Team Building Advice from Uzziah

Here are some Team building Tips from Uzziah

He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites. The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful.

Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the angle of the wall, and he fortified them. He also built towers in the desert and dug many cisterns, because he had much livestock in the foothills and in the plain. He had people working his fields and vineyards in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil.

Uzziah had a well-trained army, ready to go out by divisions according to their numbers as mustered by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the direction of Hananiah, one of the royal officials. The total number of family leaders over the fighting men was 2,600. Under their command was an army of 307,500 men trained for war, a powerful force to support the king against his enemies. Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army. In Jerusalem he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses to shoot arrows and hurl large stones. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.

2 Chronicles 26: 6-15

1. Uzziah had an army equipped for combat

If you work with teens you know that Sunday School, Small Group, or midweek can be like combat. You have to deal with that parent, that kid, the adult worker. How well equipped are your youth leaders to deal with problem situations? Make sure that your leaders understand that youth ministry is fun but it can be messy. Help them understand what they are getting into without scaring the bajeebers out of them. Make sure you include sessions with your leaders on how to deal with the hard stuff (correcting a student, dealing with a parent, etc.) of youth ministry and you will make them battle ready.”

2. Uzziah equipped and broke down his team into smaller manageable bites..

Uzziah broke down his troops into bite sized pieces. Looking at a vast army can cause panic. What am I going to do with all these people? Look at your team and see where or how you can group them. If you have a large group, try breaking your youth ministry into smaller pieces so your current or future adult leaders can grab a slice easily.

3.Uzziah made sure they knew their assignments.

Each division knew what  their role was. if your adults seem kind of confused as to what their role is try making up some job descriptions that will lay a track they can run on. In addition, if you have a planning meeting, make sure everyone is clear on their assignments (who is in charge of what and when). This will cut down on any confusion at your next event.

4. Uzziah equipped them with everything they needed.

Does your Sunday School or Small Group leaders have all their material in a timely fashion? Do they need pens, sign in sheets, props, etc. Do your drivers have directions? Do your parents have calendars? All of these things are like swords, shields, and spears to a warrior. Youth leaders who have what they need when they need it can do their ministry with greater confidence. It is the role of the leader to see that the troops have they ammo they need to do what needs to be done.

5. He organized first and got creative later.

This is/was my problem. I wanted to be creative not organized; but I found out that if I will get organized first it will create the room  in my life and brain to be creative later. If I am so busy putting our fires or playing catch up I will not have time to be creative and think of that next big thing or read that new book. One will lead to the other. Uzziah had time to create kick butt weaponry because his team was organized. Organize, then be creative.

The Draft For Youth Workers

We care about rankings and who gets chosen and in what order. Did you get excited or groan at the recent NFL draft?  Did your team make a good choice? You could hear the cheers and jeers from fans in the  gallery. They voiced their opinions at the choices their leaders make. What about you? Do people groan or cheer at your picks?

Jesus had a draft. Who he chose and more importantly who he did not choose, tells us a lot about the team he wanted and the kind of championship He was playing for. Youth workers do not get to set the pace for the most part, this pace is set by the church, pastor, or board. Sometimes your team is set by the same people. When you do get to draft,  what should you be looking for?

  • Servitude over Stats. The number of years one has been doing something only means they know the system better than anyone. Time does not equal a willing heart. Veterans can actually hold back the team if they are committed to running the same plays they’ve always run. Look for those who are used to leaving it all on the field and are open to new ideas.
  • Humility over Hubris There were those players yesterday who thought they should have gone higher in the draft. The higher you are picked, the more money you stand to make. There will be those who believe you are making a big mistake by not picking them to lead out in front. Choose them lower in the draft. This will give them time to reflect and become a better team player.
  • Expectations over Excuses Team players who are always making excuses why the ball slips, why they missed a block,  etc. won’t make clutch plays when you need them. Look for people who are quick to say  “my bad, let’s try it again.” Those who are quick to own their mistakes will be more committed to the overall goals of them team and not just their own agenda. look for those who have high expectations of themselves and you.

As you start looking around for draft picks, don’t fall into the trap of looking for only the young, energetic, and creative. Make your picks wisely, but once you pick them or God assigns them to you, train, equip, and lead them to victory.

Turning Teens Pain Into Purpose

I’ve seen a series of stories lately about teenagers making a difference. The latest story I saw was about girl with a painful knee condition. The only time she had relief was when she was laying down and reading. She said, ” “When I read, it’s a real escape,” Bearup says. “I try to take myself into the book instead of in the real world where I’m in so much pain.” She matched her pain with her love of books and started to collect books to give to homeless shelters. To date she has donated over 38,000 books in multiple states. You can read the rest HERE

How can we, as leaders, help teens see their pain can have purpose? With me, it was the loss of a father. I have a soft spot for young men who are looking for identity with a father figure. Think of the hurting kids in your youth ministry. Is there a ministry waiting  to be born? Where do we start?

  • Be open to seeing students as ministers.
  • Give them time to work through their pain before asking them to think about ministry.
  • Let it be the students idea.
  • Confirm that their are no scraps. God uses everything in our lives, even our pain.
  • Keep you eyes open for stories like the one above and share them with your group.

God’s working, even in our hurting kids. Beauty from ashes.

Top Ten Tuesday Now Exclusive To “Get It First!” Crowd

What is the Top 10?

The Top 10 are songs I have scoured from itunes and believe they would be of value to someone’s youth ministry. We are all busy but I know more times than not, we are looking for that extra edge, that song or idea that ties our lesson together. Some of these songs are “Christian”, some are “secular” but with a message of hope, some are quirky, some are weird, some have no point other than to have fun with.

Who is the Top 10 For?

Busy Youth Workers who want songs that make lessons pop or to make a lesson from. Each week these songs come with my suggestions as to how you could use these songs. Some songs are message driven like Sons Of Sylvia’s John Wayne and some are for fun like Renee Fleming’s Endlessly. Want to know my ideas behind these songs and the eight others I chose? Sign up for the Get It First newsletter and it is all yours. This resource will only expand so jump on this train now.

Looking forward to serving you.

What’s Your Story?

I love a good story. I love stories because  I can’t tell jokes. Everything for me that is funny is in a story. My youth group likes to hear stories about my younger days because much of it is humorous. I like to tell the tragic parts because it involves God’s grace. I’ve been thinking a lot about story lately. I’m thinking about it so much I am writing this at 6:00 a.m. I have been part time at my church for a year now. I have been keeping a my eyes open for our story. Every group/person tells a story –

Haiti- A tragedy –

Congress- a mystery –

Hollywood- A fantasy

I just listened to Michael Novelli do a YS session on the narrative gospel. It makes me long to lead my group into the larger story, God’s story. How does our activity reveal God’s plan to the world? What story does our youth group meetings tell about God?

I had a chance to do a short e-mail interview with Michael Novelli on his last book Shaped By The Story.

Here it is   1. Where should a youth leader begin if they want to shift from “come to the program” to live the story?

This is not an easy shift. Moving from a programatic, top-down ministry approach to a collaborative learning environment takes a completely new approach. Youth workers should not try to make this change without really understanding and owning this new approach. I would encourage youth workers who are interested in this to research it, read about narrative theology, Bible storying, and dialogical approaches to teaching.

2.  How can a youth leader get parents and volunteer staff on board the shift to story?

I think the best way to gain ownership of parents and volunteers is to share your heart. Try Bible storying with students for a few weeks and get their feedback. Take this feedback to the parents and volunteers. Do a Bible storying session with parents and volunteers so they can experience how dynamic it is, and discuss concerns and questions.

3.  If we want to change the future we have to change the process. If young person comes to Christ in your ministry, what does that journey look like? What should we look for and how do we facilitate it? (beyond read your bible and pray)

Wow… this is a tough question to answer in an email! I like that you used the word journey to describe the process of one giving themselves to Christ. To truly give our lives to Christ, we have to come to a realization that God desires to save us into a Kingdom activity, not just save us from ourselves. What I have striven to do is help students be captured by God’s story and find their identity and purpose within that story. Instead of thinking of a student coming to Christ, it is more like Christ comes to them through the Biblical story, and they see their lives as part of something bigger than themselves.

4. What kind of “do it today” list would you offer if a youth worker said , “I’m in”.

This goes back to my answer to question 1: I think youth workers need to make sure they know what they are getting themselves into when they reorient their ministry to a Storying approach. It is not merely using a new curriculum or telling stories and asking pointed questions. It is a challenging process of building a new learning environment and helping students to take responsibility for their own learning. Once a leader has a sense of how this process works, they should begin trying it and experimenting. Adapt the process and try different creative approaches to retelling and replaying the stories. Get students involved and let them shape it. I recently did a storying session based on the arrest of Jesus, in John 18. The students jumped right in and some amazing things came out of it. One students said of Jesus: “He was like a shepherd giving his lives to the wolves so the sheep could run away.” This was 15 minutes well spent.

Michael offers a few links on storying. please visit his website @ Here is his Amazon Link to other story telling resources Look for his new book Here and  Here along  with other resources I recommend You can read a review of Micheal’s book Here by Lars Rood Have a great week everyone.

8 Teen Centered Movies To Watch For

I love movies. I love movie about teenagers like The Breakfast Club and  Napoleon Dynamite. So, I have seen a flurry of movies coming up that we should keep our eyes open for. Ready? Here ya go.

The Runaways (out now)

Kick A@$

The Karate Kid

Accidents Happen

Twilight Eclipse

The Last Airbender


Scott Pilgrim vs The World

These are not necessarily recommendations because  I have not seen the movies. I’ll let you watch the trails and let you decide. Am I missing a movie? Let me know.

Here’s a few great links about movies and teens

36 Movies for Teens in 2010

Best Movies for Youth Group Activities

The Source for Youth Ministry

Wing Clips

Making Real Men From Scratch

I can’t stand it any more. I have to say something. I am frustrated with the type of commitment I am seeing from the guys in our our youth group. I don’t even think I can blame this on theology as much as as on society. I mean really, what was the last good “Man Movie’ you saw? Consider your choices

Think about the men in these movies. They are all complete morons. They are uncommitted, drunken, sex craved deviants. This is what is shaping today’s young men’s character. We’ve made a full switch from the 80’s I grew up in where there were men in movies like:

  • Rambo
  • Dirty Harry
  • Rocky
  • Terminator

Now, these movies had their own problems in that they had too much violence, or swearing, etc. They showed guys as thugs or that we only knew one way to handle things. In their defense, it takes less energy to tone a young man down than to get him to man up. In addition, however warped some of these movies were, they seemed to esteem some man values. There were rules, justice, and even compassion. We now live in an age where men are more metro, listen to screamo, and  guy-liner. Did we have our share of deviant movies?  Oh yeah. Is my age showing? Yep. Much of this is perception, but I am deeply concerned about the new manliness that is portrayed in our culture.

In a recent seminar at YS, led by Mark Helsel, I learned that :

  1. 39% of men make up a congregation
  2. 90% of men leave the church by age 20. (some come back later and stats differ)

This being true, it burned me to the core. I went back to our church and God hatched a plan in my heart. I don’t have many basketball players in my group so I chose to take March Madness and turn into March Man-Ness. We did a full court press in man games, man messages, and all around manliness. This is a start. No dramatic changes yet. We are moving toward a Christian brotherhood that will rally around the the cause of Christ. Men love a good revolt. I’m not sure I can do a fulll “How To Get Your Boys to Man Up” session yet , but I am working on it.

Here is my March-Maness Plan , if you can glean from it, great.  Got some add on ideas? Let me know. Here’s to our young men discovering the God Man, Jesus and becoming more like Him.  Let’s Man Up!

Let Me Re-Introduce Myself

We recently had a new member or prospective new member luncheon. Each of the staff had a minute or two to introduce themselves and share what they did at the church. I thought I made a good pitch but our Pastor made an interesting observation about all our introductions.

He said, “What I noticed was that each of you introduced yourself as being “over” something. I went back through some of the job descriptions I wrote and saw that the words “over things” does not exist”

It was a keen observation that I took to heart. So, I made a short list of communication flubs which may be keeping  others from wanting to join our team. When we are saying we are “over”something we are unintentionally saying:

  • If you join my team you will be “under me,” “under” my supervision”, “under my thumb” Who wants that?
  • I am the leader of..(too vague, all kinds of leaders good and bad)
  • I am in charge of ( too much responsibility. it all falls on you, no shared value)
  • I am  the Youth Pastor (still very generic and everyone has a their own idea of what that is)

So, what can we say instead of using sabotaging language that kills our opportunity to add more people to our team? These are some of the phrases I came up for myself, feel free to add your own.

  • I am the lead youth discipler
  • I am the minister of fun (you could say that to a group but individually it sounds a little creepy)
  • My role is to  connect students to Christ and adults to students for the purpose of ministry/discipleship/building the kingdom We do this through…. (I like this one best)
  • My passions is …
  • I am privileged to …
  • I  share….
  • I am the lead developer… ( I know, sounds like I am making an app or a video game, I am sorta)

I think you get the point. How we introduce ourselves paints a picture for people. Based on the picture, positive or negative, people desire to join or not join you in your cause or mission. Try using intentional language that best describes what you think your role is (try asking a deacon, he would love to tell you what your job is). Try it out and see what kind of reaction you get. Leave your reconstructed introduction here so others can benefit.

Need more help? Try these links

How To Introduce Yourself

Tips for Introducing Yourself


My Introduction (great advice)

Is Sunday A Day of Work or Worship For Pastors?

I was just thinking: “When do I get to worship? I mean, really” Sundays are frustrating for pastors and anyone who works in the church. I can see why we feel ripped off. We work/serve all week long for others and then we are suppose to put on our happy faces again on Sunday. Think of all the Sunday “duties” a pastor might have in addition to preaching

  • Touch base with someone
  • Discipline someone
  • Teach someone
  • Counsel someone
  • Make sure certain people know certain things
  • Announce something

The list is endless. In addition, we think about all the other things we have to do next week, not including the things that have cropped up on just this one Sunday. When do we get to worship? I want to sit back and enjoy worship. I want to go to a Sunday School class and not have to teach it.

According to Judaism

“A religious Jew tries to bring holiness into everything they do, by doing it as an act that praises God, and honours everything God has done. For such a person the whole of their life becomes an act of worship.”

In thinking about this, it puts what I do on Sunday’s in perspective

  • If I have to discipline one of God’s children for their benefit and for the benefit of the body, this is honoring to God.
  • If I have to counsel someone in trouble this is honoring God.
  • If I have to do announcement so a need is met, this is to the Glory of God.

It boils down to how we use our time all week. What we put out time into. If we are waiting on Sunday to “get out worship on” then we are modeling the wrong thing. We shouldn’t be frustrated if our students or adults do this, they are learning it from us.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Take some time this week to week God through everything you do. Pray at work. Scriptures while waiting in line. Fasting. Worship in your car instead of the news. This is not a legal list to follow but some suggestions for weaving our worship into everyday life. Have a great worship service every day!