Archive - June, 2012

Is Your Lack Of A Day Off Killing You?

It’s Friday and it’s my day off. (I drafted this post on a Wednesday). If you are in  ministry, you have heard the importance of taking a good day off! Why?

  • The extra hours that come up each week that you and your family didn’t plan
  • The late night phone calls, or phone calls during dinner / family time
  • The brain that never switches off from ministry
  • The lost sleep because of a student or family who is being torn apart by sin
  • The weekend retreat that created the 100 hour week

Do these sound familiar? Maybe you could add a few to this list? But here’s the deal:

Lack of a day off and lack of planning on your day off could be slowly killing you…

I speak from experience when I tell you that I have run on empty too many times. I speak from painful experience when I tell you that my spiritual walk has taken a back seat and my family gets the left-overs because I have allowed ministry to consume me. Because of my painful experiences I am learning, (note that I said “learning”), how imperative it is to have a scheduled day off each week AND to ensure that I have a plan for that day.

Without a plan on our day off, we are likely to allow our day off to default back to ministry and the complexity of life…

Instead of allowing my day off to ‘default’  back to ministry, I have learned to create a plan for my day off that incorporates the following essentials for me, (and my wife).

  • Alone time with God
  • Alone time at the coffee shop reading. (My wife takes the first two hours, I take the next two hours, since we have kids).
  • Exercise - Whether it’s a mountain bike ride, (I am doing that this week), or going for a run, I find that exercise energizes me.
  • Family time – On Friday when we are all home, we try to do something fun as a family and ensure that we have talked about the plan ahead of time…

I know these ‘defaults’ of mine might seem simple and straightforward, but without planning them into my day off, I usually ‘drift’ back to the default of ministry.

Is your day off drifting back to the default of ministry or your planned defaults? How is your day off refreshing you? Are you running on empty and need to make a better plan?

Finally, what fills your tank? What would you add to your day off defaults? 

Phil <><

ALERT: Deal of The Day: Two Sides By Darren Sutton

Full disclosure: I helped Darren write some of this book… But I still think it is an excellent book for any youth worker who is trying to build a solid philosophy for why they do what they do in ministry!

Click on the link and save big time!!!

Phil <><

4 Easy Steps To Improve Partnering With Parents In Your Youth Ministry

In her previous post, Leneita shared her story of how she changed her view of parents once she became one and had teens of her own. Partnering with parents is imperative and seeing parents through a new lens is essential. Today I want to share 4 easy steps to improve partnering with parents.

But first, here are a few reason why partnering with parents could take your ministry to the next level: 


  • Parents spend far more time with their kids than we do, and therefore they have far more teachable moments than we do…
  • Parents who feel partnered with will support our ministries with their time, talent, and treasure…
  • Parents are biblically the main instructors of their kids faith. We are not here to replace them, but to partner with them, (even if they are not following through on their part, we must see ourselves as partners in ministry)…
  • Parents are chauffeurs to their kids and will do all they can to get their kids to good programs and events when we communicate effectively with them…
  • Parents as partners can become our greatest supporters and allies when we encounter storms of ministry. Conversely, they can become our greatest critics when they feel disconnected from us… Continue Reading…

Partnering With Parents In Youth Ministry: “It Used To Be Me”

It used to be me…

You know the youth person who treated the parent like they got in the way of my job.  Working with mostly “unchurched” students I thought I had a good excuse.  Parents weren’t around anyway.   Even when I did make some small attempt to reach out to them, they just shrugged me off.  I thought I didn’t really need them that much anyway.

Then my own children started entering the ages of official youth ministry.  They entered some programming where I was not the leader.  It happened to me.   One day  after church, a leader stopped my daughter and embraced her.  She looked her in the eye told her how beautiful she was and that she was special.  All the things I would  say to a student as well.  However, I stood there awkwardly not even being acknowledged by this person whom I had never met.  It seemed as if an eternity before I stuck out my hand and declared,  “Hi, I’m the Mom.”  Apparently,  she was a volunteer small group leader.

When it happened to me,  conviction came.  How many times had I done something similar?  How many times had a parent tried to tell me about their child and I ignored them?  How many times had I treated a parent like only a mechanism to fill out permission slips?  Then I am the one quick to complain when they don’t come to a parent meeting.  I am the one “venting” about “that one.”   Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Leadership: Team Building Made Easy

Yeah, that title would be considered false advertising.  Team building is not easy, but it is critically important.  The foundation for any successful ministry or organization is a strong team.

A group of people who trust each other completely, share ideas openly, engage in healthy conflict, and feed off the group’s collective passion and energy.

If you have experienced a healthy ministry team you know what I am talking about.  There is nothing that they won’t try to accomplish, and nothing they won’t do to accomplish it.

On the other hand, if you have been part of a dysfunctional team you know how it can hinder any momentum or success in program.  Personal opinions are staunchly held , consensus is never reached, and discord always exists behind the scenes.  You spend more time doing damage control then you do ministering to teens. Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Realities: When You Can’t Do It All

What can you do, when you can’t do it all?

Do you have those times in youth ministry when you realize that you are unable come through with all that you hoped to achieve? Whether it is that big event, that mission trip, or the weekly program that is getting out of control, we all have moments when we realize, “I just don’t have what it takes… I can’t do it all.” But what do we do, when we come to this painful conclusion?

Here’s a number of options I have had to work through over the years:

1) Depend On God: Yes, this should be a given. But, can we all be honest here for a moment? Even though we constantly tell teenagers to lean on God and depend on Him for strength, there is something about leadership that can easily set us up to begin depending on our own strength. It begins subtly and slowly, but when we are leading others there is often a tendency to feel weak if we have to admit we can’t do it. Somehow we feel inadequate about being a leader who does not have all the answers or have what it takes to navigate through a challenging time. However, isn’t that where God wants us? After all, isn’t God’s power displayed best in our weakness? Continue Reading…

Freebie Friday: July 4th Freedom Lesson For Students

Even though I am British, I can’t pass up the opportunity to pass on a great free 4th of July resource from my friends at

Here’s what they say about this sweet lesson:

The 4th of July is a national holiday in the United States, one that celebrates the freedom all American citizens live with on a daily basis. While it is fun to watch the fireworks, sing songs, and grill out, it’s also a great time to focus on a different kind of freedom: the real freedom that comes through life in Christ. Help your students discover what this freedom means for their lives and the importance of sharing it with others.

You could get this sweet resource by

Phil <><

Simply Youth Ministry Annual 404040 Sale Begins Today!

This week is Simply Youth Ministries annual 404040 Sale – THEIR BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR!

Here’s the deal:

  • 40 Hours
  • 40 FREE Backgrounds
  • 40% off almost everything!

Everything begins Tuesday (6.12) morning and comes to an end Thursday (6.14) at 3pm pdt.

Be on the look out for the Simply Olympics videos to cheer of the Gorilla man during this weeks big sale!!

Phil <><


3 Essential Fall Plans You Should Be Making Now For Your Youth Ministry?

This week, here in Michigan, our high schools have their last days and most have already had their graduation ceremonies. The summer is about to begin! However, it is this time of year that I believe it is essential to start making plans for Fall and not wait any longer.

The problem for us is this: Before we know it, we are on a mission trip, we’ve taken that needed vacation, or we are already in August staring down the Fall. It’s true isn’t it? Summer fly’s by! Therefore, to make sure that Fall does not turn into a last-minute planning frenzy, there are three priorities I work on now, while I have the time:

1) Recruiting New Volunteer Leaders: If we wait for potential leaders to leave town on vacation or get into their summer mode, it’s harder to have needed conversations. It’s also good to ask potential volunteers now, so that they can pray and consider helping during the summer months. Sometimes the ‘volunteering seed’ needs to be planted now and will grow over the summer. Waiting to ask potential volunteers a few weeks before the Fall can often feel rushed and disorganized.

2) Plan Out A Basic Calendar: Sitting back here in June is a great time to look at the calendar in a more objective,  relaxed and prayerful way. It allows us to see the big picture of what is going on and allows us to take time to space events and programs out and give healthy margin once the Fall arrives. It also allows us time to tweak and change the calendar without making rushed decisions when a potential calendar conflict comes up.

3) Plan Your Message Series Now: By thinking through your first 2-3 message series now, it will allow your creativity and ideas to ferment over the summer. It also allows us to get others involved and incorporate elements that might not get added if we were running fast into the Fall. Consider the felt needs of your students as you plan your Fall kick off series.Appealing to their felt needs and creating an exciting and engaging Fall series will help you create good momentum right out the gate.

What are you working on now for the Fall? What would you add to this list?

Phil <><


Launching today, (on my 10 year wedding anniversary by the way), is a brand new resource that my good friend Matty McCage would love to tell you more about! But since he is on vacation in some tropical paradise, I will let his website blurb speak for itself:

There’s a new addition to the LIVE family, and we’re extremely proud to announce the upcoming release of LIVE College and Young Adult! Balancing the everyday topics like knowledge, trust, fear, and the leader’s desire to continue to lay a biblical foundation for their ministry, LIVE College and Young Adult aims to show 18-20somethings the relevance of God’s Word for their lives.

Whether you use the 72 lessons at the local coffee shop, taco stand, or oil change station, LIVE College and Young Adult is designed to save you time as you work to make a lasting impact in the lives of a generation that is getting lost in the mix.


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