doing today to exercise God's authority in your world?


                  Today, remember that we are ambassadors for Christ. We have the privilege, the responsibility and the authority to represent Christ to our world.

                  Your Testimony

                  Friday, February 21, 2020

                  Our testimony is a powerful thing. Revelation 12:11a even says "They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;"

                  Preparing your own testimony and helping your youth prepare theirs is important. Rather than reinvent the wheel though, below are the links to three articles that will help you in this process.

                  Your Story is God’s Story: Creating Your Testimony

                  Preparing Your Personal Testimony

                  How to Write Your Personal Testimony

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                  The Way, The Truth, The Life

                  Thursday, February 20, 2020

                  Local Evangelism Resources

                  Wednesday, February 19, 2020

                  New Zealand has some great resources being developed to help revitalize evangelism within our nation.


                  I have already previously shared about GodTalk, a youth based resource to help local youth ministries establish a culture of evangelism. Go and check it out GodTalk and my post.

                  All Together NZ is the big church brother to GodTalk. There are resources and national intiatives. There is also a tested and proven system to develop a culture of evangelism in the local church and youth ministry.

                  The system has 3 components:

                  1. Annual sermon series that focusses on evangelism, gospel etc
                  2. Small group studies that partner with the sermon series to engage people in discussion around evangelism topics
                  3. Monthly highlighting of evangelism, specifically testimonies of people who have tried to share their faith, both successful and unsuccessful. This can the be the leader, a youth, or even a video of someone's experience.

                  If you want to build a culture of evangelism, then implementing these types of systems will help.

                  Unashamed is an initiative that is focussed on every young person in Aotearoa reached with the message of Jesus.

                  They exist for two reasons; to reach the young people of New Zealand with the message of Jesus and to raise up a movement of young people committed to doing the same.

                  They speak the language of today’s youth, using the creative arts alongside dynamic speaking and storytelling to communicate the message of Jesus in ways young people understand and connect with. They will not stop until every young person in Aotearoa is reached with the message of Jesus!



                  Check out these resources and let us know of any that you know about.

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                  Waiting For My Wife

                  Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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                  Are We Too Busy?

                  Monday, February 17, 2020

                  I have been thinking recently about the need for a move of God in the young people of our nation. I have also recently read the book "God's General's The Revivalists".

                  The thing I noticed about the moves of God in the book, and from what I know about other more modern moves of God, they can take up a lot of time. People travel extensively. There can be multiple services where there used to be only one.

                  Everyone prays for revival or a move of God, but I am not sure we are prepared for the disruption that it would take.

                  I wonder if we are too busy for a move of God.

                  I know priorities shift in those seasons. I know they can be exceptional times. But I wonder if we can take some steps now to give God more room. Build some margin into your life so that every day isn't filled and every night is busy.

                  Margin is a healthy habit, whether we are wanting a move of God or not.

                  Can I encourage you to pray about your schedule. Also, pray about the young people of our nation. I believe they need a touch of God and our country needs a move of God.

                  Turning A Conversation To Spiritual Things

                  Friday, February 14, 2020

                  Taking conversations into spiritual topics is rarely done by accident. Intentional Christians can lead people there. And people who may be going through a challenging time may voluntarily go to those topics. Most other conversations don't naturally give opportunity, and yet spirituality is a major part of our life.

                  So how do we take that step in our conversations? Below are some thoughts.

                  1) Genuinely care about the person

                  Genuinely caring means that you get to know them. It also means that you care enough discuss important topics that have the potential to become awkward.

                  The issue people often have with street preachers and tweets "proclaiming the truth", is a lack of connection. There is a lack of context and a lack of care for the individual receiving it.

                  Someone who has recently suffered a loss needs to hear about a loving God and a suffering saviour, more than how they are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

                  So get to know people. Know their name and use it during the conversation.

                  Ask appropriate questions about them and listen to their answers. Respond according to their answers rather than forcing the conversation down your planned track..

                  "When I really pay attention to what someone is saying, I am in a much better position to logically connect their words with truth about who God is and what He has done." - Faith Church Blog


                  2) Understand the levels of conversation

                  Level 1 - Surface topics
                  These are topics like the weather, sports teams, current news items etc.

                  Level 2 - Personal topics
                  These are subjects like their family, their job, their interests, how they spend their free time etc.

                  Level 3 - Religious background
                  This is a toe in the water, where we ask about their background with church and religion.

                  Level 4 - Spiritual topics
                  Finding out about their beliefs and their position to God & Jesus.

                  When navigating various topics and levels, self-disclosure is important. If you open up about a certain topic, it gives you at least the opportunity to ask them about the same topic. They may not be comfortable to disclose or discuss some of those topics so be sensitive.


                  3) Learn to ask good questions

                  There are lots good lists of questions, but you need to find ones you are comfortable with and can ask naturally. When discussing spiritual topics, there are three helpful questions that I have come across at GodTalk. They are:

                  1. What did you mean by that?
                  2. Where did you get that idea from?
                  3. Have you considered...?

                  And of course, don't just ask the questions, but listen to the answers.


                  4) Pay attention

                  A conversation, at whatever level, is a two way street and we need to learn to understand how the other person is responding. Not just their verbal answers but their body language as well. If the other person starts becoming hostile or they start to withdraw, then read the signs. For now you can return to safer topics and look for future opportunities when they may be in a better space.

                  Sometimes it is not the topic as much as the timing or setting. Most of us have had the marketing phone call or person knocking on the door. When do they usually interrupt us? When we are preparing or eating dinner. Our response is usually negative, even though it may be a good deal, because their timing is off.

                  We need to be sensitive to these as well.


                  5) Behave well

                  We have already mentioned the need to open up about ourselves, but making sure they are the main focus. I will add a further two thoughts that I have around our behaviour.

                  1. Don't pretend to have answers, when you don't know.
                  Nothing puts people off more than when they feel like someone is fake. If they have a question about God or your faith, and you don't have an answer, then be honest. "That is a great question. I have never thought about that. Is it ok if I look into that and we can discuss it next time?" That is an acceptable response.

                  2. Be passionate without turning political
                  So often Christians are more known for what they are against, than what they are for. We can often have strongly held beliefs that we want to defend and explain. But we need to get our priorities right. The person is more important than the point. The relationship is more important than a point of disagreement. In these instances, I suggest you allow them to share their perspective. Listen to them, ask clarifying questions, restate their position to ensure you have clearly understood. If they are able to listen and absorb, then ask permission to share your perspective. If given the opportunity then politely, and passionately, state your position. If they have questions, let them ask and try to clarify.

                  Interactions and conversations are never an exact science, which leads me to my final point.


                  6) Pray, before, during and after

                  Bathe your interactions in prayer.

                  Before you have these conversations pray. Pray for faith, for courage, for wisdom, for favour, that they would be open to hearing,

                  During the conversation, if things are going well then take a moment to thank God in your heart. If it is getting curly then pray again for wisdom and favour. Again, pray in your heart, out loud would be a little off putting for the other person.

                  Afterwards, pray that the words would find root in their heart, that God would continue to work in them. Pray that you would learn and grow from the experience, and that you would be ready for the next opportunity.



                  The skill of turning conversations to spiritual topic can be learned, and is best learned from practicing it. It is an important area of everyone's life and we should lead the conversation to help people find a relationship with the God that loves them.

                  Lord Of The Harvest

                  Thursday, February 13, 2020

                  Dare 2 Share

                  Wednesday, February 12, 2020

                  Dare 2 Share is a ministry based in the United States that has a focus on building ministry mindsets that have a Gospel advancing philosophy. Within their website you will see that they equip teens to share their faith and youth leaders to build youth ministries that advance the Gospel.

                  Evangelism accelerates the discipleship process. If your students are involved in sharing the gospel then they’ll grow in their faith faster than any curriculum can take them through.

                  There are loads of resources, including some apps, that will help your youth ministry become more Gospel advancing, and see lives changed.

                  Go to their website to see what they have that can help you.

                  Cows With Guns

                  Tuesday, February 11, 2020

                  I was reminded of this song during a silly conversation with some youth about the uprising of seals, taking over the world with uzis. The joy of funny chats and random thoughts. Enjoy.

                  Eyes To See

                  Monday, February 10, 2020

                  I often pray that I would have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that would respond. I pray that for you today as well.

                  Eyes to see. Not just eyes that observe circumstances and facts, but eyes that perceive things below the surface. Eyes that would see beyond the physical to the spiritual, emotional and relational aspects of the situation you are in. Eyes that don't filter what is happening based on how it impacts our schedule or our priorities, but that see how someone might need us today. Eyes that see with a filter of love and grace. Eyes that aren't looking just to the future or the possible, but that are present in this moment, experiencing and enhancing the people and organisations we are with right now.

                  Ears to hear. Ears that don't just hear the words, but hears the words behind the words. That hears the meaning and the depth behind the words a that are spoken. Ears attuned to what the Holy Spirit might be saying, as well as the people we are with. Ears that are attuned to the people in front of us more than the notifications of the cell phone beside us. Ears that don't listen for the pause for our turn, but truly listening to what is being said. Ears that hear opportunities to show God's love.

                  Heart that would respond. It is not enough just to see and hear, but we must respond. Whether the response is one that brings about change within our own life, or whether it is a response that gets us involved in someone else's life, we must lean towards action. It is not enough to hear or see someone who is struggling, we must reach out and help them.

                  This week, may you see, hear and respond with God's love and grace in each situation.

                  Confidence In The Cross

                  Friday, February 7, 2020

                  In a world where the highest virtue is tolerance, it can be challenging to maintain our beliefs. And even harder to confidently share our faith.

                  In one sense, Christianity is polarizing. We use language like "saved" and "unsaved". The scriptures have passages like John 14:6 - 'Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"'. We believe that faith and salvation is through one man. There aren't many doors to the same God, there is one, Jesus Christ.

                  But we are also called to love others. To take an inclusive position. One that welcomes all, no matter their status, their issues etc. There is one door, but many paths that lead to it.

                  In a world where "truth" is subjective, we hold a position that we have and know the truth, and that it is a universal truth.

                  The outcome for some, when living in this tension and this environment, is questioning. Confidence in the face of some counter-arguments and "logic" can be shaken and even lost. For others, the outcome is silence. They maintain their beliefs but dare not actively share their faith for fear of being marginalized or pushed aside as a bigot.

                  There are some who make a stand for their faith on street corners or in marches, publicly declaring their position. Trying to communicate their beliefs and how they oppose the beliefs of our culture. Not always, but so often this is a one-way declaration.

                  Some choose to focus on justice. They spend their time and energy feeding the poor and/or homeless. Caring for those who are going through difficult times. Their expression of faith and love is primarily through action. Many of those that I know will try to find opportunities to talk about their faith as well. But some get so caught up in the action that they forget that the gospel is also about truth and a soul that needs to hear it.

                  Others find or make opportunities in their day to day rhythm to share their faith and God's love. Opportunities with work-mates, family, friends, team-mates, class-mates, strangers etc. They don't push, and miss some opportunities, but do their best to not back down.

                  I know I can walk through a whole week, going about my daily activities, and not once think about the souls of the people around me. I also know that I have side-stepped opportunities to speak up or pray for someone in need. I often avoid these chances because of the doubts that creep in. "What if I pray and nothing happens?" "What if I say something that turns them off God?" "I have to see these people everyday, what if it all goes horribly wrong?"

                  How ever you are living out your faith, we must ensure we live with confidence in the cross and resurrection. The cross is central to our faith and message. We need to be confident that it was sufficient. Confident that Christ was a sufficient sacrifice for all sins and brokenness. That his teachings and example were sufficient as an example on how we should live. That the Holy Spirit is sufficient to lead us and empower us for His purposes.

                  Life is complex. The answer is rarely some catchy cliche. But I honestly believe that love, hope and purpose are found in a relationship with our loving God, who created us.

                  Hebrews 10:32-35 talks to people who have faced difficulty, stood in the face of challenges, stood by those who were persecuted. It finishes with "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." If I were to modernise the verses and put them into the context of western society, it might go something like this:

                  "Remember after you began following Jesus, maybe people questioned if you had lost your mind, or if it would last. Or maybe they pushed you away as a religious weirdo. Sometimes you were ignored and accused of being a hater and a bigot. Labelled as someone who was following a dead religion that didn't make sense with modern science or society. They claim it is a religion that hated people who were different. You tried to stand your ground but didn't always feel you had the right words, you believed, you had experiences and you knew what God had done in your life. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."

                  Don't lose the foundational confidence in Christ, the cross, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit and God's love. Even Paul had moments where he didn't try to eloquently explain or defend the faith, he simply preached Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

                  Let's take that confidence into each interaction with the people around us. The world needs people who can stand with confidence in their God and their faith.

                  God Loved Us First - 1 John 4:10

                  Thursday, February 6, 2020

                  What Is The Gospel?

                  Wednesday, February 5, 2020

                  For us to fully present the Gospel to our community, and to our youth, we need to understand what it is. I recommend watching these videos, and then taking 30 minutes to write a summary of the gospel for yourself. It is helpful to have this clear in our own minds, so that we can then teach others.


                  The Best of Shires

                  Tuesday, February 4, 2020

                  I am sure this is painful humour to some. Whether it causes a chuckle or a groan, I hope it is mildly amusing at some level.

                  Blog tags: 

                  February - Community & Evangelism month

                  Monday, February 3, 2020

                  Our theme for the month of February is outreach, evangelism and our community.

                  Sharing the gospel is not just a good idea, it is one of our greatest responsibilities. Training and empowering the young people in our youth ministries is something we should schedule into our programs. We should preach about the gospel as well as discuss evangelism in small groups. We should be looking at how we engage with schools and our community.

                  This month we want to look at the basics of the gospel and how to integrate it into our youth ministry context. Looking at the use of testimonies and conversations.

                  We hope this topic is helpful for you, as you serve this generation.

                  The Importance of Community

                  Friday, January 31, 2020

                  If we are not careful, we can let leadership isolate us. We don't intend to, but there is added responsibility that others might not have. There is added accountability that others might not have. There may be extra knowledge that others might not be trusted with. There is an intrinsic risk related to people knowing our weaknesses or struggles. If not handled correctly, these things (and more) can isolate us.

                  And so we need to be intentional about building community around us.

                  In investment, they talk about risk and reward. The higher the risk, the higher the reward, but also the higher the chance of losses. In community, it can be the same thing. To have true community takes risk, but when it works, the pay-off is worth it.

                  When I talk about true community, I am talking about people that love you. They love you with all your flaws and weaknesses. They love you with your strengths. They love you with your idiosyncracies. They also love you to the point of addressing your issues directly to your face.

                  Sadly, our churches have not always been the best example of these types of community, even though I believe it is what was intended. All of us are hurt and broken people. And we are trying to come together to help each other and reach out to others, through that pain and brokenness.

                  As a leader, it is one of our jobs to be in a community that cares for us. And it is our responsibility to create a community for our youth and families that cares for them. So what can we do.


                  1. Understand and process our own brokenness

                  If we want to be in community, then we need to understand that we enter every interaction with our own "stuff". We have a worldview that has been shaped by our interpretation of our life experiences. That worldview colours how we approach people and situations. Some aspects of who you are and how you see the world are part of who God made you to be. Some aspects are not.

                  So try to be as self-aware as you are able. But don't stop at being self-aware. Actively look for those areas that need to be aligned more with Christ and his Word. And do something to fix them. That may mean a counsellor. That may mean attending courses like Cleansing Streams or similar. Of course, some of our brokenness is only fixed in a community. Iron sharpens iron, as it were.

                  When we understand and process our own brokenness, we enter into community with humility and tolerance.


                  2. Understand the circles of trust

                  Jesus had crowds of people around him, but he kept them at a distance, teaching them with parables with no explanation. We see him empowering and sending out 72 people to carry the kingdom. He had 12 that walked with him from day to day. He had three that he kept closer than the others. And one gospel records a disciple who was considered "beloved".

                  If Jesus is our example, then we need to find those similar groups.

                  • A small group who sees at us at our most vulnerable (Garden of Gethsemane), who sees the true us (Mount of Transfiguration), who we trust. ("The three")
                  • A slightly larger group who we do life with, who we journey with. They share our moments, highs and lows, and we share theirs. (The twelve)
                  • A broader group who largely share our worldview and some of our priorities, willing to be part of our life for whatever season they are meant to. (The 72)
                  • The crowd are those that just happen to be around you, who may engage with us.


                  3. Find and engage a suitable "three" and "twelve"

                  If we are serious about our spiritual health, then we will actively look for a community where we can be known, loved and grow. This can be complicated for leaders within the parameters of our local church. There will be some who just can't help but expect you to be perfect or better than the average Christian. They may struggle if you open up about any of your struggles, whether they are spiritual, theological, relational, sinful or whatever.

                  If you can pray and look to engage those smaller groups of the "three" and the "twelve" then you set yourself up for longer term health, both personally and as a leader.

                  These can be hard to find and along the way you may find some threes that end up being twelves in the long run, or twelves that develop into threes. Just be wise about how far and how fast you let people deeper into your world. It can be costly to trust someone who later proves to not be trustworthy. Having said that, don't withhold connection unduly. We can become overly cautious and end up being isolated.


                  4. Be prepared for pain

                  The reality is that letting people into our life is inherently risky. People are broken and sometimes you trust people beyond their capacity to be trusted. Even if they are good people who are trustworthy and you have a strong relationship, life can change and they move towns or countries for their next season. And that loss can have an impact our us.

                  All I can say, is to learn to grieve well. If you grieve well, then you come out the other side feeling the loss without it closing you off to future opportunities to connect. How do you grieve well? I am not sure I am expert but some thoughts are:

                  1. Acknowledge that you are feeling loss or pain, don't bury it
                  2. Understand that you may never get closure or an explanation from the other person
                  3. Take it to God and release it to him
                  4. Talk it over with someone experienced and trustworthy
                  5. Figure out if there is any part that you played in whatever occurred, and try and learn any lessons there are to learn.


                  Community is hard. It is messy. It is risky. It is worth it.

                  Boundaries and Balance from Richard Black

                  Wednesday, January 29, 2020

                  I first heard Richard Black at a youth leaders day being hosted by Assemblies of God NZ. He is from Strength to Strength, a counselling and training organisation.

                  His talk on that day was very similar to the video below. I believe it is important for leaders to understand these principles in order to maintain health, boundaries, balance, and to last for the long term. Please watch, enjoy and implement the principles.


                  Brandon Farris

                  Tuesday, January 28, 2020

                  This video was my first experience watching Brandon Farris. He may not be everyone's cup of tea but I found this hilarious. If you like this, you should also look for his videos where he eats freeze dried tarantulas, they made me laugh so hard I cried.

                  Living Out Of Relationship

                  Monday, January 27, 2020

                  One aspect of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever."

                  Over time we can lose our focus and may start living out of wrong motives. Maybe it is out of obligation or duty, or out of rules or laws, or a sense of calling, or any other number of motivations.

                  Today I want to encourage you to remember that our life, our faith and our ministry come out of a place of relationship first.

                  If you feel like your faith is mostly about doing the right things out of duty or obligation, like you owe God something, then you need to reset your thinking. There is some truth, that God has done marvelous things for us, things that we could never repay. But our faith and life should not be lived out of some sense that we owe God anything. I am reminded of a clip from Big Bang Theory where Sheldon thought he was prepared to give a gift to Penny of equal value to her gift. But when he received the gift, he valued it so greatly that his only response was over the top and built connection with Penny. We should respond similarly. We have received greatly, we should respond by throwing ourselves into connection and relationship with God. I believe that is what he would want.

                  If you feel like your faith is about rules or laws, then you need to reset. God wants the best for us and there are principles that he has set in place that helps us receive his best. There are also times when we ignore his principles and his requests for our attention, and we need to restore relationship through repenting and restoration. The main issue when we turn from God, is not the wrong itself, it is the resulting breaking in relationship that God cares about it. That is what the cross was all about. It was God saying, "I have made a way that we can always come back to relationship".

                  A sense of calling is an honourable thing to carry, but ultimately calling came out of relationship, and should be sustained by relationship. Our faith should not be based on what we believe our current assignment or our life purpose might be. Our life should come first from relationship with God, and out of that the calling flows. To focus on the calling and ignore the relationship is like listening to a recording of a song, but ignoring the artist standing in front of you who wrote or performed the song.

                  Live first out of relationship. Embrace gratefulness for God's gifts, don't feel obligated to repay him. Honour the principles that God has put in place, but know that his love and grace is there for the times when we fail. Don't focus on the calling, focus on the one who called and empowers you.

                  Have a great week and may your relationship with God continue to grow.

                  Adjusting To The Rhythm

                  Friday, January 24, 2020

                  I had a conversation with a younger leader a while ago. He was bemoaning the lack of spirituality in his life. His benchmark was from a few years earlier when he was single and would meet with a couple of friends to pray for 30 mins to an hour each morning. His current life involved running a business, his wife and three kids under the age of four, as well as church involvement. And those friends had also moved out of town.

                  I gently pointed out to him that while that season of more intense seeking is admirable, he needed to embrace the current season, and its new rhythm. Rather than just remember the "good old days", he needed to discover what was viable now.

                  We talked through some options that might work in his specific situation. I believe he began to embrace what spirituality might look like in this season. He gave himself grace for the new season. And he found different ways to develop his spiritual life.

                  I haven't met a Christian who would say their spiritual life is as good as it could get. Sometimes this is true because they put in little to no effort or time to develop it. Sometimes it is because they hold themselves to unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it is because they have not learned to embrace the rhythm of their life.

                  If improving your spiritual life is one of your goals or resolutions for 2020, then don't fight the rhythm of your life, embrace it and use it.

                  If you are naturally a morning person, then get up 15 mins before everyone else and spend time with God. If you are naturally a night owl, then find opportunities at the end of the day. If your home is hectic, then either find space that you can take aside (bathroom or bedroom) or find opportunities when you are out and about to pause. Like when you are driving around, pull over to the side of the road or into a carpark, put on some worship music and take a moment. Talk to God as you go about your day, rather than doing it just once. If you are not a good reader then listen to the Bible with YouVersion or engage with it on The Bible Project channel on YouTube.

                  As Christians and as youth leaders, we can never say "I don't have time today". We should be saying "Where can I make time for God today?"

                  If we can look at the current rhythms of our life and see where we can add God moments, then we will build the relationship. If we assess how we spend our time and find 15-30 minutes for the sake of God and his kingdom, then we will build our spiritual lives.

                  Give yourself grace to understand the current rhythms of your life. Embrace the rhythms but have make a priority on time with God. Don't let excuses get in the way of your spiritual health. Find and make time for God.

                  The Lord Is My Help - Psalm 54:4

                  Thursday, January 23, 2020

                  Developing Our Beliefs

                  Wednesday, January 22, 2020

                  How we live our lives is impacted by our belief system and we should be doing our best to develop a Biblical world view. There are a number of things that can shape our worldview and our perspective of God.

                  • Our experiences
                  • Things we have learned from people or sources that we trust
                  • Our personality and how we interpret things
                  • Our hopes and desires

                  We all have conscious and sub-conscious beliefs. Some we are aware of, some we never think about. Both shape our behaviours and decisions.

                  Today's resource is one avenue for you to explore some beliefs. I encourage you to explore these and other resources, and don't accept or reject them based on your own current bias. But explore their beliefs and conclusions. Test them against the Bible, let God speak to you about them, and then be bold and strong enough to accept those things that need to change.

                  Have a look at this website and podcast. I am not saying that I agree with all of their conclusions, but I am willing to engage in the process to refine my beliefs. There are articles, free and paid courses, free ebooks etc

                  Website: NT Wright Online

                  Podcast: Ask NT Wright Anything

                  Let us know what you have read, seen, listened to etc. to develop your understanding of God and beliefs.

                  Terry Tate - Office Linebacker

                  Tuesday, January 21, 2020

                  These are a bit old but still a classic, enjoy and maybe implement at your church or work.

                  God Who Sustains

                  Monday, January 20, 2020

                  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
                  Isaiah 40:30-31

                  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
                  Matthew 11:28-30

                  Whether in youth ministry or not, life has its challenges and seasons where more is required from us. It may feel like it is more than we can cope with, but God sustains us. We are finite beings but we have access to an infinite God.

                  Let me give you an example. It has been noted that self-control or will power is a diminishing resource. We can start the day/week/month/year with the best intentions and make good decisions. But as time passes we are not always able to follow through on our intention. A reset point, like a new day/week/month/year can help us to reset and start making the right choices again. Until our will power diminishes again. It has also been discovered that pausing for a moment of prayer when we start to feel weak, creates a reset point for our will power. Which means we are more likely to make good decisions afterwards.

                  Now I did say "more likely", because some of our patterns and habits of behaviour take time to change. But it is interesting to note that if we let him, there is resource to sustain us.

                  There are some seasons where we are tired, or stressed, or unsure, or full of doubts. God can sustain you if you let him.

                  I believe that over and above that, God also wants to bless you. Having enough just to sustain us is ok, but we need more if we are to have enough to give to others. We shouldn't be the starving baker who spends all his time baking for others and never takes care of himself. We also shouldn't be the over-weight baker who eats all that is in his store and never has anything for others.

                  God is committed to you for the long-term. He has resources to refresh and renew your soul, to sustain you in whatever season you are in.

                  God bless you as you keep Him first, as you care for others from a place of health, or as you find a place of health to serve others from.

                  The Value of Community

                  Friday, January 17, 2020

                  Western thinking would try to have us focus on the aspects of our faith that are based on individuality. There are some valid aspects to our faith that are individual. Each of us needs to choose faith in Jesus Christ. We can not be saved by someone else's faith. There may be things in our lives and past that God is dealing with as part of your journey in this moment. Things that he is not dealing with in the lives of others in this season.

                  But we can't ignore the community aspect of our faith and spirituality. It was not by accident that God designed us to be born into families. It is no accident that the Bible gives imagery of a family (1 TIm 5:1-2).

                  How complete is your family? How complete is your community?

                  Do you have people who you can go to, who love you and who have experience and wisdom that can impart into your life? Not just ministry input, but spiritual, relational, financial etc. Someone who gives accountability. Who knows the areas that you need to be questioned on, and who will ask you the hard questions. And who you will answer honestly.

                  We need people like this. Their grace will allow for our failures (they have probably been there), but their love lifts us to be better.

                  Do you have people who walk beside you? People we can do life with. Friends, brothers, sisters etc. People walking this journey of life and faith, sharing the celebrations and heart-breaks of life. They are hopefully people who we share dreams with, and they share their dreams with us.

                  Sadly, the statistics regarding friendship in adulthood is not great. It is harder to make friends as adults, with work commitments, family, church etc. There is a sense where you have to be intentional with these relationships, to find and maintain them. Scheduling time together to maintain the connection. It is not "fake" to schedule regular time with friends. By making a plan and scheduling time with brothers and sisters, you are communicating that this is important enough to commit to a time and place. Who is walking with you in life?

                  Who are you leading or guiding? The obvious answer for a youth ministry blog is the youth in your church and/or community, and will give that as an answer. But is there a couple of young people that you are especially focussed on, who you are committed to being a safe place for. Who you are committed to seeing grow and being intentional in the time with them? Is it a leader on your team that you are focussed on?

                  We need these people because we grow through giving. A stagnant pool eventually becomes a place of death. Life comes when fresh water flows through, not just into us. It is challenging to mentor/coach/develop an individual for their personal growth. They may be experiencing things we have not seen, and we need to walk through it with them. They may have questions that we have never pondered. They will almost definitely have a perspective that you don't on different topics. And we need to enter these relationships and conversations with an open mind. We may have knowledge and experience that they do not, but we can often learn and be challenged by them.


                  Our spiritual walk was never meant to be just about you and God. It is not even just you, God and a lost world. It is us as a family, our God, and people who have an invitation to our family. Connection is a crucial part of our spiritual health.

                  Light My Path - Psalms 119:105

                  Thursday, January 16, 2020

                  Two Bible Reading Resources

                  Wednesday, January 15, 2020

                  Below are 2 books which might help you in your journey of Bible reading and Bible study.


                  How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth

                  It has been quite a number of years since I have read this book, in fact it was probably 20 years ago when I was at Bible College that I engaged with an earlier version. I remember that it was a very useful book in helping me to gain a greater understanding of what I was reading in the Bible.

                  Blurb from Amazon

                  Understanding the Bible isn't for the few, the gifted, the scholarly. The Bible is accessible. It's meant to be read and comprehended by everyone from armchair readers to seminary students. A few essential insights into the Bible can clear up a lot of misconceptions and help you grasp the meaning of Scripture and its application to your 21st-century life.
                  More than half a million people have turned to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth to inform their reading of the Bible. This third edition features substantial revisions that keep pace with current scholarship, resources, and culture. Changes include:
                  * Updated language
                  * A new authors' preface
                  * Several chapters rewritten for better readability
                  * Updated list of recommended commentaries and resources
                  Covering everything from translational concerns to different genres of biblical writing, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is used all around the world. In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible---their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today---so you can uncover the inexhaustible worth that is in God's Word. 

                  Links for purchasing:


                  The Untold Story of the New Testament Church

                  I have to be honest that I have not read much of this book, largely due to busy-ness, but it comes highly recommended by someone I trust. Have a read and let me know what you think.

                  Blurb from Amazon

                  The New Testament is often hard to understand. A major reason is because it is not arranged in chronological order. Paul’s letters, for example, are arranged by size rather than chronologically. This makes the New Testament a bit like a Chinese puzzle. For this reason, one famous Bible scholar said that reading the New Testament letters is like hearing one end of a phone conversation. The book you hold in your hands reconstructs the other end so that you can understand virtually every word.
                  The Untold Story of the New Testament Church is a unique Bible handbook that weaves Acts and the Epistles together chronologically... creating one fluid story. This epic volume gives readers a first-hand account of the New Testament drama that is riveting and enlightening. It includes dates, maps and background information about the people, the cities and the events of the first-century Church using a “you-are-there” approach.
                  Get up-close and personal with apostles Paul, Peter, James and John and learn of their personal struggles. Understand the circumstances behind each inspired letter they penned. Watch the chaotic swirl of first-century people and events fall into place before your very eyes. Discover what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” really was. Learn what happened to all the apostles after the book of Acts was finished. Be ushered into the living, breathing atmosphere of the first century and uncover the hidden riches found in God’s Word.

                  Links for Purchasing:

                  We hope these resources help you on your journey to engage and understand God's word in 2020.

                  Whose Line - News Casters

                  Tuesday, January 14, 2020

                  I enjoy watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? and below is a image version of a Colin Mochrie classic news casters intro. Enjoy.

                  Our Loving Father

                  Monday, January 13, 2020

                  Our ability to approach God as a loving father is an important one for a healthy spirituality. When we think of God as a father, our dad's can colour our perspective. We need to work through those issues to better understand God, and to gain more health.

                  Our perspective of God may be that he is a judgmental or angry deity that is just waiting for us to fail so we can be punished. If that is our view then we may try to minimize the opportunities for failure. We may not attempt things or ask for things we need. We simply get on with what needs to be done and try not to get noticed.

                  Our perspective of God may be that he is a benevolent Santa Claus who gives us everything we want and just wants to make us happy. The issue becomes when we go through difficult moments we may spiral. We don't understand why God would let us go through it. We don't understand why we don't always get what we want.

                  If our view is of a distant and disengaged God, who is not interested in interacting, then we don't try to connect. Or we don't expect a response when we reach out.

                  But a loving father is a balance between guidance, generosity, freedom, boundaries, autonomy and connection. One list of attributes for Father God from gives us this perspective:

                  1. Loving - 1 John 3:1
                  2. Kind - Ephesians 2:7-8
                  3. Compassionate - Psalms 103:8
                  4. Giving - John 3:16
                  5. Faithful - Lamentations 3:22-23
                  6. Merciful - Ephesians 2:4-5
                  7. Strong - Psalm 24:8
                  8. Forgiving - 1 John 1:9
                  9. Good - Psalms 136:1
                  10. Righteous - Psalms 145:17
                  11. Caring - Matthew 6:26
                  12. Sovereign - Psalms 103:19
                  13. Shepherd - Psalms 23:1-3
                  14. Ever-Present - Psalms 46:1
                  15. Refuge - Psalms 91:1-2
                  16. Gracious - Psalms 116:5
                  17. Healer - Exodus 15:26
                  18. Powerful - Chronicles 29:11-12
                  19. One Who Saves - Zephaniah 3:17
                  20. Helper - Isaiah 41:10
                  21. The One Who Makes All Things New - Revelation 21:5


                  Do any of these attributes make your cringe or feel uncomfortable? Those should be the ones that you begin to engage with to understand and accept.

                  There are plenty of resources out there to help gain perspective on God as our Father. I encourage you to embrace this aspect of God and find those resources. Pray through the sticking points that inevitably come from our broken world.

                  My prayer is that you would walk in the confidence that comes from knowing you are loved and accepted by God, who is a perfect Father.

                  Devotion, Study or Preparation

                  Friday, January 10, 2020

                  For those in ministry, it can be a blurry line between our personal devotional time and ministry activities. When we approach our quiet times with God, ministry responsibilities come along with us. And in those seasons when ministry responsibilites weigh heavier, it may be all that we are bringing into our times with God.

                  The issue becomes when the only interactions we have with God and with scripture is for ministry purposes. We need to learn to make sure that we find the balance, that we have a secure relationship with God personally and separate from ministry responsibilities. We need to stay open to God about any area of our life. The reality is that our current ministry assignment is likely to be only for a season, but our relationship with God should extend for a lifetime. It's like couples who get so focussed on raising their children that they lose their relationship with each other, so that when they become empty nesters, they struggle to reconnect.

                  So when we interact with the Bible, we need to be intentional and a bit disciplined about how we are approaching it. Are we approaching it for personal devotional, for study, or for preparation for a ministry opportunity?

                  When I use these terms, I define them this way:

                  • Devotional reading - reading our Bible with an intention to receive something personally from God. It may be part of a reading program or not, but it is for your soul.
                  • Study - reading our Bible with a specific focus, to gain a better understanding or appreciation of something specific. That something may be a deeper look a a specific passage, a topic, a Bible character, a book of the Bible, a word study. In this context, it is for personal growth, but of course may extend into a ministry area.
                  • Ministry preparation - this is those times when we are specificially focussed on preparing a sermon or Bible study.

                  With our focus this month on personal spirituality, I want to encourage you to make sure that you have devotional and personal study as part of your routine.


                  Some thoughts about devotional reading:

                  • Have a pen and note paper, or note app with you. We all have moments when our thoughts wander or we get an idea in the middle of doing something else, and we get distracted. With the ability to write those down, you can know that the idea is safe, and you can follow it up later.
                  • Before you begin, pray and ask God to speak to you through what you are reading, and then look for those things that speak to you.
                  • Take your time when you read. This is not just a task to tick off, it is an opportunity to engage with God's written revelation to us.
                  • Mix it up. You may have your daily reading plan, and that has value, but you could also read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting. You could read until something speaks to you, whether that takes 3 chapters or 3 verses.
                  • Pick a perspective to read it from, like one of the characters, or third party observer. How would the character or author be feeling in those moments?
                  • Ask the scripture questions. What did the original writer mean? What does that mean for today's world? What is God saying to me through this? How can I apply that to my life?
                  • Journal - record what you read, what you got out of it and where to from here, so you can look back at it later on. I personally like hand-writing this because it engages the brain in ways that solidifies what I learned. The problem becomes that it is hard to find later if I want it, so I also try to transfer these to Evernote at a later time so it is searchable.
                  • Expect to hear from God and for your life to be changed through reading scripture.


                  Some thoughts about personal Bible study:

                  • Pick a subject that interests or speaks to you. Have one primary question that you are looking to answer, but try not to make it a leading question. So rather than, does the Bible support XYZ, you should ask, what does the BIble say about XYZ?
                  • Get some reliable research resources and tools, and from some different perspectives - concordances, commentaries, different Bible versions, Greek/Hebrew dictionaries etc
                  • Understand the historical context of passages
                  • Understand that this may be a process and not completed in one sitting, in fact it is best not to do in one sitting, as time can help you gain perspective and see different angles.
                  • Questions help to gain more insight
                  • Make notes and they don't have to be tidy or linear
                  • Follow rabbit trails but try to come back to your main question reasonably quickly.
                  • Find an outlet for the study, some way to share it, it will help you to clarify and may help others grow as well.

                  I hope this has been useful. What types of devotions and study do you do?

                  Living Water

                  Thursday, January 9, 2020

                  Book - Celebration of Discipline

                  Wednesday, January 8, 2020

                  I first read this book over 8 years ago as part of a course and while the language in that version was as little dated, the information was challenging.

                  There are three categories of disciplines that are covered here. Inward disciplines, which included meditation, prayer, fasting and study. Outward disciplines, which covered simplicity, solitude, submission and service. And corporate disciplines included confession, worship, guidance and celebration.

                  I know I can get stuck on 2-3 of these disciplines as the "go to" regulars, but there is value beyond that, exploring and finding room for other expressions of connection and relationship with God.

                  I recommend reading this book and exploring some of these for yourself.

                  You might be able to get this through your local library, alternatively you can get this from:

                  Morgan Freeman Reviews 2019

                  Tuesday, January 7, 2020

                  Some of the language isn't the best, but I found it amusing.

                  Drinking Fresh Water

                  Monday, January 6, 2020

                  Jesus said to the woman at the well, in John 4, that if she had asked then he would have given her living water. And more than that, that the living water will become a spring of water in her, welling up to eternal life.

                  Every day we need the fresh water that can only be received through Jesus. As a Christian who is looking to become more Christ-like, in a world that can have its challenges, we need fresh water each day.

                  When you add the responsibility of leadership and ministry, especially with youth and families, we need the fresh water that becomes a spring inside us. For our sake as well as the sake of those we get to lead, we need that to be our daily reality.

                  We sometimes forget that we leak. We get caught in a rush and don't pause for the fresh water. We become proficient at the tasks and develop the skills and abilities necessary to perform our tasks day to day, and rely less on fresh water.

                  As a Christian and as a leader, I encourage you to come to Jesus each day, knowing that you need the fresh water that can only come from him.

                  Schedule Your Sabbath

                  Friday, January 3, 2020

                  The idea of a Sabbath day each week for many may seem practically impossible. For many youth leaders I know, they are spare time youth leaders. They work 40+ hours at paid employment outside of ministry. They volunteer their spare time to lead the youth group. They have other responsibilities with family and church etc. So the idea of finding a whole day each week where they rest and connect with God seems unlikely.

                  This area is one I continue to struggle with too. So rather than pretend that I have this together, I have found some articles that I hope are helpful.

                  Christianity Today has an article, Sabbath Keeping For Pastors with some suggestions. They suggest if you can't find a whole day, then you could try a Sabbath hour, a dedicated time during your week where God and resting in him is the main focus. Try and make some time for a Sabbath Get Away, where you go somewhere overnight, rest and focus on God. The last suggestion is a Technology Sabbath. We easily get distracted by devices, social media, entertainment etc. So try taking 24 hours away from these distractions, and use the time to focus on God instead.

                  Faith & Leadership don't give practical tips as much as a different perspective in their article, A Sabbath Way To Lead. Rather than treating it as an escape from responsibilities, God modelled sabbath as an opportunity to enjoy what he had created. He did not try to change or tweak or adjust creation on the seventh day, he just enjoyed it. He changed his perspective from creator to observer and enjoyer of it.

                  Artios Magazine talks about the importance of team as it relates to Sabbath in their article, Christ-Centred Rest On Sabbaths Is For Pastors, Too. Priests were expected to minister on the Sabbath, but the New Testament model is team leadership and the priesthood of all believers. And so the responsibilities for our gatherings should be shared around, so that all can enjoy Sabbath.

                  Leaders Go Last also has an article that is worth checking out - Modern Christian's Guide For Keeping The Sabbath. It talks about some of the benefits of resting.

                  1. Rest revives us and enables better work - if we are becoming weary, then rest helps us to renew ourselves and increases the productivity and creativity when we do work.
                  2. Rest allows us to enjoy the work we have done - we can move so fast that we forget to reflect and celebrate on what we have done
                  3. Rest reminds us of the work Jesus did - we sometimes need to remember that we are workers and partners with Christ. When we rest, it gives us opportunity to remember that it does not all rely on us, that we can trust Jesus.
                  4. Rest helps us to look forward - when we are caught up in the task and the moment then we don't always take the time to look ahead.

                  In 2020, let's be people who make sure we prioritise sabbath in our routines, taking time each week to marvel at God and gain perspective on our life and ministry.

                  Press On

                  Thursday, January 2, 2020

                  Welcome to January 2020

                  Wednesday, January 1, 2020

                  Welcome to 2020. You made it!

                  If your 2019 was a year to celebrate, then we are excited for you and hope that by God’s grace, 2020 is even better. If your 2019 was more challenges than you wanted and thought you could cope with, then congratulations on surviving. In both circumstance we hope that God continues to be your rock, your hope, your guide and your strength.

                  For Youth Min in January we want to focus on personal spirituality. While one common aspect is our roles within youth ministry, more important than that is our family bond as Christ followers. We are family/whanau. We are daughters and sons of our loving Father.

                  This month we want to explore how we build and express our personal relationship with God. One expression of it is our service in youth ministry, but it needs to be more than that. We want to look at Sabbath, our Bible interactions, community, the rhythm of our lives and more.

                  We hope you join us on this journey, not just this month but through the year. We pray that you find time through January to connect with the source, God, in a meaningful way.

                  If there is anything that you need prayer for, please let us know, we would love to pray for you.

                  God bless you.

                  God Establishes Our Steps

                  Thursday, December 12, 2019

                  Blog tags: 

                  Sustainable Youth Ministry

                  Wednesday, December 11, 2019

                  In the realm of strategy and planning within youth ministry, you can't go past Sustainable Youth Ministry, by Mark DeVries.

                  It is not flashy or attempting to help you follow the current culture or trends. It is just a solid foundation to build a healthy and sustainable youth ministry.

                  If you love young people and want to be more effective, then I recommend buying, reading and applying this book. The challenge is that youth pastors and leaders will read it, but it should also be read by senior pastors and ministers. Whoever oversees the youth leader, should read it. Because it requires more than an energetic and passionate youth leader to implement this strategy.

                  I would love to discuss your thoughts on this book once you have read it. Feel free to contact me

                  The Newest Zealander - Stephen Colbert

                  Tuesday, December 10, 2019

                  These were a great series of funny videos from Stephen Colbert's visit to New Zealand, enjoy


                  Reflecting On 2019

                  Monday, December 9, 2019

                  As we come to the end of the year, it is a natural time to reflect upon the year that was. In the craziness that is Christmas, New Years, and summer, I encourage you to proactively reflect on the year. What I mean by proactive, is to consciously choose the things that you will think about. Ask questions about the things that are important to you. Things like relationships, spiritual growth, emotional health etc.

                  Youth ministry has been a part of your year, but it is not everything in your year and so choosing personal reflection is just as important.

                  I want to encourage you to reflect on your personal spirituality. More specifically, where has God been working in you and on you?

                  What has God been speaking to you about, at a personal level?

                  As much as you and the people around you can get stuck in defining you by your ministry or "calling", God does not. Your service and leadership, ministry and calling are not how God primarily sees you.

                  God sees you first as his child, who he loves. His commitment is to grow and shape you into the best version of you. The version he created you to be, before difficult situations and broken people had their influence on you. The version before fences or walls were put around you, boxing you in. The version that reflects his creativity in making you. The version that reflects Jesus.

                  So what has this loving Father been speaking to you about? How has he been working in you in 2019? How has he been shaping you in 2019? Has it been uncomfortable or enjoyable? Have you seen his hand in your finances? What about your relationships?

                  If you are not sure, if you can't define it, take some time this week and speak to God about it. Ask him to show you where he has been at work, where he has been sustaining, where he has been shaping, where he has been leading, where he has been prodding.

                  My prayer is that you will sense his hand. You will see where he has been at work, and it will give you confidence as into 2020. You will be able to walk with confidence, knowing your God goes ahead to make a way, and he will walk with you through it, no matter what it holds.

                  Funny Magicians

                  Tuesday, November 26, 2019

                  These guys remind me of some of the tricks me and some mates used to do. Classic and good for a laugh.

                  Blog tags: 

                  Mark Cole: It's All About People

                  Monday, November 25, 2019

                  This article first appeared on To see the original article, please go here.

                  Leadership is all about people; always has been, always will be.

                  If you’re like me, you love to get things done. Maybe you tend to be task driven and action oriented. As I’ve traveled around the world with John Maxwell I’ve observed many leaders who share these characteristics. Which makes the most difficult thing about leadership the one thing we can’t remove from leadership:


                  Here’s the truth: You can’t lead if you can’t deal with peopleBuilding relationships will always be the foundation of effective leadership.

                  Earlier this month on the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, John taught a lesson on Why The Best Are The Best. I encourage you to go back and listen to this episode if you haven’t already. John shared two prevailing thoughts about why the best are the best: 1) Leaders give their best to their people, and 2) Leaders get the best from their people.

                  I have been thinking about this lesson ever since we recorded it, especially the second thought that John shared. It’s such an important question to be asking as a leader of anything: How do I get the best from my people?

                  I want to share a few things I’m learning that I think will really help you get the best from your people.

                  1. Slow down to connect.

                  If you don’t slow down long enough to connect with your people, you’ll eventually find yourself alone. And if you’re alone, you’re not leading. Leaders understand that you might be able to go faster alone, but you can go further with others.

                  Howard Schultz said, “Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another.”

                  2. Prove that you care.

                  Just as John teaches, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. But this doesn’t happen overnight. As a leader, you have to take interest in your people, both professionally and personally. Professional interest shows that you want to help them; personal interest takes it a step deeper and shows your heart.

                  Remember, the people that follow you desire a personal touch. Try sending a handwritten note to their home address. This is a great way to show that you value them as a human being and not just as a worker to get things done for you. It will take a little extra time, but it will be worth it in the end.

                  3. Model what you want to see.

                  Show me a disconnected leader that stands at a distance and gives orders, and I will show you a tyrant who will never get the best from his or her people. It is not enough to tell your people what to do; you must also show them. Because people do what people see. Are you willing to do what you’re asking your people to do?

                  There is an old story about Mahatma Gandhi being approached by a woman and her son. The woman asked, “Please tell my little boy to stop eating sugar.”

                  Gandhi replied, “Come back in three days.”

                  So, the woman did as he said and returned three days later with her son. When they arrived, Gandhi said to the boy, “Young boy, stop eating sugar. It’s not good for you.”

                  The woman was confused and asked, “Why did you ask us to leave and come back in three days?”

                  Gandhi replied, “Because three days ago, I, too, was eating sugar. I could not ask him to stop eating sugar so long as I had not stopped eating sugar.”

                  In order to get the best from your people, make them your top priority by slowing down to connect, by proving that you care, and by modeling what you want to see.

                  John Maxwell said it best, “Leaders who tend only to business often end up losing the people and the business. But leaders who tend to the people usually build up the people, and the business.”

                  It’s all about people!

                  Inviting Volunteers To Partner In Youth Ministry

                  Friday, November 22, 2019

                  One of the ongoing tasks of a leader is to find and "recruit" good leaders and volunteers.

                  Here is one suggested process when you need leaders or volunteers:

                  1. Identify the specific need that you are looking to fill.
                  What do you need? Small group leaders, drivers, planning and organising, parent supporters, connectors, cooks?
                  Be as specific about what you need as you can. I believe I heard it first from Doug Fields - A specific request gets a specific response. When you know what you need, you can then pray and look specifically to fill that need.

                  2. Write a brief job description
                  What do you want the person to do? What do you expect from that person and what are their boundaries?
                  Have it clear in your head and heart. What is the role, the responsibilities and the necessary attributes. Even if the role is not ministering directly with young people, character and faith are important. By having a responsibility, some authority will automatically be attributed to them.
                  I would recommend putting the attributes in a prioritized list as well. There should be some non-negotiable attributes. And others that are more wish-list. A volunteer with all of the essentials but half of the wish-list, is likely a better option than one who is the opposite.

                  3. Have an onboarding process in place
                  This does not have to be a complicated process with 6 months of training. But for NZ, the basics should include:

                  • An understanding of their role, expectations and structure (who do they report to)
                  • Health and Safety considerations, including appropriate behaviours around youth
                  • Police checks
                  • Training to get them set up for success

                  4. Pray and write a "hit list"
                  The process of finding volunteers and leaders should be bathed in prayer. So as you write your list of potential volunteers, pray and ask for wisdom, faith and inspiration. Then write your list of possible people that might fit the role. Remember to keep an open heart as someone might come to mind that you aren't sure about. Exercise wisdom but this might be God speaking.

                  5. Approach people with a positive attitude
                  There is a chance of rejection at this step. You need to let people make their own decisions without manipulation. But you should still approach people in an enthusiastic way. Tell them about the vision and opportunity for them to be involved. That attitude is easier for the first couple of people. It can wear thin if you have experienced a few rejections. Just trust God that he will bring the right people.
                  It is important that people know process and expectations early in the process. Then they know what happens moving forward.

                  6. Train and encourage your volunteers
                  This is talked about in an earlier post about encouragement but it still holds true. It is easier to keep a good trained volunteer than to replace a volunteer, so make sure you communicate, encourage and keep them up-skilled.


                  What is your process? What would you add or take away from the above process? We would love to hear your thoughts.


                  Love One Another - John 15:12

                  Thursday, November 21, 2019

                  Blog tags: 

                  Knowing Your Team

                  Wednesday, November 20, 2019

                  One helpful way to get to know your volunteers, and where they are best positioned to serve, is to have them do personality assessments, giftings assessments and strength assessments. Below are a number of online assessments that I have seen and most of them I have used at some point. They may not all suit your purposes, but try them and see which ones work for you.

                  I will just note that while these can be helpful tools, they should never be used to box people into a certain role or position, or for us to disregard someone's fit for ministry. We are all individuals, created to reflect God in a unique way. So while these can help, they should never limit or be used as "weapons". 

                  I quite like the acronym that Rick Warren uses to describe our uniqueness for ministry - SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences), although I add an S on the end for Season. There is a link below to an assessment I found for this as well.

                  Use the tools, but consider people with an ear to the Holy Spirit as well.

                  Clifton Strengths Finder

                  Keirsey Temperament Sorter

                  DISC Profile

                  16 Personalities


                  Spiritual Gift Survey


                  What People Think We Do

                  Tuesday, November 19, 2019

                  These were popular a few years ago, and I thought I would rehash some of the ones that I think are funny. Feel free to share ones you have seen on whatever social media platform you follow us on.

                  Note: These have been uplifted without permission but links to the original website is included below each image

                  Image from: YMJen


                  Image from: ChurchPop


                  Monday, November 18, 2019

                  As we focus on volunteers this month, can I encourage you to look back on your journey to this point. Whether you are in full-time, part-time or spare-time ministry, you probably started as a volunteer. We can get caught up in the busyness and challenges of life and youth ministry and forget why we got into ministry.

                  So stop for a moment and remember how you got started, and why you got involved. Did you offer to help, were you asked to help, did you grow up into it, were you willing or reluctant? Was it something in you that stirred, or was it a leader that brought you in?

                  There are many paths into youth ministry. None of them better than another.

                  My full story is too long, but essentially as a high school student I was asked to be on the team by my youth leader. Over the subsequent years there were key moments. Prophetic words; meaningful conversations; meaningful God encounters; and an internal conviction. Those led me to Bible College for two years. I went from student leader, to youth leader, to youth pastor... then my journey took a few turns, but youth ministry stayed with me.

                  I look back on the full journey of my 39 years of life and the 20+ years involved in youth ministry. There have been challenges and rewards. For me, partnering with God to serve young people continues to be more rewarding.

                  Why do I serve in youth ministry? Because God got hold of my life, he broke my heart for young people, and I believe it is where he still wants me to be.

                  Remembering our story, helps us lead our volunteers, because they have a story too. Knowing their story, helps us keep them motivated in the challenging seasons. Knowing their story helps us when there is conflict or tension. It gives us insight into their heart and intentions, even if their actions, behaviours or words might not be ideal.

                  Today, remember your story. Thank God that he has given you this opportunity to serve him and the young people he loves.

                  And find some time this week to better understand the journey of one of your volunteers. Help them remember why they got involved. And you can learn what motivates them.

                  Dad Jokes - Will Ferrell vs Mark Wahlberg

                  Tuesday, November 12, 2019

                  Two funny guys, trying not to laugh at jokes. Not entirely clean but "reasonably" safe.


                  Blog tags: 

                  Fruit and Fruitfulness

                  Monday, November 11, 2019

                  Galatians 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

                  Keeping volunteers in youth ministry has difficult moments. It is especially hard in seasons where it feels more like hard work than harvest. And in reality, sometimes that harvest is years after the seeds are planted. And then the harvest may be reaped by another ministry or church.

                  Understanding fruit, fruitfulness and fruit that lasts is important. If we don't, we might become weary and stop doing the good we should be doing.

                  What fruit should we aim for and expect in youth ministry?

                  I believe we should set our sights with faith. Believe for young people who have never heard the gospel, to hear it, understand it, embrace it and begin to live it out. Believe for young people who have grown up in church to find their own faith and begin to live it out independently of their parents. Believe for broken lives to find hope and start the journey towards healing and wholeness. Believe for families and communities to be impacted. Believe for the young people we lead to go on past our ministry to be adults who follow Christ and their faith.

                  Fruitfulness is the intentional building of that ministry, even when you don't see the immediate results. A gardener does not plant the seeds and expect a plant with fruit on it tomorrow. It takes time.

                  How do we grow fruit that lasts?

                  To make fruit that lasts, I believe we need to: 

                  • build resilient faith in youth. There will be hard times and they need to be prepared for it and not think that life will be easy just because they are a Christian.
                  • point young people to Jesus. He should always be their primary connection point, not us as leaders. It might feel good to our ego to feel needed, but we are not setting up the young people to last if they rely on us more than Jesus.
                  • introduce young people to the other generations. Youth ministry is a season in the life of young people. Eventually they will join "big" church, and the more connections they have, the higher the chance they will last.
                  • help them find their place in life and in service in the church. Get young people serving and involved. When they know who they are and that they fit in God's plan they are more likely to stay.
                  • engage parents and family. The influence of parents is greater than the youth leader's. They were there before you and they will be there after you. You have a role to play in young people's lives but it is powerful when youth leaders and parents partner to disciple young people.


                  So if the season feels like one where there is lots of work, lots of effort and not a lot of fruit, do not grow weary. Encourage each other that you are playing your part in this season.

                  I have the privilege of seeing young people who came up through my youth ministry 10+ years ago now ministering and leading in their own right. I even have the privilege of putting their name forward for various speaking opportunities knowing they will do better than me. I was not the only influence in the journey but I know I was part of it.

                  Do not grow weary, for there is a harvest if we do not give up.

                  Team Games

                  Tuesday, November 5, 2019

                  In this season of volunteers, I thought a video for some team building games might make you smile and might even give you some ideas.

                  The Power Of Encouragement

                  Monday, November 4, 2019

                  This month, I wanted to focus on volunteers, as they are a crucial part of a successful youth ministry. If you think you can do it on your own then you are limiting the impact that your youth ministry can make.

                  Let's assume that you have volunteers. You might not call them volunteers. You might call them team, leaders, helpers, assistants, family etc. Whatever you call them, they volunteer their time in the youth ministry. And we need to look after them if we want them around in the long run.

                  The Bible says to encourage one another and so below are some ideas based on the 5 Love Languages as a framework. If you have never read the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I recommend it. It will help you in all your relationships.

                  Sometimes we think that encouragement isn't needed if people were here for the right reason. There is a degree of truth. We shouldn't have to convince people every week to serve. But ministry is draining, and knowing that someone understands your efforts and hard work can make it feel like it was noticed and valuable.

                  Some people respond to gifts

                  There are a percentage of people whose primary love language is gifts. They feel most appreciated when people make or buy them something. It doesn't have to be expensive, if it has depth and meaning to them.

                  At a previous church we had a worship director who was stepping aside from the role. They were staying in the church and on the team, just weren't leading, but they had served in this role for 7 or 8 years. A bunch of flowers and a dinner out seemed cliche and not enough. I remembered a conversation with her about a side project she was working on, staging homes for sale. She had mentioned a conference or expo related to that area. So we did some research. The specific event she mentioned was not around, but we found something related and gifted her access to it. She was greatly appreciative because it spoke to an interest that was unique to her in our church.

                  So when you find someone who's love language is gifts, find ways to find out their interests and hobbies. Be interested in them beyond their role in youth, and get them meaningful gifts as a way to thank and encourage them that you care.

                  Some people respond to words of affirmation

                  These people can feel easier because words can be easy and don't cost money. They should cost us some thought though.

                  Words are most powerful when they are meaningful. Meaning comes when the encouragement is specific. I remember people thanking me for my role in the youth ministry, knowing that they had no idea how much I had done. If they had said, thank you for the late nights where you planned, prayed and ministered to young people. Or thank you for the miles you have driven to help young people come to youth. Those words would have had more meaning, because they were specific.

                  Words of affirmation don't have to be spoken face to face. You can find creative ways like a card, or a letter that you actually post in the mail, or an email. They could even be a quick video. Use your imagination.

                  Some people respond to physical touch

                  In today's society we have to be cautious. What may be innocent can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. So use wisdom but look for ways where you can encourage your team through physical touch. Be aware and make sure you know your people, because there are some who may feel very uncomfortable with physical touch due to their past.

                  Some possible ideas:

                  • The side hug, where you come up beside and put an arm on the shoulder and maybe give a brief squeeze.
                  • The two-handed hand-shake, where you shake their hand and the left hand surrounds the back of the hand
                  • A hand on their shoulder
                  • A side bump and smile
                  • Platonic hug - use with caution

                  As someone who is less inclined towards physical touch, it not something I am great at, but we can all learn.

                  Some people respond to quality time

                  You making time for them, prioritising them, can speak volumes. Again, set some boundaries, but make this a part of your interactions with your team. Whether it is a hang out over coffee, or working on a project together, or a meal, or an activity together. Again, there are many options for this. The key is that if is not your language, not natural to you, put it on your task or priority list and then get it done.

                  Some people respond to acts of service

                  Acts of service is doing things for them. An act of service could be a minor as getting them a cup of coffee or a drink of water without them asking, to working on their house with/for them. You could wash their car, you could mow their lawns, you could take a task off them that you know they don't like doing.

                  There are many ways you can do this, you just need to get to know your people.


                  If you want volunteers and team members who last, then we need to be people who encourage others. Figure out a way this week that you can encourage 1-2 of the leaders around you.

                  Continue Gathering - Romans 10:24-25

                  Thursday, October 17, 2019

                  Small Groups From Start to Finish

                  Wednesday, October 16, 2019

                  According to Doug Fields, the number one question people ask him is "How do I start an effective small group program?" This resource is his answer. Everything Doug and his ministry partner Matt McGill know about launching small groups has been put into this production pack resource.

                  The Small Groups From Start To Finish production pack walks you through 10 clear steps on how to launch a healthy small group program within your youth ministry. Included in all of this information is a CD-ROM with all resources used in the small group ministry at Saddleback Church. We've crammed everything we can in there to help make your small group launch a success.

                  The resource is broken down into three parts:
                  1. Description of the 10 steps.
                  2. Dozens of handouts, job descriptions, training sheets, and letters (a time-saving dream!)
                  3. The CD-ROM containing everything from part 2 in Word and PDF formats so you can edit, print and distribute whatever you need.

                  You can get access to this resource through:

                  Funny Book Titles and Authors

                  Tuesday, October 15, 2019

                  Some amusing fake book titles and author combos to lighten your day as we move through the week. There were a few of these that I had to read multiple times before it clicked, but enjoy and hope it puts a smile on your face.

                  "How To Write Big Books" by Warren Peace

                  "The Lion Attacked" by Claude Yarmoff

                  "The Art Of Archery" by Beau N. Arrow

                  "Songs For Children" by Barbara Blacksheep

                  "Irish Heart Surgery" by Angie O'Plasty

                  "Desert Crossing" by I. Rhoda Camel

                  "School Truancy" by Marcus Absent

                  "I Was A Cloakroom Attendant" by Mahatma Coate

                  "I Lost My Balance" by Eileen Dover and Phil Down

                  "Positve Reinforcement" by Wade Ago

                  "Shhh!" by Danielle Soloud

                  "The Philippine Post Office" By Imelda Letter

                  "Stop Arguing" by Xavier Breath


                  What ones do you know that might be worth adding to the list.

                  Be A Caring Adult

                  Monday, October 14, 2019

                  It has been said that it takes a tribe to raise a child. Part of the tribe is caring adults who step into the world of young people. They can give perspective, help them learn and give them hope. As we spend October looking at small groups, the role of a small group leader is crucial in the lives of young people.

                  The clip below from a TV series in the 90s reminds us that we have a part to play. You don't have to be young to be relevant, you just have to care enough. Care enough to push past any awkwardness in the early stages of connection. Young people are worth pushing past our reservations. There have been times when I have felt awkward and irrelevant, and I have chosen not to connect. But I was challenged by God that my hesitation is robbing those young people of another caring adult.

                  Care enough to connect. Make the most of the opportunities to encourage and guide. Lead those young people into greater relationship with our loving God.

                  The Complete Guide To Small Groups

                  Monday, October 7, 2019

                  This month, we are focusing on small groups and I found this website that has multiple links that will be helpful for any small group leader. The website is about 2 years old so I can't vouch for all the links but am sure there is enough there to get a good start.

                  It includes:

                  • Starting a Small Group
                  • Ice Breakers
                  • Small Group Discussions
                  • Small Group Studies
                  • Student-led Small Groups
                  • Encouragement for Small Group Leaders
                  • Other Useful Resources

                  The Complete Guide To Small Groups

                  Photoshop Experts Show Their Skills

                  Tuesday, October 1, 2019

                  Check out the mad skills and amusing perspective of these photoshop ninjas.

                  Photos for this post were found on Quick Turtle's Facebook page, posted on 16th Sep 2019. We post this with our full respect for skill and humour.

                  Blog tags: 

                  Rest—Investing Time to Become a Better Leader

                  Monday, September 30, 2019

                  This article was originally published on on September 3, 2019. For the article on the original site and other resources, please click here.


                  Recently, one of our team members at the John Maxwell Company shared an interesting struggle in his life: he’s forgotten how to rest. Some of the team was gathered for lunch and he volunteered his thoughts as everyone was talking.

                  “I just feel like, when I’m resting, that there’s something else I should be doing,” he said. “I feel like my time would be more productive if I were reading, or making something, or working towards a specific goal.”

                  Now, this is a highly productive team member who loves his work and enjoys making a difference through what he does. He’s a disciplined person with clear boundary lines for work, family, and community.

                  It was surprising for him to share this struggle, and especially ironic considering we’ve just celebrated Labor Day, a holiday designed to honor the working people of America by giving them a day to rest. But what he shared isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s something many leaders struggle with.

                  Do you ever feel that way?

                  Do you ever struggle with investing your time to increase your energy?

                  Because that’s what resting is: an investment. It’s easy for leaders to think that time spent actively doing something with an immediately measurable outcome is an investment; it’s difficult for them to think of time spent resting in the same way.

                  In a fast-forward culture, rest seems like a luxury we can’t afford.

                  I keep a busy schedule, but I understand that rest is an essential investment for my leadership. I can’t push myself beyond my limits every day; I must have time to rest. Granted, I may not rest too long, but that doesn’t change the fact that I need to pause every now and then!

                  Here’s why rest is such an important investment for leaders:

                  1. It allows you to recover—your body needs recovery time. If you’ve ever been to a gym, even as a failed New Year’s Resolution, you’ve learned that every person’s body needs time to recover because that’s where the growth happens. When you work out, you break down your muscles; when you rest, those muscles recover and add strength that helps you push even farther next time. The same is true with our leadership muscles. If we want to grow, we must rest and recover.
                  2. It allows you to reflect—you need time to look back in order to learn. Moving from challenge to challenge, or from opportunity to opportunity, might sound and seem exciting, but reflection is how we learn the lessons that help us get better. Since leaders separate themselves from the pack by seeing more and before others do, it’s a smart idea to set aside time to reflect because looking back helps us gain clarity for looking ahead.
                  3. It allows you to rekindle—this is idea comes from Mark Cole, CEO of all my companies. Mark teaches our team that within the business cycle is a time for rekindling your passion for what you do. Resting allows you to rediscover the enthusiasm and energy you have for the work you do and the purpose you fulfill. If recovery is for the body and reflection is for the mind, then rekindling is for the heart. A leader needs all three to be effective.

                  Believe it or not, resting is a discipline like anything else. The team member I mentioned earlier is learning how to discipline himself in this way, and he’s learning (like I did) that it takes time and intentionality to find the right rhythm that works for you and your leadership. But make no mistake—it’s an essential part of your work as a leader. Taking time to invest in our physical, mental, and emotional health as leaders is just good business.

                  A burned-out leader reproduces burned-out people because we reproduce what we are, not what we want. Learning to rest is one of the best investments a leader can make.

                  The Importance of Perseverance

                  Friday, September 27, 2019

                  In youth ministry, perseverance is an important attribute to develop and maintain. The definition of perseverance is persistence in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

                  In ministering to any group, especially teenagers, it requires perseverance. That ability to push through hard moments, or to continue to serve, love and lead when you feel like there is no positive change.

                  A farmer plants the seed and then has to wait for the before they see any sign of growth. We are planting seeds into the hearts of young people and trusting God that it has landed in good soil and will grow. Then the plant is not immediately fruitful until there is a degree of maturity. We don't have to wait for youth to be adults, but the seeds do need to embed in their heart for it to affect their life and choices.

                  Perseverance has been responsible for some of the greatest achievements. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay persevered. They were the first humans to reach the top of Mt Everest. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi had a cause. They persevered through many difficulties.

                  Our cause may not represent the scale of those endeavours, but they are still important. The lives of those young people are important to God and should be important to us.

                  We understand that youth ministry needs perseverance and what perseverance is, but how to we develop and maintain it?


                  1. Understand the long game and big picture

                  We can get caught up in the week to week activities and daily tasks and lose perspective. Our focus should be on creating lifetime followers of Jesus. So we need to put the momentary difficulties into perspective. On a weekly basis we pour all that God has given to us into the teenagers we have in front of and around us. We do this because we know that we can play a part in this season of their life. Like the farmer, we prepare the soil, sow the seed and water it, but growth is out of our hands.

                  Inevitably there will be a moment when you wonder if your efforts this week will be worthwhile. Unfortunately we can't time travel and see how things turn out. We can only do what we have been given to do, to the best of our ability. We love young people, we pray for young people, we show and teach them about our God.


                  2. Trust God with the results

                  I have said in an earlier blog that the most committed person to our young people is God. We have a part to play but in the end we are not in control of the lives of our young people.

                  1 Corinthians 3:6 - I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

                  I remember a testimony a while back. I can't remember their name so let's call him Tom. God had challenged Tom to be more responsive to His voice and to share his faith more often. One day he was at work and walked past the break room where a colleague was making a coffee. Tom felt God speak to him to share his faith, so he went into the break room and engaged with his work mate. He shared the gospel. The result was that the work mate outright rejected the gospel and walked off, somewhat offended. Tom walked to his desk and sat down quite dejected. He knew he had heard God, he had taken a step of obedience and it was a failure. A little while later a man in overalls walked up to his desk. Unknown to Tom, this man had been in the break room repairing the fridge. He had heard everything that Tom had shared and it had affected him. That repair man became a follower of Jesus that day because Tom was obedient.

                  We don't know the outcome of our service and obedience. All we can do is be obedient in the moment and trust God with the results.


                  3. Remember your calling

                  I can't count the number of times when I have felt like giving up on youth ministry. There are too many. One of the things that has kept me going is that I know I am called. I know that there are some who feel called to youth ministry for a short season. Some feel called to youth ministry for a longer season. And some of us feel called for life. Ultimately, unless you feel that your time in a ministry is actually over, lean on your calling to sustain you.

                  Our relationship with God should be our main resource, and it should be what we press into first. But in some seasons we don't "feel" God, and so we lean on the revelation we have received previously. Hopefully one of those revelations was your calling. When things are difficult, the words that God has spoken should be used to help us persevere.


                  4. Don't carry the pain alone

                  A problem shared is a problem halved. Find safe people who you can talk openly with. Ministry has its struggles and we need to know that there are people out there that can listen and help. If you can find someone face to face then do that. If it is a personal connection that is primarily digital then do that. If it is a Facebook page that lets you connect and express yourself then do that. (Please make sure that the group is not public, so your posts don't appear in people's threads).

                  A good mentor or supervisor will allow you to vent, and then help you get some perspective.


                  5. Celebrate the wins

                  A joy shared is a joy doubled. We can get caught up in the negative or the areas to improve and miss the wins and the good we are doing. If you only see the challenges or improvements, then it will wear you down. There is almost always something you could have done better. Celebrate the regulars being regular. Celebrate the times the less regulars attend. Celebrate every salvation & every conversation. Celebrate every event where no-one ended up at A&E. Whatever you can find, celebrate it.


                  Your youth need adults who will persevere. Who won't throw in the towel when it gets tough. Who persist past the awkward stages of connection. Who show up week after week, month after month. Their parents need adults who will help their young people to hear about hope, God and how to make wise choices.

                  I pray God's richest blessing on you as you persevere. May you know His grace that sustains, His love that lifts and His peace that passes all understanding.

                  Peace To You

                  Thursday, September 26, 2019

                  Blog tags: 

                  Hillsong Leadership Network

                  Wednesday, September 25, 2019

                  I have a great deal of respect for Brian & Bobbie Houston and the team they have built at Hillsong. The Hillsong Leadership Network is another avenue that they have created to serve the local church.

                  You need to sign up for a free account to get access to everything that is available, but in my opinion it is worth it.

                  The website is primarily targeted at pastors but the available resources are useful for youth leaders. Webinars on leadership, preaching, volunteers, youth etc are all helpful as we lead young people.

                  We hope these resources can help you continue to grow and develop.

                  The Floor Is Lava

                  Tuesday, September 24, 2019

                  I find this hilarious, enjoy.

                  Righteousness In Its Right Place

                  Monday, September 23, 2019

                  Ephesians 6:14b - the breastplate of righteousness in place

                  The breastplate is a protective plate that covers the vital organs, including the heart. We need to protect our heart, for as Proverbs says it is the well spring of life. Our heart is the core of who we are, our identity, our passion, our life.

                  But why righteousness?

                  Righteousness is about being free from guilt or sin. When we have been made righteous we have the ability to connect with God directly.

                  And this righteousness is not ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  We are not righteous because of anything we have achieved or attained, it is the righteousness that Jesus has given to us.

                  So the righteousness of Jesus is sufficient to protect us, but how?

                  I had a recent discussion with someone about someone who was adopted and their desire to find their birth parents. It is almost an inbuilt need to know where we came from, whose we are. It informs our identity.

                  If our heart represents our identity.
                       And our identity is impacted by whose we are, our key relationships
                            Then Jesus' righteousness gives us access to a key relationship with our Heavenly Father
                                 So then His righteousness protects our identity, in that it protects our connection to God

                  We need to ensure that we put on the righteousness of Jesus, so that we can ensure our heart is protected and connected with a loving God.

                  Finally it needs to be in its proper place. It protects us from the front, it is always in front of us. It goes ahead of us but is intimately connected to us. We can see it and feel it and should never take it for granted. It should be a constant reminder of our need for a saviour.

                  We are all in the same boat, we all need a saviour.


                  Walk By The Spirit - Galatians 5:25

                  Thursday, September 19, 2019

                  Just A Phase - A Resource for Parents and Leaders

                  Wednesday, September 18, 2019

                  Just A Phase is a resource for parents and leaders to help understand the different phases of children and youth's lives, to help us all be more present for them.

                  The Just a Phase Project is a collaborative, ongoing, effort assembling classic and innovative research, with practical application. It synthesizes the work of national leaders and authors around America to summarize and simplify hundreds of hours of research, interviews with licensed professional counselors, surveys of more than 250 state teachers of the year, countless conversations with age group ministry staff, so the average parent and leader can understand kids better.

                  This was done so adults don’t miss what’s happening during the critical phases of growing up and so leaders and parents can connect God’s love and forgiveness to the heart of the next generation.

                  There are free and paid resources available on their website so have a scout around.

                  You can find out more about the Just A Phase resources by listening to a couple of podcasts:

                  They also have a downloadable Roadmap for some key areas that you get if you sign up to their newsletter. I can't find where that sign up form is, its possible its a popup that I dismissed. But if you can't find it, then one that I have on file is here - download

                  We hope this helps you lead better and resource the parents of your youth.

                  Flight of the Conchords

                  Tuesday, September 17, 2019

                  Flight of the Conchords are one of my favourite comedy acts. Here are a couple of their videos to lighten your day.

                  Stand Wrapped In Truth

                  Monday, September 16, 2019

                  Ephesian 6:14a - Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist...

                  It is interesting that Paul likens truth to a buckled belt. A buckled belt is one of the most secure devices when it comes to clothing. I doubt zippers were invented in Paul's time but we all know zippers can't be trusted, its why most preachers do a quick check of their fly before preaching. A knotted sash or rope are also not entirely reliable, we have all had shoe laces come untied.

                  The belt also pulls everything together and holds them in the place we have set them, securely keeping things in their place.

                  And why do we need truth wrapped around us, securing everything? Because we are battling against the Father of Lies. He lies to us about our position and security, he lies to us about the character of God, he lies to us about our future, our past and our present, he even lies about who he is, in an attempt to limit our effectiveness.

                  Some truth statements and supporting scriptures to wrap around yourself are below, taken from another list online:

                  • I am complete in Him Who is the head over all rule and authority—of every angelic and earthly power (Colossians 2:10).
                  • I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
                  • I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
                  • I am far from oppression, and will not live in fear (Isaiah 54:14).
                  • I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).
                  • I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).
                  • I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
                  • I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
                  • The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me (1 John 4:4).
                  • I have received abundant grace and the gift of righteousness and reign in life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).
                  • I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I know the hope of having life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17-18).
                  • I have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through me.I have authority and power over the enemy in this world (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).
                  • I am renewed in the knowledge of God and no longer want to live in my old ways or nature before I accepted Christ (Colossians 3:9-10).
                  • I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life (Luke 6:36-38).
                  • God supplies all of my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
                  • In all circumstances I live by faith in God and extinguish all the flaming darts (attacks) of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16).
                  • I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
                  • I am chosen by God who called me out of the darkness of sin and into the light and life of Christ so I can proclaim the excellence and greatness of who He is (1 Peter 2:9).
                  • I am born again—spiritually transformed, renewed and set apart for God’s purpose—through the living and everlasting word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
                  • I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).
                  • I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
                  • In Christ, I am dead to sin—my relationship to it is broken—and alive to God—living in unbroken fellowship with Him (Romans 6:11).
                  • The light of God’s truth has shone in my heart and given me knowledge of salvation through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
                  • As I hear God’s Word, I do what it says and I am blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).
                  • I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).
                  • I overcome the enemy of my soul by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).
                  • I have everything I need to live a godly life and am equipped to live in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
                  • I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).
                  • I am the righteousness of God—I have right standing with Him—in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
                  • My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19).
                  • I am the head and not the tail, and I only go up and not down in life as I trust and obey God (Deuteronomy 28:13).
                  • I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
                  • I am chosen by God, forgiven and justified through Christ. I have a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).
                  • I am redeemed—forgiven of all my sins and made clean—through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7).
                  • I have been rescued from the domain and the power of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
                  • I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).
                  • My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done for me (Colossians 2:7).
                  • I am called to live a holy life by the grace of God and to declare His praise in the world (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).
                  • I am healed and whole in Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).
                  • I am saved by God’s grace, raised up with Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12).
                  • I am greatly loved by God (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).
                  • I am strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11).
                  • I humbly submit myself to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).
                  • I press on each day to fulfill God’s plan for my life because I live to please Him (Philippians 3:14).
                  • I am not ruled by fear because the Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
                  • Christ lives in me, and I live by faith in Him and His love for me (Galatians 2:20).

                  If we can securely wrap these truths around us, then we maintain our ability to stand firm. If we let fear, doubt and lies to erode these truths then things start to get a bit loose and we become vulnerable.

                  God, I pray that you would help us to wrap ourselves in your truth, that we are loved and accepted, that through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can be overcomers and effective in everything that you have called us to. Help us to then wrap others in these same truths.

                  Developing an EPIC Generation - Connected

                  Friday, September 13, 2019

                  This is the last part of our EPIC Generation series. We have covered  ExperientialParticipatory and Image-Rich, and today we will close off with Connected.

                  You can not deny that this is a connected generation. For as long as I have been in youth ministry, teenagers have been social creatures, some of them struggle with this area but it is part of this stage. They often define themselves by the people they choose to hang out with (and the ones they choose not to hang with) but with the introduction of social media, smart phones etc, this has taken on a different level.

                  We won't get into the challenges of social media and smart phones, and the research that is indicating a connected but isolated generation, that is for another post. What we can acknowledge is that teenagers are used to learning and processing in a connected and relational way. So we need to actively incorporate that aspect into our ministries, not just in teaching times but in other aspects of our environment and programming. 

                  What could it look like? Just like the article about participation, in your preaching/teaching times you could make opportunities to pause to have the youth connect, maybe to discuss something or do something. We all know that young people are busy and can be overly scheduled, so creating space in your programming where they can just hang out with friends will be something of value to your young people.

                  I would also encouage you to build intergenerational connection into your ministry philosophy and programming. The research indicates that young people who have meaningful connections with other generations in their church are more likely to maintain their faith after they graduate high school. The ideas on this are endless but a few that immediate ones are:

                  • Have youth serving on church teams - creative, tech, hosting, kids ministry etc
                  • Have a range of generations on your volunteer team
                  • Host youth vs adult events for fun
                  • Connect a youth with an adult who might be able to assist with a life challenge, for example if a young person is thinking about a particular career path then connect them with someone in a similar role to help them explore this.
                  • Have intentional events. We used to have a "Fridge Clean-out" night where adults and families in the church would open their homes and youth would go and have dinner with them. 


                  I would encourage you to have times of unstructured connection and other times of structured connection in your weekly programs. Structured connection could include things like:

                  • a discussion around an issue and possible solutions
                  • a Bible study around a theme or scripture where everyone gets to share and respectfully ask questions
                  • It has more risk, but a well facilitated debate can increase connection. People can share their opinion (sometimes passionately) and as long as the discussion stays on the topic and doesn't involve personal attacks then the young people can be heard and hear others. The young people need to understand that we can disagree on some things and still remain friends.

                  If well managed these things allow youth to express themselves, be heard, hear from others and not be judged (hopefully). That builds connection and develops our young people. How this looks will depend on your context but it is something we should be thinking about.

                  Have a look at your program and teaching times and ask yourself, how can we help build real and meaningful connection?


                  Previous posts in this series:

                  Blog tags: 

                  Speak with Love - 1 Corinthians 13:1

                  Thursday, September 12, 2019

                  Claire Madden - Gen Z Expert

                  Wednesday, September 11, 2019

                  Claire Madden is a leading voice internationally on Generation Z. As an author, social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator, Claire is in high demand as an expert in interpreting social trends, demographics and implications of generational change. Claire is the author of Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials.

                  Claire is highly regarded for her dynamic and engaging presentations where she translates robust, research-based content into strategic applications for educators, managers and business leaders. Claire is commissioned by some of the nation’s largest companies and leading brands to interpret the changing landscape and communicate the implications for business and society.

                  I first encountered Claire when she was part of one of Hillsong's online Leadership Network events. Her research and insights into Gen Z are really helpful, especially for any of us who are more than 10 years removed from our teen years. We need to remember that the current generation of teenagers are no longer Millenials, they are Gen Z and we need to be equiped to understand how they are different and how their world has shaped them.

                  I encourage you to check out her website and resources -

                  We are looking at opportunities in the next 12-18 months to bring Claire over to NZ for training events for youth leaders. If you are interested in this opportunity, please let us know and we will let you know when this moves ahead.

                  Santa Went Down To Georgia

                  Tuesday, September 10, 2019

                  An amusing video for your viewing pleasure. We are a little way off Christmas but as we near the end of the year maybe this will inspire you for something.


                  Focus On The Right Fight

                  Monday, September 9, 2019

                  Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

                  Two weeks back, I wrote about standing strong in the power of the Lord. Today, as we stand, we need to focus our fight in the right direction, and choose strategies that align with God's principles.

                  There is no doubt that the struggle is real. Whether it is at a personal level, a ministry/church level or a society level, there is a struggle for us to progress God's kingdom. And sometimes we can be overwhelmed by what we perceive. I believe there are three main responses that I see.

                  1. Duck, dive and evade
                  2. Make a lot of noise
                  3. Proactive & loving


                  Duck, dive and evade

                  This is the option to avoid conflict, to ignore the issues. It keeps ourselves "safe" but does little to remedy or improve the situation. If we are honest, most of us have areas where we choose to evade issues, I know I do. It is a short-term fix but if we want long-term health then eventually we need to process these issues in a different way.

                  Some intercessors use their role in prayer as an technique to evade getting actively involved. Don't get me wrong, we need people who pray and who seek God, but I don't believe we are called in every situation to only pray.


                  Making a lot of noise

                  This option does not do any work to fix or resolve issues, but everyone knows what we think about it. We might complain about it, tweet or post about it, we may even preach about it, but at no point do we take action towards facing it or resolving it.

                  We justify that it is better than doing nothing and that we can't fix everything ourselves, but I would suggest that neither evading nor only making a lot of noise about it is placing our focus on the right fight. If we agree that our fight is not against flesh and blood, then we can't really evade the struggles because the spiritual is still there and it is still at work. And making a lot of noise is usually directed at the people or structures that we believe are at fault and so not working on addressing the underlying issues.


                  Proactive and loving

                  I believe this is the Biblical model that Jesus show us. Jesus spent time in prayer getting aligned with God the Father, getting filled with the Holy Spirit and I am sure facing spiritual forces, his temptation is a clear example of that. He also spoke up about systemic issues, some of his comments to the Pharisees, Sadducees etc were scathing. And then in the midst of prayer and speaking out, he went out and made a difference to individuals. During his earthly ministry he helped the needy, he healed the sick, he raised the dead etc.

                  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, it is primarily spiritual and so I would suggest that we start on our knees, getting into God's presence, getting his insight and his empowerment, then go out and address systemic issues and ministering to people.


                  Earlier I mentioned three categories of struggle. I briefly want to comment on each of these.

                  Personal - if you are going through a personal struggle, then I want to encourage you that God's grace is sufficient. His grace will help you face whatever you are facing. His grace may be expressed in the people he puts around you, his grace and power may resolve the issue, his grace will uphold you and sustain you if you let it.
                  God I pray for those who are in the midst of a personal struggle, whether it is habitual sin, doubts, fears, sickness, relationship issues, finances, spiritual attack, work place or anything else, I pray that they would know and feel your presence, that you would be close to them. Give them wisdom, understanding, faith and courage, that they would see the issue for what it truly is, see the solution that you have for it and then be able to step into the solution.

                  Ministry - sometimes our struggle is in the context of our ministry involvement. Maybe there is an opportunity that we can see but can't take, maybe there are tensions with the people, maybe there is a lack of resources, maybe there is that one student that you can't seem to get through to or that one adult that feels like they are opposing us, or any number of other issues.
                  Remember that the struggle is not against flesh and blood, so for any challenge where there is a person directly involved, our struggle should not be against them. With people we need to be agents of grace and love, they may disagree with us but they are created in God's image and they are the Church. We can get caught up in our programs and philosophies on building a ministry, forgetting that none of that is the Church that God has committed to build. The people are the church. I wonder if we might not be called to account at the end of our lives for the times when we disregarded people for the sake of a building, program, system or philosophy. Christ died for the people, not the trappings of church.
                  Also, sometimes we see the person as the issue, when it is us that has something that needs to be dealt with.
                  God I pray for those who are facing struggles in their ministry. Let those who are facing struggles related to people remember that people are the purpose, that we should be agents of your grace and love. Let those who may be facing other struggles receive your wisdom and resource, let them see a pathway forward that would fulfill your purposes in the lives of young people in their community. Let peace reign in their heart.

                  Society - ultimately society is a collection of individuals that exist within a framework of some kind. Just as with ministry, we should love the people but face the systems that don't honour God. We may not be able to fix everything that we see as "wrong", but we can love the one in front of us, and we can speak up when an opportunity arises to promote God's love, his Kingdom and his systems.
                  God, I pray for all of us as we partner with you in the progression of your Kingdom in our lives and world. Help us to see with your eyes, speak with your words, and reach out with your hands. We can make a difference.

                  Developing an EPIC Generation - Image-Rich

                  Friday, September 6, 2019

                  Continuing with our EPIC series, this week we are going to look at Image-Rich. Our previous posts have covered Experiential and Participatory, and we encourage you to check them out when you get a chance.

                  Humans are naturally visual creatures, but never before has a generation been bombarded with so many images. Between TV, internet, mobile phones, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc, young people are seeing and processing a huge number of images, and not just images, but images with messages. The research shows that we retain about 20% of what we received as images/media, and so in a world where young people are used to seeing pictures and videos, we need to make use of meaningful images.

                  We have probably all heard the phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words, so we know the power of pictures to communicate. Aristotle is quoted as saying "the soul never thinks without a picture", because pictures are powerful in our thinking and processing. Organisations like Growing Leaders use images in their training materials, Habitudes is used to teach young people leadership principles and skills. I have used them with student leaders and I still remember a number of the principles that are taught.

                  And if you need a Biblical example, then there is none better than Jesus. He didn't have powerpoint or keynote when he taught, but where was he when he spoke to Peter about being a fisher of men? By a lake. When Jesus taught the parable of the sower, he painted a word picture but was also likely within a stone's throw of a field if not able to see the field from where he was. When he talked about living water he was by a well (John 4) or in the midst of a feast (Sukkot) that included collecting water from the Pool of Siloam (John 7). When he taught them about faith and spoke about speaking to a mountain, he had just come down from the mountain and it was still visible.

                  Our teaching environments don't usually give real life visuals, but we can make use of images when we teach. When you have a principle, attach it to a meaningful image.

                  An example might help, so I will "borrow" one from Habitudes. The leadership principle of the iceburg. 10% of an iceburg is visible above the water line and 90% is hidden. In leadership, 10% of what we do is the visible parts of leadership, and 90% of leadership is unseen. It is the unseen character development and integrity that will sustain us and our leadership. It is the preparation and communication, it is the strategy and systems, it is the study and research that actually give us the platform to lead and influence other. And without the 90% of unseen, the 10% would not be held up.

                  We encourage you to begin to think about how you can include images into the development, training and teaching of your youth. They are powerful to help them retain the principles and lessons that we impart.

                  Have you used images in your communication? Have they worked? What have you used and how? Post them to social media and tag them with #youthminnz


                  Other posts in this series:

                  Kingdom of Power - 1 Corinthians 4:20

                  Thursday, September 5, 2019

                  Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

                  Wednesday, September 4, 2019

                  C P Y U logo

                  The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding is a nonprofit organization committed to building strong families by serving to bridge the cultural-generational gap between parents and teenagers. 

                  At a time when an already confusing youth culture is changing quickly, CPYU helps parents, youth workers, educators, and others understand teenagers and their culture so that they will be better equipped to help children and teens navigate the challenging world of adolescence.

                  Founded in 1989 by Walt Mueller, CPYU has developed an international reputation as a voice providing cutting-edge information, resources and analysis on today’s youth culture.

                  The mission of CPYU is to work with churches, schools, and community organizations to build stronger relationships between young people and those charged with helping them grow into healthy adulthood.

                  This mission is accomplished by:

                  • Helping parents understand and respond to the complex world of their children and teens from a distinctively Christian point of view.
                  • Equipping teenagers to deal with the challenges of adolescence.
                  • Raising the youth culture awareness of youth workers, parents and educators, thereby helping them increase their effectiveness with parents, children and teens.


                  I have been following and using the resources from CPYU for a number of years, I have 2 of their books about youth culture. It is American but cultural trends for teens are similar enough for it to be useful.

                  Check out their website and resources and let me know what you think.

                  Funny Astronaut Ad

                  Wednesday, September 4, 2019

                  I know this shows that I am still immature, but I find this hilarious

                  Born for Greatness

                  Monday, September 2, 2019

                  I am sure this band (Papa Roach) and style of music is not everyone's preference, but the message is a good one. The video showcases some amazing individuals who don't allow their physical limitations to determine what they can and can't do.

                  Whatever challenges you are facing, by God's grace you can overcome. God told Paul that his grace was sufficient for Paul's struggle and that is true for us today too. God's grace does not just lift us out of sin to where we are free, it lifts us to be overcomers and effective ministers. Its not by grace to a certain point and then our efforts from there, it is His grace in everything.

                  In God's kingdom, you are not nameless, you are not faceless, you were born for greatness.


                  Developing an EPIC Generation - Participatory

                  Friday, August 30, 2019

                  Continuing on from last week's post about this EPIC generation, this week we are looking at Participatory. This generation expects to participate. They have grown up participating in meaningful ways in a range of decisions and aspects of their lives.

                  They upload their thoughts and want to be heard, they participate in family decisions around food, holidays etc. To keep them engaged, we need to find ways to help them participate in meaningful ways. Not only does participating engage them more, it helps them learn and grow.

                  Jesus' leadership style was one that involved participation. Throughout his ministry he made people participate. His disciples didn't just sit and listen to his teaching, they were expected to engage and participate. Matthew 10 tells of Jesus sending out the disciples in groups of 2. What can we learn from Jesus's example in Matthew 10?

                  He had modelled what he was asking them to do.
                  The disciples had been with Jesus for a little while, so they would have heard his teaching and seen his ministry in action with healing and miracles. He was not asking them to participate in something they had never seen or something he was not doing himself.
                  When we look to have young people participate, context helps them. For example, if you ask one of your young people to lead a 5 minute breakout discussion with 3-4 people during your sermon, then make sure they have seen it done successfully, to help set them up for success.

                  He gave them the authority that would enable them to do what he asked
                  Jesus did not give them a task or responsibility without also imparting to them the authority they would need to do it. If we are only offering a token gesture of participation and not true participation, the young people will feel it. So we need to be mindful to allow their participation to be meaningful.
                  In our example of running a small discussion, if the young person we have asked to lead their group is not acknowledged in some way, then they may not have the respect of those around them. How you do that will depend on the size of your group. In a smaller group you can name those who will be leading the groups. In a larger context you could have it so that those leaders have a orange piece of paper with questions on it, get into a group with someone with an orange piece of paper.
                  There are many other contexts where we need to be mindful that the people we have asked to participate are given the authority for that to be meaningful.

                  He knew them
                  Verses 2-4 list the disciples, because Jesus knew those he was sending out.
                  This thought does depend on your context and what you are asking in terms of participation. If you are a communicator that regularly speaks with different groups, then you will look for levels of participation that can work for those contexts. We have all been part of groups where mis-managed participation disrupted what we were looking to do.
                  If you are in a familiar group then your knowledge of the individuals can help you take the participation to a different level. At the level of participation that Jesus asked for, he knew them by name and had been with them for a while.

                  He gave clear and specific instruction with both boundaries and expectations
                  Verses 5-8 show us that Jesus did not send the disciples out willy-nilly and without purpose, he told them where they should go and where they shouldn't go. He told them what they should do as they went. Their participation was not haphazard but directed and so meaningful.
                  To get meaningful participation from young people, giving guidelines and boundaries helps set them up for success. Will they need to be refocussed sometimes, most likely, but laying a clear foundation is crucial.

                  It was a growth exercise
                  Verses 9-16 gives more context and some fairly challenging parameters. They had to rely on the generosity of those they were ministering to in order to eat and sleep. With the young people that we lead, they may expect to participate at a certain level, but if we are committed to their growth, then sometimes we need to help them grow. Comfort is our default setting but growth requires stretching and stepping beyond what we know. So we challenge them to do things that are uncomfortable, that involves risk, and may even fail.
                  Why do we do that, set them up for risk and possible failure? Because God's purposes and sacrifice require that his kingdom grow. It must grow in our hearts and in our world, and doing the same thing day after day, week after week out of habit does not honour his purpose, sacrifice and kingdom. Faith and obedience should be growing in our hearts and lives, and his love being expressed into our world.
                  Take it in steps, but I encourage you to challenge your youth to greater participation and greater service, for the sake of God's kingdom.

                  There was probably a debrief and discussion
                  We do not see it in this passage specifically, but if Jesus it did it at other times then it is fairly likely that there was a discussion about how it went. I believe it honours the process if we make sure that we help the young people evaluate their experiences. Again, context will mean the application of this may vary, but it is important to do for our young people to get the most out of it.
                  Just as we should be evaluating, we should teach our young people to evaluate too. It brings self-awareness and increases the impact of the experience.


                  What do you think? What are some ways you can increase and add participation this coming week?


                  Other posts in this series:

                  Walk By Faith - 2 Corinthians 5:7

                  Thursday, August 29, 2019

                  2 Corinthians 5:7 Walk by faith Not by sight

                  Build A Ministry To Parents In Four Steps

                  Wednesday, August 28, 2019

                  Today's resource is based on a series of articles from Ministry to which shows 4 steps for building a Parent Ministry.

                  You can follow the links below to access each of the articles and their downloadable resources. I have taken their model and some of their content, but where I felt there could be more I have added my 2 cents. Part of their purpose is for you to use their service in ministry to parents and if you want to sign up then by all means have a look at what they offer and make use of their service, but if you just want content so you can start something yourself then please read their original articles via the links and our additions below.

                  Original articles are:


                  The Roadmap

                  For many of us, the only thing that keeps us from getting started is finding the first step. What if you want to build a ministry to parents in your church?

                  • You know that parents are the most significant spiritual influence in the lives of the kids you serve.
                  • You know you are called to teenagers or children but also have an opportunity to minister to their whole family!
                  • You know that you should be ministering to parents.

                  You’re not exactly sure how to do it, so where do you start? Here is the Ministry to Parents Road Map:

                  ministry to parents road map

                  It’s a guide to help you get started partnering with parents. Each step along this journey will help you and your church multiply your ministry efforts by leveraging the powerful influence of parents.


                  Step 1: Build a Parent Ministry Plan

                  There are many components involved in building a parent ministry plan. One of the fundamental features is a SAFE and STRUCTURED ministry. When parents visit your church for the first time, they may ask, “Will my kid be safe?”  And if they don’t ask, they’re thinking it. Setting guidelines and expectations, doing background checks, and having a well thought out application for volunteers communicates to parents trust, safety, security and structure. 

                  From Youth Min NZ's perspective, some other aspects that you should consider in your Parent Ministry Plan are:

                  • Who you have that can take point for this area? Do you have an empty nester who would love to help other parents, or an older person who can love on parents, or a parent in your ministry with a heart for other parents etc.
                  • What would help the parents in your church? This will involve some conversations and research, rather than just assumptions.
                  • Once you have things working in your church, would you look to serve parents in your local community? How would you do that?
                  • What resources are available to you? Parenting organisations like Parenting Place, Focus on the Family, other churches etc. Marriage resources like Family Life's Weekend to Remember etc
                  • What will you offer and how often? Articles, books, training/courses, support groups or small groups. parent/child events, other outside events and resources, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually
                  • How will you communicate with the parents? Email, newsletters, text, social media, website etc
                  • What is your review cycle for adjusting and tweaking?
                  • What are your health and safety policies? As this will also help build trust with parents.

                  Those are at least some starting points, but I think the most important thing to do is to make the plan achieveable. You might have big plans, but it might take 2 years before you have the right structures and volunteers in place, so plan in phases, starting with what you can do over the next 3 months and expand from there.


                  Step 2: Encourage Parents

                  When you decided to step into your role in youth ministry, I imagine you were excited to work with the children or teenagers. But then, you quickly discovered early on those students have parents. And when those parents need encouragement, they come to you because you love working with their students.

                  But…are there times as a minister where you don’t feel like a parenting expert? If so, me too. Parenting is hard, and I’m not sure anyone can claim to be an expert at it.

                  But I have some good news for you!

                  Parents don’t need us to be experts.  They need us to be encouragers.

                  Now that’s a job any of us can do.

                  Every time you walk through the hallways of your church, you have the opportunity to interact with parents who are:

                  • Disappointed – their kid didn’t live up to their expectations and feel shame
                  • Discouraged – they feel hopeless about their kid’s situation or behavior
                  • Angry – their family just finished an intense fight in the car on the way to church
                  • Hurting – their kid faces a struggle or traumatic event that has the parent reeling
                  • Afraid – they feel fear over their kid daily

                  The bottom line is that the opportunity to encourage parents is so BIG we can’t ignore it anymore.

                  • To the disappointed parent, you become a safe listener.
                  • To the discouraged parent, you become a reminder there is hope.
                  • To the angry parent, you become a calming presence.
                  • To the hurting parent, you become a physical representation of God’s comfort.
                  • To the fearful parent, you become a faithful friend.

                  From Youth MIn NZ's side, some practical ideas on how to encourage parents might be:

                  • Let them know that they are not alone
                  • If it is a common issue, then let them know that it is normal and maybe have some books, podcasts or articles handy that you can pass to them to help them
                  • Pray with them
                  • Find specific ways to speak well of their youth. If they have a great attitude or you have seen growth or positive change, or there is a talent or ability that you have noticed, then let the parents know.
                  • Honour them for who they are and the good aspects of their parenting
                  • Follow up and follow through. If you have had a conversation then make a note to follow up with that parent in the next 1-2 weeks with an encouraging text or similar. And if you say you are going to do something then do it.


                  Step 3: Help Parent's Lead

                  Here are some truths you might have heard about parents:

                  • TRUTH #1- Parents are the most significant spiritual influence in the lives of their kids.
                  • TRUTH #2- The students you serve spend the majority of their time at home with their parents and not at your church.

                  What if you trained parents to act as a minister to their kids?

                  If so, then the greatest influencers who spend the most time around our students become the primary source of spiritual encouragement.

                  Think of the possibilities.  We work smarter, not harder to carry out God’s calling on our lives to see young people discipled.

                  From Youth Min NZ, some ideas that you could consider are:

                  • Communicate with parents in regards to what you are teaching their youth in small groups or at services and include some questions to help spark conversation with their youth
                  • Speak supportively about parents and family. We should never undermine parents, especially if we are only hearing the youth's side of a situation. Parents aren't perfect but in the list of people that care for the youth, they have done it longer than us and will continue to do it after we have gone, so we need to give them their due respect.
                  • Make resources available that will help them, whether that is a culture update, a parenting book or website, or some discussion starters
                  • Communicate big events or changes early and across as many channels as possible. Families are busy and if we want the support of families then we need to get information into their hands so they can plan.
                  • Let families win. Yes we want our programs and events to be well attended and effective, but if a youth misses your program because of a family commitment, we should celebrate that the family spent time together and we should pray that it brought them closer together. This may even go as far as to changing your events. One example is that we run a summer camp at our church and one year it was run over New Years, which gave an opportunity for a fun party, but with many parents on holiday with annual shut-downs we separated youth from their families during a time that normally had them all together. We moved our camp into mid January so families could be together and the youth could go to camp after parents were back at work.


                  Step 4: Care For Your Soul

                  This step is the most foundational of them all. Why?

                  There is no ministry if the minister burns out.

                  I have a question for you. Who ministers to you?

                  I know who serves the kids and teenagers in your church. You.
                  I know who serves the parents in your church. You.
                  But who is caring for you? 

                  You might read that and say, “How does soul care fit into Ministry to Parents?”

                  Ministry is hard enough as it is.  We are on the front lines in a Spiritual Battle. We have our callings to shepherd our walks with Christ, our relationships with our family, and lead others to do the same.

                  This responsibility gets even harder when:

                  • We’re burning out and struggling to find passion, energy, and motivation.
                  • We’re trying to connect with God, but are struggling to grow spiritually.
                  • Our family is going through a crisis, and the conflict wears us down.

                  We understand how hard it is to take care of ourselves as we care for others. This struggle is why we create content concentrated on how to care for the soul. We want to help you “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).


                  Here at Youth Min NZ, we hope this content has been helpful. If you want to discuss starting or improving your parent ministry, then you can go to Ministry to, or you can contact us and we would love to help however we can.

                  Blog tags: 

                  Deer in the Air Tonight

                  Tuesday, August 27, 2019

                  I am an amateur and average drummer, and a Phil Collins fan, so this doubly amused me. Sadly I think the deer does it better than I could.


                  Stand Strong

                  Monday, August 26, 2019

                  Alistair Brownlee helps brother Jonny over the line after collapsing in triathlon

                  Eph 6:10-11
                  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 

                  I find myself regularly trying to stand in my own strength, in the power of my own abilities. I take the lessons learnt over the years and skills I have developed to create programs, strategies, structures & systems, and apply them into the current situation. And some success can be found in those things because they can be based on principles that God set up.

                  Ephesians brings us back to the reality that should be worked out in our lives as Christian leaders, that we are in need of a Lord and a Saviour. Not a saviour like Superman that swoops in, rescues us from the situation and leaves, but a saviour that steps into the world with us. Who experienced and felt the same things we have, the joys and struggles, the love and the despair, who sees us at our lowest and highest, and who reaches out a hand to us. Who imparts strength to us that we might stand, but not just stand but to stand in strength.

                  And not a Lord who dictates and determines paths without care for those he leads, but a Lord who puts purpose in our hearts and then gives us the resources to fulfill that purpose. A Lord who is committed to our ultimate good and to his kingdom coming in our life and world.

                  There is strength available for you to stand, and to stand strong.

                  In Maori there is a phrase "Kia Kaha", which means stand strong, keep going and when you say it to someone it has a sense that we are with you. I understand the sentiment and solidarity expressed, but kia kaha is not sufficient for fulling God's purposes, it needs to be kia kaha i roto i te Ariki (be strong in the Lord).

                  Isn't it amazing to think that we serve a God that doesn't load us with burdens that we can't carry. Any task, purpose, expectation that he might have for us comes with the promise of the resources to fulfill it.

                  Whatever need you have, whatever situation you are facing, you can stand in his strength. Whether the outcome is one we hoped for or one we wanted to avoid, we can stand in his strength. Whether we are facing the challenges that come with growth or we feel like we are floundering and unfruitful, we can stand in his strength.

                  I am praying for you, that you would stand strong today, in the power and strength of the Lord.

                  Developing an EPIC Generation - Experiential

                  Friday, August 23, 2019

                  man crowd surfing at a concert

                  The first time I heard the concept of an EPIC generation was through Tim Elmore from Growing Leaders. EPIC is this understanding that the current generation is Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich & Connected, and if we are going to teach and develop young people then we need to be communicating in these ways, because they are more meaningful to them.

                  To be entirely honest, many of those things are not exclusive to the current generation, there have always been people who learn better from hands on experience than listening, or who retained concepts when they were presented as images etc, it just seems that these attributes describe more of the population and that they have the range rather than 1-2 of them.

                  Today I wanted to expand on the concept of Experiential and I will cover the other aspects in future posts.

                  It seems that many of our environments are set up as lectures, whether that is a school environment, a church service, a conference, a training course etc, and yet we retain only around 5% of what we hear. Good communicators will use slides when given the opportunity which might get us up to around 20% retention, but the research shows that retention gets close to 75% if there is an opportunity to practice by doing.

                  The reason I picked the image I did for this post is because listening to music is like listening to a lecture, it engages the hearing and in the moment you are engaged and maybe even moved. If it carries meaning for you then you will likely remember aspects of it into the future. But a concert is more impactful. The experience includes sights, sounds, smells, touch, tastes, connections that are missing if you are only listening. A live concert is a full experience.

                  To develop young people into disciples and leaders, we need to think about what experiences we can expose them to that will help shape and develop them. The impact of a missions trip to a teenager is much greater than just hearing about the need and seeing some slides or videos. The experience of sharing their faith, or of praying for someone, or of defending their faith is far more effective than just being told about how to do these things.

                  Even practical things like budgeting, dating, interviews, relationships, cooking etc are all best learnt with an experience.

                  If you plan and run a series in your small groups or teaching calendar, try and make one week or one aspect experiential, and make time to debrief and discuss the experience. Because greater than experience is evaluated experience.

                  One example that I did with the youth I was leading was a walk through the miracles of the Bible. I can't remember all the aspects but I set up one area with blue lights, fans and big curtains to replicate the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. In another space I set up as many heaters as I could in a small room with red lights to replicate Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in the fiery furnace. In those spaces we spoke about the character of God and his power.

                  The ideas are limitless and we serve a creative God who can inspire you as you lead, disciple, develop and teach young people.

                  Ask yourself this question: What can I do in the next 2 weeks to add an experiential aspect to our teaching/development?

                  We would love to hear what you try and how it goes.


                  Other posts in this series:

                  Called to Freedom - Galatians 5:1

                  Thursday, August 22, 2019

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                  Training Needs Analysis

                  Thursday, August 22, 2019

                  Another resource which can be found within the Sustainable Practices resources is a Training Needs Analysis. I have created an online version which will send you an email with your results and you can also send a copy to a senior pastor/supervisor/mentor for further discussion.

                  Hope this helps you develop as a leader.

                  Training Needs Analysis

                  Mark Cole: Turn Mistakes into Success

                  Thursday, August 22, 2019

                  Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash


                  This article was first posted on, for the original and other resources, please check out their website.


                  If you’re human, you are going to make mistakes. I love Denis Waitley’s perspective: “Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.”

                  John Maxwell says there are two kinds of people in regards to setbacks: splatters, who hit the bottom, fall apart and stay on the bottom; and bouncers, who hit rock bottom, pull themselves together, and bounce back up.

                  Here are a few thoughts that will help you turn your mistakes into success.

                  1. Don’t base your self-worth on your mistakes.

                  Your value as a human being is found in far more than your performance. You can become your own worst enemy by telling yourself, “I am a failure,” or “I’ll never be good enough.” If you fail, keep a healthy perspective and coach yourself up. You are not defined by your worst moments.

                  2. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.

                  When you make a mistake, pick yourself up quickly and get moving again. If you start to wallow, you might get stuck. Focus on the good that you can make out of the difficulty. Don’t forget, the experience that you gain from mistakes will serve you well five years down the road when you are leading someone going through something similar.

                  3. Do consider your failures as a process to learn and improve.

                  Take the attitude of a scientist: when their work fails, they just call it an experiment that didn’t work! It is amazing how something this simple can change your perspective and attitude about making a mistake. Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top.”

                  4. Don’t give up!

                  Author and speaker Og Mandino has some impactful words on this topic. He said, “Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure?” Shake it off. Your turn will come. Believing that is essential for success.

                  If you are facing a bad experience because of a mistake that you made, let the bad experience lead you to a good experience. Remember, good experiences are often a result of previous bad experiences. Bad experiences are only bad if you fail to learn from them.

                  Ask yourself this question: How can I take this bad experience and turn it into a better one?

                  I’ll always remember these strong words from Winston Churchill, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.”


                  This article was originally posted by Mark Cole at Please go and check out their other resources.

                  Training Needs Analysis

                  Every person who serves in youth ministry can use further development and equipping. This Training Needs Analysis survey, that has been taken from Sustainable Practices for Youth Ministry, will quickly identify the most helpful areas you could focus your efforts to sharpen your skills. When you are considering different youth ministry training possibilities, look for those possibilities that address the specific areas which were ticked in the first or second columns. Don’t just work through the Training Needs Analysis once—use it again in a year’s time to monitor your own development and reassess where you should focus your own equipping journey.
                  If you want someone else to receive your results then please add them here. For multiple people, please separate with comma.
                  For each category of training, tick either the "Poorly Equipped," "Moderately Equipped," or "Well Equipped” column. The analysis survey should only take a few minutes to complete.
                  Poorly EquippedModerately EquippedWell Equipped
                  Adolescent Growth and Development *
                  Transitioning Youth through Developmental Stages *
                  Trends in Youth Culture *
                  Youth Evangelism *
                  Youth Discipleship *
                  Leading Youth Games/Activities *
                  Pastoral Youth Counseling and Listening Skills *
                  Youth Mentoring *
                  Ministering to Youth in Crisis *
                  Leading Small Groups *
                  Developing Leaders *
                  Creating and Implementing an Internship Program *
                  Building/Working with a Volunteer Team *
                  Technology and Social Media *
                  God Talks that Engage Youth *
                  Preaching *
                  Teaching *
                  Engaging with and Supporting Parents *
                  Family-Based Youth Ministry *
                  Partnership with Schools *
                  Community Engagement *
                  Integration of Youth in the Intergenerational Church *
                  Working with other Church Staff *
                  Youth Camps/Retreats *
                  Health and Safety in Youth Ministry *
                  Working with Intermediate Students *
                  Working with College Students *
                  Working with Uni Students and Young Adults *
                  Bible Study Methods *
                  Old Testament *
                  New Testament *
                  Christian Theology *
                  Church History *
                  Christian Apologetics *
                  Personal Leadership Development *
                  Personal Health (Stress/Burnout) *
                  Planning to Succeed *
                  Starting a New Group or New Mission Initiative *
                  Budgeting and Accessing Funding *

                  Skit Guys - Ask Tommy & Eddie

                  Tuesday, August 20, 2019

                  Tommy & Eddie are the Skit Guys. They have some pretty funny videos and have started doing a Q&A video series, which is quite amusing. Check it out.


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                  Funny Tiger Meme

                  Tuesday, August 6, 2019

                  I know this shows my age, but when scouting for something funny to share for Tuesday's chuckle I saw this and had to share it. If you have no idea why this is funny then ask someone who was around in the 80s or check out the music video or the Rocky video


                  The Most Committed To Young People

                  Monday, August 5, 2019

                  I read the testimony of a pastor's kid and their personal experience of God as part of their journey to their own relationship with God. You can read the article here at

                  I was reminded that as youth leaders and youth pastors, we create environments and opportunities within our programming for kids to experience God, and some kids connect with God in those moments, and some do not. We can sometimes be disappointed when we don't see the response that we hoped for. In the testimony, the girl left the service and altar call. It was not that she was rejecting God, it was just that the experience at that moment was not what she needed. She needed something personal and private, something new and fresh, something unique.

                  God met her in the middle of that field, with no music to create atmosphere, with no flashing lights and no one praying with her.

                  I was reminded that while we may be called to serve young people and their families, and that calling involves bringing young people into a closer relationship with the God who loves them, we are not the most committed to these young people connecting with God. God is the most committed to seeing them connect with Him. He has given more for the relationship, He has invested more than we ever could, He has been active and involved longer than we have in their lives. We have the privilege of partnering with Him but sometimes the change or experience is not because of our efforts or program, it is simply because a loving God is reaching out to a young person and they are reaching out to Him. And that encounter can happen in the middle of field, in a bedroom, in a movie theatre, at a concert, at a grocery store or at our youth group.

                  Are youth groups and youth leaders a part of the picture? Totally. Don't stop serving God or young people by running relevant and effective ministries. Reaching out to, loving, discipling, developing, releasing young people.

                  Is your program or youth ministry the only way that young people encounter God? Absolutely not. God is bigger than us (thankfully) and he is working much harder than we are to bring every young person into relationship with him.

                  Two things that I want you to take away from this thought -

                  1. God is bigger than our programs
                  Don't limit God's interaction and influence in young people's lives to your programs, events and schedules. We want young people who are maturing in their faith and capable of living out their faith independently of youth group environments, and to do that we need to learn to give them some latitude, some freedom to seek and understand God beyond our programs. Letting them find God for themselves, because we won't be there to help them all the time.

                  2. God is bigger than our misses
                  Sometimes we miss the mark. Sometimes a young person slips through the cracks. Maybe we didn't connect with them, maybe they were EGRs (Extra Grace Required) and we didn't have the resources to care for them well enough, maybe life got difficult and their faith couldn't cope, maybe they chose to live a life the excluded God. Those moments are difficult but I encourage you to review what could have been done better, because if there are ways to improve then we should, but also entrust them to the hands of a loving God who is still committed to them and still at work to bring them into relationship.


                  It is a privilege to serve in youth ministry and I count it a privilege to serve youth leaders however I can. I hope this blog post helps you broaden your view of God, and helps you lean more into Him. He loves you, He loves the young people you serve, and He has the wisdom and resource for you in your current situation and season.


                  Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

                  Serving Into Greatness

                  Friday, August 2, 2019

                  Jesus said to his disciples on a number of occasions that whoever wants to become great must become the servant of all. (Mt 20:26, Mt 23:11). Jesus did not say don't desire to become great, don't try to become great, he just said that the pathway and price to greatness is serving.

                  Some attributes of a servant to consider


                  Good Servants know who their master is

                  First and foremost, as a Christian our master is God. Yes, God has set up earthly structures with leaders and managers, but they are stewards of what God has given to them, they are accountable for what God has entrusted to them. (I would love to go off on a tangent and rant about leaders who over-step their delegated authority, but that may be for a different day.)

                  Our responsibility as Good Servants seeking greatness, is to know who our ultimate master is, and understand how to serve Him first. That means we need to be in contact with Him regularly. We are not perfect which means that we sometimes mishear, misunderstand, misinterpret or make mistakes in hearing and carrying out our Master's will. Keeping connection and contact with Him helps us course correct early, because the Holy Spirit is sent to us as a guide.

                  Within our lives, we do also need to understand the structures that we are operating in, and the people, roles and authority involved. Because our service is done in the context of our current situation we need wisdom to not just obey blindly, but obey effectively.

                  How does that apply in youth ministry specifically? If there is any ministry that needs us to be confident in our God and our calling it is youth ministry. In our hearts we have to keep God as our master, but in reality we are often buffeted with others who think we answer to them first. If we are in a church context then we serve with a Senior Pastor/Leader or Elders/Deacons (depending on structure) and possibly another direct report who we answer to. These have been given that responsibility and are part of the picture, but we then have parents and youth who have an opinion. We have a society that has an opinion about what and how we should do things. We have other "helpful" members of our church who may have an opinion.

                  I encourage you to be wise and loving in your interactions with people, but maintain God as the master of your life.


                  Good Servants reflect their master's priorities

                  A Good Servant does not operate independantly, based on their own priorities and views, their actions reflect on their Master and so they know and live out of those priorities. If I were to summarise God's priorities I would say that they are His Kingdom moving forward in people's lives and that kingdom being expressed in love, grace and truth.

                  His Kingdom is not a tangible kingdom, but one that lives in the hearts and lives of those who follow him. Sometimes there is a mis-match between a person's heart and their actions. I have heard it said recently that the spirit of man is made alive and holy at salvation, our bodies will be renewed at the resurrection/end times but our soul is in process. And I would whole heartedly agree. We are broken and those around us are broken, and so we must constantly remind ourselves when we are working with people that we are to reflect our Master's priorities. We are looking to see His Kingdom progress but with an attitude of love, grace and truth.

                  How does that apply to youth leaders? We can be pressured to run ministries that are not balanced or focussed on God's priorities. For some they are pressured to make it about how many youth were at your recent event/program and never a focus on whether youth are moving forward in their understanding of the Gospel and their relationship with God. For others it might be about whether they achieved a certain standard or level of excellence, and no focus on the health and longevity of the leaders that serve in the ministry. For some it might be about the health and wellbeing of the youth who already attend to the detriment of reaching out into the "messy and broken" youth in our community. If we are to be Good Servants of God and his people, we must know our God's priorities and work to make those our priorities.

                  I want to encourage you to understand and fully adopt God's priorities.


                  Good Servants obey their master

                  This almost goes without saying, but we should be increasingly obedient to our God. This is obvious and yet we find ourselves at tension with this so often. Whether it is a call to fast, or get up 15 minutes earlier to pray, or to pray for a colleague or unchurched friend who is going through something, we can find ourselves resisting. Or maybe it is just me. I don't want to labour on this but Good Servants obey, and if we are looking to serve into greateness, then obedience is the path. Trust is grown when we obey. If we can't be generous when we have $100 to our name, then we are unlikely to be generous when we have $1,000. So then why would God trust is with the greater when we can't be faithful with the smaller.

                  How does this apply as we lead young people? If we are not faithful and obedient when we are responsible for 5-10 young people, then it is only a matter of time before even what you have may be taken from you. Don't get me wrong, there are people with charisma and natural leadership who can draw a crowd and build a team to put on events and programs, and they do it out of their own abilities and without God. And they may even maintain it for a number of years, but growth is a magnifier. It exposes the strengths and the weaknesses in organisations and in leaders. The only way for long term effectiveness is to first be a disciple and follower of God.

                  I encourage you to practice obedience in you day to day living.


                  Good Servants are humble, self-aware and willing

                  Good Servants are not proud or self-seeking. They elevate and seek the best for their Master, and their Master's priorities. God's priority is His Kingdom in the lives of people and our greatness is measured in the success of that mission.

                  Good Servants are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. I believe they do their best to honour their unique God-design by operating out of their SHAPES (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience & Season), but without determining that any task is "beneath" them.

                  Operating out of our uniqueness and letting other people operate out of theirs will produce a great outcome. The picture is like an orchestra that works together to produce a beautiful piece of music, but it would be a shambles if the violin tried to play the part of the tuba, or the cymbals tried to play the part of the trombone. They are designed for a specific sound and weaved into the music in a way that honours that sound and the overall symphony. In serving, we can become great when we let others shine in their uniqueness while also honouring our own.

                  In balance to that, we should never respond to a task or responsibility as if you were too important to perform it, if we are able to.

                  How does that land within youth ministry? I believe an example might help. Say you are running a youth church service and you are preaching that night. You feel properly prepared although maybe a little nervous. You go into the bathroom for a last minute "stop off" and when you wash your hands you notice that the bench is a mess and that the hand towels have almost run out. To me, it would be servant-like to pop your head out of the toilet door and ask one of your team to sort out the hand towel situation before popping back into the bathroom to wipe down and tidy the bench. You are then helping others to express service while still expressing an act of service. It would not be servant-like to find the person responsible for hosting and keeping the toilets tidy, yelling at them about the state of the bathrooms and telling them to sort it out, because you have just prioritise a clean bathroom over the person.

                  Good Servants work to their strengths, they give others the opportunity to work to their strengths but they never think of themselves as above any task.


                  Greatness is possible, but it comes to those who know know who their true Master is, they understand and adopt the priorities of their Master, they obey their Master, they understand their uniqueness and the uniqueness of others and they operate in humility. 

                  Our Struggle - Ephesians 6:12

                  Thursday, August 1, 2019

                  Sometimes we go through difficult moments, and sometimes those moments come through people. We have to remind ourselves that ultimately our struggle is not against people but against spiritual forces.

                  Keep the faith, lean into God.


                  Photo from Heartland

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                  Mental Health Initiative - Āpōpō

                  Wednesday, July 31, 2019

                  Scripture Union NZ have put together an initiative to support people in this important area of mental health and suicide. What they have created is a short program that looks to act as an initial conversation to equip people with the basic tools to support those around them.

                  Their website explains it that Āpōpō:

                  • Provides tools for helping ourselves, our friends and whānau.
                  • Is based on biblical principles.
                  • Looks at the warning signs of someone who is struggling.
                  • Emphasises the power and practice of listening.
                  • Recognises the importance of asking questions in a safe space.
                  • Explores the concept, ‘Safe for now’.
                  • Teaches skills that anyone can utilise, regardless of their qualification.
                  • Embraces a holistic approach to health, best embodied in the ‘Te Whare Tapa Whā’ model.
                  • Does not replace a professional approach. It is an initial conversation to equip people with the basic tools to support those around them
                  • Āpōpō takes 2-3 hours to present. This can be done all in one block, or we can split the programme into an initial 2 hour block, with a 1 hour follow-up session at a later date.

                  I encourage you to look into it for your leaders, your youth and your church

                  Try This If Going For Surgery

                  Tuesday, July 30, 2019

                  There is always time for a laugh. Have a read.

                  Who do you know that would do this? I can think of at least 2-3 people.


                  Image taken from Postive Memes Facebook Page

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                  4 Reminders For When You Feel Like Giving Up

                  Monday, July 29, 2019

                  Below is an article from Courage To Lead, shared with their permission. We hope you enjoy it and it helps you lead well.


                  You’re a leader.

                  There is a lot involved in that. You have opportunities to improve people’s lives, create positive change in the world, and leave things better than you found them. Influence is your currency, so impact can be your legacy.

                  But before you put on your cape and start saving the, there’s something you need to know. Something that most leadership books gloss over or avoid altogether. Something that can shift your perspective, encourage your heart, and keep you focused.

                  You are going to have hard days.

                  Below are some essential realities that most leaders don’t talk about. While they often go undiscussed, these truths are always felt.

                  Leadership is hard.

                  Whoever said being a leader is easy has obviously never been a leader. Making tough decisions, dealing with difficult personalities, intense pressure, managing problems and never having a quitting time are just a sample of the obstacles leaders face.

                  Difficult circumstances cause many leaders to quit. Giving up is the kryptonite of impact. Develop grit and toughness now, because you're going to need it. Sometimes success is largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. There are hard days and hard decisions ahead of you. Do not quit. Resolve to do what is right above what is easy.

                  Leadership is thrilling.

                  Being a leader is like riding a roller coaster. There are ups, downs, feelings of fear, and times you wish the ride would just end! Instead of viewing this as a negative, embrace the adventure of it. Leadership is a thrill ride.

                  I love doing things that get my blood pumping. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, hiked the steps of the pyramids in Egypt and been driven way too fast in a professional race car! Adventure thrills me. Just like any thrill, there is a bit of fear involved. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. Seize fear instead of allowing it to seize you. The positive side of fear is it offers you the opportunity to overcome something!  Overcome fear and lean into the thrill of leading.

                  Leadership is a grind.

                  Leaders show up every day. There will be days when you feel in the zone, everything clicks for you. Conversely, some days come down to showing up when you do not feel like it. More often than not being a leader is grinding out mundane day-to-day issues. Commit to the grunt work of leadership

                  Consistency counts. The process is rarely sexy or cool. Greatness is found in the shadows of faithfulness rather than the spotlight of fame. Show up tomorrow and give yourself to the grind.

                  Leadership is worth it.

                  A leader does not simply perform a job, they answer a deeper calling. The work you put in matters. You are making a difference. You may not see the fruit of your work right now, but the best results take time to materialize. Keep going. Push harder. Don't stop. It is worth it.

                  If you are struggling today, stay in the game. Own these truths and know your work counts. When I face difficult moments as a leader I focus less on tasks and more on people. People are the end game of leadership. To help you stay focused, put yourself in a place to serve those you lead. People matter. People are why you lead. Serving people reminds you that leadership is worth it.

                  Shawn Bio.png


                  You can read more articles and see more about Courage to Lead on their website - or on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn

                  How To Handle the Weekly Ebb and Flow of Youth Ministry

                  Friday, July 26, 2019

                  Photo by James Qualtrough on Unsplash


                     I recently had an exchange with a youth leader related to the normal weekly ebb and flow of youth ministry. It is not something I have thought about recently, but if we have been in youth ministry for a while then we have had to come to terms with the rhythm of ministry. On a week to week basis we have natural rises and falls. We build up towards our weekend programs and then it dips after that. We lift towards a mid-week program and then ease down. And then at various times we have bigger rises and falls where we have a big outreach or event. 

                     As I was thinking about the topic I was reminded of the ocean tides, and the plants and creatures that exist in the tidal zone. (As the parent of a 7 year old, I have to admit that what came to mind was an episode of the Magic School Bus.) The current ministry environment is very similar to the tidal zone.

                     The plants and animals in the tidal zone know, and are prepared for, the changing tides. They know the lift and turmoil of the incoming tide, culminating in a high tide. They know the drag and flow of the outgoing tide, finishing with the low tide. There are things to learn from them that we can apply to youth ministry.


                  1. They make their home on the rock

                     Plants and animals that live in the tidal zone are predominantly found on the rocks. The rocks are stable and give them grounding. Rocks don't shift or move with the tide like sand does. The plants anchor themselves to the rock, some of the animals anchor themselves and some animals find shelter in the crevices and rock pools.
                     With the ebb and flow of youth ministry, our emotions, soul, body and spirit lift and dip, and we should make our foundation on the Rock too. Of course our rock is Jesus and our relationship with him. We need to anchor our identity in him, we need to embed our security in his love for us, we need to shelter our souls in his caring and careful hands. One of the messianic prophecies is found in Isaiah 42 and verse three says "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;". Our Jesus is compassionate and kind, he wants us to bring forth his kingdom on earth, but understands our humanity, our weaknesses and frailties, and our potential.
                     The plants and animals that thrive in the ebb and flow, are the ones that have established themselves firmly on the rock.

                     How is your relationship with Jesus?


                  2. They know and expect the rhythm

                     The life that exists in the tidal zone is not surprised when the tide goes out after a couple of hours. They aren't thinking to themselves "What is happening?!?!" They understand and expect that the tide comes in and lifts them, bringing nutrients and good things. They also know that the tide will go out, leaving them a bit drier, maybe hunkered down in a rock pool to protect themselves from drying out completely. And when the tide is out, they know that if they stay on the rock, if they take care of themselves through this moment that the tide will come back in.   In all these moments, they are prepared. As the tide comes in, they are preparing and ready to open up and make the most of the opportunities that are coming their way. And as the tide recedes, they are preparing and getting ready to settle down until the next time around, conserving what they have to make sure they make it through.
                     In week to week ministry, if we are not prepared for the dips that often follow the highs, then we can wonder what is wrong with us. We can have a great weekend of youth and ministry, but so often on Monday we still have doubts about ourselves and what we achieved. It is even more so if we went into the weekend with high expectations that were not met.
                     Your body is not designed to live at a constant level of excitement or stress, it is always trying to find balance. As we work towards running a program or event, we can get a sense of excitement and/or stress. That can be a good thing in that it can help you focus and achieve more, but once that stress or excitement has been relieved, once the event or program is over, your body is trying to return to its normal state. So the chemicals and hormones that were released under "stress", stop being released and the opposing chemicals and hormones are released to rebalance the body. Unfortunately the rebalancing can swing past "balance" and in the opposite direction before it corrects and finds normal. So the correction to the high can over-correct before it finds balance and gets to normal.
                     Of course Satan has been an observer of humanity for thousands of years, so not only does our body play a part, I am sure that Satan also uses these opportunities to influence us. The Bible talks about us not being ignorant of the Devil and his schemes, and I am sure this is one of them. I believe the phrase "kick 'em while they're down" is fairly accurate here. Sadly some of his agents are disguised as people in our world, who in their brokenness can bring forth discouragement right when we don't need it (but that is a blog post all on its own).
                     If we understand some of these rhythms, we are more prepared for them and more able to push past the dips. We become more able to stay for the long term, rather than getting discouraged in the moments. We would think that there was something wrong with the oysters and crabs if they abandoned the beach just because the tide went out, yet we can find ourselves doing something similar if we are not prepared.

                  Do you know your weekly rhythms? Are you prepared for them and how they affect you?


                  3. They capitalize on the high tide

                     When the tide is in and water is all around them, those plants and animals are all gathering nutrients, they are absorbing needed water, they are grabbing food etc. They know that if they wait too long then they will miss the opportunity, so they make the most of it.
                     We should do the same. When things are flowing, in the buzz and excitement of a gathering of young people, we need to be focussed on our purpose and mission. We should be connecting with young people, absorbing those great things that sustain our souls, fulfilling our calling, leading, preaching, lifting, serving, reaching etc. Because we have the opportunity right then, and we don't want to miss it.
                     Whether one youth shows up or multitudes, we show them God's love, we execute on our plan.
                     Matthew 9:37-38 says Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” In those moments where we are leading and ministering, we are the answer to that prayer, we are stepping into the harvest, into the lives of young people to bring them closer to the God who loves them. Make the most of those moments and celebrate them as they happen.

                  Are you making the most of the opportunities when they come?


                  4. They know how to continue through the low tide

                     As the tide begins to flow out, preparation begins on the rock for the next phase. As the waves come less and less, the plants and animals close up and those who need shelter find their hiding or resting spots. Those who had open shells, close them to preserve the moisture inside. As we finish our event, pack up, debrief, celebrate the wins etc, we also need to begin preparing for what comes next. Remember that humans are complex beings, our spirit affects our soul, our soul affects our body, our body affects our soul and our soul affects our spirit. We exercise our will when we choose which will ultimately rule us, but they interact and influence each other.

                  • Physically - leading up to our events or programs, we can become drained physically with lack of sleep, poor diet choices, physcial exertion with set up, running and pack down. So post event, make sure you allow your body to recover. Get some rest and eat healthy is a fairly simple equation.
                  • Emotionally - running events and leading youth ministry is a draining activity, and more so if there has been disappointment as well. Physiologically there have been a bunch of chemicals released to help you cope with the stress and excitement, and as mentioned above, these need to rebalance and a bit of a dip is likely. So be prepared for that. Set in place some things that will help you get through. One example might be to practice thankfulness, find one or two things that you can be thankful for, even if that is just a lesson learned. Another example is to journal or to get yourself around good people that fill your cup. Do activities that fill your cup. One word of warning is to watch out for activities that offer artificial highs. Activities like video games, junk food, over eating etc, can all replace the "high" of ministry with an alternative high to try and skip past the low. This is not a healthy way to respond and has consequences that will catch up with you. My advice is to understand the low, experience it, process it and then move back into balance.
                  • Mentally - your mental resources have been used and need to replenish, especially if tired. SImilar to the physical, rest, relax, read a book, watch a movie. Don't look to do your budget immediately after a draining event or program.
                  • Spiritually - we are spiritual beings, the spirit realm is real and there is a battle going on. So be aware that this is a reality, but always remember that you are not alone and that Jesus is on your side. In the ebb, make sure you don't neglect your relationship with God or his people, put on some music that connects you to God, go for a walk in nature and have a conversation, visit another church sometimes so you can worship anonymously with no expectations from youth, parents or leaders. Take the opportunity to lay the event/program and all the sacrifice at God's feet, asking him to use it for his kingdom and purposes in your life and the lives of those around you.

                  What will you put in place today, to make sure you survive the moments of low tide?


                  I hope this has been of value to you. If you have questions or comments then please let us know, we would love to hear from you.

                  Youth Evangelism Resources

                  Wednesday, July 24, 2019


                  Current indicators through out New Zealand is that youth ministry is in a state of decline. I believe that part of that is because the youth in our youth groups are not being equipped and released to reach their friends. GOD-talk's goals are:

                  • to see evangelism and outreach training happening in every youth ministry every year
                  • for those young people to be encouraged to go into their school and pray together about how they could best represent Christ

                  GOD-talk supplies resources and online training videos for leaders to help build a culture of evangelism into their group, as well as videos and discussion guides to help train youth. They also have ideas that can be used in schools that might spark your youth's creativity as they pray about how to represent Christ.

                  I encourage you to take 30 minutes, browse the website, watch the videos and then begin to pray about evangelism within the context of your youth, their schools and your community. The Great Commission was not a suggestion, it was an imperative, and resources like GOD-talk can help us to reach these youth.

                  If you need some motivation, then check out the video below from Penn Jillette. He is an atheist but when a man approached him with respect and gifted him a Bible, he was not offended. His comments basically say that if you are a Christian and believe in eternity and hell, then it is your duty to share what you believe.


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                  Move Out, While You Still Know Everything

                  Tuesday, July 23, 2019

                  Its good to have a laugh. I don't generally like reinforcing negative stereotypes about youth or promoting things that encourages unhealthy relationships between parents and youth, but sometimes you just have to have a brief chuckle and acknowledge some of the truth in things.




                  Just to balance it with some generic humour, below are a couple of puns for your amusement.


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                  Praying for You

                  Monday, July 22, 2019

                  Photo by Juliette F on Unsplash


                  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. Ephesians 6:18


                  Please know that you are not alone and that there are people praying for you as you minister to young people. Hopefully you have people in your local context and local church who are lifting you up in prayer, but please know that there are others.

                  We may not have met you yet, but we are praying for you. We are lifting you up in prayer. We pray that you would know the grace and peace of God in your personal life and relationships, that you would know his provision in your finances and needs, that you would know his empowering and resourcing as you lead and minister, that your identity would be secure in him and that your effectiveness in serving His kingdom would grow. We pray that you would know his love for you, not just as a concept but in practical and tangible ways. We pray for health in your body and in your family, for divine favour in your business or employment and for supernatural connections.

                  We pray that this week, you would know God's love and acceptance, and his favour on what he has called you to do.

                  If there is anything specific that we can pray about for you today, then please let us know. We would love to partner with you in that way too.

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                  Be Transformed

                  Thursday, July 11, 2019

                  Background Photo by Dustin Scarpitti on Unsplash

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                  Book - Understanding Sexual Identity

                  Wednesday, July 3, 2019

                  I read this book a number of months ago in response to questions by some youth leaders. They were looking for some answers around ministry in the area of sexuality and same sex attraction (SSA). This book is written specifically towards youth ministry and so I found the language was fairly easy to understand, which is always helpful. I would recommend reading it as well.

                  This whole area of sexuality, SSA and LGBTQ community is one that we should give thought and consideration to. The church has been known for its historic stance on the issue, although more recently there are groups that have moved away from that. I hope at a later stage to put together a more comprehensive article on this topic. My overall philosophy is that we are called to be Christlike. Christ was the epitomy of love, which did not reject those who needed God but also did not approve of things in their life that were barriers to relationship with God.

                  I believe Christ's life expressed love and sacrifice, he lived his life as an example to others and sought to lift their life towards a closer relationship with God without condemning them for where they were at that moment. I believe that it is the function of the Holy Spirit to convict people. The Bible says to become more like Christ, not to be more like the Holy Spirit.

                  Anyway, what I love about this book is that it encourages us to look at the concept of identity through a wider lense. When sexuality or SSA is the issue, then we can narrow the definition of our identity to this one aspect. We can forget that if we are discipling young people in their faith, then their identity is in Christ first, not these other areas, and so it starts to reframe the conversation.

                  I encourage you to read it and analyse it for yourself. I borrowed it from the public library first before I bought my own copy. You can also pick it up from Amazon or Book Depository

                  Sometimes Mistakes Happen LOL

                  Tuesday, July 2, 2019

                  We all make mistakes, its always much worse when caught on camera.

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                  Love Like Jesus - Part 7 - Practical

                  Monday, July 1, 2019

                  Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

                  John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

                  If we are to love like Jesus, then we need to understand and accept how Christ has loved us first. And once we understand and accept that love, we can reflect that love in our relationships and world. I believe Jesus loved practically.

                  Jesus was not a philosopher that just spoke about concepts and ideas, he was a practioner. He acted on behalf of the Kingdom of God. The first recorded message Jesus spoke in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth is found in Luke 4:16-21
                  1He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
                  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
                      because he has anointed me
                      to proclaim good news to the poor.
                  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
                      and recovery of sight for the blind,
                  to set the oppressed free,
                  19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
                  20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

                  In Jesus' public ministry, he didn't just proclaim, be brought it into reality.



                  Jesus' public ministry included many healings. Lame were given the ability to walk. The blind were given their sight. Lepers were healed of their disease. Fevers were cured. Bleeding that had gone on for many years, no longer bled. The dead were raised back to life.

                  His love was not just with words, but with a demonstration of God's power at work in the physical bodies of people.


                  Demon's cast out

                  Those who were oppressed were released. There were many times where the Bible records that Jesus cast out demons. I think about the man in the tombs who was so afflicted by demons that he ran around naked, cut himself and could break chains. There were so many demons that they self-identified as Legion. That man found freedom and sanity through Jesus.

                  I know in our "modern world", that we sometimes think may not be as necessary. What we used to identify as demon possession is now identified as mental illness and we have psychologists, psychiatrist etc who can diagnose and "treat" many of these conditions. I also know that we have a history of well-intentioned Christians who have approached situations with a formula and rather than hearing from God in regards to an individual and responding accordingly. Those actions have sometimes caused complications and issues. Humans are complex beings, with genetics, chemical imbalances, trauma and spiritual forces all having a potential impact on our mental, spiritual and physical condition. And trained professionals absolutely have their place. But we also have the God of the universe who knows the working of the human body, mind and spirit intimately, and who also knows and sees the interactions between the physical world and spiritual world.

                  So I think there is a place for us to develop ourselves in this area, so we can truely love our world as Jesus did, setting prisoners free.



                  Jesus multiplied a small amount of food in order to feed a massive crowd. The Bible records that Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children in one instance, and a crowd of 4,000 men plus women and children in another. Jesus met the practical need of hunger as an expression of love for the people.

                  In another instance he calmed a storm in order alleviate the fears and concerns that the disciples had about their safety.


                  The Cross

                  The cross was a practical expression of his love. His actions there brought about the possibility of permanent peace with God, which has implications for today and eternity. No longer did followers of God need to travel to the temple and sacrifice on the altar in order to have peace with God. The assurance of forgiveness that the Holy Spirit brings, has practical implications for our own emotional and mental health. It was a physical action that had implications for our whole being.

                  I believe, this whole series points us to the cross as the ultimate expression of love. Jesus showed his humility as he allowed his body to be subjected to beating and torture, and his spirit to be separated from God because our sin. He served us by doing what we could never do for ourself. He fulfilled prophecy but also made it possible for us to receive a future that we did not deserve. The cross showed his vulnerabilty as his naked body hung exposed and most of his friends scattered. He expressed forgiveness to those who accused him, to those who abandoned him and to those who had physically injured him. The relevance of his action, as a people in need of a saviour received what they didn't really deserve, may not have been appreciated in the moment but has resounding impact through the pages of history. And it was practical, with application all humanity.

                  Why not take a quick moment to thank God, for all that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross achieved, for all that it means and for all that it continues to do in our lives and in our communities through us. Take a moment to accept the love that Jesus has for you, and then make a commitment to be an agent of his love in your world.


                  God bless you as you seek after Him, and as you seek to bring God's kingdom into the lives of young people and their families.


                  See other posts in this series:

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                  Thursday, June 20, 2019

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                  Sustainable Practices

                  Wednesday, June 19, 2019


                  There are many resources out there to help with sustaining youth ministers. This week's resource is one adapted for New Zealand from other similar documents overseas. They were put together by the Network of National Youth Ministry Leaders, which covers many of the denominations in New Zealand. It is only as good as people's awareness and their application of its principles, so we encourage you to review it, discuss it with your supervisors and see what can be done to implement it. Below is an excerpt from their website about why the resource was created. Have a read and go to their website to download the resource itself - Sustainable Practices


                  Many churches throughout Aotearoa are wrestling with the challenge of connecting with young people in our society. Fewer young people and young adults are linked with the church community than in previous generations, yet many of the pressures they face are greater.

                  An absolute necessity, if we hope to reach this generation, is longevity of our leaders. Quite simply, it takes time to invest in the lives of young people to build the trust that leads to effective ministry.

                  By creating the Sustainable Practices resource, help has been offered to churches in thinking through the key issues of managing a key volunteer youth leader and employing youth workers. This resource contains seven sustainable practices churches should adopt about these issues.

                  The seven practices resonate with the very real experiences of volunteer youth leaders up and down the country: they reflect situations where youth leaders and their churches can often find frustration, conflict or simply unmet needs.

                  While these sustainable practices may be new to some churches, others will already be embracing several or all of them at some level. However, all churches will find the process beneficial of identifying areas of improvement.

                  This resource is meant to help churches take a significant step towards sustainable youth ministry. Longevity for youth leaders means better serving and loving young people in the name of Christ.

                  Perception Is Everything

                  Tuesday, June 18, 2019

                  Sometimes our heart is expressed in a way that we think we will be appreciated, but just doesn't come across how we want. Enjoy.

                  And if you haven't seen Napolean Dynamite then you should, was a cult classic about 10 years ago. Even just find his dance on Youtube, its classic.

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                  Love Like Jesus - Part 6 - Relevance

                  Monday, June 17, 2019

                  Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

                  John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

                  If we are to love like Jesus, then we need to understand and accept how Christ has loved us first. And once we understand and accept that love, we can reflect that love in our relationships and world. I believe Jesus loved through relevance.

                  It is interesting to me that Jesus approached each interaction uniquely. He did not have a cookie cutter approach, but interacted with them based on who they were and where they were at. 

                  In John 3, we find Jesus interacting with Nicodemus, a teacher within the Jewish faith. Jesus' discussion and interaction was about spiritual concepts. He spoke about being born again, about spiritual birth, about historic Jewish moments like the snake lifted on a pole in the desert, and about light and dark, truth and evil. These were all things that would have resonated with Nicodemus, as a scholar.

                  In the very next chapter, John 4, we find Jesus sitting at a well and engaging with a Samaritan women. And his coversation started by asking for water but quickly moved to the thirst in her soul. He didn't speak about theological concepts, but about her own life and needs.

                  After Jesus rose from the dead, in one encounter all the disciples except Thomas saw Jesus. Thomas struggled to believe and so at a later date when Jesus reappeared, he dealt directly with the elephant in the room. He doesn't tell Thomas off for his struggle, but invites him to experience what he needed to have confidence.

                  In our journey, we can have confidence that Jesus is still relevant and approaches us in a way that will best connect with us.

                  He asks us, in our world, to reflect that relevance too. He asks us to approach each person with love and appreciate that they are unique. Evangelism tools can be helpful, personality tests can help us understand better, good leadership and management skills have their place, but the most helpful is a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that helps us interact with people exactly where they are at.

                  As people who are called to love like Jesus, relevance has to be part of how we interact with people, and part of how we show his love.


                  See previous blogs in this series:

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                  Expectations and Boundaries

                  Saturday, June 8, 2019

                  Road through forest

                  Photo by Pranam Gurung on Unsplash


                  Just as cars operate more successfully when they stay on the road, leaders and teams operate more efficiently when they have clear expectations and boundaries, and stay within them. One of the most important things to do as a leader with a team is to make sure that we clearly communicate our expectations and boundaries to our teams, and then hold them accountable to it. It can also be one of the hardest things to do, especially the accountability part.

                  Leadership is a high calling, at whatever level you find yourself. It is a position of influence, and as such it requires that we hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard. The issue arises when there are unspoken boundaries and expectations. So if you are the primary leader, it is your responsibility to clearly define your expectations and communicate them to your team.

                  It is also important to link your expectations and boundaries to the bigger picture and to give the "why". If you expect your team to be friendly, welcoming and remember student's names, then let them know that it is because every young person matters to God, and so they matter to us and how we treat them reflects God's love to them. If there are things you don't want them to do then let them know why.

                  When I talk about boundaries, I am talking about areas that we want leaders to avoid. And when I talk about expectations, I am talking about things to live up to.



                  It is not my place to tell you what boundaries to have in place, that is a conversation to be had with your senior pastor as well as some work in researching what scripture says about leadership. It also can be contextual to those you are working with and the culture you are in. I find it can help to engage with our teams to get their input before finalising them as well. Some scriptures to consider:

                  • 1 Timothy 3:1-13
                  • 2 Timothy 2:1-13
                  • Titus 1:5-9
                  • Acts 6:1-6
                  • Exodus 18:21-22



                  What do you want your team to do? What standards do you want them to rise to? What behaviours do you want to see happening? What culture are you trying to build and how is the team going to contribute to that culture? What is the vision and mission of your church and group, and how can the leaders on your team play their part to see that vision move forward?

                  Set the bar and encourage your leaders to stretch into it, and then watch them rise.


                  Where to from here

                  Once you have researched, worked on and finalized the expectations and boundaries, it is time to communicate it to the team and get them on board. If you can do this before they become part of the team, as part of the introduction, then they know right from the start what they are getting into.

                  From there, it is time to monitor yourself and the team to make sure you are all working towards the ideal. We all know there are going to be hiccups and disappointments, as well as successes. It is important to address the hiccups and disappointments with grace and love, especially when it is your own. It is equally important to celebrate the successes.


                  When you need to stand a leader down

                  Unfortunately, there are times when leaders consistently fail to meet the requirements that we have put in place. It is never easy in those moments but it is crucial for everyone that after repeated conversations when grace is extended but boundaries are restated, that we have the hard conversation.

                  The best way that I have heard it explained when talking to your team is using the simple image below. 

                  parallel lines The lines are the boundaries of leadership. Leadership exists between the lines. You can live anywhere between the lines and be considered as eligible for leadership. If you choose to live outside the lines, then we still love you but you are choosing to not be a leader. Living outside the lines means you are not eligible for leadership. If the expectations and boundaries have been communicated, then it is up to your team member if they choose to be eligible to be a leader or not. It is our job to set and communicate the standards, and then hold our team accountable to them.



                  Frustration is most commonly caused by unmet expectations, and most unmet expectations are first uncommunicated expectations. I encourage you to go through the process of setting and communicating your expectations, monitoring them, celebrating successes and addressing issues. It creates a healthier team and a healthier ministry when we are all working from the same page.

                  We hope this is been helpful. If there is anything in this that you have questions about or would like to discuss, please contact me -

                  Guard Your Tongue

                  Thursday, June 6, 2019

                  Proverbs 21:23

                  DYM Podcast Network

                  Wednesday, June 5, 2019

                  Download Youth Ministry Podcast Network Logo

                  Podcasting is fairly popular again and there is a group of podcasts that are under the banner of Download Youth Ministry (DYM), very simply called the DYM Podcast Network. They have a range of topics and you can subscribe to all of them with one click or you can pick and choose the podcasts that you like or that are most useful to you.

                  The podcasts include:

                  • DYM Podcast - which has been running for more than 10 years and answers youth ministry questions
                  • Youth Ministry Hacks - discussion around life and practical tips to help do ministry better
                  • What it is. What it means - a look at pop culture and what it means in ministry
                  • 15 Minutes with Frank - Frank talks about what he is doing and some thoughts on youth ministry (usually longer than 15 mins)
                  • My Third Decade - a youth ministry veteran talks about longevity in ministry
                  • YM Lab - general tips and things that the presenters are trying
                  • The Morning After Ministry Show - a caffeine fueled look back at the week that was
                  • Mentor Me - interviews with the leading voices in American youth ministry
                  • Parent Tips - about 10 minutes of help and hope for parents of teens, share with the parents in your ministry and become a hero
                  • YW's Guide to Video Games - a show about video games


                  We hope these are a source of encouragement, perspective and resource to help you as you lead and love young people.

                  Let us know of any youth ministry podcasts that you are listening to that might help others.


                  To subscribe to podcasts you can use a number of options, on your PC you can download iTunes (or whatever replaces it shortly). On your phones you can search podcast apps. If you need any help with that, just let us know.

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