Youth Ministry Is Not A Democracy

I’ve tried my best to please kids, to a point, but youth ministry is not a democracy. Some things are not up for a vote.

I don’t let kids vote what music is played in the youth hall or the van , I set the standard and give them options.

I don’t let them vote on the name of the youth ministry, I dribble out a few names to a few  students to see what they think, and then we decide.

I don’t let them vote on where they go to camp, even if that means some do not go.

I don’t let them vote about what I preach on.  I listen, ask questions, and let the Holy Spirit reveal it.

Can you imagine Moses taking a vote to go into the promise land?

Can you imagine Joshua taking a vote whether they should attack Jericho?

It’s not up for a vote if we’re going to feed the poor, share Jesus with the lost, have worship, or care of the lonely.

Can you imagine Jesus taking a vote on wether the disciples wanted to get in the boat and go to the other side?

We should always build consensus with young people, but young people do not know what they want, only want what is best of them, and most,  do not understand the consequences of their choices; this is why they need a leader not a friend.

We should always listen, talk, and even debate, but some things, most things,  are not up for a vote. Leaders have to lead and students will decide if they want to follow or not.



12 Principles To Creating Extreme Ownership In Your Youth Ministry


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Former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink, shares thoughts on ownership in the military world but it’s easily translatable to the ministry world. Here are the top 12 things he said that should matter to you if you want to create real ownership in your youth ministry.

You can watch the video HERE with an option to watch the whole video through LondonReal.

Your kids are not robots and you cannot order them around

Kids are not in our youth ministry to accomplish all our ideas and dreams so we don’t get yelled at by our leadership. The kids have hearts, passions, etc. and are real people, not our minions.

The worse your plan is thought out, the less response you are going to get

Confusion is the enemy of execution. If we do not think out our plans and strategies they will come across as incomplete thoughts. Incomplete thoughts or undefined goals will only frustrate those we lead and we will not get their best.

The less input I get from people, in the creation process, the less likely they execute the plans correctly

I talk plans out with our students until we have a clear way forward in the ideas we have. Once they “get it” they can do it. We clarify what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what we hope to accomplish. The earlier kids get kids involved, the clearer the vision will be and the better everyone executes on the plans we make.

Check out the plan and collaborate

I don’t like to micro-manage. Once the plans are established I check back with them, collaborate on new ideas, trouble shoot, equip and train.

When a student owns it, the more effort they will put into it

When I ask a kid to speak they want to do well. The don’t want to fail. If it’s their idea and they own it; they are going to give their best effort to achieve it.

Kids will not (and should not) do for you, just because your the youth pastor

Our authority is a small tool to getting things done. Authority is our chance to lead. Authority without leadership is hypocrisy. I believe our role as youth workers is to equip and train not order others around and flaunt our abilities. Everything God has given to us was meant to be passed along because we won’t be at our position forever; a.k.a discipleship.

Students want a say in the destiny and future of their youth ministry

My friend Tim Elred says, Youth Ministry is youth IN ministry. Our kids want God’s best and they want a program that reflects their ideas and excellence. Kids want a say in their spiritual growth through the youth ministry and if they do not get that say they will either level out, decrease in growth, or leave for more challenging opportunities.

Help kids want to do it.

Kids don’t always know how to describe what they want and they don’t have the the best plan on how to get what they want. Our role is to flesh out their plan and the emotional investment they are willing make in achieving what they want. God has a plan for our kids, we just have to help kids see God’s plan is better than their own.
You have to lead

Leaders are never off. Leading is not giving orders or standing up in front of everyone giving a speech. Leadership is doing a dozen little things to help one kid get to where God wants them to be. Leading means discipline, discipleship, wisdom, hard choices, and taking the hit when our decisions are unpopular. No one is going to do this for you and you cannot ride the coattails of another.

Accountability is a tool of leadership but not the only tool

I have known Pastors who created accountability simply so they would have someone to blame if things went sideways. Accountability is a privilege not a requirement. Accountability is a tool to get the best from people. It’s also a double edged sword.If our kids are not succeeding we have to be accountable for our plans, training, and investment.

Don’t blame the kids

If you create accountability for someone’s performance you are creating accountability for your leadership whether you know it or not. Build in a mindset that if they fail, you fail. Now train them like you want them to win not fail.

You know you’ve succeeded when you are just about out of a job.

The less I do means someone is taking a role I do not have to take up. I tell my staff, if I have to do it, I do not need you. The more kids take more accountability, I have the chance to speak into their lives. Once they are off and running I can being investing in others; checking back with the them to see if they need my help.

Kids owning their faith is step one.

Kids owning their gifts is step two.

Kids owning the process of leading and discipling others (the youth ministry) is step three.

Kids want ownership because they live in a world where to0 many decisions, and not always the best ones, are made for them. We can help turn the tide of “do for me ” to “let me do it, fail, and try again.” and create a healthier, God honoring youth ministry that will benefit the church and the community.

Jocks book is Extreme Ownership and his podcast is HERE

Take PrIde In What and Who You Lead



It’s easy to think you are failing in youth ministry. If you think

  • My group is not big enough
  • I’m not reaching enough kids
  • Our meetings are a mess
  • My volunteers won’t step up
  • My Pastor doesn’t back me

Then yes, by these standards, failure is easy to embrace.

It’s also easy to take pride in what you lead, If you think

  • We’ve come a long way
  • We are in a process
  • I am learning from my failures
  • These students are still coming in spite of everything
  • Some of these students are getting this!

Tell your youth group you are proud of them in spite of imperfection.

Be proud of those kids who are are taking baby steps in their faith.

Be proud of yourself, because you are sticking it out when others are bailing.

Jesus is proud of you and that’s enough. After all, you’re His kid.

Four Warning Signs A Storm Is Coming To Your Youth Ministry

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I have lived in Florida and faced Hurricanes that were devastating, but the warning system is early and gives us a chance, usually days, to board up windows and such. I now live in Alabama, and it’s tornado season. You do not have days to prepare. You may only have minutes. We found this out too well a few years ago when our church was destroyed.

Trouble in Youth Ministry can feel like a tornado, sudden and destructive, but, most likely,  you could have prepared for it like a hurricane. Here are four warning signs a storm is coming to your youth ministry:

1. Being consistently unprepared

If your youth meeting is consistently starting late or ending late, parents will notice. Consistently not showing up at important events or not checking in, your Pastor will notice. if you are consistently over spending and overspending on events that flop, your finance people will notice. Be consistent, and be consistent in the right things, and the storm will pass you by.

2. Social media flubs

Be careful what you post. Statements can be misinterpreted. Inappropriate pictures will be see and commented on. Your You Tube videos will be seen, shared, and commented upon. Puts some boards up, safeguards, to protect yourself. Don’t post, tweet, or share stuff that draws attention to all the wrong things or that will mar your character or reputation. I am not saying not to be yourself. Wisdom cries out from the street corners. Listen to the Holy Spirit and the common sense God gave you.

3. Not keeping yourself spiritually healthy

You would think we would know better. We, the pastors, the teachers, the leaders, are prone to not keeping our spiritual lives healthy. This is not just about prayer and Bible reading, those are necessary to keeping our spiritual lives energizes, but we should also look at fasting, serving, and silence as practices that make us ready to hear the voice of God, especially when  storm is coming.

4. Lack of communication

If you are not sharing your vision about youth ministry, it’s probably in flood zone already. If you want to build it higher, you have to promote it and your passion for it. Communicate regularly with your pastor, your parents, and your students, because if you do not, well… you’ve hear the phrase “the calm” (or the quiet) before the storm”. Yeah, it’s coming and it might be too late to prepare.

There are more signs to know a storm is coming and you should share them here. Have you found yourself in a “storm”? How were your prepared? How were you unprepared?

What This Youth Pastor Learned At Killer Tribes Day 3: What Makes A Movement?



I think anything worth learning is worth processing. This is why I am taking a few days to unpack these conference thoughts and apply it to a youth ministry and life context.  Another reason I am braking it down is because many you have not been to a conference, of any kind, in a while and I want to help you hear from diverse leaders.

I skipped the youth ministry conferences last year because of time, cost, and really boredom. Instead, I attended Killer Tribes blogging and leadership conference. You can check our my Day 1 post here and my Day 2 post here. Onward to day three .

Brad Lomenick is the catalyst for, well, the Catalyst conference. His topic was What Make A Movement. Here are my notes:

Brad said some pre-requisites are required before our movement begins

We Need

Real Interaction– Movements require that we look for ways to share our voice and listen to those we lead. Brad mentioned that Catalyst has real people that call attendees to see how they are doing post conference. This is real interaction. How about you? What is your interaction like with students? Do you have lunch with them? Call them? Social media should be the means to real interactions not the end. A post, a tweet, and a text is not real interaction.

A leader and some followers– John Maxwell says, if you want to know if you are a leader or not look behind you. If there are people following, you’er a leader. If no one is there you are simply out for a walk. Who’s following you?

To be human – Movement require we ge our hands dirty. God had spoken from heaven in the O.T. but it wasn’t until God came in Christ that the movement began. My take away is to get away from speaking off the mountain and get into the valley’s of people’s lives. That’s where and when the movement will begin.

To be approachable- Brad summed it up when he sad, “If you’re big, act small.”

Let the tribe own the movement- This speaks to many of my posts on letting students own, run, and live out their God given dreams for their ministry. We must remember we are only stewards of the ministry. It’s what we leave behind that counts.

Let your passion be unhinged– Love the customer as much as the product. Youth workers, do you love youth ministry, preaching, programming, or do you love students? It’s not too late to change.

Humble, Hunger, Hustle -Act like you don’t belong but work like you do.

Set standards that scare the crap our of you- Most of the time we can’t set standards for someone else, unless they are our employees. That leaves setting scary standards for ourselves. I am setting new standards for myself when I comes to ministry, writing (I write 5 days a week, and that is scary) and even my You Tube Channel. I plan on announcing some new scary standards for myself very soon, but it will totally benefit you.

Last Quote: Excellence creates credibility which leads to connection

You can follow Brad Lomenick @bradlomenick

How about you?  Are you trying to start a movement in your church, youth ministry, or even your own life? Which of these principles do you need to jump on today?





What This Youth Pastor Learned At Killer Tribes: Day 2



I am up way to early this morning but I went to bed too early as well. Does going to be bed at 9:30 mean I am officially old? Instead of tossing and turning, I am turning out another post about what I learned at the Killer Tribes conference this past weekend and I hope through these posts you’ll feel like you were there too.

The bloggers and influencers who shared this weekend all had similar themes and were tops in their categories. Ladies, you were well represented at this conference, this is was not an all boys club event. Crystal Paine is a sweet person with zero pretentiousness. She offered the Five B’s of Building your tribe. Her blog is The Money Saving Mom, so go check her out ladies, and guys, if you smart, you’ll pass this on to your wives and girlfriends.


The Five B’s of Building Your Tribe

1. Be A Leader

This is said over and over again in many conferences but how often do we grab hold of it. Youth workers, where can you start stepping up and quit being a follower?

2. Be Authentic

Crystal has go this down to a tee. She shared photos of her imperfect recipes gone wrong. “But ” you say, “If I show that I am imperfect, won’t people quit following me?” No. More people will follow you. The remarkable thing about Jesus (among many) was how, though he was God, allowed his humanity to capture heart. John 11:35, the shortest verse in scripture, says, “Jesus wept”. The people at Lazarus’ funeral marveled, :Look how he loved him,” Does crying make God imperfect? No. It showed he was intune with those who  followed Him.

3. Be Generous

I love this one. As one who gives away free youth material through my Get It First newsletter, this is a big B. Too many youth workers and too many ministries think they have a “secret sauce” they cannot share or they’ll go broke or lose out. Be generous to your tribe. Brag about others. promote their stuff. You don’t have to give away the farm, but a few eggs and pig won’t kill you. You workers, be generous to your kids and other youth workers. We’re in this thing together. It does not and will not cost you to be generous. In fact, you’ll be so blessed you won’t know what to do.

4. Be Discontent with Status Quo

Experiment with your blog, program, or website.

Ask lots of questions. You don’t have to have all the answers.

Set specific goals. Go ahead, no one else is probably doing it.

5. Be Persistent

Too many people quit too soon.About two months ago i wondered if I should quit blogging and do something else. I decided to double down by making a commitment to write every weekday. II believe in the fruit that ha come and is coming still. Maybe this is why I love youth ministry, if you stay in it long enough, the harvest comes. Don’t give up. Pray through. Quit the other stuff but not your dream of making an impact.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing about Brad Lomenick (Catalyst organizer) talk and you don’t want to miss that. I’ve decided that Killer Tribes may take all week to cover but I think you’ll find it worth it.

How about you? Which B do you need to stretch out and grab for yourself today? Leave comment and share your journey.