Halloween is just a few days away, and I'm sure some spoooooky topics will come up with your students.  You can hear a message I gave to our youth on ghosts, spirits, and the afterlife by clicking right here.  Feel free to steal it!  
You can listen to the message from last night's IMPACT Youth service by clicking right here.  It's one of the shortest I've ever done, but that's probably because I'm talking like a hundred miles an hour!  I'd love to hear your feedback!
This is a post I did last year, I hope it benefits you today!

Do you, as a youth minister, desire to have influence among the young people in your church and community?  If you’re like me, being able to influence students with the life-changing message of the Gospel is the goal you’re aiming for, but it is also one that can often seem difficult if not impossible to reach.

The problem that many youth ministers/ministries face when trying to gain influence among the young people of their churches and communities is that they try to gain that influence based solely on a strong desire or assumed “right” to speak in to students’ lives.  Without laying down some essential “stepping stones”, you will never be able to have the impact you hope to have on teenagers and their families.  However, if you build a path toward influence by focusing on a few basic steps, you will see your influence increase and God begin to change lives and do something great in and through your ministry.

Instead of focusing on the end-goal, focus on each of these in progression to build the path to influence:

Before you are able to influence anyone, you need to be influenced by your Heavenly Father.  Spending consistent time with God in prayer and devotion is the well-spring from which all of the following steps toward influence flow.  Without being plugged in to the Source of the life-change you desire to see, how are you ever going to see your ministry become a catalyst for that life-change?

Spending time with God in worship, prayer, etc. will ultimately lead to inspiration.  If you are consistently and earnestly praying for God to move amongst the young people of your church and community, He will eventually answer that prayer by inspiring you to some sort of action or next step to take toward that goal.  He may speak to your creativity, your leadership, your passion, or your pastoral heart; and when He does, you will know!

It’s important then to act on the inspiration that God has given you by implementing whatever changes, new strategies, creative programming, individual or group mentoring, leadership development, etc. you’ve been inspired to do.  So often we feel led in a fresh direction, get inspired to do something, and then fail on the follow-through.  This may be the hardest step on the path to influence because it often requires the most work or encounters the most resistance from our critics.  But remember to be faithful not just to your inspiration but to the One who inspired you in the first place!

If you’re lucky, whatever changes or new directions you’ve implemented in your ministry will begin to generate interest among the youth of your church or community.  It’s important that you construct your ministry so that what you’re doing captures the attention of students.  Lack of interest or boredom among the young people you engage can not only kill momentum in your ministry but can kill your passion as well.  Remember that patience is key – it may take months or even years to see the fruits of what God is doing, but staying true to what God has inspired you to do and working hard to implement that is one sure way to make sure that interest is generated and that those fires stay hot!

Once students begin to take interest in what your ministry is all about, it’s time to get them involved.  Make sure you have a process in place that moves youth along the most basic path of involvement:  fringes --> committed --> core.  You should be taking those students that are interested in the message of your ministry, helping them to own it for themselves, and then equipping them to be leaders.

Once you have generated enough interest, and students begin to become involved in owning their own faith and growing in to leaders, congratulations – you’ve gained influence!  You will be amazed at how deeply you’ll be able to impact the lives of those young people God in His grace has seen fit to send to you.  And remember – it all started because you relied on God and your relationship with Him to be the source of this influence, so remember to give credit where credit is due.

This may not be a sure-fire way to grow a giant-sized youth ministry, but it is a practical approach to gaining the ability to make a difference in the next generation of students for God’s Kingdom.  Good luck in your adventures in YM!  I’d love to hear what you’re up to. Comment this post or drop me a message using the “Contact” box at the top of this screen.

Ahhh.... so good!
Last week I was in Seattle with family visiting my wife's brother Travis.  We spent one day in Mt. Rainier National Park, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.

We must've stopped a dozen times to take pictures, and we hiked down several short trails.  About halfway up the mountain we hiked down a trail overlooking a beautiful waterfall.  We got there at just the right time so that the sun was hitting the waterfall and causing a rainbow to appear in front of it.  Again, B-E-A-UTIFUL!

As stunning as the view from the overlook was, Travis and I decided that we wanted to BE down there, at the base of the waterfall, so we proceeded to take a (for me) crazy hike down the ravine and across the river, moving from boulder to boulder to get across it.

I don't usually do stuff like this, and it was a challenge, especially the river crossing.  But what a thrill!  And I can promise you, when we finally reached the base of the waterfall, it was AMAZING, and so worth the effort it took to get there.

It made me think - when was the last time I've really challenged myself?  Not just physically, but when it comes to life in general, and even in youth ministry.  So often we avoid challenges because of fear, but if we never face the challenge we'll never reap the rewards.  We could have stayed at the overlook, but we would never have reached the base of the waterfall, and enjoyed the view and the feeling of success.

What are some challenges you're facing in YM that, for whatever reason, you're avoiding?  What would happen if you met them head on and saw what God wanted to do in and through you as you overcame them?

The view just might be worth it.
Our next talk series on Wednesday nights is coming up in a couple weeks.  Here's the rundown!


SUMMARY: A walk through the book of Mark looking at some of the amazing things that Jesus did with a focus on what He has power over and how that applies to our lives.

WEEK 1 - He Healed the Sick
Mark 1:40-42.  Jesus has power over our weaknesses.

WEEK 2 - He Calmed a Storm
Mark 4:35-41.  Jesus has power over our circumstances.

WEEK 3 - He Fed 5,000
Mark 6:30-44.  Jesus has power over our needs.

WEEK 4 - He Died on the Cross
Mark 15:21-32.  Jesus has power over sin.

WEEK 5 - He Rose from the Grave
Mark 16:1-8.  Jesus has power over death.

By the way - it's been brought to my attention that my friends at Simply Youth Ministry offer a series called "He Did What?" that is similar to this.  I didn't copy theirs, or try to steal it in any way, it's just a huge coincidence!  Also, I'm sure theirs is much better than mine, so click right here to check out their series (and other great resources).
You can listen to the message from our final night of "Now is the Time" by clicking right here!
In the Fall we like to do a "friend night" - one night where I challenge students to bring as many friends as possible.  I usually schedule it on the same night as we're kicking off a new series, and have some sort of incentive tied to the challenge as well.

This year our friend night is a facial hair fiasco!  I've been growing my beard out for a while now (my wife loves it!), and the number of students that show up on friend night determines what facial hair style I'll shave LIVE that night!  Here's the breakdown:

30 = Muttonchops.
40 = Chin Strap
50 = Fu Manchu
60 = Students get to choose/design style.
70+ = Students get to choose/design style PLUS mohawk!

So there's the furry gauntlet I've thrown down!  We'll see if our youth take up the challenge.  I'm hoping that it's a great night not just for the fun of it, but for the kick-off of our next series (post on that coming soon) and for our midweek to gain some much-needed momentum.

AS A BONUS to you, super-awesome visitor to this blog, here's a short Powerpoint game I came up with to intro the friend night theme.  Click here to download "Name that Facial Hair!"