This Is How You Get Off The Island (Of Desperation)

This is my seventh blog post in a series about Jeff Goin’s new book and my sixth attempt to convince you, the local youth worker, that you are an artist gifted by God to do what you do. You can start at the begging HERE and I highly recommend you buy Jeff’s book HERE.

I’ve had this nagging feeling that I’ve been practicing for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I love youth ministry and the kids I serve, but everything I’ve done over 27 years has be practice for something else. For what? I’m starting to get an idea.

My second youth pastor left youth ministry and I was pretty pissed at him. I thought he loved what he did and he should have loved it forever. Oh the ignorance of youth.

I had been out of Tom’s youth group for some time and was youth pastoring my own youth group across town when I heard he quit or was let go from His church. He later joined my youth team at the church I was serving at (how weird was that?). Soon after he left youth pastoring completely and started working at a pool cleaning company. He’s done that for over 20 years.

Tom still does ministry within the church, but I couldn’t fathom leaving something God called you to for pool cleaning. I though your calling  was for life. I set out to do what I loved (youth ministry) and to never leave until it was time. After 27 years, it might be time, but what’s next?

For the past seven years I’ve been blogging, creating Youtube videos about youth work, making podcast episodes about youth work and selling stuff about youth work. I’ve picked up and practiced a set of skills for the past seven years that feels like school or training for the next seven years. The next “something” I do I’ll be ahead of the game.

Is there something you’ve been practicing over and over and over again that would fit in another niche somewhere?  Maybe, but the next next thing you’re supposed to do isn’t looking for you, you’ll have to go out and find it.

We want to believe that if we do our jobs well enough that the audience will just find us. But that’s not how it works. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

I believed this until it was almost too late. Thank God I heard a voice several years ago that woke me up that said, “No one is coming to save you.” That scared the hell out of me. I thought it was God or the devil. What I’ve come to believe is that the voice was me warning me that it was to get off my rear end and quit waiting for the rescue team.

Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Tom didn’t idly sit by and think, “well, they’ll just find me if I sit here long enough.” Tom did everything to get off that island.

He made fires so planes could see it

He made signs out of rocks to signal planes

He finally made a boat and went out to look for his rescuers.

Faith without works is dead.

Whether you want to make money or confirm that what you do is what you’re supposed to be doing or to raise a flag and see who salutes it as a way to find out what’s next, your going to have to promote your art, your youth ministry, your blog, for craft, your podcast, etc.

Before art can have an impact, it must first have an audience – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Don’t hide that hobby you love. Don’t hide the ministry you do, promote it, be proud of the work you are doing or the art you are creating.

Every congregation should watch/hear updates about your youth ministry in social media, from the front of the church, from your own mouth. I used to be the “Gosh, I’m just glad to be here” while looking down and scuffing my shoe in dirt kind of guy. No more. I am proud of the ministry I do and the kids I serve and the stuff God is doing in their lives; and the rest of the congregation needs to hear about about it in small and big ways.

I want the next 27 years of my life to make an impact, but I won’t if I hide what I love, even if it’s not my full time job (yet)

I encourage you to put out into the world, your work place, your congregation, your neighborhood “that thing” you’ve been doing. If you feel like you’ve been practicing for what’s next, the only way to find out is to take the art you’ve been working on secretly in your basement or on your computer and put it out there for all to see over and over and over again until you’ve built an audience who can confirm your deepest suspicions about what’s next.

If you want to quit starving and start thriving, grab Jeff’s book HERE

Eight post in the series Before Your Earn The Respect You Desire, You Must Do This First 

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This Is Where Your Best Youth Ministry Ideas Will Come From

I’m in the basement of my church. I can hear the groans and creaks of “the others”  upstairs. They’re shuffling papers, having meetings, dishing out information. I’ve barricaded myself in “the lab”, aka my office, working on Project Q. If people will leave me alone, I know I’ll create “the next big thing”.

I don’t need anyone else. I don’t need ‘the others” do this thing called youth ministry. I’ve been trained by the best.  I don’t need a network, I have skills that would make younger youth workers look like skinny jean mannequins. I’ll outlast them. It’s just God and me holed up here, and I am  going to survive this desolate wasteland, so help me God!


So went the inner narrative of my life, the lone survivor mentality of “It’s me and God against the world”. If you are doing youth ministry alone, ask yourself, “Why cut myself off from the very source that could bring life back to my bones and ministry?”

This is part six in a series of posts about Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. I’m extrapolating the information he shares about artists and making art to convince youth workers that they are artists made in the image of The Artist. I want you to stop selling yourself short and use everything that God has given you to succeed in the church you serve and beyond.

Now, back to the bunker I built.

There have been times where I’ve shuttered myself off from everyone and that was a bad idea. I thought I was the smartest person in the room and that there was no room for personal  improvement.  My ideas were the best and your ideas sucked. Sometimes it was true, most of the time, it was not.

Jeff says in the book

The Starving Artist works alone.
The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.

Jeff tells the story of the C.S. Lewis quote that he made about J.R.R Tolkien,

“No one ever influenced Tolkien,”he said. “You might as well try to influence a Bandersnatch.” A Bandersnatch is a mythical creature that appears in Through the Looking Glass. It’s an irritable monster, not a creature you’d want to tangle with and certainly not one you could easily “influence.”

This could not be further from the truth. Both Tolkien and Lewis as well as 17 others met at a local pub for 17 years and shared their idea, their projects, and their dreams. They were dubbed or dubbed themselves The Inklings.

One day, Tolkien became bored with writing about the Hobbit and shared this with Lewis who said,

“The problem,” Lewis replied, “is that hobbits are only inter- esting when they’re in un-hobbit-like situations.” That was all he needed to say.

Tolkien went on to write Lord of the Rings.

If great work and ideas comes from collaboration, why don’t youth workers do more of it?

These were the self limiting beliefs that held me back from collaborating

My idea is the best and cannot be improved upon

I don’t want to work with so and so because we are different denominations

They probably don’t want to work with me anyway because we are in different churches.

They’ll think I’m trying to steal their kids.

I’m in a smaller church, why would they want to work tougher, they have all the resources they need.

God will make this happen if He want it to happen.

The best things I’ve ever created was because of collaborations.

Networking on Facebook,  led me to connect with Ryan Latham who became my co-author for our first published book Prepared for Impact. We collaborated and produced something pretty cool that helps youth workers plan better.

The events I’m the most proud of were the results of a bunch of neighborhood youth workers getting together and deciding that their were no walls between us. By collaborating with other youth workers, we’ve clothed the homeless, fed the hungry, pulled off great concerts and events like See You At The Pole Rally’s.

I met my friend Dave Weiss as part of a collective team called The Write Group. He’s a great artist and cartoonist. We’ve collaborated several times on different project and created Insta-Mission Devotions, a series of devotions to use on mission trips.

Pre-internet, I had to make phone calls to find a network or call some of my youth worker friends to get ideas. Now, I just go to Facebook and join a group  to receive feedback on whatever I happen to be working on.

Let me say it clearly, you cannot do youth ministry alone and thrive. Whether it’s collaborating with other ministries in your church, other youth workers in your area, or with others online to create or flesh out the kind of youth program ideas God has placed upon your heart.

You may get your best idea alone, in the shower, but that idea needs help and that comes from collaborating with others. The final iteration of your idea will become what it should be because of others.

Stop making excuses and go to the network meeting, reach out to others, send an e-mail to someone to get advice, find a group on , or whatever method you choose, just don’t sit in the bunker alone for someone to find you with unfinished ideas and suffering for your youth ministry when it and you could be thriving.

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The Church Every Youth Pastor Wants To Be A Part Of

You, the local youth worker, are an artist.  That is my premise as I break down Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artists Don’t Starve and share the principles as to why this is true about you.

In the past, we’ve romanticized the struggling youth worker: no budget, crap car, and low pay. Many people bought into this myth as the way things should be, including me. Not any more.

As I had towards the mid-century mark after 27 years of full time youth work; I am sold on a new reality: I am a youth worker, but I’m also (and always have been) an artist. I create messages, videos, and programs and if you don’t think those are artistic endeavors, you’ve never tried working  with teenagers.

This is the fifth post in a series of twelve and today I’d like to talk about going where the creativity is flourishing versus trying to make creativity happen.

I used to think I could work anywhere, any church and flourish. This is a bold face lie I told myself. Yes, I could work anywhere, but some of the churches I worked at were not only not bastions of creativity they were creativity killers.

Show me a church that rejects creativity (or at least adaptation) in how does ministry, and I will show you a dead or dying church.

The Starving Artist thinks she can do her work anywhere, but the Thriving Artist understands that where we live and do our work affects the work itself. – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

If you’re a creative young man or woman looking for your first (or another) church to work at; let me offer a few suggestion on the type of church you may want to keep an eye out for because where you serve matters.

If you’re a church looking to attract young creatives to your cause, pay attention, this is the kind of church I’m suggesting they look for.

The church that documents their journey

I just came back from a mission trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, working with  CEAD church. They had it going on in the tech area. They equipped us with 20 interns (most under 25), most of whom had super quality cameras to record our journey, our journey with them, and as a way to show the their community how their church cared about meeting their needs.

They totally got it. They knew how to document the journey as well as promote the vision of the church. They used Facebook Live in their church to record services and how to effectively use narrative video in their announcements.

It doesn’t hurt that God is doing in their church what God does when you take the breaks off of Him. Many churches don’t  embrace technology or social media because, to be honest, there’s not much to document.

In addition, and most importantly, if a church is not meeting needs in their community, technology is the least of their problems.

Seth Godin talks about the foolishness of a business who tries to use technology or slick marketing to fix their lousy product, when, in reality,  no amount of either can do anything to fix a lousy product. No amount of tech or social can fix a lousy vision.

Look for a church the is documenting what God is doing, not trying to make it look like God is doing something.

The church that’s changing to meet needs, not keeping up with trends 

Every church should know who they are, what their mission is, and who they are trying to reach. The churches who do not embrace this are trying to keep up rather than forge ahead. These churches have a “me too” attitude when it comes to adopting program, etc. rather than, lets do what’s right by the community we are planted in.

The creative church should be asking, “Is this important?” and if is important, “how do we creatively meet this need using the the right people and the right right amount of money, and the right amount of compassion an wisdom.”  Anything less than this, is lip service.

The church that not only embraces artist, but creates them. 

If you want to be in or work at a creative church, look at the kind of people the church is producing. Is the church looking to raise up artists and creatives who are using their gifs and talent for the glory of God? Or is that church stifling the artist and is stuck in one or two dimensional thinking when trying to convey it’s message?

In our church, the ladies get together for Craft Night. Craft night is, as you would thing, ladies getting together to paint and create seasonal crafts, etc. But why is the only kind of craft night most churches have? Why can’t their be a craft night for men to

  • do wood work
  • iron craft
  • model painting
  • drone flying
  • cooking/grilling
  • building
  • car repair/upgrades

All of these could be “crafts” men participate if the church saw and men saw themselves as artists. The same goes for kids and youth. Are we showing kids and youth how not how to get off the media train, but how to discern, harness, and use the tech and media they love to speak the The Word.

In his book Real Artists don’t starve. talk about Hemingway’s journey to Paris. In Paris, Hemingway met all kinds of creative people that made him the creative he was.

Why can’t the church be someone’s Paris. A place where people who understand they have a God-given gift and want to use it for His glory? Why can’t someone with non-tradtional gifts and talents discover how to use them for God’s glory?

Youth workers, if God is calling you to use your creativity, sadly I cannot encourage you to just take any job, at any church. Go where God leads you.

In the end, you have to find your Paris, your scene, where your gifts can be cultivated and grown so you can make an impact.

If you are a youth worker, you are an artist and I recommend picking up Jeff’s book. Pick it up and follow along with me.

Check out the sixth post in the series: This Is Where Your Best YM Ideas Will Come From 





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I’m In Honduras!!

Hey, I’m going to be gone all week on a missions trip to Honduras. Sorry to leave you hanging in the middle of my series on trying to convince you that you an artist and a creative force to be reckoned with, but duty calls.

The series is based in Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve. Be sure to pick up a copy for more in-depth stories and principles to claim your creative identity.

Be sure to check out the first four posts and you’ll be al ready to catch up when I return next week.

Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve 

The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry 

3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You’re Looking For A Master 

Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win 

P.S. Join  me on my Honduras Mission trip over on Instagram


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Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win

Welcome back! This is my fourth post in my attempt to convince you that you’re an artist. You may be a youth pastor, a small group leader, a                         bi-vocational youth worker who does plumbing on the side, or a volunteer youth worker. You are all artists in your own way.

You can read my premise for you being an artist by starting at Real Youth Workers Don’t Starve. This series is based on the book by Jeff Goins called Real Artists Don’t Starve that helps creative people, like youth pastors, embrace the the artist title.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book and read along with me.

Let me clarify my title: Stubborn Youth Pastors, Who Are Stubborn About The Right Things, Always Win.

Stubbornness is not obstinance. Youth Pastors should not be stubborn just to be in the way to be a block to progress. Youth Pastors should be stubborn on principles things and flexible on details.

We all need the ability to persevere and maintain passion for long-term goals despite adverse circumstances—or what Angela Duckworth calls “grit.” – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

We have to be stubborn when it comes to working with teens because, well, teens are stubborn bunch and we must match their stubbornness with a stubborn kind of love.

“No matter how much you miss youth group, I’ll always save a sit for you”

“No mater how much you resist me, I will always be welcoming”

“No matter how much you choose the wrong thing, I will love you and help you choose the right thing.”

This is the same kind of stubbornness parents have with their kids. As youth workers, we should match our teens stubbornness with godly stubbornness. the Bible called this long-suffering.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed,“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and egracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6

God stubbornly, puts up with our mess and  loves us still.  This is a youth workers kind of stubbornness.

What does all this have to do with me being an artist Paul? Simple, we design programs that give us the opportunity to connect with students so we can show teens this kind of stubborn love long term. We have to be stubborn about the principles of youth ministry, not the details.

Here are a few examples  of where my stubbornness comes in when designing   any youth program.

I am stubborn about who is on my team

I don’t let adults just hang out (other than parents) because they don’t want to go got Wednesday night service. I they are downstairs with me, they have a purpose or they are not there.

I recently had to tell an adult they could not come downstairs any more because they were avoiding all the parameter set to be a volunteer for me

  • Be in the adult service on Sunday for x amount of time
  • Be in the adult Wednesday night service for x amount of time
  • Go through our partnership class

There are a few other standards we have,  but the point is that we have set up standards to first keep students safe from just anyone being a part of the youth program. Second, I want to make sure the leaders we have are mature enough to lead kids into faith, If an adult cannot go through a class, come to service on Sunday morning consistently, they I do not feel they will be a good fit on our program that expects them to lead kids by example.

I am stubborn on discipline

I knew I shouldn’t have let this kid come on the retreat because of his age, but his mother sweet talked me into it; I felt I had to give him chance. I have him Several chances but after having him make a few calls to his parents, I had to ask his mom to come pick him up.

Things like camp, missions trips, and even the weekly meeting only go well when we are all on the same page, or at least in the same book. Sometimes we all have to pull a kid aside, have the talk, and most of them time that settles it. There are other times when we have to make the phone call, send. kid up to their parents, tell a kids “no, I don’t think you’re ready for this.” . All of this discipline is designed to help kids grow in character and faith and secondly to keep the program or trip on track.

Stubbornness like this is a stubbornness that my Pastor, my parents, and even the students appreciate because they know I will do my best to help the kids who need help and make event worthwhile for everyone. A lack of stubbornness on some things, like discipline, causes an unease and a mistrust of our leadership.

I am stubborn on keeping the door open 

When a kid leave my youth ministry, its not the end of ministry with that kid. I have launched out students to go to other youth ministries because those youth ministries offered them opportunities that I could not.

These same kids who leave or that I launch, I’ll run into at the store or they may hit me up for advice online. I am stubborn on this because it’s easer to just close the door and pretend like those kids don;t exist any more, but they do and God may not be finished with me and them yet.

We have to be stubborn because the opposite of stubbornness is complacency, weakness, and irresolute. I always want to be stubborn about the things that matter not the details that don’t. We can be stubborn and flexible.

Steve jobs was stubborn on design.

Edison was stubborn on the creating the lightbulb

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon,  is stubborn about the culture he creates.

We are creators and creators but must be stubborn, not about everything, but about the right thing.

When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.  – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve 

Our stubbornness, about the right things in our youth ministry, will only lead to the right people taking notice and supporting what we create; and isn’t that what we want?

Catch the fifth post over here: The Creative Church, The One Every Artist Wants To Be A Part Of 


What are you stubborn about in your youth ministry?

Why do you need to be more flexible about in your youth ministry?





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3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You Looking For A Master

photo credit

This is day three of my twelve part series, using Jeff Goins new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, to convince you, the local youth pastor, that you are an artist. You can catch up by starting here and then here.

Why not grab the book and read long with me?

Little did she know, how- ever, her first career was just preparation for what was to come. – Jeff Goins

Tip #1 Consider Everything You’re Doing As Practice For What’s Next

The story goes that Tia, the one Jeff references in the quote above, did not know where to go or what to do with her life after High School, so she followed in her friends steps and went to law school at Stanford.  She wound up working at a big firm, but became tired of the grind. Little did she know that she was practicing for her next career, as an actress.

When I read the the quote above, I was floored. I’ve been feeling this way for some time; like I have been practicing for something else, I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe, by the twelfth post, I will have discovered it.

Because I’m in the position I am in, I have both the time and the permission to practice. I have done the social media for our church, written copy for big events and for most of the written marketing we produced. I used to gripe about my place in life, now I am thankful and consider it all practice, and joy, for what’s next.

What can you practice where you’re at?

Tip #2 Stop Waiting For the Big Break

Starving Artists wait for their Big Breaks. Thriving Artists become apprentices in their crafts. – Jeff Goins

For the past seven years I’ve worked in a small church, in a small town. Not a lot of elbow rubbing and networking with big dogs in a town like this; but I have reached out via the internet. I connect with Jeff on FB and Tada! I’m on a book launch team.  Big break are what we make, not some random Big Bang that happens to us.

Tryst me, I’ve struggled, bitched, and moaned as much as any ambitious guy  in a small town will do, but all the while I’ve tried to keep my head down and put one foot in front of the other, slowly making progress, to creating my break(s)

If nothing else, I’ve consistently honed my skills in both youth ministry and other fields such as blogging, networking, and technology. Ready to serve the cause, idea, or person I choose, or that chooses me, at any moment.

Tip #3 Consistently Practice While You Wait 

The marks of a good apprentice are patience, perseverance, and humility. – Jeff Goins

In a way, I’ve chosen to serve Jeff, the author of the book, by doing these blog posts and by sharing his  book on my social, etc.. I expect nothing from Jeff (I mean, he already gave me a free book, what else could I ask for?).

I try to apprentice things, ideas, and people (like Jeff) I believe in. I show my value by using my skills to further these ideas and causes and I hope, in the process, to be found a good apprentice.

I’ve been patient, I’ve persevered and, whether I like it or not, have been humbled. All of these traits are critical for the apprentice (and the master of that matter)

The best thing about these traits are that anyone can have them and practice them. You don’t have to be pretty, strong, or popular; you just have to show up.

If you’re in a job or place that is suffocating you, find a way to apprentice. Apprentice for your church or another ministry in your church that’s struggling. Don’t waste the time or the opportunity you’ve been given.

Since Tia’s jump from law to acting has done a few tv shows and commercial. Modest, but progress none the less. She Tok advance of what she learned as a lawyer and put to work in acting. What skills can you hoe right now for what’s next?

For now, I’m still practicing, waiting patiently, but not idly.

I’m focusing on serving in the role of both apprentice and master.

When I do reach that place I want to be, I’ve imagined it will look something like this. vvv Who’s the master?

Be sure to read the fourth post in the series : Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win 

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The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry

I was at a Youth Specialties NYWC and I was sitting in a Doug Field’s breakout session  and he said, “You don’t have to be original, beg, borrow and steal.”

Wait, I didn’t have to come up with all this stuff myself? It was ok to steal ideas from other youth pastor and youth ministries? This was pre-internet so stealing wasn’t as easy as it is today. I had to wait for the pony express to arrive to get the latest youth ministry ideas via magazine. I actually had to go to other churches and actually talk to other youth workers about stuff they were doing. Barbaric, right?

The internet has made it much easer to steal ideas from others. In Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve , he says

The starving artist strives to be original,                                                          the thriving  artist steals from his influences.

In the first post of this series, I tired to convince you you were an artist and not just a youth pastor. I hope you’ve since added the word artist to your vocabulary and your resume. What we do requires prayer, wisdom, and a whole lot of creativity. That last one is where we can get stuck.

I have heard many people, even youth workers, say they are not creative. What? Youth Pastors, above al things are creative. I mean, youth ministry is creativity gone wild.

We have to be creative with our budgets, our games, our themes, our messages, and our programming. We ooze creativity. Creativity is almost mandatory if for no other reason than survival.

The God we serve is creative and by His Spirit in us we have access to al the creativity we need to make our youth ministries work. We don’t have to be original, we just have to steal creatively.

I would never suggest that we steal someone’s message, especially verbatim. I would never suggest we not give credit where credit is due when we use someone’s idea. There must be honesty in our thievery.

We should steal from other youth ministries, but only if it serves our kids. We shouldn’t try to steal an idea and then cram that round peg into our square hole. We can, and should,  adapt it , change it, and refine it to fit our ministry uniquely.

We should steal from culture. God is not absent from our culture. He certainly has bee maligned and obscured but if the scripture says that His glory fills the whole earth, that means God is present in our culture and we have the opportunity to bring him to the front.

I “steal ideas all the time. I “stole” from The Hunger Games when I created my best selling Hunger and Thirst Games outreach/curriculum

I “stole” from Star Wars when I created a similar outreach called Soul Wars: Winning The War Within 

I “stole” from the TV show Top Shot when I created a series of small group lessons for guys called The Apostle Paul’s Guide To Living A Top Shot Faith

I “stole” from Playstation when created a message series called Greatness Awaits

I did not “steal” creative license or content from any of the notable  intellectual properties that I mentioned. I as influenced by them and turned them into useful things for my youth ministry. You probably do the same.

As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the son.” All  good ideas and inspirations come from God. You have access to the same God I do, so you can take the influences around you and put them to work in your youth ministry just like I did mine.

Jeff Goins says,

If we want to become artists, we are going to have to break some rules. We cannot do just what is expected of us. At some point, we must break away from the status quo and forge a new path. As it turns out, this is how creativity works best.

Stop killing yourself, as I did, in an effort to be original. To be the first kid on the block with a new toy. It will never happen. “Steal” from those around you, give credit where credit is due, and put your your own spin on things.

Creativity works best not when we are trying to be original but when we are “stealing” from others. Break a few rules, do something unexpected, and you may find that creativity comes more quickly.

BTW, feel free to steal as many games and ideas from my Youtube channel. That’s why I put them there.

I hope you’ll grab Jeff’s book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, and dig a little deeper Into your creative and artistic nature.

Check out the third post in the series:  3 Tips For Apprenticeship While You Looking For A Master


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Real Youth Pastors Don’t Starve

About a week ago I was asked by author Jeff Goins if I wanted to be on his book launch team ; I said sure. I was familiar with Jeff through some videos and his book The Art of Work so I was excited to jump on board, and I am glad I did,

Jeff’s new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, has hit me where I Iive. God knew what he as doing when he connected me with this book.

I can’t just read a book, though. I read a book like a butcher cuts meat. I trim the fat and cut the book into chunks for easy digestion. Here are my goals

    Let every youth worker know they’re an artist (who happens to play dodgeball).
    Share some thoughts from each chapter of the book to help you become a thriving artist in your ministry.

Let’s start with the fact that you, the youth pastor, are an artist. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof.  Many of you, weekly

    craft messages
    design slides
    take photos
    edit video
    There’s an art to all this. I know the care you put into all of these things, so why sell yourself short? Say it with me, “I am an artist”.
    I take my messages and post them up in my store at fair prices. You could do the same.  Anyway, you’re an artist and you shouldn’t be starving, you should be thriving . Let’s get into where we start doing that.
     Back in the day, youth ministry had it’s now version of the starving  artist. The youth pastor had to have a crap car, we had to share our room with the kids church, all the furniture in the youth room was donated crap, and our offices were the old  janitorial closet. I am familiar with all of these and at some point I thought I was super holy to live this crappy. That is until I changed my mindset.
    Many of you chose to go into youth ministry young and have grown in it. Some of you have entered youth ministry later in life and I salute you. All of us brought skills into the ministry and some of us learned them along the way.  Some of us are musical, some of us are graphic designers, and others us are amateur carpenters. Don’t you dare say you are not an artist.
    In the book, Jeff says,

Thanks to the power of this myth, many of us take the safe route in life. We become lawyers instead of actresses, bankers instead of poets, and doctors instead of painters. We hedge our bets and hide from our true calling, choosing less risky careers, because it seems easier. Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.

You became a youth worker because you love teens. Many of your teens are blooming artists, we owe it to them to hold our profession in high regard even if no one else does. We should model to our kids what it means to boldly display our art and give them a peek behind the scenes of how we do what we do.

If you are just getting started, take Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and document your journey in front of your kids. Share your message prep on Instagram and show them the slides you’re creating (and ask for their advice) on Snapchat. Show yourself setting up for the outreach on FB Live.

The first step to changing your mindset from “I’m just a slob who works with teens because no one else will” to “I am a youth ministry artist, creating the atmosphere for kids to know God every week.  No one can do what I do like I do it.” is Jeff’s first point

The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one.

No one is born a good youth pastor. No one gets a special kiss from God to be one. We all work at it. If you don’t think you’re an artist now, stay in youth ministry long enough and you’ll become one, if you want to be.

I hope you’ll purchase the book for yourself and get the full context and all the great stories Jeff uses to deliver his points.

Check out the second post in the series: The First Lesson I Learned In Youth Ministry


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We All Used To Think This Way, Until…

We thought we were unique, we weren’t

We thought we were original, we weren’t

We thought we were the first, we weren’t

We thought we were going to change everything, we didn’t

We thought we had what it took, we didn’t

We thought we were equipped for anything, we weren’t

We thought we had the best idea, we didn’t

We thought we were ready for the next level, we weren’t

We thought we were better than everyone else, we’re weren’t

We thought we were bulletproof, we weren’t

We though we were immortal, we aren’t

It’s not if you think these things are true or not, it’s what you do next when you discover they are true.

Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth”.

What do you do after you’ve been punched in the mouth, when your plan is destroyed, when things don’t work out, when you discover the truth, that is  the moment you discover who you really are.

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5 Tips For Talking With Teens

I guess I never real thought about it, I’m not a shy person. As a youth worker I saw other youth workers who were outgoing and up front people. This style of youth work seem to fit my personality and I thought it as the way all youth workers were. I soon discovered that not all youth worker were the same.

Some youth workers have to force themselves to be outgoing when they would rather just work behind the scenes. Teens can be a loud and scary bunch sometimes, so, if this is you, I don’t blame you for being shy or even intimidated by them sometimes.

What can we do to break the ice with teens and get those relationships rolling? Let me offer a few ideas

Invite them to a game

One way I’ve found to break the ice with teen is through play. Maybe I’ starting a game of Ninja or showing kids how to play Munchkin. Either way, when teens are active, engage, and laughing, they tend to open up and allow us to ask questions and be more personable.

Become the student

If kids are doing something interesting, like playing a game on their phone or   taking about something you’ve never heard about, show interest and ask them to teach you something new.

Look for cultural clues

I always have my eyes open for cultural clues like band shirts, tattoos, shoe styles, etc. and if those subjects are in my wheelhouse, I share my love for X with them and show that we’re not that far apart.

Grab My 7 Secrets For A Successful Youth Ministry 


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Invite them to do a task with you

If it’s a Wednesday night, I usually leave a few tasks  undone so I can ask kids for help. I have not problem asking a new kid to help because they show up and wonder what we are about. Well, if they’re helping me get ready for service, the find out real quick what we awe about. They made their first meeting happen and I can thank them for their help.


Simple, if teens and grown-ups don’t have anything else in common, we both eat. We have a cafe in our youth room and I always reserve food for guests. If it’s a teens first time with us, their food is on us and I try to eat with them if I can. Whether it’s sharing a meal or a piece of gum, sharing is a great way to start

Got a favorite tip? Leave a comment below.

Here are my go-to books to get kids talking in small groups.

Would You Rather 

Have You Ever

What If 

The Complete Book of Questions 



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