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When Is It Time To Leave Your Youth Ministry?

If you regularly read this blog you know I have taken a one month break from blogging as I transitioned out of my previous youth ministry position and into a new position as family life pastor. During this time it’s been important for me to transition well and ensure that my new ministry (and my family of course), has been my main focus. In the next few weeks, there will be more posts…

Exit Youth Ministry

Since transitioning, (and before), I have often been asked this question, or seen it posted on youth ministry forums:

“When is it time to leave my youth ministry.”

I’ll be honest, this is not an easy question for someone else to answer. Ultimately, God is the one who leads and directs, and we should be asking Him this question.

It’s also imperative that each of us seek Him to discern the difference between an opportunity to grow compared to an opportunity to go…

While it is God who directs, here are five questions I have prayed through in my time in youth ministry: Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Leadership: Your Focus Determines Your Outcomes.


A few weeks ago I read this article (and video above), about The article caught my eye for two reasons: First, I am British and of course I love soccer. Second, because this young guy had made a significant choice that led to his great success. Here’s what the article said:

“The 22-year old from England started doing freestyle tricks at the age of 15, and when it came time for Henderson to pick between university football and freestyle, he chose what he does best. Henderson now practices five hours per day, five days a week, and quite clearly all the hard work is paying off.”

And here’s the bottom line for him: This guy could have done two things with his giftedness. Rather than go the route that many others were attempting to go, he chose to do what he does best. In other words, he chose to focus on his strengths and greatest gifts. In youth ministry, there are a couple of lessons we can learn from his example…

Continue Reading…

Avoiding Youth Ministry Burnout

“Over commitment will lead to a lack of commitment! Know the difference between what you are called to, not what you are pulled to…”

No one enters youth ministry ever expecting to burnout, breakdown, or lose their passion. However, in my years of youth ministry I have heard too many stories of great youth workers who left ministry all together because of burnout…

Youth Ministry Burnout

There are many reasons why you and I could burnout, but it usually starts when we try to do everything for everyone with only our strength. Before we know it, we are working unhealthy hours, our walk with God is shallow, and our family are getting the left overs. But, how can we avoid this? Here’s a starting place:

Know the difference between what you are called to, not what you are pulled to.

(I saw this quote a few weeks ago. I wish I could tell you who said it, but I have no idea. However, it stuck in my brain so much that I have not been able to get away from it).

The bottom line is this: When you and I can have a healthy walk with God, we will hear His voice and He will lead us to what we are called to. From here we can:

  • Discern what God is calling us to do
  • Know the difference between a good opportunity and a God opportunity
  • Have the confidence to say “no” to the things that we are pulled to
  • Have the clarity to be able to communicate our vision to others
  • Have the time to spend with God and our families
  • Find peace in God’s plans even when storms rage around us.

You see, there are a number of reasons for burnout in youth ministry, but personally, I believe it begins with an unhealthy expectation that we say “yes” to everything, (and then in our own strength, try to do everything). Instead, we should begin with a strong relationship with God that continuously seeks His purpose and vision.

There are many other ways in which you and I can be pulled into burnout, but this is what I have observed in the last few years.

How are you avoiding burnout? Do you have time to hear God’s voice in your life? Do you know what you are called to for the long and short haul?

Phil <><

photo credit: via

Youth Ministry Management: How to Keep Great Volunteers – Part 1

In my previous post, I talked about how I recruit volunteers. Having a well established volunteer team that is trusted by students is an incredible strength for any youth ministry. But this will only happen when we are able to keep volunteers coming back year after year. But how can this happen? What are the keys to keeping great volunteers?

Team Youth Ministry

Here are the first 5 of my essential practices to help keep great volunteers. I’ll post 5 more in my next post:  Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Management: Recruiting Volunteers

There are ‘lone rangers’ in youth ministry. Your youth ministry will be effective if you have a great volunteer team. “How do I recruit good volunteers?” This is something I get asked about a lot. Today, let’s take a look at how I have successfully recruited volunteers, while also dispelling ways that I do not recruit volunteers. 

Recruiting Volunteers

In recruiting volunteers, I DO NOT: 

  • Put an an announcement in the bulletin or church newsletter
  • Make an announcement in the worship services
  • Put up recruitment flyers around the church
  • Create a catchy video that promises potential volunteers an incredible ministry and free coffee, (I did that once).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the methods above, but for me, they are simply not very effective. The other aspect is that they are all deeply impersonal ways to recruit volunteers aren’t they? If you and I are dreaming of a relational ministry with relationally invested volunteers, it is imperative that we start out on the right foot and employ methods to recruit potential leaders in a relational way. (I think this is true of hiring a full-time youth worker too).

In the last ten years, there have been only few times when I truly struggled to recruit enough volunteers. Part of that is because I think I have a fairly good idea of how to keep good volunteers, (I’ll post about that next), and part of it is because of the way I recruit them. Here are four things I do:  Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry Management: How To Start Your Week Strong

Yesterday, (Sunday), I saw a quote by fellow Brit Marcus Buckingham:

“What are some steps you can take today or first thing tomorrow morning to set yourself up for a strong week?”

For many of us in youth ministry, being organized and disciplined in administration does not come naturally. However, there is one thing I have found most youth workers can do that will make a huge difference to their week. Simply taking an hour at the beginning of the week to plan and prioritize can make all the difference and help us stay more focused.

Starting right in Youth Ministry

Continue Reading…

How To Navigate The Crazy Seasons of Youth Ministry

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know it’s been slightly quieter than normal in the last few weeks. I’m sorry if you have missed your regular 2-3 posts per week, but there’s been a lot going on in life and ministry… In the last 7 weeks I have:

  • Finished my Masters Degree!
  • Attended the FAM Leadership Network through
  • Travelled back to the UK for two weeks to visit my mom who has Alzheimer’s
  • Taken a team on a relief mission trip to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy clean up
  • Begun a transition in my current church ministry

Youth Ministry Navigation

I’ll be honest, this is not the norm, but it has certainly been an interesting few months… We all have crazy seasons and sometimes things happen outside of our control. During these times, it’s imperative that we have developed healthy defaults in our lives that help us navigate through such crazy times. I have no idea what a crazy season looks like for you, but I know that youth ministry is full of such times. Here are four healthy defaults I implore you to maintain before you get to the crazy seasons of ministry: Continue Reading…

How To Effectively Use Summer Interns In Your Youth Ministry

Summer Interns, Week Two…

Summer Interns Slip n Slide

For this summer, I decided to make the bold move of acquiring a few interns for student ministries. Now, its week two and I’m not pulling my hair out yet, so I wanted to give you some thoughts on the process thus far:

- The Thought Process – This is not an internship where I need my coffee cup filled, I need tasks completed, and need someone to be my personal assistant. Instead, this is an internship FOR the intern! So, when we initially promoted it, we were looking for individuals who were going into ministry or a similar field. And so, this would give the intern a small taste of what it looks like to be in full-time ministry. To be quite honest, this idea came out of what I was not offered when I first got into ministry, but that time as a volunteer youth leader. I felt kind of thrust into a job that I was not equipped for. This internship on the other hand is meant to help prepare them for the world of ministry without handing over all of the responsibility that comes with it… Continue Reading…

Great leadership is as simple as a cup of coffee…

Great leadership is as simple as a cup of coffee.  I was reminded of the reality of this statement recently when I went on a java run for my staff.  When I entered the office with four cups of joe I was greeted with joy, excitement and appreciation.  There was a new mood in the room as we talked and drank.  I was actually a bit perplexed at the energy it brought to the team.  As I thought about it, I realized this simple gesture did three things that are necessary for every leader to do.

Youth Ministry Coffee

Continue Reading…

Youth Ministry & The Art of Running the Race…

A couple of months ago the ministry I work for decided to use the NJ Long Branch Marathon as a fundraiser.  At first I didn’t think much of it.  I’m not a runner.  As a matter of fact I am an asthmatic who is beyond athletically challenged.  This race was for my husband to complete, look at him,  he is built like a runner.   Then our office needed someone to step up and be part of a two person half-marathon relay.  This would mean an almost 7 mile “race.”  Can we revisit that I AM NOT A RUNNER?  Yes, you’re already there I had to start training.

marathon youth ministry

Continue Reading…

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