Comic Book Movies As A Catalyst For Spiritual Growth


short rant:

Yesterday I was listening to the Iron Man 3 soundtrack (songs inspired by the movie)  and was saddened by the lack of inspiration on the songs. Looks like the bands did not see the movie. This is an action movie, but the songs don’t take me there. I mean really? Imagine Dragons Radioactive does’nt make the cut?

Let’s remake this soundtrack with songs that inspire, challenge, and rock. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I’ll start: The new single from Saliva : In It To Win It, the clean version of course.


I just saw #BatmanvsSuperman and it was pretty awesome. I’ll have a post up soon about the spiritual preaching implications of the movie. For now, here is a post a wrote when Iron Man was hot.

I love comic book movies. Many of them tell stories that compliment the biblical narratives that already exits. The Avengers, Batman, and even The Green Lantern share themes that impact us all, the struggle between good and evil, self doubt and self confidence, and sin and redemption. If we  have a good knowledge of scripture, the lessons jump out at us.

Comic book movies are modern day parables. Some shiver at that thought because they think these movies will replace the parables Jesus taught, but that is an unfounded fear. Comic book movies are this generations parables and they give youth workers and children’s workers a great opportunity to connect life changing stories from scripture to students’ every day lives. Pastors, of a certain age, love to reference, or build sermon series around, examples of war and sacrifice in their messages to relate spiritual truths. Comic book movies are no different.  I learned a simple definition of a parable years ago that helps me discern movies today” Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings. If the movie has no spiritual message or redemptive value, if the movie puts us down instead of lifting us up, then it’s probably not a very good movie.

Although the directors of these movies do not intentionally (as far as I know) set out to tell a parable to help us in our spiritual growth, I believe God favors stories that compel us to realize who we really are and inspire us to take action to do good.  Connecting the dots between comic book movies and spirituality goes back to us knowing the eternal themes of scripture and God’s action in sending his Son Jesus, the ultimate hero, to redeem us from a fallen world. If we get this, we’ll have no problem drawing the biblical parallels to spiritual truths that our kids need to hear through a medium they are already familiar with.

Do you plan on using any upcoming comic book movies as a launching points for spiritual discussion?

Have you used comic book movies in the past to relay spiritual truth? Which movies have you used?

Which comic book movie(s) draw the greatest spiritual truths?

Don’t forget to add your song that SHOULD be in the Iron Man 3 movie.

Three Roads To Youth Discipleship


3 Roads

Sometimes on Facebook you’ll see a random status among youth pastors (this one from Josh Busby) and then the word Go, which is the universal statement signalling  people to offer their answers and opinions. That post is the impetus for this post. At this point I had to make a decision, offer a brief statement of what I thought and let it be the end of it or take it onto here for some deeper thought. Don’t worry, this will not be thesis on the subject but my reflections on my own struggle to define these terms. So, without further adieu,’ here’s how I define these two terms, plus one

Youth Group

Youth group is t.v, an old medium.

Is established and static

The Youth Pastor plans and does everything

Youth Group is about maintenance, doesn’t rock the boat.

Youth group is about floating through the faceless masses, undefined, they gather to be religious.

Youth group is a mini-van, it’s safe.

Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry is YouTube.

Youth ministry Is busy but not necessarily effective

Youth help the Youth Pastor execute “his” vision

Youth Ministry is about growth, rock but don’t sink the boat.

Youth ministry is about the crowd listening to the Sermon on the Mount packed in to learn about Jesus

Youth Ministry is a sports car, can go fast, but it could also crash.

Youth In Ministry 

Youth in Ministry is a start up in Silicon Valley.

Youth In Ministry is dynamic

The Youth Pastor helps students, discover , develop, and deploy what God has called them to.

Youth in ministry is about discovery, they build their own boat.

Youth in Ministry is Peter, James, and John on a mountain knowing Jesus.

Youth in ministry is a Hummer, it can go anywhere.

You are currently on one of these roads, occasionally exiting to drive on the other two. Maybe that’s the way it ‘s always been and always will be in traditional and even modern churches. I think two of these three roads are dead ends and one, I believe, leads to making the kind of disciples Jesus made.

Questions I’m Asking:(and you can ask yourself)

Which road am I currently on?

Is it taking me where I want to go?

What exit will I have to take (what will you have to stop doing) to get on the right road?

Let me help you get your kids on the right road with youth ministry coaching.



Is Your Youth Ministry Struggling To Be Epic?


 The Struggle To Be Epic


I was listening to a local sports show the other day and they were asking listeners what teams they were going to give up for lent this year. People called in an gave up in The Chargers, Kentucky basketball, and a host of other teams. One of the shows hosts gave up on the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and said it was unlikely they would return to dominance on a national scale as far as football program was concerned. He made a great point, try recruiting kids to Nebraska in January and February vs USC or University of Florida. The latter has all the great weather, great facilities, and great cities to live in (with all do respect to Nebraska, I am sure it’s a fine state). There is almost no comparison. College football players  want to go where they can win and enjoy the experience. The sports host concluded, “The Cornhuskers will, most likely, never be epic again.” This made me feel sad for Nebraska, but it also made me sad for our youth ministry.

Epic means different things to different people. Traditionally epic means having all the cool stuff, a large youth ministry, all your kids love Jesus and go on all the retreats and events, etc. blah, blah, blah. but I live in metaphorical Nebraska. Our city does not have the best athletes or the most talented kids. It is not a bastion of the arts and no one lives there that can afford to live somewhere else. We’re a hole-in-the-wall community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be epic, it just means we have to redefine epic for us.  Epic to me now means a youth meeting I don’t have to run. I don’t mean I’m sipping umbrella drinks while everyone else sweats; I’m talking about kids and adults coming together to meet, worship, plan, play all the while knowing their roles in serving the Lord and one another. That’s epic and simple.

Our youth ministry will never be traditionally epic, just like Nebraska will not be National Champs anytime soon. My plan is to quit trying so hard to be epic every week and enjoy being simple.(Simple is the new epic, feel free to use that)

  • I’ll enjoy the relationships I do have instead of mourning the one I do not.
  • I’ll enjoy epic moments (you can still have those) like watching a kid skateboard with his phone talking to his mother and he eats it. Bad. All the while he’s talking to his mother. The best part is where he’s lying on the ground and says to his mom, ‘Can you come pick me up?”
  • I’ll enjoy growing in my faith. Sometimes I have to forget about the kids for a second and take care of my own soul.
  • I’ll enjoy the small scale epic-ness of our youth ministry. We don’t have it all together. We never will. We will never attain the the epic-ness I’ve sought for so long, but I’ll gladly take the epic-ness God gives us, even if it’s small scale.

Musician Steve Taylor once sang, “Since I gave up hope I feel much better”. Let me, if I may, re-phrase, “Since I gave up epic and embraced simple I feel much better”

How about you? Are you struggling to be epic? How’s that going?

Do you feel the pressure of your church to be epic all the time?

Do you have small, epic youth ministry? What makes your small group epic?







Managing Your Youth Ministry : Wisdom From Outer Space




Space… I can’t say that word without  continuing…the final frontier. I  love Star Trek, all generations, except for maybe Voyager, sorry Janeway. Space can be a dangerous place (see Gravity) but we are fascinated with it. The giant telescope Hubble is constantly gathering information, it is analyzed and theories are formed and tested. The other day I heard an interview with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, literally wisdom from space. It was in the following excerpt from his interview on NPR, the Hubble of gathering interesting things, that I analyzed Chris’ info and apply it to the equally dangerous and scary space of youth ministry.

My notes will be in italics between the quotes.

HADFIELD: Terry, I found it to be so helpful in my regular life, and I didn’t mean it to be that way. But of course as an astronaut, especially during launch, half of the risk of a six-month flight is in the first nine minutes. So as a crew, how do you stay focused, and how do you not get paralyzed by the fear of it?

Imagine you are being interviewed by Terry Gross about your youth ministry and she asks you, “how do you stay focused and not get paralyzed by the fear of it?”.  How would you answer that? Yes, you ‘d probably say prayer and Bible reading because you were taught to say that but when you are doing youth ministry there are times when neither of those things seem to help us, it like we’re  Sandra Bullock in the movie Gravity and find ourselves drifting away from our mission into oblivion. What then? 

First off, Terry asks the question, “what do you and your crew do”. Trying to pilot a space craft by yourself is ridiculous. You’d never see Captain Picard doing that and Han Solo at least had Chewie, so…

Wisdom Point # 1 from outer space: Every mission needs a crew. There can be lots of buttons to push and levers to pull, you don’t be in charge of everything.

Chris Hadfield answers the question:

And the way we do it is to break down what are the risks. And a nice way to keep reminding yourself is what’s the next thing that’s going to kill me. And it might be five seconds away, it might be an inadvertent engine shutdown, or it might be staging of the solid rockets coming off, or it might be, you know, some transition or some key next thing. We’ve already, say, had one computer fail, and we’ve had one hydraulic system fail, so if these three things fail, now we’re, you know, we need to react right away, or we’re done.

My favorite phrase:  “what’s the next thing that’s going to kill me”. In faith, we put high emphasis on not dwelling on the past and rightfully so, we are new creatures in Christ. We also want to think positively about the future and all the things “God is going to do for us”.  I believe God is for us and not against us and I believe God seeks our good, but when it come to actually leading a youth ministry, I have to think about potential problems, things that might kill me or the ministry and I must prepare for them and know how I will react to them or they will kill me. Some might say, “that is over dramatic and ministry is not dangerous like space travel is dangerous.” Agreed. But for those who have accepted that our calling and vocation is the ministry, we have to take certain risks that are a part of the job and could kill us professionally.  Here are a few examples of things that could kill me personally and professionally, 

  • An affair
  • Inappropriate touching of a student
  • General irresponsibility that could get kids hurt (driving while tired, etc.

Those are things that could kill me professionally, spiritually, etc. and I often envision headlines, o Faebook posts  like “Wow! I thought Paul Turner was the real deal, guess not.” . I also imagine my wife and family’s reaction, etc, if  ever did anything to shame them. Those headlines and potential reactions keep me and the church I serve, on mission and out of harms way. 

But there are also small decisions that can accumulate like snow on a roof that could collapse on my ministry such as

  • not communicating with parents my pastor, etc.
  • not bringing the truth in my preaching
  • not being prepared for my events

I think of disappointed kids, angry parents, and a strained relationship with my pastor. Those thing would kill me internally with stress and doubt.

The interview continues:

So we don’t just live with that, though. And the thing that is really useful, I think, out of all this is we dig into it so deeply, and we look at OK, so this might kill us. This is something that would normally panic us. Let’s get ready. Let’s think about it. And we go into every excruciating detail of why that might affect what we’re doing and what we can do to resolve it and have a plan and be comfortable with it and practice is.

GROSS: And you say in order to make this work, you have to neutralize fear.

HADFIELD: Yeah, but, I mean, it’s not like astronauts are braver than other people. We’re just, you know, meticulously prepared. We dissect what it is that is going to scare us and what it is that is a threat to us, and then we practice over and over again so that the natural, irrational fear is neutralized.

Key phrases :”Meticulously prepared” and “Neutralizing fear”. Both of these are disciplines that I do my my best practice. 

The interview continues

HADFIELD: And your first reaction is not just to scream and flee with your hands waving over your head, but in fact, to go hey, we thought about this, and I know that this is dangerous, but there are six things that I could do right now, all of which will help make things better.

And it’s worth remembering, too, there’s no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse also.


GROSS: Thank you.

HADFIELD: So you have to practice and learn what’s the right thing to do. But given that, it actually gives you a really great comfort. It’s counter intuitive, you know, to visualize disaster, but by visualizing disaster, that’s what keeps us alive.

What is the next thing that could kill you or your  youth ministry?

Will playing out the worst possible scenario in your ministry help you firm up your ministry discipline?

And before you think Chris is all work and no play, check his version of Space Oddity from outer space

Helping Your Students Develop Spiritual Habits



It’s a new year which means new habits right? I know that if our students are going to grow in their faith they are going to have to develop some spiritual habits. I have recently re-written my S.W.E.A.T Club small group material because of some well deserved, constructive  criticism I received from another youth worker who I consider pretty smart. Beside the fact that my grammar and typeo’s screamed  “Is this guy kidding?” . The language and the format were very check list oriented which is, I think, the main barrier to why people (youth and adults)  don’t pursue developing their relationship with God in the first place.

Although we call them spiritual disciplines or habits, we can let the “check list mentality” creep into our walk with God by becoming legalistic about it. I think we can agree that the goal of starting spiritual disciplines in the first place is to create a deeper intimacy with God, our Savior, not to keep a list like a bunch of Pharisees. Jesus came to get rid of the man made, law based barriers to knowing HIM and if we want our our kids to develop these habits we have to remove these barriers to get them to even try.

Barrier #1 You’re not doing it right

I think back to watching  Sponge Bob trying to teach Squidward how to blow a bubble. Spongebob focused on teaching technique instead of just let Squidward enjoy blowing bubbles. This is the full episode sped up.

We can spend a lot of time on technique of spiritual habits while our kids are missing the joy and the point  of why they are developing this habit in the first place.

 Barrier # 2 You don’t have the right tools (Bible, etc) 

Not only can we focus too much on technique, we can focus to much on having the right tool. The right “tools” could be: the right Bible , the right journal, or the right place and time to practice the habit. We have to get over the fact that no man can create the “perfect” curriculum or the perfect tool to help our kids and while we are waiting on our denomination or the Christian booksellers to develop these “perfect” tools our kids may be missing out. If you can’t find “perfect”, write it yourself.

Barrier # 3 Low Expectations

Many youth pastor’s just don’t believe their kids will do any kind of spiritual discipline so they stick with what keeps them coming like games and events. The problem is not with our kids, it’s with us if we don’t believe that teaching, preaching, and creating space to practice the basic spiritual disciplines that will grow their faith. In the end it really serves us to do this because it will  grow mature kids who can then lead within our group, in time. We should at least offer them the opportunity to grow. Set the table, ring the bell, and see who shows up for dinner.

Barrier # 4 Lack of models. 

My friend Tim shares a story, in his new book Youth Pastor Manifesto, about an NBA player he got to know and he asks him what brought him to the Lord and he responded, (and I paraphrase) “Watching my dad read his Bible every morning, Seeing that, I was sold” Many of our students have no good models to watch read their Bible, pray, quote scripture, share their faith, encourage each other, etc. This is where we can can help and equip parents to be those models. We can offer family devotions as a supplement to our lessons or set up a resource table where resources and be grabbed. I can see you shaking your head now, “They won’t do it Paul”. It’s not on us if they don’t take it, it’s on us if we don’t offer it to them.

If you are looking for some lessons on developing spiritual habits for your kids I have re-written my small group material called The S.W.E.A.T Club and it is not perfect, but it will as least get the conversation started. You can click HERE to check it out.

Which of these barriers are stopping your kids from developing the spiritual habits which will grow their faith?

Did I miss a barrier? What is getting in the way of your kids developing spiritual habits?


14 Questions I Will Try To Answer About Our Youth Ministry in 2014


14 Questions

To be fair,  I ask these questions every year and some I can answer, some I can’t, some I just have to leave up to God.  Having a list like this makes me want to curl up in  ball and never get out of bed (been there) but it also shows me why prayer is so important and how insufficient I am to accomplish God’s work by my own hand. This list also shows me where I am gifted and where I am not (mostly not) and how I need to lead with my strengths and recruit to my weaknesses.

To also be up front, I have a few ideas about how I will be answering some of these questions and will be sharing them with Fresh Impact  newsletter subscribers. Not signed up? Click HERE to find out why it might benefit you and your ministry.

What questions will you be asking in 2014? Leave yours in the comments section below.

1. What will define success this year?

2. What worked last year? (and should I repeat it?)

3.  Do I have/What is/How Do I take my discipleship strategy? (How do I help kids become followers of Jesus)

4. What changes should I make in my youth room that will help kids connect with God and each other?

5. How will I intentionally grow in my relationship with God this year?

6. How will we reach out more effectively?

7. How will I grow my volunteers numerically and spiritually?

8. Which relationships do I really need to work on this year (Pastor, students, parents, church people)

9. How will I balance  my family/ministry time  better this year?

10. What risks will I take this year to make an impact for Christ?

11. How will I use social media better this year to connect with  students and build our program?

12.. How can I do  better job of helping parents disciple their kids?

13. How can I do a better job of connecting our adults and students ? (which may answer #7)

14. Will we look/act more like Jesus this year than last?



Helping Kids Discover Their Spiritual Gifts For Christmas

I can be a bit of a humbug when it comes to the commercial side of Christmas. I just don’t care about Black Friday, or what gifts I get. Something that’s giving a lift in my my soul this season is helping kids discover how God has gifted them. This past Sunday I sat with 6-8 kids and had them fill out a short version of a spiritual gifts survey. It was a ton of fun watching them look at what unopened gifts amy be sitting un their tree.

Here a few more links to surveys you can print

Spiritual Gifts Inventory 

Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

Here is one online  you can post on FB or text out.

Here are some things I recommend stating when administering a spiritual gifts survey

1. Don’t call it a test

I don’t want kids to thing this is something they can fail

2. This is not a perfect survey 

I don’t want kids to thing that this is the end all be all of surveys. Whatever gifts come up I ant them to know they are not limitd to jsut those gifts. It’s possible for God to bless them with any gift He’d like in the future.

3. You are gifted. 

No matter the outcome, the survey confirms they are gifted in an area of service the Lord can use in his Church and their community.

I e-mailed my parents this morning and encouraged them to take the survey as well and that it would certainly create a conversation between them and their teen.

Have you done spiritual gift survey; with your kids?

Have you done one yourself?

How have you found this helpful in getting to know your kids better?


My 6 Awesome Moments From The National Youth Workers Conference





Once a year I try to get to a conference or training to hone my skills an refresh my soul and this year I went to the National Youth Workers Conference in Nashville, Tn.  have been to about 8-10 of the NYWC over the bast 23 years  and God has used it to impact my life in many ways. Which means, I could not have picked a better topic for my 300th post  as this blog exists to impact youth workers so they can impact students. I saw youth workers, Jesus, and my own life  through fresh eyes this week so let me share six moments that made an impact on me.

# 1 Audrey Assad

I knew who Audrey was as an artist as I had seen her albums show up on iTunes, but I had never heard her live. That changed this week as Audrey led worship in a few of the session at the NTWC. Maybe it was just where I was at spiritually this yea that made there songs and her voice resonate with me. The three songs she sang, that I remember were

Each of these songs struck a raw nerve in me that had me crying, praying, and longing for more of God  and less of me. Worshipping with 3500 hundred other youth workers did not hurt to make this an amazing moment. Shane and Shane, were also there but, well they’re Shane and Shane, nuff’ said.

#2 Bob Goff

I had heard of Bob Goff but never heard hims speak before  this week. Bob is author of the book Love Does and to say  Bob was a funny and challenging speaker is like saying The Beatles were a pretty good band. The best way to describe Bob is to use his own quote, “I make coffee nervous” His message  “to walk in love” was just what I needed.

#3 Spiritual Direction Session

Every year I go to the NYWC I try to do one of two things 1) Meet with a conference Pastor or 2) Meet with a Spiritual Director. Both are there to be sounding boards, counselors, and good listeners. I chose a spiritual director this year because  I see a spiritual directors role as one who see past my veneer to what God is doing in my world. Three words rang true for me

– Desert


– Habits (Disciplines)

Each of these words have context but I cannot elaborate as I am still  working through them.

#4 Connecting with New Friends

Sometimes I skip sessions to connect with new people and this year I had a great opportunity to meet some Facebook friends. Some of these friends include

  • Eric Gargus (he worked with an exhibitor called Interlinc this year) He was a fun guy to hang out with and get to know.
  • Heather Campbell with and her friend Elisa Fernandez. We met for the first time at a local coffee shop to just talk and get to know each other. I really felt like I walked away with two new friends and a term of endearment: The Relic. Pretty awesome.
  • Marjorie from Fuselage was also a treat to meet.
  • Tony Jacobs is the YSNetwork Coordinator and I only knew him from some posts on the site, but after running in to him on his way to dinner I tapped along and got to know him and a few others (Erin Jackson) around the table.
  • I roomed with George Lynch and his Senior Pastor. His hipster mustache and great conversation about youth ministry made him a favorite with me.

I attended a Family group where we talked about theology and student ministry with the same small group over two days. If I remember they were Scott, Olivia, Rick, Bryon, and Ron. Good people.

If I met you, but left you out, my apologies.

#5 Gathering with Old Friends

My roommate this time around was Roger Ball. He and I were youth pastors  in the 90’s in Vero Beach Fl. He is now a Lead Pastor, which I think is clearly a step backwards in his career (just kidding) He brought his youth pastor and we had a great time.

I also got to hang with the gang from Interlinc including Allan Hardin, Allen Weed, Jerry Davis, Mark Pittman, and Sheridyn Williamson. These guys are a blast. Check out their stuff.

Tim Eldred is the president of Christian Endeavor and we like to say we’ve known each other for too long.

I got to hang with my long time Twitter friend Gavin Richardson, his web design par excel-lance.  He’s a cool dude and I am excited about his transition of roles.

#6 Seminars with Impact

I attended a few seminars between all the meeting and greeting and they included

  • God, the Definitive Mix: An Age Appropriate Narrative Hermeneutic
  • Aging in Youth Ministry
  • Moving Your Team From Chaperones to Shepherds

The presenters did a fantastic job.

I am sure there were other great moments but these are the ones that really stuck out to me. If you ever get a chance to attend a NYWC, I highly recommend it.

See you in Atlanta.

Did you attend this years NYWC in Nashville? What was your favorite moment?





5 Steps To Planning A Killer Youth Program


Yesterday I did a Google Hangout (I actually hung out with myself LOL) and the Hangout did not record well and both the video and audio (not synced up) are both sketchy. If you want to download the audio of the Hangout you can click HERE

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

I can’t tell you how many times I have ended up some place else. Usually some place I did not plan on and it was usually because I  did not plan well. Possibly the greatest truth, about planning, I have ever learned is “Start with the end in mind.” If we a Biblical view of a what  a spiritually mature believer is, we’ll develop a plan for it. My plan for students include these key elements –

Leading/Serving The more they DO the faith the more mature they become.

Knowing and Understanding God’s Word -You cant live what you don’t know

Outreach– This includes creating a community worth inviting students to and students being able to share what God has done for them

I think good planning is the key to creating a killer youth program. Why? Because no one likes chaos, incompetence, or confusion. Here are my five steps to planning a killer youth program.

1. Whisper First – Share your dreams and ideas with your core kids, core parents, and your Pastor first. Keep it at a whisper until you get feedback.

2. Calendar – Check the calendar to make sure your ideas fit both chronologically with the churches plans and  also philosophically.

3. Plan – Write it all out and get it into the hands of everyone who will be a part of it.

4. Pitch it – My roll out starts with my parents, usually at a parents meeting, but remember I have already whispered to a few of them  so they know what is coming. Then I pitch it to the students, some of whom already know.  I want fans already in the room when I make the pitch.

5. Execute-  If you’ve done steps one through four and worked through any push back, then move forward boldly tweaking along the way. I you want to download the audio, and hear my  full break down of how I am using this process for the changes I am making, you can download it HERE

Secrets To A Successful Youth Ministry: Secret #7 Celebrate the Wins

This is the last post in my series on my secrets to a successful youth ministry, but it is one of the most critical for me. I am a driven individual. It’s hard for me to relax and I am my  harshest  critic. Over the years I have had to make myself slow down and enjoy the “wins” of youth ministry .

What is a win? There are two kinds of wins, individual wins and group wins. Here is how I define an individual win.

  • The kid who accepts Christ, even if he’s come to the altar a hundred times.
  • The kid who takes a small step in the direction of being a disciple of Jesus.
  • The kid who has a lead role in the play
  • The athlete of the week/student of the week
  • The kid who steps and serves when they haven’t before.

This list is a combination of wins inside the youth ministry and outside. Some of these are personal achievements outside the group and some inside but we should celebrate both because if a student of faith is achieving something outside our group, that means another aspect of their life in Christ is being celebrated to.

With social media it’s super easy to celebrate the win whether it’s a picture on Instagram, a post on Facebook, or a tweet # awesome. Each recognition I give tells a kid # I celebrate you an #2 The Church celebrates you through me.

Them there are the group win. Group wins could include

  • achieving a certain number in mid-week meeting
  • raising a certain amount of money for a service mission
  • pulling off a dinner theatre

If our kids are going for it and “making it happen” I want them to know I appreciate their effort and do not take them for granted. Celebration mean appreciation.

One of my favorite ideas for celebrating kids was in creating a formal award dinner/ceremony, complete with hosts, musical guests, an envelope to tear open, and of course awards. The trophy was called The One Man. It symbolized that one person could make a difference. I kept track of some of our kids exploits and let our leaders vote on various categories.

Kids were genuinely surprised and thrilled to get an award, custom made to boot from one of our fine wood-smiths Ken Breland who has since received his heavenly reward. At the bottom of the trophy it says OSM(one Student Ministries), I Stepped Up. Even though I tell my kids about heavenly rewards, I wanted to make sure they knew their actions mattered to not only God, but me and their community of faith.

If you want to build a successful ministry to youth, find a way to celebrate your students individually and corporately. Go overboard or go simple, but go and celebrate your kids.

How do you celebrate when a kid in your group steps up?

How do you celebrate when your group achieves a group goal?

If you want read about all 7 Secrets you can start from the beginning by clicking HERE