Disciples Ask The Right Questions

“So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.” John 1:39

John said it, “There goes the Lamb of God.” John was Jesus’ cousin and he knew Jesus was the Messiah. John wasn’t trying to amass a follower-ship, he was trying to point people to Jesus.

His two disciples heard John glorify God and, like smart disciples, followed Jesus. They asked Jesus, “Where are you staying? ” Jesus said, “Come and see.”

I love that Jesus did not give them an address or say meet me at such at such synagogue. Jesus said, Come and see. But the disciples asked the right question, “Jesus “where can I find you?

Where can we find Jesus today? Find the poor, the lonely, the tires, the weak, and the unloved and you will find Jesus.

The journey to becoming a follower of Jesus starts with asking the right question. Jesus, where are you staying? How do I get into your presence? How can I learn from you?

Jesus still answers this question the same way today, “Come and see.”



Keeping Your Church From Becoming A Museum

 “I think you have too many dead things in your museum, Daddy.”  – From The Greatest Showman

I went and saw the Greatest Showman with my wife for our 27th anniversary. I don’t mind a good musical, West Side Story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc. and I enjoyed this movie, except for all the singing. Ok, that’s not true but I did enjoy when Hugh Jack man broke out his claws and killed all those guys for mocking his performers. Ok, that’s not true either. That’s what I wanted to happen. It would have broken things up for me.

There was that line in the movie where PT Barnum’s daughter bluntly tells her father, “You museum has too many dead things in it”. His other daughter chimes in with something to the effect of, “Yeah you need more things that are alive.”.

I instantly thought of many churches where was no life. Churches invite people to a weekly service to observe dead, lifeless, rituals and to pay to enjoy them.

Let me say, I’m Pentecostal, and although Pentecostal churches can be a lively bunch, there can still be so many dead things. Dead customs, dead songs, dead preaching, dead worship and the list goes on.

The chorus to the  best song in the movie, Come Alive,  says

Come alive, come alive
Go and ride your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

While this whispy sentiment reflects the heart of PT Barnum’s “freaks” who come alive through, as Oprah says “living your truth”, I think there’s a better chorus from another song called Come Alive (Lauren Daigle) , that reflects God’s movement in the church

As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise

We call out to dry bones, come alive

If the church is to avoid becoming a weekly museum that people attend, we’ll need more than a new attraction, a new freak show to impress the circus goers. The church does need “freaks”, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the tattooed, the unusual, and the broken, not to show off their “freakiness” but because God is present and calling them to rise from the ashes and be transformed. That’s how the church comes alive.

The church stops being a museum filled with old stories when new ones are being written.


Six Questions To Ask About Your Schedule

I was recently talking with a young man about his schedule and he asked for some feedback on how he spent his time. I told him to send me a copy and I’d take a look.

The schedule he sent me was solid. It seemed like he had a handle on his responsibilities. Now, I don’t know all the ins and outs of his church or how busy they are, but from what I saw, his schedule looked pretty standard.

I sent him back few questions that might be good for all of us to review in light of our schedules.

Am I doing what I’m strongest at and delegating my weakness?

We spend way too much time trying to get better at something we have no business getting better at. There are five people you know who can do what your doing right now, better. Why not have them do those tasks and you focus on what you good at?

If you don’t know someone, check out some place like Fiverr or Upwork to connect with professionals who can do the tasks that need to be done better than you can.

Here is my message: stop doing sh*t you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion. – GaryVaynerchuk

What are my time wasters?

What’s getting in the way of being more productive? This is the key. Is it people coming into your office and chatting with you? Get rid of the chairs in your office or put something in them so people can’t just come in and sit down.

Is it the internet? Set the timer on your phone to 15 minute while you surf the web and when the alarm goes off, you go back to work.

Is it social media?

This INC. article shares 8 time wasters we should also be aware of, here are a few

Postponing harder tasks – Tackle the hard stuff early

Saying Yes. – You can’t help everyone and it’s ok to say no to things.

Unnecessary meetings – If you can solve it with an e-mail or a phone call, do that instead.

I do not want to waste any time. And if you are not working on important things, you are wasting time. Dean Kamen

Am I scheduling re-charge time?

What charges you up? Give time to things that make you happy or make you feel alive. I like to paint models and read so I make sure I schedule time for that. All work and no play…makes us miserable and less effective.

I can be very heads down when it comes to work, so much so that time can get away from me if I am not careful. Planned leisure time is something I feel I have to take. If I have it on my calendar I am more likely to accept it asa normal part of my schedule versus something  I have to take.

“Are you managing your energy well and using it for things that matter? Do you stop to recharge before you push yourself to critically low levels? Unplug to recharge.” ― Susan C. Young

Am I scheduling the most bang for my buck?

What moves the ministry forward? Does putting x amount of time into sermon  prep really move the dial of the over all ministry? I’m not saying it doesn’t for you, but we can be sermon smart and people dumb. Our services don’t run on sermons. it runs on people moved by the Spirt.

Where in your schedule are you making the most investment? If you’re spending a greater portion of your time in an office instead of having breakfast, lunch, or dinner with leaders, kids or others in the church, you may be slowly cutting off your oxygen to what makes your ministry alive.

“If you want innovation, growth, and culture, invest in people, not technology. Technology can’t lead, love, or connect.”
Farshad Asl

How can I serve some else?

When you increase productivity, getting more done in less time, you can help someone else. You could ask to take something off your Pastor’s plate or ask another ministry leader if they need help with a program or skill building.

Helping others is just sowing seeds for the future and shows that you’re a team player. Solve a problem for someone else and it will come back to you.

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.                      – Og Mandino

Determine the WIN moment

I am always determining the WIN (What’s Important Now) moment. Just a minute ago, it came to mind I should text someone and let them know I was praying for their husbands surgery. That’s important now but would mean much less later. Now moments only matter now.

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth. – Bradley Whitford

If after thinking through these questions you’ve decided your schedule isn’t as productive as you thought,, change it; it’s yours to waste or improve.


When Your Number Is Called, Be Ready

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I was watching the College Football National Championship  between Georgia and Alabama last night and wow, what a game. It was 20 to 7 at some point and I thought, “Man, is Alabama gonna lose this game?” Not if Nick Saban had anything to say about it.

In a surprise move, in the second half, Nick Saban replaced his starting quarter back Jalen Hurts with freshman Tua Tagovailoa. This is exactly what his team needed, a spark. 

The saying, “What got you here won’t get you to the next level” came to mind as I thought about the quarterback switch. It’s true. Jalen go them to the National Championship. Jalen was 25 and 2 entering this game, but he wasn’t going to win this game for Alabama.

Tua, had not taken a snap all year. He didn’t win any games. He just worked, practiced, and stayed ready.

I think of Biblical heroes who waited until their number was called, people like David. David was shepherd boy who had served faithfully As part of his preparation, he occasionally killed a lion and a bear. Then came the day his number was called.

The prophet Samuel shows up to David’s house and anoints David King of Israel. He is King in word but doesn’t have the position yet. Then, David’s number is called. He says, I’m ready to slay the Giant Goliath and take Israel to the next level.

Maybe you’re like David. You work hard. You’re a team player, but you are one of many. My advice, stay ready. Someone’s going to call your number.

Leader of Systems or Leader of People?

I was eating breakfast this morning at a fast food place this morning and wondered, “does the manager manage the people or the system?” Everyone has a role.

Someone has to take orders.

Someone has to cook the tater tots.

Someone has to cook/heat up the food.

If someone does not do the job, we are tempted to fix the system rather than lead the person.

The system is like the government, education, religion, or business. We we don’t want to deal with people, we make a rule, a law, or a standard. We create a system that leads or dictates behavior.

The bell rings we change classes.

The timer goes off we move a to b

The work is on the board.

Systems don’t care if people are messy or complicated or broken. If someone breaks a rule within the system we protect the system versus helping the person become better.

Real leaders lead people regardless if it’s messy or not. It’s easy to lead a system. Look at the Pharisees of the Bible. In the story of man born blind , these men could have cared less about whether this man was healed and even threatened to kick his parents out of the synagogue.

Systems do not rejoice at progress, barriers overcome, or the blind who come to see. Systems ask if the work is done and how can we make it more efficient.

Leaders of people are willing to get their hands dirty and occasionally bloody, for those they lead.

Jesus walked with his disciples for three years and said all manner of unsystematic like things, such as

Get behind me Satan

You are forgiven, go and sin no more

You’ve been married five times and the man you are with is not your husband.

Systems are not prophetic. Systems are built to control, to manage, to reward and punish, but not lead.

To lead people we must take on the mantle of a prophet and see where people could be, get them to see it, and lead them there.





I Was Not Living In Reality

And that has caused me a ton of frustration. This quote from Gary Vaynerchuk  is stuck in my head,

“The reason you are so frustrated is because you are living in the way you want the world to be rather than how it really is.”

All I could think about was how things should be

How I thought my work should be

How I thought my relationships should be

How I thought the church should be

and every time I thought about it, I got angry and stayed angry. This kind of wishful, wanting thinking was ruining my day and my life.

I had to face it, life was not as I wanted it. People were not as I wanted them to be. It’s hard to love people as they could be because of the glaring shortcomings all of us have. It’s much easier to love people as they are and journey with them.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality. – Nikos Kazantzakis

I cannot change my reality, at least not all once, but I can change how I see reality. I need new eyes, and that is my prayer. Brandon Heath, in His song Give Me Your Eyes sings,

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.

I want a new reality, but I need new eyes, first, to see the reality I am in.

7 Elements Every Youth Ministry Curriculum Should Include

I recently purchased a series of lessons and I was less than thrilled with not only how the material was formatted but the content as well.

Now, before you think I’m too judgy, I write my own curriculum and sell it youth workers so I have a good idea of what youth workers are looking for.

As a youth worker, I’m looking for certain things when I buy a series of two weeks or more:

I’d like there to be slides

This is almost mandatory these days. Why would someone create a teaching or preaching series without slides? I create slides in two kinds of formats, Powerpoint and Keynote for each of the series I create.

Even if it’s a small group series, an announcement slide would be helpful.

I’d like there to be opener and closer ideas

These could be games, discussion openers, stunts, etc. anything to get the kids loosen up or to get kids to focus on the topic. I’d also like some clusters. How will I close this meeting? Give me an altar call, candle lighting, circle up, something to put a punctuation mark on the meeting.

I’d like the material written generically.

The most useless part of a series, to me, are the actual notes of the person who wrote it. I could care less about their illustrations because they usually do not fit my context.

It’s laziness to simply ship off your notes for someone else to buy. I know it takes care and time to re-write something so it can be used in various context but, to me, it’s worth the effort.

I’d like a “how to use this material” page.

I don’t want your notes, but I do want your background. Why did you do this series with your youth ministry? What’s the story behind it? I’m looking for some kind of connection so I can relate it to why I am doing the lesson with my group.

I’d like it to be formatted for easy reading

I offer pdf’s and docs for everything I write. I try to break down the parts with bold titles so youth leaders can follow along without having to search or strain as to how this thing is supposed to go.

I’d like social media graphics to promote the material

This should just be standard, but it’s not. I try to include everything and the kitchen sing because I know the youth worker I am writing for needs all the help he can get to get the word out.

I’d like a resource page that includes other material that would bolster the series 

One again, effort. Too many guys are taking their messages, as is, and are trying to make a quick buck. They’ll make that buck but they won’t make any fans.

I try to include as much as I can and more than I even used in my series because..why not? Why not over promise and over deliver. Why not shock, surprise, and delight those you’re writing for?

I include songs, links to video, etc. Even if it’s an idea I have after the fact, if I think it will benefit your youth ministry, I’ll throw it in there.

I want small group questions 

I don’t have this in all my series, but I do include small group questions because sometimes a youth group is a small group. Youth workers want to teach the material but may need the small group questions to have a break out, small group time.

To me, it’s all about giving people options. It cost me nothing as a writer to throw 10 questions together so you can have a small group time, which may be the best thing your kids like about your youth group.

I like a bonus 

I have not seen any other writers do this, but I include an audio curriculum coach feature with every series I’ve made for the past few years. I want youth workers to hear my heart behind the material as well as walk them through the process.

When I’m creating these kind of resources I’m thinking about  the volunteer or bi-vocational youth worker who needs all the help they can get. I want them to feel confident and prepared and that I created what they’re reading with them in mind.

Lastly, I’d like any site that sells downloadable material to up there standards to make some of these these things mandatory when a youth pastor submits their material. Is that too much to ask?

Tell me, is there something you’d like curriculum writers, like myself, to include in the lessons we create? Let me know.

Why don’t you grab my series Dear Bible. It’s a $15 value, but I want you to have it for free. Life’s too short for sloppy sermons.

Please feel free to check out my other sermon series/curriculum page HERE. Each series is packed with the stuff I talked about above and  has everything you need to challenge your kids to grow in Christ.



18 Things I’m Not Stressing About In 2018

The size of our youth ministry. I’ll love whosever comes.

What others say. Words. Just words.

The future. God’s already there.

New technology. It’s continues to evolve and I can jump in any time.

Social Media. It will serve me. I will not serve it.

My weight. Care not obsession.

People who don’t get me. Their loss.

Politics. No one is 100% right.

Keeping up with everyone else (I got my own race to run).

What people think I should think. Shame is no way to treat someone.

Guilt and shame. Jesus took care of that.

Perfection. I’m just gonna write and ship my stuff to my tribe and hope others find it as well.

My e-mail list. It’ll grow when I pour more love and care into it.

Success. I’ve already achieved success. I have a great wife, three great kids, God loves me and serve an amazing group of kids. What else could I need?

God’s will. I’m living in it right now. If He wants to move, I’ll move with Him.

Equating work with value. I’m much more concerned with who I am becoming than what I achieve.

Spiritual achievement. For who? Not you. Becoming is a journey not a destination. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

How others will judge me. I’ve built a body of work over the last decade. In the end, I hope it’s blessed a bunch of people, trained a bunch of youth workers, and equipped a bunch of saints. History, and, more importantly, God, will judge me in the end. My legacy is His glory.










Youth Ministry Leaders or Chaperones?

I can remember going to school dances where chaperones were in attendance. Their job was to make sure there was no kissing, dirty dancing, or smoking in the parking lot. The goal was the  make sure something didn’t happen. Sadly, this is role many youth leaders/volunteers take.

Youth Ministry chaperones make sure no one talks during the message,  that nothing gets broken, and no one dies.

Leaders, on the other hand, have a mission each week to make an impact. Volunteer Leaders see their role as proactive rather than re-active. They make sure something does happen

  • a life giving affirmation
  • a deeper conversation about life
  • a listening ear is offered

My view of leadership says a volunteer should be, over time, influencing the lives of students to walk uprightly, make good decisions, and lean into the gifts and abilities God has given them; all the while making sure no one dies.

It’s not either or, it’s both. We should all be training our volunteers to be active participants who, weekly, makes something happen because it’s hard to measure the spiritual growth of students though inaction.


17 Things I Learned In 2017

I decided to do some reflecting on the past year, on a personal level, and this is a list of a few things I learned.

1. Dreams do come true, as I spoke at the National Youth Workers Conference.
2. My romanticism, about certain things, runs deeper than I thought.
3. I’m a better writer than I thought, but I have a long way to go. 
4. My real fight is against the pull to be average
5. I let myself become frustrated at small things I cannot change.
6. I learned, through ancestry.com that I am not Irish, but 40% British, 30% European Jew, and the rest Irish/Scottish/Scandinavian
7. The youth group I serve is pretty amazing (I kinda already new that)
8. I’m not looking forward to turning 50 next year.
9. I may not be “good enough” to make it to the “next level” and it will take far more work to improve my chances of making the next step.
10. I quit believing in a personal destiny, where I believed I should be at certain place by a certain time. Giving up this idea has freed me up to be wherever God would have me to be.
11. I have to lean into where my life is going versus fighting it.
12. I need to broaden my horizons when it comes to relationships and contexts.
13. The fight against isolationism is real.
14. Improvisation is better than scripted.
15. Doing Facebook Live is rewarding but more taxing than I thought.
16. I was very consistent in creating content across multiple platforms.
17. God continues to be faithful when I am not.

What did you learn in 2017?