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Modeling Relational Prayer

A while back I wrote a post about the importance of modeling prayer as a conversation, modeling relational prayer. In it, I mentioned two examples of ‘not-prayer: an altar call and a summary.

Recently, I came across this cartoon, which circulated on Facebook (all credits belong to the original author/artist). It perfectly captures why we so often model a different prayer than we teach in theory. When you pray with your students, make sure to model relational prayer… Continue reading Modeling Relational Prayer

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5 Creative Ways to Pray for Students

I’ve struggled with the opening sentence of this post. That’s because on one hand, urging youth leaders to pray for their teens is such a cliché, but on the other hand it’s something too many youth leaders neglect.

I don’t want you to feel guilty about not praying enough, because guilt is not a good emotion when it comes to prayer. Prayer is born in a relationship, in love, not in guilt. So if prayer is an aspect of your youth ministry you want to grow in, that’s fine. Know that God loves you and knows your heart. So, no guil trip here.

But, I do want to offer some suggestions for those who wish to pray more, deeper, or simply differently for their students. As you may have found out for yourself already, praying for your teens consistently isn’t always a walk in the park. It easily evolves into a naming of names, a praying of ‘lists’ and not an actual conversation with God about those kids you care so much about. So here are five creative ways to pray for your students. Continue reading 5 Creative Ways to Pray for Students

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The Most Overused Word Ever Amongst Youth Pastors

Being from Europe, I really had to get used to how Americans greet each other. But I had get used even more to the standard expected answer on the obligatory ‘How are you’ question.


And when you’re a youth pastor, you can adapt it a little bit to add another expected answer.

Fine. Busy.

Fine is the most overused word ever amongst youth pastors, closely followed by busy. We say and hear these so often that they have become absolutely meaningless. Continue reading The Most Overused Word Ever Amongst Youth Pastors

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Preparing for Ministry Spiritually

[This is the second post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]

Starting any kind of ministry is above all a spiritual activity, which means the spiritual aspects are way more important than the practical ones. Yet many of us youth leaders are ‘doers’, so we want to dig in right away and get something done. But if we skip the spiritual part and focus immediately on the practical part, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Continue reading Preparing for Ministry Spiritually

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Overcome Your Worries

Worrying always overwhelms you just when you don’t need it. You want to go to sleep, but worrying keeps you awake. You need to prepare your youth sermon, but worrying keeps distracting you. You want to really ‘be’ in the conversation and listen, but worrying keeps drawing your thoughts elsewhere.

Worries about your youth ministry.

Worries about your financial situation.

Worries about your marriage, your family, your friends.

Worries about students, your small group members.

Worries about the future.

While we all have our worry moments every now and then, there can be times in your life when your worries really seem to take over. If you feel your life is being dominated by worries, here’s what to do. Continue reading Overcome Your Worries

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Waiting on God

Joshua was Moses’ servant for more than 40 years before it was his turn to lead. 40 years! That’s an incredibly long time to be the number two. And a great deal of that time was spent walking around in a desert, waiting for an entire generation to die because of their sins. Yet nowhere does Scripture mention Joshua complaining, offering critique, or trying to change his circumstances. He served faithfully while waiting on God. Continue reading Waiting on God

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Joining God Where He’s Already At Work

A couple of years ago, I attended a British youth work conference called the Youthwork Summit. One of the speakers made a passionate appeal to do more schoolwork in the UK. He showed statistics that prove very few teens go to church in the UK, but of course almost all of them go to school. It may therefore be the one place where they can encounter God. This gives British youth workers a unique opportunity, which in many countries doesn’t exist because in a lot of countries Christian youth workers aren’t allowed access to schools.

But that’s not what struck me about what he said. What struck me was this: many youth workers, or Christians doing any of ministry outside of the church, feel that ‘they bring God into the schools’ or that ‘they bring God into dark places’.

But God is already there, He is already everywhere. Continue reading Joining God Where He’s Already At Work

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The Obsession with Rules and The Price we Pay

Youth ministry in America is obsessed with rules.

I could point towards the fact that three of the ten most popular posts on my sites are about rules (Small Group Rules, The Importance of a Code of Conduct, and Youth Group Rules).

I could mention the recent post on a youth ministry forum, where a new youth pastor listed a long list of stuff he was not allowed to do anymore with students. It had gotten to the point where he was completely frustrated and could not build effective relationships with students anymore. Continue reading The Obsession with Rules and The Price we Pay

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20 Ways to Honor Your Senior Pastor

Relationships between youth pastors and senior pastors are notorious. I’ve been blessed to work with some great senior pastors who supported me in every way, but I’ve also experienced the opposite.

Still, as youth pastors we are called to honor our senior pastors. Honoring them blesses them and us and through that, we honor Jesus.

Here are 20 ways to honor your senior pastor in a practical way (by the way: I’ll use the male pronoun here, but of course a senior pastor can be a woman as well!): Continue reading 20 Ways to Honor Your Senior Pastor