Relational is the second step in our CENTRIC Student Strategy.

The Gospel isn’t just something we believe in student ministry, but it is what drives us to love others because we understand God’s love.

The essence of the Gospel is that even in our sinfulness, Jesus came to earth to save us. He did the most loving act imaginable by leaving the comforts of heaven, becoming a human being like us (while remaining fully God), resisting sin and obeying God every single second, becoming our sin on the cross, and raising from the dead. All of this was so that God could have a relationship with us. God did not create us because He was lonely, but because He wanted to love us and give us as a love gift to His Son, Jesus.

In Luke 24: 13-17 right after His resurrection, we see Jesus joining two of His disciples on a walk. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing Him” because Jesus was in ninja-mode. These disciples were already discussing His death because the miracle to His death and resurrection are so powerful that they naturally dominate our conversations. Jesus played dumb and asked them what they were talking about. They did everything but unknowingly call Jesus stupid and told His stranger-self about all that had just happened.

The point is, without them knowing it, Jesus stepped into their conversation and came in on their level. In verses 25-27, Ninja Jesus strongly taught them what really had happened by reminding them of ALL the Scriptures have spoken. He went on to tell them how all the Bible is about Jesus and the Gospel.

Because of this passage, the 2nd step in our CENTRIC Student Ministry Strategy is RELATIONAL:

  1. Our RELATIONSHIP with Christ.
  2. Our RELATIONSHIP with Christians.
  3. Our RELATIONSHIP with Not-Yet Christians.

We know that the Gospel has entered our LIFE when it has affected our LOVE.

Students Ministries should strategize to train students RELATIONALLY by:

  • Encourage their students to enter into daily devotions from the Word.
  • Train their students to have powerful times of personal prayer with God.
  • Design their Small Group experience as discussion and application.
  • Equip their students to have conversations with the lost about Jesus.

Here are my personal sermon on RELATIONAL:

2 – CENTRIC – Relational – Luke 24_13-27 DNOW Camp Conf 2


10 Ways Student Pastors Can Kick-Start Disciple Making in Their Student Ministry (Part 3)

warriorswinchampionshipI played high school sports at Tuscaloosa Christian School in Tuscaloosa, AL. We were told that our rival posted their top five goals in their locker room. Their top three goals were all the same: “Beat Tuscaloosa, Beat Tuscaloosa, Beat Tuscaloosa.” Their fourth goal was “Win the State Championship.” Their fifth goal was “Go Undefeated.” Needless to say, they did not win the state championship, go undefeated, or beat us. Their goal was too short-sighted.

#2 Work Toward THE WIN in Disciple Making

Student Ministry Goals. Many student ministries have no goal. Zig Ziglar accurately said, “ If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Its very easy in student ministry to get caught up in the group, the services, the events, and the trips, but have no win that you’re working toward.

Some student ministries have the wrong goal. While there are many good goals in student ministry, only the right goal will make a difference in the students’ lives and throughout their lives. What is your win in student ministry? Is it short-sighted? Have you taken your win away from the championship and only focused it on one aspect?

Only a few student ministries have the right goal. I’ve been convicted lately about my own short-sighted goal in my student ministry. Continue reading

VBX: How To Make It The Best Week Ever

VBX is one of the weeks that I look forward to the most every year. I’m a youth pastor, but I absolutely love VBX with the upcoming 5th & 6th graders. I’ve even flown home from a high school mission trip and left it to my leaders so that I could do VBX. So I’m telling you…I love it! Why do I love it so much? Let me just try to explain to you the awesomeness of the week: the competition, the excitement, the attendance, the Scripture memorization, the friends brought, the decisions, the salvations, and the spiritual growth! (More downloads for VBX are at the bottom of this post)

When is VBX?
VBX is run during the same time as your VBS.

What is VBX?
VBX is VBS for the two oldest grades who would normally go to VBX. For us, VBX is for those kids going into 5th and 6th grades. VBX is a high energy week that is filled with competition, fun, and deep Bible study. As you play your VBX, you want to prepare for about 7-8 students per team. We normally have 6 teams with 2 teenage team leaders and about 7-8 kids per team. We pick great teen leaders from our youth ministry, prep, train, and equip them to be the best team leaders possible for their VBX team through the week. We like to have all-boy and all-girl teams. The way the competition works out, its anybody’s game and chance to win. Our teams compete through the week by saying Bible verses, bringing Bibles, bringing first-timer-friends, playing games, and getting loud. The winning team of the week is given a gift card to a local restaurant, iTunes, or something like that. This year for us it was a $10 gift card each to Sonic Drive-In.

Why VBX?
We have seen across the country that the older kids get, the less they want to go to VBS. Usually the oldest two grades in VBS are the least attended. We’ve also seen that if you do your VBX right, it can be the highest attended portion of your VBX!

Who is VBX for?
VBX can be for whoever you want it to be. I’ve seen youth pastors do VBX for their youth ministry during VBS week, I’ve seen VBX for middle school, but again we do our VBX for our oldest two grades in VBS: going into 5th and 6th grades.

Where do you do VBX?
I would highly suggest you run your VBX ministry in the best venue your church has. For us, it is our student ministry building. The children’s ministry rarely gets to be in there for anything, so we love to amp up the excitement with the best environment we can possibly offer them that week.

How do you do VBX?
The best way to explain how to do VBX is by showing you the schedule: Continue reading

Bringing THE CHURCH Back 2 Life: The Church at Philippi

Free resources for youth pastors, small group leaders, parents, teens, etc:
No MP3 for this sermon. Sorry! Recording didn’t work.
6 – The Church B2L – Philippians (handout).pdf
6 – The Church B2L – Philippians (ppt).ppt
6 – The Church B2L – Philippians (notes).doc
6 – The Church B2L – Philippians (service order).doc
6 – The Church B2L – Philippians (small groups).doc
What does it mean to be truly happy? Is it even possible? What if I told you that Paul wrote a whole book to a church on how to experience real, lasting joy…while he was in jail?! Did you get that? The church wasn’t writing him letters to encourage him while he was locked away for sharing his faith. Instead, he was writing the church to encourage them not to lose their joy! Sounds backwards, but awesome! In order to bring our churches back to life, we must learn what it means to experience REAL rejoicing. I was ecstatic when I did this study to find out what rejoicing actually is. Blew my mind! But made so much sense! So check this study out and find out what it means to have true, lasting happiness!

Gospel-Centered Discussion Questions for Discipling Teens

The #1 thing God has been convicting me of in the last year concerning my ministry is the lack of discipleship. So for about the past 12 months I have been asking tons of people questions, reading articles, looking through books, studying the Word, praying, and thinking through the best and most biblical way to disciple teens. In the process, I have learned so much about what it means to disciple. It’s not a clipboard with a list of questions, but an on-going conversation. It’s not just accountability, but it’s deepening in the gospel. It’s not a Sunday night class, but it’s doing life together. It’s not just a weekly meeting for coffee, but it’s a daily invitation into each other’s lives.

I feel like I’ve learned so much, but I have even more questions when it comes to discipling teens. I want to keep this article brief and focused on understanding conversations and questions in gospel-centered discipleship. I think the big question that most youth pastors are begging to be answered is…what do we talk about on a weekly basis during intentional discipleship discussions with teens? I’ve become increasingly convicted and convinced that our discipling conversations must revolve specifically around the gospel of Jesus! So here is the gospel-centered discipleship discussion flow and questions I’m currently thinking through…

1. Jesus’ obedience: Our identity and acceptance.
Because of Jesus’ sinless and perfect obedience to His Father by fulfilling all the law, the Father was fully pleased with His performance. When we are saved, we are united with Jesus. Therefore, we share in Jesus’ perfect identity, full satisfaction from the Father, and absolute acceptance. Teenagers need to be constantly reminded of their identity and God’s satisfaction and acceptance for them. Here are some questions I like to ask when it comes to this: How are you finding your true identity in Jesus? Do you believe that God is fully satisfied with you through Jesus? How do you live differently knowing that you have God’s full approval of acceptance? Have you been trying to find your identity in anything or anyone else over the past week? Have you been seeking anyone else’s satisfaction or acceptance for you more so than enjoying God’s? These questions are huge to start off with because they are the reminder off the bat that we are working from God’s acceptance and not for it! Continue reading

A CBSM Parent’s Honest Testimony (Colossians 2:6-15)

My Parenting Testimony & Colossians 2:6-15

Why Am I Writing This?
Legalism is as deadly to parenting as it is to all other areas of Christian life. That is why I am writing this testimony–I pray that you will learn from my sins. Legalism is a destructive force in families that masquerades as good discipline, consistency, or even “good parenting”. Legalism is probably embedded in family traditions and culture. The concept of legalism I am using is simple: living with an emphasis on rules over God’s grace. God’s grace is his unmerited favor. His favor toward us appears in all of our lives, for instance, in the air we breath, the food we eat, and in the families, jobs, and homes that we have. God’s special grace on those who follow his Son appears, for instance, in the spiritual gifts he gives to Christians and of supreme importance his favor appears in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in giving his Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins so that by this amazing grace, through our faith, we may be saved from hell and live eternally with God in heaven. (ESV, Ephesians 2:1-10) If you have not placed your sincere faith in Christ, that is the first thing you can do for yourself and for your children, to the glory of God.

How are grace and rules related? Understanding and embracing God’s grace, in all its forms, and keeping Christ’s sacrifice at the forefront every day, motivates us to want to please and honor God. Isn’t that the attitude you want for your children!? Living by grace, we voluntarily seek to please and honor our Lord with every thought, word, and deed. We voluntarily seek to expand the ways we please and honor him. In doing so we freely live within an ever expanding universe of love for Jesus Christ and for his ways and for his thoughts. Because God is infinite, and we seek to live in his universe of righteousness, we have infinite freedom. Living by rules, though, we seek to know only the boundary established by the rules so that we can exploit every bit of space allowed by the rules. Our freedom is limited by the rules because rules are finite and rigid, and so only by exploiting all the space within the boundary can we maximize our freedom. In practice, we either edge as close to the boundary as possible–which is foolish(!), or we set up more rules to be sure we stay away from the boundary–which further reduces our freedom. Living by rules we find ourselves asking, “Am I allowed or required to do this?” instead of, “Will this please and honor my Lord?” Living by rules, we impose on everyone around us our personal interpretation of the rules. Living by grace, we know that God sheds his grace differently on each person and therefore we are humble, understanding, forgiving, and loving toward others. Can you see the implications for parenting? Continue reading

Next Level Leadership: 6 Things A Teen Leader Is Not

Here are my notes that I did for a breakout session at a Disciple Now Event recently. It was for all the teenage student leaders who wanted to grow in their leadership style, potential, and influence. We took them to Ephesians 4:1-16 which is a fascinating passage on how to lead and serve in the church for the glory of Christ

Intro: Leading Jody Down The Road
10% of teens in ym are good leaders. 10% are bad leaders. 80% are followers.

Definition: Leadership is simply following Jesus and bringing others with you.

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
You have been called by God, so live like it! The gospel calls and humbles you.
Humility is not feeling bad about yourself, but its feeling great about Jesus and seeing yourself through that lens.
Leadership is not about you, but Jesus!
People don’t follow cocky people, but they use them for their popularity, etc.

Continue reading

ktl 2010 – 09 – preaching with Intros, Conclusions, and Problems for your text

Free file for youth pastors:

KTL 09 – Preaching Intros Conclusions and Problems for Your Passage (mp3)

This was our last “in class” KTL session.  We spent the first part of the class hearing from the four guys who are preaching the Job passages.  With them, we went over their passages truth statement, how it points to Christ, New Testament correlated reference, application statement, and main sermon illustration.

I taught the students on how to introduce, show the audience their need to listen, and conclude their sermon…during the 2nd half of the class.  Introductions are absolutely critical to engaging your audience, arresting their attention, and keeping their attention.  Many times people use introductions as a way to introduce the topic they’re preaching that morning.  I rather like to use an introduction story to introduce the first main thought in the passage I’m preaching.  I feel like if we’re just introducing a topic, then people automatically assume that we’re preaching a topic.  But if we introduce the first major thought of the passage we’re preaching, then they will be encouraged that we’re preaching God’s Word and not just some topic on life.  Introductions should always be a story…and a personal story if at all possible.  In the introduction of your sermon, you want to start off with a story that would connect with their world (from your personal life), then you’ll lead them to the Word, and then the end of the sermon is leaving them back in their world.  Introductions should be engaging, somewhat shocking, humorous, and absolutely attention getting.  Introductions should usually only last around 20% of the total sermon time.   Continue reading

CBSM Small Groups Leaders Training Retreat

Framework-Small-Groups-(new)Free mp3s of Small Group Leaders Training Sessions

Small Group Leaders Retreat – Biblical Fellowship – Session 1

Small Group Leaders Retreat – Big Picture – Session 2

Small Group Leaders Retreat – Be Christ-Centered – Session 3

Small Group Leaders Retreat – Biblical Importance of Storyline and Application – Session 4

Small Group Leaders Retreat – Big Questions – Session 5

I don’t know about you, but earlier on in my ministry I would have done just about anything to get my hands on a very practical series concerning small groups (or Sunday school) specifically for student ministry.  I’m putting this resource out there for everyone in case it might be a help and a blessing to your youth ministry…wherever you are.  These mp3s are the teaching sessions of our annual small group leaders retreat.  Continue reading

You Got Skills (Overview) – Discovering Your Spiritual Giftedness

yougotskills (blog pic)

Free file for youth pastors:

You Got Skills – Overview (mp3)

As we are continuing our SMT’s (Student Ministy Teams) on Sunday nights, our church is moving to this model as well.  So our whole church is using Sunday evenings as opportunities to serve within the church and to serve the community for Christ.  It’s pretty awesome.

This mp3 is from this past Sunday night where I gave our student ministry a crash-course in understanding what spiritual gifts are, how they figure out their spirtiual giftendness, and how to use them most effectively.  Continue reading