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Don’t Take that New Youth Ministry Job

Here are two things I’ve learned in doing 15+ years of youth ministry:

  1. The grass is not greener somewhere else and if it looks that way, they’re using fake grass to cover up the dying lawn under it.
  2. If you make a choice to get away from something, rather than to run towards something, it’s not gonna work in the long run.

Continue reading Don’t Take that New Youth Ministry Job

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Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart

Netflix recently released a fascinating docu series about famous chefs, called Chef’s Table. The first episode was focused on Italian chef Massimo Bottura, a passionate man with a deep love for the Italian kitchen. He talked about the history of one of his famous dishes, called ‘Oops! I dropped the lemon tart’.

One of his sous-chefs dropped a perfectly made lemon tart. Of course he felt horrible about it, but chef Massimo did something unexpected. Instead of getting all angry as chefs are prone to do, he studied the fallen lemon tart. He saw beauty in the disaster that had happened. Continue reading Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart

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Do You Need An Online Dry-Out?

Every year, I go offline for at least two weeks. Usually in the summer, but I’ve been known to do it over Christmas break as well. I don’t make a big thing out of it, but I just close all social media for a while and spend time doing other things. Like reading, hanging out with the family, or projects that have been on my list.

It’s a great way to remind myself that being online isn’t the answer to anything. On the contrary, it can often cause more problems than it solves. I’ve found that consistent online dry-outs help me keep the right perspective. Continue reading Do You Need An Online Dry-Out?

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Youth Pastor Failures

It’s not a topic we like to talk about: our disappointments, failures, and mistakes. As a youth pastor, we’re in the spotlight. We’re supposed to be a role model, to live a life above reproach, to be an example in everything we do.

Yet we’re also human.

We’re also sinners.

But how much space is there to be who we truly are, including our failures? Continue reading Youth Pastor Failures

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Raising Independent Kids (part 1)

It was a great combination of a play date for my son and a catch up with a friend for me as both our sons played with each other at McDonald’s. After an hour or so my son reported to me he was thirsty. So I gave him two dollars to buy a bottle of water at the counter. My friend looked at me in amazement. “You let him do that all by himself?”

To be honest, I never even thought about it. He’s seven by the way (my friend’s son is eight) and he didn’t hesitate going to the counter and buying that water. He brought back the change and all was well. Afterwards, my friend and I talked about this and she confessed she would not have let her son do that. I pointed out that we were in the same space (though divided by a glass wall) and that I trained my son to raise hell if someone would try to take him. She reluctantly agreed that she was maybe a bit overprotective. Continue reading Raising Independent Kids (part 1)

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Join the DYM Book Club

So here’s the thing: I started a book club over at the Download Youth Ministry blog over a year ago, the DYM Book Club. And even though I love reading and I devour books, I’ve been lousy at keeping that club going consistently. To give myself some extra accountability and because I really believe in inspiring each other to read great books, I’m promoting it here as well.

Every month we pick four books to read from different categories: young adult fiction, leadership, personal growth, and youth ministry. This are the choices for this month: Continue reading Join the DYM Book Club

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Distracted Conversations

I came across this sobering bit of research this week:

62% of kids between 6 and 12 report their parents are distracted when the kids are trying to talk to them. 

You can make one educated guess what the biggest distraction was. Yup, cell phones (28%), followed by siblings (25%).

Here’s a quote that made me stop and wonder. When an 8-year old girl was asked what would happend if her parents lost their cell phones for a day, this is what she answered: “Freak out, but I’d be happy.” Continue reading Distracted Conversations

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Youth Ministry and the 5 Whys

Car manufacturer Toyota has become known for a question-asking technique used to come to the root cause of a problem. It’s as simple as asking why until you have come to the bottom of an issue. The term ‘5 whys’ refers to the number of times you usually have to ask ‘why’ before you have found the real problem, cause or reason.

Let’s illustrate with an example. One of the most popular events in a Dutch church was the autumn retreat. This took place at the end of October and usually at least 60 students would sign up. When a new youth pastor came, he changed the date to September because he wanted to use it as a team-building kick-off event for the season. Suddenly only 20 students showed up for the retreat. What had happened? Continue reading Youth Ministry and the 5 Whys

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Email like you could be hacked

A recent hack has left Sony Pictures Entertainment scrambling to apologize after emails were leaked. In these emails, executives trashed actors and made racially insensitive jokes about President Obama. Now, they’re left trying to backpedal and explain and apologize to everyone they discussed.

It’s not the first hacking scandal (think of many pictures of celebrities that were hacked from a cloud storage a while ago) and it won’t be the last. You’d think that leaders on that level would learn to be more careful, but evidently not.

Yet there’s a bigger picture here. If these emails had never been made public, the remarks about for instance the president would still not have been okay. They would have still been racially insensitive—and I’m using a much more politically correct expression here than they deserve. Continue reading Email like you could be hacked

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Make better long term decisions with this simple tip

In the last year we have had to make a lot of decisions.

Do we accept the job and move from Germany to New York?

Do we put our son in public or private school?

What car do we buy?

Should we rent or buy a house?

The list of decisions seemed endles. Some had big consequences, some were on a much smaller scale. Some had emotional value, like the decision to attend my grandparents’ 65th weding anniversary or not, at the cost of one very expensive airplane ticket to The Netherlands.

The more emotional the decision, the harder it is to get the right perspective. Imagine having to choose between attending a funeral or making an important presentation at work that may get you the promotion at your job you’ve been working for for years. Which do you choose? Continue reading Make better long term decisions with this simple tip