Turning Our Youth Meetings Into Art Classes



The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
Works produced by such skill and imagination.

I have always had an artistic streak. I have an eye for design, I love to write, I enjoy the occasional doodle or drawing, and once in a blue moon I visit the local museum. None of those things make me an artist, but I have art inside me. The ability to create.

Actor Michael York once said, “Movies are thoughts on film.” and I agree. Discipleship then is thought lived out, a living art. We create sermons, events, videos, etc. to create an image of written word, the Bible, hoping the Holy Spirit uses it to draw kids into the greater story. We plan dramas and Easter plays for the same reason. I would take it a bit further.

Every time we pray with a kid, we create art. We take thoughts and express them in verbal form to create an image of who God is, what he does, and what he will do if we believe.

Every time we show love to another, we paint a picture of the divine, a modern day Sistine Chapel, connecting God and man.

Every time we give our time, money, or resources we impose a holy graphic into the conscience and imagination of those around us.

Jesus did this all the time through parables. The crucifixion was the ultimate art. It was the ultimate representation of God’s love for us and when we die to ourselves, and serve others,  we recreate this image.

Youth group is not meeting, it is an art class. We are teaching kids how to imperfectly draw the character of God. I did not say we were very good artists. Like many human artists we are flawed, brooding, and struggling to make art that people get.

Discipling teenagers is like handing them a box of crayons and asking them to draw the Mona Lisa. Can you see it? It does not look very good does it? Yet, it’s their best representation of the Masters Work and God is pleased with it.

Discipleship is an art and we are the art teachers. No one, but Jesus, has painted the ultimate picture of who God is and nobody else ever will.  We should be gracious and kind when teenagers run to us, as a child to a parents,  with their picture, their action, their thoughts, their prayers, and their service, and says, “I made this for you! (God)”, we should look at it and say, “That’s beautiful!”


Faith As Performance Art

If we believe we have a youth group full of artist then displaying their faith is a form of performance art. I know we are put off by the word performance, but don’t be. When we preach we perform. We use props, music, all the things that can be involved in performance art to transfer a concept.

Consider Ezekiel, who publicly baked bread with human dung ( Ezekiel 4:12). all for the purpose of showing Jerusalem their future. Now, we won’t be asking any of our students to do something so graphic, they could probably find that Youtube anyway, but we can set the stage for kids to perform their faith.

Think of all the qualities it takes to do performance art: guts, courage, self confidence, faith, and a desire to share that art with others. All of these qualities are the same in the faith realm. Take a look at this lady, she is cutting onions on a train.

Yes, it’s strange, but isn’t that what others think of our kids when they go to a foreign country and do street drama with no words to relay a concept?

Living our faith is not a have to, but we sure make it sound that way sometimes. Instead, let’s change the idea of sharing our faith as scary, law keeping to joyful art sharing. If we change the way kids look at faith, maybe they won’t mind sharing their art with others as much.


What If We Saw Our Students As Artists?



I took this picture last night and posted on FB later on with this caption

“These are not band members they are artists and hey are not having a band practice, they are artists collaborating on how to best honor God with their gifts and talents.”

I love taking pictures of these students at band practice. I love to watch their faces and their interaction.  I love not being the controller of art but the observer.

I could call this “band practice” but I think it might cheapen the moment. You see, I think traditional band practice/worship practice is a group of kids coming together to practice a set of songs for a performance. These young artists are collaborating. They are not just creating a song list but how a song should be played. The invent, they change, they modify, and they create. They are artists.

As youth workers, we have a choice, we can view our students as artists or we can view our students as our art projects. I have not always made the right choice, but I am glad for second chances. In the first case, I am an observer creating an atmosphere for art to be made. This art comes in many forms, a cause, an outreach, or a bible study created by students, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, and with some adult help.The latter view is to create art for our kids and watch them ooh and ahh over it and then act our the pay we wrote for them. I believe this latter option not only steals the opportunity from these students to display their God-given art, but steals glory from God who made these artists, these creators. I have invoked the latter choice on the grounds of getting the art right  and it was exhausting and worse still, no real art was made, only my shabby drawings of what I thought God should look like through our students.

What would change in you if you started looking at your students like artists?

What if we trusted God to do greater things through our kids even if we did not understand the art they were creating?



Customizing The Discipleship Process

Youth discipleship is a slippery beast, but not ungraspable if we are willing to work a little harder at customizing the discipleship experience. Isn’t it funny how we make a big deal when someone “get’s saved” but say nothing after that? Why don’t we celebrate and say things like “This kid did not have a daily bible reading experience and now they do!”?, “This kid never raised his hands during worship and now he is all into it!”Discipleship is as equally awesome as evangelism, it just doesn’t get the press time evangelism does. jesus celebrated with his disciples when he said

“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” Luke 10: 21 NIV

I think customized discipleship brings in this celebration factor and honors a teens commitment to Christ. I listened to an interview last year about customizable shopping and I am pretty sure this is what jump started this journey for me to customize discipleship material for kids.

I am doing my best to treat each kid in my group differently and teach my adult leaders to do the same, because each kid is different. Their needs are different and how they learn is different. “But what if I am not gifted in writing or creating, can I still meet kids needs?” Yes, my gift is writing and creating and I have a passion for learning and getting kids to learn so that is what I do. You can customize the discipleship experience for your kids by asking a few simple questions

1. Where are my kids favorite places to eat? 

Why not have your bible study or accountability time there.

2. What are my kids favorite style of music?

Use music that kids are familiar with to share the gospel or to share a biblical truth. I give certain cd’s to certain kids because that is what they like. One of my kids is all about sceamo metal, that is what I give him,. He is starting a Bible study soon around that music. I don’t push what I like on them and expect them to accept it because I do.

3. What are your kids favorite hobbies?

I have a girl who is into Anime. Now, I do not watch Anime as a general rule, other than when my son was into the cartoon Avatar: The Last Air Bender,  but I do make room in my brain to learn something about Anime so I can at least know what she is talking about. Knowing something about anime also means I am looking for Christian manga resources to share with her because that is the method she would best receive it in. Like The Mange Bible.

These are not knew ideas. They have been done for years. What is new is the culture we live in where everything is streaming, on demand, and customizable. It take work to know what our kids like and we lose none of the power of the Gospel by creating customized plans or spaces for kids to learn what we want them to learn in a way they want to learn it. It’s easy and lazy to do mass discipleship, (take these 5 classes, etc.) It is harder to customize the experience, but it is more productive and more worth while.

Do you customize resource for your kids? How do you do it? Leave a comment below.


Blogging Your Questions


I sit in front of my screen this morning wondering what to write about. I got nothing. So, when faced with this dilemma, which is not often, I think it best to go to the readership, all 2 of you. But I jest.

With that said, what are your questions? What questions about youth ministry or ministry in general do you have? Maybe you have culture questions or religion in society questions. I’m up for anything.

I am looking forward prayerfully digging in and answering your questions as best I can.

Email me your questions at thedproject@me.com

Youth Ministry Is A Package Deal

I am torn between two loves: The preparation for the event and the event itself. There are times I love the preparation but dread the execution because the prep is the fun part. For me, preparing for camp like getting kids signed up, figuring out a post camp discipleship strategy, and getting supplies together is the fun part. The anticipation is fun.

Execution on the other hand, is not always my favorite. Actually going to camp and dealing with difficult kids, long sleepless nights, and funky guy cabin smell does not  float my boat. On the other hand, meetings are fun to execute. The lead in and lead up is not nearly exhausting and watching kids lead is fun.

All this to say we go through cycles, by age, by giftedness, and by passion. There are some things we just don’t like in youth ministry and that’s ok, but preparation and execution are a package deal in youth ministry. Enjoy what you can enjoy, do what you love, and delegate the rest if you can. Doing this will lead to a much healthier tenure in your position and life.

Real Time Training: New Get Healthy Resource

I have started making more training videos because I think they add value. We hear from speakers but rarely do we get to see to the inner workings or a visual “how to’s” of a ministry. I hope that the videos will be helpful, insightful, sometimes funny, and occasionally thought provoking. If you’d like be “in the know” and would like updates when I post a video, simply CLICK HERE to subscribe.

You can download the Get Healthy Resource by clicking on the free resource tab above.

Truth In Evangelizing: What Are We Promoting?


 What is the difference in these two promos?

Masters Promo 1


Did you figure it out? Simple: One piece invites kids to fun and contests and the other to life change. I almost made the mistake again today as I was making the promo piece above and I felt a check in my spirit. I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Paul, just invite them to what you want them to experience.” I did not want kids to experience our program or contests, games, or prizes. I’ve done that and plenty of kids walked away with the latter but no life change. Bait and switch is a dead end. In the end it’s easier to promote pizza because we can produce that. It requires no faith. But life change requires prayer. If we put life change on a post car or on a FB post, we have to own it, pray for it , and design it into our pogromming. Pizza and games require much less effort.

We have a choice, get kids in with the promotion of the week and hope for change or promote what kids are really looking for and cannot get most other places, a changed life through Jesus Christ.

My plan, this year, is to leave out the things that kids can get else where. This does not mean we will not have things like games, food, etc. It’s just not what I’ll be promoting. Call it truth in evangelizing.

What do you think? Does your promotions lead t life change? Is there still too much bait and switch in the church? Tell me about t.

Bless The Leavers

We had a great night at youth last night. We have amazing students. One of these amazing students asked if she could talk to me. This young lady wanted to tell me she was leaving our group.  She described her situation, her parents attend a church plant and God was leading her to help with a new youth ministry. What filled my heart with joy was the way she told me. First, she cared enough to tell me she was leaving at all  and second It was her gentle spirit with which she told me. She must ha known I was fragile. As youth pastors we do not always get the privilege to hear a young person tell us they are leaving, or why, they just leave. How should we handle it?

We have choices when a kid tells us they are leaving.

1. Get angry. This does nothing for them or us

2. Try to convince them to stay. If they are leaving because of conflict or connecting problems, we can work with that. But don’t beg, it’s unbecoming,

3. Bless them. This is the route I have learned to do.

How do you bless them?

Thank them for their time and talent they invested in your group while they were there. If you can, ask them to come to one more meeting and bless them publicly; let the group pray for their journey Bless the leavers and I believe, God will bless you.

“You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.” Duet. 28:6 NIV

What Do You Believe About Teenagers?

What did Jesus believe about his disciples? Look at the tasks He gave them. Look at what He trusted them with. Look at how He spoke to them. Look at  the authority He gave them. Jesus did what he believed, even when it led to betrayal, hurt, and frustration.

What do you believe about teenagers?

  • If you believe teenagers are lazy you’ll feel like you have to do all the work for them
  • If you believe teenagers are dumb you won’t trust them with God’s work
  • If you believe teenager are irritating, you won’t spend time building relationships with them

What we believe about teenagers is how we’ll do youth ministry.