The First Time

girls ministry, women, youth ministry

Last night I taught at a friend’s church. Something happened that I will never forget.

No, my teaching wasn’t amazing. I was sick, had a crazy busy week, and didn’t bring my A game.

After I taught, I talked to a few of the high school girls. They admitted to me that it was the first time they had heard a woman preach/teach in a room of not just girls.

My first reaction was: What. Whoa.

My second reaction was: This is special. I remember my first time hearing a woman preach. I will never forget it. I even mentioned that to a few of the girls, who told me they’d never forget this either. One of them even said that she was feeling the call to ministry, but had never heard a woman preach or met a woman youth minister.

My third (and the most lingering) reaction was: How crazy that just three years ago, I still was in the same boat. I had never heard a woman preach before, but I was teaching my small youth group out of pure faith that this was something that God had called me to do.

So humbling.

So exciting.

Needless to say, I gave that girl my contact information and encouraged her.  I get emails pretty often from young girls who are struggling with their call, but have no example and somehow find me from doing Google searches on the topic.  One of my greatest joys is being there as a support for these girls. I hope I never forget where I came from and how God has molded my heart, because now I’m excited that I get to begin molding others.

This article isn’t about Miley (It’s about you, jerk!)

Contributions, girls ministry, unchurched, youth ministry,

Okay, that was the name I came up with AFTER this was already published. I’m semi-glad I went with the first one ;)

miley cyrus rock bottom

This article originally appeared at:

In an interview with Sunday People, Miley Cyrus said, “I have so many f**king issues.  I am so f**ked up -– everyone does dumb stuff when they are messed up.”

If you keep up with the news in any sort of fashion, you know–at least, on the surface–what is going on with Miley. Some say that she’s a mess and that we can’t let our children around her.  Others say that her behavior is nothing new, that she’s just being your average 20-year old; so why are we all tripping over it?

Here is what I have to say:

Miley is broken.  So are we.

Miley has been in scandal after scandal over the years, as all stars have.  And frankly, it’s easy to sit here and judge her; she’s in the spotlight for all the world to see.  But I have to ask myself: If I were in her position, and people saw my baggage and what was going through, how would I feel about their reactions, if they reacted the same way that we are reacting to her?

Miley came out with a new video on Monday from her new single “Wrecking Ball.”  Unlike “We Can’t Stop,” this is raw.  The lyrics show a glimpse of what is going on.  Here are some of the lyrics:

I put you high up in the sky
And now, you’re not coming down
It slowly turned, you let me burn
And now, we’re ashes on the ground

Don’t you ever say I just walked away
I will always want you
I can’t live a lie, running for my life
I will always want you

I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me

Obviously, Miley is going through something. From her disconnected relationship with her father, to her on-again, off-again relationship with her fiancee, to just growing up (she’s 20 years old!); she’s dealing with things.

Let me ask you something–are these issues all that different from any other 20 year old?  Not really.  But because she is in the limelight, she is being judged.  Being 20 years old is hard enough; you are trying to discover your identity and define your place in this world.  Now imagine being a girl who spent her childhood as a star?  Imagine your family business being aired for all to see?  Imagine trying to be 20, but everyone judges every move you make because it isn’t “Disney-esque?”

Another issue I see–and I’m going to be blunt:  For us to sit here and judge Miley, who to our knowledge does not have a redeeming relationship with God, is wrong.  Also, what good is it going to do?  Is condemning her honestly going to lead her to Christ?  What if, instead, there were Christians in her life who supported her, provided her guidance, and maintained a “safe zone” should she slip?  By demonstrating Christ through our actions, we are building a bridge that can show Miley Truth.  How would you have liked it, if in your rock bottom, a bunch of people just started putting your business on blast, talking about how much you have changed, how despicable you are, and how they don’t want you in their homes or around their families?

(And to be even more frank: talking about Miley in a way that does not edify her is gossip.)

That is NOT CHRIST, guys. He met sinners where they were and lived life with them; yes,  He gave them truth, yet he lived life with them regardless.  Paul says in Romans that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!  Not when we had our act together, but when were still in our messed up rock-bottom.

I’ve been reading through Romans lately and meditating on the passages.  The first chapter of Romans sets up the story of Creation and The Fall. Then Paul lays it thick in the first verse of chapter 2 (emphasis added):

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Paul continues in chapter three:

None is righteous, no not one…For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

If I had people judge me at my rock-bottom the way Miley is being judged, I would probably have been turned off from God.  I wasn’t perfect; I shook my toosh too (in fact, twerking is not a new term).  I wasn’t wise about my relationships with boys, I cursed like a sailor, and I was teaching Sunday School on Sundays hungover.  I wasn’t where I needed to be.  Even now, I don’t make the wisest decisions sometimes.  But I have people who have honest conversations with me, who don’t judge me, yet still give me Truth.  They don’t condemn me, they don’t act self-righteous.  They invite me to live a raw life with them, helping me through my sin and being patient with me when I don’t get it right away.

Here  is my idea–I think we should be talking about Miley and other pop culture icons with our students. But instead of focusing on what Miley is doing wrong, what if we were to ask: “If you saw one of your friends going through this, what would you do?”  “If you were in this situation, what would you want people to do for you?”  Instead of alienating Miley’s situation, let’s try to identify, empathize, and exhort her.

Humble yourself.  Think about your rock-bottom.  What got you out of it?  How can you translate that to working with your students in their rock-bottoms?

What do you do when you get hit on by another minister?

Contributions, women, youth ministry

I had the privilege of guest-posting over on WomenInYouthMinistry.Com! I love this blog and think that it is a great resource for women in youth ministry, especially those who are married with children.

Gina asked me to write a post on saying “no” when a single male minister hits on a single lady minister.  What do you do?  Well, I’ve a teeny bit of experience, but it was quite fun to write!  Here ya go!

The Value of Student Activities in Youth Ministry

church, Contributions, youth ministry,

kids too busy for youth group

This article originally appeared here:

One of the frustrations that I hear many youth ministers talk about is the fact that their students seem more concerned with extracurriculars than they are youth group or church.

I hear things like:

  • They don’t value God or the church because they miss youth group.
  • They think football is more important on a Friday night than a youth event.
  • They can’t give Jesus just 90 minutes of their time a week.

And I hear you, friends.  I’ve felt like you, and I mean, I still get frustrated.  But I’m a little more empathetic to the students, and here’s why.

Going to youth group doesn’t produce a college scholarship.

That’s blunt, I know.  Yet, with the costs of college, teenagers are trying to do whatever it takes to help pay for it.

Now, there are things that you can do as a youth pastor to help this out:

  • Provide missions opportunities to help them gain community service/volunteer work to put on their resumes. Bonus: make it open to the community of high schoolers and not just your church teens (can you say outreach?).
  • Find a way to have more student leadership positions, so that your students can put that on their resume.
  • Find people within the church who can invest scholarships into some of your teenagers.

I know first-hand that you can be a part of clubs and still be active in church; I participated and was an officer in 8 clubs in high school (I’m crazy, I know); however, I didn’t do sports while in high school, which are mega-time-consuming.  I also know that very few (if any) of your high school students will actually make it to the big leagues… Yet I also know the benefits of being on a team and the skills you can learn from that.  They are valuable skills that I think should be encouraged.

Teenagers need to be able to spread the gospel.

We emphasize to our teenagers about going into their “mission field” to spread the Gospel.  Where else can they spread it?  They can’t exactly spread the Gospel in math class.  There’s lunch period, but other than that there aren’t any real opportunities.

I think we should encourage our teens to get involved in clubs and sports so that they can have opportunities to spread the Gospel in real-life situations.  Otherwise, when they become an adult, their only experiences of sharing the Gospel will be from Missions Projects with their Youth Group.

Jesus isn’t exclusively at youth group.

One of the biggest annoyances to me is when youth pastors say that when a student doesn’t come to youth group, they’re putting their extracurriculars over Jesus. Really?  Are Sunday and Wednesday the only times that Jesus shows up?  And are you really that audacious to say that what you are providing is equivalent to Jesus?

Youth ministry isn’t exclusively at youth group.

Just like Jesus just isn’t on Sundays, neither should you.  We need to learn to reach teenagers on their turf.  

You need to consider the culture.  Honestly, if you live in a football town, why would you put a youth event on a Friday Night?  You should be at the game living life with them and rooting on your student players.  Maybe your students get swamped in the school year and Wednesdays aren’t the right days for you.

Ministry happens at the lunch table, at a baseball game, in a small group, in dodgeball, and in youth group.  It happens in a text conversation, and also in a warm hug.  They may not come to that 90 minute meeting, but is that all you’re offering them?  Small groups and mentors are great alternatives to youth group–just make sure you’re plugging them in and giving them options.

Consider that what you’re offering isn’t more appealing than chess club.

This goes back to culture–what reaches your students?  Maybe that senior girl doesn’t come to Wednesdays because she hates messy games and has no alternative.  Maybe that middle school boy doesn’t come because there are too many girls and he needs a small group of other guys.  You may have to consider that what you have going on isn’t pulling students in, and you may have to be courageous enough to do things differently.

I’m not saying to be “seeker friendly.”  I’m saying be “culturally appropriate.”  Jesus used parables in order to relate the Gospel in a way for people to understand it…and even that went over their heads.  So while you’re not always going to get it right, at least you tried to consider your students and reach them where they’re at.

Now, I get it:  There will be teens to do put up some pretty lame excuses as to why they can’t come. Love on them anyway.

What are some ways that you’ve encouraged your teens to do extracurriculars, but still maintained a healthy youth group presence?

Do You Believe in Soulmates?

girls ministry, women, youth ministry

In May, I posted this post that explains a little bit of what I have been wrestling with, in regards to how we talk to our teenagers about sex, specifically teenage girls. We have played the shame game for long enough, and I want to redirect youth ministry to a more loving and honest approach to the “sex talk.”

One of my friends that I grew up with posted on my personal Facebook page this article: My Husband Is Not My Soul Mate

This article is one I have read before and orates really well the myth behind having a “soul mate.” Too often we tell our teenage girls to just “Wait for God to put that perfect man in your life” (which I already ranted about) or to “Pray for your future soulmate.”

We say these things with good intentions, and I think there are good principles here; but what are we implying?

  • That they WILL get married. Not necessarily true
  • That there is ONE person out there for them. What a tiring search!
  • That their self-worth is found in a man. Absolutely not.

So what are a a few ways things we can do?

If it happens, it happens.

I think that teaching our teenagers (especially girls) that relationships are beautiful and that if they happen, they happen, that’s wonderful. But not necessarily promised.

First Love isn’t the Only Love

I think we need to teach them that the first person they date is not the one; in fact, there are many potential possibilities of the one! There have been men in my life who I honestly could have lived a good, long life with. But that doesn’t mean they are my “soul mate.” And:

There are other fish in the sea.

If you pass up a “good opportunity” in pursuit of something (or someone) else, that opportunity is not lost forever. Of course, popular music and movies would teach you different.  Like I said, I have passed up some opportunities because:

God may still be preparing you. 

I think it’s funny that we pray, “And God, I pray for my future husband that you are preparing for me.  One day I realized: Maybe it’s me God is preparing for him. Why do we assume it’s the other person who God is working on?  It’s pretty audacious for me to think that I’m the one waiting, when in reality there may be a guy who God has in mind to run into my path soon, but I’m the one who’s not prepared.  Just. Saying.

Re-define “the perfect mate.”

Bust the bubbles of reality. I used to make lists of what my future husband should be like. I wish I could find the Bible Journal from middle (even high) school that had a points system, including:

  • If he loves Jesus +25 points.
  • Attends church every Sunday +25
  • Nice face +10 points.
  • Nice body +10 points.
  • Abs +10 points
  • Taller than me +15
  • Has a sense of humor +15 points.
  • Plays guitar +10 points.
  • Thinks my parents are stupid too +10 points.
  • Smokes -50 points
  • Does drugs -100 points
  • Must have 90 points in order to date me.

I’m not even kidding.

But as I get older— do I really care that he’s not the best at writing with perfect grammar? Okay, let’s skip that one. But does he HAVE to be over six feet tall? I’m pretty short as it is. Why do I care about things that don’t honestly matter?  What do perfect abs have to do with anything; we’re all gonna get fat when we get old anyway.

All I’m sayin’ is:

Let’s be realistic and honest with our teenagers. Let’s not shame them into thinking that they HAVE to date or have relationships with the opposite sex in one, concrete way. Live life with them, let them experience what marriage is like by having married couples invest in them, and let them see that singleness is not for ugly people and creepers who are miserable.

If this stuff isn’t true, then I am one sad, miserable, 23 year old and I should invest in some cats, liposuction, and therapy.

When You’re At a Loss.

Contributions, depression, youth ministry,

ministry loneliness

This post originally appeared here.

I checked the stats on my personal blog the other day, you know, to see if my 12 followers were interacting with it.

I saw that someone found my blog using this search term:

I don’t know what our ministry is about anymore.

I just broke.

What a humbling reminder of the brokeness we feel in ministry sometimes.

And honestly, what do I even say to this?

Ministry is tough, and I’ve concluded that it is because your heart is involved.  There are tons of careers that are difficult and have hard moments, but most of them are jobs you can leave at work.  Ministry is something you take home with you, something that keeps you up at night.  So it makes sense that you will feel this way at one time or another.

I can tell you to do the obvious:

  • Talk to someone about how you feel.  If you get to a point where you are just questioning the entire ministry, you need some help.  Find a mentor, a Christian counselor, or someone who is just a heck of a lot wiser than you are. 
  • Talk to your senior pastor/supervisor.  Get their vision and wisdom.
  • Take a sabbatical or a super-long-sabbath and just breathe.  Pray.

I was completely lost a few months back.  I went to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference and attended theEverybody’s Urban sessions; I was at a loss with my at-risk teenagers and didn’t know what to do anymore.  I talked toLeneita Fix after the session, practically drowning her in my tears.  She quoted my favorite passage, a passage I’ve come to countless times when I’m discouraged:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

…and then said the most brilliant thing to me:

Sometimes we don’t even plant the seeds.  We may have to dig the rocks out of the soil, to prepare it for the seeds.

Even if you don’t see growth, that may not be your duty.  Some of us have to prepare the path for our teenagers and our ministry—dig out the rocks of apathy and programs that don’t work and leaders that don’t quite cut it. Some of us have to work in our teens’ lives simply to help them dig out the junk that’s in it.  Through this, you (or someone else) will be able to plant the seed and water it. And, when it’s God’s time, that student and ministry will grow.

I wish I had more to say, yet to be honest, this is one of those things that just needs prayer and time.  Words can’t express how much I care for this network of youth ministers, and I pray for you guys daily.  Be encouraged and hold fast.

Teenagers are…

youth ministry

I started reading Fahrenheit 451 last week, and I ran across this quote and had to laugh:

Teenagers:  They’re peculiar, aggravating, yet easy to forgive. They’re so much more, too–they’re creative, ambitious, crazy, sassy, yet more intelligent than adults are sometimes.

I love it.

What are teenagers to you?

Videos for Student Ministry

fun video, lessons, media, music, youth ministry,


I would love to tell you about a NEW RESOURCE for STUDENT MINISTRY!

I can’t tell you how many times people in our YouthMin.Org private Facebook Community post the day of youth group, “Hey, does anybody have a video for ______?”

I usually hit up Google and give half-serious, half-kidding, but all-terrible videos for them.  I can’t blame them–how many times have I been an hour before youth group and gone, “I’m gonna need to fill an extra five minutes” or “I bet Francis Chan could explain this wayyy better than me” or “I need something funny to connect this truth to my students.”

That is where VideosForStudentMinistry.Com comes in!

There are many different categories. I’ll share some of my favorites for you!


Stuff Christian Singles Hear. I’ve heard 100% of these. :)

Sermon Jams

Jesus is the Victorious Ever Present God by Judah Smith. Can’t help but scream AMEN!

Music Videos

“Tell the World” by Lecrae. This is my current favorite song.

Spoken Word.

“GOSPEL” by Propeganda. 100% of youth groups need to watch this. Even white brothers gotta shout.

Clips that teach.

I am Second (Yo Soy Segundo) by Albert Pujols. I had to rep my man, even if he quit repping my city. BONUS: en español!


Go to the site, browse, and suggest videos you know! This new site is all a part of the NEW YouthMin.Org that will be launching VERY VERY SOON.  My friend Frank Gil has been working hard on this!

Discipling Girls: A @youth_min Roundtable with Neely, Elle, and Bekah

girls ministry, women, youth ministry,

Today I had the privilege of hosting a hangout with Elle Campbell, Neely McQueen, and Bekah Miller!



Go watch and interact. I’m telling you, these women make me look like a genius for having them on this Roundtable! These ladies are L.E.G.I.T.