Where Did Angus Jones (and Other New Believers) Go Wrong?

To get the context of what I am going to say, you should watch both videos. I appreciate Angus’s heart, I am afraid he did two things wring 1) He did not think through how he should go about making his faith public and 2) He did not entrust himself to people who had his best interests at heart.

I do not doubt Angus’ moment of faith or his passion for Jesus, but, we must remember, he is 19 years old. He is like any kid in any youth ministry who comes to Christ with a few exceptions

1. He is a very high profile person (think Quarterback or Head Cheerleader) so his context is different than most believers.

2. What he says and does has a further reach for both good or bad.

I am talking about this tonight with my youth group from the perspective of what we are wiling to give up for Christ (rich young ruler, Zachaeus, etc.), and it seems that Angus has or will be giving up $350,000 an episode. But here are other themes you can look at

How should we repent?

How public should our repentance be?

Who should you trust as a teacher or guide with your spiritual life? (not a fan of the guy who did the video with him because of his other videos)

What should we be watching, listening to? (Holiness, Sanctification)

When should we give our testimony?

There is a reason Paul told Timothy about choosing overseers ” “6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Although Angus was not trying to an overseer in the church, he did allude to using his high profile influence as a tool to lead others to Christ. This is where the conceit may enter in and unfortunately the video may pushed him into the second half of the verse.

When David penned Psalm 101, he may have meant well, but Psalm 51 came after Psalm 101, in chronological order. What Angus may have not known is that we older believers started out with a head of steam and desire to save the world. It’s too bad none of those older believers were able to share their new believer blunder stories with him

The good news

1. His faith is now out there and ready to be tested.

2. He is learning what humility is in a big way.

3. He is maturing through this process and will be stronger on the other side.

What do you think? Was Angus right or wrong in the way he presented his faith?



How do you help new believers with making their faith public?


Designing Your Youth Space: Plan Like NYC

Because of our new youth room, my mind is attuned to anything that is talking about space. So, the other day I was listening to Diane Rehm  interviewing New York City Planning Commissioner, Amanda Burden. She had some great things to say about creating special spaces in a huge city like NYC. I’d like to offer a few quotes and then some commentary.

And just before that time, I met my most important mentor. His name was Holly White, William H. White, and he wrote “The Organization Man,” and he was an urbanologist who specialized in public spaces. And he said to me, you can measure the health of the city by the vibrancy of its streets and public spaces, and that became my passion.

ur·ban·ol·o·gist (ûrb-nl-jst)n. A sociologist who specializes in the problems of cities and urban life.

You could say, “You can measure the health of a youth ministry by it’s space.” but that is a little overboard. I would re-phrase it this way,

Rooms and space are an important aspect of a youth ministry’s ability to be spiritually and emotionally healthy,

Buildings and room plans cannot change a heart but it might put a teen at ease long enough to listen to you share the gospel. I have not done a formal study on this, but my guess is, the church in your town with the best facilities is getting the lion share of kids to show up. That doesn’t mean they’re doing everything well or even making disciples of Jesus, but they do have the raw material of the gathering to work with. 

We can swing overboard both ways on this topic. We can obsess about our meeting space or ignore it and say things like “It’s the Spirt that matters, not the room we meet in.” I agreed, to a point, but some teens may want to come to your creepy church basement to experience the Spirit. Let’s be people of balance. 

And having the public spaces to study, it makes all the difference in the world because that’s what makes people fall in love with the city. The public spaces, the parks, the streets, just finding places that they can enjoy, have that respite, whether it’s on the waterfront, whether it’s in Bryant Park, or whether it’s in a small place in Paley Park, whether it’s on a sidewalk café. All of those things make a city wonderful.

I like the word respite. It’s possible that our youth rooms can be so busy (video games, lights, etc.) there is no respite. No place to think, talk, rest, or pray. In other words, we have to balance the energy of Times Square and make room for the respite of Central Park. 

Yes. Well, you know, as you’ve heard, we have very, very broad, ambitious plans for shaping the whole city, but really how we judge a project is how it feels at the street. That’s what people really care about. How does it feel walking along that street? Are there many stores along an individual block? Are there shade trees in a park? Are there places to sit that are comfortable?

This is the key phrase “What does it feel like at street level”. When was the last time you looked at your space from a teens point of view? The “build it and they will come” may have worked for a few weeks, but if we watch how our teens gather, how they break up, how they sit together, it may clue us to the effort we should put into the seating and lay out of the rooms we meet in. 

When you sit at the water’s edge, can you see over the railing? Or does the railing block your view? Do you feel that there is a place for you, for sun and shade, a table to hold your book? Each of these things is very important and details make all the difference.

Pay attention to detail. Your kids are. They know when it doesn’t look right or feel right. Our rooms, their smell, their color, and their layout all may be making our jobs of ministering to our teens  little harder. 

If you would like more room design ideas, I have 29 videos just waiting for you over here.

 What do you think? Take the poll. 

5 Entry Level Ideas To Student-Led Leadership

One of my friends/admins from the Endeavor Facebook page recently wrote:

Plugging youth into jobs in your youth program is not student-led ministry. Far from it. We’re hearing from God but falling short of understanding. Time to equip youth to lead ministries of their own, not ours.

Let me first say that I think the quote is true. Plugging kids into our youth program is not student-led ministry; but I think plugging in kids, to begin with, is an essential part of any ministry that wants to get to student-led ministry. We all can’t just release kids to go crazy with their ideas, especially kids who may not know Christ and/or kids with no experience with leadership. We must allow kids a slide show of leadership and allow them to jump in where God has gifted them and where God has led them in prayer.

I learned a simple phrase a while back about how to get people involved in ministry

I do it you watch

I do it you help

You do it I watch

You do it I go do something else.

It’s worked for me for a lot of years. It’s easy to read a statement like the one that was posted and suddenly that overwhelmed feeling sets in and we ask, “But how do I get there?”

Let me offer 5 Levels of Entry To Leadership we can use until a kid can walk on their own

1. Constantly introduce the idea that teenagers can lead.

I talk about it, post articles on my Facebook page, etc. I try to make it who I am, instead of just something I do.

2. Give opportunities in the ministry you already have.

This is part of testing kids ability to serve, their ability to be committed (with conviction), and their ability to finish a task. Don’t step over this principle if you have a group of kids that are new to the idea of student leadership.

3. Introduce Wild Cards

A wild card is scenario where unless a kids steps up something will not get done. I call it a creative crises. Other leaders, your pastor, and your parents have to be involved in this process. This may mean you training to do things in your absence and then being absent or it may mean not having the message that night to see who has been praying and steps up to share.

4. Offer In House Projects

Another step you can take is by offering projects. Instead of having a full blown meeting, we take some Wednesdays and use half the meeting as project nights. I give the students parameters and let them work on the outreach, youth service, service project, etc. along with an adult facilitator.

5. Mentoring towards the end goal.

My goal in this process is getting kids to pray and seek the Lord for themselves rather than follow my designed path. I am working with several students to see them step up even more. I do my best to speak into their lives

If you are looking for a starting point, check out Pray 21 to get your kids thinking in the right direction.

Where are you starting out in your student leadership journey? Have some thoughts on the subject? Leave them below.




EQUIP Google Hangout Meeting Tonight, Topic: Christmas Parties



A few days I posted about why I’d skip a youth ministry network meeting; tonight I am going to host one of my own network meetings with these ideas in reverse. About a year ago some friends and I were talking about network meetings and how guys have to go away to be equipped via conferences, etc,. We decided that too many guys did not have denominations who offered sufficient, on going training, so we thought we might be abel to help. We started the EQUIP network idea with the notion that everyone in the meeting could and should contribute to the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. Everyone is talented, in some way, and has something to offer.

With this in mind I would like to invite you to an proto-type EQUIP meeting tonight at 9:00 p.m. CST. The meeting will last 30-40 minutes. We haven’t worked out all the bugs yet, but that has never stopped me from launching an idea before. In fact, I am hoping that you will improve it for us, hone it down, concerning time and scope.

The theme for tonight is Christmas Parties. They will be quickly upon us and we need all the good ideas we can get. I’d like everyone to bring a christmas item to to the table , err screen, tonight. This Christmas item can be food, decorations, strange stuff, etc. Bring just one item and we’ll see what happens.

Looking for Christmas Party ideas? Stop by the Equip Meeting and add your idea, voice, and passion to the discussion.

See you tonight at the the Google + Hangout tonight at 9:00 p.m. CST.

If you would like to reserve your spot, just let me know and send me (thediscipleproject@gmail.com) your gmail address.

Would You Have A Beer With Jesus?

I heard the song If I Could Have A Beer With Jesus with my son the other day and we laughed. He laughed at me because he knew what I would say about it. I laughed becauseI thought country music has finally run out of song titles or real material. As I listened to the song I thought I should add a few thoughts, considering,

I heard the song again a few days after hearing it on the radio, on a pod cast, and Jesus and the song was being mocked.

Let me very clear, I am not judging Thomas Rhett or his beliefs in any way. I am simply asking questions about the song itself and it’s theological implications, if there are any. This song is also not about beer. It’s about how we look at Jesus in America and how we continue to reduce Jesus to our level and to our perspective and how little we want to conform our lives to His ways and stretch our faith to where He is.

I will say, I do not have warm, fuzzy feelings for the song, and I know that even writing about it brings more attention to it. I guess it bothers me more, because I live in the south and songs like this and others, continues to perpetuate a good ol’ boy spirituality . This mentality says ” As long as I make it to church every Sunday, I can do what I want, when I want, and my life Ii think) is just in line with the Scriptures as yours”.

So, let’s break down the song. Here’s what I like about it:

1. A common man is seeking Jesus and answers.

2. He honestly wants to spend time with Jesus

“Sit somewhere we couldn’t see a clock”

What I do not like about the song

1. Jesus is reduced to our drinking buddy instead of the Savior and Lord of the universe.

Jesus came in the flesh once. Unfortunately, we are only willing to listen to him if we bring him down to our level. He did that once. When he does it again, it will be to declare his Lordship over everything.

2. It seems that the man in the song does not know about prayer or the Bible.

The man in the song seems to want easy answers. He says, “I want to sit with Jesus and have him tell me everything.”

The Bible covers most of what the man want to know and in my opinion,  the song really dumbs the guy down. “Is heaven really just beyond the stars?”

In the end, people will say “It’s just a song. You are reading too much into it.” Maybe. But when we have that next conversation with a student (or adult) who wants easy answers, who does not want to search the scriptures, or pray, we shouldn’t wonder why this is. Culture has always perpetuated this, having a beer with Jesus is just the newest incarnation. Anyone remember What If God Was One Of Us?

Would you have a beer with Jesus?


7 Reasons Why I’ll Skip Your Youth Ministry Network Meeting

This will sounds grossly arrogant, but I don’t “need” a network. Now, let me clarify, I do not need a traditional network. I’m in certain category, I am a 45 +, 27 year youth ministry veteran. Many networks are sponsored to pimp programs or sell stuff. Think of the timeshare you sat through to get the free ticket to x park in Orlando. Was it wort it? This is not to say I don’t need Christian friendships or professional peers, I just have a different context for those.

So, whether it is Greg Stier from Dare 2 Share doing a luncheon 2 hrs from me or a company at YS doing a network deal at a conference or a local network in my area, I apply the following rules to all of them.

. Here are a few reasons I’ll skip a network meeting:

1. I’ll skip it if we are only meeting so you can share your agenda and why we should jump in/buy your stuff (aka pimping your stuff )

I have enough going on. I don’ t need another thing to sponsor.

2. I’ll skip it if I feel there isn’t space to share my experience or talents.

Like I said, I am in a different boat and the context of many meetings don’t apply to me. I’m at the point in life and career where sharing and passing on what I know is of utmost importance.  Hence this blog, my Youtube Channel, my podcast, etc. If there’s not open space, within a network meeting, to help someone, I check out.

3. I’ll skip it if I think you are going to waste my time (meeting just to meet)

Once again, meeting to meet, unless I am with my closest friends (shout out to my Hueytown crew), is a a waste of time. I don’ need a guest speaker. I can watch what I want or need on YouTube.

4. I’ll skip it if there is no networking.

I have been to many kinds of network meetings, seated around round tables, and I left without having really networked. To me, and to most people I think, networking is not a meeting or a guest speaker. Networking is for sharing ideas, making friends, and praying with those who share your burden for the next generation. A network sponsors role is to create the context where these things can happen.

5. I’ll skip it if I am not challenged to be more.

I want to network with people who challenge me, challenge the way I think about ministry, life, and faith. I don’t need a pep talk, I need answers and life on life relationships. I have enough surface relationships, thank you.

6. I’ll skip it if I sense I won’t walk away smarter or better than I walked in.

This goes back to the principles of networking which is relationship. You many also say, “How arrogant.” Go ahead and say that. Let’s see what you’re like after 20 years, you have a family, you have kids in college, and see if a network meeting is the same draw for you. I love relationships and new ideas. I want those at my network meeting.

7. I’ll skip it if I feel like I’ll be shamed for skipping it.

If you run a network or host a network, you should love your network and value the people in it. Shaming someone because they’ve missed or because you think that person doesn’t “buy in” to your philosophy is the wrong direction.

Advice to network leaders, Treat youth pastors like you would the kids that come to your youth ministry:

Always keep your channels open.

Send friendly reminders that you missed them.

Offer them the opportunity to contribute (they won’t skip as much)

Love them fiercely.

So, whether you think I am arrogant, pretentious, or just crazy, that’s o.k.. I know me. I am who I am and you are who you are. I’m getting ready to “play the back nine” , as some say, and I want a network of people who will make playing the back nine as fun, informative, crazy, and as fruitful as the front nine.

You may say “If you’re so dissatisfied, Why don’t you start your own network then.?” Good idea, and I have. Most of my networking these days are online so you can get with me on with of my Facebook page Youth Ministry University or Disciple Project Ministries. You can also interact and leave comments on my Youtube channel and always comment back.

What about you? Do you have a youth ministry network? Do you love it or hate t? Do you skip it for any of the reasons above? Which ones?

If you are a network leader frustrated with how your network, do any of the above principles apply to you? Which ones?

Why do you think people are skipping your network meetings?

Our New Youth Room Walk Through Part 1 and 2

For those who may not know, or remember, our church was destroyed in the April 27th storms last year. You can read about the storm and the damage HERE and our recovery HERE.

Just recently, we finished the youth and the children’s building and have been meeting it for about a month. I was actually allowed to design our meeting space and so far, it’s working very well. As I did a walk through with our youth volunteers, we took notes about the kind of features we wanted the room to have such as a Grow Are, where kids can pick up there own devotional and spiritual growth material.

Here is Part One of the walk through

Here is Part Two


If you are going to be in your youth meeting space son, i’d love to see it. Could you snap a picture and send it to me? You can send it to thedproject@me.com. Do you have a meeting space that needs help? Send me a pic, maybe I could help.



7 Promises I Make My Youth Group

I was recently reading an article by Frank Strong called Why Content Marketing Is The New Branding. It was a short, straight forward piece on why the online content, not our logo or mission statement,  is how we are branded (known). Out of this article I had several thoughts about the real life content we offer every week in our youth meetings and how it brands us to the schools, families, communities, and students we minister to.  This is the line from the article that got me thinking:

A brand is a promise. It’s an expectation of an experience.

The content we deliver (the games, messages, etc.) are all branding us whether we like it or not. Maybe you are known as that crazy church that loves games or that church that has that cool event every year. We are all “that church” known for various reasons.

The youth meetings we deliver every week are based on promises that are spoken or unspoken. The content of the meeting is made up of things we believe are important and what we want our community of believers to be known for. Whether we like it or not, our youth meetings are promises we made to ourselves, promises we said we would keep and never back up from. For this reason I examined my own heart and meetings and decided it was time to tell our students and parents about these promises. This is what they can expect and judge us on.

We promise that the good news of Jesus will be shared every week in some form (video, personal, etc)

We promise that you will have he chance to pray and seek God’s will for your life.

We promise that you have the chance to discover your God given gifts and talents and put them to use to build God’s kingdom.

We promise to give you the chance to lead, fail, and lead again.

We promise that you will receive our time, our prayers, and our lives.

We promise that you will be offered to deepen your relationship with God through an invitations to follow Jesus daily.

We promise to offer tools and resources to help you grow in your faith.

What I did not promise

– it will not always be fun

– it will make you happy

– it will not always be easy

What do you promise your students? What does the content of your meeting say about your unspoken promises? What promises do you want to be branded for keeping?


From Idea To Reality In Four Steps

We are coming off a great night last Wednesday. We saw our kids fulfill one students desire to have a youth choir. We showed that a kids idea can go from thought to reality.

Step one in bringing a kids idea to fruition is first to listen for passion cues in key phrases. What is a passion cue? A passion cue is something a student says that reveals what they may be passionate about. Even a complaint may be a passion cue in disguise. Here are some of phrases that may cue me in to the possibility of a kids passion which may result in a new project, outreach, or program idea:

“I wish we could..”

“I think we should have…”

” I wonder if we could..”

“Is it possible to..”

“Why can’t we …”

What do we do after we here one of these passion cues? What is our method of getting these ideas to fruition? I recently shared this four step response with our staff and is the second step  to bringing the idea to reality.

Second, consider the request. Is it self serving or does it serve a greater community need or a need of the group?

Third, pursue the student. This is where we usually drop the ball by not following up. Ask the student whether they would be willing to head it up. Ask them why they think their idea is important to the group or community. If they’re not willing to at least share the idea with the group or share in the leadership of idea, then the passion is not there. But that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

Fourth, ask them, “What if we could help you make it happen?” Offer support, in the form of helping to publicize or help them plan the event or service. .

The third step is the easiest. Get it on the calendar, make a big deal about it, and then execute it. When we implemented the choir as a project, we used the second half of our service to execute it. Did we lose a few kids for a few weeks, sure, but on the night we sang, we had 25-30 in the youth choir, including some visitors and we blessed our Wednesday night adult crowd.

Yes there will be balking, but that will be by the students who have no ideas, no better ideas, or no conviction to make their ideas a reality. Move forward and watch what God does.

What are some other passion cues you listen for? How do you bring kids ideas to the table and make them a reality? Share your story below.