Youth Ministry Answers is Back from Vacation!


Great news!

After a few months of summer vacation, our podcast Youth Ministry Answers is back in action! We’re kicking off a new season of episodes with an interview with Adam McLane about how (and how not) to use Snapchat in youth ministry.


You’re Invited to a Middle School Ministry Tribe Gathering!

Okay people, I’m going to get straight to the point.

We are having a party. And I want you to come.

That’s correct.

It’s a party just for the middle school ministry tribe.
It’s for ministry leaders.
It’s for people who think middle schoolers are a big deal,
and who want to hang out with other people who think middle schoolers are a big deal.

So we’re planning a whole bunch of hangouts for folks who care about middle schoolers this fall. And I’d LOVE for you to come be a part of it with us!

Because, chances are, we’re planning a party in a city near you.


20 Things Small Group Leaders Do on Youth Trips

Hey, ministry leaders. We put a ton of work into our student camps, trips, and retreats, don’t we? I mean, between the budget, programming, transportation, food, questions from parents, the registrations, the late registrations, and the so-late-they-actually-never-even-registered-they-just-showed-up registrations…. Well, it takes a lot of work to pull these things off.

But today, let’s take a second to remember that we’re not the only ones working hard on these trips. Our small group leaders are working pretty hard, too.

And, hey. Let’s be honest.

Sometimes, I think our small group leaders have an even more difficult job than we do.

So before we plan our next round of camps, trips, or retreats, let’s take a second to remind ourselves just how hard our SGLs work during these things, shall we?


7 Things I’ve Learned from 7th Graders

This week, I was a substitute small group leader.

Now, here’s the thing you need to know about being a substitute small group leader: when you sit down for the first time with a bunch of middle schoolers you barely know…you’re not going to have a very spiritual conversation. 

If you’ve ever met a middle schooler (or another human, for that matter), this probably isn’t news to you. Most of us aren’t exactly in the habit of pouring out our hearts to complete strangers.

So if you ever find yourself striking up a conversation with kids who don’t really know you, maybe don’t expect to guide them through a major spiritual breakthrough. Try to establish a few more reasonable goals instead. Like…

  • Remember their names.
  • Laugh with them.
  • Learn about their world.

This week, here’s what I learned about the world of a few seventh grade girls.


A Brand New Devotional For Students That I Really Super Love

Okay guys. I have a confession to make. Don’t be mad, but…

I hate devotionals.

Well, not really. I love the idea of devotionals. But sometimes it feels like I’m unimpressed by, like, 98% of the devotionals that I look at. Especially for middle schoolers and high schoolers. It’s because I hate verses without context or relevance and I hate questions that are too leading or too simple or sound too much like What did you learn? instead of What do you think? But, sometimes, it feels like I see a lot of those things on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Bummer.

When it comes to devotionals (especially devotionals for middle schoolers and high schoolers), I want something that gives kids an understanding of the voices and culture that are behind the verses they read. I want something that affects their lives, right now. I want something that provokes discovery and thought and engagement.


Conversations with Small Group Leaders

This month, I got the chance to collaborate with my friend/hero Brooklyn Lindsey on an ebook called Conversations with Small Group Leaders: How Giving and Receiving Feedback Can Transform Your Culture. 

We wrote it for the team over at Lead Small Weekly. And, by the way, have I told you about Weekly yet? I don’t think I have. I need to. Because I think you’re going to love it. Another day, though. For now, let me give you a peek at this ebook. Then I’ll tell you about another place you can go to hear more about this topic. And then, if you want even more, you can head over to Lead Small Weekly to get the full ebook. Cool? Cool. Here we go.


How to Brainstorm Using Creative Boards

Last week, I shared a photo from one of our creative meetings here at the Orange offices. Most of the time, when I post a picture of the creative boards we use for our meetings, I get a question or two about them. Where do those boards come from? How do you use them? What do you use them for?

We use these boards for just about everything. Planning our calendars. Mapping the scopes and cycles of our curriculum. Assigning communicators and locations to Orange Conference breakout sessions. And, like I’ll show you today, leading good old fashioned brainstorming sessions.

Last week, I led a creative meeting for our soon-to-be-released XP3 Middle School curriculum. We were brainstorming some creative “extras” for a few upcoming series. So, for those of you who are interested in how these boards might work, I’ll give you a peek at how I used them last week.


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