Youth Minister Information

Before You Share Your Opinion


The world is a restless place these days. In the last few weeks we have experienced everything from unrest and tragedy in the world to a new app-based game. If anyone is like me, it isn’t even that we don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to feel. Am I angry, sad, questioning, frustrated, apathetic, or confused? Maybe all of them. If I am feeling this as a woman in my forties, how much more are the teens we serve? They are thinking on the world around them, and as they process it is natural that discussions are going to arise. Students have come to trust us, and therefore it becomes easy to share our opinions with them. This can be true on topics in the media as well as theological interpretation. Being able to share these thoughts with teens is a rare gift, and we need to treat it with the weight it deserves. Since there are so many things to have opinions on we need to make sure to keep some things in mind:

Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons

My mother-in-law says often, “Opinions are like bellybuttons. Everyone has one.” We can say we are “neutral” on a topic, or we are just “reading God’s truth,” but we have to be very aware of the reality of our opinions. Many factors go into how we formulate opinions, and our students are in a vulnerable place where they are learning how to think critically. Often times they hear a news story or a parent’s opinion and are just repeating what they hear. If they hear us and we are not careful, they might go home and present our ideas as truth. We have to be very careful to present only facts as facts. Everything else we must preface with a statement like, “This is my thought on this, or the way I look at this situation is this.” When students ask, we have to think before we speak.

Keep An Eye On Perspective

We like to say we can insert ourselves in someone else’s shoes. However, we can’t ever truly put them on and walk around in them. We can never fully know what someone is thinking or feeling, unless we are them. Our students might formulate opinions not merely based on what they hear, but on their own experiences and pains. I can empathize but I can not sympathize sometimes. Before we start sharing our thoughts on a topic, we must take into account there may be reasons hiding in our hearts and the hearts of others why we each hold the perspective we do.

Opinions Can Hurt

In a social media driven world, we like to process private thoughts publicly. We have gotten used to sharing and venting without thinking about the repercussions, not merely online or in text but in person as well. This can make us accusatory, telling others how they should think or feel, or presenting an opinion incorrectly as truth. For example, my daughter had a friend whose small group leader told her that predestination is a fact. He did not present it as an interpretation of Scripture but as the way God wants it. This same friend struggled with some deep hidden shame. She admitted to my daughter she felt like the Lord could not have chosen her because she was simply too broken. There was no way a loving Savior would pick a wretch that was “that bad.” It has taken a MIGHTY work of the Holy Spirit to undo this lie, backed with a lot of grace and Scripture. While the young woman does believe now that Jesus would want her, she still grapples to believe that she doesn’t have to prove to him why he could. Be aware, be careful. Always lean more on the side of compassion and love.

Think Before You Share

Keep in mind our students may not be mature enough to handle our opinions. They may not be able to take what we say, process it against Scripture and the Lord, and think through it critically. We may need to just keep our thoughts to ourselves, or share it with trusted adults who can think with us. It might be best if we don’t rage on social media, but instead engage in face-to-face discussion. The written word does not convey tone, and students, their parents, and others can easily misinterpret our heart. This can unwittingly engage an online debate that isn’t healthy. In the same vein, at some point a student is going to share an opinion they hold. We might firmly believe it is WRONG. Be cautious on how you tread those waters. We can help students see OUR side but we have to be aware. Let’s not get caught up in “winning students over to our side.”

Finally, never be afraid to say, “I can’t wrap my mind around this, let’s pray.” We can say things like, “Injustice should hurt. Let’s pray.” Maybe it’s as simple as, “Let’s pray.” The circumstances might not change in a dying world, but we are reminded of who is the only one who can fix this. Compassion and love should always win before we point fingers in judgement. Everyone holds an opinion on nearly everything. It is not always an issue of right or wrong, but genuinely just difference in point of view. If God wants us or our students to change our mind, don’t worry he is big enough to make that happen.

Leneita Fix


How to Get Youth to Read the Bible


The crazy, unexpected way that we help youth become Bible-readers

I’ve experienced the same frustrations as every youth worker I know when it comes to my students and their Bible-reading habits…

…or more specifically, their total lack of Bible-reading habits.

We’ve talked and encouraged and bribed and purchased devotionals, but it seemed like no matter what we tried, we couldn’t make anything stick.

Until we finally did something that actually worked, and it happened on accident.

Now, I don’t really believe in accidents as much as I believe that sometimes God moves in ways that we never imagined or intended.

That’s what happened here.

How we “accidentally” helped our students become Bible-readers

It was Saturday night when I finally realized that I had somehow double-booked myself on Sunday morning.

Somehow, I had scheduled myself to teach in two places at once.


But instead of rounding someone up at the last minute or loading up some sort of video, we quickly devised a different plan.

We took the Scripture passages I was going to teach on, and instead of having time set aside for teaching, our students would read the verses to themselves and formulate their own questions to lead their own small groups.

I thought it was a brilliant scramble maneuver.

It turned out to be so much more, because what happened after that was that more of our students reported becoming Bible-readers during the week than anything we’d ever tried before.

Why did it work?

Think about the Bible from the perspective of an overwhelmed pew-sitter.

We come to church and a person who probably has an advanced degree is explaining the Bible to us.

I’ve listened to sermons that lasted 30-40 minutes so that a person could unpack just one verse.

This kind of teaching is good and sound, but it also has the unintended effect of making the Bible a little intimidating.

After all, if it takes seven years of schooling and thirty minutes of lecture to explain the eighteen words in John 3:16, then what hope do I have to read through an entire chapter and have it make any sense?

That’s how our students viewed the Bible: as a clunk, difficult thing that they were not intelligent enough to comprehend.

But when we cut the teaching time to provide them reading time, light bulbs went off.

They could read one of Jesus’ parables in two or three minutes and it actually made sense to them!

They realized that they didn’t need a Master’s Degree to take something from Scripture; often they needed just a few minutes.

This was a big deal and once they found that at least parts of the Bible were intellectually accessible to them, they were hooked.

Now, we repeat that happy little “accident” every single year. Here’s how we do it.

We create a three-week series where there’s no teaching time, only “reading time”.

Students spread out throughout our worship space and read on their own. We usually choose the passage.

Students use that time to read Scripture and formulate questions.

They generate their own questions, and then ask those questions of their peers in small groups.

Adult small group leaders are instructed not to answer questions.

The idea here is that we don’t want students conditioned that they need a “qualified” adult around in order to understand Scripture.

We want them to have the experience of reading Scripture on their own and talking with friends about it and gaining something from it.

Small groups are a blast at these sessions, and more importantly, they leave encouraged and excited to open up their Bibles again when they get home.

Beyond doing this once a year, you can incorporate this technique other times throughout the year as well.

Here’s what Keith Sobus did in his youth group: 

“We split up into small groups where students read and wrote down questions on their own. The majority of them really struggled to come up with any questions. We did it on a passage of Jesus feeding the multitude. I suppose it reflects poorly on me that they couldn’t come up with any questions. We had to coach them through this. Once we helped them come up with one question, it took off from there. We also found that when discussion was over… it helped for us to say, “What’s one take away?”

We have a mix of churched and non-churched, as well as middle and high school aged. So we split up our small groups by middle or high. That seemed like a smart idea for us. Thanks for thinking of this.

We called the night DIY night and had DIY activities like a paper airplane competition, marshmallow & Spaghetti tower building and tinfoil boat building. Also considered doing duct tape wallets or any duct tape craft.

I think we’re going to make DIY nights a recurring thing. Maybe once every other month.”

Take a few minutes to figure out how you can do this in your youth group.

Go ahead and give it a try.

Liked this blog post? Then you’ll love this one:

Why You Should Do the Same Youth Group Message Twice in One Year

Aaron HelmanWritten by Aaron Helman

Aaron  has been in youth ministry for over 15 years.

He is currently a youth pastor in South Bend, Indiana.



Sisyphus metaphor. Man rolling huge concrete ball up hill. Sisyphean work, task.

Whether this ministry year has been a good one or a disappointing one, you should ask yourself one question during the summer: How will next year be different? Many of us do the same thing year in and year out, but if we want to see our ministries grow, we have to change what we do. Most likely, your skills and your understanding and relationships with students and parents are growing, so it just makes sense that your ministry should grow too. But that won’t happen unless you’re intentional. So how can you use this summer to grow your ministry next fall?

Here are three suggestions:

1) Attach critical success factors to your mission.

Critical success factors are the most important things your youth ministry must do in order to accomplish the mission. Every youth ministry has a different set of success factors, but here are some examples: establishing a student leadership team, developing adult staff into mentors, getting parents to buy in and serve in the ministry. With your mission in mind, write down the five most important things that need to happen in your own youth ministry.

2) Set goals and action steps.

For each one of the critical success factors, create a goal that helps you accomplish that factor during the next ministry year. Then create action steps that you want to take in order to reach that goal. Think of action steps this way: You are on one side of a canyon and your goal is on the other side. What are the planks (or action steps) that you need to build a bridge across this canyon?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Insanity_quoteCritical success factor: More parent involvement in the youth ministry.

Goal attached to that factor: 10 new parents serving in the ministry.

Potential action steps: Start a parent newsletter. Send a monthly parent update with specific ways parents can serve. Hold a parent recruitment night, where veteran parents share their testimonies about serving in the youth ministry. Start a blog for current parent volunteers to share their experiences. Start a parent prayer team.

3) Cast the vision.

First of all, realize that casting a vision is not explaining how to fix last year’s problems. Casting a vision is showing people the future. Once you have your goals set, use the summer to plan unique ways you can share your goals and your vision throughout the fall. You cannot accomplish your goals by yourself. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there is a whole church behind you to help, so don’t keep this vision to yourself. When we don’t cast the vision for our church, our volunteers, and our students, we limit the impact to only as far as we can reach. When we cast the vision regularly, the impact extends as far as a church can reach. Always be thinking, How can I cast the vision?

To make next year better, you will have to do something different. Don’t fall into youth ministry insanity by doing the same things year after year, but expecting different results. Be intentional about what you are going to do. Use the next few months to think it through. Set goals and action steps. Communicate your plans. And make sure that next year is different from this year.


Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have a dog that thinks he is their only child. Diesel is a 70-pound Weimaraner  who never leaves their side. Doug grew […]

Why the Church Bulletin is the Worst Way to Recruit Youth Ministry Volunteers

Source: Ministry To Youth

No youth ministry has ever had too many volunteers.

When you’re dealing with caffeinated teenagers, you need all the help you can get, and so you’re always on the lookout for your next great volunteer.

It’s just that sometimes they’re really, really hard to find.

You put out a callout email to all of your parents. No one responds.

You make an announcement from the pulpit. Nothing.

You get a blurb, front and center in the church bulletin. Crickets.

It’s that last one we’re going to talk about today, because whether it’s in print or on the internet, handed out on Sunday mornings or sent directly to people’s homes, the church bulletin is almost always the worst place to find your next volunteer. Here’s why:


I know, someone at your church (maybe you!) worked really hard to collect, organize, and publicize all of this information.

The sad truth is that almost no one will read the whole thing. Most people will peruse the document, looking for things that pertain to them and tactically filtering the rest.

If your plea for volunteers is in the Youth Ministry section of the bulletin, you shouldn’t expect it to be seen by people who aren’t already somehow invested in your youth ministry.

If you’re looking for a few high-energy twenty-something adults to help with your Junior High Retreat, you won’t find them in the Youth Ministry section of your bulletin, because they don’t read that section, because they don’t expect that there’s anything for them there.


The vast majority of people do not believe themselves to be qualified to help in youth ministry. Either they’re too old or they don’t know enough about the Bible or they’re not cool enough or they feel like just don’t get teenagers.

You know that those things aren’t disqualifiers for youth ministry. Shoot, I’m too old and not cool enough and I definitely don’t get teenagers a lot of days.

People have an idea in their head of what a great youth ministry volunteer looks like and it’s usually not them.

Even when (and if) a potentially great volunteer reads your blurb, she’ll usually tend to believe that it was written with someone else in mind, and she won’t give it a second thought.

Once, when struggling to find chaperones for a winter camp, I received the following pushback from two different prospective volunteers:

40-year-old Parent:

I assumed you were looking for college students. I don’t think the kids would be excited about hanging out with dads all weekend.

College Student:

I thought the word chaperone meant parents.

It’s kind of ridiculous, I know. But when a church bulletin goes to everyone in the congregation, every person in the congregation tends to assume that they’re not as qualified as someone else.

And when you assume that someone else would be a better fit for a role than you are, you tend not to follow up.


Most of our blurbs end the same way, by imploring people to email the youth minister if they’re interested.

Given that most church bulletins are read in church pews, while people are far from their computers and where smartphone use is frowned upon, there’s a bit of a leap here.

The church bulletin helps you recruit a volunteer if they read it, if they believe that they’re qualified, and nowif they remember to send you an email when they get home.

That’s a lot of ifs in one sentence.

When you receive nothing in response to a printed plea for volunteers, it’s easy to get jaded and wonder why there aren’t any good people who are willing to help with what is an eternally important ministry.

Most of the time, that’s not it at all. It’s been my experience that most people will be glad to help if they know they’re wanted.

So how do we fix it?


Your ministry could use a few more volunteers, so let’s go about looking for them in a way that actually works.

We’ll start by eliminating all of those ifs and we’re going to do that by recruiting volunteers one at a time.

Mill around between services.

Attend church functions where large amounts of potential volunteers will be gathered.

Don’t sit by yourself at potlucks.

Talk to a lot of people.

And when you talk to them, talk to them about youth ministry and talk to them about how they might fit into youth ministry.

When you put something in the bulletin, they might see it.

When you talk to them directly, you can be certain your message was received.

When you talk to people, qualify them immediately.

Always say the following and put something amazing at the end:

“I think you would be a great youth ministry volunteer because…”

If you can’t yet fill in that blank, then you’re not yet ready to make the ask.

But when you can fill in that blank, you’ve eliminated the second if.

You’ve guaranteed that they’ve received your message and you’ve given them assurance that they’re the right person for the job.

Even better, you’ve eliminated the last if altogether.

They can answer you on the spot and if they need time to think and pray about it, you can be responsible for following up with them.

You’re no longer dependent on whether or not they remember to pursue it because now you can pursue them.


It would be great if you could dash off a paragraph outlining your need for volunteers, send it to the church secretary, wait for the bulletin to go to print, and then check your email on Sunday afternoon to find fifteen new youth ministry volunteers lined up and ready to go.

Problem is, that’s not how it works.

In my twelve-year youth ministry career, I have never successfully recruited a single youth ministry volunteer from the church bulletin.

As in zero. None. Nada. Not happening.

But when I talk to people, when I listen to them, when I qualify them, and when I ask directly, I receive a YES in return well more than half the time.

You can too, if you take the time to talk to people, know them, and go after them individually.

Good luck finding your next great volunteer.

A Few Simple Ideas To Begin To Develop The Culture You Want

Source: Download Youth Ministry

The other day my team and I went out to lunch and began to chat about what we need to do to go to the next level. Before we can do that, we wanted to chat about how far we have come this year. Things have changed a lot. Our culture is way different. Our worship pastor said, “It’s like we have a whole new group of people and values.” It’s true. The atmosphere is way different now, intentionally so, and it’s been something we have ben working towards all year long. All year long we have been striving to change the culture of our Wednesday nights to one of actively seeking Jesus, leaders who are bought in, and one of fun, and all of the things we have done are starting to pay off.
So how do we do that? It got me thinking about some of the things our team has done to implement this change in our group, so I thought I would share. If you want to begin to change your culture, maybe consider some of these things:
Pray – Our team spent time in prayer together. We got together and dreamt and wrote down our values what what we wanted to see in our ministries and we began by giving it up to God. Yes, people can change the culture to a point, but the type of change that we feel called to introduce to our students can’t come from us, we don’t have that power. Only Jesus does. Give it up to him.
Observe – Before changing anything, spend some time trying to figure out the “whys”. I took crazy detailed notes. I looked like a creeper in the back as I took notes and began to write down things that could/needed to be changed. From the tech, to stage and program, to volunteers, job descriptions etc. Everything was under the microscope. After months of seeing how our systems were set up and looking at what they were producing, we began to address them one by one.
Apply slowly – At first there was just cosmetic stuff to make services flow better or look better. Everything we changed first were things we had the power to easily change. Graphics, social media, sermon illustrations, song choice, band and games we played. Changing the culture is not a “band-aide” mentality, you can’t just rip it off. People are biologically ingrained to resist change… so do it gracefully. After the services were were we wanted and we found a good balance, then we moved to people.
Volunteers – People are different than programs, we all know that. From the very beginning of me starting my position, I casted vision of where we want to be. Along the way, some people realized they were not on board, so they decided to get off. Others, not so easy and hard conversations followed. You can never repeat your vision enough. By the time you are tired of hearing your vision, your volunteers are just beginning to get it. Adjusting the vision of current volunteers can happen and when they get it, they go after it. Once we established who is in or not, we began seeking after new leaders with this new vision who all they know is the new ways and when they get it… they are bought in. Culture begins to leak from them to your students.
Relationships – Now that we have these leaders with this vision of where we are going and they know what success looks like, we release them out on students. Volunteers who understand the vision of your ministry and know what success looks like are unstoppable forces in the name of Jesus. This summer, all events we had were purposefully relational. Park days, beach days, summer camps with the leaders who get our vision has been one of the coolest things. This has established our core group of students and now we get to build with an incredible foundation moving forward.
I know there is a ton more we can all say when it comes to the culture of your group and I know the culture is different in every group. I do know, and have experienced, that if you don’t like the culture you can begin to prayerfully, slowly and change the culture you desire for your leaders and students to come to know Jesus in a way they have not been able to with the current culture that is in place.

When Driving Alone With Students

Source: Youth Specialties


This post originally appeared on JIM’S BLOG and we thought it was so wonderful that we wanted to share it too!

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the kid who needs a ride home after youth group or the kid who can’t get a ride to come meet you at Starbucks, the scenario is the same. You and a teenager alone in a car. Should you be concerned or is it no big deal? I say it’s a little bit of both. On the one hand, yes, you should be concerned because any accusation of misconduct could send your reputation, your ministry, and your church reeling with litigation. On the other had, no, because giving kids rides is just a normal part of life-on-life, relational youth ministry. We can’t stop doing the very things that set us up for good conversations just because we’re afraid of someone’s accusation. But neither can we set ourselves up for an accusation that could ruin us.

Well, for what it’s worth, here’s how we’re handling these kinds of situations. Whether the driver is me, one of my staff, or one of our volunteer small group leaders, the protocol is the same.


Pay attention to the flow of students and adults. Try to make sure there’s at least one other adult in the building until all the kids have left. If it looks like you may be alone with a student, ask another adult to stay with you.


It’s best to work a little harder to contact a parent or guardian. If you just cant get a hold of them, try next of kin. If that doesn’t work or isn’t feasible then move on to the next step.


If you must give a student a ride regardless of gender but especially if it’s a student of the opposite gender or one with a known same gender attraction, leave a message for the parent (secure permission if arranging a meeting) and notify another staff person. If it’s just you and a senior pastor working at the church, make arrangements with him or her to call at any time if needed. Texting works great for this situation. Let them know where you are, where you’re going, and who you’re taking.

If you’re giving them a ride home from church…

  • Notify them when you leave, who you’re with, and where you’re going.
  • Notify them when you arrive there. For record’s sake take a selfie revealing your location if possible (this is especially helpful if your camera has geo-tagging and time-stamping enabled).

If you’re picking them up from somewhere to take them to a public place to meet such as a coffee shop…

  • Notify them when you pick them up and where you’re going.
  • Notify them when you arrive at that location. Again, take a selfie revealing your location.
  • Notify them when you leave that location. Another selfie.
  • Notify them when you’ve dropped them off at home again.


Unfortunately, my friends, the days of sitting in the car for another hour in the driveway in deep conversation with any kid in our ministry are … over. You should never isolate yourself anywhere with a student regardless of gender. The conversation can and must wait for another, more public setting.

jim murphyJim Murphy, is the NextGen Pastor at The Covenant Church in Bemidji, MN, where he supports the work and ministries of other staff and volunteers to kids, students, and young adults. He’s been in vocational ministry since 1992 and loves teaching kids, equipping leaders, and encouraging other youth pastors. When he isn’t working or spending time with Deanna, his wife of 20+ years, and his two daughters, Natalie and Greta, he tries to post what he’s up to in ministry on THENEXTGENBLOG.COM.

7 Things a Daughter Needs from Her Father

Source: All Pro Dad

7 Things a Daughter Needs from Her Father

As a girl grows up, men will come in and out of her life, but the one man who will always be there is her father. A father plays a vital role in his daughter’s journey to adulthood, and below are seven things what a daughter needs from her dad. Our printable version is below. Also, be sure to check out the 7 Things a Son Needs from His Dad.

1. She needs you to be involved.

A daughter needs her father to be actively interested in her life. “Actively interested” does not refer to the second-long conversation that sometimes happens between a father and daughter when he asks how her day went and she replies with one word. A father should participate in his daughter’s hobbies and activities by displaying interest. For example, if she is interested in collecting coins, take her to coin shows. Use the Internet to learn about rare coins and talk about them.  Is your daughter talented in the any sports, such as volleyball?  Whether she wants to play or just enjoys watching the games, become an enthusiastic fan and supporter!  Show your daughter that you are interested in her life by learning more about it and trying to become a part of it.

2. She needs you to demonstrate a healthy marriage.

The first relationship a daughter experiences is the one between her mother and father. If her father disrespects his wife with physical or emotional abuse, a daughter might come to believe that is the expected relationship with a husband. However, a father that displays physical affection, respect, and a true partnership with his wife provides an incredible example that his daughter will want to mirror in her own life.

3. She needs you to support her.

Even though a father may not always agree with his daughter, she needs to know you will support her. When a father fully and wholeheartedly supports his daughter, she will develop strong self-esteem and a positive self-image. This doesn’t mean that you always have to agree with her, but show her that while you might not agree with a choice she is making, you will always believe in her as a person and have confidence in her abilities.

4.  She needs to trust you as a confidante.

When your daughter does come to you and discusses personal issues and problems, she needs to know that you will treat them with respect and confidence.  They shouldn’t become dinner-table conversation with the rest of the family.

5. She needs your unconditional love.

Just as our Father in Heaven demonstrates unconditional love, fathers on earth need to display this as well. Unconditional love requires that a daughter knows no matter how badly she messes up, her father will be there, not to ridicule and demean but to forgive.

6. She needs a strong spiritual leader.

A father should be the spiritual head of a household and should take charge of his children’s religious education.  Pray with your daughter!  Don’t be shy about bringing the Lord into your conversations with her.

7. She needs a positive role model.

Many daughters today lack a positive male role model in their life. A father is the first man in a girl’s life that she will intimately know. Her father sets the standard for all other men in her life, and a positive role model will help her choose a good husband in the future.   Take a moment for some self-reflection.  Are there any habits you need to break?  Are there some areas of your own life that could use a “spiritual overhaul” and prayer?  When your daughter sees that you are willing to examine your own life and make changes when necessary, you provide the best example she could ever have of accepting responsibility for her actions.

things daughters need from their dad

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7 Things a Son Needs from His Father

Source: All Pro Dad

7 Things a Son Needs from His Father

As a boy grows up, there will be many people who influence him and his development into adulthood.  As a father, you want to be the main influence in this area.  You are, and should be, his most important role model.  Below are 7 things to help you be the best role model you can be in your son’s life.  Here is a printable version for you as well. Don’t forget to check out the 7 Things a Daughter Needs from Her Dad too!

1. He needs you to love his mother.

When you love your wife, or the mother of your son, you are showing him how to treat his mother, his sisters, and all the women he’ll meet in his life.  This will set the foundation for the relationships he will have later in his life.

2. He needs to see you fail, not just succeed.

The best teacher is failure.  The best type of failure to learn from is someone else’s.  When your son sees you fail, and handle the failure well, he sees that it is okay to make mistakes and that mistakes can be great teachers.  A boy who is not afraid of making mistakes will grow into a man positioned to accept and conquer great challenges.

3. He needs your servant leadership.

You may or may not be the boss at work.  You may or may not be the pastor or minister at church.  You may or not be a leader in your community.  But you are the leader of your family.  Your son needs to see true leadership in your home.  He needs to see you leading by serving.  When he sees you leading by serving, he will better understand leadership and be able to more effectively lead versus follow his peers.  As he grows, he will better lead his family, lead at work, lead at church, and lead in his community.

4. He needs you to be present.

As you fulfill all the different roles you have, you may be pulled in multiple directions.  He needs you to be present in his education, in his social life, in all areas of his life.  Some areas are not intended for mom only, or for his friends only.  Your presence in all areas will give him the support he needs.

5. He needs your love regardless of his choices.

You may be the biggest sports junkie not living in Bristol, CT (where ESPN headquarters are located).  And your son may not be able to kick a ball if you placed it on his toe, nor care that he can’t.  No matter what choices your son makes, he needs you to love him even if they are different than yours.  Even when they are wrong choices.  Your love and guidance will open the door to trust and acceptance that build your relationship.  And it will build his self-esteem.

6. He needs you to affirm him.

“I love you, son.” “I’m proud of you, son.”  “You are amazing, son.”  “I know you can do it, son.”  “That was an amazing play you made!”  “You are a hard worker.”  “You messed up, but I know you’ll bounce back.”  Your son needs your encouragement.  He needs to hear the words that let him know you love having him as a son.

7. He needs you to discipline him in love.

When you discipline your son, you set boundaries and expectations.  He is going to make mistakes just like you did as a kid and just like you do now.  But he also needs to know that his actions have consequences.  Disciplining him in love will teach him to consider the consequences his actions will have.  This will prepare him to think and evaluate the choices he makes both now and in the future.

7 Things a Son Needs from His Father

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A HUGE Potential Blind Spot Every Leader Should Look Out For


A HUGE Potential Blind Spot Every Leader Should Look Out For

Posted by Justin Knowles on May 9, 2016

Pride: a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. … a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

Pride is a scary thing. Scary in the fact that it usually comes up and we don’t see it. It rears its ugly head always too late for us to see it but always in time for others to see it. It’s so scary in fact that in 1 John 2:16 it’s one of the things that John mentions as things not of the Father: “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

Why talk about this? Because this is the temptation of every leader. It’s a temptation I find myself constantly falling into. It’s something my wife always calls me out on. Pride is a blind spot.

Let me explain:

I get a new boss today. My church went outside and hired a family pastor to oversee birth through college. Why is that a big deal? I oversee jr high through college. Ouch. In all fairness, I understand why they did it. It wasn’t malicious on their end at all and I really like the guy coming in and I’m excited to work with him (I’ll post more about this in another post) but it still was hurtful to my pride. I’m not going to lie, I freaked out a bit. The definition of “pride” you read at the top became a living breathing organism named Justin Knowles. For a few weeks I was not myself.

Here are a few thoughts as I look back over the last month when it comes to MY pride, my blind spot. But if I’m assuming right, it is and can be for any leader as well. Here is what I noticed in me and maybe, just maybe, you see it in you too:

  • It’s not attractive. My wife was quick to let me know that. My wife Kristin AKA “the love & Live in Holy Spirit” of my life. It’s amazing (and I’m thankful) how a spouse can reality check you in the most loving ways.
  • It’s also not attractive for the people you work with daily. My guess if there was ever a time where they questioned following me as a leader, it would have been in the last month. Dang it.
  • I was focused more on keeping my title than keeping my team healthy and walking through change with them.
  • In my panic and scramble to keep my title, I was trying to make things work in my favor and I got the hopes up and then crushed the spirits of my team members. Pride makes you focus solely on yourself and you don’t see the wake of destruction until after.
  • I was not thinking about how I can better set up my new supervisor and instead I was thinkning about how I can better set up myself.
  • Pride is not of the Lord. It’s such a human thing and a thing I struggle with.
  • Pride took my eyes off what I have been called to do and made me focus on what I felt like I deserved to have. What a dangerous place to be as a leader.

I’m grateful for a God who is quick to forgive but who is constantly teaching me and humbling me. I hope and pray I continually work on this as a husband, leader and pastor.



Summer at the Movies


The Heroes, Hilarity, and Harshness of 2016’s Blockbusters

An article from David R. Smith at The Source for Youth Ministry

A break up in the Avengers? A house full of scantily-clad sorority girls? Another alien invasion? Some ninja turtles, a lost blue tang fish, and a fat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?

Yep, that’s how the summer movies are going to start this year.

Every spring, The Source for Youth Ministry compiles a list of the films that are expected to make the biggest impact at the summer box office. This year’s films include comedies, superhero flicks, sequels, and even a decades-old reboot. But all of them have one thing in common: they’re targeting teenagers.

But sadly, not all of them are appropriate for young viewers.

movie1In Part 1 of this two-part series, we’ll look at the films that are set to be released in May and June of this year. Of course, this won’t include every movie being released – just the ones that promise to be the most popular with young people. We’ll include a link to the film’s trailer(s), the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating (where available), as well as a few thoughts about how the flick might impact families. In Part 2, which will be released later, we’ll do the same thing for the films hitting the box office in July and August of this summer.

We’ve got several blockbusters to discuss, so grab a soda and some popcorn. Here are the movies you’ll need to know about this summer.

May 6 – Captain America: Civil War
movies2Based on the world premier trailer, it looks as if the loyalty Captain America (Chris Evans) has for his old World War 2 buddy, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) has landed him in hot water with the entire planet…and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), as well.

For the last few years, Marvel Studios has thrown the first punch of summer and 2016 will be no different. The third installment in the Captain America franchise is aptly named; it appears a “civil war” is being waged between Avengers teammates Captain America and Iron Man over…with Iron Man taking the brunt of the punishment.

But the second trailer shows that Iron Man will get a little help – from none other than Spider Man, himself! In fact, this follow up teaser shows exactly who’s involved in the mayhem: Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant Man (Paul Rudd), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider Man (Tom Holland), and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents we’ve grown to love.

Captain America: Civil War will not only be first of the summer, it might just be the biggest, too. Right now, it’s unrated, but will probably carry the usual PG-13 classification. It looks like it’s going to address some really powerful themes such as friendship, loyalty, freedom, and forgiveness. This film will probably produce a couple of MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS for youth leaders and parents to use to launch biblical discussions.

The next film on our list won’t produce anything usable at all.

May 20 – Bad Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
movies3The official trailer for the sequel to 2014’s raunchy original will bring back Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) in yet another fight against young, sexy, neighbors who have a craving for controlled-substances and wild parties. But this time, instead of Frat Boys, the enemy is a sorority of girls. The middle-aged couple only has one option: calling in reinforcements, aka Teddy (Zac Efron).

Yep, Neighbors 2 will actually put Efron and Rogen on the same team against Kappa Nu, the sorority that’s moved in next door. This movie will use some of the same plotlines – like air bag pranks – that made the first flick such a success with young people. Of course, since it’s about an out-of-control sorority, you can also expect plenty of butt shots, wet T-shirts, and shirtless Zac Efron scenes as well. (The red band trailer, which we won’t link here, shows lots and lots of drug and alcohol use…along with two scenes built completely off of sex toys.)

This film is has not yet been rated by the MPAA, but will probably get stuck with an “R” assessment. Sadly, this movie will appeal to teenagers because it will show them all the irresponsible pieces in the next chapter of life: college.

It’s best to just skip this one.

May 27 – X-Men: Apocalypse
movies4With the release of Apocalypse this summer, Marvel’s X-Men series will hit their ninth (9th) installment in the film’s franchise! Yep, a lot of mutants have saved the world a lot of times since X-Men was released back in 2000.

According to the original trailer, Apocalypse is going to have some spiritual overtones to it. In fact, the second trailer adds to those themes, even mentioning Yahweh and the Bible, specifically. The plotline revolves around an incredibly powerful mutant known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who’s woken from hibernation to destroy this world so he can build a new one to his liking. Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) must lead the full cast of returning heroes in battle against the god-like enemy for the sake of mankind.

Bryan Singer, who directed X-Men: Days of Future Past, will also be at the helm for Apocalypse which serves as a sequel to his 2014 blockbuster. The film is unrated as of this writing, but is expected to draw a PG-13 label for sequences of intense sci-fi violence, action, and destruction, with some suggestive material, partial nudity, and brief strong language. In spite of those elements, millions of young people will pour into theaters to see these heroes return to the big screen.

Speaking of heroes returning to the big screen….

June 3 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
movies6#Cowabunga, the Turtles are back (again)!

TMNT: Out of the Shadows is the sequel to 2014’s reboot of the hugely popular cartoon series from the 80s that focused on four mutated turtles with wicked cool ninja abilities trying to save New York City from all sorts of villains. According to the official trailer, Out of the Shadows is going to pick up right where the 2014 film left off.

But this new fight will be ratcheted up several notches…. Not only will the green guys face down the Foot Clan and Shredder again, they’ll also go toe to toe with BeBop and Rocksteady, two evil mutants created by T.C.R.I. scientist, Baxter Stockman. Oh, and alien overlord Krang from Dimension X will be dropping in, too. Fortunately, the Turtles will have a little help from news lady April O’Neil (Megan Fox), vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and of course, their vermin master, Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub).

While this movie is also currently unrated, it will probably carry the PG-13 label that the original film received from the MPAA. Besides some corny humor and a few scenes of Megan Fox serving up her (obligatory) eye candy, this film should be fairly harmless. It might serve as a great opportunity for a group outing. Grab some dinner – pizza, of course! – and then head down to the theater for some action in the sewer.

June 17 – Central Intelligence
movies5Very rarely do I actually laugh out loud while watching a movie…but this trailer had me rolling!

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is introduced to us as Bob, an overweight and ridiculed nobody from high school who becomes a chiseled bruiser for the CIA later in life. When the encryption keys operating the entire US spy satellite program are stolen, Bob turns to an excitement-free accountant, Calvin (played by Kevin Hart), the only guy from high school who ever cared for him. Plenty of jokes fly as the complete opposites fight the bad guys together.

Central Intelligence is unrated as of this writing…and that’s a little worrisome. While “The Rock” has a history of doing (mostly) family friendly films like Tooth Fairy, The Mummy Returns, Get Smart, Race to Witch Mountain, and many more, Kevin Hart can be unnecessarily edgy and vulgar in his comedic presentation. The in-trailer tagline that reads, “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson,” provides a hint as to what kind of content this film might include. You’ll probably want to check out our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Qs page on opening weekend to get last-minute insights on this film so you’re not walking into the theater blind with your family in tow.

June 17 – Finding Dory
movies7The forgetful-but-unforgettable blue tang fish from Finding Nemo is swimming into theaters this summer as the headliner in her own movie, Finding Dory. The sequel will bring back Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence), and the “Tank Gang” from the original underwater family film, but will also add the likes of Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ed O’Neill, Willem Dafoe, and Bill Hader to the cast.

The official trailer for the movie reveals the main plotline: Dory has somehow remembered that she has a family and is determined to find them. Her ocean-wide adventure will put her – and her friends – in occasional danger, but it will also help her discover what’s important in life.

Like the others on this list, this film hasn’t been rated by the MPAA, but if it’s consistent with the original, it will carry a G rating. This film will touch on themes like home, family, and the search for meaning, which means a few clips from this film will probably land on our MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS page.

This long-awaited sequel will offer moviegoers warm-fuzzies. The next long-awaited sequel will leave them terrified.

June 24 – Independence Day: Resurgence
movies8We always knew they would come back….

This colossal battle of revenge has been 20 years in the making! In spite of Earth’s efforts to capitalize on the alien technology we captured after our victory in 1996, leading scientists knew we’d be outmatched if the aliens ever returned. And by the looks of the movie’s official trailer, they’ve returned with a vengeance.

Fortunately, we’ve still got a lot of the same good guys on our side. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica Fox), Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch), and former President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) will return to their beloved roles in this sequel. Noticeably absent is Capt. Steve Hiller (Will Smith), but fans of the first film will be introduced to his son, Dylan Dubrow, (played by Jessie Usher), a pilot in the Earth Space Defense (ESD). Moviegoers will also meet Jake Morrison (Liam Hensworth), a pilot in the US military.

And, of course, Roland Emmerich will be directing the sequel. He’s really the only choice we have for end-of-the-world-movie-directors. This dude has been more of a threat to our planet than global warming, nuclear holocaust, and the zombie apocalypse, combined!

Don’t plan anything for this film’s opening weekend. Millions have watched the trailers on YouTube and now two generations of fans are waiting to get their seats for this sci-fi reunion. It’s not rated as of now, but will probably be PG-13 like the original.

We’re only halfway through the list of 2016’s summer blockbusters. As you can see, May and June are going to be huge! In our next article, we’ll cover the biggest films to be released in July and August. We’ll also include a few viewing tips for parents and youth workers as they set their schedules for the summer.

David Smith
David Smith

David R. Smith is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year, Ministry By Teenagers. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.