Healthy Pastor

“Our sharpness of mind is affected by what we eat and our activity level.” Rick Warren

One of the struggles that we have as pastors is that we certainly don’t have enough time to get to the gym. Even if we did have the time, sometimes we feel so emotionally drained that going is too big of a challenge. but when I started to understand that my sermons, and the extent of my success in ministry was affected by my health; my perspective changed.

Health consumes our physical bodies but it also affects our soul and spirit. Being holistically healthy, does not simply eating organic diet – it also extends into our souls, the way we think, as well as our spirits, the way we connect with God.

So what about you? What do you do to stay healthy? Why don’t you put a comment explaining your health regiments and/or workout plans.



The first way to stop growing in Christ is to satisfy yourself

So much of our culture screams: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! It’s in every movie, it’s in every song. It’s in our psychology, philosophy, education and even our religion.

But if you want to stifle your growth in Christ and stagnate as a Christian, then work hard to satisfy yourself!

Matthew 4:4. “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

In the above passage we learn an important aspect of growing in our spiritual life with God.

The greek word for Live has several interesting translations such as:

  • To live, breath, be among the living (NOT LIFELESS, NOT DEAD)
  • To Enjoy TRUE LIFE; ACTIVE, blessed, eternal in the kingdom
  • Living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul
  • To be in full vigor; to be fresh, strong, efficient, powerful, active, efficacious (successful)

Jesus responds to the temptation to SATISFY HIMSELF (by the devil) with the response that we need to have burned into our soul- true LIFE, a life of power, an effective life with God, a strong life does not come from physical food, BUT it comes from every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

True life comes from the life-giving Word of God; this is found in His written Word, and from His Holy Spirit who speaks life into you.

Jesus speaks on this issue later in His ministry in John 6:33-35 in which he explains how to find this special kind of life, this spiritual life, this power-filled life.

John 6:33-35, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

I wonder how many of us have this kid of spiritual longing in us to come to Christ and be filled.

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” -John Pipper, A Hunger for God

So many Christians have filled their soul with worldly desires, we have had our fill, and have no more room for Spiritual food. And so we have lost our desire for the truly great things, for the manifest presence of God. Do you want the manifest presence of God in your life? In your job? In your family? In  our community?


fatherhoodWow. I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. Time flies so quick when you’re killing it in ministry. Our summer is always packed, in fact, while many youth ministries go dormant for the summer, ours grows. It’s a cool thing to be a part of, and even better to have such a committed team of leaders with the same heart to reach the teens in our church, and community. We just got back from our last big event of the summer, CAMP. If you have ever planned a camp, it can be an excruciating process of planning, fundraising, begging, and praying. There was one thing that popped out during camp that I wanted to write about for just a minute.

Ont he last night I preached about one last aspect of who God is… He’s a God who takes our baggage. One of the bags many of us carry is the baggage that comes from fathers. Fatherless. Faithless. Whatever. Baggage.

1 Corinthians 4:15, “For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” 

When was the last time you looked at yourself as a spiritual father to the teens in your group? Have you looked at yourself that way? Do you think that is the right way to look at yourself?

I am curious to know your ideas about fathers in the faith. Please comment your ideas about spiritual fatherhood.

Youth Culture Examples

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The term “youth culture” refers to the ways that teenagers conduct their lives. Youth culture can pertain to interests, styles, behaviors, music, beliefs, vocabulary, clothes, sports and dating. The concept behind youth culture is that adolescents are a subculture with norms, mores, behaviors and values that differ from the main culture of older generations within society.

Commonly-used Youth Culture Examples
– In the 1960’s the wearing of clothes that indicated freedom
Following of music groups that perform music that speaks to the issues teenagers perceive themselves enduring at the time such as Nirvana in the 1990’s and The Beatles in the 1960’s
– Hairstyles that exhibit a lack of conformity such as brightly colored hair, spiked hair, shaved heads
Behavior that is contrary to what is perceived to be accepted and expected by parents such as drinking, smoking, using drugs
– Language usage that is bold in order to set themselves apart such as either excessive cursing or a usage of esoteric “cool” buzz words
Behaviors such as cutting school or low grade criminal activity in order to assert independence and non-conformity
– Refusal to go to certain establishments to appear more acceptable to peers
-A change in academic performance in order to conform to the expectations of their peer groups
– A change in types of media that the adolescent prefers, i.e. comic books over novels or magazines over non-fiction, to relate to the likes of his peers
– A desire for same brand name clothes, shoes and other material goods such as portable music players, backpacks and phones
– A change in the quality of products he prefers, i.e. more expensive goods that are similar to his friends’ goods, or less expensive goods that are more in line with his peer’s belongings
Attitude changes about school, religion or family
– A change in the way that they treat others, either with greater kindness or perhaps more aloofness
Each different generation will have their own youth culture that is reflective of their lives and times.

Understanding Youth Culture
Psychologists such as Erik Erikson theorize that the primary goal in the developmental stage of adolescence is to answer the question: “Who am I?” This being the case, it is natural to assume that in determining one’s identity, one would seek others within the same age group to grow and learn together and understand the social norms and values of society.

Theorists such as Fasick agree that adolescents are in a confused state and that identity development happens during this time as they exert independence from parents and have a greater reliance on their peer groups.

Development of Youth Culture
Youth culture truly developed in the 20th century when it became more common for adolescents to gather together. Historically, prior to this time many adolescents spent a majority of time with adults or child siblings. Compulsory schooling and other societal changes made the joint socialization of adolescents more prevalent.

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What examples do you see in your youth ministry? Comment below!!

Running an Effective Meeting in Youth Ministry

We just had our semi-annual youth leader meeting at a local restaurant, it was so encouraging to get people together and just hang out. Of course I also had an agenda, something to work on. It brought to mind a few suggestions for running an effective meeting with Youth ministry volunteers.

First, be sure to know what you want out of the meeting. This is a meeting that is supposed to benefit you (the leader), the volunteers, and the youth ministry; make sure you know what that looks like and what you want to accomplish, and you’ve got to STATE the desired outcomes that you want. I would start by praying, then write down as many objectives as possible. Given your time frame, ask a second set of eyes to help eliminate non-essential elements. My meeting yesterday consisted of 2 hours and I wanted to accomplish these four things: 1) hangout and socialize over lunch after church 2) cast some vision, discuss the importance of sacrifice, take a look at what a ministry “cycle” looks like 3) determine who is going to summer camp and discuss some aspects of summer camp planning 4) Announce a new director of HS ministry, separate into Jr/Sr high leader groups to discuss events, strategy, new volunteers etc. You’ve got to know what you want to accomplish it.

Second, set an agenda. If for no one else, so you know how to stay on track and where you’re trying to get to. I would recommend giving that agenda to your people BEFORE the meeting starts (email it out etc), but you don’t have to. Maybe, just pass it on to another key leader so they can also know where you’re going and help keep things on track should some over-zealous (is that even such a thing?) youth leader wants to continue down some rabbit holes.

Third,  set hard deadlines. This starts with the meeting’s start and end times. Start and end ON TIME. Respect the leader’s time! But it goes further than that, if you assign a responsibility to someone, you’ve got to set start and end times for that responsibility. It helps keep people accountable, including you!

Fourth, determine the next meeting time. Make a point to have everyone pull out their phones (or planners if they’re old), and schedule the next meeting. It could be a month or three away, so have everyone put it on the calendar and make plans to be there.

So there are just a few tips and suggestions on making your meeting the best it can be. Sometimes people just need some quality time, but in meetings, people want EFFECTIVE time. Time well spent. Praying for you youth leaders and pastors! If you would like some MORE personal, one on one coaching, please contact me. I would be happy to give it away for free!

Student Ministry Help- Three tips to Starting from Scratch

Youth Ministry- starting from scratchStarting from scratch is never easy. I remember when I was young my mom used to make apple pie from scratch. She started with the crust while I peeled the apples. We had to follow a long, yet simple, list of instructions and the event often took several hours. Probably because I was young and got stuff all over the place, or maybe because I didn’t follow the instructions well, but it always seemed like the apple pie creation experience was a long one. But ohhhhhh how I loved the apple pie. The finished product always tasted so good! And with a little bit of home-made ice cream (also a process), it just tasted sooooo good!

In my life now, I don’t have time to make an apple pie from scratch. In fact, they have people who do that kind of thing; they’re called bakers. You can go to any Wal-Mart and find an apple pie. If you really want to splurge, go to Costco! But the truth is, if I am really honest with myself, you don’t get that “I made this” taste. Do you know that taste? When you make it yourself it just tastes… different.

Youth Ministry is like that. So often we want the cookie cutter, baker version of youth ministry. And sometimes, that’s what we need to do in order to get the job done. But there is nothing like a home-made youth ministry. There’s something about the culture we build when we make our own youth group. We put our own spin on bible studies, games, activities, events… It has that “fresh-baked” smell to it that everyone knows.

At the same time, it is harder.

There’s no denying that starting from scratch is harder. It requires more work, more creativity, more prayer, more help. Many of the victims youth leaders I speak with feel like it’s all they can do to stay floating if they do a Google search for a free lesson 30 minutes before youth group. I get that. I’ve been there. I did that for camp once (key word, ONCE).

Here are three tips for starting a youth ministry from scratch:

  1. Garner a vision: You’ve got to have a vision for youth. This is the WHY. Why are you there? Why should anyone care about youth ministry at all? Does God even care about those hipsters? If you’re going in to fill a need alone, that won’t do it. You must see the need (ie. there are 10 kids here and no one wants to hang out with them. It looks like church is a lame experience for them. Someone should do something about that…), but the need alone won’t fulfill the other two requirements for starting from scratch; you’ve got to have a vision for youth ministry, specifically, a vision for TEENS. Start here, what do you think God has for the teens in your area? They aren’t just the church of tomorrow, they are the church of RIGHT NOW. What might God want to do through them?
  2. Gather a team to pray: This is actually a two-for-one tip. You will need a team, and you will need to pray. Pray alone. Pray together. Just PRAY! The team aspect can be tough if you’re in a small church, but if you have a strong vision, someone will follow you. You really only need one or two others to make a team. But they have to believe in the vision. They can’t be a stick in the mud kind of person, they must have the same kind of passion for reaching the lost among youth, and gathering them together and creating a ministry. They have to have the drive to pray for the youth. They have to have good moral character and a strong hunger for the Word of God. This inner team must be STRONG.
  3. Get a strategy: You have a vision, you have a team, you’re covered in prayer. Now it’s time to get a strategy. This is the HOW. This is where the rubber meets the road, and when the ACTION begins to start taking place. This is how you’re going to reach out into the community and gather those students who will come enjoy the games, messages, free pizza and build new friendships. In our church, our strategy includes after school bible clubs, FUN activities, ENCOUNTERING Jesus through worship, LIVING INCARNATIONAL with the teens, service activities; just to name a few things. The strategy is how you accomplish the WHY. This is a key part of the process that is usually determined by the vision, and the TEAM who is praying together.

So there you go. Three tips on starting a youth ministry from Scratch. If you are in transition, or in a small church, I would love to help you process this, and maybe your youth group has been going for a long time but there has been little fruit. I would love to help you JUMP-START your youth group! Just contact me!

Leave a comment with any additional tips you might have to share!

The Porn Problem: Youth Ministry vs Pornography

Internet porn is ravaging the church. I see the effects in my own life as I struggled to end my addiction to porn, I see it in the lame worship times we have, I see it in the kinds of relationships our teens are engaged in and I see it in how teens deal with conflict and discipline. Porn offers a retreat into the promise of relief and satisfaction. That’s what happens when the Dopamine is released into the brain. All of a sudden we found something incredibly powerful and addictive that we latch on to. I read an article on XXX Church that explains the best way to have a problem with sexual scandal and porn in our churches: DO NOTHING.

Here is an awesome info-graphic that explains the problem in detail. The question is, what are we doing about it?!

Infographic: porn and teens

For resources: 

As a Youth Ministry Coach, I understand that this is a sensitive and difficult topic to discuss. Some parents do not believe their kids have a problem, some don’t care if there is a problem at all. Some think this is the best form of sex ed. Most parents understand that porn is a problem, and that it destroys God’s view of sexuality, and marriage, and relationships. Do NOT shy away from this issue.

  1. Provide resources for porn addiction; help the teens in your youth group deal with and get out of it. Help parents to teach and train their kids.
  2.  Preach about it; what does the bible say about porn? Are there creative ways you can teach about this topic? Split nights, conferences, and in-home resources are all a great way to disciple your teens in godly living.
  3. Get accountability; this means for YOU, your spouse, your home… Lead by example. Be free yourself, and you will be able to see how to help others be free.

Thanks for reading. Share your ideas for dealing with this issue in the comments!


There has to be more behind our weekly youth meetings than the paycheck, or just to be a “good person” or something like that. The motivation has to be stronger than “I want to help people.” Watch this short video by Bill Wilson who talks about his motivation to pick up kids on a bus each week for church, why he spends time with students… His motivation far exceeds the conflicts and problems he faces.


It’s All About The Kids

One of the greatest aspects of our job to teens, and one of the hardest, is that we get to hang out with them. As I get older, the more distance I see developed between me and the teens I minister to. They hold me at arms length because I represent something, I represent a standard they aren’t sure they want to keep yet. When I sense this distance, I can see two options, I either shrink back with the attitudinal response of “fine, be that way.” Or I can keep moving toward the student with questions and comments about their day!

It seems that many youth workers are in it for the gratification of having adult friends (other youth workers) and/or being hailed by students as someone worth being with, i.e., being cool again.

One youth worker stated:
Brandon Woodside 2


Many youth leaders just talk to other adults! Part of the problem is that we have very little time for social interaction with people who have the same passions and calling that we do. Between work, school, family, and other responsibilities (habits), we forget that Student Ministry isn’t about us! It’s about the kids! If you have some adults who fall into this trap, or you have fallen into the trap yourself, then here are some tips to help you get them (and yourself) out!

  1. Give your adults teen-related responsibility! Have them be in charge of things that require them to interact with students. For example, if games are one adult’s area, instruct them to gather 4 students for this week’s game who they must give pre-instruction to, and who will help that leader lead the game for the week. Just as an example. For our Jr High group, we have adult leaders check kids in, this is a way that new leaders can learn every kid’s name and learn what we’re all about.
  2. Provide FUN outside of youth ministry together! Go out to lunch after church with JUST adult leaders and have fun together! Bring together wives and girlfriends, friends and leaders to enjoy a meal or a movie or a bonfire or a beach day… something to have fun together!
  3. Meet with your leaders regularly. Some of my adult leaders will read this post and say, whoa… we’re not doing this very much!! Well, I should do better. I am not perfect (and neither are you), so let’s just forgive and move forward. I recommend meeting with your adult leaders at least 4 times per year (min) to do some kind of team building, training, and give them opportunity to give feedback and ideas!
  4. Train them: The leader above who expressed his frustration about adult leaders just standing around and talking to each other (which our leaders do too) already said they’ve talked about it a hundred times… And I do dare say, talk about it 100 more times. Until it becomes part of your culture.

Love you youth ministry people. I need your encouragement and support, and I hope you need mine too. It’s part of the ministry struggle, working together to accomplish a common goal- expanding the Kingdom of God on the Earth and partnering with Jesus as He builds His church!

A Tribute to Dad

Dad. Wow. What a title. With that single word there is so much weight and history. A blog simply doesn’t do the word justice. As we roll into Father’s day I wanted to write a quick note to accomplish three things: 1) Tell my dad thanks and Happy Father’s day, 2) Give a quick scriptural idea of fatherhood in youth ministry, and 3) Give one way you can have your youth honor their dads today!

This article might be a little late, but as you all know, I’m not perfect. It is possible to think ahead and be prepared for everything that comes up all year long, then again, sometimes it’s not. Everything in The Lab is in transition all the time… It’s a work in progress!

1) Thanks dad. And HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! I have always been amazed at your commitment to our family, and grateful for your commitment to me personally. I always know I can call you in a crisis and I am so thankful for your cool head in times of trouble. You taught me how to take the good and leave the bad, you taught me how to be a dad. What an honor it is to have a dad who I know I can count on; I want to be like that for my kids. Here’s a video of a song that makes me think of you every time:

2) 1 Corinthians 4:15 says, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” What a principle! Fatherhood is not reserved for biological consequences. It can be a title earned through the gospel. It is a way of living that looks at those younger in the faith as spiritual kids that we have the privilege of loving and caring for like fathers do for their own kids. We must look at the students in our youth group as if we were spiritual fathers and mothers, and hold a high standard for ourselves, and for them. Remember, they will do like you do, talk like you talk and they can smell through BS faster than a speeding bullet. So be real, take them under your wing, and care for them. You are NOT their mom or dad, but spiritually, you can be.

3) One creative way your kids can honor their dads at church today might be a simple hug or just saying ‘i love you’. Another option might be to find as many palm sized rocks as you can find and some paint. Have them put their hand in paint and make a hand print, then use a sharpie or something to write- Happy Father’s Day, YOU ROCK, on it. Cheesy I know! But so cute, and the dads will say thanks, and be stoked that you (and the church) thought of honoring their role int heir kids life on this important day!

Any other creative ideas for honoring dads today?