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3 Healthy Ways to Start Your New Year in Ministry: Part 3

In my previous post I talked about the importance of throwing off the things that are hindering our lives and ministries. So often we fall back to the familiar instead of stepping back to survey what needs to change. It’s easy to depend on familiar programs, systems, or self reliance instead of depending on God to clearly direct.

Today, I want to continue to look at Hebrews 12: 1 as we look at the intense and challenging issues of being entangled by sin in our lives and ministries.

We Are All But One Step Away From A Fall: “…and the sin that so easily entangles” Hebrews 12:1

A True and Painful Story: A number of years ago, I remember walking across the parking lot into the church where I was the youth pastor. It was the day I was scheduled to preach, but it wouldn’t be any typical sermon… The Sunday before, we had announced to the church that our senior pastor had been forced to resign because he had committed adultery. It was tragic and horrendous for so many people who loved him, his family, and loved their church…  My sermon would be the first sermon following this deeply painful announcement… If I am honest, as I walked across the parking lot into the church, I was angered by this man and what he had done to so many people… It was at that point that God spoke to my heart very clearly. Instead of casting judgment, God show me how all of us in ministry are but one step away from becoming entangled by sin that will lead to destruction and pain.

Be Honest: Therefore, as we make our way into the new year, we should take an honest look at the repeat sins in our lives that have begun to entangle us. It’s crucial that we get help now, not later. It’s paramount that intentionally seek God and spend time with Him to find freedom from being entangled by sin… I have never met anyone in ministry who intentional wanted to fall to a moral failure or lose their position because of poor choices. However, I do know that sin can creep in very quickly and will easily entangle us if we are not careful…

Here’s three questions we should be asking: 

1) What sin is at work in our lives that will entangle us and eventually destroy our family and ministries?

2) Are we running from God or are we coming to Him honestly and openly with our struggles? We all preach it to students, but when was the last time we fell into the arms of our Savior in confession and repentance?

3) Who can help us and and hold us accountable in areas of struggle?

4) What spiritual habits need our attention to help release us from being entangled and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?

What else would you add? What wisdom have you gleaned in these situations? What hope can you offer? Please feel free to comment. Let’s help each other.

Phil <><


Sexual Sin, Porn, and the Church

Sexual sin and pornography is probably one of the most challenging issues we face as youth workers today. Here are some thoughts.


  • It is a sin that students have learned to hide more than any other sin…
  • It is a sin that pastors and youth workers have learned to hide more than any other sin…
  • It is sin that has massive implications for students as they grow into young adults…
  • It is a sin that the church has NOT talked openly enough about and has, (in my opinion), condemned this type of sin too much…  Students have often gone deeper “underground” with their struggles rather than seeing the church as their refuge and help…
  • It is a sin that is impacting in the trenches youth workers and their families…
  • It is a sin that I have personally seen three pastors lose their jobs and families to… One pastor friend took his own life after he lost his family and ministry… I still hurt from this huge loss…
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) is not something we can brush under the carpet. We must lovingly and carefully understand the issues and discover good theology. It is not enough to have a stance on the issue, we must see people as God’s children and meet them where they are… I am also learning that brothers and sisters in Christ have different theological stances on this issue and I must be understand my stance, but be sensitive to others…
  • It is something that we must address with our students on a regular basis in our teaching, conversations, retreats, and our own model to them… How are we doing in this? 
  • It is something that parents are dying for help with. We must educate, empower, and equip parents who are at home with these students so much more than us… What tools and resources are we giving our parents? 
  • We must create environments that encourage conversation and not condemnation… Ask your students openly if they feel they could share some of these deep issues? Ask them what you could do to create more openness?
  • We must help students learn accountability now, not later… How are we helping students to connect authentically? 
  • We must personally surround ourselves with mentors, friends, and accountability partners to stay strong. Who can ask you tough questions? Who knows your struggles? Are you on an island of  sexual sin and need to be rescued? 
  • We should seek help NOW if we are struggling and not wait until we crash… Who can you call today? Feel free to contact me on my contact page if you need some help beginning these steps? 
  • We have a responsibility to speak truth in love to our students and ensure they are getting a healthy perspective from God’s Word. Are we scared to speak truth to those students who desperately need it? 
These are just a few thoughts and I have so many more. However, here are some FANTASTIC ways to continue thinking on this subject: 
(See info on the graphic above). 
  • Live Stream info: 
  • RSVP at: 
1. What would you add to this conversation?
2. On Thursday after the Group Magazine Live Podcast I plan to post some more thoughts on this. I am eager to learn from a panel of in the trenches youth workers who I respect…
After watching the podcast, here are just a quick few thoughts about it:
  • The format of having a panel of experts was great! Being able to have people like interact and bounce questions off of was fantastic! The level of questions were both authentic and challenging.
  • There was a great deal of interaction online from viewers watching who were able to field questions that Scott Firestone was able to field to the panel! Again, some great questions and interactions.
  • Sexual sin is rampant in the church and people in ministry are not immune… In fact, in many ways the panel talked about how it is sometimes harder to talk about issues when you are in ministry. Craig Gross from shared that it is potentially not a good idea to go your direct mentor, but to find accountability and support through mentors and accountability partners.
  • There was a great deal of discussion about creating an authentic communinty where sexual purity and other challenging isses can be faced.
  • The GLBT discussion was handled well and Rick and Jeff shared a story about a group of youth workers at the last Simply Youth Ministry Conference who has grappled and struggled with this issue. It is clear that it is a “hot button” for many and there are many differing views on the GLBT subject. I think a takeaway for me was that we should deal with the issues head on, but with great sensitivity and care. I think it will be interesting to watch this debate continue in the church in years to come. Many of us in ministry still have a fuzzy understanding of the scriptural response to this issue.
  • Finally, a takeaway for me personally is the challenge to stay sexually pure and accountable in my ministry position. It is imperative that I have good boundaries, accountability, and support as I minister to students. It only takes a youth worker falling in this area to destroy the hopes and dreams of students. We never want students to say, “If they can’t get this right, how am I supposed to get it right…”